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Free Markets, Free People

WordPress Problems (UPDATED)

I‘ve been trying to publish my analysis of Obama’s Afghan speech for 3 hours now, and WP has decided not to allow that for whatever reason.  I’ve rewritten parts, tried to put it up in pieces, whatever – but no go.  But it will allow this – go figure.  Anyway, that’s where I am at the moment – pissed off, frustrated and unable to find the magic key to getting it published.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Still no joy, but you can read my analysis at Blackfive where Typepad had absolutely not problem publishing it.

UPDATE II: Finally pushed it through by using MS Word’s blog feature which does an automatic upload.  I was then able to edit it one piece at a time.  It still won’t let me edit out some hmtl stuff.  Weird day.



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Life Lessons

Usually, the kind of story that’s roiling around Tiger Woods right now is not the kind of thing we comment on.  But it is instructive in some ways.

This is Tiger Woods’ wife.

Elin Nordegren

Elin Nordegren

The lesson is this:  As hard as it may be to believe, there is one unchangeable truth about relationships.  No matter how hot the girl is, no matter who she is…there’s a guy out there who’s tired of her sh*t.

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I’d really like to see the math on that…

So, the CBO today, in surveying the success of the American Recovery and Re-investment Act (ARRA,. or as we call it, “the stimulus”, makes the following claim:

Economic output and employment in the spring and summer of 2009 were lower than CBO had projected at the beginning of the year. But in CBO’s judgment, that outcome reflects greater-than-projected weakness in the underlying economy rather than lower-than-expected effects of the ARRA.


Um.  OK.

It’s kind of hard to argue with that kind of “judgment”.  Your “judgment” may vary, of course.

Not that it matters, because neither you, nor the CBO, have the math to back it up.

Economic output and employment in the spring and summer of 2009 were lower than CBO had projected at the beginning of the year. But in CBO’s judgment, that outcome reflects greater-than-projected weakness in the underlying economy rather than lower-than-expected effects of
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Obama’s Return To Reality

I guess we’re fresh out of unicorns and rainbows and claims to have improved America’s standing in the world today.  As you recall, while in China and during an interview there, Obama made the claim that he had changed the world’s attitude about the US.  And his claim was based on some poll which apparently reflected that.

Well given that the poll he cited was good enough for him to make the assertion then, I’d be interested in how he’d describe this poll’s results (Pew Global Attitudes survey) in probably the most important region to the US right now (remember this is a survey the left loved to deploy annually telling everyone how detrimental GW Bush was to our “image” abroad):

Now those surveys of 2009 bring findings from the world of Islam that confirm that the animus toward America has not been radically changed by the ascendancy of Mr. Obama. In the Palestinian territories, 15% have a favorable view of the U.S. while 82% have an unfavorable view. The Obama speech in Ankara didn’t seem to help in Turkey, where the favorables are 14% and those unreconciled, 69%. In Egypt, a country that’s reaped nearly 40 years of American aid, things stayed roughly the same: 27% have a favorable view of the U.S. while 70% do not. In Pakistan, a place of great consequence for American power, our standing has deteriorated: The unfavorables rose from 63% in 2008 to 68% this year.

Eventually the left is going to learn that anti-Americanism isn’t a function of who is in the White House or what party is in power. It is a deep seated resentment in which whoever is in the White House or whichever party is in power is irrelevant.  They simply become the new face of the same nation the world despises. The reasons are varied and mostly irrational. The sentiment is fed by powerful internal political forces who have a vested interest in the continuation of anti-Americanism as one tool for maintaining power in their country. Such sentiment ranges from blatant anti-Americanism (Venzuela and Iran) to more subtle forms (France and Germany) but it persists whether a Republican or a Democrat is in office.

Obama’s return to reality (and hopefully the left’s) – given these numbers – should see him take a more pragmatic and nationalistic view of foreign policy than he has to this point. Words, as those numbers reflect, have failed him – and they were his greatest strength. Despite the favorable press he received as he made his world apology tour, the numbers have pretty well remained unchanged. A smart man would understand that lesson and learn from it. A leader would reorient his foreign policy when it becomes clear his first policy hasn’t achieved its goal (as if a reasonable foreign policy goal should ever be “to make others like us more”). Obviously putting the rest of the world before the US – while fine with the rest of the world – doesn’t change their perception of the US, but instead simply feeds their anti-Americanism. They do like a weaker US.  But that still doesn’t mean they like the US any better.

Obama’s job -should he ever decide to take it- is to put America first in everything he does in the foreign policy arena. He’s not done that and it has not paid off for either him or the US. As I’ve said any number of times, in the anarchy that is international politics, it is much more useful to be feared and respected than to be liked. It’s time the US got back to “feared and respected”. “Liked”, as always, is a bust.



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Health Care’s Giant New Bureaucracy

One of the persistent memes with this current round of health care reform is the counter-intuitive belief that adding 30+ million to the health care insurance roles and subsidizing them is going to save money. Another is that there won’t be more bureaucracy – that, in fact, this reform will streamline health care and again “save money”. Just as we’re supposed to “trust” the climate scientists who’re apparently not trustworthy, we’re supposed to believe a Congress which cranks out 2,000 page bills when they say it won’t be a bureaucratic nightmare.


“The legislation lists 1,697 times where the secretary of health and humans services is given the authority to create, determine or define things in the bill,” said Devon Herrick, a health care expert at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

For instance, on Page 122 of the 2,079-page bill, the secretary is given the power to establish “the basic per enrollee, per month cost, determined on average actuarial basis, for including coverage under a qualified health care plan.”

The HHS secretary would also have the power to decide where abortion is allowed under a government-run plan, which has drawn opposition from Republicans and some moderate Democrats.

And the bill even empowers the department to establish a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation that would have the authority to make cost-saving cuts without having to get the approval of Congress first.

That’s right – we’re supposed to believe that this huge shift in power and authority to the HHS will be done without adding a single worker, panel, council, department, “task forces” or agencies. There will be no new commissioners, advisors, council, staffers or contract employees. None.


Haislmaier said one the greatest powers HHS would gain from the bill is the authority to regulate insurance. States currently hold this power, and under the Senate bill, the federal government would usurp it from them. This could lead to the federal government putting restrictions and changes in place that destabilize the private insurance market by forcing companies to lower premiums and other charges, he said.

Health and Human Services … doesn’t have any experience with this,” Haislmaier said. “I’m looking at the potential for this whole thing to just blow up on people because they have no idea what they are doing. Who in the federal government regulates insurance today? Nobody.”

The health care reform legislation would rely on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for recommendations as to what kind of screening and preventive care should be covered.

By the way, the U.S Preventive Services Task Force is the one which recently told women under 50 they really don’t need mamograms. Yeah – preventive services. They’ll try to prevent you from taking advantage of such services it seems.

And then there’s this:

Critics of the bill said this was an example of how the new bill could empower HHS to alter health care delivery, but Democrats argue they would rather have the government making these decisions.

“There’s an insurance company bureaucrat in between the patient and her doctor right now,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Yes, because everyone knows that government bureaucrats are so much more efficient and caring than insurance bureacrats – which explains the reason Medicare denials are much higher than insurance company denials.

If you want the equivalent of the Post Office or DMV running your health care in the future, support the Democrats and this bill. Because if you are satisfied with what they’re trying to pass, you’ve already bought into the idea that spending a trillion dollars will save money and lower the deficit and that government is always more efficient than the market in delivering anything.


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Climaquiddick: Follow The Money

One of the favorite rebuttals of the alarmists – especially when a skeptical scientists scores a point on them – is to point to the scientist’s funding (“he’s paid by oil companies) and attempt to dismiss the science by claiming a bias. The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens does a little digging into the money trail on the warmist side and, unsurprisingly, finds plenty of reasons for the alarmist cause to find what is has found:

Climategate, as readers of these pages know, concerns some of the world’s leading climate scientists working in tandem to block freedom of information requests, blackball dissenting scientists, manipulate the peer-review process, and obscure, destroy or massage inconvenient temperature data—facts that were laid bare by last week’s disclosure of thousands of emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, or CRU.

But the deeper question is why the scientists behaved this way to begin with, especially since the science behind man-made global warming is said to be firmly settled. To answer the question, it helps to turn the alarmists’ follow-the-money methods right back at them.

Consider the case of Phil Jones, the director of the CRU and the man at the heart of climategate. According to one of the documents hacked from his center, between 2000 and 2006 Mr. Jones was the recipient (or co-recipient) of some $19 million worth of research grants, a sixfold increase over what he’d been awarded in the 1990s.

19 million. A sixfold increase in funding. And all for being on the side that found what the alarmists wanted found – a human hand in the warming trend. But what’s incredible is how small, in terms of “research grants” the money paid to Jones and CRU was in the big scheme of payouts. There’s gold in that thar “settled science:

Thus, the European Commission’s most recent appropriation for climate research comes to nearly $3 billion, and that’s not counting funds from the EU’s member governments. In the U.S., the House intends to spend $1.3 billion on NASA’s climate efforts, $400 million on NOAA’s, and another $300 million for the National Science Foundation. The states also have a piece of the action, with California—apparently not feeling bankrupt enough—devoting $600 million to their own climate initiative. In Australia, alarmists have their own Department of Climate Change at their funding disposal.

All totaled, about 5 billion in research money out there for the scientist who is able to “prove” what the politicians want proven. And that’s just the beginning of the gravy train:

And all this is only a fraction of the $94 billion that HSBC Bank estimates has been spent globally this year on what it calls “green stimulus”—largely ethanol and other alternative energy schemes—of the kind from which Al Gore and his partners at Kleiner Perkins hope to profit handsomely.

And you wondered why Al Gore had essentially gone silent at this point? Why talk any more when what you’ve schemed to have happen is beginning to happen. One thing a good con artist knows is when to shut up.

Stephens makes the most important point:

Supply, as we know, creates its own demand. So for every additional billion in government-funded grants (or the tens of millions supplied by foundations like the Pew Charitable Trusts), universities, research institutes, advocacy groups and their various spin-offs and dependents have emerged from the woodwork to receive them.


All of them have been on the receiving end of climate change-related funding, so all of them must believe in the reality (and catastrophic imminence) of global warming just as a priest must believe in the existence of God.

None of these outfits are per se corrupt, in the sense that the monies they get are spent on something other than their intended purposes. But they depend on an inherently corrupting premise, namely that the hypothesis on which their livelihood depends has in fact been proved. Absent that proof, everything they represent—including the thousands of jobs they provide—vanishes. This is what’s known as a vested interest, and vested interests are an enemy of sound science.

Science is not an ends for these eco-religionists, but a means. The “settled science” is faith based, not reality or science based. It’s what they believe. Al Gore, otoh, is simply a grifter who recognized that propensity toward blind faith, fed it and now stands to profit from it.

Which brings us full circle to the CRU and their horrible and scandalous misbehavior. As Stephens concludes:

This is not the sound of settled science, but of a cracking empirical foundation. And however many billion-dollar edifices may be built on it, sooner or later it is bound to crumble.

Or said another way, the alarmists are denying the scandal because of the vested interests so many have in those “billion-dollar edifices” they’ve built over the years of scamming the world about the supposed imminent catastrophe of man-made global warming. There is no settled science regardless of what the White House claims (speaking of vested interests). In fact, it is beginning to appear there’s no science at all to under-gird the hypothesis of man-made global warming. Just some cooked-data that can’t be checked produced by a group of “scientists” who appear to have benefited handsomely from the funding alarmists were paid to help push this scam on the world.

To see this denial in full action, stay tuned to Copenhagen. It is when those who love to describe themselves as members of the “reality-based community” will be on full display – and just as fully engaged in denying reality.


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Obama: Transformational, Consequential And Catastrophic

I definitely lean toward defining his presidency as “catastrophic” in more than a general sense. I read a piece by Jacob Weisberg in Salon that managed to inadvertantly define the idelogocial rift between the right and left very well (not that it is any secret, but it is interesting to see it laid out so blatantly at times) and understand how catastrophic Obama could be to our existing way of life if not vigorously opposed.

In his article, Weisberg is essentially trying to explain away Obama’s lack of accomplishment in this first 10 months in office by saying that should he pass just one of his “transformational” agenda items before his first State of the Union address, he will be the most accomplished president in the last 70 years.

If, as seems increasingly likely, Obama wins passage of a health care reform a bill by that date, he will deliver his first State of the Union address having accomplished more than any other postwar American president at a comparable point in his presidency. This isn’t an ideological point or one that depends on agreement with his policies. It’s a neutral assessment of his emerging record—how many big, transformational things Obama is likely to have made happen in his first 12 months in office.

Of course Weisberg’s “neutral assessment” isn’t at all neutral. His assertion that what Obama is trying to accomplish are “transformational” implies that they’re also positive. And that’s the difference between the right and the left as we consider these “things” Obama wants passed into law. The right, of course, wouldn’t consider passing Obama’s agenda to be an accomplishment at all. In fact, the right considers that agenda to be destructive, not transformational. If the right was to use the term “transformational”, it would do so describe the agenda as destructive to the traditions which made America’s great. Or, more succinctly, the right sees his agenda as an erosion of freedom and liberty and a huge step toward the collectivism of America.

But how does Weisberg – and the left – see them?

We are so submerged in the details of this debate—whether the bill will include a “public option,” limit coverage for abortion, or tax Botox—that it’s easy to lose sight of the magnitude of the impending change. For the federal government to take responsibility for health coverage will be a transformation of the American social contract and the single biggest change in government’s role since the New Deal.

Weisberg sees this huge expansion of government control as a feature, not a bug. This is a “good thing”, and he implies even more would be better. So there’s little doubt that he will consider such an “accomplishment” as wonderful and Obama as a “consequential” president in a most positive way. Meanwhile the right will also see him as a consequential president but in a catastrophic way – essentially changing forever the dynamic that has made America the exception in the world and instead turning it into another western European semi-socialist “paradise” destined for mediocrity and decline.

And guys like Jacob Weisberg will be standing on the sidelines applauding the whole way down. It is that applause, so to speak, that absolutely puzzles the right. We’ve yet to understand, given what this country has accomplished and done in its short history – its short exceptional history – why people like Weisberg want to so fundamentally change it and make it like the rest of the mediocre countries of the world. It’s simply unfathomable to most of us.

Interestingly, many of those who bought into the campaigning Obama’s promise to be “transformational” are finding his definition (and that of the liberal left) as put into practice to not at all be the transformation they were assuming when they supported him. They’re beginning to realize they were gulled. The problem, however, is now they’re stuck with him, can see the catastrophe on the horizon and can’t really do a whole heck of a lot about it. It’s like New Orleans with Katrina bearing down on it. Stuck in town without a bus ride and getting ready to see life become a whole lot worse than it is now.

Obama the political Katrina, about to lay waste to the exception that has been America and Weisberg and his ilk will tout the destruction as an “accomplishment” and be cheering it on the entire time.

That’s just wrong. It’s also why there can never be accommodation or compromise with the political left.



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This Is “Science”? Part II

Of course not – it’s raw politics.

The rationalization begins by those with a vested interest (don’t forget the IPCC was awarded a Nobel prize for this scientific twaddle) in the “scientific consensus”. In defense of the indefensible, the powers to be try to minimize what they can’t dismiss:

There is “virtually no possibility” of a few scientists biasing the advice given to governments by the UN’s top global warming body, its chair said today.

Rajendra Pachauri defended the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the wake of apparent suggestions in emails between climate scientists at the University of East Anglia that they had prevented work they did not agree with from being included in the panel’s fourth assessment report, which was published in 2007.

Of course not mentioned is the fact that the information given to the IPCC by these “few scientists” were the basis for the whole “the temperatures are rising!” portion of the global warming hypothesis. And I want it made clear that it was never more than a hypothesis since their findings were never, ever reproduced (the requirement for a hypothesis to move into the realm of “scientific theory” according to the scientific method).

Pachauri continues:

“The processes in the IPCC are so robust, so inclusive, that even if an author or two has a particular bias it is completely unlikely that bias will find its way into the IPCC report,” he said.

“Every single comment that an expert reviewer provides has to be answered either by acceptance of the comment, or if it is not accepted, the reasons have to be clearly specified. So I think it is a very transparent, a very comprehensive process which insures that even if someone wants to leave out a piece of peer reviewed literature there is virtually no possibility of that happening.”

Except, of course, it is becoming clear that the “peer review” process was also corrupted by these “few scientists”. So why does Pachauri, with blinders apparently firmly in place, continue to contend that there’s nothing wrong with the IPCC’s findings?

Frankly it’s quite easy to discern:

“Today we have reached the point where consumption and people’s desire to consume has grown out of proportion,” said Pachauri. “The reality is that our lifestyles are unsustainable.”

You see, this isn’t about science or about AGW. AGW isn’t a reason for this action, it is an excuse. The reason. Well again, read the statement above. That’s not the reality at all. That’s as much a hypothesis as is AGW. Pachauri has decided that you need to change your lifestyle. Please understand that doesn’t mean he feels he needs to change his. Only yours. And he and the global elite intend to use this opportunity to impose it:

A new value system of “sustainable consumption” was now urgently required, he said.

Got that? This is the aim. This is a role those that are attracted to the potential of the UN have been trying to create since it’s inception. A collection of elites will decide, arbitrarily of course and without it effecting them, what “sustainable consumption” means. Think of USSR as an example – the elite decided what would be produced and available, not that they ever had to live by the same rules. This is a very crude attempt at collectivization on a global scale. It is an attempt to concentrate more power at a higher level than has ever been attempted before. It is a leftist wet-dream on the verge of coming true.

Among the proposals highlighted by Pachauri were the suggestion that hotel guests should be made responsible for their energy use. “I don’t see why you couldn’t have a meter in the room to register your energy consumption from air-conditioning or heating and you should be charged for that,” he said. “By bringing about changes of this kind, you could really ensure that people start becoming accountable for their actions.”

Pachauri also proposed that governments use taxes on aviation to provide heavy subsidies for other forms of transport. “We should make sure there is a huge difference between the cost of flying and taking the train,” he said. Despite the fact that there is often little benefit in time and convenience in short-haul flights, he said people were still making the “irrational” choice to fly. Taxation should be used to discourage them.

Oh so close – Copenhagen is just a week or so away.

And then someone dumps the scientific litter-box in the living room in front of all the guests just as the party is about to begin and the host is left trying to pretend that lumps laying on the rug aren’t cat crap.



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The Honduran Vote

Speaking of thumbing their collective noses, the Honduran people thumbed theirs at Hugo Chavez and the rest of the ALBA (Alternative for the Americas – a Chavez inspired group which includes Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua as well as Venezuela) rabble in the OAS with their vote yesterday:

Provisional results in Honduras indicate that Porfirio Lobo, an opponent of ousted President Manuel Zelaya, has won presidential elections.

The poll was held five months after Mr Zelaya was forced out at gunpoint, with an interim government taking over.

Mr Lobo is seen as a unifying figure. He won 56% of the vote, with over 60% of registered voters taking part.

A clear winner and high turnout were what the interim government were hoping for to give the election legitimacy.

As you might have picked up, the BBC continues with the myth that Zelaya was “forced out”, i.e. the victim of the military coup, when, in fact, he was arrested for violating the constitution.

But the Beeb has to admit, even grudgingly, that the fact that there appears to be a clear winner and that the turnout was high do in fact speak to the legitimacy of the election – even in the face of Zelaya’s call for his supporters to boycott it.

Of course for some countries, even a legitimate and scheduled election is not enough to placate them:

But regional powers Argentina and Brazil have said they will not recognise any government installed after the election, arguing that to do so would legitimise the coup which ousted an elected president, and thus set a dangerous precedent.

However the United States, having apparently finally figured out what was going on in Honduras, has said it will recognize the results of the election. Peru, Costa Rica, Panama, the German parliament and Japan will also recognize the vote (over 400 international monitors were on hand to watch the election) with more to come, I’m sure.

What that means is Honduras has won and the Chavez cabal has lost – hopefully a turning point in the eventual demise of the “Bolivarian revolution” inspired by Venezuela (if how Hugo makes cars is any indication, it won’t be long). Of course for that to be so, Porfirio Lobo must ensure that Honduras remains on the democratic and constitutional track upon which it now rests.

A hearty “well done” to the tiny country that stood up and resisted the bullies from the OAS and the US, stood by its laws and constitution and gave the world a lesson in political courage.



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BlogTalk Radio – 8pm (EST) Tonight

Call in number: (718) 664-9614

Yes, friends, it is a call-in show, so do call in.

Subject(s): Why “Climaquiddick” of course. Despite the best efforts of the alarmists to wave it away and our MSM to ignore it, the proportion of the scandal gives it some pretty robust legs. And with Copenhagen in the offing what should this mean? And, what, if anything will it most likely mean?

Then there is the breaking news about Iran’s decision to build 10 new enrichment facilities in the face of the world’s condemnation concerning the recently revealed facility in Qom.

The big Afghan decision will be announced Tuesday at West Point. Word leaking out says 32,000 more troops. Enough? Not enough? How will his base react?

UPDATE: The podcast is available at BlogTalkRadio.

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