Wednesday, March 29, 2017

 

Happy, Highly Unlikely Photos

Here is the British version of "He who laughs last..."


And here is the American version.



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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

 

My Thoughts On Failing to Repeal Obamacare

Lately, there's been a lot of breaking the 11th Amendment, which isn't necessarily bad, but is pretty bad right now. Here's what I think.

I thought the whole idea regarding repealing Obamacare was to get the Government out of health care and health care insurance (two distinct things) as much as possible. I thought the idea was to allow choice of what sort of coverage people could buy (a cafeteria style option rather than one size fits all) and remove any impediment to selling such insurance so that competition would start to reduce the extreme uptick in the cost of most plans.

To do that, merely repealing the only-supported-by-Democrats legislation, and reducing statutory and regulation getting in the way of competition, was all that was needed.

But the brainiacs decided to keep government involved and not fully remove the ACA and impediments to competition. Worse, they decided to keep what they thought were "popular" parts of Obamacare; namely, keeping 26 year old children on their parents healthcare plan and preventing health care insurance plans from refusing to cover medical treatment for conditions that pre-existed the purchase of the plan.

I could live with the 26 year old children, but not allowing pre-existing condition exclusions is the death knell for private health insurance. People will get the minimum catastrophic coverage or no coverage at all and then upgrade to plans offering greater coverage if they get sick or hurt.

The Freedom Caucus saw all this and said, we can't let our party pass what amounts to Obamacare lite which will suffer the same fate as real Obamacare.

They are getting a lot of abuse, but I see them as principled and smart people who properly opposed a terrible decision by the Republican leadership. I also think history will be ever kinder to them than the likes of Prager and Hewitt are being now. And I say that knowing those two people are much smarter than I am. They are human, though, and capable of making a mistake. They're mistaken here.

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Friday, March 24, 2017

 

Stating the Bleedin' Obvious

OK. The Democrats selected Vital Lie of the past 6 months is that the Russians magically changed voters' minds against the wonderful Hillary Clinton in return for some treasonous promise by then candidate, now President, Trump to help the comrades out. It's a really stupid Vital Lie, talismanic of a desperation engendered by the party's incredibly shrinking political fortunes; but just for grins and giggles, let's look at what help the Russians would have clearly wanted from the President replacing Obama.

What is Russia's main problem today? It's the huge loss of revenue from a lower world price for oil. You know things are bad when Russia has to cut its military budget, which I believe they just did, substantially.

So the best help that Trump could give his good buddy Vlad would be to cut production of American oil to help prices climb and Russia get more money into its semi-fascist coffers.

So what has Trump done to help out the Russians? Anyone, Bueller, anyone?

Did he declare huge areas of government land and sea areas off limits to oil and gas development? No, President Obama did that.

Did he try to slow down or stop fracking by executive order and bureaucratic red tape so that oil production would go down? No, President Obama did that.

Did he stop the movement of oil into and around the country so we can efficiently refine it in order to sell finished products to other countries in competition with Russia? No, President Obama did that.

Has he lifted the economic sanctions imposed by us for Russia's invasion of Georgia and the Crimea and elsewhere in the Ukraine? Nope.

And regarding things not economic...

Has he continued the dismantling and wussifying of the American armed forces? No, just the opposite. Trump has announced plans to increase the American military budget substantially.

Has he continued to ignore that the armed forces of our NATO allies continue to shrink to insignificance? No, just the opposite. His new secretary of defense is warning the free riders to do their required share of defending their countries.

Has he continued to unilaterally disarm our nuclear forces as Obama did? No, Trump has talked a lot about increasing and modernizing our missiles, etc.

Has Trump ever asserted to a Russian President that he will have greater flexibility to help Putin out after he wins his second term? No, that's what President Obama did.

Has he brought out a stupid, and mistranslated, red button to symbolize a "reset" of Russian relations with America, after the long dark night of near illogical hatred of the former Commies that occurred during the Reagan and Bush Administrations? No, the smartest and most talented woman in the world, Hillary Clinton, did that when she was secretary of state.

In fact, Trump is doing the opposite of what it would take to help the Russians out (by causing the world price of oil to rise or allowing them to gain military superiority). He's approved the pipelines. He's gutting President Obama's anti-oil-and-gas-development executive orders, starting with the stupid global warming orders. Trump has not yet opened up federal land for oil and gas drilling but the White House web site says he plans to do just that.

The Democrats could have blamed space aliens' mind control for the surprise loss of their exceedingly brilliant candidate for President and not been much more stupid than going with what they've actually chosen.

If I had greater faith in the average Americans' ability to detect bullshit, I would just ignore this idiocy, but.....

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

 

Ignorance Is No Excuse

Here is a recent article in The Week by a political science professor at a college I had never heard of before. His name is David Faris. It's about soon to be Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. I just wanted to point out a few of the legal errors it contains. First up:

Gorsuch is by all accounts a respected jurist with an unimpeachable pedigree...

Good start. Very true. But then the sentence veers into a ditch:

...albeit one characterized by a lunatic judicial philosophy that treats the Constitution as a divine revelation whose words should be interpreted with Biblical literalism.

It's hardly lunatic to use standard rules of statutory construction on the Constitution. It would be lunatic to do anything else. The Originalists say we ought to try to find the contemporary meaning the authors of the Constitution put on the words they used, that is, what the words meant in 1788. It's a completely sound tool for discovering in a writing what the intent of the writer was. Judges in America use it constantly. There's more, the big whopper:

Had Senate Republicans fulfilled their unambiguous constitutional duty by confirming the centrist Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court last year, Gorsuch could likely have filled the seat of a retiring conservative like Clarence Thomas or Anthony Kennedy more or less without incident.


The only only thing unambiguous about the "advise and consent" clause in the Constitution is that there is no duty to give consent (or even to advise). There's absolutely nothing mandatory about how the Senate reacts to a nomination, and there is no case law that would interpret anything in the clause to be required as Professor Faris imagines.

Notice too that the less than law-learned professor seems to contemplate that there are seats on the Supreme Court reserved for Originalists and seats reserved for the lefty free-wheeling justices. So Scalia would have been replaced by a slightly less looney lefty judge (thus bucking the "reservation" system, but its a Democrat choice so the rule wouldn't apply) but Gorsuch and those like him can only replace other Originalists like Thomas and Kennedy (who is not actually an Originalist). That's not how it works. And indeed Kennedy and Thomas might retire or die within the next 7 years, but the odds on favorite to vacate the premises is Justice Ginsburg, who just turned 84 and has been looking really frail lately. Both Kennedy and Breyer are a decade or so older than Thomas. So Faris is doing a little whistling past the graveyard to put Thomas in line for retirement from the bench before Breyer or Ginsburg. Nice try, Dave. He then veers into the ditch of the absurd, again:

Had Garland been confirmed and someone like Ruth Bader Ginsburg retired sometime in the next four years, Trump could probably have had Gorsuch confirmed to replace her, too, although the vote might have been close.


Right. No problem whatsoever with a Republican president replacing a lefty justice with an Originalist. None whatsoever. The stupid continues:

Gorsuch's seat was stolen by a craven act of democratic sabotage, and he will always be sitting in a chair reserved for the nominee of a Democratic president. He is illegitimate today, and he will be illegitimate 20 years from now.


Craven? Sabotage? Harsh words for the rule clearly stated and championed by recent Vice President Biden. Yeah, the Republicans were cowardly saboteurs of democracy when they used the Democrat's Biden rule. Does Dave not know about YouTube and the internet memory caches? Here is the Biden rule spelled out by Joe himself. The professor dreams on:

It is impossible to know when Democrats might regain total control of the U.S. government.


If this article is the caliber of Democrat thinking, my money is more on the never side of the bet. He continues in full fantasy mode.

But assuming that American democracy survives the high-stakes stress test of a Trump presidency, they will at some point find themselves in the commanding position the Republicans are in now. And when they do, they should be prepared to pass a law expanding the number of seats on the Court from nine to 11 and to fill the two extra seats with the most divisive, outrageous liberals in the federal judiciary.


So there are only a few things wrong with this article: The legal ignorance and the fatuous narrative. But otherwise it is solid, man. Viva la Resistance!

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

 

Thought of the Day

A modern economy needs electricity on demand, 24 hours a day, without fail. A period without electrical power is called a disaster for a reason. Because demand for electrical power rises and falls constantly there is a need to store energy so power generation can rise to meet increased demand. Fossil fuels, biofuels and nuclear are their own storage, so they have this capability naturally. Wind and solar do not have built-in storage, so it needs to be provided, and this is a cost that must be accounted for.
[...]
...in a modern economy electricity must be available on demand or chaos ensues. Demand cannot be adjusted to cloudiness, so for solar (or wind) to work at all, it must be backed up. The backup (batteries, molten salt storage, fossil fuel, pumped hydro, whatever) must be part of the system.


Andy May at Watts Up With That

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

 

Shorter Version

Years ago, I gave my late dad a 150 page book called "How Hitler Could Have Won WWII" and he read it and said that he had a shorter version: "Don't invade Russia." That was pretty good.

Here is a one page article from the Wall Street Journal today entitled: "How Democrats Can Come Back".

I have a shorter version: "Stop being ultra-left".

Odds of Democrat party gaining a significant number of elected offices in next 8 years, absent the somewhat expected Republican screw-ups: Nil. I don't think they are even going to try to make the party and its candidates more popular with voters in a majority of states.

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Improperly Named TV Shows

There are a few shows about cryptozoology but Bigfoot remains the king of the hidden animals on North America with several shows about him including Finding Bigfoot (now starting its 8th year on Animal Planet) and the new Killing Bigfoot.


I don't know for sure, but after 7 years of not actually finding Bigfoot shouldn't the show more properly be called:

Not Finding Bigfoot


I do believe there was a very large ape around a few million years ago in Asia called gigantopithecus. I also believe that there are species out there unknown to science. But I'm no longer an active believer in Bigfoot. Possible, but unlikely.


I also think that the long running zombie show ought to be called:

The Boring Dead


but perhaps that's just me.


And any show about ghosts ought to be called:

People Looking Around Suddenly and Asking: "Is That a Ghost?" For No Real Reason


Perhaps that's too long.

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Thursday, March 09, 2017

 

Reporting the Opposite of the Truth

Besides being pretty stupid in general, this piece from Nat Geo tries to get you to believe that warming temperature will cause plagues and famines, etc. when every single historical episode it uses to support that statement was when temperatures got colder.

Every. Single. One.

First, let's start with the Newspeak "climate change." When the Warmie True Believers use that term, they mean catastrophic man-made global warming. So that's what they should say. The climate can change in a myriad ways; and the word 'change' next to 'climate' clearly entails both getting warmer and getting colder. No rational person denies that the climate changes. It gets warmer; it gets colder. It gets wetter; it gets drier. The True Believer propaganda lives in the imprecise and offensive name calling 'climate change deniers'. No one denies the climate can change, so what are we skeptics actually denying about the alleged catastrophic man-made global warming to come? There are very few who deny it's slightly warmer than 150 years ago (when the Little Ice Age was ending). There are a few more who deny that humans have anything to do with the warming, that is, some think that the warming is entirely natural. But the overwhelming number of those of us whom the Warmies call climate change deniers only deny that the additional warming caused by additional CO2 will be catastrophic. To believe that it will be catastrophic, you have to believe the scientists in 2017 know exactly what the weather will be like in 2099. They don't know this at all. Computer models can't supply accurate forecasts at all. Human meteorologists struggle to get an accurate forecasts about next week. But back to the article.

The interviewee talks about what I just discussed above then says: "the evidence is overwhelming that, by and large, it’s human activity that has caused the recent changes in the world’s climate." That's false. Humans have contributed to the change. Natural changes in climate have not stopped. The quoted statement is a first step in the overwhelming falsity of the interview.

Let me step in and say that we can recognize in the ice core records historical periods of warming as well as historical periods of cooling. We talk about the Medieval Warm Period (which actually did exist despite Professor Mann's fraudulent hockey stick graph) and the Roman Warm Period and the Minoan Warm Period (and even the Holocene Optimum), and there is ample historical evidence to support that indeed it was nicer and warmer during those named periods. But we also have names for the recent cooling periods. We call them the Little Ice Age and the Dark Ages. Neither were good times for humans on the planet and, I'm shocked, shocked to see that the evidence the interviewee uses here to support the idea of catastrophic man-made global warming is only from those last two periods. It's not a lot of support to the catastrophic man-made global warming hysteria to talk only about the bad things that global cooling caused, is it?

The first example is to talk about the wholly natural global cooling caused by the eruption of Mt. Tambora in 1815. Yes, indeed, climate change that is cooling can indeed cause famine and other catastrophes. Next!

The interviewee says: "Carbon dioxide is the major greenhouse gas that causes global warming." That's not true, water vapor does most of the warming and CO2 is largely a bit player that was never, ever the thermostat for the planet. Since there are only tiny amounts of man-made water vapor in our atmosphere, noting that water vapor does most of the warming doesn't support the theory, so they continually lie about the role CO2 plays in warming the planet. Just like this guy did.

Then he says: "Today, we are talking about a possible increase of 4-6 degree over the next 100 years." Well, you may be talking about it, but no rational person who knows the science, which I believe should include this guy, actually believes that even a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere from the baseline 280 ppmv would cause much over a degree C of warming. The graph below is pretty much the consensus on doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere.



It is the opposite of run-away warming--it's asymptotic rather than a graph of exponential growth. To get to anything over 2 degrees C change, you have to believe in an amplifying effect outside the gas itself. And there the Warmie True Believers are on very shaky ground indeed. Back to the examples of plague and famine.

The interviewee then talks about the mother of all plagues, the black death, bubonic and pneumomic plagues, in the mid 14th C. But the climate change during that period was to cold not warm. The Little Ice Age was happening then, not any global warming at all.

Another example: "There was one catastrophe after another, but what probably started the ball rolling was the Great Famine between 1315 and 1322..." Little Ice Age. Cooling.

Except for the Motzart nonsense, also during the Little Ice Age, there are no other examples from history in the article.

I believe it would indeed be catastrophic for there to be a long cooling period leading into the next Ice Age (number 25 over the past several million years). But that's not what the Warmie True Believers are peddling with their propaganda. Is it?

I'm gravitating more and more to calling the whole catastrophic man-made global warming theory a complete scam, and dishonest articles like this are not pushing me towards charitably calling the True Believers merely mistaken.

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