Saturday, December 31, 2011


Thought of the Day

Our most enlightened citizens think it’s rather vulgar and boorish to obsess about debt. The urbane, educated, Western progressive would rather “save the planet,” a cause which offers the grandiose narcissism that, say, reforming Medicare lacks. So, for example, a pipeline delivering Canadian energy from Alberta to Texas is blocked by the president on no grounds whatsoever except that the very thought of it is an aesthetic affront to the moneyed Sierra Club types who infest his fundraisers. The offending energy, of course, does not simply get mothballed in the Canadian attic: The Dominion’s prime minister has already pointed out that they’ll sell it to the Chinese, whose Politburo lacks our exquisitely refined revulsion at economic dynamism, and indeed seems increasingly amused by it. Pace the ecopalyptics, the planet will be just fine: Would it kill you to try saving your country, or state, or municipality?

Mark Steyn


Friday, December 23, 2011


Why Government is the Problem

Mike Rosen often trots out the essence of economics, saying, you don't ask: "What do you want?" you ask: "What do you want more?"

The National Environmental Policy Act, which passed virtually unopposed in Congress in the very late 60s, was a needed thing. Our air and water were too dirty then. The EPA is another thing entirely. Cleaning up 80% at a reasonable cost is good. Cleaning up the last 20% at a prohibitive cost is irrefutably bad. Our air and water are cleaner now than they were in the early 1900s, despite a tripling of the population and an ever increasing, intensive use of fossil fuels.

One of the many problem with powerful federal agencies is that they willingly put on blinders and can only see the last 20% as worth any price to clean up. We clearly want relatively clean water and air but we want a viable economy more. Sometimes the blinders the EPA puts on causes actual cognitive dissonance. Like this obvious to anyone with a few seconds of thought example from Investors Business Daily. Money quotes:

The EPA thinks it's worth spending billions of dollars each year to reduce already minuscule amounts of mercury in the outside air. So why is it trying to shove mercury-laced fluorescent bulbs into everyone's homes?
[Justifying the crippling new rules] Administrator Lisa Jackson blogged that:

"Mercury is a neurotoxin that is particularly harmful to children, and emissions of mercury and other air toxics have been linked to damage to developing nervous systems, respiratory illnesses and other diseases."

At $10 billion a year, complying with the new rules won't come cheap, and that assumes the EPA's low-ball estimate comes true.

In a pamphlet extolling the virtues of the looming federal ban on traditional incandescent light bulbs, the EPA says it's a "myth" that the mercury used in compact fluorescent lights is "dangerous in your home."

"There's no evidence," the brochure says, that "brief exposure to the mercury in a broken bulb presents a health risk to you or your family."

Truth is there's no meaningful health risk from either the bulbs or the power plants. As a 2004 paper published by the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution noted, "mercury exposure at current levels is unlikely to be causing harm."
The risk to the nation now is not the harmless traces of mercury, but in the shut down (or at least a steep price rise) the EPA seeks to cause many coal fired power plants particularly in the East.

Remember when the lights went off during the recent NFL game between Pittsburgh and San Francisco? That's our future if the EPA, indeed all the federal government, continues its cancer like growth.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Why the Showtime Series Homeland Sucks

Almost all the vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are very positive about their service there and few if any disparage their fellow soldiers' actions there. They know they did a good job there and they're proud of it.

Homeland is a series on Showtime which just finished its first (and last?) season. It's a copy, with liberties, of an Israeli series I have not seen.

I liked it for many episodes. Then the lead guy, Marine Sgt. Brody --now a confirmed traitor/terrorist --(played by Damian Lewis, who was so good as Captain Winters in Band of Brothers) complained to his best friend/fellow marine about their service in Iraq. One could forgive Brody for being bitter, as he was captured and tortured for 8 freakin' years. But his bud just nodded his head in agreement. Wrong. We have done a good job in both places--meeting and defeating the enemy at nearly every engagement. The top leadership, particularly in Iraq, has been uneven, but these were not grunts complaining about the brass and REMFs as is usual and even healthy, this was criticism of the grunts. Bad. Bad.

Then in the finale, it got a lot worse. Here's the background. Our attempt to kill Abu Nidal (here Nazir) with a drone strike went wrong and hit a nearby madrassa and killed a lot of young boys. One of the boys was Nizar's son who was also beloved (platonically) by Brody. The American prisoner was then not being tortured and was actually under 'house arrest' with Nazir and part of his family in an effort to turn him against his country. The son's death caused Brody to vow to kill the man responsible for the strike--now the American Vice President. Then the facile and decidedly unequal moral equivalence begins and never stops.

First, the perpetrators of the botched strike feel so guilty about it that they erase nearly all traces of it. What? Have we put any of our deadly drone strikes in Afghanistan down the memory hole? No, we boldly own up to our few mistakes and our less rare but still regrettable collateral damage; but we also don't apologize for the latter. If the terrorists would seclude themselves from their families and other innocents, then those people would not be killed in drone strikes. Who's putting the innocents at risk? Both of us. By way of historical context--during WWII, we put German and Japanese citizens not in the military at risk with our strategic bombing campaigns (and thereby we killed 600,000 German non-combatants --as many as starved to death in WWI because of the British blockade-- and 900,000 Japanese non-combatants (at least) were killed in city incendiary bombings, including the two nuke strikes in Agust 1945). We won that war.

The central tragedy of war is that during it, you don't do what you should, you do what you can to win. But back to the show.

I'll take a rough equivalence between the fault of the terrorists for surrounding themselves with innocents and our willingness to cause collateral damage when when we drone strike terrorists. I will not take more of the blame as Homeland, through its Jewish Jiminy Cricket, Saul, made clear we deserved. That non-equivalence is just total BS.

But in getting the information of the boy killing drone strike out of the CIA minion, Saul put CDs of our interrogation of certain captured terrorists on the table to blackmail the CIA guy in the know to spill his guts about the "horrible" drone strike. Saul implied that the tapes showed torture. I doubt it. I don't believe short bouts of water boarding is torture (otherwise the late Christopher Hitchens would never have agreed to try it (for about 3 seconds) and thousands of American servicemen would not undergo it during SERE training). There is nothing damning on the CDs (except to the America hating left). Saul says that the tapes, if he turned them over to the NYT (who clearly are America hating enough to publish them) "would be the greatest recruiting tool since Abu Graib." This is another stupid lefty meme. The Muslim extremists did not need the fraternity hazing at the infamous Iraqi prison to recruit hundreds of ground kamikazis before 2003. The day to day actions of Saddam Hussein in the same place before we properly finished Gulf War I make the "horrors" of Abu Graib seem like next to nothing to anyone with a modicum of historical knowledge and common sense. Back to the show.

Part of Brody's torture was being beaten with a stout table leg with its end wrapped in barbed wire. Compare that to the safe waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who later thanked his interrogators for doing it so he could talk with a clean conscious. Which of the two is actual torture?

Saul doesn't seem aware of the huge discrepancy between deliberately targeting innocents and targeting enemies who surround themselves with innocents for safety and/or propaganda gains. He can't see the difference between the real torture Brody received and the harsh but less than torture interrogation we have employed a whole three times. His and the show's equivalence of the real evil of the Muslim aggressors and our regrettably necessary response is morally bankrupt and factually wrong.

The show has lost me as a fan. It should lose you too.



Thought of the Day

It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.

Nobel laureate physicist Richard P. Feynman


Saturday, December 17, 2011


What Passes for a Victory Celebration at the NYT

Here are the generally historically incorrect comments in the NYT today on our withdrawal from Iraq after victory in Gulf War II, the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein. Read it and weep.

After grudgingly allowing that removal of Saddam was good the editorial retreats to America bashing:

But the list of errors and horrors in this war is inexcusably long, starting with a rush to invasion based on manipulated intelligence.
The left can't let go of lying about our nation's and the world's apparent intelligence failure in Iraq. Wrong but not manipulated. Did we also manipulate the spy shops in all the rest of the west who came to the same conclusion? The NYT is again wrong and absurdly so here. Also, when did any war go perfectly? In stunning victories over really tough opponents (Germany and Japan) we screwed the pooch in big ways-- the entire Italian campaign was one long ClusterF; as was the invasion of Palau, not to mention our defeats in the Philippines in the first place.

The NYT editors celebrate our victory by focusing on the mistakes we made, those proud patriots, and serve up this old chestnut:

America’s reputation has yet to fully recover from the horrors of Abu Ghraib.
Aw, the horror, the horror. Abu Ghraib must be just below Bergen Belsen in crimes against humanity, or just above initiations into Greek letter organizations every year at colleges all across America; it depends on actually putting the "horror" in context. There's more misguided finger pointing.

The country is still paying a huge price for President George W. Bush’s decision to shortchange the war in Afghanistan. American policy makers, for generations to come, must study these mistakes carefully and ensure that they are not repeated.

The good war versus the bad. After our near American casualty free ass-kicking of the Taliban in 2001, there was no more war to fight for a long time as the foe had fled the field to sanctuary in our putative ally, Pakistan. From that haven the Muslim extremists have launched recently increased efforts against the NATO coalition and it has become the major front of the Long War we're fighting because the extremists attacked us. Only someone with absolutely no idea of the real history of the war in Afghanistan could say we neglected it or say our efforts in Iraq caused shortages of anything there (other than an active enemy to fight).

The editors gloss over the total failure of the Obama administration to broker a deal to keep a few thousand American troops in Iraq (something even the Iraqis want) and then there's the big finish:

We celebrate [the troops'] return. But this country must never forget the intolerable costs of a war started on arrogance and lies.
We should forget the victory but remember our arrogance and lies.

Madre de Dios! There were no lies. And arrogance?

Liberating 25 million people from a brutal, Hitler-lite dictator is not arrogant or misguided.

Soundly defeating the extremists' efforts called al Qaeda in Iraq and showing the Muslim world who indeed was the weak horse and who the strong was not arrogant or misguided.

The very fact that we spent American lives to liberate strangers from an intolerable dictatorship makes the cost tolerable and the victory worth celebrating. The editors are 180 degrees wrong.

My good friend on the left is similarly sour on our victory and has bet me that there will be a new dictator in Iraq within two years of us leaving. OK, 728 days and counting. No dictator yet.


Thursday, December 08, 2011


Resons to Take Up Yoga

(h/t The Chive, probably the best site in the world)



Thought of the Day

But a fundamental question has never been answered: why in the world did the Obama administration not just allow AK-47s and other weapons to be shipped across the border to Mexican drug gangs, but encourage and even finance such transactions, over the objections of jittery gun shop owners and its own veteran agents? If the Obama administration wasn’t trying to set up an argument for more gun control, then what was it trying to do? That question has never been answered.

If the Obama administration did arrange for the shipment of arms to Mexican drug gangs, not for any legitimate public purpose but in order to advance a left-wing political agenda, and those guns were used to murder hundreds of Mexicans and at least one American border agent–which they were–then we are looking at a scandal that dwarfs any in modern American history.

John Hinderaker


Tuesday, December 06, 2011


Government Subsidies

Regarding outflow of revenue by the government, I make a distinction between revenue foregone (tax breaks) and direct payment (actual check from the government). I'm almost always for revenue foregone because I'd almost always rather people keep and spend their own money instead of sending it to the government to spend it, sometimes wastefully, indeed often wastefully. These two are very different things vis a vis actual outflow of revenue. For example, by static analysis, a cut in the tax rates would seem to "cost" the government the revenue it would have received were the tax rates left where they had been. People and economies are not static, however, and react to stimuli with different behavior. As such, most tax rate cuts (by Coolidge, Kennedy, Reagan and Bush (son), for example) have actually resulted in more revenue to the government, not less.

So I discount talk of a tax break being a cost to the government. Maybe it is, but maybe it isn't. I also think that clearly it is not spending. Writing a check from the treasury is spending. Not collecting taxes one theoretically might receive is not spending. We generally create a tax break to encourage behavior the majority feels creates a civic good.

Sorry for the preamble.

Here is a Boston Globe editorial from yesterday entitled: Clean-energy policies create jobs, and Congress should take note. (Yeah, they help the bankruptcy attorneys expand their staffs).

Most of the stimulus money spent on "green" energy has been a total waste. Solar and wind energy are worthless. But that's not what the editors of Boston's moribund daily paper think. They think we should send more.

And here is one of the things they use to justify it. Fossil fuel, they claim, is subsidized too. They write:

Between 2002 and 2008, the Environmental Law Institute has estimated, the US government spent $70 billion to subsidize traditional energy sources and $17 billion to subsidize corn ethanol.
Actually the Environmental Law Institute says it's $70.2 Billion to coal, oil and gas, $16.8 Billion to ethanol, and $12.2 Billion to "green" energy. I'll stipulate ethanol from corn for fuel is a big waste and we should stop that nonsense; but let's look closer at the numbers in this report from the ELI.

Forget the tax breaks. I'm only interested in the direct spending, the checks from the government.

For the "green" energy, they really don't account for the numbers they use in the website's graphic, but we know, independently, about the direct payments, the loan guarantees and the like, that have been expended (and, starting recently, that have been lost, wasted). Think Solyndra, Evergreen Energy and the dozens to come.

Here's what the ELI ilk call direct payments to the big oil, coal and gas, which they say totals over $18 Billion:

1) The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (which accounts for over a third of the so called direct payments--over $6 Billion). What? They admit that: "The purpose of LIHEAP is to prevent home energy shut-offs, rather than to intervene in energy markets." Let me translate that. This government program is not a direct payment to big oil, coal and gas but direct payments to state governments who in turn give it to poor people who can't pay the heat bill during winter and might well freeze to death without this help. This is charity to poor people, not a direct payment to big oil, coal and gas. Without these charity payments, the utilities would either cut off the deadbeats (and risk hypothermia for those in the cold household) or eat the deadbeats' unpaid bills and spread the loss around as much as they could to the paying customers. Under no rational structure of thought could this be called support for energy producers by the government, like the direct payments to wind and solar, etc. They must think we're morons.

2) The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (which accounts for another third, again more than $6 Billion). What? The idea is to have enough oil on hand to weather a cut off by the Middle East producers like what happened in the 70s. This is not support of big oil. It's just what it says it is, a storage of oil for a "rainy day."It is worse than a childlike pretending to say this storage of reserves is the same as the direct payment to Solyndra, etc. to keep the "green" producer in business. It gets worse.

3) The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund ($1. Billion). Oh, come on now. This is a fund for miners who have developed a disability; it is not in any way a payment to big coal. It is like the fund for asbestos related illnesses and is really just a specialized workers' compensation program. Only if the workers' compensation programs, which are mainly funded by the employers, are counted as a subsidy for each employer's field of endeavor, which no one ever does, could you count this as a subsidy for big coal. The miners got an extra largess from the feds for the disability above and beyond the state workers' compensation benefits, but it is again just charity from the government and there is no way the miners could have sued their employers successfully for their black lung (I'm from Appalachia and you'd be surprised by the number of people who have never been down a mine yet who claim to be suffering from black lung--but that's a different posting). The government is not paying off the sick miners as a way of shielding the coal companies from having to do so. The coal companies don't have to do so beyond getting workers' compensation insurance.

And then it just gets silly.

Not a single one of these so-called subsidies was even remotely a government payoff to the big oil, coal or gas companies. They are government programs to do other than pay money to big oil, coal or gas. At best, this is a through the looking glass sort of delusion to compare them to the $ Billions in direct payments to "green" energy. At worst, it is a knowing lie.

So there appears to be even less a reason to spend taxpayer and borrowed money of worthless wind turbines and solar panels because the actual energy producers in this country don't get a dime from the feds, not a dime!

Labels: ,


Snarky Chart of the Month

As you can see, the natural warming is completely different from the man-made warming. And this is the Phil Jones data set, which should not be used due to the fact, inter alia, that Jones has "lost" the original data and no one can check to see if it's accurate. And it's generally higher than the recent satellite data.

(h/t Steven Goddard)


Monday, December 05, 2011


How The Elephant Got a Trunk

Looks pretty painful. I hope the elephant is OK (like most humans I am a mammal chauvinist).



Depressing Chart of the Week


Saturday, December 03, 2011


Thought of the Day

In 1923, its finance minister was a man called Joseph Cattaui, a member of parliament, and a Jew. Couldn’t happen today. Mr. Cattaui’s grandson wrote to me recently from France, where the family now lives. In the unlikely event the forthcoming Muslim Brotherhood government wish to appoint a Jew as finance minister, there are very few left available. Indeed, Jews are so thin on the ground that those youthful idealists in Tahrir Square looking for Jews to club to a pulp have been forced to make do with sexually assaulting hapless gentiles like the CBS News reporter Lara Logan. It doesn’t fit the narrative, so even Miss Logan’s network colleagues preferred to look away. We have got used to the fact that Egypt is now a land without Jews. Soon it will be a land without Copts. We’ll get used to that, too.

Mark Steyn, being even more gloomy than usual, if that were possible.


Friday, December 02, 2011


Local Corruption

Here is a link (from Diomedes) which puts you at the good parts (for Coloradoans) of Throw Them All Out, a tell-all book about Congressional inside trading and conflicts of interest. The subject is Jared Polis (D--2nd Dist. CO).

Funny how no one in Colorado seems to want to talk about these allegations. What's up with that?



Hometown Lawyers Make the Sketchy List

From a link at Goodsh*t, here are the two Denver lawyers who make the Sketchy Lawyer Billboards gallery of shame.

At least these are the two I recognize.



Growing Old is Hard, Man

(h/t this isn't happiness)


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?