Sunday, September 29, 2013

Broncos v Eagles

At some point you just start feeling sorry for whoever is playing the Broncos. Unless, of course they are playing Oakland. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Climate Change.

 May 7, 2013

Don't get me wrong. I believe there is a greenhouse effect. I believe climate changes due to that and I believe man has an impact. But leaping from those beliefs to the prescription we need a hydrocarbon starvation diet is a bit much.

July 5, 2012
I do believe man impacts climate. How can man not impact climate? The only way we can eliminate man's impact on climate is eliminate man. I'm not willing to accept that step.

February 10, 2012
But you can admit the climate is changing and not agree to the Al Gore/Jim Hansen/Joe Romm solution. Or you can agree the climate is changing, but the predictions of the feedback loops are highly speculative.

May 22, 2013
What I find curious about these jeremiads is they (willfully?) ignore the progress that has been made in carbon emissions in the US since 2007. You can't get this from the Times or the Green blogs, but carbon emissions in the US is down, since 2007 by 12%. Lots of reasons. More natural gas, more wind, less consumption. But it's just odd to me the climate crisis mongers never seem to recognize this.

In fact, the entire history of the world is one of moving to fuels that are less carbon intensive. Dung, wood, coal, oil, natural gas are successively less carbon intensive. So why wouldn't a reasonable person applaud the extensive deposits of natural gas in the US, and the substitution it encourages for oil and coal. I think it's partly a zealotry that ignores the benefits of fossil fuels, like keeping us warm in the winter, cool in the summer, providing light at night and mobility to all, you know the small stuff of life, and partly an arrogance that believes the hoi polloi exist for the elites to manage.

Still A Man Hears What he Wants To Hear And Disregards The Rest


If I follow the implications of your recent global warming post and the thread of your arguments generally, it's this. Those who argue that climate change is the result of human fossil fuel use are misguided at best and devious at worst. They're just wrong and we can/should ignore them. And even if they turn out to be right there isn't a damn thing we're should do about about it. Bad for the economy after all. So drill baby drill-the planet will do just fine.

As I've said before, I hope you're right, since that is surely what we as a species will do. We're not really constructed, evolutionarily speaking, to do anything else. The idea that a group of highly educated, ethically motivated, wise men and women should have anything useful to say about such a question is not going to be accepted by those of us who find their Cassandra like tidings inconvenient for the lives we lead. So don't even bother to engage them in a rational debate about the merits of their findings and the risk of inaction.  Discredit them. Attack their honesty  Threaten their professional careers and their well being.


ObamaCare: A Free Toaster with Every Appendectomy

In the 80's when interest rates were regulated (Regulation Q among others) banks would compete for deposits by offering things like free toasters. As a matter of fact, when wages were regulated during WWII, businesses offered health insurance as a way to compete for workers.

The NY Times pointed out hospitals engage in the same behavior today. The Times doesn't connect the dots, but John Goodman does here, and here. If prices are set, businesses compete on a non-price aspect. For hospitals, the non-price aspect includes amenities, which is the subject of the Times piece.

Expect more of this under Obamacare. When prices are distorted, businesses still compete, just on other non-price items. A free toaster with every appendectomy.


EPA Policies Increase Carbon Emissions

Burning coal produces more carbon than burning natural gas. When the EPA moves to limit coal in the US, it reduces demand in the US and coal prices. See EIA link below. US coal producers then seek markets elsewhere, Europe for instance, where natural gas prices are much higher. More coal is burned in Europe.

Thanks EPA.

Multiple factors push Western Europe to use less natural gas and more coal



It's That Time Of Year


My beloved Red Sox reenter the post season for the 1st time in three years with the best record in the American League. Hope springs eternal.

Here's a snippet from Pedro Martinez' interview with Globe on the occasion of his decision to accept a post as a post game commentator. Martinez, the best Red Sox pitcher of his and many other generations, and a deeply religious man, has an equanimity that can only be envied. Would that you and I have the same peace of mind at the end of our careers.

Martinez: "Yes, yes. Baseball was beautiful, the best job ever. But everything has to end. My end came right on time. I feel great, I don't feel like I miss much. I miss competing, and I miss being with my teammates. And the use of time -- it's something that drove me nuts right after I retired, all that free time. But now I've found refuge in fishing, I'm going to start picking up golf, working with the Red Sox in what they ask me to do. And broadcasting is a part of it. This is part of it. Having the opportunity to stay watching baseball and talking about baseball, that is what I love. I'm very lucky."

But you can admit it, right? If John Farrell needed you to come in in the seventh to get a tough righty out as the bridge to Koji Uehara over these next couple of weeks, you've got a couple of bullets left and the guile to still do it, right?

Martinez: [Laughs] "No, no, John has plenty of much younger guys out there who can come in and do it, you'll see. Plenty of good arms, exciting arms. I'm the old man to them. This is their time now."

The United States Does Not Negotiate With Terrorists


That makes the President's response to the Suicide Caucus simple.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Federalist: Are Robots Killing the Middle Class

The answer, of course, is no. See the whole post here.

My favorite question posed in the article is:

Question: Which one of these things is more likely to undermine economic activity:
a) Twitter
b) over 12,000 new pages of regulations added by this administration


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Could Never Happen Here

I saw this headline and thought, "What is wrong with them?"

"Terrorism: Senate Back Move to Give NSA, SSS, Police Powers to Intercept Communications." Turns out, the story is from Nigeria.
According to the sponsor of the bill, Senator Galaudu, the bill will assist, simplify and facilitate the role of national security agencies in tracking terrorism or crime against national security or human dignity, using communication or telecommunication services 
According to the sponsor of the bill, Senator Galaudu, the bill will assist, simplify and facilitate the role of national security agencies in tracking terrorism or crime against national security or human dignity, using communication or telecommunication services - See more at:
Terrorism: Senate Back Move To Give NSA, SSS, Police Powers To Intercept Communication - See more at: Senate Back Move To Give NSA, SSS, Police Powers To Intercept Communication - See more at:
 Protecting against crimes against human dignity. Sounds noble. The Act
empowers the Attorney-General of the Federation, the National Security Adviser or the Inspector General of Police to acquire information relating to terrorist groups and terrorist acts and conduct investigations or search with or without warrant to prevent or establish a crime of terrorism in Nigeria.
With or without a warrant. Why get a warrant when human dignity is involved? Oddly enough, someone thought there might be a danger in the bill:
Expressing fears about the abuse of the bill, Senator Atai Aidoki Ali said, "This will be an opportunity for government to witch-hunt the opposition without court order and the bill portends some sort of danger."
 But that could never happen here.
Terrorism: Senate Back Move To Give NSA, SSS, Police Powers To Intercept Communication - See more at:
Terrorism: Senate Back Move To Give NSA, SSS, Police Powers To Intercept Communication - See more at:
Terrorism: Senate Back Move To Give NSA, SSS, Police Powers To Intercept Communication - See more at:

Monday, September 16, 2013

America: Still Land of Opportunity

I know I'm supposed to believe inequality is bad and (somehow) responsible for all sorts of (undefined) evils. For some reason inequality in sports isn't questioned. Superstars make a lot more money than journeymen, and somehow the quality of the sports product has increased dramatically. But if inequality were (somehow) responsible for all sorts of (undefined) evils why does this not seem to be the case in sports? Sports is "different" I suspect will be the (attempted) answer.

I know I'm supposed to believe America is no longer the land of opportunity. We are stuck. If our parents are poor. We will be poor. If our parents are rich we will be rich. This contradicts my own experience and I haven't seen convincing evidence of this assertion.

Forbes recently published its 32nd list of the 400 richest people in America. I glanced at the list and was not very surprised to see 32 of the top 50 (I got bored) were self made and 18 inherited. Even the 18 is probably over-stated, but I'll give inherited wealth a leg up.

The Self-made of the Top 50 are worth $631 billion and the inherited worth $365 billion. No Rockefellers, Kennedy's, Morgan's, Carnegies anywhere.

I know, I'm supposed to believe America is the land of inequality and the common self-made person is a thing of the past. But I don't.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Policy and Inequality

This is from the Washington Post which is taking it from a paper found here:

I think it's fair to say Clinton was the most free market of the three (Clinton, Bush, Obama), Bush the second most free market and Obama the least. So if you believe policies have consequences, and I count myself in that crowd, then free market policies may be an explanation for different higher income growth of the bottom 99% during the three recoveries. That's how I look at the table.

If you disagree, how do you explain the horrible income growth of the 99% under Obama?

PS. I think it's interesting Clinton gets a recovery named after him. So does Bush. But who was President from 2009-2012?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

More Infuriating and Scary NSA News

This from

National Security Agency personnel regularly searched call tracking data using thousands of numbers that had not been vetted in accordance with court-ordered procedures, according to previously secret legal filings and court opinions released by the Obama administration Tuesday.

The agency also falsely certified to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that analysts and technicians were complying with the court’s insistence that searches only be done with numbers that had a “reasonable, articulable suspicion” of terrorism, according to a senior intelligence official who briefed reporters prior to release of the documents .

The unauthorized searches went on for about three years until they were discovered in March 2009.
Don't worry we were told by the President, the Vice-President, John McCain, Peter King, Nancy Pelosi, Diane Feinstein, Jim Clapper, Keith Alexander et al. The NSA is protecting you. It is your friend. It keeps you safe at night. No one is doing anything illegal nor invading your privacy.

Lies. All lies.


The Sky is Falling: Sequester Edition

The whole post is good, but this is the money section.

And the Grand Finale: The Macroeconomic Advisers Analysis That Krugman Endorsed Was Totally Wrong
I’ve saved the best for last. All of the above could understandably be construed as quibbling by a Krugman fan. Ah, but what if we click Krugman’s link and actually look at the analysis that generated the “700,000 jobs” figure? Then we’ll see the exact context of that prediction, and realize that it has been repudiated by observations–at least in the same way that the Romer/Bernstein report was totally repudiated. 

The Macroeconomic Advisers report first constructs a baseline projection of GDP growth without the sequester, than overlays it with their projections of how GDP growth will be reduced if the sequester happens. This forms the basis of their projections of slower job growth: lower government spending ==> lower output growth ==> fewer workers needed to create that output.

So, if you flip to the tables at the end of the report, you’ll see that its baseline forecast of GDP growth in the second quarter of 2013 was 2.4 percent. But, if the sequester kicks in, in this “Alternative Scenario” they were projecting GDP growth in 2q2013 of only 1.1 percent. Okay, you can see that the sequester was modeled to have a humongous impact on the economy then, in the second quarter of 2013–a reduction of growth of 1.3 percentage points, almost cutting the baseline growth forecast in half.
Now, leaving the world of the Macroeconomic Advisers Keynesian model, what actually happened in the real world? Well, according to the BEA, the best estimate right now of 2q2013 GDP growth is 2.5 percent.
Does everyone see the absolute deliciousness of this? The actual GDP growth in 2q2013 was higher with the sequester than the Macroeconomic Adviser report said it would be without sequester. It is thus the mirror image of the Romer/Bernstein projection of the stimulus package’s impact on unemployment.
 The first part of the post deals in part with how evidence won't change anyone's mind.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Syria Meets The Domino Theory

From Politico

>Retired Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, former CIA director under President Barack Obama, called strongly Saturday for Congress to back the White House on Syria, declaring that military action against the regime is "necessary" to deter "Iran, North Korea and other would-be aggressors."

>"Failure of Congress to approve the president's request would have serious ramifications not just in the Mideast but around the world," Petraeus said in a four-sentence statement provided to POLITICO.

Now the threat isn't Syria and crossing a "red line." The threat is the Axis of Evil 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Our Absurd Syrian Debate.

The decision to bomb or not bomb Syria is often characterized as important or meaningful. Is that even close to the case?

This campaign is intended to be limited in duration and intensity. It is not intended to oust Assad. It is not intended to eliminate chemical weapons. It is meant as a message, and only a message that there will be limited consequences of low intensity and short duration that falls short of regime change and elimination of the ability to use chemical weapons if a red line is crossed. 

The volume of the debate in Washington and how this matter is characterized by the peripatetic press (Look! There's a squirrel!)  is absurd. This is not a decision of great import. Bombing will have no lasting impact. I would guess that why opinion polls show overwhelming opposition. 


Avoiding a vote of "No confidence" in Obama is not a good enough reason to bomb Syria.

Walter Russell Mead almost convinced me the US should take action against Syria, almost.

Now the President is twisting lonesomely in the wind, and the question is whether Congress will ride to the rescue. If it doesn’t, it will be the closest thing the American system has to a parliamentary vote of “no confidence”, where Congress explicitly declares to the world that the President of the United States does not speak for the country.
But giving the go-ahead to bomb Syria gives a blank check to the Presidency (not just Obama) and I don't want that to happen either. Imagine if the President (not just Obama) could paint red lines whenever and wherever he/she wanted knowing the US would back him/her up simply to avoid a vote of no confidence.

What bother me most about this entire episode is there doesn't seem to be a clear reason, by anyone, not  just the President, to bomb Syria. Most admit our vital interests aren't at stake. All admit we have not been attacked. All admit this is a humanitarian disaster but can not explain why we are taking notice of this one and not the dozen that occurred over the past few years nor the next dozen that will occur in the next two years.

The best reason, and it's not a very good one, is posted by Mead. But unless we get safeguards on the President's (not just this one) future behavior, that seems fraught with negative consequences as well.


Can Congress Vote on Syria So we Can Re-fous on the NSA and IRS crimes?

Why does the US Government think I'm a terrorist? Why is it vacuuming up metadata on my phone calls and via the Prism program gaining access to data I save in the cloud, which by the way, includes the IP addresses of anyone looking at this or any other blog? I hope Congress votes soon on Syria so it can re-focus on the invasion of privacy perpetrated by the NSA.

And I still haven't forgotten about the IRS and its jihad against Tea Party groups.

From "Blog and Mablog," channeling Obama

I want Congress to authorize something I don’t believe they need to authorize, and which I reserve the right to do anyway whether or not they authorize it, in order that I might defend the credibility of a red line I didn’t actually draw, so that I may take decisive action that will not in any way affect the momentum of the Syrian civil war or, if it accidentally does, al-Qaeda will the stronger for it, in order that I might have a chance to do what I have spent a decade yelling about other people doing.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

You Know Obama is in trouble when a knee-jerk supporter claims his incompetence is brilliant.

From the Washington Post:
Boxed in by red-line rhetoric and the Sunday show warriors, the Obama administration needed to somehow mobilize the opposition to war in Syria. It did that by “fumbling” the roll-out terribly.
Oh wait, they were being ironic:

The Obama administration’s strategy to cool the country on this war without expressly backing away from the president’s red lines has been brilliant, Hill aides say (just look at the polls showing overwhelming opposition!). If they are going to go to war, their efforts to goad Congress into writing a punitively narrow authorization of force that sharply limits any potential for escalation have worked beautifully. 
Believing anything else — like this is how the administration is actually leading the United States into conflict — is too unsettling.
That's even worse. Door number 1-incompetent. Door number 2-feckless.

The only "compelling" reason to bomb Syria is to keep Obama from losing face, since he said there would be consequences of crossing his imaginary red line. At least from my seat, if that's the most compelling argument, doing nothing is better.

Where is the partisan hackery when you need it? Obama will probably cobble together a coalition of the hawkish Republicans and Democrats and slavish lap dogs eg. Pelosi and as many of her caucus she can whip into shape.

This bipartisanship will be forgotten by the peripatetic media (Look! there's a squirrel!) next week when issues Congress can't agree on are due to be discussed.


Hiding in NYC

One of the things I love about NYC is seeing something for the first time, even though it has been there for 100 years.

Like this building, The Cunard Line Building at 25 Broadway. Imagine that, a shipping company so substantial it had its own building in NYC.  The Cunard Line owned the Lusitania, which was sunk by the Germans and one of the catalysts for the US entering WWI.

I came across this building while walking through Little Italy. It is the former headquarters of the NYC police, from 19090 to 1973. Beautiful structure.

Today I was in City Hall Park. A few of the tables have a checkerboard patterns painted on the surface. There were multiple chess games taking place, with observers. Of course. Who can resist stopping and watching a live chess game?