Archive for January, 2009

Of degrees and science and politics.

Friday, January 30th, 2009

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is producing a report on the effects of CO2 and global climate change. Of course, the study suggests that limits on CO2 production are necessary. There has been a lot of writing and talk about how “the overwhelming number” of scientists support the concept of anthropogenic global warming and endorse the extreme measures necessary to reduce its effect. Somewhere in all this, the credentials of the scientists became a major factor. After all, if “the science is settled,” it matters who settled it.

That resulted in a bit of a flap today. The lead author of the NOAA study was described as “Dr Tom Karl”, although that bio does not include a PhD. I don’t know if the bio has been “corrected” since yesterday but there has been an impression left with many in the climate world that he had a PhD. Like here.

Day 1 / Afternoon (Wednesday, June 11, 2003: NIST Auditorium)

Session 2: Customers Speak to the Government:
Economic Benefits / Customer Satisfaction
Moderator: Dr. Tom Karl

Anyway, the report was printed with his phantom PHD until it was noticed by NRO, after which the first draft disappeared. A new version is now up with ALL degrees omitted for ALL authors.

They can’t fix this, though.

In our further exploration of the social network of authorships in temperature reconstruction, we found that at least 43 authors have direct ties to Dr. Mann by virtue of coauthored papers with him. Our findings from this analysis suggest that authors in the area of paleoclimate studies are closely connected and thus ‘independent studies’ may not be as independent as they might appear on the surface. This committee does not believe that web logs are an appropriate forum for the scientific debate on this issue.

It is important to note the isolation of the paleoclimate community; even though they rely heavily on statistical methods they do not seem to be interacting with the statistical community. Additionally, we judge that the sharing of research materials, data and results was haphazardly and grudgingly done. In this case we judge that there was too much reliance on peer review, which was not necessarily independent. Moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that this community can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility.


A tale of thermostats

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

The new president famously told us that we could no longer keep our thermostats at 72 degrees, drive SUVs and otherwise offend the earth in the era of “climate change.” Well, some pigs are more equal than others.

“He’s from Hawaii, O.K.?” said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. “He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”

OK, more change.

There is still time for common sense.

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

The House has passed the pork-filled “stimulus bill” with no Republican votes and 12 Democrats voting no. It passed because the Democrats have a large majority just now. Those 12 Democrat no votes may believe that the majority will be less in 2010 if it passes and they may believe they are prime candidates to suffer the consequences.

Earlier, the House rejected a Republican substitute that would have emphasized tax cuts. Republicans said their version would have created twice as many jobs as the Democrats’ bill.
“The American people need a plan that works,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio.

Tax cuts, like a payroll tax holiday, would immediately put money in working families pockets and would cost no more than the obscene pork laden wish list the Democrats just passed. I am proud of the Republicans for sticking together.

The next step is in the Senate but, hopefully, second thoughts about TARP II will derail the Pelosi-Reid express. Not everybody was convinced.

In testimony before the House Budget Committee yesterday, Alice M. Rivlin, who was President Bill Clinton’s budget director, suggested splitting the plan, implementing its immediate stimulus components now and taking more time to plan the longer-term transformative spending to make sure it is done right.

“Such a long-term investment program should not be put together hastily and lumped in with the anti-recession package. The elements of the investment program must be carefully planned and will not create many jobs right away,” said Rivlin, a fellow at the Brookings Institution. The risk, she said, is that “money will be wasted because the investment elements were not carefully crafted.”

Some of those Democrats have not lost their senses.

“Every penny of the $825 billion is borrowed against the future of our kids and grandkids, and so the question is: What benefit are we providing them? What are we doing for the country? It’s the difference between real investment that will serve the nation for 30, 50 years and tax cuts, and that’s a very poor tradeoff,” said Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.). “I go to my district and people say, ‘Yeah, I can use 10 extra bucks a week, but I would rather see more substantial investment.’ We’ve gone through a couple bubbles that were borrowing and consumer-driven. We want a recovery that’s solid and based in investment and productivity, and that points us at building things that will serve us decades to come.”

Then, they have to consider that TARP II, the funding for the “Bad Bank” is coming soon, if that program is adopted. That might be a real solution instead of the pork party the “stimulus bill” passed today has become.

The Obama administration is moving closer to setting up a so-called bad bank in its effort to break the back of the credit crisis and may use the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to manage it, two people familiar with the matter said.

U.S. stocks gained, extending a global rally, on optimism the bad-bank plan will help shore up the economy. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index rose 3.1 percent to 871.70 at 2:40 p.m. in New York. Bank of America Corp., down 54 percent this year before today, rose 84 cents, or 13 percent, to $7.34. Citigroup Inc., which had fallen 47 percent this year, climbed 17 percent.

The financial stock rally should show that this is a real stimulus, not a pork barrel project.

John Updike has died and left a memento

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

John Updike was a novelist who wrote about business men and people who lived in small New England towns. He was not exotic at all. He has left this reminiscence of his politics when he was the rare author and artist to remain a patriot in the 1960s. A couple of anecdotes:

A response to a BBC questionnaire on Vietnam in 1966. It got him into trouble.

Like most Americans I am uncomfortable about our military adventure in South Vietnam; but in honesty I wonder how much of the discomfort has to do with its high cost, in lives and money, and how much with its moral legitimacy. I do not believe that the Vietcong and Ho Chi Minh have a moral edge over us, nor do I believe that great powers can always avoid using their power. I am for our intervention if it does some good—specifically, if it enables the people of South Vietnam to seek their own political future. It is absurd to suggest that a village in the grip of guerrillas has freely chosen, or that we owe it to history to bow before a wave of the future engineered by terrorists. The crying need is for genuine elections whereby the South Vietnamese can express their will. If their will is for Communism, we should pick up our chips and leave. Until such a will is expressed, and as long as no willingness to negotiate is shown by the other side, I do not see that we can abdicate our burdensome position in South Vietnam.

On a visit to the Soviet Union in 1964.

And yet I came away from that month, and the two subsequent weeks in the Eastern-bloc countries Bulgaria, Rumania, and Czechoslovakia, with a hardened antipathy to Communism. The difference between our empires was not, as many were beginning to say, and were to say louder and louder during the impending Vietnam years, six of one and a half-dozen of the other. It was more like eleven of one and one of the other. Ours was the distinctly better mousetrap.

He was there during the 1964 election. I must confess that I also voted for Johnson, but for different reasons.

in 1964 I went to considerable trouble to vote inside the Soviet Union, casting at the American embassy in Moscow my absentee ballot for Lyndon Johnson and against that warmonger Barry Goldwater; my peaceloving Russian hosts were as relieved as I at the Johnson landslide. One source of my sense of grievance against the peace movement when it came was that I hadn’t voted for any of its figures—not for Abbie Hoffman or Father Daniel Berrigan or Reverend William Sloane Coffin or Jonathan Schell or Lillian Hellman or Joan Baez or Jane Fonda or Jerry Rubin or Doctor Spock or Eugene McCarthy. I had voted for Lyndon Johnson, and thus had earned my American right not to make a political decision for another four years. If he and his advisers (transferred intact, most of them, from Kennedy’s Camelot) had somehow got us into this mess, they would somehow get us out, and it was a citizen’s plain duty to hold his breath and hope for the best, not parade around full of pious unction and crocodile tears and power hunger and supercilious rage.

On the peace movement and its contempt for Lyndon Johnson. I believe this comment is pertinent on the contempt, and hatred, for Bush by the political left today.

The protest, from my perspective, was in large part a snobbish dismissal of Johnson by the Eastern establishment; Cambridge professors and Manhattan lawyers and their guitar-strumming children thought they could run the country and the world better than this lugubrious bohunk from Texas. These privileged members of a privileged nation believed that their pleasant position could be maintained without anything visibly ugly happening in the world. They were full of aesthetic disdain for their own defenders, the business-suited hirelings drearily pondering geopolitics and its bloody necessities down in Washington. The protesters were spitting on the cops who were trying to keep their property—the USA and its many amenities—intact. A common report in this riotous era was of slum-dwellers throwing rocks and bottles at the firemen come to put out fires; the peace marchers, the upper-middle-class housewives pushing baby carriages along in candlelit processions, seemed to me to be behaving identically, without the excuse of being slum-dwellers.

On the occasion of a visit of Soviet artists and writers to America.

Arthur Miller, no reactionary, said it best when, a few years later, he and I and some other Americans riding the cultural-exchange bandwagon had entertained, in New York or Connecticut, several visiting Soviet colleagues. The encounter was handsomely catered, the dialogue was loud and lively, the will toward friendship was earnest and in its way intoxicating, but upon our ebullient guests’ departure Miller looked at me and said sighingly, “Jesus, don’t they make you glad you’re an American?”

And so, he is gone. He never considered himself anything but a liberal Democrat but that brand has changed beyond recognition. The piece above was written in 1989 and I wonder what his thoughts would be today on Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic Party.

The Obama-Pelosi-Reid future

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

UPDATE: Can common sense be breaking out in Washington? Maybe so. If the Democrats shoot their bolt on the pork fest, will they have the guts to come back and do what is needed ?

I wonder how many people think of where the government program of nationalizing failing industry will end up. It might be here, and here.

PARTS of the United Kingdom have become so heavily dependent on government spending that the private sector is generating less than a third of the regional economy, a new analysis has found.

The study of “Soviet Britain” has found the government’s share of output and expenditure has now surged to more than 60% in some areas of England and over 70% elsewhere.

Experts believe the recession will tighten the state’s grip still further as benefit handouts soar and Labour directs public sector organisations to create jobs to soak up unemployment.

In the northeast of England the state is expected to be responsible for 66.4% of the economy this year, up from 58.7% when a similar study was carried out four years ago. When Labour came to power, the figure was 53.8%.

The areas affected are in the north:

Across the whole of the UK, 49% of the economy will consist of state spending, while in Wales, the figure will be 71.6% – up from 59% in 2004-5. Nowhere in mainland Britain, however, comes close to Northern Ireland, where the state is responsible for 77.6% of spending, despite the supposed resurgence of the economy after the end of the Troubles.

Even in southern England, the government’s share of spending is growing relentlessly. In the southeast, it has gone up from 33% to 36% of the economy in four years.

Southeast England is the prosperous area of Greater London and the last refuge of the “Anglo-Saxon Way” according to the French. It is no accident that it is also the home of the “French Silicone Valley.” The rest of Britain (They discourage the term England) is a wasteland, for the most part, and is well described in Theodore Dalrymple’s books.

America has been a special place but that may be changing as we have a new Europhile president (who doesn’t speak any other languages in spite of his scolding of the rest of us) who seems enamoured of socialism.

There is an alternative, as explained here, but it is unlikely to be adopted by this Congress. Republicans should keep their distance from this plan for failure. That would leave them able to offer an alternative for 2010. Obama knows this and he knows that Clinton learned this lesson the hard way when he passed his tax increase in 1993 without Republican votes. The woman who cast the deciding vote lost her re-election campaign in 1994. She was a conservative Democrat and was warned of the consequences as she cast her vote. I hope our Republicans remember that story.

Here is more analysis that concludes the end result will be a European Social Welfare State. Especially note the lack of defense and law enforcement spending in the bill. We need to replace a lot of worn-out equipment in our military and that should count as “infrastructure.” It isn’t there.

Pious Fraternizer With Evil

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

“Hamas can be trusted,” said Jimmy Carter, ex-president and moral ignoramus, in a recent television interview with Meredith Viera.

Carter was arguing for Israel to accept the terrorist group Hamas as a legitimate partner for peace, saying peace without Hamas was impossible. From the article linked above:

“The former US President said that he has been promised by the organization’s leaders in Damascus and Gaza that Hamas would honor agreements between Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas and Israel, as long as they were supported by public referendum.”

If Carter would have read more and moralized less, he would know Hamas has always maintained that any agreements to stop hostilities with Israel are only temporary. Their word for it is “hudna,” which is not peace, but a temporary lull in fighting. The ultimate goal remains the destruction of Israel, as Hamas leader Nizar Rayyan, now happily enjoying his 72 virgins, made clear in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic.

There was no flexibility with Rayyan. This is what he said when I asked him if he could envision a 50-year hudna (or cease-fire) with Israel: “The only reason to have a hudna is to prepare yourself for the final battle. We don’t need 50 years to prepare ourselves for the final battle with Israel.” There is no chance, he said, that true Islam would ever allow a Jewish state to survive in the Muslim Middle East. “Israel is an impossibility. It is an offense against God.”

I asked him if he believed, as some Hamas theologians do (and certainly as many Hezbollah leaders do) that Jews are the “sons of pigs and apes.” He gave me an interesting answer that reflects a myopic reading of the Koran. “Allah changed disobedient Jews into apes and pigs, it is true, but he specifically said these apes and pigs did not have the ability to reproduce. So it is not literally true that Jews today are descended from pigs and apes, but it is true that some of the ancestors of Jews were transformed into pigs and apes, and it is true that Allah continually makes the Jews pay for their crimes in many different ways. They are a cursed people.”

Carter was evidently too busy meeting in Damascus and elsewhere with Hamas to do some elementary reading. Moreover, he doesn’t appear to consider Hamas a terrorist organization:


Thus, when Vieira notes that “you’ve been criticized for [meeting with Hamas], sir, because Hamas is considered a terrorist group,” Carter gives a little grin and responds:

By some they are, and they’ve done some bad things, but for instance a year before we had the cease-fire that I helped to orchestrate last June the 19th, there was one Israeli killed by rockets. And on an average, 49 Palestinians were killed every month during that previous year. And as soon as the cease-fire went into effect, Hamas obeyed it completely. There was no serious rocket fire during the next four or five months. Whereas, Israel did not restore providing provisions for the — for the Palestinians and Gaza.

In actuality, four Israelis were killed in rocket fire in the year prior to the cease-fire that began on June 19, 2008.


Jimmy Carter, blind in his vast pride and ignorance, has set a record for ex-presidents in legitimizing a hateful barbarian gang. Proclaiming the purest motives, Carter has embraced a foul, malignant evil. In the eyes of history, that negative and foolish legacy will far outweigh any good he’s done.

The loons in Congress are stepping on Obama’s lines

Monday, January 26th, 2009

President Obama has called for bipartisan action on the national financial crisis. He met with Republican Congressmen and, aside from a few tacky snipes about Rush Limbaugh, seemed interested in cooperation. However, the lunatics in Congress, like John Conyers, who wants to impeach Bush or prosecute him for war crimesare less interested in cooperation and more in headlines. Conyers is a reliable fool and evidence of why Congressional reform is needed but he is still a committee chairman and almost as obnoxious as his school board member wife. They make quite a pair and do much to explain the collapse of Detroit as a major city.

The coming hyperinflation

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

UPDATE #2: Today, Robert Samuelson has a column that discusses the crisis and which makes a couple of the points I’ve been making.

Traumatized by plunging home values and stock prices — which have shaved at least $7 trillion from personal wealth — they’ve curbed spending and increased saving.

I’ve made the point that we have been criticized for our low savings rate but the world has, at the same time, been dependent on us to drive the economy, especially for the Asian export economies.

High-saving Asian countries have relied on export-led growth that, in turn, has required American consumers to spend ever-larger shares of their incomes. Huge trade imbalances have resulted: U.S. deficits, Asian surpluses. As Americans cut spending, this pattern is no longer sustainable. Asia is tumbling into recession.

There is even a theory that the entire bubble is a consequence of China’s manipulation of its currency, funneling huge surpluses into the US capital markets.

Geithner is correct that China manipulates its currency. What’s more, this manipulation is arguably the most important cause of the financial crisis. Starting around the middle of this decade, China’s cheap currency led it to run a massive trade surplus. The earnings from that surplus poured into the United States. The result was the mortgage bubble.

Did the US demand simply draw all that investment money ? Is it our fault ?

If Americans’ insatiable appetite for loans explained the flood of Chinese capital into the United States, we would have seen the evidence in a rising price for those loans — that is, higher interest rates in the bond market. But bond rates were strikingly low at mid-decade. This strongly suggests that it was the supply of lending that went up, not the demand for it. Chinese money flooded into the United States because of the push factor from China, not the pull factor from Americans.

Interesting theory and it seems to be the policy of the new Treasury Secretary.


UPDATE: Here is a Bruce Bartlett piece on the stimulus package and the economy that seems to me to be a good summary of the history of economic slumps since 1929.

The Weimar Republic ended in a hyperinflation that radicalized the German middle class and led the way for Hitler. Some of that was deliberate as the Germans decided to inflate their currency to wipe out war reparations. That couldn’t happen here, could it ? Look at this graph.

Look at that chart. It is the US money supply. Look at the curve, then look at 2008. Yes, that is a vertical straight line. It looks like Weimar Germany to me.

The coming ice age ???

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

This is interesting. The Obama people are talking about science being restored with his election but he has appointed one of the worst AGW hysterics as his science advisor. Canada will not be happy about it and maybe my property in Tucson will appreciate.

This pretty much states my opinion.

More recently, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers, an American Meteorological Society certified meteorologist, said, “You know, to think that we (humans) could affect weather all that much is pretty arrogant.”

I think we will know in another few years. That may be too late for Obama to avoid looking the fool.

The NFL goes Obama

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

I like pro football almost as much as I like college football. They are the only sports besides golf that I watch on TV. This however, is not helping my enthusiasm for the Super Bowl.

Since 9/11/01 it has become quite the event to have military color guards present the colors and be present during the singing of the National Anthem at sporting events of all kinds, and at Super Bowl XLIII this will also take place. So to say I was surprised when I received this email from a distraught Marine Mom would be an understatement:

“My youngest Marine called me this morning. In the course of the conversation he made mention of being part of the Color Guard for the ceremonies at the Super Bowl. He has been part of other Color Guards at other games and has been able to enjoy the entire game after presenting the Colors. HOWEVER, this will not be the case this time. The 12 man/women color guard will be presenting the Colors and then will be escorted out of the stadium and therefore not allowed to see the game.

The Age of Obama is here. I would think that the military should decline the honor of presenting the colors at the game.

I wonder if this guy knows ?

Greg Aiello
Senior Vice President of Public Relations
National Football League
280 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017-1216