Friday, December 24, 2010

William Kristol is gay... well, not literally

Kristol in his column says that conservatives should not get excited about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. There should not be a call for servicemen to resign, or boycott enlistment, or refuse to re-enlist when their option comes up. The military can adapt to this, he says.

...As Fiano writes, it’s a “massive insult to our military” to assume that soldiers can’t handle the challenge of integrating openly gay troops. True, this is a burden they might have been spared while fighting two wars. But they’ll deal with it. As General James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps and an opponent of repeal, said shortly after the legislation passed:
The Marine Corps will step out smartly to faithfully implement this new policy. I, and the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, will personally lead this effort, thus ensuring the respect and dignity due all Marines. On this matter, we look forward to further demonstrating to the American people the discipline and loyalty that have been the hallmark of the United States Marine Corps for over 235 years.

Fiano observes that Gen. Amos “is putting service before his own objections,” and comments, “Many Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen will likely do the exact same thing.”

President Obama said last week, speaking “to all Americans”: “Your country needs you, your country wants you, and we will be honored to welcome you into the ranks of the finest military the world has ever known.” Our fine servicemen and women won’t quit, they won’t whine, they won’t fret, and they won’t cause a scene. Conservatives owe it to them to conduct ourselves with the same composure and dignity.


But Kristol misses the point. Just as with the integration of women in more areas of the military and numerous practical problems that has caused, this is one more proof that the elites are more interested in advancing their agendas than they are in defending the country, killing bad guys, blowing things up, and advancing the cause of freedom. You haven't seen Obama grinning like a hyena over any of our victories in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ever. But repeal DADT, and it looks like Obama and the every liberal elite power-broker in Washington just had a toke of happy gas. They're positively giddy. America loses, they celebrate.

As such, I think Americans ought to refuse to serve in a service that increasingly sacrifices its primary purpose to secondary liberal shibboleths. And recent history is the greatest proof that such is the reality than anything I can think of.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Do flu vaccines really work?

A seasonal reminder that not all we've been told by the "authorities" about flu vaccine can actually be demonstrated scientifically. The benefits may be somewhat dubious.

Since there is a dogma, a party line, that vaccination will reduce death rates by 50%, no one will do proper scientific studies to test the truth of it. However, there are more than a few reasons to doubt that the rate of efficacy is anything near that number. Careful epidemiological studies that have been done certainly challenge the conventional wisdom.

The Atlantic Magazine did a landmark article last year on the subject, and it is long but worth reading.

Does The Vaccine Matter? by Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer

"...The history of flu vaccination suggests other reasons to doubt claims that it dramatically reduces mortality. In 2004, for example, vaccine production fell behind, causing a 40 percent drop in immunization rates. Yet mortality did not rise. In addition, vaccine “mismatches” occurred in 1968 and 1997: in both years, the vaccine that had been produced in the summer protected against one set of viruses, but come winter, a different set was circulating. In effect, nobody was vaccinated. Yet death rates from all causes, including flu and the various illnesses it can exacerbate, did not budge. Sumit Majumdar, a physician and researcher at the University of Alberta, in Canada, offers another historical observation: rising rates of vaccination of the elderly over the past two decades have not coincided with a lower overall mortality rate. In 1989, only 15 percent of people over age 65 in the U.S. and Canada were vaccinated against flu. Today, more than 65 percent are immunized. Yet death rates among the elderly during flu season have increased rather than decreased. "

If you dare to know the truth about this controversy, read the entire article at this link -- -- or do a Google search for "Atlantic Magazine Does The Vaccine Matter."

Obama Debt Increase

In less than two years, from Jan. 20, 2009 - Dec. 20, 2010, total federal debt has increased $3.256 Trillion.

The average interest rate on the marketable portion of that debt is 2.36%, and the average interest rate on the non-marketable portion 4.13%.

I do not have the figures for the past two years in terms of average interest rate on all debt issuance. Much of it is short term, which must be rolled over frequently. But if the average interest rate of new debt the Obama Administration and Democrat Congress has taken on was only 2%, that would mean interest on the money Obama's Treasury has borrowed in the last 23 months will cost us $65 billion next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. And the year after that.
I frankly don't know whether my guesstimate of 2% interest is correct, and of course as short term debt is rolled over that number will change as new bills will earn a new rate, whatever that is. (Every since Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke started Quantitative Easing, which he claimed would lower interest rates, interest rates on virtually all Treasury debt has risen!) But even if the interest on Obama's borrowing was as low as 1%, it would still represent a staggering sum, just to pay the interest on it in the next ten years.

Get the picture? The spending Obama has been responsible for in only two years will cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars in interest payments, just for the next ten year period alone.

Sources: US Treasury website
Interest rates, see
Total debt increase under Obama, see

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The War On Christmas started with... Christians

One of the themes of conservative talk radio this time of year is the "war on Xmas" or the removal of Xmas symbols from public property, which I think is stupid, but nevertheless... Do they understand that the war on Xmas was started by Christians?

From American Heritage magazine, December 1967, comes this short article:

Many a book, a magazine, a play, a movie, has been banned in Boston. But Christmas?

Yes, Virginia, Christmas was banned in Boston. On May 11, 1659, the legislature of the Massachusetts Bay Colony enacted the following: “For preventing disorders arising in severall places within this jurisdiceon, by reason of some still observing such ffestivalls as were superstitiously kept in other countrys, to the great dishonnor of God & offence of others, it is therefore ordered … that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by for-bearing of labour, feasting, or any other way, upon any such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for every such offence five shillings, as a fine to the county.”

You can read the rest of the history here, in the magazine's archives.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Stop lying, Ben Bernanke!

Ben Bernanke is concerned that some of us have the impression that he is printing money.

But he is not printing money. So he said on 60 Minutes this month. Except on 60 Minutes in a previous appearance, he admitted he was, effectively, printing money.

Just cut the crap, OK?!

Jon Stewart catches him out.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Too dumb for words

Walking to the shops ‘damages planet more than going by car

Walking does more than driving to cause global warming, a leading environmentalist has calculated.

Food production is now so energy-intensive that more carbon is emitted providing a person with enough calories to walk to the shops than a car would emit over the same distance. The climate could benefit if people avoided exercise, ate less and became couch potatoes. Provided, of course, they remembered to switch off the TV rather than leaving it on standby.

The sums were done by Chris Goodall, campaigning author of How to Live a Low-Carbon Life, based on the greenhouse gases created by intensive beef production. “Driving a typical UK car for 3 miles [4.8km] adds about 0.9 kg [2lb] of CO2 to the atmosphere,” he said, a calculation based on the Government’s official fuel emission figures. “If you walked instead, it would use about 180 calories. You’d need about 100g of beef to replace those calories, resulting in 3.6kg of emissions, or four times as much as driving. “The troubling fact is that taking a lot of exercise and then eating a bit more food is not good for the global atmosphere. Eating less and driving to save energy would be better.”

This presumes beef as the only food to replace energy lost from walking. Utterly stupid. What if people ate a piece of bread or a bowl of rice?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quantitative Easing Explained

I hope this video goes viral.

John Hussman -- in his November 8 essay "Bubble, Crash, Bubble, Crash, Bubble..." -- has a more serious take on the actions of the Federal Reserve. The Fed has completely outstripped its authority and its charter, usurping the role of the legislature, just as our activist courts have been doing.

Hussman writes:

[Federal Reserve Chairman Ben] Bernanke's 1999 speech included a very disturbing paragraph, particularly in light of what the Fed did by purchasing $1.5 trillion of these agency securities [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debt securities].

“In thinking about nonstandard open-market operations, it is useful to separate those that have some fiscal component from those that do not. By a fiscal component I mean some implicit subsidy, which would arise, for example, if the BOJ purchased nonperforming bank loans at face value (this is of course equivalent to a fiscal bailout of the banks, financed by the central bank). This sort of money-financed “gift” to the private sector would expand aggregate demand for the same reasons that any money-financed transfer does. Although such operations are perfectly sensible from the standpoint of economic theory, I doubt very much that we will see anything like this in Japan, if only because it is more straightforward for the Diet to vote subsidies or tax cuts directly. Nonstandard open-market operations with a fiscal component, even if legal, would be correctly viewed as an end run around the authority of the legislature, and so are better left in the realm of theoretical curiosities.”

Yet this is precisely what the Fed did with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a year ago. Bernanke understands this. He simply does not want the public or Congress to recognize it.

Given that fiscal authority is enumerated by the Constitution as the sole right of Congress, and spending is prohibited by the Constitution without explicit appropriation, it seems clear - regardless of how the Federal Reserve Act is written - that monetary operations involving anything but Treasury securities contain unconstitutional “fiscal component,” unless they involve repurchase agreements that would make the Fed whole even if the underlying securities were to fail. It is doubtful that when Congress drafted the Federal Reserve Act to allow the use of mortgage-backed securities, it ever dreamed that the Fed would purchase these securities outright when the issuer was insolvent. Until this issue is clarified in legislation, Bernanke will continue to see it as “perfectly sensible” for the Fed to make “money financed gifts” that substitute his own personal discretion for those of a democracy.

Today, in addition to the tyranny of the executive order, we are under the threat of the tyranny of judges, and now the tyranny of fiscal policy conducted by the unelected head of the Federal Reserve. Our wimpy Congress does not take responsibility for its enumerated powers, and will not forcefully object to the usurpation of those powers by the judiciary and the central bank. We need to stiffen their spines.

Bush/Obama modus operandi

It's a new variation of an old plea.

Next Tuesday I will gladly borrow more money to give you interest on the money you loaned me to buy a hamburger for every citizen (and a steak for every banker) today.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cable TV Waterloo

Mish reports that cable TV customers are canceling subscriptions in droves. People can't afford the bills anymore. Many of those who stay connected are cutting deals -- more content or lower bills. Fierce competition, but many people are getting off the cable/satellite merry-go-round.

From Rolling Stone last month:

"Cutting the Cord... According to one firm, up to 15 percent of US
households will be watching TV exclusively on the Internet by the end
of this year. Cable subscriptions went down steeply last spring (that
never happens!), and new Internet-only boxes like the Boxee Box and
the rejiggered Apple TV -- which now hooks up to Netflix -- are lining
up to fill the void. For the cable networks, 2011 is looking
suspiciously like 2000 did for the music biz: the year the shit hits
the fan."

I am watching J. Michael Straczynski's old post-apocalypse series Jeremiah
on now. It's not bad. Luke Perry and that kid from the Cosby
show star in it. I'm waiting for the new Stargate Universe shows to come
online. They delay them a month now on hulu. Who cares? Hulu you think
you're foolin'? If there ever comes a day I cannot wait a month to
see a new episode of some TV show, somebody shoot me in the head. Take my life.

There is enough content on to entertain anyone indefinitely.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A mighty wind is blowin'

Vestas, the world's largest wind turbine company, announced last month it is "closing its factories in Scandanavia, with a loss of 3000 jobs." (wikipedia)

It is expanding in Portland, Oregon. This is office space, not production. 400-500 jobs. (Portland Business Journal)

"...currently expanding and opening up new production facilities in China, Spain and the United States." (wikipedia)

Would they be here at all without subsidies? Our wind turbines will blow in from China. Blades are made in Colorado (200 jobs), with 1400 more jobs set to be created at an assembly plant under construction, also in Colorado.

The number of green jobs in wind turbine manufacture is a piddling amount here in the US. We need to create at least 100,000 jobs monthly to keep up with new workers being added to the work force. Even with subsidies, alternative energy can only fill a tiny percentage of the number of jobs needed just to keep the unemployment rate static.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

You can tell good lies with bad definitions

The government's Bureau of Economic Analysis issued a report this week touting the improving economy with a measure of Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) -- up 2.6%.

That would lead one to believe that the consumer is spending again, despite high unemployment, and much uncertainty over future prospects even for those still employed.

A few little details bring the PCE into clearer focus. We are often told that consumer spending is 70% of the Gross Domestic Product. It's like a mantra. I hear it everywhere. What I did not know until yesterday is that PCE includes $2.5 trillion of health care spending, half of which is financed by government! When the government writes a check for your grandma's knee replacement, that get's counted as consumer spending in the government's GDP statistics, we are told by Bloomberg's Michael Mandel.

The kind of spending most normal people (i.e. non-economists) consider consumer spending consists of buying "stuff," not getting prescription drugs, visiting doctors, or having operations.

So how is the real economy doing? How are consumer expenditures -- by a normal definition -- holding up? "...state sales tax revenue (the only valid measure of consumer sales), is still far below 2007 levels and states are in serious trouble over it," according to Mike Shedlock (aka "Mish").

Yet by including government-funded health care and other health care spending, we see a chart for "personal expenditures" that looks like this, indicating a recovery. Click image for full size.

Wow. That looks like a major recovery to pre-recession levels. But a good percentage of it is inflation-fueled health care, some of it paid with borrowed money from the federal government.

As for the economic growth on Main Street... not so much.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blatant Lying: Obama Claims Financial Crisis Cost Taxpayers 1% of GDP (Less than the S&L crisis)

1% of GDP would be about 140 billion dollars. But bailing out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Reserve printing 2 trillion dollars to buy up bad mortgage debt and Treasury bonds, trillions in other guarantees of support for future bankruptcies, possible support for FDIC, etc -- the total is anywhere from 4-10 trillion, depending on what eventually comes to pass, and how many guarantees need to be met. That's not even counting the $900 billion stimulus package.

Yves Smith writes: "I’m so offended by the latest Obama canard, that the financial crisis of 2007-2008 cost less than 1% of GDP, that I barely know where to begin. Not only does this Administration lie on a routine basis, it doesn’t even bother to tell credible lies. .And this one came directly from the top, not via minions. It’s not that this misrepresentation is earth-shaking, but that it epitomizes why the Obama Administration is well on its way to being an abject failure."

You can hear Obama's own words on the Jon Stewart show -- it's the third video segment on this Huffington Post page, starting after the one minute mark. And the audience is applauding. They either are so stupid they don't know he's lying by a factor of maybe 25 or 50, or they are applauding the BLATANT LIE.

I suppose nothing should shock me by now, but honestly, I'm amazed. I'm sure he knowingly does this because the lamestream media will not call him on it, and he knows it. (I see the Economist discussed this concept in January and offered that a cost of 1% of GDP "may be too optimistic." LOL. What kind of accounting are they using???)

Where do we go from here? What lie is too audacious to float next? Nothing, apparently.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science (and Vaccines)

The Atlantic Magazine is the best monthly periodical still in publication, in my experience. I have soured on them only slightly because of the recent spate of pieces by Michael Kinsley, who has dragged down the credibility of the enterprise just a smidgen. Somehow Kinsley makes less sense today than he used to as frequent guest on Buckley's Firing Line.

I haven't read the latest Atlantic article "Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science," but it's on my list. The Atlantic has published so many surprisingly honest articles about health and health care, I'm sure this will be no exception.

Since this is the vaccination season, everybody should be aware of what I would term a landmark article from last year, also in the Atlantic: Does The Vaccine Matter?

Of course, the feds are insisting virtually everyone should be vaccinated. It will reduce deaths 50%, protect the old and the weak. Yada yada yada.

Do the data back it up? Curious facts that do not fit the party line:

“In 2004… vaccine production fell behind, causing a 40 percent drop in immunization rates. Yet mortality did not rise.

“…vaccine “mismatches” occurred in 1968 and 1997: in both years, the vaccine that had been produced in the summer protected against one set of viruses, but come winter, a different set was circulating. In effect, nobody was vaccinated. Yet death rates from all causes, including flu and the various illnesses it can exacerbate, did not budge.

“…In 1989, only 15 percent of people over age 65 in the U.S. and Canada were vaccinated against flu. Today, more than 65 percent are immunized. Yet death rates among the elderly during flu season have increased rather than decreased.”

The dogma that flu vaccines save lives is so entrenched that the most careful studies cannot be done to prove the point, because to deny a control group a vaccine that we "know" saves lives would be "unethical." Of course it is not unethical to vaccinate 100 million people based on institutional prejudices with no solid proof of benefit for the vast majority.

But we don’t need no steeenking facts, do we, Señor? Salute the Dear Leader and get your shots, everybody. Stimulate the vaccine-making industry. Think about how many jobs will be created or saved.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Awareness awareness

More than ever I have noticed that we are being bombarded by awareness campaigns. Breast cancer awareness -- the pink ribbons and pink products. The First Lady is promoting awareness of diet and exercise for children. Excuse me. "For the cheeeldren." I saw a story on the local television news about ordinary people sleeping in cardboard boxes to raise "homeless awareness."

In other words, I've become more aware of the "awareness" phenomenon. Awareness awareness. I can't think of a ribbon that would be appropriate for this awareness to the second power.

There are still threats to our survival as a once-prosperous nation of which people are not yet sufficiently aware.

As far as I can tell, no one has officially developed awareness campaigns for the unpayable national debt, or the Federal Reserve slowly destroying our savings by manipulating interest rates and conjuring money into existence out of thin air -- literal currency inflation.

What about government waste awareness? Or awareness of the courts usurping our God-given individual rights?

Each of these deserve campaigns, with public events, corporate sponsorship, identifiable symbols or "branding" (like the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness that is now appearing on a plethora of food and other products).

I don't have the brainpower or money or influence to make it happen. But I think in the marketplace of awareness, we need competition from libertarian and limited-government ideas and movements that are targeted for mass public education and symbols that unite people in mass numbers to agitate for the return of our freedoms, a return to sound money, limited sensible government regulation that is enforced fairly and justly in the interests of all parties (not merely for the benefit of the Ruling Class), and low taxes.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fed: We don't quite know what the blazes we're doing...

I had to chuckle at this headline on Marketwatch, regarding Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's statement today about more "quantitative easing" [fancy term for printing money and buying bonds or securities]:

Bernanke makes his case

The Fed chair sees the need for further easing but says caution in proceeding is warranted, given the lack of experience with the new
policy tools
. [emphasis mine]

My translation: We just got our learner's permit. We don't really know how to drive this printing press yet, without crashing the dollar and the financial system.

Our economy is in the hands of Harvard-educated fools.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

QE2 is not a ship

The dollar has been dropping, gold has been rising, on rumors that the Federal Reserve will start another round of "quantitative easing" to pump up the economy by lowering interest rates. [They are already so low, the effect is like pushing on a string.] I don't know if Karl Denninger is precisely correct about causes and effects, but there's a good possibility. Here's what he wrote.

"The total decline in the dollar since June has been about 13%. The increases in commodity prices have been radically greater, with the exception of oil, which has roughly matched the dollar depreciation point-for-point.

"The problem with currency debasement as a means of trying to control a debt implosion (occurring as a consequence of hidden bad debts) is that it doesn't work. You can print more dollars and put them into the system but you can't control where they go. When the system is debt-saturated 'where they go' is overseas, generating a carry trade. This effectively exports what you're trying to do (generate positive inflation) overseas, and causes inflation there. It in turn, however, drives up commodity prices, which translates into input costs and ultimately compresses both operating margins and consumer balance sheets. This then produces a profit recession, which ultimately produces a 'classical' recession, and when it occurs into a debt-saturated environment you get bankruptcies by the boatload along with the sort of crash we had in 2008.

"You'd think that Bernanke would have learned from the last time - which was just a couple of years ago. You'd be wrong.


"Bernanke and the markets think 'QE2' will save us. [QE2 = the second round of quantitative easing, where the Federal Reserve prints money and uses it to buy up bonds and possibly other assets, a backdoor bailout for the banks, by the way] It will not. All it will do is produce another depression inside the one we're already having and the government is unable to add another $1.5 trillion annually in deficit spending on top of the spending it's already doing. The lower and middle classes will feel the inexorable weight of the commodity price ramp starting about now, and continuing into the holiday season and the New Year, which will do exactly what it did the last time.

"This is a proved failed policy, but there's nobody with a brain home in Congress, the White House or in The Fed who will pull their head out of their ass long enough to realize that fellating bankers will not resolve what ails us, when they're the ones who have been robbing the citizens with fraudulent schemes for the last 20 years and are now desperate to avoid the just desserts that should attach to their behavior."

Karl's entire rant is good reading.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The next bailout: gamblers in the derivatives market?

Washington is working overtime to find new ways to bring the populace to a seething boil. Somehow Congress is able to pass 2000-page bills that are unread before passage that still, in all their length and detail, leave crucial rules to the discretion of bureaucrats.

And so, the next bureaucratic "gift" is the potential for "backstops" (a euphemism for bailout) of derivatives clearinghouses which centralize the trading of derivatives -- bets on the prices of currencies, stocks, interest rates, commodities, bonds, and virtually anything else the wizards of Wall Street can think of betting on.

"Because most derivatives transactions are expected to go through these clearinghouses, they will be 'systemically important' under the law... [which] specifically provides that 'in unusual or exigent circumstances,' the Federal Reserve may provide such entities with a financial backstop,including borrowing privileges.

"Remember this: Financial backstop is just another term for a taxpayer bailout. And the major banks and brokerage firms are the members of the clearinghouses, so a backstop would essentially be for them.

"According to the Bank for International Settlements, the entire derivatives market had a gross credit exposure of $3.5 trillion at the end of 2009. Obviously, even a small fraction of that amount could represent a sizable call on the taxpayers if a clearinghouse hit the skids.

"So much for eradicating too-big-to-fail."

New York Times, October 2

Sunday, October 10, 2010

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1789

A reminder of where we have been.

I perceive that the theme of this proclamation is humility. Washington urges devotion to the service of our Creator. He also asks that the nation unite in beseeching that Creator for pardon of our iniquities. Washington acknowledges the intervention and sovereignty of that Creator in the affairs of nations.

It is doubtful that any of our nation's top leaders today could even conceive of writing such a statement, not even in an act of feigned religiosity. Such humility is beyond their conception.


[New York, 3 October 1789]

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor--and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be--That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions--to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

Thursday, October 7, 2010

War with Muslims has just begun...

The Times Square bomber, sentenced to life imprisonment on Oct 5, made a statement/rant before the court. Some excerpts:

"Brace yourselves, the war with Muslims has just begun. Consider me the first droplet of the flood that will follow. [Defeat of the United States] is imminent and will happen in the near future."

"...the Koran gives us the right to defend, that's all I'm doing."

"[If given 1,000 lives, I would] sacrifice them all for the sake of Allah."

"We are only Muslims trying to defend our religion, people, honor and land. But if you call us terrorists for doing that, then we are proud terrorists, and we will keep on terrorizing until you leave our land and people at peace."

'We do not accept your democracy or your freedom because we already have Sharia law and freedom."

sources: and, October 6.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Climate Science: Garbage In, Garbage Out, contra Nobel Prize-winners


Re: "Climate Change and the Integrity of Science Science. Signed by 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences," published in Science magazine, May 7. Read entire editorial HERE.

This piece is basically an appeal to authority, with the august signatories. They assert, "There is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend."

And yet their model predictions do not match what has actually occurred. From the Climategate emails: Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, writes in October 2009, "The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment, and it is a travesty that we can’t." And then he blames the data because it did not conform to the model. That is bass ackwards to how science is supposed to operate.

I too question the data, but I don't have a model to defend. Instead, I see that raw temperature readings of rural US weather stations have been massively massaged upward for the last 40 years. The raw data show virtually no net warming outside of urban heat islands. (LINK) Furthermore, documentation of these temperature reporting stations on show that the vast majority of them do not meet NOAA specifications for siting. Either they are too near artificial heating sources, or they are situated on the tops of roofs, or near large expanses of concrete, which will drive the temperature data points artificially upward. In the town where I live, the temperature sensor is near a massive air conditioning unit at the water treatment plant. This kind of sloppy data gathering, because it is so prevalent -- and you can see the evidence with your own eyes for site after site at the website noted -- calls the whole of climate science into question. The research apparatus can't even get the most basic things right!

The scientists who signed this statement have apparently not drilled down to the raw data on which the alarmist conclusions have been built. Even if their climate models were correct, the GIGO rule applies. The inputs to the models are unsound. But they are unsound in the sense that the temperature data points they are using appear to be already artificially inflated.

We can't account for the lack of warming. That is a true statement. There is a lack of warming in spite of temperature data that is massaged upward or data from sites that are in local hot spots. Whatever comes out of a process using uncertain models and faulty data, it cannot be construed as solid science.

It is self-evidently true that mortals cannot know the future climate with complete certainty. That is reserved for the Creator, and even He may choose not to know. However, what has been trumpeted thus far in the name of climate science, namely that we are heating our world to catastrophe or oblivion, does not meet even modest standards of certainty. If prominent scientists or Nobel Prize winners claim otherwise, it does not change the evidence of poor data collection and manipulation of data.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Our All-American terrorist: Pity him, pity him!

CNN reported on the SUV-bomber's financial situation.

1. He bought a home with 20% down for $273,000.

2. He had a good job as a financial analyst. The value of the home dropped, but he had his job, he got married, and continued to pay the mortgage.

3. Then, in Jan 2009 he applied for and received a $65,000 home equity loan to raise cash.

4. He "left" his job (not fired), quit paying his mortgage, and took his family to Pakistan as he pursued terrorist training.

5. Naturally, the home was foreclosed on. This is almost an irrelevant footnote to the story.

After laying out this case of logical step-by-step premeditation, the story ends with this ABSURD paragraph:

"And so on Monday, when Shahzad's case is scheduled to appear before a judge in Connecticut Superior Court, he will be just one more of the millions of American homeowners who hasn't paid his mortgage in more than a year and is sitting on a debt -- in this case, $37,870.38 -- that outstrips the value of the home buried beneath it."

Oh wow! He's just like one of us. One more victim of the unfair American system that has let so many fall through the cracks into foreclosure. Is this liberal bias? What kind of warped thinking process would come up with something like that?

Headline should have been "Fanatical Muslim Terrorist Games Home Loan System To Raise Cash For Pakistani Training In Bomb Making."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Taxpayers bailed out German and French banks

Old news, but here it is:

We officially moved into the next stage of the crisis today. AIG, likely under pressure from the administration, decided to come clean about where most of the bailout money was going. In a press release with several attachments, the struggling insurer detailed which counterparties had gotten about $100 billion of the bailout funds...

But as I expected, the majority of the funds—$58 billion—went to banks headquartered outside the U.S. The big winners were French and German banks, which pulled in $19 billion and $17 billion respectively.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Backing away from climate legislation

Merkel Abandons Aim Of Binding Climate Agreement

"The collapse of the Copenhagen summit has permanently shaken up Merkel. She offered to organize the meeting in Bonn to avoid totally losing momentum in the talks. Then she left Denmark feeling frustrated. She had rarely experienced such a humiliation. She won't let that happen to her again, she has told herself ever since. Irregularities committed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also annoyed the chancellor. Although these errors have not altered the urgent and key messages, she has angrily said among her close advisers that the IPCC's poor communication has made it more difficult to promote climate protection.

"The general mood among climate protectors has soured even further in the months since Copenhagen. 'The process has come to a standstill, everything is very difficult,' says Röttgen."

More evidence:

Australian Government Shelves Climate Legislation

Around the world, people are apparently discovering that they would rather not have the government taking more of their money. (Or mandating that they pay higher prices for goods, in order to meet strict carbon limits, based on skewed science.)

Obamacare: designed to fail, part 3

"When major companies declared that a provision of the new health care law would hurt earnings, Democrats were skeptical. But after investigating, House Democrats have concluded that the companies were right to tell investors and the government about the expected adverse effects of the law on their financial results.

"At issue is a section of the law that eliminates a tax break available to companies that provide drug benefits to retirees as part of their insurance coverage.

"...Representative Joe L. Barton of Texas, the senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said, 'From a financial standpoint, from a purely economic standpoint, many companies would be better off discontinuing health care as a fringe benefit, paying the penalty and pocketing the savings.' "


Monday, April 26, 2010

Obama official will profit enormously from "green tech"

Conflict of interest:

"...Assistant Secretary of Energy Cathy Zoi has a huge financial stake in companies likely to profit from the Obama administration’s “green” policies.

"Zoi, who left her position as CEO of the Alliance for Climate Protection — founded by Al Gore — to serve as assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, now manages billions in 'green jobs' funding. But the disclosure documents show that Zoi not only is in a position to affect the fortunes of her previous employer, ex-Vice President Al Gore, but that she herself has large holdings in two firms that could directly profit from policies proposed by the Department of Energy."

Reader Terry Gain at Pajamas Media commented truculently, "Another good article which does what the MSM won’t do:their job. I do think however, that notwithstanding the MSM’s embrace of incompetence in all things related to Obama and his dreadful administration, that the transparency promise has been kept. The Obama administration is transparently corrupt, transparently incompetent, transparently cynical, transparently dangerous to our economic health and national security and transparently in need of being voted out of office."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The wealthy, educated Tea Party

"Tea party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public, tend to be Republican, white, male, and married, and their strong opposition to the Obama administration is more rooted in political ideology than anxiety about their personal economic well-being, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll."


Thursday, April 22, 2010

State budget education cuts

Education spending should not be cut in state budget austerity measures. Because the teachers have obviously been doing such a great job, they deserve greater rewards, even if taxpayers must be sucked dry.
From a student sign at a Des Moines protest against government cuts in education funding.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Government says, "Bailout was a bargain." More lies.

New York Times, April 18 2010
This Bailout Is a Bargain? Think Again
by Gretchen Morgenson

IT’S way too early to tally the costs of the government’s various efforts to help our nation’s financial institutions survive the credit debacle. But that hasn’t stopped anonymous Treasury officials from claiming in recent days that their Armageddon-avoidance will wind up costing far less than many feared.

One Treasury estimate, leaked to The Wall Street Journal last week, put a price tag of $89 billion on the financial bailout. That’s far below the $250 billion the Congressional Budget Office estimated last year or other analyses that put the all-in number at $1 trillion or more.
[end quote]

Now this is just disingenuous. The Treasury has spent a lot propping up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. On Christmas Eve, the Treasury promised to cover virtually all their losses. ("The Treasury on Christmas Eve removed a $200 billion aid limit on each company, extending unlimited backing through 2012.") In other words, the taxpayers were on the hook for $200 billion for each company (Fannie and Freddie). That's $400 billion. Now, the sky is the limit.

Then the Federal Reserve has printed $1.25 trillion to buy up bad mortgage debt. ("The Federal Reserve’s single largest intervention to prop up the American economy, its $1.25 trillion program to buy mortgage-backed securities, came to a long-anticipated end on Wednesday.")

There are many other programs which could cost trillions, in addition to the amount already spent through TARP and the programs mentioned above.

The Federal Reserve strategy of lowering interest rates to nearly zero is taking huge amounts of income away from savers -- people with money in money markets, savings accounts, CDs, and checking accounts are being paid much less in interest. The banks are playing the spread (borrowing from ordinary folks paying them very little, and loaning money out at several percentage points higher). In this way the government hopes banks can earn their way out of bankruptcy or near-bankrupcty. This is at the expense of retired folk and people who loan their money out at interest. Because of government interference, people cannot earn the true market rate of interest on their money. It's theft. Savers are funding the banks' profits.

The FDIC is out of money to make good on deposits at failed banks. There have been, what, 60 bank failures that the FDIC has closed down this year already? That's more taxpayer liability.

More from the Morgenson NY Times article:

“The refusal of the Washington political class to address the issue of bank insolvency quickly via restructuring and recapitalization has extended the economic recovery process by years,” [Christopher Whalen, editor of the Institutional Risk Analyst,] said. “Lending will continue to shrink and real economic activity is suffering. The cost of ‘extend and pretend’ goes into the trillions of dollars of lost economic activity.”

Friday, April 16, 2010

We don't hate government

In response to an article in the Washington Examiner, Hating The Government Finally Goes Mainstream, reader "Jimmy44" comments:

We don't hate the government. It is like a small sick child [that] needs to be watched and cared for. The child has lost its way and has been abusive to its parents. It has forgotten who the boss is. The child need to understand that it is given an allowance and it can’t demand money every time it wastes its allowance. That when it writes a check the money needs to be in the account our you get an overdraft. That when the child gets to big for its pants it's time to take it done a notch or two. IT'S TIME, like all parents today we have not watched the child like we should have and it has developed a lot of bad habits and is starting to run with the wrong crowd.

Truer words were never written.

Friday, April 2, 2010

ObamaCare: designed to fail, part 2

We keep hearing that the health care reform package passed by Congress was modeled on the Massachusetts universal health insurance requirement plan. How's that working out for Massachusetts?

Insurance rates went up so much that the state is now attempting to impose price controls!

"Massachusetts regulators issued their first batch of health care price controls on Thursday, rejecting the vast majority of small business premium increases sought this year by the state's major insurers.

"Insurance Commissioner Joseph Murphy said he had rejected 235 of 274 proposed rate increases because they included 'excessive increases and rates unreasonable relative to the benefits provided.'"

With no caps on costs, insurance premiums must continue to rise until the insurance companies must raise rates. If they insurance companies cannot raise rates, they must ration care. If they cannot raise rates or ration care, they must go out of business.

Is this the plan behind the reform plan?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

To rob a country, own a bank

An excellent series of videos, interviewing William K. Black, a senior regulator who prosecuted fraud in an earlier financial crisis, the Savings & Loan debacle.

Professor Black outlines the means by which fraud brought down our financial system, in four successive steps. Here is how top bankers and officers of finance institutions made a killing.

1. Borrow money cheaply to loan out at high interest rates. In other words, ratchet up leverage.

2. Make lots of risky loans (which pay the higher interest rates).

3. Keep inadequate reserves for loan losses. Bank the reserves as profits.

4. Collect huge pay and bonuses on "profits" before the low-quality loans go bad and your company becomes insolvent.

The company will go bust, and investors or taxpayers pick up the wreckage. But CEOs and top company insiders keep their large salaries and bonuses from pre-bust years.

The subprime mortgage crisis was the perfect financial crime, and the American taxpayer has been left with the bill. The Obama administration has done virtually nothing to prosecute those who were most responsible for the biggest losses. Mr. Obama has appointed and promoted those who were architects of the crisis, who could have prevented it.

Though our current banking crisis is 30 times greater than the Savings & Loan crisis, the FBI has only one sixth as many agents investigating it as were involved in working S&L fraud cases. No one cares. The criminals have gone free.

An hour of video well worth watching.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

2/3 of Americans are correct

Health Care Law Too Costly, Most Say

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the health care overhaul signed into law last week costs too much and expands the government's role in health care too far, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds...

A question for your Congressman at the next town hall

"Mr. Congressman, why are you and your colleagues profiting from insider trading in the stock market at the expense of the rest of us, something that is illegal for all others?"

Indeed, members of Congress and their staff currently do not owe any “duty of confidentiality” to Congress and can’t be held liable for insider trading based on congressional knowledge under the current laws. Nor is there anything at this time that would prohibit Congressional staffers and executive branch employees from sharing inside information obtained from Congress with their friends—potentially allowing the recipients of such information to use it to make huge trading profits or prevent big losses. That means trading on inside knowledge of upcoming Congressional action is today one of the few forms of legal, repeatable insider trading (see my December 2008 column for a list of the others).

An academic study released in 2004, as well as some other more recent developments, indicates that this Congressional loophole to the insider trading laws isn’t just theoretical. Georgia State University professor Alan Ziobrowski released a study showing that during the 1990s, senators’ stock picks (which must be publicly disclosed periodically) beat the market by 12 percentage points a year on average. By comparison, corporate insiders only beat the market by about 6 percentage points a year, and U.S. households underperformed the market by 1.4 percentage points.

Ziobrowski and his colleagues concluded their findings “suggest that senators are trading stock based on information that is unavailable to the public, thereby using their unique position to increase their personal wealth …” Ziobrowski later was quoted as stating that, in his opinion, “there is cheating going on.”

Closing the Congressional Insider Trading Loophole


Monday, March 29, 2010

ObamaCare: Designed to fail, part 1

The CLASS Act: Provides long-term care at home for the elderly who need help with daily tasks. Enables the elderly and disabled to stay out of nursing homes.

Democrat Senator Kent Conrad calls it a "Ponzi scheme." Fees will be collected from all American workers unless they opt out of the plan. "By the end of the decade, government and private estimates point out, the CLASS Act will take in billions of dollars less than the monthly premiums can cover and could, in fact, be insolvent by 2021." (Washington Times, "Birnbaum: The not-so-Class Act," March 26, 2010)

Premiums (fees) would have to be jacked up to make up the difference, increasing costs, or else deficits would have to increase to cover the difference. The inflow of funds makes Health Care Reform look more fiscally responsible in the short run, but blows a hole in the budget in the long term. (Or will require even more tax increases and mandated fees.)

Obama: master of the game of "kick the can down the road."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tax receipts drop: real economy has fallen and it can't get up

The US Treasury took in $30.7 billion in individual withholding taxes in February, compared to $38.2 billion a year ago. That's roughly a 20% decline. January 2010 receipts were down about 10% compared to Jan 09.

A graph, if you would like to view it.

State and local personal income taxes are also down about 20% from a year ago.

State and local tax chart, courtesy of the Department of Commerce

If this is what recovery looks like, what does recession look like???

Mish has a long post explaining why retail sales figures are cooked, and not in a good way. Then he provides the actual sales tax receipts from states all around the nation.

Here's Indiana:

December 2009 Sales Tax: 476,111,101.58
December 2008 Sales Tax: 497,628,352.13

November 2009 Sales Tax: 473,363,430.53
November 2008 Sales Tax: 504,327,778.19

October 2009 Sales Tax: 485,658,222.21
October 2008 Sales Tax: 546,284,648.12

Here's Texas:

January 2010: $1,655.3 million
January 2009: $1,928.3 million

December 2009: $1,653.1 million
December 2008: $1,869.4 million

November 2009: $1,696.9 million
November 2008: $1,983.1 million

October 2009: $1,517.9 million
October 2008: $1,739.8 million

State after state -- collections are down from the same month in previous years.

The economic recovery is as phony as the global warmists' tree ring temperature reconstructions. They (the state and their willing accomplices in the MSM) are trying to prevent panic by painting a false picture. Maybe panic is not a good response, but severe fright might motivate our government to start getting the national house in order...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Half the truth from NOVA and National Geographic

Last week I watched the PBS joint NOVA/National Geographic program Extreme Ice. I recorded it in high definition and then crunched it down to DVD-resolution instead of watching online because I was interested mainly in seeing the photography clearly, the beauty and architecture of the glaciers being studied.

Of course it was full of alarmism, implying that glaciers and ice caps were at the tipping point, about to melt and inundate the planet. At the end of the program they estimated a 3 foot rise in sea level by 2100. Part of this is simply due to the expansion of ocean volume from its warming, but that of course assumes the ocean will continue warming, something we cannot actually predict.

The glaciers melting were sure interesting and pretty. But it was all alarmism, talk of "unprecedented change," point of no return, and the implication that warmer air temperatures are to blame. (Well, they are, partly. But globally there is not enough of a change to make the difference. In many cases there are local/regional factors precipitating the "unprecedented" increases in melting in some glaciers.)

When a case is presented with all the evidence on one side and absolutely no voice of moderation, no pieces of evidence on the other side, it is tantamount to a lie. Although many scientists did talk about uncertainty, "we just don't know," "we don't understand this phenomenon," etc., the clear impression was that the scientists were uncertain about how fast calamity would overtake us, not if calamity would overtake us.

The underlying and repeated claim was that increased melting of ice would cause sea level rise, inundating low-elevation islands, Vietnam, and other coastal areas. Yet no evidence was presented of an actual acceleration of sea level increases. (The sea levels have been rising for 15,000 years, long before any burning of fossil fuels oo man-made creation of greenhouse gases.)

Here's the latest record of global sea levels, going back almost 20 years. The average rise is about 3mm per year, or about 1/8 of an inch, and it has been remarkably steady. Far from accelerating, it appears to me that the sea level increase has moderated (i.e. the average slope of the increase has slightly decreased) since 2004, which would be expected since Phil Jones, the embattled head of East Anglia's Hadley Climate Research Unit, admits now there has been no statistically significant global warming since 1998.

A paper last year attempting to back up the IPCC's claim of a three foot sea level rise in the next 90 years has now been withdrawn, due to errors. Basically, they cite uncertainty. At least that is a start. To claim to know something when one does not know it is offensive to the notion of pure science, which is supposed to be getting at the truth. If you don't know, then the truth is to say you don't know.

NOVA tried to have it both ways, claiming there are many things about melting glaciers we don't understand, yet seeming certain that sea levels would be rising dramatically because of it. If you did not listen closely, you might have felt frightened to go to bed for fear you would wake up underwater!

If anyone is interested in articles offering sound alternative explanations for Arctic, Antarctic, and Greenland ice melting -- i.e. local or regional factors -- you'll find plenty searching through the archives at

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Climate consensus not so solid now

Phil Jones, head of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of East Anglia now makes several key admissions to the BBC:

"He said he stood by the view that recent climate warming was most likely predominantly man-made. But he agreed that two periods in recent times had experienced similar warming. And he agreed that the debate had not been settled over whether the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than the current period."

This is what skeptics have been saying for years. Other periods of history show similar warming trends, and it is unlikely those were CO2-related. In addition, is it probable that temperatures were warmer 1000 years ago than they are today. Phil Jones finally admits that the "debate" is not "settled." All right, then.

"His colleagues said that keeping a paper trail was not one of Professor Jones’ strong points. Professor Jones told BBC News: 'There is some truth in that.'

“'We do have a trail of where the (weather) stations have come from but it’s probably not as good as it should be,' he admitted."

One would think that if a person is promoting programs that will cost the nations of the world trillions of dollars, one ought to have a cast-metal air-tight record of stations where the data is coming from, and a full record of the data!

The CRU produced sloppy science at great cost. Now finally, they admit it. It is unlikely they will ever admit the full extent of their bias and data manipulation. But facts are facts.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Snotty questions for "Too Big To Fail" banksters

The New York Times invited financial experts to submit questions that should be asked in the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission hearings, beginning today. Officials from Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America will be grilled.

James Grant suggests the following question: Bankers are dealers in money. The Federal Reserve is a creator of money — since the crisis began in August 2007, it has conjured up $1.1 trillion. Given the ease with which these dollars are materialized on a computer screen, how can they be worth anything?

Financial blogger and former IMF official Simon Johnson asks some of the meanest questions:

1. Describe in detail the three worst investments your bank made in 2007 and 2008 — that is, those transactions on which you lost the most money. How much did the bank lose in each case?

2. What was the total compensation of each manager or executive supervising those three transactions — including yourself — in 2007 and 2008?

3. Are those executives still with your bank?

Yes, I think these are questions we would like to know the answers to. More here.

Friday, January 1, 2010

How bad is unemployment, really?

A little investigative work by Zero Hedge, using Treasury Department figures, reveals some interesting anomalies.

In December, the amount of Unemployment Insurance payments disbursed by the US Treasury totalled $14.7 billion, a 24% increase over the $11.8 billion paid out in November. (For purposes of comparison, the government paid out $14 billion to federal employees last month, meaning that Uncle Sam is paying more in unemployment benefits than it is paying in salaries to its own workers.)

But what is really odd -- click the link above to look at the charts and graphs -- is that the amount of unemployment benefits paid by the Treasury used to very closely track with the official number of "total insured unemployed." Yet in the last year there has been a huge divergence. Unemployment payments outgoing are far above what one would expect from the number of unemployed officiall reported. This indicates that the total number of unemployed may be as much as 32% higher than officially reported.

Look at the charts. Draw your own conclusion. It looks like the goverment has found a way to hide a large part of the unemployed from the official statistics. What they can't hide is the amount of money flowing out to those insured unemployed former workers.

[UPDATE: Zero Hedge has subsequently raised the possibility that instead of an increase in unemployment that is not reflected in the Bureau of Labor statistics, perhaps the Treasury is now helping out state governments burdened with their own share of unemployment outlays. The truth is, they don't know. Further investigation will be necessary to reveal the jump in the Treasury's outlays for unemployment insurance, and why it is so out-of-whack with the BLS official unemployment numbers.]