Monday, December 14, 2009

Use History Part 2

Any Democrat who wonders why Joe Lieberman is holding the Obamacare bill hostage and maybe a little hacked off at Harry Reid might want to recall this statement that Reid and Chuck Schumer issued after Lieberman lost the Democratic primary in 2006 in Connecticut
The Democratic voters of Connecticut have spoken and chosen Ned Lamont as their nominee. Both we and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) fully support Mr. Lamont’s candidacy. Congratulations to Ned on his victory and on a race well run.

Joe Lieberman has been an effective Democratic Senator for Connecticut and for America. But the perception was that he was too close to George Bush and this election was, in many respects, a referendum on the President more than anything else. The results bode well for Democratic victories in November and our efforts to take the country in a new direction.
Well I'd say Joe is taking that health care bill in a new direction, yes siree...............

Quick prediction - a deal will be cut, but Lieberman won't be the last Democratic moderate to waver and maybe vote no. I'd still put the odds of passage of some kind of bill at 65%.

Someone is Hiring

And that would be the Federal Government, and they are giving out sweet pay and perks! I've been blogging about the onerous burden that state and local government employees' pension and health care obligations will place on Fundbaby, but this is just another reminder of how the feds don't understand what real people suffer through and become increasingly disconnected from reality and the correcting forces of markets.

Representative Government Update

This poll from CNN, not Fox, shows that around 60% of Americans now oppose the Senate health care bill. The key passage from the article:
According to the poll, a very large majority of Americans think that the health care bill that the U.S. Senate is considering would raise the federal deficit and raise their taxes, and while they think that the bill would help many families, only one in five think they would benefit personally if the bill becomes law.

"As a result, more than six in 10 say they oppose the Senate health care bill," Holland said. "Republicans obviously don't like the bill, but two-thirds of independents also say they are against it."
Hat tip to the Opinion Journal's Best of the Web.


Stumbled across this news bit from the Washington Post about the fourth Democratic House Member in a "swing district" who will retiring this year - coincidentally. Of course even if there's a seismic shift in the elections next year, we'll simply get more of the same from the other group of thieves.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Scary Lesson in Government Financial Planning

I handle the finances in Chateau Fundfamily, and Mrs. Fundman and I are in agreement that this is the best way to handle it. You see, I'm cheap, and Mrs. Fundman is not so much. I may not be as cheap as La Cheapa Chica, but I tend to view Dave Ramsey as a more appropriate role model than say, Nicholas Cage. So I turn down the thermostat in the winter, bring back little shampoo bottles from hotels, and buy meat when it's marked way, way down at the story. I don't dumpster dive, but hey, you never know.

In government, no one is Dave Ramsey, and everyone is Nick Cage, and lately, everyone has been like Nick Cage with a vengeance. Of course it's easy to be Nick Cage when you are spending other people's money, and that's what governments do. The only broad limits on insane government spending of OUR money has been a legal limit on the amount of debt the U.S. government can use to fund its activities - 12 trillion bucks.

You'd think that in addition to tax revenues, a 12 trillion dollar limit would be enough to run a country no? Well apparently it isn't because now they need more credit. And unlike normal people, the government doesn't need the approval of Visa or Amex to raise their credit card limit. Congress votes on it. So imagine if you could take out a credit card, and just keep raising the limit - awesome no? And the debt you put on the card was paid off with someone else's money in 30 years after you had retired and made a mint as a lobbyist and paid speaker.

Well yesterday the Democratic House leadership said they were going to have to raise the debt ceiling - by 1.8 TRILLION dollars (1,800,000,000,000). If that isn't nauseating enough, the Congress doesn't understand, at all, the ramifications of this. Take a look at this quote from David Obey, the Chairman of the House Appropriations committee:
“It is December. We don’t really have a choice,” Obey told POLITICO. “The bill’s already been run up; the credit card has already been used. When you get the bill in the mail you need to pay it.”
Now David Obey is head of the committee that appropriates all, ALL, of the expenditures for the House. This guy is the top shopper for all of the U.S. government along with his colleague in the Senate. Consider his quote about the credit card "has been used" and the bill needs to be paid.................

Dave, buddy, YOU ARE NOT PAYING FOR THE BILL BY RAISING THE DEBT CEILING. No, Dave you are ADDING TO THE BILL. Trust me; I handle the finances for my family, and I don't think a bill has been paid when I simply borrow money from someone to pay someone else. But this apparently is the way that the government thinks. You "pay" bills by borrowing money. And while most U.S. families are cutting their debt burden by not borrowing more money, the government is doing the opposite and apparently thinks that's fine.

If the government would like to actually "pay" it's bills I have some suggestions on that matter - spend less, and pay down the debt. In a regime that is supposed to have democratic tendencies, the Congress may want to look at the actions of their constituents and learn a thing or two. A novel idea in politics today.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Shedding a Little Light on Another Global Warming "Expert"

Mrs. Fundman and I have become very disillusioned with former Governor "Hockey Mom" of Alaska. We don't dislike her nearly as much as the folks in the MSM or on the left, but she's just not that bright and really should just go away. Instead she writes stuff like this piece in the Washington Post on global warming that sort of takes a flimsy position on the science and politics surrounding it.

So now the next day in this response along comes Alan Leshner, who is the chief executive officer of the AAAS, which touts itself as the world's biggest general scientific community, that publishes the journal Science. So in a fight like this you'd assume that the Hockey Mom is wrong and Mr. Scientific Community guy is the expert.

But in many ways this exchange summarizes why I don't have any clue who to believe here. We know about Palin, and her intellectual "limits." But what you may not know about Mr. Science Guy is that he has no background AT ALL in climate change. He's a psychologist, a Ph.D. in it. Now that's more of a social science. And in fact, he's a former government bureaucrat who was head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is at the core of the Drug War, and later NIH. So first off, the guy's not a physician, but he's a brain psychology expert who focuses on addiction. He has no background in global warming other than having worked as a bureaucrat.

Secondly, it turns out that at least according to this guy who is a doctor, Mr. Science Guy may have influenced research that predisposed results to support his worldview. I'm not fucking kidding. ran this nice little piece suggesting that Mr. Science Guy
has supported research that bolsters the administration's point of view, failed to fund projects that could undermine it, opposed research into medical marijuana and used images drawn from advanced medical technology to create misleading anti-drug campaigns.
This is EXACTLY the problem that the Climategate emails have raised - that a political agenda is pushing the research not honest debate. So this guy is part of the problem posing as an objective, all-knowing scientist.

So we are left wondering who the hell to believe? A probably ditzy, self-interested politician or a guy who has a history of engaging in questionable scientific activities? That's at the core of what's wrong with all of this public dialogue AND why people are starting to doubt the validity of this stuff. If the science is not scientific, and the opponents still look like wing-nuts we're left confused and cynical.

This is a Joke, Right?

Headline from the NYTimes wire this morning:

Accepting Peace Prize, Obama Evokes ‘Just War’

I think we are going to find out at the end of his administration that Sasha Baron Cohen is playing Obama and filming the whole thing.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Climate Language - Watch your Wallet

Investment - it's one of those words that sounds good. Evokes images of squirrels hiding nuts for the winter and saving for Fundbaby's college education. It sounds a helluva lot better than "huge tax increases giving elected politicians and government bureaucrats lots of money to pass around to campaign supporters and rent-seeking business people" which is what it usually means when people talk about government investments.

See governments don't make money and then invest it. They take our money and then spend it. Now one of the biggest debates in economics is whether or not the effect of government spending is good or bad for an economy depending on the context and way it's spent. Folks like Keynes and Paui Krugman think that's possible and support it. Conversely folks like FA Hayek say that such initiatives are a bad thing to be avoided because the government doesn't do a particularly good job of spending other people's money and typically just gives the money to special interests.

The Greenies have been the kings of language. They say things like "green jobs" and "investment" and "climate change" rather than "heavily subsidized jobs" or "wasteful government redistributive spanding" or "variations in dynamic systems that potentially show little causal effect." It's just like shopping at Whole Foods and paying 14 dollars for a 5 ounce bag of baked organic root vegetable chips, which makes you feel good about yourself, but makes little economic sense and even less environmental sense.

But I think that Climategate, which I've blogged about a little and the right wing blogosphere has been covering extensively, along with the economic downturn has had a pretty big impact on even MSM coverage of Copenhagen. Take for example this Time article examining the costs of a climate change deal. The author focuses on how expensive it's going to be, qualifies the apocalyptic predictions, and notes that carbon trading is going to be really, really expensive.

As long as folks like Fox News stop posting stupid survey data about opposition to global warming and de-legitimizing folks who have genuine concerns about the costs and benefits of this project I think we may, MAY be heading in the right direction.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

This Should be a Huge Scandal

I've been sort of shocked by the language, but unsurprised that folks at the East Anglia climate center who advocate AGW dismissed skepticism or criticism of their research in emails that were released in the MSM a few weeks ago. I used to be an academic, and I can tell you that this kind of stuff happens all the time in universities. People are people, and they tend to buy into a conclusion and overlook details that don't fit their world view, dressing up the results with fancy models and at times heroic assumptions. The research may or may not get it right, but too often people's careers and lives get intertwined with an investment in the work. ALL scientific and social scientific research should be submitted to public cross-checking by posting of all available data. See this quote from Declan McCullagh:
The irony of this situation is that most of us expect science to be conducted in the open, without unpublished secret data, hidden agendas, and computer programs of dubious reliability. East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit might have avoided this snafu by publicly disclosing as much as possible at every step of the way.
But now it's starting to look like there's a big reason why none of these folks disclosed the information: many of the conclusions that AGW are based on use data that now no longer exist, which is a huge, enormous, and really troubling problem. If the folks who advocate AGW are saying that the "science" is settled, but they no longer have the raw data that support the scientific findings, that's bad. And whether or not those emails show bias or lack of sensitivity or whatever, if the whole thing can't be re-examined because the data got thrown out, it's really, really, really, really, really, really, really, bad.

The financial, economic, and political consequences of policies that limit carbon emissions will cost trillions of dollars - 1,000,000,000,000's. And all of this legislation may be based on temperature measurements that may be ALL WRONG? Even in my deeply cynical world view this is pretty depressing.

Happy Holidays!