Category Archives: Uncategorized

Chutzpah

As Jim Geraghty notes, it goes right along with his complaining about borrowing and spending:

Other NRO folk who have much more knowledge and background in the relevant matters have commented on President Obama’s address at the graduation ceremony at Notre Dame. I’ll just add that perhaps the man who said his foes “take pride in being ignorant”, who said his opponents wanted to “do nothing” in the face of the recession and who characterized rural voters as clinging “to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment” is perhaps the wrong person to call upon the public to stop “reducing those with differing views to caricature.”

Again, the cognitive dissonance of his supporters is a wonder of nature.

$1.8T

That’s the size of the current projected budget deficit for this year:

The deficit for the current budget year will rise by $89 billion to above $1.8 trillion — about four times the record set just last year. The unprecedented red ink flows from the deep recession, the Wall Street bailout, the cost of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill, as well as a structural imbalance between what the government spends and what it takes in.

As the economy performs worse than expected, the deficit for the 2010 budget year beginning in October will worsen by $87 billion to $1.3 trillion, the White House says. The deterioration reflects lower tax revenues and higher costs for bank failures, unemployment benefits and food stamps.

For the current year, the government would borrow 46 cents for every dollar it takes to run the government under the administration’s plan. In one of the few positive signs, the actual 2009 deficit is likely to be $250 billion less than predicted because Congress is unlikely to provide another $250 billion in financial bailout money.

So it’s not all bad news.

Obama didn’t inherit most of this deficit. He created it (or rather, let Pelosi and Reid create it) with the insane porkulus bill, which wasn’t about stimulation at all, but paying off Democrat constituencies. So it’s not surprising that it’s not working. And to the degree that it’s not working, and we get less tax revenue from a shrinking economy, that’s his deficit as well.

Just for contrast, consider that 1.8 trillion was the entire federal budget in the year 2000. This is economic madness.

[Late morning update]

Obama fails the fact check:

-His assertion that his proposed budget “will cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term” is an eyeball-roller for many economists, given the uncharted terrain of trillion-dollar deficits the government is negotiating.

-He promised vast savings from increased spending on preventive health care in the face of doubts that such an effort, however laudable it might be for public welfare, can pay for itself, let alone yield huge savings.

-He pitched a remedy for Social Security’s long-term crisis that analysts say won’t fix half the problem.

Glad someone at AP is finally doing their job.

[Mid-afternoon update]

More thoughts
:

President Obama continues to distance himself from this “inherited” budget deficit. But the day he was inaugurated, the 2009 deficit was forecast at $1.2 trillion — meaning $600 billion has already been added during his four-month presidency (an amount that, by itself, would exceed all 2001-07 annual budget deficits). And should the president really be allowed to distance himself from the $1.2 trillion “inherited” portion of the deficit, given that as a senator he supported nearly all policies and bailouts that created it?

The president also talks of cutting the deficit in half from this bloated level. But even after the recession ends and the troops return home, he’d still run $1 trillion deficits — compared to President Bush’s $162 billion pre-recession deficit. In other words, the structural budget deficit (which excludes the impacts of booms/recessions) would more than quintuple.

It’s a good point. What did then-Senator Obama do, if anything, to prevent any of this year’s deficit? If he’d been in charge, it would probably been even bigger, and last year’s as well.

Sad, But True

Frank Glover has a depressing comment over at Space Transport News, on the latest news that the Orion capsule has been reduced from six to four crew, for only fifty billion in development costs:

In almost any other form of flight, descending on parachutes, landing in the water and waiting for a branch of the service to come get you, would mean something had gone very *wrong.*

That’s what you get when you decide to do “Apollo on Steroids.” Except it looks more like “Apollo on Vitamins.”

[Update a few minutes later]

A good comment:

More like “Apollo on Placebos”. At least vitamins are good for you.

Sigh…

[Really late update]

Another comment: “Geritol”

I laugh, so I don’t cry…

Budget Fraud

John Hood:

CBO analysts shows several things to be true: 1) for all the talk of transparency and reform, Obama’s budget numbers are phony and based on risible economic assumptions; 2) previous administrations have been wasteful, but the current administration is full of wastrels; and 3) there’s a reason why even committed European social democrats think the president’s fiscal plans are irresponsible.

Anyone can just look at the graph and see that it’s fiscal insanity. Unless, of course, you’re equally insane.

That’s Good To Hear

Michigan lost to Oklahoma tonight, so I no longer feel compelled by tribal impulses to pay any more attention to the appalling sport of basketball.

No, I didn’t watch, or even attempt to watch the game. Had they made it to the final four, I might wasted the hours doing so.

A Question For Alan Dershowitz

From Dennis Prager:

Who exactly in the European Union is condemning Israel? Its conservatives? Who in America is condemning Israel? Conservatives? Who in Australia or Canada? Conservatives? Of course not. As regards Israel (and America and much else), the Western world’s moral idiots, to use the term in the title of the Dershowitz column, are virtually all on the left, including and especially many of his colleagues in academia.

So, I have a question for my friend Dershowitz. (I say ‘friend’ because we’ve known each other for years and debated and dialogued together.)

Given that Israel’s security is so important to you, given that you believe that the ability to morally distinguish between Israel and its enemies is tantamount to the ability to distinguish between good and evil, and given that those who condemn Israel for its “disproportionate” response to Hamas terror-rockets are almost all on the left in America and Europe, why do you continue to identify yourself as a man of the left?

As he notes, there has to be a cognitive dissonance going on there. As well as a lot of other complicated issues.

Glad He Explained That

Senator Obama says that if we disagree with him about the virtues of spreading our (or other peoples’) wealth around, that we’re selfish.

Nothing I like better from a socialist presidential candidate than being lectured about my personal morality.

Storm Update

This is one of the weirdest storms in recorded history. Jeff Masters has been calling it “the Joker” for several days because of its unpredictability, but the latest turn–an intensification over land–has him amazed:

It does happen sometimes that the increased friction over land can briefly act to intensify a hurricane vortex, but this effect is short-lived, once the storm is cut off from its oceanic moisture source. To have a storm intensify over land and maintain that increased intensity while over land for 12 hours is hard to explain. The only thing I can think is that recent rains in Florida have formed large areas of standing water that the storm is feeding off of. Fay is also probably pulling moisture from Lake Okeechobee. Anyone want to write a Ph.D. thesis on this case?

We haven’t seen rain for several hours, though the winds continue (though not tropical force). We may still get some more rain out of it before it’s gone; the feeder bands are over the water now, but as it moves farther away they may come back ashore in south Florida. Anyway, we got plenty of rain–enough that I won’t bother to water tomorrow, which the local commissars say is our watering day.

True Credit Card Interest Rates

I had to extend a recent business trip and came back a few days later than I intended. I sat down to pay bills and it was the day after one of my credit cards had a payment due. I was hit with a $39 late fee, a $9.95 epay fee, and interest retroactively was jacked up to 21%. All together, I was hit with a charge of 1.27% of my balance for being one day late. That works out to an annual yield of 10,000%. Nice for them. Makes one consider supporting regulation.

Ethanol and Food

Judging from the carbon emitted from eating food in the US, food represents about 5% of the carbon usage. It’s a higher percentage in developing countries, but the power uses of carbon are very valuable and inelastic. By figuring out how to turn food into fuel and doing so for the most expensive fuel at $4.00/gallon, we drive up the price of food to $6 per bushel as a bushel of corn can produce 2.8 gallons of ethanol and $1.42 in ethanol subsidies which has the energy content of 2 gallons of gasoline of which 2/3 of the cost is the petroleum.

So people living on $1/day can only afford 9 pounds of corn if they can find it wholesale in such small lots. 1 pound is 2400 calories. I guess the high corn price is exposing poor financing, competition, distribution and economic incentives in countries with food riots, rather than simply first world corn consumption subsidies.

Unlatched

I was having a pretty good day, just having finished a successful auction, found my missing coat that I left at a restaurant, narrowly avoided a parking ticket, and was passed by a highway patrolman who was after someone else. I got the last seat on an early flight home to Austin on American from Bradley Airport through Dallas.

About 45 minutes out from DFW, the captain explained that the luggage door in the back of the plane was unlatched. The captain said, in effect, “While this isn’t a problem now due to the pressurization holding the door in place, it will be once the plane is about to land.” So we were told to expect some emergency vehicles on the tarmac to spot any luggage so it wouldn’t get in the way of other planes.

I never trust pilots to tell the truth to passengers in an emergency-landing situation so I called my wife to tell her I loved her just in case (I did this before it was fashionable on one other emergency landing due to a tail screw problem about 10 years ago). No one else seemed nervous. The flight attendants seemed pretty upbeat. I pondered the seat back that was not upright in front of me, but I would rather die than commit a faux pas, so I waited for the flight attendant to attend to it.

When we landed, I counted 9 emergency vehicles on the right side of the plane. We stopped on the tarmac for about 5 minutes and they circled us. Then we headed for the gate. When we made a turn, I could see about six of them following behind the plane. We arrived at the terminal safely. We had probably delayed all of DFW traffic for a time.

On my flight to Austin, the next pilot missed our gate and had to do a 360 turn to get back to it. That was a pretty weird trip.

Depolarize Lunar Exploration

In the latest issue of Moon Miners’ Manifesto and Ad Astra Peter Kokh makes the point in “Perfect Spot Found for Moonbase?” that R&D for living everywhere except the poles would open up a lot more of the Moon to utilization especially the mare/highland “coastline”. Good point! But let’s do both. Let’s colonize the easiest place to colonize too.

He did say that if the government puts a base at the pole that the rest of the Moon might never get developed. This is an error. In 500 years of 2% growth, the average worker will be able to fund their own Elon Musk-style orbital space program 5 times over with one year’s income. See a comical look into the future here.

The Myth of Fingerprints

Danyel Fisher has a good post on fingerprints and false positives. He doubts the guilt of the Oregon man being held in the Madrid bombings case based on fingerprint evidence – only time will tell for sure, but he does make an excellent point that “…if you are “one in a million,” there are 293 of you in the USA…” False positives will become more and more problematic as more people are fingerprinted. One thing Danyel doesn’t discuss, but which is extremely important, is that the resulting false positives will be believed accurate with a high degree of confidence, making it much harder to convince authorities that they are indeed false positives.

Also worth checking out is the paper linked to at the end of Danyel’s piece: On the Individuality of Fingerprints (pdf).

Shining Lights

I don’t often praise Democrats, but I want to point out that there have been at least three who have been acting as statemen, rather than politicians, recently. One is Joe Biden (surprisingly to me, because I’ve never been very impressed with him in the past). A second is Evan Bayh. And a third is Bob Kerrey. It’s a shame that they have to share a party with the likes of Ted Kennedy.

I was also gratified to see Condi Rice amend her previous statement (“Nobody could have imagine using planes as weapons”) which is hands-down the dumbest thing that she’s ever said (and it’s rare for her to say things remotely dumb). She said in this morning’s hearing that she should have said “I couldn’t imagine…”

I also disagree with her that armoring cockpits was the only thing that we might have done to prevent 911. A different attitude toward hijacking by the public would have helped as well. Now that we have the mentality that there are purposes of hijacking beyond extortion–that there are worse things than losing an airplane and its passengers, it will be much more difficult if not impossible to hijack an aircraft, and if we’d somehow had that mentality prior to 911, the towers might still stand.

[Late afternoon update]

Just in case anyone was confused, I was referring to Senator Kerrey’s piece in the Wall Street Journal today, to which I linked above (sorry, registration may be required), not his hectoring performance in the hearings this morning.

My Credibility

In comments on this post, Marcus Lindroos wrote, apparently from some other planet:

Simberg: I suspect that what the EU is really worried about is that, with Arafat’s death, as with Saddam’s downfall, a lot of dirty laundry may come out in terms of the depths of the corruption of their dealings with him. Old Yasser reputedly has a some pretty sizable European bank accounts. How much of his thievery has he been kicking back to the Eurocrats?

So you “suspect” this is the case… Where is the evidence? Why always suspect the darkest of motives when discussing something that (quite frankly) isn’t perceived as a very important issue over here?

Really, Rand, it’s sad to see how a previously level-headed intelligent guy like you keep firing one dumb anti-European tirade after another. Why do you keep undermining your credibility like this? Why not simply stick to (commercial-) space policy? You make so much more sense talking about that.

While it doesn’t talk about kickbacks, there’s obviously abundant evidence that EU money has been funding terrorism, and that EU bureaucrats have been studiously looking the other way.

The tragedy, of course, as I replied to Marcus then, is that corruption and under-the-table support of terrorism in the EU “isn’t perceived as a very important issue” over there. It explains much about the continuing decline of Europe. Why do I suspect the darkest of motives, Marcus? Because I’ve been observing them for too long, and I know their character.

As for my credibility, I’ll let others judge that, but you might want to consider that it’s not my level-headedness that’s being inconsistent.

Just a thought.

“Damn It, Jim, I’m A Doctor, Not A Philosopher”

In perusing the latest issue of The New Atlantis (which also has pieces by editor Adam Keiper, Bob Park and Bob Zubrin on the new space policy–the Park and Zubrin pieces are regurgitations of the Great Debate), I see that Professor Diana Schaub, one of the recent appointments to the president’s Bioethics Commission (of which much has been discussed in the blogosphere), says that immortality is a bad thing.

Her argument?

Star Trek episodes. I kid you not.

“Damn It, Jim, I’m A Doctor, Not A Philosopher”

In perusing the latest issue of The New Atlantis (which also has pieces by editor Adam Keiper, Bob Park and Bob Zubrin on the new space policy–the Park and Zubrin pieces are regurgitations of the Great Debate), I see that Professor Diana Schaub, one of the recent appointments to the president’s Bioethics Commission (of which much has been discussed in the blogosphere), says that immortality is a bad thing.

Her argument?

Star Trek episodes. I kid you not.

“Damn It, Jim, I’m A Doctor, Not A Philosopher”

In perusing the latest issue of The New Atlantis (which also has pieces by editor Adam Keiper, Bob Park and Bob Zubrin on the new space policy–the Park and Zubrin pieces are regurgitations of the Great Debate), I see that Professor Diana Schaub, one of the recent appointments to the president’s Bioethics Commission (of which much has been discussed in the blogosphere), says that immortality is a bad thing.

Her argument?

Star Trek episodes. I kid you not.

Happy St. Pat’s Day

In honor of the occasion, I’ve decided to make all of today’s posts green.

Now I’m going out to the store to pick up a corned beef–a dish that I only have once a year (partly because Patricia doesn’t like it, but I’m back in California, and she’s in Florida, so I can indulge the holiday and my tastes). I may make some soda bread as well.

Happy St. Pat’s Day

In honor of the occasion, I’ve decided to make all of today’s posts green.

Now I’m going out to the store to pick up a corned beef–a dish that I only have once a year (partly because Patricia doesn’t like it, but I’m back in California, and she’s in Florida, so I can indulge the holiday and my tastes). I may make some soda bread as well.

Happy St. Pat’s Day

In honor of the occasion, I’ve decided to make all of today’s posts green.

Now I’m going out to the store to pick up a corned beef–a dish that I only have once a year (partly because Patricia doesn’t like it, but I’m back in California, and she’s in Florida, so I can indulge the holiday and my tastes). I may make some soda bread as well.