Wednesday, September 30, 2009

China's Biggest Investment in Fossil Fuels Yet??

China and Nigeria are negotiating a monster deal that could see the Chinese take control of 17% of all of Nigeria's proven oil reserves. This could be a $50 billion investment on the part of the Chinese. As I quipped in another post, China is not above running small African countries out of its back pocket if it has to in pursuit of energy supplies. Now, Nigeria is not small, but that just means that the Chinese have finished their warm-ups - they'll be taking a heavy hand in how things get done in Nigeria should they plunk down 50 large. Of course this news comes hot on the heels of many other large Chinese forays deeper in the energy world. And yet, somehow, we are supposed to believe that the world - which includes the Chinese - is going to come together, sing kumbayah, and save the planet in Copenhagen this December by limiting theusage of fossil fuels.

Remember folks, in the long run reality will trump this global warming nuttiness.

UPDATE: Apparently the Chinese want in on Uganda too. This is far from a comprehensive list, as it is only off the top of my head, but the Chinese have bought into energy plays in Brazil, Angola, Sudan, Madagascar, Canada, Vietnam, Venezuela, Iran, Egypt, and imminently, Nigeria and Uganda. The Chinese do alot of alternative energy stuff at home too, but given this roster of investments, I'm guessing it's either just for show or they have zero expectation that renewables and the like will get them to the promised land.

Jobless Recovery Powers On

GDP numbers out today indicate that the economy was clearly on the mend in the second quarter and very likely returned to growth in the quarter ending today, and yet the economy continues to shed jobs. Funny that.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Now It Can Be Spoken, Now It Can Be Told

I scooped Charlie Gasparino by like...what...five months? Does Charlie have better sources than me? No. It's just that now such a story is acceptable to run, whereas when I was making my call, we still had a de facto lese majeste prohibition operating within the MSM.

But the bigger point in Gasparino's article than the buyer's remorse is the blackout of all the knowledgable and sensible voices on economic policy within the administration - voices, like Volcker and Summers, which were heavily sold to the public during the campaign, and which I believe enabled Obama to hoodwink folks like Warren Buffett and Lloyd Blankfein into supporting him. I pointed out this disconnect awhile back and wondered why we are getting such miserably destructive economic policy from such brilliant economic stars - either they ain't so brilliant or the administration is not listening to them. The Gasparino scoop suggests it is indeed the latter, which brings up another concern. Why are these folks still working for the administration and in some cases why are they still stumping for destructive policies that they would not have counselled? Furthermore why devote your time and effort if your work and advice is going to be ignored? Is the pay that good? Is the padding of the ole' resume that good?

Watch this space, as I think few economists will want to pin their reputations to this or this. Volcker may be a leading indicator. He has a sterling reputation and nobody doubts his honor, so his recent public jabs at Obama's policy ideas may be an incipient attempt by the economic dream team to regain the attention of the President or else, perhaps, lose their counsel. He may be saying, "Hey, if you want us around (and want to draw on our credibility), you have to listen to us; we're not going to attach our reputations to what you, Axelrod, and Rahm Emmanuel cook up." Let's not forget, Obama had no credibility on economic issues as a candidate. He drew upon the credibility of those he could draw to him, essentially borrowing credibility of people like Volcker and Summers.

The Powerline guys get similar thoughts from Professor Paul Rahe who sees past the putative dishonor of the various economists in Obama's circle to something much more ominous.

Important Econ Lecture

Eminent economist John Taylor brings an important guest lecturer to his class to comment on the looming fiscal implosion that our out-of-control Sausage Factory workers have set in motion.

Three Cheers for Kevin Rudd

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd - Australia

Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia , as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks..
Separately, Rudd angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation's mosques. Quote:
'IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali , we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians. '
'This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom'
'We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language.. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society . Learn the language!'
'Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.'
'We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.'
'This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, 'THE RIGHT TO LEAVE'.'
'If you aren't happy here then LEAVE. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted.'

Monday, September 28, 2009

Lame Duck Warning System Alert - Status Yellow

After literally taking over the airwaves in an unprecendented media blitzkrieg, Obama and his helathcare reform plans are tanking. He had to show some unruly Dems that he was still king of the airwaves, and he went on every media venue it seems except Project Runway, but his healthcare push is still swirling. This is the unravelling that I called way back - there is no substance to this man, once the media shine is gone, he is done. His party members are starting to see this in high relief. Just as BO tried to give hapless NY governor David Patterson the heave-ho, if things continue on this trajectory, who will be the wise, old Dem hand that points Dear Leader to stage left? Obviously, this guy, who I am told was begged for that photo-op at Il Mulino in NYC the other week by the Obama people. Is this really how these people think? We're tanking because people hate our ideas for healthcare reform...what to do? I got it, let's get a photo with Clinton on page one!

Not Even Close - It's #44

Ahmad Bradshaw, meet the Most Honest Man in America, who btw enhanced his status as such last weeek. Ahmad didn't have any points to boast of, but his efforts were the very foundation of the scoring drives. (Week 1, Week 2)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hey, No Fair, You're Breaking the Rules

"Obama Says Second Nuclear-Fuel Facility Shows Iran Is Breaking UN Rules"

Breaking the rules? Not, mind you, developing apocalyptic weapons that can kill millions to be controlled by a madman.

Breaking. The. Rules.

The Brazilian Ashton Kutcher

Obama just made a big show of getting the world to sing kumbayah and get rid of those nasty nukes. So, what does Brazil do not one day later? Say they need nukes. You've been Punk'd!

Like I said, taking turns.

Deep, Creamy, Cold Truth

I'm pretty sure this is not real, but who cares...what it is is truth, deep truth.

Playing Calvinball With Your Life

A friend of mine put it aptly..."I never thought actual adults would play Calvinball with our governance." For those who don't know the finer points of Calvinball...

I Called It!

Did I say that they would dust off Mondale and have him shill for healthcare? Yes, I did.

Not Healthy, Nor Weathly, and UnWise

The authors of this book hit the op-ed pages of the WSJ to warn us that the healthcare reform emerging in Washington DC represents doubling-down on the concepts and policies that got our healthcare system into its regrettable state.

No Parts for Chrysler?

One of Detroit's (as in the US car industry) biggest problems over the past several years was its inability to partner productively with its suppliers.  Sure, stupid and destructive union contracts were the principal flaw in their business model but that cascaded into other problems.  Because their union labor was so expensive the Big Three had to beat their vendors into the ground to compensate for high labor costs.  Thus when a parts supplier had a great new technology or an innovation to share with the OEMs, it bypassed the Big Three and went straight to OEMS like Toyota and BMW, because they could be relatively assured that they'd get some margin out of the deal.  So the big three always got sloppy seconds on the best technology coming out of the components industry.  Now that the government owns Chrysler and GM, it's not much better.  Vendors are reluctant to play with the US government.  I'll bet the geniuses on Ron Bloom's Car Czar panel never even thought that a vendor wouldn't want to sell to GM or Chrysler. Whoops. Welcome to commercial reality.  Between consumer preference for non-government-owned Ford and vendor persnickitiness, it'll be remarkable if government ownership doesn't drive the GM and Chrysler into the ditch by 2011.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

India Values Its Sovereignty

This just in:

India: New Delhi Will Not Sign Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
Stratfor Today »-->September 24, 2009
India refused Sept. 24 to sign the U.N. Security Council resolution asking countries not part of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to sign the treaty, Press Trust of India reported. India said it cannot accept the standards of the treaty that contradict its national interests and infringe on its sovereignty. India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Hardeep Singh Puri, said India cannot accept demands for the broad application of the treaty.

DB: Good for India. Protect your sovereignty.

Hey Europe. Stop Bitching. You Asked for This.

Hey Brits, you helped foist this loser on the world. You piled on heaping quantities of bile and sundry distortions about America during the George W. Bush years and fomented a caricatured version of Euro-weenie anti-Americanism that set the stage for Barack Obama to don the mantle of world-healing savior. The "redemptive" message would have been laughable had you in Europe been measured, rather than unhinged, for the past six years. So, I don't want to hear your bitching. You may have your legitimate beefs, but we here across the pond have to survive these next four years praying our liberties remain intact and our economy doesn't crater, largely because of your hyperventilating about George W. Bush and imperial America. So shut your pie holes and take it like men. We have to.

North Korea In South Jersey

"Barack Hussein Obama," "great plans" to "make this country's economy No. 1 again.

"Barack Obama Loves the Little Children,"

"He said red, yellow, black or white/All are equal in his sight. Barack Hussein Obama."

"He said we must be clear today/Equal work means equal pay."

DB: Leapin' Lizards. God help us. Truly.

UPDATE: Wow. Check out the school's response - the creepy indoctrination was authorized, the filming of it was not.

Not Iran's Week

First this, now I'm just getting this:

Iran: Nuclear Detonator Sites Found - Opposition Group
Stratfor Today »-->September 24, 2009
Two Iranian detonator-development sites, instrumental in the production cycle of weaponized plutonium, have been located, Reuters reported Sept. 24, citing the National Council of Resistance of Iran. A command and research center has been located in eastern Tehran; a site in the village of Sanjarian manufactures components for the systems. The council said it gathered the information — which was given to the International Atomic Energy Agency — from dozens of sources; it could not be independently verified.

The regime is weak and if the international community somehow got overwhelming leverage over the mullahs, it could only help the reformists' cause. My bet is that these sites weren't just found, but somebody sympathetic to the reformers decided to talk.

Gathering Trade Danger

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Walks Like a Reaganite Duck, Talks Like a Reaganite Duck

I talk to alot of conservatives who bitch and moan about the lack of a clear, forceful Reaganite message and compelling messenger in today's political scene.  Hell, this sounds like exactly that...I'd call it a duck.

Don't Tread On Me (or My HSA)

There is a general feeling in this country that we are slowly becoming a socialist nation. From the highly redistributive economic policies, to the governmental antipathy toward private property, to the government ownership of large sectors of the economy, to emerging signs of the government co-opting non-political organizations to advance its agenda, and, well, to the presence of avowed socialists within the highest reaches of the government and creepy cult of personality indoctrination. This may be quite troubling for those who love their liberty, as it is to me, but the accusation still gets dismissed by the MSM and the political left because of the greyness of the policy drift - it is hard to delineate the shift in black and white. Students of history, however, know that you don't get to socialism via the express train passing well-delineated signposts, you creep toward socialism. So it is important to mark the journey at each small sad, albeit grey, increment and fight losing but one inch; and, thankfully, Americans seem to be coming to this realization and waking up. Still it is helpful to be aware of signposts along the way that ought to transform our vigilance into something more urgent. We have these grey signposts all around us, but what of something more black and white, more starkly and clearly a sign that we have crossed a dangerous line from a free, constitutional republic to a bona fide statist or social system? To me that black and white signpost is en masse confiscation of property. I don't mean taxation, I mean outright usurpation. The best example I can cite is Argentina's recent takeover of private pensions. The best way to describe it is if the government seized everyone's 401K or IRA or similar plan, just took the assets - the stocks and bonds and cash - and gave them over the Social Security Administration to pay your social security checks (actually, get ready, b/c the usurpers already have ideas). We aren't there yet and I hope there will be bloody hell to pay if such a proposal was ever so much as whispered in the halls of government here; but, we may be approaching a smaller version of that signpost with Health Savings Accounts.

As you may know, HSAs allow Americans to buy low cost-high deductible health insurance and stick pre-tax money into a special savings account for out of pocket healthcare expenses. The justification for this vehicle is that 1) the tax break provides incentive for people to save for their medical costs and 2) the individual control of the account gives people the incentive and the opportunity to spend more wisely and make their healthcare dollars go farther. HSAs are a major component of the free market approach and policy menu for healthcare reform. Expanded by President Bush, HSAs are getting more popular. But HSAs are not on the table in the Democrats' healthcare reform plans, and you know what they say about you if you are not at the table. HSAs are set to be devoured in ObamaCare or BaucusCare or PelosiCare or whatever we get from the Dems. But what does that mean? Will they lower or simply take away the tax deductibility of future contributions to HSAs? Or will they do something more, like tax your HSA's current balance to zero, or simply take it via some other coercive method? I don't know and not even the experts know (probably because the bills are being hidden from not just the public but from most members of congress). One healthcare policy expert told me today, "congress hasn't said they'll tax legacy HSA balances, but if that makes you feel safe, you will soon be parted with your money."

What happens to HSAs could be our next (first?) black/white signpost on where this country is on the road to serfdom. Many Americans have hundreds if not thousands of dollars sitting in their HSAs, put there under the good faith assumption of no taxation and full control. If the government confiscates those legacy balances via taxation or other method we will have crossed an unmistakable signpost. Argentinian-style confiscation of other assets won't be far behind. In WWII-buff parlance, HSAs are Munich. We should heed Clemenza's history lesson. Watch what is proposed to HSAs very carefully, America.

How Obama Put the Jobless In Jobless Recovery

I have laid it all out here before - the economy will improve but the job market will not and Obama and his team of economic all-stars will be choking on 10%+ unemployment for the remainder of their term. Here is the condensed version:
- Recessions are self-correcting and the credit markets are healing
- Obama and the Democrats are waging all out war on business using every tool available
- Large Companies will divert capital and hiring overseas, or simply live lean
- Small companies, expecting higher taxes and forced to pay higher minimum wages, will hold back on hiring
- Profits will go into deleveraging and savings, not expansion

Numbers in for August continue to be bleak. But Rahm and Dear Leader, well, they saved the economy.

Prosperity is on vacation for a time.

Conclusion: with the amount of monetary and fiscal stimulus coursing through the economy things are bound to do OK, but that doesn't translate to meaningful job creation. Obama owns the "joblessness" of this recovery.
UPDATE: More bad numbers for O.
UPPDATE: Confirmed, from the horse's mouth.

Clueless Governor Still Clueless

Our clueless and/or unapologetically statist politicians still think we have a revenue problem, even after boosting spending 9% on top of an already bloated budget in the middle of a deep recession. As New York state's budget deficit goes from $2.1 to perhaps $3 billion (I said it was going higher, and I think it's going higher still), rich people are leaving the state and businesses are relocating out of state. Career politicians, not terrorism, are the greatest threat to this country's survival that we face.

Time for Some Wisdom of the Ages

"The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." - Edmund Burke

"Hope and Change", anyone?

Reality Mugs

Did I say that all the college-age Obamabots would sour on their Dear Leader as reality mugs them and they face dismal job prospects in Obama's anti-business America? Yes, I believe I did. After an enjoyable summer (and fall, and winter) living at home with Mom & Dad and handing out 'Healthcare Now' flyers, the youth of America might start asking themselves some penetrating questions, I posited. Seems like it could be starting.

How Convenient Indeed

If you're familiar with how the Israelis dealt with Saddam's nuclear weapons development program, say by having read this book, you'll read this news while no doubt stroking your chin with thumb and forefinger. Is it of a piece with this or is it just typcial Iranian incompetence? Hmmm. Although that would be one mean feat to get the AWACS to crash into another Iranian jet on the day of a military parade. One mean feat indeed.

(HT: Instapundit)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chu On This

My reaction when I read something like this, is to pile into my awesome gas-guzzling SUV and drive around for no bloody reason...while eating tangerines.

Can't you envision a high level strategy meeting with BO, Rahm, Axelrod and the gang (and I do mean "gang") with Axelrod saying "Have you seen the polls numbers, fellas? What we need is some more arrogant paternalism! Who can hit the airwaves tomorrow with this? Chu! Gimme something good Stevie."

Of course, there was no such meeting. Who needs it when you've surrounded yourself with arrogant paternalists and staffed the highest level of the government with all them. The shit flows naturally.

China's Tit for Obama's Tat

Trade war?

Good for China - hit Obama where it hurts, with all his Hollywood friends.

N.B. That last was said in jest...nobody, especially me, wants a trade war. But if there is to be a little light jousting before amicable resolution, nice to see the Chinese beat this punk at chess.

Obama's Many Sticks in the Eye Are Not Random

I have been an ever-so-close watcher of our President since the early days of the campaign, and I concluded that were we to elect him, we would have bought ourselves a pig in a poke. It was clear that this guy had no practical experience doing anything useful. I was disturbed by his radical associations, but I chalked it up as typical of the elitist circles he moved in. I never suspected something sinister, I mostly thought he would be another misguided liberal from central casting, mostly all sizzle and no steak. As I watched him since the election I noticed his astounding blunders and started to put the pieces together and I began to feel the rising dread that the blunders are too many, too crazy, and too connected. Warmly greeting Chavez, then selling out the people of Honduras to bring back Zelaya. Insulting Gordon Brown and denying the "special relationship". Now, reneging on our commitments to Poland on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion. Abandoning the freedom-seeking people of Iran, and not mentioning it again as the revolution continues boiling. These aren't blunders, they are sticks in the eye. By virtue of pre-meditation these actions are that much more profoundly disturbing. I questioned whether I was perhaps taking it a bit too far, perhaps coming down with a little Obama Derangement Syndrome. I am convinced, now, that I am not. Others are drawing the same conclusions, in fact, doing so more completely and more eloquently than I. Here's is the nub of it:
"We are living in a dangerous time. It seems highly unlikely that Barack Obama will get his way in domestic affairs. The Democrats may control Congress, but they now fear a rout in 2010, and they are likely to tread with caution from now on. In foreign affairs, however, presidents have a relatively free hand, and this president has ample time to do damage to a country that, there is reason to suspect, he deeply hates. "

In fact, didn't Michelle Obama lay it all out for us to see in plain sight? Yet we refused to see. And now we'll be lucky to escape in four years with the same level of personal liberty as we had going into 2009 and the risk to life and limb is growing greater as the world becomes a more dangerous place as bad actors are emboldened and the average good folks are stiff-armed.

When I was a small boy, I rode a giant roller coaster for the first time. I hated it. It scared the tar out of me. Each steep plunge was awful in its own right, but the worst part of the whole experience was just after the first hill, knowing that I had several more ahead of me and that I couldn't get off. The fear that it ain't over and there's nothing you can do superceded the actual terror of each plunge. That how I feel today, although at least there is something we can do. Join a Tea Party protest. Buy a Ford. Run for office. Vote out an incumbent. Deny the government your tax dollars in any small, petty way that you can. Every little way that we hamstring this government and bring the full force of economic and electoral reality to bear on the Obama administration can only help us preserve our liberties and preserve America as a bulwark against statism across the globe.

UPDATE: Further thoughts.

Monday, September 21, 2009

How Dumb Are the Enviro-Ninnines at the U.N.?

This dumb. They want to sway the rich countries by illustrating the problems of poor countries. However, the rich countries aren't the problem. Rich countries are the ones who can afford to entertain the apocalyptic nonsense that is global warming and they are attempting to force this self-indulgent speculation down the throats of poor countries. Poor countries, of course, yearn for higher living standards and see the climate change crusade as detrimental to their development. Any breakthrough on some sort of global action would have to come from poor countries acquiescing to rich countries' restrictions on carbon emissions. All that could really achieve that is the mother of all bribes, er subsidies, which the rich countries can't really afford right now. (And rich countries know that poor countries won't enforce their end of the bargain if they do agree to cut emissions. Rich countries would be hurting their economies while poor countries advance. Classic prisoner's dilemma stuff.) The U.N. is taking the wrong message to the wrong audience. This is actually encouraging. Idiocy on the part of these global busybodies means that we have less to fear in the way of damage emanating from their activities.

No Democrat Is He

There is no hiding anymore, the depth of the shame the Obama administration ought to be wallowing in over it's Honduran betrayal is now beyond question.

2 Billions Barrels, Where?

To the list of emerging oil exporters that see hydrocarbons as the path to national well-being, but that are somehow believed to want to vote to destroy demand for hydrocarbons in the name of saving the planet, you can add Uganda.

Can't Ignore the Obvious - It's #10 in Week 2

Great Jints win to ruin Jerry Jones's night. Trust me, I am trying my best to justify giving the weekly honor of being pictured next to the Most Honest Man in America to a normally unheralded player; and, surely Mario Manningham (10 catches for 150, 1 awesome TD) would otherwise qualify. Steve Smith, too, is a candidate with his 10 catches for 134 yards and a TD. I want to guys, believe me. Still, how can you ignore the elephant in the room - 25 for 38, 330 yards, those 2 TDs, (and here is the key) the big donut for INTs - of the $100 million man orchestrating another game-winning drive like it was nothing.
(Week 1 here)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Major Healthcare Bullshit Alert !!

Beautiful day out, too busy with the kids to comment on this shocker, but check out this post at Say Anything regarding the fraudulent garbage that healthcare totalitarians are willing to shovel out in order to seize control of our healthcare system.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Save the Big Guns for Last

The last two guys they've rolled out in the ObamaCare effort...Jimmah Carter and Jesse Jackson. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Who will it be next week, Walter Mondale and Sharpe James?

Kim Latest to Punk Obama

After we capitulated and agree to one on one talks, Kim Jong Il says, "Nah, we'll do the multi-lateral talks." Is there a contest on among world leaders to see who can make Obama look like a bigger fool?

Surprise! More Collectivist Economic Policies Coming from Obama Admin.

Ugh. Collectivism and central planning are sprouting up like clover. The WSJ reports that the FCC is resurrecting "net neutrality". Let's go back into the archives to take a look at this zombie that won't die.

New Administration To Halt Ineffectual Stimulus!!!

Got you excited didn't I? Sorry, it's Japan. Nothing so sensible is in the cards here at home folks.

China's Economy: Smokin' ; US Economy: Pokin'

As if I need to say it...again.

BaucusCare Would Incent Me to Dump My Plan

I've been thinking about the Baucus plan and maybe I'm missing something, but it could work out pretty good for me and many others like me. Let me walk you through this. Because we essentially already have ObamaCare here in New York state, I pay through the nose for my insurance, on the order of $20,000 (actually, I got a notice today that it is going up 20% in 2010). Unless someone in the Baseball household has a major procedure, the cumulative Baseball family healthcare spending comes nowhere near that, so we lose money, but we get the insurance value (which, of course, Anthony Weiner doesn't understand). So, Baucus (he who either lies or doesn't understand basic finance) is going to slap me with a penalty if I don't buy a government-dictated insurance policy that will almost certainly not be to my specific needs. That penalty ranges but let's say I get hit with the maximum that I've read, $3,800. Why would I not dump my insurance, pay the penalty, and have roughly $20,000 left over for out of pockets and "self-insurance"? I'm still pretty young, so aside from getting hit by the proverbial bus, statistically I've got several years of decent health in which to pay Baucus's silly fine and bank some reserves. Assuming I don't spend all the savings on getting drunk, I could bank $250,000 by the time I hit 50. In the meantime, I can take my cash horde to all the doctors that will opt out of BaucusCare, the same way they have opted out of Medicare, and negotiate privately. Medicine will be more expensive and innovation will suffer, which I am not happy about, but at least I won't be competing with and waiting in line behind all the rubes with their BaucusCare plan cards!

UPDATE: Now I read that the fine will max out at $1900. All the better for me to purchase healthcare services with cash on the barrel.

Smart (and not very Empathic) Power

On the 70th Anniversary of the Soviet invasion no less. What an ass.

Jobless Recovery Gets More Joblessy

Unemployment still ticking up. When you tax and hamstring business with every possible tool in the government arsenal and you expect doling out borrowed money to create economic growth, well this is what you get. Hate to say it...told 'ya so.

No Chance of "Nifonging" the Hofstra Boys, All Involved Are Black

So bunch of black kids have a sex romp with a subsequently untruthful gal, and they experience a couple days of anguish and fear. I don't discount that, but compare that to Reade Seligmann, Colin Finnerty, and Dave Evans - years of anguish and fear, the prospect of financial ruin, and lasting stigma attached to their names - and they didn't engage in any potentially criminal physical sexual behavior. Forgive me if I see the civil rights struggle no longer as a movement, but an industry.

To Poland and the Czech Republic:

The United States of America did not betray you. Barack Obama betrayed you. Have faith in us. If you can just hold out for 3.5 more years, we'll get this situation fixed.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Smart Sounding Guy: "I'm Not that Smart"

I read this guy's book. He comes off really smart, but if he didn't see what was coming how smart can he be?

Complete Wanker Spouts Rubbish!

...Man, I LOVE speaking British!

Since this guy is a Brit, I'll speak his language and call "Bollocks!" With a guy this zealous you can't argue that global warming (sorry, climate change) is a speculation and that the dread effects of climate change are the rankest form of computer-driven speculation. He's got the physical environment sussed and that's that, so you gotta go for the other flaws in his argument. There are many, but first, a nit to pick - I understand it is difficult for a Limey bloke to understand the finer points of us colonials' parliamentary machinations, but it was the US Senate that ripped up Kyoto. I know it is good for a pint at the pub on your editor's shilling to bash George W. Bush, but let's be prickly about the facts, justfor shits and giggles. Now to the nub, shall we? It would seem Freedland thinks that the US is somehow integral to Copenhagen's success and it would seem he thinks that the United States is somehow personified in Barack Obama. Barack Obama has little sway with world leaders (on top of his ever diminishing say with us 'mericanz) and it is not the US that is weighing the promise of Copenhagen down. The US is merely bowing to reality. Brazil is planning on spending $175 billion dollars over the next several years on hydrocarbon development. It's their space program. (Actually that number will go up given this recent find.) As we say here in America, "they are, like, sooooo NOT on board" with the whole restricting hydrocarbons thing. The Africans, too, are on the very brink of oil riches. Angola, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, Egypt, Libya and a few others all have dreams of being the next Saudi Arabia. They'll only slow down if they get bribes, and frankly, no one expects that they'll honor any bribe. They'll take the money and drillbabydrill anyway. And then there are the Indians, who think this global warming stuff is a bunch of hogwash and wouldn't care even if it wasn't because they have a billion mouths to feed. Oh, and I almost forgot the Chinese! How could I forget the Chinese, who are traversing the globe, spending hundreds of billions and running entire African countries out of their back pockets if they have to just to get their Commie mits on the ungodly amount of hydrocarbons they'll need to feed and house their billions at a modest living standard. No rational and informed person thinks that these countries are going to vote to restrict the use of hydrocarbons, which is what Copenhagen is all about, but "Oh, but it's the big, mean United States that is dooming Copenhagen and thus us all! Save us Barack Obama! Save us!" says total wanker John Freedland. Have you ever heard such rubbish?

Doctors: We'll Hit the Links

Remember my Healthcare Thought Experiment where I suggested that doctors would retire or quit? Here is some confirmation - doctors really do have things they'd rather do with their time than practice medicine for plumbers' pay.

An Open Letter To Former President Carter

Dear Former President Carter,
You have raised my ire and to you Sir, I can only say "Horseshit." I oppose and criticize President Obama not because he is black but because he is wholly unsuitable for the highest office in the land. I disregard his brief Senate tenure as insufficient, as he spent over half his time campaigning and he achieved that office by exploiting the most overt talent vacuum of any state at the time in this country. He is a man of no consequence and no achievement save for running for political office. He has zero experience in and understanding of the private sector which amounts to 80% of the US economy. He has maintained numerous associations throughout his adult life with people of dubious moral character and suspect allegiance to this country. He charactertizes our country's role in the world via picayune shortcomings and ignores a long record of leadership that Americans should rightly take pride in. He is not an advcocate of freedom and democracy as shown in his misguided support for the leadership of Iran and the extra-constitutional usurpation of power by Mr. Zelaya in Honduras. He is not an advocate of free trade and has managed to raise the ire of our largest trading partners almost from the day he took office. Despite his legal training, he ran roughshod over critical, long-standing legal norms that protect private property in order to secure government ownership of General Motors and Chrysler. He is taking America down the path of fiscal ruin and substantially reduced personal freedoms. His words are often misleading at best and downright untruthful at worst. He is a longtime supporter of ACORN, a monumentally corrupt and subversive organization. In foreign affairs he has made this world a more dangerous place as virtually no world leaders, significant and not, consider him reliable, effective and strong. Finally, and most infuriating, is the insulting and condescending manner that he has dismissed - and allowed his surrogates to dismiss - me and my fellow citizens who hold different viewpoints and seek to air our viewpoints to our elected representatives.

It has nothing to do with the color of his skin, Mr. President, but has everything to do with the dearth of his character.

Donny Baseball

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

File Under: How's the Hope and Change Comin'?

It's official...Liberaltarians = Rubes.

Told ya' so.

Also, I sense the Republican party is being retaken back by the big tenters and moving in a more libertarian direction after seeing what DeLayism and Old Bullism wrought. And that is good.

Spinning Copenhagen Has Started

Now that it is so transparently a bust, U.S. Energy Secretray Steven Chu is backing off the importance of the upcoming global warming - whoops, climate change - conference in Copenhagen, saying it is no big deal. Just three weeks ago, Copenhagen was "crucial to the future of humanity." Expect alot more frantic spinning as we get closer.

I tell you it is a great feeling to see these puffed-up elite ninnies so deflated over not being able to save us all from ourselves.

We Have Laws For Just This Sort of Thing!

Sounds like a hate crime to me, harsher sentencing would seem to be in order.

Shocker: Crap On Business, They Won't Hire People

Q4 jobs outlooks sucks because business is shell-shocked by bad policy, both current and imminent. Um, like...what I've been saying all along.

Also, as I have said, businesses over-pared their workforces, there is tremendous operating leverage in the economy right now, but we won't see it until policy comes around a bit. If Americans have the good sense to gridlock this government and this administration in 2010, the stock market will race.

Why Wait for a Bill To Micro Manage Healthcare?

For Every Action, There Is An Equal Reaction

Obama to Wall Street: More Oversight Coming.

Wall Street to Obama (sotto voce): We'll Just Move Jobs to London, Frankfurt, Hong Kong Until You are Gone.

I Have Faith Again in America's Future

I had a very moving experience tonight.  Once every so often (every month in the fall and winter to be exact) I descend into the vortex of the hate-filled right wing conspiracy.  Actually, it is just a small gathering (@200 in a city of 8 million) of what I would call normal NYC conservatives - professional, well-dressed, well-educated people (doctors, lawyers, finance types) who don't wear liberalism on their sleeve like the rest of the denizens of the communist hive that is the Big Apple.  Anyway, there were the typical conservative opinion floggers and prospective candidates (side note, it is quite impressive the amount and caliber of accomplished/non-politician/fed up citizens who are saying "change will never come unless normal people like me get up and challenge the status quo politicians".  Here is a great example, here is another).  But then there was Andrew Breitbart. He got up there and he basically showed us old fuddy-duddies how lame we are - ACORN is a disgusting, corrupt organization but on our generation's watch they got millions in federal money and have run roughshod over all that we hold dear.  When congress voted to deny ACORN funding last year it went down in the Senate, like 53-43.  But...just today, ACORN got our tax dollars revoked from it, by an 83-7 vote.  Why?  Because two college kids - a tall, spindly guy and an adorable gal no more than 5'4" - launched an audacious plan to expose these filthy scumbags.  And apparently they have they goods 'til the cows come home on ACORN, only part of which we have seen to date.  If you are part of the older generation with your head down, making money, raising children, keeping the lawn looking good - you have just been schooled by the iPod generation in how to make a difference, and you ought to be thankful.  That much fewer of your tax dollars will go to the forces subverting the America that you love, the America that the founders intended.  Finally, Breibart introduced that diminutive gal, Hannah Giles, and a room packed with 200+ over 40 guys and gals in pinstripes and Ann Taylor suits gave her a standing ovation and within minutes she had numerous offers to help with her legal defense if the State of Maryland indeed is as twisted as they portend.  The generation gap ain't as wide as you think.  Americans of all ages are engaged and taking control.  My faith has been restored.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Obama to Dems "I Am More Important Than Your Voters"

I consider it a badge of honor that I just can't seem to figure out Washington DC logic (because it is not logic as you or I would recognize it).  It is with that self-awareness that I ran my interpretation of last week's events by some DC-savvy friends, and combining that with my well-honed grasped of actual logic and reality, I have come up with this interpretation of Obama's healthcare push...
Let's start with basic, DC understanding.  Obama was not addressing Republicans or the American people last week in his lecture to the joint session of Congress.  Republicans have had umpteen bills and proposals on healthcare reform - Obama isn't interested.  The American people have spoken their piece via townhalls throughout August - Obama isn't interested.  His focus was to wavering Democrats and his message was "I am still King of the Airwaves and if you dare to cross me, I will take you down.  I own the media message and if you are having second thoughts about voting with me on whatever I deem worthy healthcare legislation, woe betide you if you act on those doubts."  That was the purpose of the the theatre in the round on Capitol Hill last week.
And it would have worked.  Except one Republican out of 200+ spoke his mind.  Some obscure Sausage Factory worker blurted out "You lie!" and next thing you know, that is the story.  Sure as day follows night, the left and their MSM allies laughably portrayed this as a coarsening of our political culture, and the rightward media took it as an opportunity to examine whether the President actually did lie.  So conservative folks and a whole new cohort of skeptical, independent Americans (and there's alot of those lately) got to read about Obama's lies that much more and the MSM got to eviscerate its own credibility that much more - but that is not the BIG deal here.  It apparently is factual reporting that Joe Wilson, despite all attempts to discredit him, is a minor political rock star, or at the very least a beneficiary of outsized political fundraising largesse
So, after an attempt to threaten fellow Democrats to fall in line with him , Obama spends his weekend watching the world debate whether 400,000 or 2,000,000 people (with jobs) descended on Washington DC to complain about out-of-control government spending epitomized by his healthcare plan AND Joe Wilson become a $1 million touchpoint.  Let me be clear here (do I sound like the President?), when a piss-ant lower house sausage factory worker becomes a mini-star because he dares to challenge you and you are putatively the messiah of all fucking world history, you better recalibrate...
So, let's recap.  Obama set out to whip the Dems into line and within days he got hordes of angry citizens in the street and a congressional nobody who challenged him is an overnight celebrity.  Polling aside, I'd say that's not a good showing.  Lesson for the Prez: you may be King of all the Airwaves, but the power now lies along those Internet tubes.  You misjudged.  

No Wonder They Want Card-Check So Bad

This is pretty remarkable news, even though this goes on all the time, given that Boeing is a bellweather American manufacturing company. If Boeing sends more work to North Charleston (as it should, if it can) many a union employee will take note. Job security lies in competing and working hard to your company's benefit, not in union-led opposition.

Eli Lilly Reacts Rationally to Being Crapped On

Here you go America, here is the fruit of the political class's incessant demagoguery of the pharmaceutical industry. The article doesn't say where the job cuts are happening, but you can bet your molecules that the US will feel the brunt of these cuts (the article hints that Japan might actually get new jobs). This is job shifting. It's fine by me (I even advocated it) and we deserve it - this is what happens when you crap all over our leading business institutions that provide that can hire anywhere in the world.

Side note: Lilly has kept mum on the specifics perhaps to retain some leverage within Congress over the pending healthcare legislation - 'wouldn't want to see your district loss 300 jobs would we now Congressman?'

Giant Game Ball to Tuck, Joins Elmendorf

A few years ago I gave a "game ball" so to speak to the New York Giants player who was most impressive in a key win by placing their picture here next that of a truly great Senator, Dr. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. I let the effort lapse, but I think I am going to revive it, because it is fun and it's my damn blog. (BTW: yesterday's game was my five year-old son's first trip to Giants Stadium to see the G-men. He pronounced the occasion "Awesome!")

The Giants win yesterday was a team win with no obvious standout performances, but I am going give the honor to Justin Tuck for his usual excellent play including a few crucial stops that took what little the wind the Skins could generate out of their sails. While I still greatly admire Coburn, I am going to use this feature to highlight another heroic performance within our nation's sorry government affairs. So Justin, you get to join CBO head Douglas "The Most Honest Man in America" Elmendorf! Congrats Justin, and let's bring the heat next week in Dallas.

"Unsustainable" Is Not the Word...

Scott Grannis has a great post on the federal budget deficit. Notwithstanding the worse-than-Enron accounting of our federal budget, the graph he includes should scare the daylights out of you. What is even scarier to me, is that I know that same graph is going to look much worse one year from today - tax revenues are going to show unbelievable evaporation in 2009, and expenditures will continue to go through the roof given the non-stimulative $787 billion porkulus boondoggle and Obama/Pelosi's budget profligacy (on top of the general profligacy of Congress as a whole).

Great Response to Petty Tyranny

This is my kinda lady. I'll be doing something similar as our ban gets closer here in the US.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Repeating the Mistakes of the Great Depression

This is simply terrible economic policy. If Summers, Romer, Goolsbee and other various Obama braintrusters aren't strongly advising the President against this, they are professionally negligent. If they are and Obama isn't listening, he is negligent.

UPDATE: In the name of fairness I must note that George W. Bush, just as stupidly, imposed tariffs on imported steel. The only thing that makes the two tariff impositions different, and the Obama version slightly more damaging, is the timing. A trade war right now, the given the global economic environment, would be much more damaging than in 2004.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Water Water Everywhere, But Will Chavez Allow a Drink?

I like to highlight on this blog anytime an oil & gas exploration company finds a big-ass shitload of 'hydrocarbon resources'. I like to do this to stick it to the Peak Oilers, the greens and the luddites who moan all the time that "we can't drill our way out of our energy problems." Um, yes we can, and for a very long time to come. Frankly, though it's getting old. Big discoveries are coming at a fast and furious pace (the consequence of almost a decade of serious drilling - most countries love drilling, and the one country that matters that doesn't like drilling, had a Texas oil man in the White House for eight years) that it has become so routine.

But today brings news of a massive discovery with an interesting twist. The discovery is of natgas and it is a monster - something like 7-8 trillion cubic feet. And it is in Venezuela. I know what you're thinking - 'Great, more petro-wealth for sociopathic communist nutball Hugo Chavez!' Not so fast. This almost certainly doesn't mean instant wealth and power for the Bolivarian Bozo and it might actually be bad for Chavez. This is a classic example of Dan Yergin's claim the the principal risks in the energy business are above ground.

Let's start the analysis with the basics. OK, the gas is there, but how do you get it out? Offshore natural gas extraction is incredibly expensive and technologically demanding. Not every O&G company is good at it and very few companies have the massive capital resources required to secure the extraction equipment and build out the infrastruture needed to get the gas to market. Sure, state-owned energy companies like PDVSA have large resources, but Chavez has turned PDVSA into a basketcase by purging talent and skimping on reinvestment. There is no way that PDVSA could undertake gas extraction on such a large scale on its own. It would need outside help. Can Repsol do it? Unlikely. The majors - Exxon, Chevron, Shell, BP - are really the only players to have taken on massive offshore natgas projects. Many of these companies have gotten the shaft from ole' Hugo recently as have numerous, smaller oil service players. Needless to say, there will not be a stampede of capable players beating a path to Hugo's door to tap this big gas play. His only hope is Asia, but even if Japan (long shot) or China are willing to pony up the billions needed for investment, they will still have to hire some outside help. I doubt any oil service firm is going to do business with PDVSA, so some other entity, like a CNOOC, will have to be in charge of the project, depriving Chavez of the opportunity for patronage and graft.

The next sticking point is what do you do with the gas once it is out of the ground. The domestic economy in Venezuela is on its knees and could not possibly provide adequate demand for that much gas, nor could it support prices that would make the investment economical. Chavez is already tapped out on subsidizing his economy; so either he has to create demand by investing further billions into petrochemical plants, an option which suffers from that same "I've already screwed everybody" problem (who's going to build a multi-billion $ petrochemical complex on Venezuelan soil given the current political situation there?) or he has to send that gas abroad. Essentially that means it has to be compressed into LNG and put on boats. That's several more billions for the gasification infrastruture and those nifty boats. And then he'll have to get off that pesky shipping black list.

Having pissed off the global energy industry, all Chavez really brings to the table is the real estate. To get this project done, he'll need some very gullible and very deep pocketed partners, but they just don't exist. The gullible don't have deep pockets and the deep pockets aren't gullible anymore. If he gets a partner, it is likely to be the Chinese and they won't allow themselves to get ripped off, so they'll be in control. Chavez will become just another ward of the Chinese state's energy strategy. You don't go around rattling your sword and stirring up the pot when you're hosting tens of billions of $ in Chinese state property - you shut up and keep the factory running. This is not how Chavez operates, he would have to change his stripes or the partnership will crash.

Furthermore this is not a clear homerun for Chavez even if he can find a partner. If anybody does invest in tapping this big natgas find, it will almost certainly be with an eye toward the post-Chavez era. You don't want your investors yearning for the day you are gone.

Finally there are the people of Venezuela. They know what living standards are around the world in nations with huge energy deposits. If they see Chavez failing to make use of the country's resources because he has cut himself off from the civilized world, they will demand leadership that can.

For Chavez this could be an embarassment of riches.

Vindication for All Those Overseas Contingency Operations from 2002-2009

Via Instapundit I see this. Sounds like the supply curve of terrorism got more vertical and moved left. This is not an accident, clearly terrorists like us now that Barack Obama is our President!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My 9-11 Remembrance


RIP MGL.  You are missed.

Breaking: Major Justification for ObamaCare Is BS

Wow, wow, Each and every foundational justification for the Democrats healthcare takeover, er reform, plan is succumbing to the vapors. First was perhaps the biggest lie of them all, that the Dems' dream legislation would be deficit neutral, that it wouldn't cost anything. Well the CBO dashed that rotten tomato against the wall. Then there were a series of smaller claims that have run into trouble - like that preventative care will save money, or that people will be able to keep their current healthcare - or are still vigorously contested. But now, perhaps the second or third core justification of the Dems plan - that government involvement will bring costs down by making insurance companies honest - is looking like a stinker, courtesy again of the CBO. (BTW if Doug Elmendorf is not a runaway favorite for this year's "Most Courageous and Intellectually Honest Person" Award, I don't know who is.)

So, let's review the major pillars of ObamaCare, or more truthfully PelosiCare, and where they stand:
1) It Will Cover the Uninsured - it would cover a good portion, but not all of the uninsured, and may even toss millions onto the uninsured rolls;
2) It Won't Cost Anything - sheer poppycock, it will be ginormously expensive;
3) It Will Bring Insurance Premiums Down - whoops, not so fast.

Gotta dash, but you can bet I will revisit this when I have more time...

DO NOT Throw Dems/Obama A Life Line

Just perused a Goldman Sachs research report in which they review "blue chip" economic forecasts for unemployment - consensus seems to be that unemployment will remain at or above 10% through the end of 2010 (unemployment is actually worse than that). Gee, that's what I've been saying. The resulting strategy for the GOP and the healthcare and energy related industries - stick to your guns, make no deals with the Dems, agree to nothing, wait things out until mid-term elections, let the non-stimulus backfire. Additionally, a foreign policy crisis will crop up and add to this administration's woes. Let events overtake them.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

What's With Those Jews?

As a non-Jew and non-liberal who has grown up in and around NYC, principally in one of the premier Jewish suburbs of NYC, I have asked myself this question many many times (as far as politics are concerned, of course). Here are two answers. Interesting. Still, I don't get the unanimity. Everybody thinks us Catholics are monolithic in our political outlook (given that we take orders from Rome and all) but we don't hold a candle to the Jews in terms of lock-step thinking.

Best Mock of the Night...

"Let me be very clear, this is the same crap you've heard for months..."

Steinhardt Redux

In honor of my fourth anniversary blogging, I am going to reach back into the archives for a gem of a post challenging legendary investor Michael Steinhardt's arrogant sneering.

Of course, modern times gives me the chance to put Steinhardt's accusation on its head, as the intellectual caliber of Obama's economic team is remarkably high given how crappy we are doing, which might suggest that Mr. Steinhardt places undue premiums and discounts on perceived intellectual heft and/or just can't judge the difference.

First Mistake: Kristof Believes What He Reads in the NY Times!

Revival of the "sugary drink tax" must have Nick Kristof feeling his oats, and thus he of Scarsdale weighs in on the healthcare debate with some dubious comparisons. A trifecta of economists, quarterbacked by Don Boudreaux, take issue with his skewed understanding of the facts, which no doubt emanates from the fact that he relies on accounts in the New York Times!

N.B. Kristof has long been an advocate of the soda tax, which makes him the Times's mini-me nanny to their grand poohbah of...well, nannyism just doesn't seem to be the right word. On the Friedman (he of the manor) thing, is he kidding, doesn't he know that the Chinese are hundreds of billions of dollars deep into hydrocarbon commitments and playing the rest of the world for fools?

Four Years

Wow. Four years.

Today marks four years blogging. Thank you for coming and reading...all 20 of you (up from all 5 of you). Quadrupling every four years? Pretty good for investing, not so good in blogging, so I am keeping my day job.

Here is my first post.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Healthcare Thought Experiment II

In my first "Healthcare Thought Experiement" post back in August, I used the example of a vascular surgeon and the procedure of carotid endarterectomy. Specifically, I asked what sort of decision-making process would a seasoned, older vascular surgeon undertake when faced with a government directive to perform carotid endarterectomies for well below the market price, using approximate number - say $800 versus $3500. I suggested that there are alternative things doctors can be doing with their time to practicing their skill at what they will surely view as insufficient compensation.

Today I would like to address a different slice of the same group, vascular surgeons, the top eschelon of that population. Surely, vascular surgery, indeed most complex medicine, isn't a commodity; there are those surgeons who are more experienced, or more skillful, or more responsive to patients or whatever. These criteria and others are often boiled up into analyses such as this. So let's imagine that you fall within the top 20% of all vascular surgeons, what then is your reaction to federal directives to "bend the cost curve" that will result in substantially less compensation for specific procedures such as the carotid endarteredtomy? Remember, you are the best of the best. Are you going to:

1) Keep practicing this highly complex and special skill you have for the price a plumber would charge to install a sink;
2) Refuse to accept government insured patients for whom you would have to accept insufficient compensation, and only accept patients who can pay, personally or through private insurance, prices that evolve among top-ranked vascular surgeons (aka via the free market).

These are really the only two options as federal rules state (and this certainly will be preserved and/or expanded to any public option) that if a provider accepts one Medicare patient, they must accept all Medicare patients - so once you take from the system, you are bound to the system. So how do you go about deciding what to do, if you could devote 100% of your capacity to carotid endarterectomies. Perhaps if you chose option two you would lose most of the opportunity to perform as many of these procedures as you would like as patients opt for providers who accept the mandated price, hurting your earning potential. However, since you are an elite provider, perhaps not. Perhaps there is enough demand for procedures from people willing to pay the best doctors full price, in which case your earnings potential is not diminished. There is also the possibility that demand falls to somewhere between the mandated price and the free market price. Perhaps that demand means you can only do a percentage of the possible procedures. Well, using our numbers from above, you can make the same money even if your decision results in an 77% reduction in procedures that you perform. So as far as carotid endarterectomies are concerned, you can withstand an 77% decline in demand for your services and still make the same money. With the increased time, you can apply the same calculus to bypass surgeries, stent implantations, etc. to arrive at your optimal income. There are pretty decent odds you could fill your schedule doing procedures for market rates, shunning all government patients and not dent your earnings potential too much.

Next question, let's say many of the top 20% of doctors in any critical field opt for something like option two. What is the government's response when a large chunk of the very best doctors tell patients who carry a government insurance card to beat it? Can the government demand that these doctors treat patients? Is this practical, let alone constitutional? I doubt it.

So, we could have a combination of older doctors and elite doctors opting out of a government healthcare system this good for the healthcare system?

Stupid, Self-Defeating Taxation, Version 972


Bonus: One of the millions of scofflaws who flock to this store is a tax-hiking, Mass. legislator!

Politics Aside: Okies Can Be Proud, Ohioans Not So Much

Compare this elected representative's response when confronted about healthcare reform, versus this elected representative's response when similarly confronted. Policy disagreements aside, who is better represented by a someone who knows the issues, can articulate them and make a serious argument to a citizen with sincere beliefs and questions???

Smart Move by Merkel

Merkel moving ahead with smart energy policy...will help Germany's economy (bonus benefit, this policy will not please Vlad Putin). Background here.

Confirmed: Obama Econ Policy Not Helping Create Jobs

Check out this prognosis for the US labor market. What have I been saying here, here, and here?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Pesek, Pulitzer of Pish, in Puerile Poke at Palin

Al Hunt's minions over at Bloomberg can't quite seem to realize how banal the Sarah Palin swipes are. This is no doubt because Sarah Palin is still highly ranked fodder for NYC cocktail party jokes. (Here in sophisticated New York, all we can seem to talk about is the embarassing attempts by the rubes in the hinterland to get involved in our government. I mean it just looks so bad when we are vacationing in Positano or skiing in Courchevel when one of the rubes is in high office.) Anyway, it's William Pesek's turn. (My previous thoughts on Pesek, and awesome alliterative adagio, here.) And it is all predictable. She's dumb. She's knows nothing. She hasn't travelled. Jejune. Banal. Insipid. Blahsville.

What seems to escape Billy "the Pulitzer of Pish" Pesek is that the Chinese are traversing the globe with fistfulls of billions looking to secure energy supplies. They are everywhere - Africa, Latin America, Canada, you name it - gobbling up rights to tap resources. They want to do the same here in the US. We have vast resources and world-leading expertise and technology, thus the Chinese want to invest here to gain access to both raw resources and know-how. The roadblock, however, has been political. For example, back in 2005, the Chinese's bid for Unocal was scuttled by our politicians. Canny and wise as the Chinese are, they probably thought to themselves, "how can we learn more about US politics and how energy development and politics mix?" They probably thought, "maybe we could learn by listening to an actual government official that has good experience with energy development. Yes, let us then invite to speak a politician who has worked at the intersection of successful commercial energy development and government approval and oversight. This would give us insight into how better to approach participating in US energy development."

Yes, very wise Comrade-san. Who would such an American be? Ah Comrade, Mr. Ken Salazar, Minister of Oil! No, Comrade-san, he has no track record and is actually anti-energy, think of another. Sarah Palin, Comrade-san, former Governor of energy-rich Alaska province! Aaaaaaaaahhhhh, Sarah Palin. She has indeed transacted with Exxon of Texas and the two-faced British firm. And think of it, Comrade-san...if the Party of Obama continues to anger the sleeping giant masses, Sarah Palin could be influential in a future American regime! Very wise Comrade-san! Very wise. You do yourself honor and bring honor on your family! It is resolved. Let us invite Sarah Palin to speak to us about American energy politics.

Relaunch? Relaunch What?

Before I became a titan of finance (hah!) I was an internet business development executive during the dot-com bubble at a large, very well-known financial institution. I was also a part-time Marketing professor, teaching MBA students at a crappy business school (more accurately a business school with crappy students). I drew extensively on my business experience during the dot-com era to drive home one of the fundamental lessons in marketing that I wanted to impart to my students. First the experience. I worked on opportunities for this large financial institution to partner with and/or invest in internet companies. As a result I saw numerous business plans whose marketing plan was essentially this: 1) do an IPO to raise millions of dollars, 2) spend said millions of dollars on advertising to 'build our brand', 3) sit back and watch customers flock to us due to our market leading brand. The fundamental marketing lesson is this: advertising does not a brand build. A brand is the result of product superiority, reliability, service excellence or a combination of these attributes over a sufficient period of time. A brand is built by virtue of success, not the other way around.

Obama's team has the dot-com marketing playbook. They are sitting on boatloads of IPO capital (political) and are spending it on advertising with abandon in what they think is a brand building strategy, all the while without a substantive product to speak of. This headline brings it home. They're relaunching. Re-launching what? Re-launching more advertising, that's what. They are, by analogy, firing the old ad agency and hiring a new one to recraft the campaign. This too happened in the dot-com days. Faltering companies didn't believe that it was an inferior product, or failed execution, or a lack of relevancy in the marketplace that was the source of their problems; it must be the advertising, so they thought. Without a competitive product, no amount of advertising will save you. I predict that the coming relaunch, if it lacks the substance that has been the hallmark of this administration heretofore, won't turn the tide.

Joe Stiglitz: Modern Day Flagellant

Wow, poor Joe Stiglitz is being attacked again. He is being rhetorically besieged by Joe Stiglitz. Joe, give Joe a break!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

No Charitable Spin Possible, Obama Is Helping Chavez

This is shameful. There is no way that the State Department is mis-reading this one; this is 100% deliberate - the Obama administration wants to get Zelaya back in office, and thereby bolster Chavismo in Latin America. There really isn't any charitable interpretation. That Obama is giving the spread of Chavismo a leg up makes this accusation seem not so outlandish (as the left no doubt would have you think), but right on the money in fact.

UPDATE: Lefties seem to be aghast and in full sneer mode that folks don't want Obama lecturing to their children. First, let me state the obvious - would the {insert lefty school district, e.g. Madison, WI} schools have let George W. Bush address their students on the first day back right in the heated throes of the social security reform debate? Second, and more importantly, given Obama's behavior towards Honduras and the fact that his "Green Jobs Czar" is at this very moment getting public scrutiny for, among other things, being an avowed revolutionary Communist, it would hardly seem that the worries emanating from the obvious overtones of political cultishness and paternalism are far-fetched. You would think that the smooth Obama machine would get this, but you would be wrong, because the Obama mindset doesn't view paternalistic messaging askance the way that most Americans, with their basic understanding of how totalitarian regimes conduct day to day operations, do.

UPDATE:  A reader has brought this website to my attention, where you can buy Honduran products.  Check it out!

Fogel: Healthcare Demand Should Be Rising

This is a great post, and illustrates the power of the blogging medium. Mankiw, with a substantial following, can highlight an insightful tidbit from Fogel that many will have otherwise missed.

Incidentally, Fogel wrote one of the most staggering books I have ever read. It is no doubt controversial (mainly because many misconstrued the whole point), but I have never come across a book that so thoroughly gutted conventional wisdom and was so ambitious in the size of the sacred cow that it was skewering. Regardless of what you think about it, reading it you will feel the g-forces of uncomfortable rationality.

Where Are We in the BO Meltdown? Not Even Close.

I'm telling you folks, stay tuned to NBfPB for your insightful and prescient political and economic forecasting...

Here's me in February: "As soon as the gloss starts to come off The One, all the hangers-on, principally the former Clintonites, will start not to hang on so tightly. This guy is only as bankable as his media sheen. When the bloom comes off the rose, the party faithful will abandon him."

And what of that media sheen? Here's Howard Kurtz now: “The criticism of Barack Obama has turned strikingly personal as some of his liberal media allies have gone wobbly on him. After playing a cheerleading role during the campaign, some are bluntly questioning whether he’s up to the job. If Obama is losing Paul Krugman, can the rest of the left be far behind?" (HT: Instapundit)

Mark these words, we will see at least one high profile cabinet resignation in the next six months and as many as three in the next 18 months as some determine that it is not good for their careers to be associated with this administration (Gates excluded).

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

We'll Be Calling In Sick

I am already way ahead of Stephen Green. The Baseball tykes will be "at the doctor" or something during Dear Leader's schoolhouse intrusion.

Jobless Recovery Update

Yesterady saw some great economic data for August, and yet people keep losing jobs. What on Earth is going on here?

Quote of the Day

"When you’re the Democrat candidate in New Jersey and even the diehard union lackeys don’t trust you, you’re screwed."

Now here is a man who knows his Jersey politics!

Banker to Wealthy Foreigners: Avoid the USA

More seriously negative fallout from the Obama administration's monumentally foolish crusade against putative tax haven banks. Gee, let's get the world's wealthy to stop investing in US companies, that'll be good for the economy! Idiots. They couldn't be doing more damage to the US's economic competitiveness if they were

Another Day, Another Massive Oil Discovery

I seem to be writing alot of these type posts...

British Petroleum (not Beyond Petroleum as those nauseating ads would like you to think) has found a double special shitload of oil...250 miles from Houston in the Gulf of Mexico. Could be over 3 billion barrels of oil (it is nearby another 3 billion barrel field). But as I usually say, "but we can't drill our way out of our energy problem, nothing to see here, move along...yadayadayada..."

BTW, this oil was found 35,000 feet down, deeper than Mt. Everest is tall. Julian Simon's ghost anyone?

Ho hum, chalk up another in a long long long long line.

UPDATE: Here's a tidbit about a smaller find (but no slouch at 275 million barrels) in the British North Sea. What is the point? Both these finds come in the two famous, long-explored oil regions that are supposedly too exhausted and picked over, so say the Peak Oilers.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

This Is a Punditry TKO

There are many many crimes in the world.  Many much worse than this, but it is surely a crime that anybody knows the name of Bill Maher and that he probably won't ever have to come face to face with Bill Whittle.

Bonus:  A body blow to "the narrative."

Donny Baseball's Freshman Economic Seminar Reading List

Greg Mankiw has posted the reading list for his freshman economics seminar. It's a good list, but, naturally, a highly calibrated list befitting an unstintingly collegial academic like Mankiw. Such an occasion gives me the opportunity to highlight what I believe are two of the most underappreciated books in economics. I wish their authors would be more widely known and studied. Students wishing to prepare for actual real life and responsible, informed citizenship would do well to read these two books.

The Mystery of Capital by Hernando de Soto
The Ultimate Resource by Julian Simon