Thursday, September 30, 2010

Three Very Large, Important Oil Companies Quit Iran

Wow. Everybody but China seems to be falling in line on isolating Iran. I don't where the credit for this lies. I hope with Obama, I want to see him do something right, but, alas, does The One really have sway over French, Anglo-Dutch, and Italian oil companies?? Doubtful, but anything's possible, maybe he told them, "do this for me and if you happen to spill some oil in the GoM within the next two years, I won't bend you over for $20 billion."

Iran: Total, Shell, Eni Pledge To End Investments In Energy Sector
September 30, 2010
Total SA of France, Statoil ASA of Norway, Italy’s Eni SpA and the Netherlands’ Royal Dutch Shell Plc have vowed to end their investments in Iran’s energy sector, Bloomberg reported Sept. 30, citing U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg. He said the pledge means these companies are eligible to avoid U.S. sanctions. The U.S. also announced that it is imposing sanctions against Naftiran, an Iranian energy-trading company operating in Switzerland. Reuters reported that Steinberg said the company will be prohibited from receiving export assistance from the U.S. Export-Import Bank and block the company from procurement contracts with the U.S. government.

If Phil Hare Loses, My Faith In America Is Restored

There are many, many comeuppances that I want to see come up this election cycle. There are almost too many to list...Harry Reid, Charlie Crist, Alan Grayson, Babs Boxer to name but a few (in addition to already enjoying Arlen Spector's come up pants). But perhaps, just perhaps, the number one electoral comeuppance that I would like to see fits this storyline: an arrogant, fossilized machine Democrat mediocrity from the safest of safe districts gets trounced, at the hands of a complete nobody, when his complete and utter disdain for our Constitution - the underpinning of our nation's moral justification and its system of laws - is exposed for all to see in its raw, naked hideousness. This is not some idealized fantasy that I cooked up. This could be the story of Phil Hare. A Phil Hare loss, barring everything else that may happen on Election Day, would warm my heart with a deep, satisfying glow of affection for my fellow citizens.

UPDATE: As an analog to this, my faith would be similarly edified by the victory, regardless of what happens generally, as Chubachi states quite persuasively, of this man.

Cato Catapults Pawlenty

As far as 2012 goes, it should be no secret that I'm gonna vote for the guy, gal, vegetable or animal that has the best chance of thumping Obama. I still think, in terms of raw qualifications, Romney ought to lead the pack, (but it is a very solid pack and we can do almost as good). Having said that, today Tim Pawlenty just got a HUGE boost from the indispensible Cato Institute. Cato is akin to Maj. Gen. John Buford here, securing Pawlenty on top of Cemetary Ridge. Romney, I'm afraid is still down in the peach orchard.

UPDATE: OK, maybe not peach orchard territory...

Every Tom, Dick, and Harry Nation is Drilling for Oil, Except Us

While we dick around with Obama's destructive drilling moratorium, Vietnam hits paydirt off of its coast, Brazil does the same as does Angola. We're acting like a third rate economic power. Tragic. The Obama Era in America is shapely up to be a lost era - lost opportunity, lost time, lost confidence - a (hopefully only) four year black hole.

UPDATE: More on why other countries are "failing to follow the US lead". That is because the lead dog is headed over the cliff...

Leaving in Droves

Mark Perry brings us up to date on businesses fleeing California. It is not just tech companies though, as I noted. When you drive a shipping company away from your massively coastal state to the land-locked desert, you know that you are really fucking things up!

Stuxnet Seeded with Tantalizing Clues??

This is so delicious I can't stand it. I told you all that Raid on the Sun type shit would be going down and that they would be...AWESOME!. "Myrtus" could even work it's way into the title of Rodger Claire's next book on this matter...something like Awakening Myrtus ???

I have been predicting the hotting up of the Virtual Cold War against Iran (just search "Iran" on this blog). Of course, we all knew that Christmas would come again, and I said that Israel would use its superior culture of mathematics, war-gaming, and asymmetrical warfare to make life tough for the Iranians while the planning and will is built up for a bombing (unless of course the Iranian regime craters, no thanks to Obama of course). Getting very een-tur-est-ting folks.

UPDATE: A loyal reader and friend to this blog points to this, which is worthy of elevation out of the comments section.

UPPDATE: Wow. More here, especially this: “The only thing I can say is that it is something designed to go bang.” Even the worm’s code suggests calamity. Ralph Langner is the most prominent Stuxnet sleuth and he notes that one of the last bits of code in the worm is the line “DEADF007.” (Presumably a dark joke about “deadf*ckers” and the James Bond call-sign “007.) “After the original code is no longer executed, we can expect that something will blow up soon,” Langner says dramatically. “Something big.”

Um, er, like an AWACS aircraft???

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Repeal This POS Law!!!

"If you like your plan, you can keep your plan." Lying. Sack. Of....

My small business's healthcare insurance is up for renewal on Nov. 1st and I just got the renewal notice. First, my insurance company is discontinuing the plan I was on and replacing it with another in order "to comply with provisions of the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." Second, the replacement plan's premium is 25% higher, an extra $500/month. Thank you ObamaCare!!

Banging. Head. Against. Wall.

UPDATE: ...and a not-so-small business banging its head against the wall too.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

VDH Analyzes the Great Obama Unravelling

I would never put myself in the same league as Victor Davis Hanson, but compare his Obama Unravel analysis with mine here and here (concise version here). While VDH may win on every other virtue, my call has the obvious advantage of being much earlier, which, if you were using this call to, say, buy stocks, earlier was better.

Protectionists Last Stand

The WSJ has a distressing editorial outlining the heating up of trade tensions between the US and China. The most frustrating thing about this stupidity is that it comes as the worst of the protectionists in Congress are diminished in their authority to speak for the American people, are on their way out save the formality of an election, but ratcheting up the protectionist rhetoric and policy nonetheless. These damaging trade moves come as the people they represent are about ready repudiate their leadership.

The editorial ends with this tidbit: "We're blithely told that a full-scale trade war a la the 1930s can't break out again because everyone knows better. But that's what we were told about the other lessons of Depression economics, and our leaders have already remade nearly every one of those mistakes." Hmmm. Sounds alot like this (more here).

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Vacation: Leftism In Action

Holy Coincidence Batman!! Yours truly just returned from a few days vacation in San Francisco, where we were entertained by some friends. In chatting, the husband of one of Mrs. Baseball's college friends told me about this impending law. Not two hours later, the ever-ravishing Mrs. B and I took a stroll down to Folsom Street, where the world-famous Folsom Street Fair was going on. (What better way to wind down a nice getaway of wine-tasting in Napa and fine dining in SF than to watch some leather chap-clad buff boys engage in bondage and S&M right there in the street?) I commented to the lovely Mrs. B that the day's events aptly illustrated leftism for me: you can whip and sodomize each other in the street but you can't buy your kid a Happy Meal.

After they ban the Happy Meal, maybe some daring and outspoken denizens of San Francisco will get together once a year in a bold celebration of independence and liberty and engage in Happy Meal purchasing with wild abandon in contravention of all accepted norms. Heck, maybe they can host the Happy Meal-a-thon on Folsom Street.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Imitation Is the Sincerest...

James Taranto rightly belittles Margaret Carlson. I still think I do it better though.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Florida's Financial Debacle Straying from Convenient Narrative

Remember when I told you of how the geniuses who run the state of Florida's money made a complete hash of the simplest asset management job - parking short term money - known to man? No. Well, it's here. Well, it turns out that in order to completely botch this simple task, they had to break the law, which they did apparently. Even more fun, two of the three main culprits are now running for state-wide elected office. Will Floridians alllow Sink and Crist to fail upward? Usually I'd say yes, but these appear to be changing times.

Death of the Demopublican?

I have highlighted Rob Astorino here at NBfPB several times. He's trying to pull off a Chris Christie in Westchester County, NY, one of the highest taxed counties in the US - currently the county Board of Legislators is suing Astorino to stop $160 million of budget cuts that would balance the $1.8 billion budget. John Fund has a nice look at Astorino in the weekend edition of the WSJ. If Christie meets with success in NJ and establishes the playbook and Astorino meets with success in Westchester Co. proving that he can run the Christie playbook, the governor's mansion in Albany beckons Astorino should New Yorkers ever decide to follow the first rule of holes.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Tea Party Versus The Rot

In his tiny, focused classic Communism Richard Pipes illuminates the moral rot that infected the Soviet Union after years of Communism: "Lying became a means of survival, and from lying to cheating was one small step. Social ethics, which make possible a civil society, were shattered. No moral onus was attached to stealing. This manner of thinking led to the corruption of the whole nation."

In his great article delving into the Greek sovereign debt crisis, Michael Lewis describes a similar rot that has infected quasi-socialist Greece: "The Greek state was not just corrupt but also corrupting. Once you saw how it worked you could understand a phenomenon which otherwise made no sense at all: the difficulty Greek people have saying a kind word about one another. Individual Greeks are delightful: funny, warm, smart, and good company. I left two dozen interviews saying to myself, “What great people!” They do not share the sentiment about one another: the hardest thing to do in Greece is to get one Greek to compliment another behind his back. No success of any kind is regarded without suspicion. Everyone is pretty sure everyone is cheating on his taxes, or bribing politicians, or taking bribes, or lying about the value of his real estate. And this total absence of faith in one another is self-reinforcing. The epidemic of lying and cheating and stealing makes any sort of civic life impossible; the collapse of civic life only encourages more lying, cheating, and stealing."

The Soviet Union and modern Greece do not share this degraded civic state by coincidence. Complete civic rot is a feature of socialism, an unavoidable result of that governing system's destructive force. Thus Ludwig Von Mises rightly notes that socialism is not an alternative to capitalism, it is an abyss: "A man who chooses between drinking a glass of milk and a glass of a solution of potassium cyanide does not choose between two beverages; he chooses between life and death. A society that chooses between capitalism and socialism does not choose between two social systems; it chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration of society. Socialism is not an alternative to capitalism; it is an alternative to any system under which men can live as human beings." (HT: Carpe Diem)

Don't think it can happen here? Just take a look at the size and broken state of our entitlements, our public pension crisis, the bitter struggle emerging between those who finance the system and those who feed off of it and how that struggle has polluted our politics. Politics in America today is not about solving our problems, it is solely about taking away and handing out money. It is simply about who finances what for whom and the rot is setting in; you can't have a civil discussion about fiscal priorities - i.e. Chris Christie has to wage all out war to keep from spending billions more than the state has, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino gets sued by the County Board to stop from cutting $160 million out of a $1.8 billion budget. You can't say "wait a second" regarding the gargantuan and growing expenditure of resources that we don't have without incurring the vicious ire of whole swaths of our society. Question teacher pensions in New York and you can be sure that transit cops in California and sanitation workers in Seattle will hate your guts. It's early but the rot is showing early signs of arriving on these shores. The Tea Partiers see it, that is why they are so passionate, that is why they emblazon themselves with Founding Era garb and slogans, and why they are so keen to find ways to succeed - they are out to cleanse the system before the rot gets worse. It is a restoration project and the stakes are so high. When people say we could "end up like Greece" they are talking about unsustainable debt levels but the real danger is not the debt but the civic rot that lies underneath that allows the debt to pile up so high that it buries the nation. Well before we get to Greek-like debt levels, the rot will be so bad that there will be no turning back. The Tea Party is going to ensure we don't get remotely close to that point.

Obama Racking Up Impressive Roster of CEOs Who Think He Is Clueless

Another CEO rips Obama and his Ivy League Economic Disaster Squad. Add Marcus to Farr, Seidenberg, (big time Dem) Zuckerman, Immelt, Dimon, Diller, Otellini, Wynn and Fred Smith (and Buffett IMHO). Let's remember, these guys have an incentive not to speak out - the downside is much worse than the upside - and yet they are doing it anyway. American business has been the prosperity creating envy of the world for decades and Obama has alienated, near universally, this massive, job-creating machine. So dumb, so destructive, and so unnecessary - my definition of tragic.

Buy O'Donnell at InTrade

I am now convinced that O'Donnell cannot win. The reasoning? Scott Brown was a fluke. Clearly his win was attributable to his "erotic appeal to his state's famously nymphomaniacal womenfolk." Still, whether she wins or not - and the impending Van Voorhees-led counterrevolution is clearly an obstacle - the O'D Intrade contract at 25 is a screaming buy. She's got a million bucks and will have constant national media attention (and Coons looks like a doofus too). She could lose and you could still double your money.

Best News I've Heard All Week

Yes! Save my incandescents and my liberty! This still needs to pass, but I remain hopeful. Otherwise I will be that crazy guy going to Home Depot every weekend to grab as many as I can in order to hoard 10 years worth of incandescents. Also, this is not just about energy, but is every bit a bellweather personal freedom issue. Although it quite sad that the lowly light bulb is now a talisman of our once protected freedoms. Tells you how far we've sunk into petty tyranny...

Piracy Update

Lately, there have been several interdictions of pirates in the piracy plagued waters of the Gulf of Aden. Here is one recent report. All of these reports have one glaring thing in common, no arrests were made. International naval forces catch pirates in the act of hijacking vessels, discover weapons and equipment used in hijackings...and then let the pirates go free. The effect is to deprive the pirates of a few thousand dollars worth of equipment whereas one successful hijacking probably earns a pirate crew $1-$3 million. The only conclusion is that we do not want to stop piracy. We are pussy-footing around with these pirates. Ideally, we should be sending them to watery graves, but at a minimum there should be some sort of an international zone established where probable cause or evidentiary criteria are suspended or drastically reduced so that combat forces can arrest and hold interdicted pirates. We have the zone setup already to delineate where ships can sail under naval protection, why can't we grant special legal status to that zone? I can understand why European powers and the US even are being such pussies, but why are the Egyptians, Chinese and the Saudis, who rely so heavily on transit through the GoA, not taking a tougher stance?

Speculating on the Economic Cavalry, Part 2

As Americans stage what appears to be a fiscally-focused Great Awakening and the political tide turns toward the Republicans, the putative standard bearers of fiscal restraint, I have speculated on which economists will shape Republican thinking on economic policy should they take power in November and beyond. Yesterday in thw WSJ, an all-star cast of free market, fiscally conservative economists laid out a manifesto or sorts on where our nation's economic policy needs to go. Well worth reading. With the exception of Schultz, each of these men could play a roll in shaping the Republican policy agenda, and hopefully the nation's, for years to come.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Boehner & Cornyn Play It Right

The title says it all. They played it right. The media can talk "civil war" all they want, Boehner's message today: "Big Tent, Baby. BIG Tent."

UPDATE: That would be a Big (but tastefully done) Tent.

Door Shuts, Window Opens, Door Could Open Again

When a door shuts, a window opens.

Although I don't actually believe that the door has shut. "O'Donnell Equals Dem Windfall" smacks too much of conventional wisdom to me, and I'll bet against the CW anytime. When you analyze it, Connecticut ain't all that different from Delaware. Linda McMahon may be a stronger candidate than O'D but Blumenthal was ten times more daunting an opponent than Coons is. And Delaware isn't as blue as Connecticut either. If Linda can make it a race, O'D's gap is bridgeable.

If I Don't Get Some Shelter

Oh yeah, you're gonna fade away...

When I told you to start sheltering income, I didn't even imagine... (OK, yes I did.)

NY Times: Save the Elites!

Predictable message: If we don't have elites running the country, well, we're just plain doomed. They've done such a great job thus far...

UPDATE: Hey Power, Meet Truth...

Unquestionably Brilliant Economist Says Really Dumb Thing

What could be more important than the dominant incentive for people to contribute labor, capital, ingenuity, hard work and creativity to our society?

Larry Summers, to me, is much like his boss. Everyone insists he is unquestionably brilliant. But I'm still looking for the evidence.

Obama Stumps for the Trade Show Biz

This is so clueless it's...I don't even have words. Obama's strategy for increasing exports places no urgency on trade agreements, but seems to entail "outreach" and getting more people to attend trade shows. Simply awful. You see, it's not that people don't have the proper incentives to import and export, it's that they're not going to enough trade shows! Where did they get this garbage, from Zapatero? Why do liberals think that economic activity requires the government to get buyers and sellers together because without government, well, they just wouldn't find each other dammit?!?!

Ironically Obama and the Pelosicrats already have a quite effective export promotion policy in place. It's called, "trashing the US dollar." Putting the nation in severe fiscal peril and printing money erodes confidence in the dollar, which drives it down and makes our exports more attractive. But what it also does is keeps investment capital from flowing into the US as investors fear their investments denominated in dollars will not hold value. That lack of investment flow restrains job creation. I call it "progressive mercantilism." Some existing exporters do OK but most of the rest of the economy languishes.

Checking In With Bloomberg's Broken Clock Hopeful

You know what they say about a broken clock. Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg is one of those rare commentators who doesn't even manage to beat the broken clock's performance. Today she belches forth one of the classicly clueless ironies in "Tea Party's Triumph Makes Competence Quaint." She marvels, and recoils, at the idea of average citizens actually running for and holding office, but of course the elephant in the room, on the screen and hovering over history itself is that the sine qua non of unqualified, inconsequential mediocrities to rise to high public office is...Barack Obama. Yes, the Mother All Mismatches Between Ability and Duty is the liberal media's holy of holies, the Lightworker Himself. But no, Carlson must lament for the health of the republic when the non-establishment candidate comes within a reasonable distance of being one out of a hundred in the US Senate. Who does she think exudes this treasured competence? Chris Dodd? Roland Burris? Maxine Waters? Bob Menendez? John Edwards? Who are these paragons of ability and probity who represent the best and only option for us to govern the nation?

Anyway, on top of missing the obvious point that resides right in front of her face, Carlson isn't even original with this misfire. Fellow lefty Michael Wolff beat her to it by several weeks.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On O'Donnell

A) She hasn't lost to Coons yet so don't write her off (remember a little contest called S. Brown v. M. Coakley?)

B) IMHO, the signal this sends is more valuable than the actual Senate seat. With Dear Leader in the White House, the only worthwhile Senate tally is "veto-proof majority" which we ain't gettin'. All we need is gains in the upper chamber, we don't have to win every last seat. O'Donnell's win gives DeMint more mojo, will have RINOs running scared, and has everybody in DC of any party quaking in fear over the Tea Party. "Holy shit, the regular folk are storming the castle," they must be saying. This is good, compadres mios, all good.

Make gains. Draft the right sort. Block. Tackle. War Game for 2012. OD is no barrier to that gameplan.

UPDATE: F@@k the NRSC. The reason we hold primaries is to see what qualities and what positions the party faithful choose to take into competition with the Dems. Primaries are not for the rubes to rubber stamp what the NRSC gives them. I'm not saying that they need to drop big dough in Delaware, but they need to say, " she is on our side, she is with us" and provide some help. I suspect alot of money that would have gone to the NRSC will go to outfits like Jim DeMint's PAC.
UPPDATE: NRSC does the backpedal of backpedals. Good for them, although I doubt that they saw how dumb they were being. I bet folks lit up their phone lines and said, I'm writing my check to DeMint's PAC instead. Now will Mike Castle belatedly acquire some decency?
UPPPDATE: Check this out. She's feisty. And looks like she's gonna have some money to spend. Alot more women turn out in the general than in the primary, she could have alot of success with independent and even Democrat women. Can we bury this monumental ass-hattery of deeming average people "not a viable candidate." Any sensible, civic-minded person is a viable candidate. We can't do much worse than our political class in general.

A Walk Down Tax Cut Memory Lane

Given the politics of the extension of the Bush tax cuts heating up, it is helpful to revisit the politics of their passage. Hop in the WABAC machine.

Venezuela: Still Circling the Drain

Last January I speculated that Venezuela was set to boil over. I may have been a little early. Checking in, the problems have gotten much worse and Chavez is calling out the Hitler Youth in the runup to parliamentary elections. Here is a good update.

Economics In One Distortion

Over at Greg Mankiw's blog there is a post on the wonderful subject of NYC's rent controls that will amaze you. There are so many concepts of economics wrapped up in this little example it is simply amazing - it's all there.

Peace Process

Israel: Hamas Militants Pledge To Continue Fight
September 14, 2010
Al-Qassam Brigades will continue armed resistance against Israel despite peace talks, commander Ahmed al-Jabari said Sept. 14 in a letter posted on the group’s website. The peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis were criticized, and the letter said Israel only knows the sword and bullets, with its defeat only coming by fire and resistance. He said al-Qassam, the military wing of Hamas, will “liberate Palestine from the sea to the river and its capital will be Jerusalem.” other words, by not understanding the nature of the relevant parties and reflexively assuming Israel was the barrier to peace, Barack Obama was wasting everybody's time with those peace talks.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Al Hunt & Co. Follow Their Marching Orders...and Look Foolish

While the NY Times is doing its duty with a partisan hatchet job of John Boehner, Al Hunt over at Bloomberg News has been given the tax cut issue and so tasks a minion with reporting a strange tidbit about how the rich would react to a tax cut. Basically, Hunt & Co. say, the miserly rich will sock the money away rather than buy stuff so that the rest of us can get a job. This is preposterous on its face, but let's wait on that for a second. What the article doesn't tell you is that the study is from the shop of Mark Zandi, Moody's Analytics, one of last few economists around who thinks the stimulus worked (because he helped design it). Zandi's name has become a bit of a red flag given his constant pimping of Obamanomics and resulting loss of credibility, so I guess Bloomberg just figures it shouldn't even mention anything that he has a hand in hoping that no one is paying attention.

Anywho...on to the substance. First, remember that saving used to be good. Remember when George W. Bush was in office, we didn't save enough and it was going to be our economic Achilles' heel? Well, they couldn't even get the numbers right, never mind interpret them properly. But now that the government needs your money to bail out its staggering profligacy, saving money is bad bad bad, so the government will deny you more of your own money lest you save it. Morever, as that penultimate link points out, the rich in America don't save, we invest. If allowed to keep more of our hard-earned money by the good grace of our betters in Congress, we don't stick it in the mattress, we invest in businesses whether it be through stocks and bonds or your smart, hard-working brother-in-law's great new business idea. Taxing that money away means taking away seed capital for small business as well as taking away public market capital that keeps our world-leading companies well-funded.

I understand Al Hunt has no choice but to print this drivel - orders are orders - but this one is a double flop.

Hugo Chavez Inches Toward Modernity

Hugo Chavez is catapulting himself ever closer to the modern age! After a 1977-built drilling rig sank, he has secured the services of a 1983-built drillship to drill oil for "Socialist PDVSA", the Venezuelan state-owned oil company. Both pieces of equipment are laughably obsolete, and likely fully-depreciated, so there is little risk to their owners sending such crappy equipment to Venezuelan waters. Such is the situation Chavez faces having royally screwed the global oil services industry. The only equipment that anybody will let him use is the decrepit old stuff that likely couldn't get any work anywhere else. The fruits of socialism.

Hats Off to Hakeem Nicks

NBfPB game ball to #88, Hakeem Nicks, with a TD reception hat trick. Hakeem, enjoy your spot next to the Trenton Thunder!

Told Ya' So

Obama's electoral coalition is crumbling. You heard it here (and here) first, folks.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Stop Talking!!!

Well, the stock market started off in optimistic fashion this morning, but we are tanking now. Who is the one person who could possibly be moving markets at this very moment with words of import and consequence? Yep.

UPDATE: A few weeks ago, when he purported to talk about Iraq, he talked about the economy and pundits rightly analyzed it thusly: he doesn't care about Iraq. So today he is purportedly to talk about the eceonomy and he talks about the Ground Zero Mosque. Are we to conclude that he doesn't care about the economy? Who knows, but the obvious takeaway for most Americans is this: he can't focus and he's blaming others, so he is not interested in being accountable. Bad combo. Again, this is our smart-as-a-whip President? Still not seeing it.

Who Will Be This Season's NBfPB G-Men Game Ball?

It's that time ladies and germs, when this blog turns its attention to its tertiary theme as specified in the header, the New York Football Giants, the G-Men, Big Blue. The roster is set but one key personnel issue remains unresolved, who will be the NBfPB game-ball talisman figure for this season? Last year it was the Most Honest Man in America and, of course, in the inaugural season, it was the best Senator in America. Who will it be this year? There is, of course, an obvious front runner, who I will not reveal but you can probably guess. Until it is definite though, I'm taking nominations...

Boehner the Timid

I agree with Kevin Williamson...why only 2008? If it were me, I'd target, oh say, 1975. When your debt is more than all the money in the world, well, you need to move the bloody needle. 2008 is for pikers.

What The Frack?

The EPA is ratcheting up its focus (attack) on hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking", arguably the single most important energy technology to emerge in decades. Without fracking, we as a nation, would be deprived of massive amounts of clean, domestic, affordable energy that would create tens of thousands of jobs and reduce our reliance on oil from Hugo Chavez, King Abdullah and Vlad Putin. Larry Kudlow had a segment on it last night. I wish Kilduff had mentioned that we've been fracking for many years now and it is only just now that the hyper-aggressive, anti-hydrocarbon EPA under the Obama administration is interested in the technical details. In fact, I guarantee that the EPA already knows what these chemicals are, but they are looking to bring this info into the public discourse to scare people with stories of horrible sounding chemicals being injected into the ground. It is no exaggeration to say that a war on fracking is a war on your kids' future standard of living - or rather, just another front in that war.

Haley Barbour: Porn Filmmaker Extraordinaire

Have you ever watched a movie that started out G-rated (think Bambi) and by the time it ends morphs into raw, sweaty, flesh-pounding porn? No? Watch this. By the halfway point, the fluff yields to the sweet, sweet raunch. Enjoy.

Checking In On a Questionable Hire

Awhile back I offerred the incendiary speculation that the Harvard endowment made a low quality diversity hire to lead it. Well, the first report card is in. Obviously too early to make judgements. Time will tell.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Lightworker Blames Obscure Ohio Lawmaker of Minority Party

John Boehner just doesn't make for a good "evil Republican" foil like a Newt Gingrich or a Trent Lott. Furthermore Americans ain't that stupid...the Pelosicrats have run the show since 2006 and have had all branches of government since 2008. But it's that Boehner guy that you gotta be wary of!

Another Obama Econonic Backfire

Let's not forget, one of the very first industries that Obama went after in a full-frontal assault was the credit card industry. Many months later, predictably, there is much less card-based consumer credit out there right now. This was not their intent, this was all about consumer protection. Oh well. More beatings for the little guy, but as in other areas like healthcare and education, the better off among us have plenty of access to credit while the government shuts down access and degrades quality for everyone else.

New Lefty Bane: Austerity

The anti-austerity crowd - big government types of all sorts from Krugman and Stiglitz to union bosses - are waging a desperate campaign to discredit the austerity programs embarked upon in Europe in the face of the sovereign debt crisis. See here, here, and here for example (and that sample is merely one MSM outlet beating up on just one austerity-pushing leader). There is only one problem. The facts on the ground aren't cooperating. The pound is strengthening as retailing and manufacturing are looking up. Debt investors love the direction, sending UK companies' bonds up in price. Home prices are up (bonus UK version of "Unexpectedly"). And it is not just the UK, good news is breaking out all over Europe.

Of course, Europe walked to the edge of the abyss, stared down in, and got a little religion, sense, whatever you want to call it. The one word summary of this newfound economic sense is commonly referred to as "austerity". And it is the bane of statists/liberals/collectivists/progressives everwhere. You see if it works in Europe, hell, it can work in other places too, and if a little bit works, why some dastardly bugger might suggest more than a little bit. What would become of the long march to progressive utopia then? The thought is almost too much to contemplate, so it's all hands to the ramparts - "austerity" must go down in flames. Naturally the media are falling into line and austerity is universally associated with doom and gloom. Of course, go back and it was the lack of austerity - consumer borrowing and spending - that was the recipe for disaster. Now that same formula, if only performed by the government, is the only possible elixir for our ills. Funny that, the same behavior exhibited by you and me is bad unless perfomed by the government, in which case it is clearly good, necessary even.

Just a quick note on Stiglitz. This guy was preaching "aid to states" from the rafters in the months leading up to the failed stimulus, and he got his wish. In spades I might add, with the extra aid for teachers' jobs that just went through. Nearly everything that Obama and the Pelosicrats have done has contained massive aid to the states, and yet the states' as well the national picture looks no better. When is a heavy-weight economist going to come out and call ole' Aid to States Joe out on the carpet?

Beer and Freedom, Two Great Tastes That Taste Great As One

This has me all ga-ga with anticipation, because in less than two weeks, this East Coaster will be sitting at the bar at the Anchor Brewing Company having one of those Liberty Ales. Can't wait!

Stocks Will Stage Political Rally

I have said "Obama Down = Stocks Up" and Scott Grannis thinks so too. It is very dangerous to let your political passions guide your investing but it is also not good to be 100% rigid in life, and now, I believe, is a time to ignore the sensible segregation of politics and investing. Politics dominates the investing landscape today in an obviously negative way. A better policy environment is more likely than not coming very soon. We need a full reversal of the damage that has been done, but that'll have to wait until 2012 at the earliest. In the meantime, a little can go a long way. The best thing that can happen to the market is the gavel passing from Nancy Pelosi to John Boehner (or Donald Duck for that matter).

At A Given Price, Anything Can Be Attractive

Here is a perfect example of how unfettered market forces, operating through the mechanism of price, shake off the excesses of a bubble and restore the conditions for economic growth. If the adjustment is allowed to happen as quickly and as sharply as the situation warrants, the quicker the economy can get back to growth. Among other things, the reason this economic recovery is anemic is because the government has bent every sail to keep this adjustment from happening effectively, if at all.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Still Clueless After All These Years

Still doesn't have a clue. This will fail and actually backfire given the impact on the deficit. I called the failure of the stimulus before the ink was dry, and I'm calling this one. Maybe we'll get lucky and the Dems in Congress will finally say, "You know, this is getting ridiculous" and put a stop to this idiocy.

UPDATE: Not just a dollar short, but a day late too. Maybe he should hold a "jobs summit!"

Friday, September 03, 2010

Yeah, But Did You "Rock the Vote"??

I said that living at home with Mom & Dad and having little in the way of career prospects might cure our college-educated youth of their near universal mindless, unquestioning progressivism, and maybe I was on to something!

The CEO Who Is Losing By Winning Against Obama

Here is a great profile of the CEO who is fighting the Obama administration in court, scoring victories, and yet is...losing. That's because the government doesn't have to fight fair. Here is a taste:
"When BP's well exploded, Hornbeck joined the emergency response, providing everything from skimmers and tankers to deep-sea robots. He is one of the reasons why the oil spill hasn't been as bad as predicted.

But now that the well is capped, and most of the oil appears to have been cleaned up or dispersed, Hornbeck is running out of work. He says he is now laying off hundreds of people and pulling ships out of the Gulf.

"Right now, we're seeing massive layoffs in our industry," he said. "We're stacking equipment...And we are proactively seeking work in a lot of different countries."

When his ships go to Brazil, they'll hire Brazilian crews. When his ships go to the Middle East, they'll hire crews there, too.

For all its complaining about big corporations that ship jobs overseas, the Obama administration is sure shipping jobs overseas. It is even shipping shipping jobs overseas.

"The damages the moratorium is doing today will be realized in a year or two from now," Hornbeck said.

Gasoline prices will likely be higher, unemployment in the Gulf states will likely be higher, America's dependence on foreign oil will like be higher, and people will be wondering why the U.S. economy still stinks. "

Read the whole thing. I said it was a bad trade, but they've managed to make it even a worse trade by exposing their bullying and bloody-mindedness for the world to see.

The Iraq War

Now that the Iraq War is passing from the world of politicians to the world of historians, post-mortems will be coming in great numbers. Two commentators that I respect very much for their insight and clarity have differing takes on the Iraq War. David Harsanyi doesn't think it was worth it. Dan Henninger thinks it was, big time. These are hardly comprehensive and by no means the only viewpoints, but they represent major camps of thought on this unimaginably contentious episode in our history and the world's.

I fall into Henninger's camp. One of my biggest problems with orthodox libertarianism is its blindness or dismissiveness to the great importance of geo-politics and global strategy. Libertarians disdain the fact that governments spend time and resources arranging and moving the pieces on the global chess board, but it is an absolute necessity to protect and expand the footprint where the ideals of classical liberalism can thrive on this Earth. There is no other way to preserve the conditions that allow representative government and free enterprise to raise living standards and advance civilization than to be pro-active in setting those conditions. The alternative is to allow the advance of economically statist, morally retrograde, and illiberal systems over more of the Earth's territory. The default state of the world is poverty and oppression in the absence of government systems predicated on preserving individual rights and fostering prosperity. Those systems need to be protected and strengthened relative to the alternatives. That activity is the chess board maneuvering, sometimes called "the great game," that libertarians seem to reject under the principal of limited government. Yet paradoxically, it is a certain level of global engagement (don't get me wrong, it can be taken too far) that keeps all-consuming government at bay and secures the conditions for the limited government that we so desire here at home. This one goes to Henninger, imho.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Record Numbers on Food Stamps

Minority Party Or No, Unions Still Want Ownership of Dems

There is alot of (predictable) coverage in the MSM about some sort of civil war within the Republican party that exists. Yeah, it is called a "debate" or a "re-evaluation" or maybe even a power-struggle - politics basically, and the more urgent politics of the losing side trying to get back to being the winning side. Oddly, there is nearly zilcho in terms of coverage of the exact same sort of stuff going on within Democrat politics. Certainly there is nothing approaching the use of hyperbolic terms like "civil war". Got it. Republicans, nasty bickerers. Democrats, one big happy family.

Powerline Still Packs A Wallop

I am constantly amazed at how, year in and year out, the guys at Powerline can turn out consistently excellent commentary and coverage of substantive issues and events on a daily basis. A case in point today is the utter demolition of Stanley Fish's woolly-headed mumbo-jumbo in the NY Times in re the Ground Zero Mosque. Devastating. And they churn this stuff out every day. Amazing.

First States, Now Doctors

I told you, folks. Doctors would be forced into terrible positions and choices due to ObamaCare and the healthcare system will suffer. Now doctors' groups are forming to get out in front of the terrible consequences of this disastrous law, rather than just let you, the patient, bear the brunt of the consequnces. You'll see much more of this in the years ahead.

"I Wish It Wasn't..."

Speak for Yourself, Honey

Christina Romer makes an inauspicious exit to an inauspicious tenure as CEA Chair.

“To this day, economists don’t understand why firms cut production as much as they did, or why they cut labor so much more than they normally would,” said Romer. “The current recession has been fundamentally different from other post-war recessions… Rather than being caused by deliberate monetary actions, it began with interest rates at low levels… Precisely what has made it so terrifying, and so difficult to cure, is that we have been in largely uncharted territory.”

Speak for yourself sugar. Any businessman in America can tell you why firms cut production and labor as much as they did. Any housewife can tell you why "aggregate demand" has not revived. Only in the rarefied air of Obama's academic economic dream team are these things a mystery. No doubt every academic economist will maintain the strict code of collegiality (and political correctness - you can't tell a woman that she totally fucked up in a big job) and insist that Romer is a brilliant economist and still at the height of her profession, but the stark truth is that she has been a disaster and has squandered what credibility she had.

UPDATE: Wow, even Dana Millbank is depressed at how clueless Romer was/is.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

An Argument for Not Waiting for Things to Get Better

Here is a useful additional perspective (and a great investment anecdote) on what I've been saying about my bullishness. Obama is not Allende, but stocks are stuck in the mud because of him and the Pelosicrats, that much is for sure. But the cavalry is least some form of cavalry, hopefully. There are untold trillions on corporate balance sheets. The right mix of policies could unleash that capital setting in motion years of economic growth. I am not just long, but levered long.

The Art of Culture War

Understanding the genius of Glenn Beck. Worthy of Sun Tzu.