Monday, March 29, 2010

 

Moscow Metro Bombings

Today the Moscow metro was bombed at two different stations. Lubyanka was one stop away from my main station at Chistie Prudy and I would pass through there often to get to shopping, bars, my barber at Red Square. The other station was Park Kultura where my wife would change trains to get to her job.

You cannot imagine how packed those trains get and how dependent Moscow is on its metro system. You really can get anywhere on those trains and they make sure that they run smoothly as possible. The Russians will have a real problem if this is not an isolated incident. But the Russians don't mess around with terrorists or have any qualms about enhanced interigation techniques. From their point of view they can't. They are vulnerable and they must be harsh to protect themselves.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

 

I Love You Man

You don't need to watch the entire movie, just the best part:


Thursday, March 25, 2010

 

Interest rates tick up




Not really a break through but yields on ten year treasuries are up from 3.68% on Tuesday to 3.90% as I type. The breakout point is above 4.00%, the high we reached last June. We should get there pretty quick if this is really a new up trend.






I don't think I need to tell you what higher interest rates will do to the budget and the economy.


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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

 

Health Care Bill Revelations

Michigan Representative John Dingell on waiting for the health care bill to take effect:

"it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people."


Hopefully it takes less time to repeal the legislation.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

 

Tea or Toga?

What are we facing?

Are we looking at a situation more like revolutionary times or Roman times? Both included taxes and corruption but there is a difference that the GOP and current Tea Party organizations need to keep in mind. The majority of Americans might not like Obamacare but unlike the last days of colonial America there are elections and there are many who benefit from Obamacare that will vote to keep it. The ability for politicians to buy votes and for the electorate to vote themselves entitlements sounds more like Rome than the Tea Party era.

 

The Uphill Battle

Conservatives must not back down but also must be disciplined in the upcoming political battles.

Making the case against something for nothing in the confines of sound bite political arguments is a difficult task but it is a battle that must be won. Regarding health care, here is a quote from a North Carolina resident: "It's just going to be like Christmas," said DeCarlo Flythe, who lost health coverage for his family when he was laid off almost three years ago. "It's going to be great. You know, no worries (about) the bills. We are going to go ahead and pay our co-pay and be alright."

The Democrats have a much easier time dividing the country and giving away goods one group at a time. With talk of immigration reform rising there is another issue in which the country can be divided, this time on racial lines for the benefit of the Democratic Party.

As with all issues race should not be a factor. We should have the same rules for everyone but it is hard to sell fairness to all when your competition offers a discount or the best offer of all, something for nothing. It may be difficult for the Republicans to compete but they must.

Monday, March 22, 2010

 

An HOH spy says Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) planted a giant kiss on Stupak’s cheek.




Via Hot Air.

Stupak's Opponent.

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Thoughts on the Health Care Bill

A good question from Tigerhawk: "Had George W. Bush been just a little bit better at communicating why he took certain actions while in office, it is possible that the rout that the Republicans suffered in 2008 might not have been as bad, and that the margin of victory today for Democrats on the health care bill vote might not be there?"

The answer is yes. The marketing department took a few years off in the Republican camp and the 2006 and 2008 elections reflected the lack of promotion as well as other factors.

Many on the right are not giving up the fight suggesting legal challenges to the newly passed bill and the call to repeal it outright. I'm not sure of the chances of any of the measures discussed though at Red State a good point is made. The Republicans are poised to take back control in a much shorter time period than after any of the other major entitlement programs that passed.

After Social Security and Medicaid passed it was 16 years and 12 years before the GOP took back control of Congress. After Obamacare the GOP could be back in control in a matter of months. But the Obama marketing department will be in full force and I'm not sure it can be defeated.

Health insurance and health care will soon be free or affordable at the point of purchase and delivery, the only places it matters. Real costs and the real burden placed upon citizens and our economy are more easily hidden. Obama only has to sell the benefits now. It is up the the Republicans to highlight the costs and try and overcome the hill the Democrats won last night. That hill will be steep and heard in the political argument of 'they are trying to take your health care away'.

Friday, March 19, 2010

 

10 CC - I'm Not In Love

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Kings of Leon

Kings of Leon tickets go for Chicago on sale March 20th.

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Leave It


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

 

Useful Idiot of the Decade

Seven years ago today Rachel Corrie was crushed by a bulldozer. In memoriam we are having pancakes.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

 

Social Security to start cashing Uncle Sam's IOUs/U.S., U.K. Move Closer to Losing Rating, Moody’s Says

There are days like today when momentous news comes out that will probably not register in the minds of most people.

When I or anybody else warns about a debt becoming uncontrollable burden to the nation there is no way for any of us to know when or if it will occur. There are fixes to our current predicament which keep the U.S. from entering a debt default spiral and those fixes might come at any time. (I think the Republicans taking the House will be enough to put a break on spending and then send us into a more severe deflation.) What really is important and what makes default unpredictable is the necessary selling off of the treasury market (higher interest rates) will happen when enough people lose confidence in the government's ability to control the situation. And who knows when that will come.

We are carefully balanced between continued deflation and debt default. I think deflation wins because the treasury market will give us plenty of warning that creditors are losing confidence in the U.S.'s ability to pay it's debts back. But this depends on those running the federal gov't caring about default. I think they do and would rather avoid a stint of even really bad inflation but we don't know and they certainly aren't behaving like they care.

If default comes we will look back on days like today when the reason and the warning were both in the news.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

 

"Just tell me where in the world you find these angels, who are going to organize society for us."



Never a bad time for a little Milton Friedman. This should also make you appreciate Phil Donahue. His show raised the bar on debate. Oprah turned the format into a platform for emoting. Donahue is a liberal but he wasn't a liberal who wanted to silence the opposition. He must have felt secure enough in his beliefs to allow opposing opinions on his show.

Donahue: When you see around the globe, the maldistribution of wealth, the desperate plight of millions of people in underdeveloped countries, when you see so few “haves” and so many “have nots”, when you see the greed and the concentration of power; aren’t you ever…did you ever have a moment of doubt about capitalism? And whether greed is a good idea to run on?

Friedman: Well first of all, tell me, is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed? You think Russia doesn’t run on greed? You think China doesn’t run on greed? What is greed? Of course none of us are greedy, it’s only the other fellow whose greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a…from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history; are where they have had capitalism and largely free-trade. If you want to know where the masses are worse off, worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear: that there is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system.


Donahue: But it seems to reward, not virtue, as much as ability to manipulate the system.


Friedman: And what does reward virtue? You think the Communist Commissar rewards virtue? Do you think a Hitler rewards virtue? Do you think, excuse me, if you’ll pardon me, do you think American Presidents reward virtue? Do they choose their appointees on the bases of the virtue of the people appointed or on the bases of their political clout? Is it really true that political self-interest is nobler somehow than economic self-interest?

You know, I think you’re taking a lot of things for granted. Just tell me where in the world you find these angels, who are going to organize society for us.


Donahue: Well…


Friedman: I don’t even trust you to do that.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

 

Beck attacked by Moveon.org, SEIU

Because "Glenn Beck isn't just ridiculous- He's dangerous."

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The Hockey Theme

It's not Monday Night Football, but it is a good tune:


Thursday, March 11, 2010

 

Sign of Recovery

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Obamacare and the Obvious

There are many reasons to oppose a 2,700+ page piece of unknown legislation that isn't even finalized yet, both in principal and in the details of what has been discussed. Via Bookworm, an NRO article points out the obvious regarding the accounting behind Obamacare:

Obamacare rests upon such double counting. It repeatedly shanghais taxpayer funds for Obama’s plan while simultaneously shielding that same money for Medicare, Social Security, and other programs. Such chicanery may explain why only 32 percent of adults support Obamacare, according to a new Investor’s Business Daily/TIPP survey.

“You can’t count a dollar twice,” Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) observed at President Obama’s February 25 reform summit. “Common sense tells you that. You don’t even have to have an accountant tell you that.”


Much like the immigration reform talks of 2008, a problem is being addressed by Congress with an emphasis on the need for comprehensive legislation yet no one wants to discuss the details. As Nancy Pelosi says, "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." With that way of thinking I would suggest that Comprehensive = Scam.

Would you buy a car from a salesman who said that you have to sign off on the purchase so you can find out how much it costs...and your loan interest rate...and the car's features/equipment...?

Friday, March 05, 2010

 

Company of Thieves


Thursday, March 04, 2010

 

Big Ten Expansion

How bold will the conference be?

The Big Ten has announced that it is once again considering expansion. And it may not stop at 12 schools.

Much of the speculation I've seen in national media assumes that the Big Ten is considering adding an eastern school as its 12th member, with an eye on the New York/Boston metropolitan media markets. Local media speculation has centered on Rutgers and Connecticut for the above mentioned reason, Texas, with an eye on the size of its population for the Big Ten Network, and Notre Dame, with an eye on its national profile.

Leaving aside other considerations for the moment, as football is such an important consideration (second/third most important) in any expansion, the Big Ten won't be adding an eastern school. There is a reason no school northeast of Happy Valley regularly draws crowds of even 50k. Big Ten membership could change that but Syracuse excepted, probably wouldn't. As for Rutgers, their football program has had success of late but it has a dismal history. Besides, conference schools recruit heavily in NJ. Why would they want to develop a competitor?

As explained by FrankTheTank, Texas and Notre Dame are the two schools that make the most sense. Notre Dame rejected Big Ten membership ten years ago, and the impression I have from talking to ND alumni and fans and reading discussion boards is that nothing has changed. They treasure independence and want nothing to do with conference affiliation for football, believing (erroneously) that it isn't required to again be consistent national title contenders. Unless the ND administration wants to make an unpopular but profitable academic/business decision, ND won't join the Big Ten, even if its now or never, which it probably is.

As FrankTheTank explains, Texas is the best candidate for Big Ten membership. They inquired about Big Ten membership just after the implosion of the SWC, so there is definitely some interest. But does it make sense for Texas to be the twelfth Big Ten school? I certainly don't think so and Big Ten officials have said that multiple schools are being considered. FrankTheTank speculates on which schools the conference hired a consultant to evaluate.

Since they last expanded, Big Ten officials have consistently maintained that they may not stop at twelve members. To admit Texas, the conference probably will be required to admit Texas A&M as well. For balance, this will require a fourteenth school. But why not 16? Especially if a school's current academic standing is not the top consideration for conference officials. Horninexile speculates that lobbying power for federal R&D dollars may be the top concern for the conference. As for Texas:
However, an expansion of the Big 10 to include 14 universities would not necessarily be good for Powers’ legacy if it devolves into a 12+2 mentality. If Texas is to join the Big 10, it will be in Texas’ interests to see the nexus of Big 10 markets gravitate westward. If Texas and A&M are in the expansion, the 14th university needs to be Missouri, not Pittsburgh or Syracuse or Rutgers. An even better scenario would involve adding Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri along with Texas and A&M to form a Big 10 superconference.

Wouldn’t this dilute the TV money pool for Texas and the legacy Big 10 universities? Perhaps, although one could argue that the national brands of Nebraska and Kansas in football and basketball, respectively, would only add to the marketing power of the new conference. But more importantly, Kansas and Nebraska have the kind of leaders, Bernadette Gray-Little and Harvey Perlman, that are Big 10 worthy and capable of taking full advantage of the R&D collaboration opportunities.

With $8 billion of R&D expenditures between seventeen universities (counting the University of Chicago), the new CIC could embark on a campaign to grow its collective market share of federal R&D investments in a manner that will make TV revenues a mere cherry on top of a very satisfying sundae. That, my friends, is how a university president can change the world as we know it.
Indeed it would. And I do believe that the Big Ten is thinking about something along these lines.

What would the divisional alignment be for football? Horninexile:
For example, let’s say that the Big 10 West is comprised of Texas, A&M, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Northwestern. All eight are in the central time zone. The football schedule has seven intra-division games every year, two inter-division games and three non-conference games. The two inter-division games would be rotated among the eight Big 10 East schools (Michigan, tOSU, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Penn State) such that you play every team once every four years. That’s one trip to Happy Valley, the Shoe and the Big House every eight years – not bad.
Except for the fact that nine conference games per school probably wouldn't work -- it has to be an even number, likely 10 -- this makes sense. Seven games against divisional opponents and three against opponents from the opposite division per year is not perfect as it allows for only one/two non conference games per year, but it might work. As a Big Ten football fan, I'd love it.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

 

Christie Clear

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie addresses mayors and offers the kind of leadership we need nationwide:

"You know, at some point there has to be parity. There has to be parity between what is happening in the real world, and what is happening in the public sector world. The money does not grow on trees outside this building or outside your municipal building. It comes from the hard working people of our communities who are suffering and are hurting right now."


This is just common sense and I'm glad to see it is getting more popular as more people who pay taxes pay attention.

 

At best Anthropogenic Global Warming needs to produce more data

Global warming has not been proven. A good deal of the data has been lost or proven to be false.

The recent revelations of scientific errors (not to say fraud) in the U.N.'s global warming documents are important, but Fred Singer reminds us not to lose sight of the most important point: the IPCC's fundamental conclusions, relating to the allegedly unprecedented warming of the past half-century, are based on bad surface temperature data and are contradicted by more-reliable satellite data and by our knowledge of the earth's climate history. We know for a fact, in short, that the computer models that are the only basis for the AGW theory are wrong.


This is certainly enough to say that any public policy based on the need to slow global warming should be shelved until more reliable data and models are studied in an atmosphere of openness.

Diego: As far as the science goes, the burden of proof is on those who support the theory of AGW. Unfortunately, I think the narrative still supports AWG and the necessity for public policy to address the issue. I'd like to believe that the narrative will eventually catch up with the science but I'm not yet sure.

Also (via C02 Science) the The Fourth International Conference on Climate Change will be held in Chicago on May 16-18.

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Monday, March 01, 2010

 

Wakeman's Wisdom

Two years ago I posted some thoughts on Yes' upcoming tour and on aging musicians in general. Rick Wakeman decided not to tour with the band because he felt that the schedule should be made with their age and health in mind rather than other factors. I think he was right. The band decided to carry on and after singer Jon Anderson was diagnosed with a resperatory ailment that required at least six months of rest, he was replaced with a singer from a Yes tribute band who sounded much like him.

That sounds like a Spinal Tap sequel but wound up producing a memorable tour for some fans. Anderson's replacement, Benoit David, sounded fantastic and also opened up the catalog for the setlist which was a real treat. I saw them play in December 2008 and enjoyed the experience. I hope to see Anderson return but I was glad to hear some songs he would probably not approve of performing.

The tour continued with some success and Yes returned to Chicago as they played the east coast and midwest. However this time they did not sound so good and the fans expressed their displeasure. Many posted negative reviews on the Yes web site which maintains a forum for input on their tour page. The recent snow storms caused some rearranging so not all was their fault but they wound up playing 14 shows in 17 days and in 12 different cities. They were clearly fatigued and it showed.

There is still a chance to listen to Rick Wakeman and play some memorable shows. The fans will be happy to hear it and I think the musicians will be happy to play again too.

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