Monday, September 30, 2013

- It's Different This Time: Part 28,374,432

There seems to be some debate about who is going to be blamed for the government shutdown, the inevitability of which has now become a foregone conclusion.  There are a number of Republican information sources who are tossing around the idea that unlike the 90's, this time both parties might be blamed.

As a professional consumer of the news, I find this totally laughable.  Just think about it, if there is one thing that has changed since the 90's it's that the news media is now even more openly partisan than before.  They make no bones about treating all good things as having come from Democrats and all evil, vile disgusting, racist, greedy, things, coming only from Republicans.  They don't even pretend to be bystanders anymore.

Barak Obama could be standing on the steps of the Capital building as if her were fellow Democrat George Wallace at the University of Alabama; he could be smashing the last stone bridge like Gandolf in lord of the rings screaming "You shall not pass!!!", and the press will only say he was reluctantly forced into it by the extreme right wing, vicious, cruel, racist Republicans.  He could physically obstruct Congress from agreeing on something, and the press will blame it on someone else.

There is no way the Republicans don't get blamed for this, and the low information voters will believe everything they're told by their masters.  That's the way it goes with a news industry that is homogeneously left leaning. 

The only way the Republicans get something resembling a win out of this, is if they realize that they are answerable to a completely different constituency than Democrats.  And then remember that the constituency they are answerable to doesn't listen to the left wing news sources.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

- Shut It Down For As Long As Possible

In terms of economic impact, the potential of a government shutdown poses a really interesting problem.  Liberal Economists will tell you that sending all those government workers home is sure to cut demand, and that's true as far as it goes.  But demand doesn't drive economic activity, production does.  So those government workers who will have to stop doing what they do, don't actually do anything that contributes to economic growth.  In fact, in the case of the FDA, the EPA and a few others, they actually inhibit economic activity by preventing willful commerce that would other wise occur. 

  The US Federal government is the world's largest employer, and many of the departments are planning furloughs to manage their expenses.  But the longer you keep the government shut down, the better it gets for the rest of us.  Or at least the less it will matter.  If you keep it shut down long enough, those furloughed Federal workers will have to go out and get jobs that actually contribute to the US standard of living.  And then they and their efforts all move to the plus side of the ledger, instead of being a minus.   

So over the shortest term the economic statistics are sure to look worse, but only in as much as the statistics are imprecise.  GDP itself is a tricky and deceptive number that gives us one dimension of economic activity, but is not the whole of it.  And there is another,simpler, way to think about it that I think is more illuminating. 

If you imagine the sum of all the stuff we make, it can serve as a representation of our 'added value'.  We took raw materials, applied labor, and when we were done, the products we had represent the amount we've improved things.  This amounts to a pretty good representation of our stand of living.  If our work for the year produced a lot of stuff, then we all have a better life.  If it produced only a little, then we have a somewhat less better life.  If we made enough Ferrari's for everyone to have one, that good; enough Subaru's, that's less good.

We generally consume all of the added value in a given year.  There is no huge dump where valuable products are discarded for lack of a consumer.  It's just a question of whether we're living better, worse, or paying more or less for the privilege.   So it's just as effective, rather than thinking of this abstract principle like GDP, to think of our living standard instead.  And the metric of whether someone adds to or detracts from that living standard is based entirely on what they do and how well they do it.

To ask someone if" they want fries with that" is a low paying job, because a great many people can do it.  But for all it's humility, it actually adds to the standard of living of American citizens in a meaningful way.  In aggregate, the people who are getting fries that way have time available to them which can be used in productive pursuits other than frying potatoes for dinner.   It's not a high status job, but it's is a net plus to the US economy. 

But taking the money from one person who earned it in order to give it to another in exchange for voting the right way does not add to the aggregate standard of living in any way.  That's most of what the Federal government does.  It doesn't create wealth it redistributes it.  It produces nothing.  It creates no value.  In fact, since the person doing the redistributing takes a piece of the action, it actually lowers our standard of living.  It creates two net consumers where there really should be only one.  That raises prices for the same 'value' item. 

So for all the harm it will do I say, shut it down.  The press will love it because it's dramatic, and gives them something to blame on Republicans.  The Democrats and the liberal left will feel the same way.  And if we can just keep it shut down long enough, we few remaining Americans who are the people the government does things to rather than doing things for, will come to love it too. 
Shut it down and keep it shut.  When grass is growing on Pennsylvania avenue, I'll feel nothing but better.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

- A Dog's Life

I know something about loss.  My youngest brother died a week before his 21st birthday, and the effect of that sort of thing stays with you.  It was some time ago now, and we all move on.  But 'issues' get no bigger for mortal men, than dealing with the loss that comes with death.

Back in the agrarian days of western civilization, we all had a closer association with death.  Farm animals are raised and slaughtered then as now.  But we were unarguably closer to it then.  And people being what they are, I'm sure the 15th century had favorite lambs or pigs or whatever that had acquired names from the household children, who were subsequently heartbroken to learn that 'missy' was now residing in the winter stew pot.  But we all learn to cope.  We literally have no choice.

As a bird hunter I'm particularly taken with dogs.  They are superlative teammates.  They are loyal and enthusiastic.  They are man's first and best ally in the fight for survival.  None of that is diminished by the comfortable and 'civilized' nature of my 'modern' hunting.  Yes, the birds are farm raised and released, and "the wilds" are a set of fields kept as a 'preserve' in a gun friendly state.  But the dogs don't know any of that.  To them, we are stalking across the wild plains in search of what may be our last good meal for weeks.  They only know one way to hunt (or to do anything else), and that's 'with everything they have'.

My own dog isn't well suited to hunting, but she's a spectacularly good companion all the same.  Most dogs don't really have to earn their keep the way they did before.  If they are affectionate and good company, that's more than enough for the 21st century.  And in the suburbs, friends are harder to come by than food.  So our dogs now meet that very modern need.

I hope what I say now doesn't sound too cynical.  But when my wife was talking me into getting our current dog, one of the things I was thinking about was what my daughter would learn from a dog in her life.  Yes she would be a good companion, but given her breed's life expectancy, she would also probably be teaching my daughter how to cope with loss in a way that is unlikely to be overwhelming.  It's the way it's always been for children, and my experience with my brother's death taught me how important it was to have some painful but manageable experience to help build the coping mechanisms.

I'd like to offer my condolences and sympathy to the Goldberg family, who yesterday lost Cosmo their dog of many years. It's a very difficult thing, but it's survivable.  And though it's hard, there is much wisdom that comes with such an experience, especially for children involved.  Not only do you get to keep the joyful memories of the dog in your life, you are also made stronger by their loss.  And I always imagined that's how the dogs would want it.  They'd hope for you out there in the fields and the bogs, with your nose up in the wind, giving life 110%, just like they would if they were there.

And hopefully that offers some small comfort.

Friday, September 27, 2013

- Forcing The Citizenry

Gay Marriage isn't about liberty, it's about the lack of liberty.  NJ residents already had civil unions which gave them the same legal rights as married couples.  But the issue that remained for gay marriage activists, was that the government had to force people to call their relationship  a "marriage" whether a citizen felt it met the criteria or not.

It wasn't about love, or children, or equality.  That was all a smoke screen.  Same as always, it was about a vocal liberal minority using the government to force the majority to do what they wanted them to, regardless of their religious feelings on the subject.  It was about shattering the values and standards that have built the western world.  You know... progress.

Anyway, thanks to a judge, NJ citizens are a little less free than they used to be. 

Domestic Spying

I found it somewhat alarming when I first entertained the thought that Gen. Patraeus and Gen. Ward suffered career ending disclosures of heir "private" lives because of the power to search communications data.  Now the idea that the NSA can spy on love interests is old hat.  This gives a new meaning to ho-hum.  

- There's A New Sheriff In Town

The last time I brought up the NYC Mayor's race was in May of 2012.  That was also, in my opinion, the last time there was anything worth saying about it.

Like NJ, NYC is a place where only the very worst people are drawn to politics.  Bought off union hacks, front men for mobsters, and a circus side show of idiot losers and thieves are usually all that makes up the race.  It's never a question of offering truly good government, it's a question of being the first in line to rob the bank.  For all their faults (and they were many), Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg really were different.  But with future Mayor Bill DiBlasio, it will be 'back to normal' for New York City.

The thing about hard leftists like DiBlasio is that they all see themselves as Robin Hood.   But when Robin Hood is appointed the Sheriff of Nottingham he gets to send troops instead of his merry men to pick your pocket.  And to the people of Sherwood, that's when the difference between the new Sheriff and the old Sheriff becomes very small.

After all, what was their problem with the original Sherriff in the first place?  Taxes were too high.  He was taxing them out of their livelihoods.  Well why should Robin Hood imagine they'll feel differently about it, just because it's Little John or Will Scarlet commanding the troops to burn their village and sack the farms?  Instead of 'rob the rich and give to the poor, it's 'tax the productive and give to the indolent'. That the indolent are a dependent class of client constituencies  instead of the idle rich, will make little difference to the farmers and serfs.

But as everyone commenting on it can tell you, it was law enforcement where Giuliani and Bloomberg really stood out.  They threw criminals in jail instead of putting them in charge of the city pension, or leading the team negotiating teacher's contracts.  Everyone can already see that will come to an end under DiBlasio.  The left hasn't had a new idea in 4 decades so I'd expect a return to the talk about 'root causes' and 'poverty', by way of excuses for rising crime.  We know guns are illegal in NY.  I wonder what the city position is on body armor.

But as inconvenient as rising street crime will be, the bigger problem is that the city's finances have only been held together by Bloomberg's obstinacy.  The civil service unions who have always held NY hostage in the past, are preparing to retake the shopping mall and get all the patrons blindfolded, handcuffed, and up against the wall. Then they can sort out who gets to live and who they think should die.  The Teachers, the mass transit unions, even the police and firemen, will all demand a bigger cut.

But the thing they'll be after most of all is 'money for nothing'.  Guaranteed pensions. Liberals are notoriously bad at finance, so the civil servant hostage takers will see the idiot DiBlasio administration as their last chance to put some legal road blocks in place to protect their pensions when the bankruptcy comes.  And the bankruptcy will come.  Without Bloomberg's fiscal obstinacy, the clock is ticking on NY.  Our idiot leftists are no more capable of achieving success than the idiot leftists running Detroit.  The philosophy they embrace precludes it.

The finance industry, on which NYC survives, has been in poor condition since 2008.  The vague rules designed to mean whatever the folks in Washington say they mean, hasn't helped things. Now DiBlasio will be stepping in offering the traditional leftist fare of higher taxes, fewer services, and a less effective take on crime.  He'll reward the least productive (unions, welfare recipients, and the traditional Democrat 'client constituencies') , and to pay for it, he'll punish the most productive (any industry 'immoral' enough to turn a 'profit').  That's how it goes with Robin Hood.

And the net effect will be that  he's going to turn NY into a larger version of Chicago. At least until both cities turn themselves into Detroit.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

- Double Standards: Intent vs. Effect

I think the mistake that the Republicans make is in deluding themselves into believing that there is a level playing field.  There really isn't.  I may not know Washington, or even the idea of political warfare as well as some.  But I know an awful lot about self-delusion, having been a devout practitioner for virtually my entire life.  And I know it when I see it.

When you do the same thing that others do, and extract the same kind of costs for it, and obtain concessions which are similar in scope if not direction, the political cost should be the same and no more.  But in the Republicans case it never is.  Why they fail to understand this when it's so obvious outside the beltway, is really beyond me. 

In order to be successful, all a Democrat has to do is pass a phone book sized law and announce the intended goal of the law to the media.  If the law accomplishes that goal or doesn't, its completely immaterial.  The media will treat it as successful right up until it's proven absolutely that it 's achieving the opposite of what it was intended to.  And when that happens the media helps the Democrats blame the opposition for the failure, and the whole thing begins again with a new law and a new intent.  This is the Democrat formula for political success.

Republicans get no such pass.  In order for a Republican to be viewed as successful, he has to pass (or in all likelihood remove) a law.  While the law is achieving it's desired effect he must stand by while the media continually accuses him of being a vile, greedy, corrupt, puppy roasting racist who served as Hitler's chief of staff.  He doesn't get to discuss the intent of his laws, or if he does, the media doesn't listen.  Whatever the actual intent the media will tell their audience that the intent is to serve 'special interest' and to kick starving widows and orphans to the curb for the aforementioned greed and corruption.

Only actually achievement will ever save a Republican's reputation.  They must succeed.  They must perform acts which materially improve the lives of the citizens. The Democrats (as is obvious from their 100% failure rate)  have no such burden, and never will.  For them the only measure is intentions and desires for the future.  Being 'pure of heart' (or at least being able to sound that way on TV) is the only standard a Democrat must ever meet. 

The Republican party seems to believe that if they can just manage their messaging properly (the kind of thing that is really true for Democrats) then they will win elections and maintain their power.  But as is obvious from the last two presidential elections, that ain't so.  For all his strengths as a candidate, a big part of Obama's success was that he ran against two of the lamest Republican presidential candidates in my lifetime.  (John McCain's candidacy in particular, remains an utter mystery to me. ) And that's because the media won't let the message from Republicans be a positive one.  If you focus only on message, you hand the election to whoever CBS news wants.  Who will that be I wonder.

This time out, I hope the party remembers that they have to do something else.  Being the less liberal choice isn't going to do it.  A focus exclusively on electioneering isn't going to do it.  They can't simply be the other Washington political party.  They can't expect a bar that's as easy to clear as the one the Democrats get.  It ain't how the world works.

They need to nominate someone who looks likely to actually be able to improve the lives of citizens, not posture and mug for the camera's while talking about legislative accomplishment as if it were a real thing.  Two dogs fighting over a bone (the bone being the wealth and liberty of the American people) will not will the presidency for the Republicans.

And even if they find video evidence of Hillary Clinton personally passing grenades to Al Qaeda rebels as they attacked the Benghazi embassy, (footage say of her screaming Allah Akbar while holding  ambassador Steven's severed head in one hand, and a fire spitting AK47 in the other) and the Republicans eek out a victory for it, they will still have to accomplish things.  They still have to stand on the line and let the press say awful things about them while the processes they put in place work their effect.  And they have to actually improve things.  Anything else will simply make them a monster for America's future high school civics classes. 

The liberal media, and liberal academia is always going to lie about them.  Only physical evidence of success will ever save the Republicans.  they had better start figuring out how to achieve some if they ever want to win anything again.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

- The Star Ledger's Ethical Lapse

This is the Star Ledger editorial board's idea of a 'scathing rebuke of apparent corruption' on the part of Corey Booker.  A soft balled, ever so polite condemnation of the general principle of pay for play, and a potentially alleged, theoretical kind of second hand mention that it might maybe have seemed inappropriate for Corey Booker to engage in it, if that ever were the theoretical case that anyone else were allegedly trying to make.  What editorial courage.

Not that I would expect anything different.  It's the Newark Star Ledger after all - the very definition of why leftist print media is dead or dying.  But even knowing that Booker is obviously going to be held to a different standard than the rest of NJ's corrupt pols, the piece linked above is really embarrassing.  Or at least it would be if the Editorial board at the Star Ledger had any shame at all.  Clearly, they do not.

I think it's pretty obvious that in their minds, access to Booker will be important to them in coming years.  So they don't dare say anything critical that might alienate him. But they still have to comment on the facts.  Reality in NJ is still reality.  So discuss it they must, even if it's clear they don't want to.  And given the kid gloves on that embarrassment, I think it's pretty clear that they want to stay in the good graces of NJ's boy wonder.

Whats worse though is that in years to come, when Booker is being continually praised by the national media for leaping over tall buildings around Washington DC, and people like the Star Ledger are being criticized for being nothing but cheerleaders for him, they will refer to this editorial as if it were absolute proof of their non partisanship.  They will cite it as if it were a deeply critical editorial that casts doubt not only on Corey Booker's fitness for office, but upon his character, his manhood, and his very nature as a member of the human race.  Not only will they distort the truth, they'll distort their accounting of it. 

Even when I think my opinion of journalists couldn't get any lower, they publish something like this.  And it reminds me what cowardly, reprehensible little lick spittle's they really are.  Corey Booker can keep them chained up in a box in the basement like "the gimp" in pulp fiction, and they'll happily lick his footprints on the grimy floor every time he lets them out, and promptly thank him for the privilege.

But on the plus side, if you ever wondered if it were possible to type while having a man's genitals in your mouth, now you know.

- A Hate Crime Mystery

A Sikh college professor was badly beaten on a NYC street by a gang of up to 20 kids, because they mistakenly thought he was a Muslim.  And yet, mysteries still abound.

For instance, we don't know who the kids are.  We don't have the Justice department swooping in to dispense social justice and to make sure the racist perpetrators have their lives ruined.  We don't have Al Sharpton or the New Black Panthers demanding lynchings, or the news media swarming in to exploit the obvious racist motive.

We don't have any of the three ring racial grievance circus that always accompanies one of these incidents where someone is harmed for the color of their skin.  How can this possibly be?

Even the reporter who reported on the story seemed to be trying to keep the relevant detail to a minimum.  As if he didn't want to tell it. And it's left me quite confused.  I thought fighting racism was what the media and our government was all about?  I though there was no crime worse than disliking someone for the color of their skin.  I thought that's the kind of incident that liberals take so seriously that if anything they'd exaggerate it not minimize it. 

I guess this is just one of those eternal questions that will fall into the gaps of history.  If only America wasn't such a racist country, maybe events like this wouldn't be taken so lightly by the news media.

- Even More Lies Liberals Tell

Here's a very good VDH piece about how quickly the left is to embrace the lie that supports their politics even when the truth would argue the opposite.  If nothing else it's a great accounting of the biggest and most notable incidents, from the Rosenbergs (who were guilty in case you've forgotten) to the non existent assault weapon of the Navy Yard Shooter.

And although it's a hair off topic, remember how often you were told that serial killers like the one pictured above, are all white.

Monday, September 23, 2013

- Why No One Cares About Booker's Taxes

In New Jersey, we don't care that our politicians are all corrupt.  (They're all corrupt by the way, every last one of them.  There are no choir boys or girls in NJ politics.)  That's how you get ahead in NJ politics.  You sell out to a powerful group who represents either money to buy votes, or the votes themselves.  If the politicians in NJ were honest in any way, they'd have honest private sector jobs like the rest of us.

There are a few civil servants who are honest, but again, not many.  And the ones who are, are all in some backwater dog catcher's office and will never move up because they won't play ball.  The only way you get ahead in the civil service of New Jersey, or in state politics, is to be corrupt.  That's it.

So by definition, the people who are the most successful, are typically the ones who are the most corrupt.  In some cases that's obvious.  I cite examples, Sharpe James, Jim McGreevey, Jon Corzine,  and that long list of county commissioners and assemblymen who have been sent to prison lately.  In some cases it's less obvious.  I don't think anyone has found anything specific on Chris Christy, and god knows the press has tried.  But just because no one can find it doesn't mean it isn't there.  He's a successful NJ politician so he's almost certainly corrupt in some way. 

This story is another excellent example.  Former Middlesex Country Sheriff Joe Spicuzzo is being sent to jail for 9 years for ... guess what... corruption. 

As part of a plea agreement, Spicuzzo pleaded guilty in June to taking $25,000 in cash bribes in exchange for promoting one of his own employees. That was a fraction of the $112,000 prosecutors from the state Attorney General’s office say Spicuzzo, 68, accepted from people seeking jobs or promotions in the sheriff’s office during his 30-year reign as one of Middlesex County’s top law enforcement officers.

 And the worst part is, I seriously doubt he's alone.  The entire civil service is rotten from the top to the bottom.  At best they are rent seeking thugs like your local building inspector, and at their worst they're bought out pols like McGreevey and Corzine.  And the state has been this way for decades.  So if Corey Booker cheated on his taxes a little, no one cares.  The voters will view that as the cleanest rap sheet in city hall.  There are no honest politicians here, and if one tries to break in he's not going to get anywhere. 

This is a 'machine' state.  And the machine doesn't like anyone who won't play ball.  So the voters have learned to live with what they can get.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

- And She's Really Funny Too....

Eliana Johnson from National Review, is not just a pretty face.  She also has a snappy sense of humor:

It’s astonishing that Booker is now 15-years into his political career, and, largely through anecdotes we are now coming to see are full of holes, has amassed dozens of high-profile backers in Silicon Valley and around the country who fell in love with his “story.” Thanks also in part to these emotional anecdotes, he is now and set to become the junior senator from New Jersey. Maybe a prominent national political reporter will ask him about what increasingly looks like his troubled relationship with the truth one one of these days.

The national media asking Corey Booker questions.
 That girl just cracks me up.

- Portrait Of A Coward

I'm friendly with a number of policemen.  But I'm very leery of the way 'first responders' are treated as if they become heroes the moment they put the uniform on.  Some policemen have real courage, and others do not - much like the rest of humanity.  And it seems to me that Chicago's Garry F. McCarthy, is obviously one who does not.

In my opinion, Garry F. McCarthy is a coward.  He proved it to me the other day when he made that ridiculous statement about a response to the most recent shooting in the town where he is charged with keeping the peace.  Rather than address the issue of gangs, and black on black violence in the inner city, he made a broad statement which advocated infringing on the constitutional rights of far away peaceful civilians instead.

He knows the real source of the violence in Chicago, we all do.  We know it has nothing to do with the NRA or hunters and sport shooters.  We know that it has nothing to do with any of the law abiding gun owners in Illinois or the rest of the country, as Mr. McCarthy claimed.  And since that's so, making more guns illegal won't have any effect on the violence.  My guns haven't killed anyone, and making them illegal won't change anything about Chicago violence.

The people who are shooting up Chicago are already criminals.  They already possess firearms illegally and use them for illegal acts.  Making their activity more illegal won't change anything about their behavior.  And making the legal acts of law abiding citizens illegal, will actually make things worse.  Making the rest of America more like Chicago, is the last thing any serious minded person should be considering. 

Unless he's seriously impaired in some way (and I confess I can't prove otherwise) Garry McCarthy already knows this.  But he also knows that law abiding citizens are unlikely to put up a fight.  He can say anything he likes about them without having to fear for a political backlash.  He can slander them and malign them in any way without having to face down any consequences.   To a coward like him, that seems like a smart move.  Smarter anyway than actually facing down the actual cause of the violence.

If he really wants to do something about the violence in Chicago, he would start targeting gang members.  He could adopt a 'broken window' policy like the one that was so effective for the Giuliani administration in NY during the 90's.  He could start jailing offenders of minor crime to reduce the population of offenders available to perform more serious crimes.  There are all kinds of things he could change about Chicago law enforcement that would likely make a difference.  But a national law which imposes a cost on 100,000,000 law abiding gun owners is absolutely not one of them.

It would take genuine courage to address the real problems of Chicago - courage which Mr. McCarthy apparently doesn't posses.  He knows that any truly effective act would likely result in a rate of minority arrests which outpace their percentage of the broader population.  And in Barak Obama's Chicago, that can't happen without making political enemies - even if it would mean a measurable reduction of black on black violence.

So cowards like Superintendent McCarthy will continue to stand by and blame the law abiding gun owner for his lack of courage.  He'll continue to ignore the real problem in Chicago because it's scary, and continue to focus on the law abiding citizens who are not.  This is the way of the world in the age of Obama. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

- Where Is The Trayvon Martin Movie?!

I got back from Florida a few weeks ago and something from that trip has stuck with me.  I spent a little time with my oldest friend and his uncle Alex.  Alex is his biological uncle, but he's only a little older than us.  Back when we were kids he was a biker and general hoodlum.  So he was the guy who bought us beer and helped us dodge police and parents when we were having our high school fun.   Not an uncle really - more like a trouble making older cousin.  Now that we're middle aged, we've all calmed down considerably.

Anyway, Alex mentioned Jodi Arias (pictured above) and said that he took particular note that the "Jodi Arias" movie came out about a week after she was convicted.  Obviously some producer had the movie in the can, and was just waiting to hear the ending.  The movie was released almost immediately once that was settled.

"So..." Alex asked us " it's been months.  Where the hell is the Trayvon Martin movie?"

The nearest we could figure was that since the media only wants to portray Trayvon as a skittles loving innocent, needlessly gunned down in the prime of life just for being black, the people in Hollywood who promote such things literally "CAN'T" tell that story without being subject to a slander suit from George Zimmerman.  If they could they would, but the fact that they would have to lie about Trayvon to tell the story that way means they can't, so they don't.

Meanwhile I can't believe there isn't someone out there in Hollywood anxious to tell what really happened that night.  It wouldn't be very popular with the racial grievance crowd, but surely it would be a HUGE ratings getter.  And since the court docs are in the public record, so long as they tell the truth as entered in evidence, as I understand it, they don't even have to ask George Zimmerman's permission.

If I had anything like the connection necessary for it, I'd be writing the screenplay myself.  The thing is as certain a moneymaker and entertainment ever is.  and I would happily let Al Sharpton denounce me as a racist on nationwide TV for the right kind of money. 

And yet... no Trayvon Martin Movie.

-Toilet Paper For the Common Good

Pobre SeƱor Whipple...
Por favor, no apriete el Chavez Charmin!
the US Markets collapsed in 2008-09, we were constantly barraged with the final economic solution offered by self espoused Keynesian liberals. Nationalize the Banks and the Financial Institutions.
You don't need me to post evidence that every time a liberal finds a "crisis" to explot that involves money or a component of an economic system, the solution is Nationalization.  
The world has several locations that serve as laboratories of socialist and liberal experimentation.
Little Islands of Dr Moreau...
Liberals always refer to Sweden as their "city on the hill", but one need not look further than that liberal Utopia beacon in South America... Venezuela. They've done everything that  all our Ivy League educated senators and political commentators have suggested. Recently they've taken it one step further.
Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you the "bottom" of the socialist economic agenda: 
The Nationalization of the Toilet Paper Manufacturer
What is another name for nationalized government toilet paper? Soviets...

- Ripping Off Radio Derb

I was listening to this week's typically insightful RadioDerb, and something occurred to me about climate change.  The Derb mentions climate change briefly in today's episode.  If you read my stuff and also listen to the Derb, you may get the impression that we sometimes get ideas from one another.  I know I get ideas from him all the time and I flatter myself into believing that he sometimes does the same.  But this is definitely one of the former.  

My views on climate change are well documented.  I think it's all bunk.  But while listening to Radio Derb, I had a bit of an inspiration regarding how to explain why I believe it's bunk.  So I thought I'd scratch it out real quick.

If you're a quant (like I've been for the last 25 years), one of the things the market teaches you whether you like it or not, is the comparatively low 'information content' of data.  If you look at the price of IBM at exactly 11:24:03:03 AM the 'tick' that you find there will contain some information about the relative well being of the IBM balance sheet, investors future prospects for the company, and all sorts of other things. 

But it won't contain much of it.  In order to form any reasonable forecast of those phenomenon, you need a great deal more data - at the very least a long history of 'price'.  In reality, probably much more information from other sources.  And even if you had all that information, and were trying to distill it all into a forecast of where the 'price' will be at some future date, it probably won't be possible to be too certain about things.  That's because the factors that will account for the bulk of the change in 'price' will be phenomenon that have nothing to do with the questions you're interested in asking.  

 As an example, the thing that will have the greatest impact on a stock 'price' at any given moment in time is the 'price' which immediately preceded it.  Stock prices tend to deviate from one another in a pretty finite range over very short periods of time.  When they deviate more than that we call it a "flash crash" and the boys at zero hedge get all tied up in knots.  It happens, but it's extremely rare.  So 'prior price' is a very big component of the information contained in 'current price'.

There are other factors too which will have a much bigger impact on a specific 'price' at a specific moment in time than long term concerns for the health of the company.  And some of those are more or less visible based on your frequency of observation.  Mean reversion for instance is a huge one.  

Stock prices tend to move back in the opposite direction from which they came; particularly if you look at them with the right observed frequency.  The reason they do so is self defining.  They are more likely to go down if they go up very quickly.  In fact, they are more likely to go down 'because' they've gone up very quickly.  

That is because stock prices are something which is generally described as a 'closed system'.  The incentives of buyers and sellers are constant, and there is an 'error rate' in each assessment of fair value.  If prices rise very quickly absent other information, then some market participants assess this as an increased 'error' on some other guy's part, which therefore represents a profit opportunity.  They sell not because they think it's a bad company over the long term,. but solely because they think the price has risen too fast.  

Global Temperature is also a closed system, and temperature is even more mean reverting than stock prices.  For instance, temperatures generally go up in the spring, and down in the autumn.  No one disputes this, not even the hard core global warming advocates.  But it mean reverts over longer time periods too.  If increase CO2 really does cause increased temperatures, then those increased temperatures and access to CO2 subsequently cause larger blooms of sea algae, and more tree growth.  Those convert the CO2 to O2, which over time, lowers the CO2 level, and then causes temperatures to fall.

In reality I'm convinced the data is the other way around.  I think the warmer temperatures cause higher CO2.  But the mean reverting principle remains either way. 

Global warming advocates are looking at the price of IBM from 9:41:01:06 to 9:41:01:12 and claiming that because it did nothing but rise during that period, it means we're well on our way to ecological disaster.   This is nonsense.  Not only are they mistaking cause and effect, they are misunderstanding the analysis of closed end systems, and greatly overestimating the information content of their data.

Even if their forecasts were right, it wouldn't mean what they say it does because that information isn't available in the data they're looking at. Not nearly enough of it to make a reasonable forecast anyway.

(Please forgive all the scare quotes.  We tend not to speak in terms of 'price' in market research and prefer terms like bid, offer and last, but experience tells me these can be confusing to the uninitiated, and to the rare members of the IT staff.  That last bit is an inside joke directed at RA, RP, and the guys from the trading desk, and isn't actually designed to trash IT guys at all.) 

Friday, September 20, 2013

- Regarding The Punchbowl

The Fed decided not to taper after all.  This is consistent with my theory regarding politician's reluctance to take any path except the one of least resistance.  (take notice of the date on that link) All things considered, I don't think the Fed will ever "Taper" in a meaningful way so long as they have an excuse not to.

And so long as the federal government does as much as it currently is to discourage risk taking, there will always be an excuse.  It used to be if you took a business risk, you would either win or lose.  Now if you win, the benefit of that win is taken away from you in the name of 'fairness', and if you lose, on top of everything else you're brought up on charges for mismanagement of risk. Hardly a 'pro-growth' environment.

In Washington there is an orgy of officiousness.  New regulations on every industry are being generated so fast that it's virtually impossible to keep track.  Not in the congressional 'pass a law' way, but in the un-legislated "change in the statue/new method of enforcement" way that no one ever gets to vote on.  The bureaucracy is in the midst of the greatest power grab in human history, and woe unto the foolish legislator who raises an objection.

The end result of all this can be distilled to a very few question.  Do you believe Congress will act responsibly with regard to Federal spending?  Personally I do not.  Do you think they will come to understand that the economy needs less regulation not more if we ever hope to see anything but anemic growth again?  Again, my answer would be no.  And finally, can you imagine the success of some political movement which results in reduction in Federal power?  Again, I say no.

If you see any 2 of these three things happening, (maybe even just one of them) then you must assume it will be possible for the Fed to Taper.  As to when, I'd keep a close eye on household debt and wait for the country's personal balance sheets to look a tad better.  when it does, there might be a tiny bit of risk taking creeping in around the edges - enough to make growth slightly less anemic than we're becoming accustomed to.  Absent those items though, I'm completely convinced that the Fed will find an excuse to keep the punch bowl precisely where it is.

Forget the government statistics on growth and unemployment.  The information content of those numbers has been slowly degrading and it will continue to until it reaches zero.  This government doesn't trust the citizenry to manage their own lives let alone come to conclusions about the country's future direction.  And because that's so, the punchbowl stays.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

- The Legend Of The AR15

Here's NRO's Charlie Cooke with a pretty good piece describing the social symbolism of America's favorite rifle, the AR15.  It's a good piece.  Charlie is well spoken on the topic.  But the comments section has many of the typical frustrations for me from both the left and the right.

One thing that bothers me more and more these days is the way gun guys insist on describing one weapon/caliber or another as "better" than the rest.  Such patent idiocy should be reserved for leftists.  An adjustable wrench is a passable hammer in an emergency, but it is not as good as a hammer.  Pliers meanwhile can sometimes be used in place of that same wrench.  But to say any one is a 'better' tool than the other requires qualification.

The AR15 and it's cousin the M4/M16 are spectacularly designed weapons that are very well  optimized to take into consideration the various factors that limit soldiers.  It's lighter than an M14 and features a much larger ammunition store.  Critics say it lacks power but how much power does an M14 have when it's out of ammo?  The M14 has greater range, but few can shoot well enough to take full advantage of it.  And 5.56's lighter cylindrical bullet is a marvel of weapon engineering that often does more damage than the M14's larger 308.

The AR15 is MUCH more accurate than an AK47 which gives it a much greater effective range.  The AK is more reliable and never needs to be cleaned.  But if you do expect to clean it one day, then the AR15's reliability is more than adequate.  I've put 1,000 rounds through mine between cleanings without a hiccup so it isn't as frail as the Vietnam vets all claim.  If you're going to the 15th century or an alien planet, then take your AK47.  But if you expect to continue to have access to modern solvents like gasoline, the AR15's reliability should be perfectly adequate.

The AK was a tool designed to make an illiterate peasant minimally effective.  If it's inaccuracy or limited effective range gets him killed before his time, just go get another illiterate peasant.  As they say in Hollywood, the dead cost nothing.  But if you have a professional army where each soldier is a trained and valued asset and you want to make the most of him, give him an AR15.

The AR15 is designed to make a modern rifleman of a common citizen with a minimum of training, and to keep him effective in the field for as long as possible without resupply.  If you are fighting one illiterate peasant against another, give them AK's.  If they are going to be trained in how to shoot and care for a rifle, then the AR15 lets them make the most of that training.

I love the movie Moneyball.  It's one of my favorites.  And hearing old vets talk about their love of the M14 or the theoretical superiority of the AK reminds me of the biases of the 'scouts' in that movie.

If you look at the math, the AR is a much more effectively optimized weapon for virtually all circumstances than either the AK or the M14.  The M14 might be good for the rare shooter who is exceptionally accurate at long range.  The AK might be better indoors when it's accuracy isn't a problem, or if you expect to be fighting for years without any support.  But the AR15 is more likely to "get you on base" in all circumstances.  All other issues being equal, it does the most for your 'survivability'. 

And for a guy like me that's the statistic that counts most.

- Tolerance vs. "Good Manners"

Central Jersey is "Mecca for Rudeness" in my opinion.  Though I admit that the level of frankness does have an upside sometimes.  With that said, I still believe that the key to civilization is not 'tolerance' as the left claims, but 'good manners'.

I don't even really know what tolerance means.  The union drones in the public schools tell us that it has something vague to do with everyone being entitled to an opinion. But more often than not they twist that definition around to champion leftist causes and a post deconstructionist world view.

We aren't supposed to be tolerant a creationist world view, or a 'pro-life' view.  A negative view of homosexuality will get you dragged into court.  Tolerance, according to the left, doesn't extend to everyone.  But if your view is that "American values & the West" = "Bad", "Remote hilltop village where they chop off their thumbs to appease the great monkey-god" = "Good", then we should all learn to be tolerant of it because..... "Tolerance!"

In my house the phrase "good manners" is the linchpin.   Think what you want.  Like and dislike what you want.  Form reasoned judgements about things based on the data you observe and rely on those judgements until new data says to do otherwise.  You have an absolute right to think anything you choose whether I agree with it or not.  But always  ... ALWAYS ... show good manners.  Be polite and courteous.  Think of the feelings of others when you present your ideas, and do your best to keep things civil..  Answer factual questions with facts, and offer your opinion when asked.  But do all you can not to cause unnecessary pain.

There is probably a leftist out there somewhere right now saying "Aren't you causing the hard working and desperately underpaid public school teachers pain by referring to them as union drones?"  In my opinion no because good manner does not mean you are limited to in your use of rhetoric.  It would be a rare circumstance where I would look a public school teacher in the eye and call them a "union drone" because in my view manners are a modifying factor between individuals.
And there are frequent exceptions, especially in the mecca for rudeness. As an example, I try to teach my daughter to stand up for herself.   For myself, I always make it a point to use common courtesy and good manners until provided with some reason to act otherwise.  But there are lots of circumstances i in this area where it's clear to me that good manners will not be a help.  In those circumstances I have no problem whatsoever with hurting the feelings of people who have already proven they are incapable of common courtesy.  F*** em.

Anyway, the DailyMail has mention of some study that says that 'good manners' that keeps us free from disease.  This strikes me as some academic discovering that boiling water prevents cholera or some such other obvious fact.  But since the effect will be to push the political left back toward the principle of good manners in however small a way, I have no objection to it's promotion.

- From His Stash...

One day the left will look back on this time as the pinnacle of their existence.  The 60's and the Vietnam protests were when they got to define themselves, but this is their moment.  A time when they could do whatever they like without so much as a question from the press.  A time when even the smallest objection to their political agenda brought instant condemnation of the mob as a 'racist' or some other usefully silencing term.  A time when the law of the land could be set aside on a whim if it meant the advancement of the progressive agenda, and no one would dare complain.

Their many failures (or soon to be failures) are the accomplishment's they'll hang their hats on for a generation.  The free Obama phones, the swelling welfare and food stamp roles, the soaring unemployment, the total disregard of individual privacy, the increased government dependency and reduced private initiative, the lack of new risk taking by entrepreneurs and the new regulations designed to help the largest corporations keep their competition down.   These will all be viewed and presented to history as a great triumph.  They'll be treated as liberalism's greatest success.

Because to them, this is a time when the majority really does seem to understand how terrible a place America is, how desperately it needs to be changed, and how important it is that the enlightened few make all the choices for those who would otherwise decide for themselves but in doing so, choose (what they would call) 'wrong'.  So they'll only present the goals of their strategies not their costs, blame a recalcitrant opposition for their failure, and lament that it can't be so easy for them ever again.  And the press will back their view 100%, and history will be rewritten as effectively as if it came from an Orwell novel.
When Obama is gone it will never be this easy for them again, and they will miss it.  But even if someone like Hillary Clinton is elected President next, when Obama leaves, the teacher's lounge is finally going to be closed.  Never before have so few done so much to so many, and had so few consequences to bear for doing it to them.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

- Let's Start a Betting Pool

I may already be too late with this, I'm kinda busy with other things.  But we should start a pool on how long it takes for some national level politician or TV talking head to blame the Navy Yard shooting on "Climate Change".

You know it's going to happen.

- The Angry White Gunman

On paper it looks very much like the Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis fits the bill as the anti-gun faithful's "angry white man".

He's a former Navy Reservist.  He is reported to have helped in some way in the rescue efforts after 9-11.  He had an issue where he shot up the car of a construction worker in Houston over a parking issue, and claimed to have 'blacked out' from anger.  If he had a mullet and a beer gut the anti-gun left would be looking at him as a savior of their movement.  But there is a problem with that legend, Aaron Alexis isn't white.

I'm of the opinion that there isn't really any racial discrimination in this country apart from the institutional racism designed to elevate minority groups whether they deserve it or not.  And tragically, so far it looks like Aaron Alexis's experience backs that up.  Based on what's been reported so far, his problems had nothing to do with his being black.  He seems to have had exactly the same kind of problems that the left tells us only white people are supposed to have.

The leftist myth building machine does have other small problems with this story too.  Instead of a dreaded "fully automatic assault weapon" it looks like Mr. Alexis's weapon of choice was a shotgun, which he used to disarm one of his victims who's AR15 he then took.  That doesn't fit the bill at all.  Scary looking guns are supposed to be more powerful and dangerous than boring guns like 'shotguns'.  It's not really supposed to have anything to do with who carries what.  And that principle is used as the justification for everything from selective gun bans to the militarization of the dog catcher's association.

Meanwhile, as a supporter of firearm rights I live for the day that someone like Mike Bloomberg or Nancy Pelosi has the honesty to tell the American public that they'd like to ban the private ownership of all shotguns.  I suspect that the politician dumb enough to utter that bit of blanket tyranny will finally leave office when their scarred and burnt body is recovered from the ashes of wherever the crowd finally corners them. Shotguns are more common than hunting rifles; more common than pistols.  The anti-gun left wants them eliminated of course, but even they aren't stupid enough to come right out and say so.  But oh what fun we would have if they did.

We don't know the whole story of the Navy Yard shooting.  We know several people were needlessly killed, but the why and wherefores are still unknown.  We do already know however that nothing the anti-gun left has recently proposed like gun show bans, universal background checks, a gun registry or mental health checks would have prevented it.  Nothing short of a complete elimination of private firearm ownership would actually address the issue.  And it would be political suicide for the left to publicly admit to that goal.

As I said, we don't know all the facts yet, and we should at least learn them before leaping to the same old legislative conclusions.  And even then, the proposals made should be based upon a cost benefit analysis, not an irrational fear of a citizenry with the right to defend themselves.

Rhetorical flourishes aside, the freedom of 300 million people really is worth more than the risk to a single innocent life.