Saturday, January 31, 2009

Talking down the economy

In his weekly radio address, Pres. Obama said:
Already the slowdown has cost us tens of thousands of jobs in January alone. And the picture is likely to get worse before it gets better. .... Americans know that our economic recovery will take years -- not months. .... Rarely in history has our country faced economic problems as devastating as this crisis.
After the dot-com crash, while Clinton was still in office, the press objected to president-elect Bush's discussion of his plans to repair the economy because to discuss them required mentioning that the economy was contracting. As James Agresti recalls:
Making the case that Bush�s �talk� was damaging the economy, an article in The Washington Post flatly stated that economic indicators �deteriorated considerably� following �a drumbeat of ominous forecasts by the Bush administration.� In fact, it was later found that GDP growth had sunk into negative territory several months before Bush took office.[10] Another article in the Post quoted an economist who asserted, �What happened is that a few politicians opened their mouths and started to use the R-word [recession]. And then newspapers started to run big headlines about layoffs.�

In a house editorial, The New York Times lectured �it is important� that President Bush �quit talking down the economy�.� Likewise, a column in the Times took Bush to task for not being a �cheerleader� for the nation�s economy.

An article in Time magazine critiqued President Bush and the media for being pessimistic about the economy and pointedly declared, �The worry factor is not to be underplayed. Recessions and bear markets are as much about psychology as fundamentals�.�

Of course, that was then. This is now.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Economists speak on recessions and recovery

200 top economists, including 3 Nobel prize winners have signed a petition in opposition to the pork-barrel spending ("stimulus") bills that congress is now considering. Of course, the economists might have thought differently if only they had heard Speaker Pelosi explain the economic benefits of the STD education provisions:

Obama's go-it-alone foreign policy

After many years of the US closely coordinating with Europe on a policy to deter Iran's development of nuclear weapons, Pres. Obama is reportedly planning to abandon our allies and engage Iran unilaterally.  Worse, it is rumored that Obama's letter give Iran "assurances" that there will be no meaningful consequences for their pursuit of nuclear weapons:
State department officials have composed at least three drafts of the letter, which gives assurances that Washington does not want to overthrow the Islamic regime, ....
Separately, the Democrats reportedly plan to start a trade war with the European Union. As the (UK) Telegraph reports:
The EU trade commissioner vowed to fight back after the bill passed in the House of Representatives late on Wednesday included a ban on most purchases of foreign steel and iron used in infrastructure projects. ....

A spokesman for Catherine Ashton, the EU trade commissioner, said: "We are looking at the situation. The one thing we can be absolutely certain about, is if a bill is passed which prohibits the sale or purchase of European goods on American territory, that is something we will not stand idly by and ignore."

The anti-trade provisions were part of the unprecedented $800 billion pork-barrel spending that was passed in the Democrat-controlled House. Pleasingly, the opposition was bi-partisan: all Republicans were joined by 10 Democrats.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Global Warming Update

While Al Gore claims all scientists (except the 'deniers') support him, the only scientist mentioned by name in "An Inconvenient Truth" is James Hansen of NASA. However, Hansen's Former NASA Supervisor Declares Himself a Skeptic - Says Hansen ‘Embarrassed NASA’, ‘Was Never Muzzled’, & Models ‘Useless.’

For more on James Hansen, see "Is it warm here or is it just NASA?" as well as the posts here, here, here, and here.

ALSO, scientists have found that weather events in the upper atmosphere (stratosphere) are related to fluctuations in the cosmic rays which reach the Earth:

What did surprise the scientists, however, were the intermittent and sudden increases observed in the levels of muons during the winter months. These jumps in the data occurred over just a few days. On investigation, they found these changes coincided with very sudden increases in the temperature of the stratosphere (by up to 40 oC in places!). Looking more closely at supporting meteorological data, they realised they were observing a major weather event, known as a Sudden Stratospheric Warming. On average, these occur every other year and are notoriously unpredictable. This study has shown, for the first time, that cosmic-ray data can be used effectively to identify these events.
How much of Earth's weather that can be explained by astrophysical events remains to be discovered.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The new and official racism

Rev. Joseph Lowery, well-known "civil rights" advocate, gave the benediction at the inaugural today:
“To those days when black will not be asked to get back — when brown can stick around — when yellow can be mellow, when the red man can get ahead man, and when white will embrace what is right.”
The theological claim that white currently embraces what is wrong is familiar, but where did "when yellow can be mellow" come from?

This wasn't a spur of the moment thing: Rev. Lowery has delivered this prayer before.

RELATED: Robert Reich on "whites need not apply."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Socialized medicine explained

Callimachus explains how he views nationalized health care:
Paul Krugman thinks the Republicans are scaring me away from nationalized health care with the phrase "socialized medicine."

No, sir, they aren't. I like the idea, or ideal, of basic health care for everyone. But some things Americans just do not do well. What scares me off from the notion is not GOP sloganeering. It's the VA Hospitals. The public school system. The "Social Security is broke" crisis that comes up every two years. The Farm Bill. When I think of national health care in the U.S., I think of the Post Office, with scalpels

"The Post Office, with scalpels": I think that sums it up nicely.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Global Warming and feelings

Val Kilmer is starring in an upcoming movie about global warming directed by Mark Lewis. Mr. Lewis explains his motivation:

”I think ultimately where this story comes from is the idea or, more accurately, the feeling of vulnerability,” Lewis told me during a recent e-mail conversation about the origins of The Thaw. ”The discussion eventually evolved into one about the vulnerability of our species and how we’re about to experience the wrath of Mother Nature as a result of global warming. Remaining faithful to our inspiration [an experience Thaw's co-writer’s girlfriend had with bed bugs], we chose to make Mother Nature’s device the most hideous parasite we could imagine.”

”The older I get, the more vulnerable I see people are (as individuals and communities). Global warming is a very scary part of our place in time on this revolving rock in the middle of God knows where. I consider it my job to translate, into a story, the emotions (in particular the fear) I’m experiencing around an issue..." [emphasis added]

Liberals seem to arrive at their believe in global warming through their inner insecurities/anxieties that drive "fear" and a "feeling of vulnerability."

By contrast with Director Lewis, Dr. William Happer, the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton and the former head of the US DoE's Office of Energy Research is a scientist. He likens the believers in anthropogenic global warming (AGW) to a "religious cult." He is further concerned that the AGW cult will do damage to the name of science:
[Climate change theory has] been extremely bad for science. It’s going to give science a really bad name in the future,” he said. “I think science is one of the great triumphs of humankind, and I hate to see it dragged through the mud in an episode like this.”
Separately, over 30,000 scientists, including over 9,000 PhDs have signed this petition skeptical of global warming.

RELATED: A (UK) Telegraph columnist, Christopher Booker, sums up developments over the last year as "2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved."

Ignorance enables ideological certainty

MSNBC and Air America host Rachel Maddow apparently believes in getting her news from one side only:
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow bashed competitor Fox News at a Television Critics Association gathering Thursday before she told a small group of reporters she's "never seen a show on Fox at any time ever.”
A complete lack of knowledge of what Fox broadcasts does not, however, stop her, in the interview with TV critics, from having strong opinions about it:

When a critic compares MSNBC with Fox News, Maddow bristles.

“The idea that there’s any equivalency between us and Fox News...” [Maddow] says. “Fox is a political experiment."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Racism at the Obama inauguration

Can dresses be racist? According to WSFA, the head of the Alabama NAACP says the dresses to be worn by the Azelea Trail Maids are racist:
"These are not just regular costumes. These are the costumes that remind someone of the plantation in Gone with the Wind," Edward Vaughn said in a phone interview.
Worse than the dresses, the upcoming inauguration will put into office yet another descendent of slave-owners.
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