Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lies and the lying liars who tell them

Like this guy:

The academic at the centre of the ‘Climategate’ affair, whose raw data is crucial to the theory of climate change, has admitted that he has trouble ‘keeping track’ of the information.

Colleagues say that the reason Professor Phil Jones has refused Freedom of Information requests is that he may have actually lost the relevant papers.

Professor Jones told the BBC yesterday there was truth in the observations of colleagues that he lacked organisational skills, that his office was swamped with piles of paper and that his record keeping is ‘not as good as it should be’.

The data is crucial to the famous ‘hockey stick graph’ used by climate change advocates to support the theory.

Professor Jones also conceded the possibility that the world was warmer in medieval times than now – suggesting global warming may not be a man-made phenomenon.

And he said that for the past 15 years there has been no ‘statistically significant’ warming.

The UK Daily Mail, via

Government Motors

U.S. Safety agency seeks documents on Toyota recalls
The document request, which is considered rare for NHTSA, could lead to a civil fine of up to $16.4 million if Toyota is found to have violated regulations. The last major fine of an automaker involved General Motors paying a $1 million penalty in a windshield wiper recall in 2004, according to government safety regulators.

Next week, Toyota and NHTSA officials are expected to go before congressional leaders for hearings on the recalls. Some lawmakers have questioned how quickly Toyota and safety regulators reacted to problems in vehicles and allegations that 34 deaths occurred in connection with Toyota sudden-acceleration problems.

Unmentioned by the Washington Post is the fact that the U.S. government is a GM shareholder and direct competitor with Toyota, and will use such methods to hamstring competitors as are at its disposal.

The auto industry has seen its share of "sudden acceleration" claims. The incidents often result from operator error. The Toyotas may have an actual mechanical flaw, but I haven't seen any reporting on what the defect actually is.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

David Stockman comes in from the cold

Great stuff from the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under Ronald Reagan.

How Politics Caused Fiscal Disaster, from

My proposition today is that we’re in a fiscal calamity caused by the further, and perhaps, final triumph of politics. Admittedly, I issued this very same forecast awhile back -- 23 years ago to be exact. But I’m not reluctant to try again. Having read Grant’s continuously since 1988, I’ve learned there’s no shame whatsoever in being early -- even often!

The Triumph of Politics was published early, mainly in the unflattering sense that I’d not completed my homework. I was hip to statist fiscal and regulatory evils, but had only dimly grasped the Austrian masters’ wisdom on money; that is, in printing money backed by nothing, central banks inherently threaten prosperity. So today I’ll add the proposition that fiscal decay is the inevitable step-child of the very monetary rot that the Austrians -- Mises, Hayek, Rothbard -- so deplored.


The “panic of 2008," therefore, wasn't a random policy error, nor was it caused by the machinations of overly-bonused bankers. In fact, the massive quantities of unsupportable debt and the vast malinvestments in housing, banking, shopping malls, office buildings, and Pilates studios, too, which came crashing down last September, were rooted in history’s other star-crossed rail car. That was the gilded club car which in November 1910, had secretly whisked away Senator Nelson Aldrich and his coterie of Morgan, Rockefeller and Kuhn Loeb bankers to a duck-hunting blind on Jekyll Island, Georgia.

The truth is, the monster that was hatched there -- the Federal Reserve System -- has always been an instrument of politics; that is, the politics of the speculative classes, whether domiciled on Wall Street, Main Street, or the Agrarian plains. Let the political chatter get fevered enough about unfairly “low” prices for goods, grains, or labor and there's invariably been a new theory and willing maestro at the Fed to print-up some easy credit.My thesis today is that monetary rot underpins fiscal decay, but that’s not to gainsay the complicity of Capitol Hill and the White House in the march to budgetary ruin -- particularly the complicity of the type of Republican Whiggery which emerged after the 2000 election.

The truth is, just as the Great East Asian Deflation called for monetary hardening, not ease, it also warranted a large increase in national savings -- including public sector surpluses. But by then there had been assembled in Karl Rove’s political assault camp, a coalition of the neo-cons, the social-cons, the tax-cons and the just-cons. None of them gave two hoots about real fiscal discipline.

The neo-cons postured as big-time thinkers, articulating a lofty policy case for an American Imperium. But unlike real imperialists, the neo-cons had nothing to say about the crucial issue of war finance.

Indeed, since DOD couldn’t seem to keep a pipeline open in the planet’s second richest oil province, the neo-cons couldn't even fallback on the imperialist’s traditional gambit of looting the colonies. Obviously, the real answer was a war tax -- especially since the war at issue was an elective. But that idea was anathema in Karl Rove’s assault camp, so the neo-cons simply ignored the fiscal consequence of the multi-hundred billion annual drain on the treasury their policies entailed. War finance, it seems, was relegated to the GOP’s all-purpose folklore -- the myth that lower taxes and more growth would cover any fiscal hole.

The tax cons, for their part, did not even think about fiscal policy; they issued Papal Edicts. Consequently, a kernel of truth -- the notion that lower marginal tax rates are economically beneficial -- became ensnared in a body of debatable doctrine, even outright claptrap.

Foremost among the latter is the alleged absence of a correlation between deficits and either interest rates or real growth. Fine. If that’s the test, let’s abolish taxes completely and put the Federal government on a regimen of 100% bond finance.

Likewise, the tax-cons have shamelessly misapplied evidence that a lower capital gains rate did generate higher revenue. True, these cuts sped the realization of gains already extant, but that has nothing to do with the revenue impact from lowering or raising rates on 95% of what we actually tax; that is, accrued payrolls and earned income.

Not technical quibbles, these points highlight the folly of elevating tax-cutting to the status of religious writ. Indeed, unwilling to cut spending by so much as a single veto in eight years, the Bush Administration needed to get revenue raising on the table as a matter of pure math. But the tax-cons, having totally befuddled what passes for GOP fiscal thinking, were able to drive the herd in just the opposite direction, slashing Federal revenues twice more during the Bush fiscal debauch. The profound financial danger, therefore, is that there's no longer in the United States a conservative fiscal opposition even worthy of the name.

Moreover, this fiscally perilous condition continues to be exacerbated by the tattered remnants of Karl Rove’s political assault camp. The social-cons, relentless as ever in their bible-thumping and immigrant-bashing, help to elect real socialists, as often as not. And the just-cons continue to turn fiscal responsibility into a bad joke. Last election, 85% of the American people were against the abomination called TARP. But on that central issue, the Republican standard bearer went radio silent while chattering endlessly about appropriations earmarks. But taken together, those 8,000 earmarks add-up to just 15 hours of annual Federal spending. The needless bailout of Wall Street engineered by Bubbles and the Henry "Hammer" Paulson, by contrast, destroyed forever any residual will to control spending that remained on Capitol Hill.

So basically, this thing won't end until it ends. The US government's bonds continue to be sold at an artificial discount, as the Fed outright monetizes the debt and shell-shocked banks loan to the federal government rather than the private sector. Eventually, the twin trade and fiscal deficits will be unsustainable at current rates of interest. The economic activity (such as it is) from the bailout and stimulus will be liquidated in its turn, and Bernanke's bag of tricks will be empty.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Has feminism run its course?

From the Weekly Standard, via iSteve.

The whole point of the sexual and feminist revolutions was to obliterate the sexual double standard that supposedly stood in the way of ultimate female freedom. The twin revolutions obliterated much more, but the double standard has reemerged in a harsher, crueler form: wreaking havoc on beta men and on beta women, too, who, as the declining marriage rate indicates, have trouble finding and securing long-term mates in a supply-saturated short-term sexual marketplace. Gorgeous alpha women fare fine—for a few years until the younger competition comes of age. But no woman, alpha or beta, seems able to escape the atavistic preference of men both alpha and beta for ladylike and virginal wives (the Darwinist explanation is that those traits are predictors of marital fidelity, assuring men that the offspring that their spouses bear are theirs, too). And every aspect of New Paleolithic mating culture discourages the sexual restraint once imposed on both sexes that constituted a firm foundation for both family life and civilization.

In mandating equality of outcome for women with respect to men, the welfare state and Title VII eliminate the socio-economic justification for marriage, which is really just a social contract to ensure that men take care of children and the women by whom they sire them. Without the specter of destitution, women can indulge their sexual impulses--female prudery is a myth, by the way--in hopes of eventually landing the Big One, as in the pathetically fanciful Pretty Woman. (The male equivalent, also starring Julia Roberts, is Notting Hill.) Of course, as the author of this essay notes, there are only so many alpha males and females to go around. The end result is a race to the bottom for women seeking to outbid each other for the affections of alpha men.

The strict 'alpha-beta' dichotomy is a little too crude for what is really a complex hierarchy. Generally speaking, all but the most dysfunctional men can become proud and independent at some level, and will pragmatically settle on somebody, and can draw on millenia of collective experience in doing so. Women, by contrast, are very new to this game.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Of course he couldn't ...

... keep his twitchy, social-engineering fingers off the military, that is.

Christopher Roach blogs about Obama's repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'
The new policy will allow open service by gays. This will be a big change, but, more important, this will usher in a whole host of related and very negative changes. Judging by the umpteenth sexual harassment seminar our forces endure on a biweekly basis, open service will probably lead to demands for changing the military’s “homophobic” culture through indoctrination of one kind or another. Those uncomfortable will leave. They will be ostracized and eventually punished for the very cultural conservatism that leads them to join the military. Those who remain will be those who lack the courage of their convictions, if they have any convictions at all.

I love the phrase coined by Lew Rockwell (a socially conservative anarchist): 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' will become a policy of 'Never Shut Up.'

Mr. Roach is entirely correct. The social conservatives who make up the bulk of troops doing the actual fighting will stop enlisting. Why risk life and limb for an elite who despise your values?

Who will defend the Empire now? It's going to be affirmative action generals, female helicopter pilots, and aesthetic-obsessed gays versus the young, straight men who will join sheriff's departments, splinter groups, or do their four years and go the merc route. In any fight, my money's on the latter group.