Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Al Jazeera Discusses Drug Legalization

I got this clip from Transform where they explain a bit about the show.
...debate drug legalisation/regulation with Anne Widdecombe MP on David Frost's Al Jazeera show; 'Frost over the World'. This was significant in that the show is broadcast to an audience we rarely access - 140 million households internationally (although not, presumably, anything like that many actual viewers) - mostly in the Middle East, where the drug law reform debate is historically some way behind Western Europe and the Americas.

Anne Widdecombe (who was very personable and charming in the green room) is famously outspoken on the issue (she has clashed with Transform before), and one of the most public voices (along with Melanie Phillips) for a particular form of moral authoritarianism in the drugs debate, which is, IMHO, rooted in ideology rather than evidence and rational analysis.
They have more plus links.

It is interesting that even in the most conservative of regions drug policy is now on the table. I'd say that the problem has more than a few people around the world bothered.

H/T Drug Policy Forum of Texas

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Monday, March 30, 2009

Celebrity Drug News

There is a site called CelebStoner that has news about celebrities using drugs. Kind of a Drug War gossip column.

Joe Biden's Daughter Snorting Cocaine?

A friend of Joe Biden's daughter claims to have video of her snorting cocaine. The daughter's name is Ashley. The video is for sale.

The New York Post and Radar online reported that lawyers representing the seller claimed that the footage was of Ashley Biden, 27, a social worker, at a party and initially wanted $2 million for the tape. They described the seller as a "friend" of Miss Biden.

Mr Biden coined the term "drugs czar" and has been an outspoken supporter of the "war on drugs" waged by the United States.
There will be no war on Ashley Biden. You can count on it. The Drug War is for the little people. You have to wonder though what kind of friend would do such a thing? Maybe it was Ashley's friend Heather.
"On the tape a man cuts up five lines of what is said to be cocaine," Radar online reported.

"The woman, who the seller says is Ashley, then jokes with the man that the lines aren't big enough.

"The man hands her a rolled-up dollar bill and she proceeds to walk a few steps to a table where the cocaine is cut. She pulls her hair back, bends down and snorts a line."
A dollar bill for snorting cocaine? It looks like the recession is hurting all segments of the American market. Hard. It is difficult to imagine any self respecting user of Bolivian Marching Powder using anything smaller than a twenty in good times.
There was no immediate response to the allegations from Mr Biden, his daughter or the White House.
An anonymous and totally unreliable source has reported that President "I Snorted" is reputed to have said when he got the news, "Damn, why wasn't I informed there was a party going on?"
The party was said to have taken place in Wilmington, Delaware and the lawyer said that Miss Biden's boyfriend was there and clearly identifiable on the tape.

Miss Biden was arrested in 2002 for shouting at a Chicago policeman who was trying to arrest a disorderly friend outside a nightclub.

She was also arrested in 1999 for marijuana possession while she was a university student in New Orleans. In both cases, charges were later dropped.
Charges were dropped. As I said. The Drug War is for the little people. For the connected there is a "get out of jail free" card. Two arrests and no convictions. And shouting at a policeman? Depending on the neighborhood that can be a capital crime with summary justice administered to the miscreant. In this case it seems it was the officer who dodged the bullet. Shooting a Senator's daughter would definitely be a very bad career move. And if "Drug War" Joe was VP at the time it would have been worse.

One thing is for sure. If the drug laws were enforced fairly the drug war would be ended in short order.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Speech

Have you heard the speech?

"Politicians get reelected talking tough regarding the war on drugs," says Gray. "Do you want to hear the speech? Vote for Gray. I will put drug dealers in jail and save your children."
And who is this Gray guy anyway?
All right, tell me this doesn't sound a little strange:

I'm sitting in Costa Mesa with a silver-haired gent who once ran for Congress as a Republican and used to lock up drug dealers as a federal prosecutor, a man who served as an Orange County judge for 25 years. And what are we talking about? He's begging me to tell you we need to legalize drugs in America.

"Please quote me," says Jim Gray, insisting the war on drugs is hopeless. "What we are doing has failed."
Well, it is a good thing some one has finally noticed.
So here he is in coat and tie -- with a U.S. flag lapel pin -- eating his oatmeal and making perfect sense, even when talking about the way President Obama flippantly dismissed a question about legalizing marijuana last week during a White House news conference.
Here is about a minute of the news conference with Obama dismissing his online supporters who are asking too many marijuana questions.

And evidently there are a lot of folks on the net who don't like this guy's attitude. There is even a list of them.

Here is one I particularly liked:
[Comment From Karen] Not sure making fun of the "online audience" for asking is the best way to have handled that.

[Comment From Josh] Probably not, he turned the question into a joke [...]

Matthew Burton: Josh is right. There will be blowback from this.

[Comment From Karen] Now how many million people feel that they weren't taken seriously? Frustrating. [...]

Matthew Burton: He made it even more likely that the most popular questions in future town halls will be about marijuana

[Comment From Josh] The fact that he made light of one of the most popular questions being asked does not say a whole lot for mr. obama

Joan McCarter: It was a simplistic response on the pot question, particularly in light of the border violence that Napolitano talked about yesterday. There's a connection he could have drawn to give a serious answer.
For a serious answer on anything we are going to need a serious President. That may take a while. Three Years 9 months and 3 weeks more or less.

Despite Mr. Obama's snub of his supporters it looks like the intent of Congress is to get Drug Law Reform by disguising it as Prison Reform and appointing a commission and then getting a report after 18 months. Not exactly on the fast track.
Even as President Barack Obama slapped down the hopes of American marijuana consumers as to his position on legalization, Senator Jim Webb (D-Va) was quietly preparing to introduce major legislation which has the potential to dramatically alter US drug laws.

Calling the US criminal justice system "a national disgrace," two US senators called for a top-to-bottom review with an eye on reforms aimed at reducing America's vast prison population.

Senator Webb, backed by Republican Senator Arlen Specter, introduced legislation to create a blue-ribbon panel that would conduct an 18-month assessment and offer concrete recommendations for reform.

Sen. Webb's legislation enjoys not just bipartisan support, but "quiet encouragement from President Barack Obama," reported The Virginian-Pilot.

"America's criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace," Webb said, noting that the United States has five percent of the world's population but 25 percent of the world's prisoners.

According to a document released by Sen. Webb's office, "Its task will be to propose concrete, wide-ranging reforms to responsibly reduce the overall incarceration rate; improve federal and local responses to international and domestic gang violence; restructure our approach to drug policy; improve the treatment of mental illness; improve prison administration, and establish a system for reintegrating ex-offenders."
When you consider that self medication for mental illness has a lot to do with chronic drug use (you can find out more about that at Treatment vs Recreation), what he is basically planning (if he actually follows the science) is a gutting of the drug control regime as we know it.

And not a minute too soon. In fact when the report finally comes out (they are always late) the next Congress will be in session and that may be too late. Events in Afghanistan and/or Mexico may alter the timetable.

OTOH consider that Senator Webb has been working on this project since October of 2007. So maybe things are going as fast as they can. Sadly.

Primarily A Source Of Cash

Hizballah has set up shop in Mexico and a few points south. It seems they are interested in taking advantage of a business opportunity.

Hezbollah is using the same southern narcotics routes that Mexican drug kingpins do to smuggle drugs and people into the United States, reaping money to finance its operations and threatening U.S. national security, current and former U.S. law enforcement, defense and counterterrorism officials say.

The Iran-backed Lebanese group has long been involved in narcotics and human trafficking in South America's tri-border region of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Increasingly, however, it is relying on Mexican narcotics syndicates that control access to transit routes into the U.S.

Hezbollah relies on "the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers and transportation experts as the drug cartels," said Michael Braun, who just retired as assistant administrator and chief of operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

"They work together," said Mr. Braun. "They rely on the same shadow facilitators. One way or another, they are all connected.

"They'll leverage those relationships to their benefit, to smuggle contraband and humans into the U.S.; in fact, they already are [smuggling]."

His comments were confirmed by six U.S. officials, including law enforcement, defense and counterterrorism specialists. They spoke on the condition that they not be named because of the sensitivity of the topic.
So let me see if I get this. Through the magic of prohibition we are paying criminals and terrorists tens of billions of dollars every year to breach our borders. The brilliance of a policy like that can't be underestimated especially when sold as a protective measure. Protect from what? The free availability of illegal drugs. Which are in fact freely available. It is about as whack as believing socialism can work for large nations. Or believing in gun prohibition. A lot of my 2nd Amendment friends tell me that gun prohibition can never work. And they are right. Unfortunately a lot of them don't seem to be able to generalize.

Where were we? Oh yeah. Smugglers. And Hizballah.
While Hezbollah appears to view the U.S. primarily as a source of cash - and there have been no confirmed Hezbollah attacks within the U.S. - the group's growing ties with Mexican drug cartels are particularly worrisome at a time when a war against and among Mexican narco-traffickers has killed 7,000 people in the past year and is destabilizing Mexico along the U.S. border.
Primarily a source of cash. For now.

You have to hand it to a policy that finances our enemies in Afghanistan and Mexico and supports criminals in America. And especially that it is sold as a protection racket. "If you don't support drug prohibition your kids will have easy access to drugs and all become addicts." Except that currently pot is easier for kids to get than beer. Say didn't we have beer prohibition at one time? Yes we did. And wasn't one of the reasons we ended it was that kids were coming to school drunk? Yes it was. Have we learned anything from the alcohol prohibition experience? Look at the evidence.

H/T Drug Policy Forum of Texas

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Industrial Production

America has an industrial strength system for producing criminals. Senator Jim Webb is not happy about it.

America's criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace. Its irregularities and inequities cut against the notion that we are a society founded on fundamental fairness. Our failure to address this problem has caused the nation's prisons to burst their seams with massive overcrowding, even as our neighborhoods have become more dangerous. We are wasting billions of dollars and diminishing millions of lives.

We need to fix the system. Doing so will require a major nationwide recalculation of who goes to prison and for how long and of how we address the long-term consequences of incarceration. Twenty-five years ago, I went to Japan on assignment for PARADE to write a story on that country's prison system. In 1984, Japan had a population half the size of ours and was incarcerating 40,000 sentenced offenders, compared with 580,000 in the United States. As shocking as that disparity was, the difference between the countries now is even more astounding--and profoundly disturbing. Since then, Japan's prison population has not quite doubled to 71,000, while ours has quadrupled to 2.3 million.
Let me see, 2.3 million divided by 71,000 is about a factor of 32. So we have 32 times as many prisoners per capita as Japan does. The disparity seems excessive. Senator Webb agrees.
The United States has by far the world's highest incarceration rate. With 5% of the world's population, our country now houses nearly 25% of the world's reported prisoners. We currently incarcerate 756 inmates per 100,000 residents, a rate nearly five times the average worldwide of 158 for every 100,000. In addition, more than 5 million people who recently left jail remain under "correctional supervision," which includes parole, probation, and other community sanctions. All told, about one in every 31 adults in the United States is in prison, in jail, or on supervised release. This all comes at a very high price to taxpayers: Local, state, and federal spending on corrections adds up to about $68 billion a year.
In these days of trillion dollar budgets $68 billion dollars doesn't seem like a whole lot. But consider this: $68 billion is enough money to completely fund experiments on every type of fusion device known to man until there is a functioning net power generator. That includes things like ITER (which is already way over budget), Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) which is a very low budget operation, Cold Fusion which is not well understood, and a host of other schemes and devices. Then we take the $68 billion we are going to spend next year and put it into wind power research, the following year liquid fuels, another year energy storage, etc. So what am I saying? That the "investments" in the prison industrial complex are not giving us a good rate of return compared to some alternatives.

Senator Webb then goes into the why of it.
Over the past two decades, we have been incarcerating more and more people for nonviolent crimes and for acts that are driven by mental illness or drug dependence. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 16% of the adult inmates in American prisons and jails--which means more than 350,000 of those locked up--suffer from mental illness, and the percentage in juvenile custody is even higher. Our correctional institutions are also heavily populated by the "criminally ill," including inmates who suffer from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis.
The "criminally ill" include not only those who come to prison with an illness but also those who have contracted their conditions in prison.

And what is the heart of incarceration mania?
Drug offenders, most of them passive users or minor dealers, are swamping our prisons. According to data supplied to Congress' Joint Economic Committee, those imprisoned for drug offenses rose from 10% of the inmate population to approximately 33% between 1984 and 2002. Experts estimate that this increase accounts for about half of the dramatic escalation in the total number imprisoned over that period. Yet locking up more of these offenders has done nothing to break up the power of the multibillion-dollar illegal drug trade. Nor has it brought about a reduction in the amounts of the more dangerous drugs--such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines--that are reaching our citizens.

Justice statistics also show that 47.5% of all the drug arrests in our country in 2007 were for marijuana offenses. Additionally, nearly 60% of the people in state prisons serving time for a drug offense had no history of violence or of any significant selling activity. Indeed, four out of five drug arrests were for possession of illegal substances, while only one out of five was for sales. Three-quarters of the drug offenders in our state prisons were there for nonviolent or purely drug offenses. And although experts have found little statistical difference among racial groups regarding actual drug use, African-Americans--who make up about 12% of the total U.S. population--accounted for 37% of those arrested on drug charges, 59% of those convicted, and 74% of all drug offenders sentenced to prison.
It is almost like we have figured out how to reimpliment Jim Crow without mentioning race at all. We just tell our police: arrest the drug offenders. You know who (wink, nod) - those people. Stay out of Beverly Hills which is full of fine upstanding citizens who can cause a lot of political heat and focus on Compton where we can handle things our way.

So it doesn't have to be Jim Crow by design. It could be Jim Crow as an emergent property of the system. It is still Jim Crow.

H/T Drug Policy Forum of Texas

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Not A Drug Free America

David E. Krahl, the former Deputy Director of Drug Free America Foundation has had a change of heart about medical marijuana.

Contrary to scientific opinion, the U.S. government still posits that marijuana has no medical value. Not only has the government used this position to harmfully intrude in the lives of our most vulnerable citizens, it has done so with scorn for the voters and legislatures that enacted state medical marijuana laws. Even though the White House had earlier indicated its intent to end federal raids in medical marijuana states, the yet still-seated Bush Administration officials continued a policy of rabid enforcement based on expediency. For example, even after President Obama took office on January 20, six licensed medical marijuana dispensaries were raided by the DEA.

There was a point in my professional career as Deputy Director of the Drug Free America Foundation when I supported the prohibition of marijuana as medicine. But then, I experienced a change of heart, if you will; a moment of clarity, an epiphany.
About time. One thing about all these "epiphany" guys is that they will spout the party line as long as some one is paying them. Once the pay checks stop coming they change their tune. Funny how that works.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Keep An Eye On Polywell

Agora Financials has something interesting to say about Polywell Fusion.

Polywell fusion technology could be the biggest monkey wrench in the history of markets,” writes our technology adviser Patrick Cox. If you’re unfamiliar (we certainly were), fusion is often tagged as one potential “fuel of the future.” Instead of splitting atoms, like the nuclear fission we use today, it fuses them.

“Polywell,” explains Patrick, “is a different approach to fusion energy that’s generating huge buzz in tech circles. If, as proponents claim, commercial polywell fusion is only four or five years away, it would be the biggest monkey wrench in the history of markets. It would be both good and bad, however.

“It promises energy so cheap as to be virtually free. Some scientists believe that power would be driven down to 1% or less of its current cost. Even if it were 5% or 10%, though, the impact would be staggering.

“The economic roots of global poverty would disappear. Within a decade, desalinized water, food, transportation and most physical goods would plummet in price. The Third World would achieve a higher standard of living than the First World enjoys today. The First World would have options that are almost inconceivable. Whole sectors would collapse, but new ones would rise and more than compensate for the lost equity values.”

It almost goes without saying: This technology still has many hurdles to clear. “But the chance that polywell is what the scientists say it is, however, requires that we watch this very, very closely,” says Patrick.

I do take issue with one point. I think energy at 1% of today's cost is a long ways into the future if it ever comes. However, estimates of 10% of current costs are certainly reasonable with initial production units coming in at 50% of current electrical energy costs. All of which assumes it will work. Which is so far unproven. However, the work the US Navy is doing could provide the proof - one way or the other. More money (a few tens of millions) would give us the answer faster. If the answer is positive a net power producer test reactor at a cost of $100 million or so (engineering, fabrication, tests) would be in order. If that worked out we could go ahead on an electrical power generating unit and production facilities at a probable investment cost of $1 billion. However, a billion in investment money would not be hard to raise at that point.

Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained
Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been fully funded by the Obama administration?

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Thursday, March 26, 2009


H/T Commenter Wes from Four Times As Much

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Amy Needs Some Readers

I just learned from Dr. Helen that Amy Alkon "The Advice Goddess" needs some readers. You can start here.

If you want to do more, Amy has a book Free Advice. Read it.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Some Euros Have A Spine

Now if only we had a few more like him in the US.

H/T National Review

Cross Posted at Classical Values

The Reds Are In Charge

Debt Load

A nice graphic to go with my previous post Four Times As Much. The graphic was originally done by The Washington Post.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Pack Your Ermines

H/T Lee Cary at American Thinker which has a nice scorecard so you can keep track of the players.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Four Times As Much

It seems that the Government of Mr. Obama has plans to run up a debt four times as big as George Bush did.

President Barack Obama's budget would produce $9.3 trillion in deficits over the next decade, more than four times the deficits of Republican George W. Bush's presidency, congressional auditors said Friday.

The new Congressional Budget Office figures offered a far more dire outlook for Obama's budget than the new administration predicted just last month — a deficit $2.3 trillion worse. It's a prospect even the president's own budget director called unsustainable.

In his White House run, Obama assailed the economic policies of his predecessor, but the eye-popping deficit numbers threaten to swamp his ambitious agenda of overhauling health care, exploring new energy sources and enacting scores of domestic programs.

The dismal deficit figures, if they prove to be accurate, inevitably raise the prospect that Obama and his Democratic allies controlling Congress would have to consider raising taxes after the recession ends or else pare back his agenda.

By CBO's calculation, Obama's budget would generate deficits averaging almost $1 trillion a year of red ink over 2010-2019.

Worst of all, CBO says the deficit under Obama's policies would never go below 4 percent of the size of the economy, figures that economists agree are unsustainable. By the end of the decade, the deficit would exceed 5 percent of gross domestic product, a dangerously high level.
Fortunately that is based on optimistic projections. If more a pessimistic scenario emerges in fact the debt run up will be higher.

And that does not even factor in the fact that the Fed is printing money to buy T Bills.

Thank the Maker we elected the Smartest President Ever™. Because just think of the mess we would be in had we elected another dummy like Bush.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

A New Hope: Cold Fusion

Cold fusion is back in the news.

If cold fusion can be made to work, it could power the world cheaply on a virtually limitless supply of seawater. But scientists don't even know if it's possible.

Now a new study has produced evidence for the existence of low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR), the new name for the controversial process labeled "cold fusion" two decades ago.

Fusion is the energy source of the sun and other stars. It occurs when atomic nuclei are combined. Today's nuclear plants employ fission, the splitting of nuclei. Scientists have been striving for decades to tap fusion to produce electricity from an abundant fuel called deuterium that can be extracted from seawater. Fusion would not come with the radioactive byproducts of fission.

At a meeting of the American Chemical Society, the scientists described today what they claim is the first clear visual evidence that LENR devices can produce neutrons, subatomic particles that scientists view as tell-tale signs that nuclear reactions are occurring.

In all, 30 papers on the topic will be presented at the meeting this week as part of a 20th anniversary nod to the first description of cold fusion.

Today's announcement was not just a birthday wish, however.

"Our finding is very significant," said chemist Pamela Mosier-Boss of the U.S. Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR) in San Diego, Calif. "To our knowledge, this is the first scientific report of the production of highly energetic neutrons from an LENR device."
That is very interesting. So far all the cold fusion guys have been able to do is to create low grade heat. Good enough for warming your coffee. Not good enough to boil water. In any case understanding what is going on will probably be useful one way or another.

I like this fusion method when it comes to generating mass quantities of energy:

Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been fully funded by the Obama administration?

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Monday, March 23, 2009

So Much Pain

I was reading the reviews of Cracked: Life on the Edge in a Rehab Clinic and came across this bit from a review.

Coming from a family of alcoholics, I felt one of the most important points Dr. Drew stresses is compassion. An addict/alcoholic is in so much pain, which is hard to understand, ...
Now that is mostly about chronic alcohol users. However, I think it fits the pattern of most chronic drug users. People chronically take pain medication because they have chronic pain. And what is the western medicine attitude towards pain? If you can't fix it you can at least medicate it. Keep the patient comfortable. And that is usually the case. Except for those who self medicate. In many cases they are denied pain medication even for "acceptable" pain.

I was writing about this four years ago in Addiction or Self Medication?. The whole point of the drug war is insane. Making war on pain relief. Well I wrote about that too in The Pain Enforcement Administration and in Is Your Pain Legal?. Because you can't make war on pain relievers without harming those whose job it is to provide pain relief. Or those individuals needing pain relievers for unusual periods or in unusual quantities or for undiagnosed pain.

Their Motto Is "Don't Tread On Me"

A little Tea Party Music maestro.

Goddamn, well I declare, have you seen the like?
Their walls are built of cannonballs, their motto is
Don't tread on me. Come hear Uncle John's Band playing
To the tide, come with me, or go alone.

Don't Tread On Me

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Next Bubble

You can see it coming. The next big bubble. Marijuana. Why do I say that? Because there are courses available at Marijuana University on how to profit from the coming boom in quasi legal marijuana.

Under a microscope, it’s easy to tell really good marijuana from schwag. Look for trichomes. On the best pot, they cluster, thick and crystalline, indicators of potency. If you’re training to become a professional pot dealer, as I was last fall, it’s important to be able to pick out the good stuff. Your livelihood will depend on it. Fortunately, I had expert instruction, along with strains of varying quality to examine for my pedagogical benefit. Ranked from best to worst, they were Blueberry, Grand Daddy Purple, and Mango. Appraising them was, truth be told, slightly nerve-racking, since the assignment was sprung as a sort of pop quiz. It was part of an advanced seminar on growing and selling marijuana in which I had enrolled at the Los Angeles campus of Oaksterdam University, a new trade school founded in Oakland and devoted to the booming business of growing and dispensing medical marijuana. Or, as we liked to call it around campus, “cannabusiness.”
And what happens when the government stops propping up prices with prohibition? Marijuana with a current value of $6,000 a pound will go down to the price of hot house vegetables. A few dollars a pound. At most. Where will that leave those with a fair amount of cash invested in a grow op? Busted with unsalable assets. Just the way all bubbles end.

Oh. Yeah. I forgot to mention that the California State Government is proposing a $1,600 a lb tax on marijuana. That should provide an economic floor and keep the black market more or less intact.

H/T Drug Policy Forum of Texas

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Time To Bail Out

Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.

Ronald Reagan

Torture Or Cosmetology?

Some people think this is torture.

Last week, the Daily News reported that the board had introduced a proposal to ban genital waxing in New Jersey's spas and salons, something the board claimed was already illegal but never spelled out in the regulations.

The board cited public safety as a main issue, saying that two women injured by Brazilian waxes had come forward with complaints. One of them filed a lawsuit.

Salon owners, including Orsuto, felt that the ban would strip women of a popular, albeit painful, procedure and only contribute to unsafe conditions. Many women, the owners claimed, would try to wax themselves or visit unlicensed spas to maintain hair-free.
I can just see it now: "Talk or we will pull your pubic hairs out. Painfully." With the response "But that is torture." Followed by the counter: "Nope. Legal cosmetology in New Jersey. People pay to have this done. We are giving it to you for free."

I swear. If someone threatened to wax me I might just talk.

But there are markets to consider. People (women especially) pay to have this done. Has any one considered the market for people who would like to watch the procedure? And what woman wouldn't like to receive a bikini wax certificate for her birthday, anniversary, or that special holiday for lovers - Valentine's Day? And for do it yourselfers there is a NSFW video. Seriously. It is an actual instructional video. You have to imagine the good parts. And the screaming.

And that is not all. You can buy the products used in the instructional video at Amazon. Torture or Cosmetology? Well this is America. You can have both for the same low price.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Classical Values

No Accident

guy on internet had something interesting to say in response to Welfare For The Rich.

All consumption-based tax credits are "for the rich," or at least the not-poor. You have to buy them, while whatever poor people buy a disproportionate lot of gets "sin" taxed at above the highest marginal income-tax rate.

That's not all a bunch of accidents.
I'm beginning to see a pattern.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Friday, March 20, 2009

More Welfare For The Rich

It looks like we not only have Welfare for the Rich. We have another case of the same welfare. Want a $50,000 electric sports car? Have we got a deal for you.

When Tesla formally announced the Model S Sedan last June, the MSRP bandied was about $60,000 for the all-electric sedan. In its newsletter today, Tesla has confirmed that the "anticipated base price" for the Model S will be $57,400. With a federal tax credit of $7,500 available, however, the Model S should cost just $49,900. Details on what's included in the base version of the Model S should be available at the vehicle's official unveiling next week.
What a great deal. For a bailed out banker. Or a Fannie Mae executive.

I think this whole deal is supposed to work on the trickle down theory. First the rich get the cars and then when they become used cars the rest of us have a chance. Now I believe in trickle down myself. If it weren't for used cars I wouldn't have a car. But please. Couldn't we do it without subsidies?

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Picture is Worth A Trillion Dollars

PDO vs CO2
Click for larger view

A picture is worth 1,000 words sometimes. Sometimes it is worth a trillion dollars. This one could be worth even more if it explains global temperatures better than the IPPC's computer extrapolations.

This graph is the work of Syun-Ichi Akasofu who has a few words on climate.
Akasofu is one of the 400 scientists listed in a report issued by the Republican minority of the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works entitled Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007 who were said to dispute the theory of anthropogenic global warming.
And that is not even counting the solar guys who think that we may be entering an era of very low sunspot activity which may lead through mechanisms not fully understood to a Maunder Minimum type ice age. What ever happens we are sure going to learn a lot. One thing we do know for sure about politicians. They prefer to never let a crisis go to waste. Real or imagined. Makes no difference. If they could get people to fear ghosts they would raise a tax on exorcisms.

H/T seedload at Talk Polywell

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Grassley Fights Grass

This is exactly what is wrong with the Republican Party.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley criticized the Obama administration Thursday for moving to loosen restrictions on medical marijuana.

At a gathering to discuss health care reform, the Iowa lawmaker criticized the Justice Department's new policy of targeting California's medical marijuana distributors only if they violate both federal and state law.
When even former Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey comes out for legalization of marijuana for adults you can tell the Republican Party is out of step with the nation. Depending on the survey between 55% and 85% of Americans favor medical marijuana. When medical marijuana is on the ballot it almost invariably does well. In fact it is so popular that some state legislatures are passing laws. On top of that Grassley is passing out discredited bromides like "mother's milk leads to harder drugs". Actually mother's milk contains marijuana analogs. It has a soothing effect on babies and makes them want to eat (well drink) more. In tests with mice - babies that didn't get their full quota of marijuana analogs didn't do well. Uh. Where was I? Distracted by breastfeeding mothers I fear.

So why is the Republican Senator denying the will of the people? I was under the impression that politics was all about winning elections, but it is entirely possible that I have a mistaken view of the process.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Welfare For The Rich

Are you in the market for a new car this year? I thought not. But if you are Mr. Obama has a deal for you.

Los Angeles (myFOXla.com) - President Barack Obama announced today in Pomona that his administration will help put a million plug-in hybrids on the road by 2015 and offer $7,500 tax credits for people who buy them.

Obama, appearing at Southern California Edison's electrical vehicle technical center, where next-generation car batteries are being made, said the incentives are part of an overall plan to upgrade the nation's energy infrastructure.

He said the country has not made independence from foreign oil a priority, noting that the 1908 Model T Ford got better mileage than a typical sport utility vehicle in 2008.

"So the problem isn't a lack of technology," he said. "You're producing the technology right here. The problem is that, for decades, we have avoided doing what must be done as a nation to turn challenge into opportunity.
And what is the challenge? Producing a hybrid at a low enough cost so that you at least break even on the gasoline saved vs. the added cost. And what will a $7,500 subsidy for those who can afford a new car do? It will maintain the price differential between a hybrid and a conventional vehicle at $7,500. Now this might be viable if it was something like $7,500 the first year and $6,500 the second, etc. down to zero. The same thing we should be doing to wind subsidies. However, I see nothing like that in the plan.

There is in the plan $1 billion dollars (only a billion? is that significant?) to upgrade the electrical grid. If that goes into R & D to develop components for HVDC transmission, or carbon nanotube conductors and high power transistors, or the Smart Grid initiative we might actually get something useful for the money. OTOH if they are just going out and buying stuff it will not help much at all.

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been fully funded by the Obama administration?

Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Commit Suicide

This is just amazing.

AIG Vice Chairman and Chief Marketing Officer Robert G. Krebs suggested that Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT), Charles Grassley (D-IA) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) take a "Japanese approach" toward accepting responsibility for the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by resigning or killing themselves.

"In all candor, I don't know why they're so exercised by some bonuses. These pathetic excuses for politicians cost the taxpayers trillions of dollars and, worst of all, they're still in power."

"I suggest they ought to be removed," Krebs said. "But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they'd follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I'm sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide. And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology."
Unfortunately it is not true. A guy had a dream. And you know, in America, a guy still can dream.

H/T Instapundit

A New Black Market

It its attempt to turn the USA into the USSR, Congress is proposing to outlaw legal farmer's markets.

What this will do is force anyone who produces food of any kind, and then transports it to a different location for sale, to register with a new federal agency called the “Food Safety Administration.” Even growers who sell just fruit and/or vegetables at farmers markets would not only have to register, but they would be subject inspections by federal agents of their property and all records related to food production. The frequency of these inspections will be determined by the whim of the Food Safety Administration. Mandatory “safety” records would have to be kept. Anyone who fails to register and comply with all of this nonsense could be facing a fine of up to $1,000,000 per violation.

I’ve bought food at several farmers markets for years and I have yet to meet any vendors who are fond of the government. I think it’s pretty safe to say that most vendors at farmers markets won’t go along with this. The problem will be that the people who run the farmers markets will be forced to make sure that vendors are “registered” with the government.
Funny thing is that not even the USSR was this stupid. Private sales of food were all that stood between many people in the Soviet Union and starvation. The private plots on State Farms kept the Soviets going for forty years. In America we will be limited to what we can produce ourselves or what the food cartel provides.

This is just another small step down the road to a fascist state. We are mesmerized by ownership of property when the real question these days is control. That was the argument between Germany and the Soviet Union in 1941. Is the optimum socialist state based on ownership or control? Obviously the ownership socialists have lost out to the control socialists. It turns out control is better because it is easier to evade the rules. Being unable to cheat the rules or bribe some one to evade them adds a lot of friction to an economy. Of course control socialism inevitably leads to cartelization. Because big companies can scrape up more loose cash to influence the controllers.

Can the government keep the economy within its authorized channels? With the black market in America making up between 20% and 40% of the domestic economy, I don't see how. That does not mean they won't make further efforts to try.

However, we have to recognize that our economy was effectively nationalized with the Supreme Court's 1942 decision in Wickard v. Filburn and recently confirmed in Gonzales v. Raich. It seems that Progressives Rewrote the Constitution and now we are in a situation that is getting Progressively Worse.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Hello Walls

It seems the Most Inexperienced President Ever™ is having one or two problems with his first two months in office.

For all his articulateness and gift for oratory, this president seems to be spending his time in the Oval Office walking into walls. He has botched up more things in two months in office than most presidents manage over two terms, amply illustrating the campaign charge that his inexperience equipped him for next to nothing.

I was particularly shocked at how he engaged in fear mongering as he won rush-job passage of a sloppily constructed, do-little stimulus package that reversed the welfare reforms widely considered the most important achievement of the Clinton years. Now he whistles an optimistic tune. Did he finally get it that the more you talk down the economy, the further down it goes?

The likelier truth is that, after fear did its designated job, he turned booster as a way of justifying what could be the biggest, most costly budget that has ever come our way. Given that we have tens of trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities from Social Security and Medicare and will spend incredible amounts to lift the economy, a very real possibility with such a budget is hyperinflation destroying the savings of everyone.
I don't know about hyper inflation but, I'm (sadly) pretty confident we are in for a bout of inflation at rates above 10% a year.

A lot of folks are now claiming that the Obama in Office is not the Obama they voted for. Americans have elected an inexperienced, Chicago machine politician with a lot of crooked pals, to the Presidency based on vague promises of hope and change. Well a lot of us saw this coming and tried to warn the rest of you. Three Years 10 months and 1 day to go. About 46 more months. How much worse can it get? Unfortunately we have 46 more months to find out.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Knock Yourself Out

It seems our most esteemed Drug War General, Barry McCaffrey, is no longer towing the Government line on marijuana at least. He in effect says legalize it for adults. Also note why he couldn't say it before. He was muzzled by government. I wonder if our new Drug Czar will have the same problem?

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Monday, March 16, 2009

Special Interests

One of Mr. Obama's supporters says that a cabal of special interests is working to defeat his latest budget.

"Partisan voices and special interests are showing real resistance to President Obama's call for making the necessary reforms and investments in energy, health care, and education," Mitch Stewart, Director of Organizing for America wrote in an email to supporters, "That's why we need to bring the conversation back into homes and communities across America."
Ah yes. Special interests. Taxpayers. The way things are going taxpayers will soon be in the minority. So maybe he has a point.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Not A Believer

I just found out that I don't believe in GOD. And I can tell you that I couldn't be happier.

Government Of Democrats

Of course I'd like to see Republicans get a spine. Every time they want to spend like drunken sailors all they have to do is say: "but I'm against abortion". And the Republican faithful say "well um, OK, I guess, maybe" and the big spenders get a pass. That is how we got Mike "Food Police" Huckabee in the primaries. He didn't stand for anything that could be considered Republican except "you know where I stand on abortion".

And naturally the Democrats take the opposite tack. "I'm for abortion, pay no attention to the earmarks for my contributors."

All this attention to the plumbing. While the bastards steal us blind.

H/T Volokh Conspiracy comments.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Perfect One

Obama is NOT Jesus. Jesus knew how to put a cabinet together.

I guess that’s the difference between the two Messiahs. Obama spends and Jesus saves.

Followers of The One will find The Story of O very helpful for the New Age. You will be abused and you will love it.

Somewhere in Chicago, a community is missing its organizer.

Some of the above was stolen from these comments. Some I just made up myself.

H/T Eric at Classical Values.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

The Bloom Is Off The Rose

The honeymoon that any new President generally gets (typically 100 days) is over. About 40 days early. Bad news for The One.

President Obama’s honeymoon is beginning to fade.

Members of Congress and old political hands say he needs to show substantial progress reviving the economy soon.

Some Democrats have started to worry that voters don’t and won’t understand the link between economic revival and Obama’s huge agenda, which includes saving the banking industry, ending home foreclosures, reforming healthcare and developing a national energy policy, among much else.
It is always possible that people don't understand the connection because there is none. Or worse because the proposed solutions will make things worse.
Democrats from states racked by recession say Obama needs to produce an uptick by August or face unpleasant consequences. Others say that there is more time, but that voters need to see improvement by the middle of next year.

The most optimistic say Obama and Democrats in Congress will face a political backlash unless the economy improves by Election Day 2010.

“We’ve got to see an uptick by August or the Democratic majority is in jeopardy,” said Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), whose state had an 11.6 percent unemployment rate in January.
The economy will quite possibly be coming back by August however, employment usually lags the economy by one to three years. That can't be good for Democrats. Especially if the recent rise of Wall Street is not really a leading indicator but just another dead cat bounce.

Mr. Obama has some convincing to do. It is not just Wall Street and Main Street. Now it is his own party.
Confronting misgivings, even in his own party, President Barack Obama mounted a stout defense of his blueprint to overhaul the economy Thursday, declaring the national crisis is "not as bad as we think" and his plans will speed recovery.

Challenged to provide encouragement as the nation's "confidence builder in chief," Obama said Americans shouldn't be whipsawed by bursts of either bad or good news and he was "highly optimistic" about the long term.

The president's proposals for major health care, energy and education changes in the midst of economic hard times faced skepticism from both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, as senators questioned his budget outlook and the deficits it envisions in the middle of the next decade.
Yeah. How about those deficits.

There is at least one Republican who is not happy with Mr. Obama's budget. Only one? Well a lot actually. But this one is important because he can run the numbers.
It was obvious to most Capitol Hill insiders why President Obama wanted Republican Judd Gregg as a member of his cabinet: He's one of the sharpest money-minds in Congress.

But instead of getting Gregg's counsel within the administration, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner found himself today of the receiving end of Gregg's fiscal conservative wrath.

In a hearing before the Senate Budget Committee Gregg dressed down Geithner with facts, figures, and charts. While always keeping his cool, the exchange was somewhere between a mother's scolding, a drill sergeant's questioning and an attorney's cross examination.

In his opening statement, Gregg politely called the administration's budget forecast a lie.

"The argument that it cuts the debt in half in four years is, ahh, is truly spurious," he told Geithner.

President Obama himself gives Gregg's comments a sense of stinging credibility. When the president introduced Gregg as his nominee for Commerce Secretary last month, he said Gregg is known for is fiscal discipline.

"He shares my deep-seated commitment to guaranteeing that our children inherit a future they can afford," Obama said.

Today, the president's compliment of Gregg turned into an attack on Geithner. Gregg said the budget is essentially "putting on our children's backs a debt they can never get out from underneath."
You know. That reflects a significant portion of what Main Street thinks.

Ace of Spades is looking at Main Street and quotes some interesting reports.
It is simply wrong for commentators to continue to focus on President Barack Obama's high levels of popularity, and to conclude that these are indicative of high levels of public confidence in the work of his administration. Indeed, a detailed look at recent survey data shows that the opposite is most likely true. The American people are coming to express increasingly significant doubts about his initiatives, and most likely support a different agenda and different policies from those that the Obama administration has advanced.

Polling data show that Mr. Obama's approval rating is dropping and is below where George W. Bush was in an analogous period in 2001. Rasmussen Reports data shows that Mr. Obama's net presidential approval rating -- which is calculated by subtracting the number who strongly disapprove from the number who strongly approve -- is just six, his lowest rating to date.
Well so far he is still in plus territory. Good for him. He is no where near Democrat Congress territory. Yet.
Recent Gallup data echo these concerns. That polling shows that there are deep-seeded, underlying economic concerns. Eighty-three percent say they are worried that the steps Mr. Obama is taking to fix the economy may not work and the economy will get worse. Eighty-two percent say they are worried about the amount of money being added to the deficit. Seventy-eight percent are worried about inflation growing, and 69% say they are worried about the increasing role of the government in the U.S. economy.
Now those are some astounding numbers. And 69% are worried about the role of the government in the US economy? Where were they during the election when Mr. Obama was making all his promises to intervene in banking, energy, and health care. What? Mr. McCain was making similar promises? Never mind. Maybe next time we can get a Republican to run on the Republican ticket. Of course things could have been worse for the Republicans. We could have had Huckabee and the food police. Now there was one socialist I could not believe in. In fact I couldn't believe he was a Republican. Well, as I said previously, fiscal conservatism and social conservatism are not necessarily convergent. In fact they seem to be divergent and that divergence appears to be tearing the Republicans apart. Good. The Republicans have to decide if they are the moral socialist party or the fiscal conservative party. A good place to start that is to ask yourself: which is the bigger tent? Which will be the bigger tent given demographic trends? I could answer the question for you but I prefer to let you do your own research and come to your own conclusions.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Fundamentally Sound

Yep. Mr. Obama says that we need to focus on the fundamentally sound parts of the economy.

On Friday, the president called on Americans to keep "focused on all the fundamentally sound aspects of our economy." The phrase had a familiar ring. During the heat of the presidential campaign last September, Obama ridiculed rival John McCain when he declared, "The fundamentals of our economy are strong."
Now he tells us.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Where Do These Kids Come From?

Christian America

I was reading a blog by some college kids, the Undercurrent, that looks at the contradictions of the present Republican coalition.
In the aftermath of the substantial Democratic victory in last November’s election, Republicans nationwide are reported to be doing a great deal of “soul searching.” Indeed they should. After all, times are not looking good for the Republican Party. Former President Bush left office with record-low support, and both houses of Congress, along with the White House, are now solidly Democratic. Michael Steele, a former lieutenant governor and recently elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, attributed the Republican loss in the last election to a lack of understanding of what the party stood for. In his words, “We didn’t have anything to say to the American people other than, ‘We’re not Democrats.’”
Mr. Steele was not being entirely correct. What he should have said is that the Republicans want to go slowly towards government control of the economy and the Democrats want to go fast.
Saxby Chambliss, the newly re-elected Republican senator from Georgia, has echoed Steele, calling on the party to return to its principles.

But what principles are those? Historically, the political philosophy of the Republican Party has been an amalgam of advocacy for small government and capitalism, combined with support for religion and traditional values. The more capitalist element of the party tends to concern itself primarily with economic policy, traditionally supporting less government spending, lower taxes and deregulation. By contrast, the religionist element of the party tends to focus on social policy.
Ah. Yes. Social policy. Isn't social the root of socialism. Yes it is. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not against social relations. I'm against them at the point of a government gun. What I call moral socialism.

Which brings us to the inherent contradictions between the two elements of the party.
This clash in policy positions is the result of two distinct sets of political principles. In the past, both sides coexisted in an uneasy alliance, but over time the disagreements between them have become too great to reconcile. This is unsurprising: the two sets of political principles are grounded in two opposing ethical systems.

Capitalism upholds each individual’s right to exist for his own sake, independent from any group. Its moral foundation is rational self-interest. According to this morality, the good is the pursuit of one’s own happiness. Religion, on the other hand, implies a system where each individual exists to serve the group or greater good. Christian tradition is rife with admonishments against selfishness: “we are our brother’s keepers” is an obvious example. This sentiment represents the moral code of altruism, which holds fulfilling the needs of others as a moral imperative. The welfare state is a natural extension of this tenet. People need money, education, sanitation, transportation, etc. Under a religious (i.e. altruistic) morality, we are obligated to satisfy these needs for those unwilling or unable to do so themselves.

How can one reconcile these opposing beliefs? How can one unite the religious demand to selflessly help the needy through welfare state agencies (such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) with the capitalist insistence that an individual’s primary responsibility is achieving his own well-being? Where is the compromise between the religionist’s call to force children to pray in school and the capitalist’s call to maintain a barrier between church and state? How can one bring together the principle that a woman’s life is her own (the morality of rational self-interest), with the edict that a woman has a duty to protect the growth of an embryo (the morality of religion)?

The answer is that one can’t. There is no way to reconcile an individualistic, self-interested morality and an altruistic morality of religious duties. Politically, this means there is no way to support both capitalist and religious policies. “The party of principle,” as the GOP often calls itself, is currently governed by two sets of principles that fundamentally contradict one another.
I think the idea Jesus had about the separation of private morality from governance is the correct guiding principle. We seem to have a lot of Christians in America and very few followers of Jesus. I think Jesus said render unto Cesar. I don't recall him saying become Cesar. Did you know that the word czar comes from the word Cesar? And yet Bill Bennett our first Drug Czar is supposed to be a hell of a Christian. In fact he wrote a book, The BOOK OF VIRTUES, explaining how we can become more virtuous. I wonder if becoming a dictator (Cesar) is what he had in mind?
The first years of President Obama’s administration provide the Republican Party with an opportunity to redefine itself. To do so, Republicans first need to decide what they stand for. They can become the party that promotes individual rights, small government, and capitalism, or they can become an ever more theocratic, intrusive, and socialist party.
So even the author of this article is calling the Christianist elements of the party socialist. Good. It is catching on.

Now do I want to drive the Christianists out of the party? Of course not. I'd like to see them welcomed as long as they are willing to give up their moral socialism. And let me add that there is nothing wrong with socialism as long as people who want to practice it do it on their own dime. What I object to is having it enforced with government guns.

In any case it may not matter what I think should be done. The moral socialist in the Republican Party are a dying breed. I wish them well in their next life as long as they leave me alone in this one. Which is why I'm a member of the leave us alone coalition. And we even have our own flag too.
Don't Tread On Me
A word to the wise ought to be sufficient. Generally it isn't though. More through lack of wisdom than a lack of words. As the old saying goes "experience is a hard teacher, some men will have no other."

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Experiments In Government

Sea Steading

There are plans afoot for a floating city off the coast of San Francisco.
A floating city off the coast of San Francisco may sound like science fiction, but it could be reality in the not-too-distant future.

The Seasteading Institute already has drawn up plans for the construction of a homestead on the Pacific Ocean.

One project engineer described the prototype as similar to a cruise ship, but from a distance the cities might look like oil-drilling platforms.
That is very interesting. But it is not the most interesting part of the plan.
According to the plans, the floating cities would not only look different from their land-based counterparts, but they might operate differently, too.

Patri Friedman, a former Google engineer who now works for the Seasteading Institute, said floating cities are the perfect places to experiment with new forms of government.

Some of the new political ideas the group is tossing around include legalizing marijuana and making intellectual property communal -- so that everyone would take ownership in art produced on the city at sea.

"The idea isn't just about getting away from rules or getting rid of rules. It's about a system that encourages experimentation with different political systems," he said.
Now that sounds very libertarian to me. And being of a libertarian persuasion myself I find the whole idea very appealing.

In the late 1880s people were lamenting the closing of the American frontier. This could portend the opening of a new American frontier. I wonder if they have considered the need for a Navy for protection from pirates?

And what will they do for power? Too bad they can't buy a Bussard Fusion Reactor off the shelf.

Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained
Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been fully funded by the Obama administration?

You can learn even more about the project at The Seasteading Institute.

And if you want to read a science fiction story about floating cities may I suggest A Floating City by Jules Verne.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Something To Study

This is an update on my previous post Superconductor Generators For Wind where I stated that American Superconductors were working on superconducting generators for wind. That turned out to be incorrect.

It turns out that the DOE is now sponsoring a program to develop superconducting generators for wind and American Superconductor Corp. is in the thick of it.

American Superconductor Corp., Devens, Mass., recently announced that it has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and its National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) to validate the economics of a full 10MW-class superconductor wind turbine. Under the 12-month program, AMSC Windtec, Klagenfurt, Austria, a wholly owned subsidiary of AMSC, will analyze the cost of a full 10MW-class superconductor wind turbine, which will include a direct drive superconductor generator and all other components, including the blades, hub, power electronics, nacelle, tower, and controls.

The NWTC will then benchmark and evaluate the wind turbine’s economic impact, both in terms of its initial cost and its overall cost of energy.
OK. It is just a study. But it is a start.

Why is this important? A couple of reasons. First off is that the superconducting generators proposed will eliminate one of the high cost and high weight items in a wind turbine generator set. The gear box. It should also lower the weight of the generator as this article on superconducting motors shows a weight reduction of 50% for a 36 MW motor is possible.

And the weight reductions have multiple benefits. It lowers the weight of the generator support structure at the top of the tower and also lowers the weight of the supporting tower. There are big cost savings possible if American Superconductor can turn the study into an actual generator.

Ten megawatts is probably above the size where wind power costs less than coal fired electrical power. If only the mopes in Congress had been putting more into research we might not be spending a fortune on wind generators that produce electricity (unsubsidized) at a cost of 2X of coal fired electricity. Better late than never.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Guns And Drugs

The Democrats are going to use prohibition induced violence to take away our gun rights. Because only criminals should be allowed to have guns or drugs.

I have been saying for several decades that drug prohibition would lead to gun prohibition. Way to go Conservatives. Because like you know. Prohibition works.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

A Lack Of Modesty


Breasts and popular music. Now there is a topic that grabs my interest. It seems to have grabbed the interest of Discover Magazine as well. Except we are not talking Lenny Kravitz. We are talking 17th Century ballads.
People who yearn for old-fashioned public decency might be surprised to talk to historian Angela McShane-Jones at the University of Warwick. In her studies of 17th-century ballads—cheaply printed popular songs bought and sold like today’s CDs—she found that the accompanying illustrations (above) often contained images of bare-breasted women. The perception of the bosom was quite different at the time, she says: “You see busty women representing innocence just as often as fallen ladies. And women of the court clearly had no modesty about showing their nipples.”

Ironically, extreme décolleté was the height of fashion in the very middle of Oliver Cromwell’s puritanical reign. Bared bosoms continued to cycle in and out of fashion during the 18th and 19th centuries, even amid Victorian prudery.
It seems to me that knowing obscenity when you see it is very dependent on the age you live in.

Me? I look forward to the return of the purity in dress styles so prevalent in Oliver Cromwell's time. Of course the American Bikini is not a bad substitute. We get not only breasts but bare arms, legs, and midriffs as well. Not to mention the occasional camel toe. So there are compensations.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Lack Of Trust

Milton Friedman's Free to Choose is an excellent book that explains in simple language his philosophy and how he came by it.

Here is a page of links to other Milton Friedman videos and articles.

H/T Atlas Shrugs

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The New Gospel Of Liberty

Click for a larger view.

The old time religion is declining in America.
When it comes to religion, the USA is now land of the freelancers.

The percentage. of people who call themselves in some way Christian has dropped more than 11% in a generation. The faithful have scattered out of their traditional bases: The Bible Belt is less Baptist. The Rust Belt is less Catholic. And everywhere, more people are exploring spiritual frontiers — or falling off the faith map completely.
The article goes on to discuss the changes and delves into the numbers.

One point in the article particularly got my attention. ("Nones" in the survey are those who claimed no religion)
South Carolina also exemplifies the Protestant faiths' shrinking share of the national religion "pie." The state has more Catholics (10%, up from 6% in 1990) and the percentage of Nones has more than tripled, from 3% to 10%. The share of Protestants is 73%, down from 88% in 1990.

Like Gautier, the Rev. Kendall Harmon, theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, blames social mobility.

"Mobility means your ideas are more challenged and your family and childhood traditions have less influence, particularly if you are not strongly rooted in them. I see kids today who have no vocabulary of faith, and neither do many of their parents."
I think this bodes ill for the Republican party unless it becomes less faith based and more liberty oriented. Something I have been saying for quite some time and especially post the 2008 election. Moral socialism is not the big seller it once was.

The Christian Science Monitor is even more apocalyptic.
We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West.

Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.
This bodes ill for the Republicans, a party that is rather closely identified with evangelicals.

The Monitor delves into why this is happening.
Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This will prove to be a very costly mistake. Evangelicals will increasingly be seen as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society.
Culture wars. I have a different name for it. Mentioned above. Moral socialism. The idea that government should tell people how to live. That idea is losing popularity. With the collapse of the drug war (even Pat Buchanan - a vigorous culture warrior - is now against it) will accelerate that trend. I do think a war on Christianity is a bad idea though. Just as the Christian's war on seculars was a bad idea. However, karma. Or in more Christian terms: you reap what you sow.

The author of the article makes another point that will directly affect politics.
Even in areas where Evangelicals imagine themselves strong (like the Bible Belt), we will find a great inability to pass on to our children a vital evangelical confidence in the Bible and the importance of the faith.
And what about the culture war?
Expect a fragmented response to the culture war. Some Evangelicals will work to create their own countercultures, rather than try to change the culture at large. Some will continue to see conservatism and Christianity through one lens and will engage the culture war much as before – a status quo the media will be all too happy to perpetuate.
I think it is pretty safe to say that the culture war is very near over in America and the culture warriors have lost. Just as the drug warriors have lost the drug war. These things happen when better ideas come along. It is not the first time. Around 2000 year ago a small Jewish sect came along and its culture supplanted the Jewish culture of the time and went on to become a world culture. So much so that Jews are now more Christian than Jewish. Not so much in terms of worship but in terms of culture. The Judaism of 2000 years ago is gone. It is probably not coming back.

And finally back to politics.
The loss of their political clout may impel many Evangelicals to reconsider the wisdom of trying to create a "godly society."
Very good. Government impositions are rarely universally popular. Especially in a country as religiously diverse as America. The emphasis has to be where it should have been all along. Living the godly life. Which fits in more with the American ideal of the individual as supreme.

This should come as no surprise to students of American history. America was founded not only on the basis of economic revolt but also on the basis of religious revolt as the DVD Gospel of Liberty clearly shows.

If the Republican Party adopts a New Gospel of Liberty I think its fortunes will revive and it will find not just a temporary burst of energy but also a long term foundation that will serve it far into the future. Let the Tea Parties commence.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Obama's Mortgage Plan Failing

I could give some kind of long winded (for me) spiel about why it is failing. But let me just cut to the chase.

...in order to avail of a loan modification, a distress homeowner should be financially capable of making payments which is hard to do if he had lost his job. And California is one of the states where unemployment rate is at its peak. The state’s 10.1 percent unemployment rate in January 2009 is way higher than the 7.6 percent rate nationwide.

Studies showed that unemployment is the main reason why prime borrowers fall behind their monthly payments, go into default and eventually become victims of the foreclosure crisis. And this bodes ill for Obama’s strategy to offer incentives to mortgage providers to modify loan terms to make them affordable to distressed Californian homeowners.
Obama's promises to keep adding new burdens to the economy (higher taxes, cap and trade, new health care initiatives) are not helping to get us out of recession. And when the tsunami of money he has been spending finally rolls back over the economy we are going to get inflation that will make the housing bubble look like a gentle wave.

Stagflation is coming. Big time.

Monday, March 09, 2009

September 30, 1999

Even the New York Times was sounding the warning. Nine and a half years ago.

In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.

The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.
Yep. Nation Wide.
In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's.

''From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,'' said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ''If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.''
Bail Outs? Did they say bail outs? How unpatriotic can they get?

Ah. Well. If only there had been more regulation. If only. I can tell you one thing for sure: that the whole financial mess proves capitalism doesn't work. When it is controlled by government.

Who Is John Galt?

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Our New National Anthem

Hillary - I Have A Problem

You can't say we weren't warned.

Pat Buchanan - Legalize Drugs

My friends when Pat Buchanan says legalize drugs, political support for the drug war has collapsed.

How does one win a drug war when millions of Americans who use recreational drugs are financing the cartels bribing, murdering and beheading to win the war and keep self-indulgent Americans supplied with drugs?

There are two sure ways to end this war swiftly: Milton's way and Mao's way. Mao Zedong's communists killed users and suppliers alike, as social parasites. Milton Friedman's way is to decriminalize drugs and call off the war.

When Richard Nixon declared the War on Drugs in 1972, Milton, writing in Newsweek, objected on ethical grounds:

"On ethical grounds, do we have the right to use the machinery of government to prevent an individual from becoming an alcoholic or a drug addict? For children, almost everyone would answer at least a qualified yes. But for responsible adults, I, for one, would answer no. Reason with the potential addict, yes. Tell him the consequences, yes. Pray for and with him, yes. But I believe that we have no right to use force, directly or indirectly, to prevent a fellow man from committing suicide, let alone from drinking alcohol or taking drugs."

"Am I my brother's keeper?'" asked Milton, answering, "No."

Americans are never going to adopt the Maoist solution. For the users of drugs are all too often classmates, colleagues, friends, even family. Indeed, our last three presidents did not deny using drugs.
Is Pat happy about it? No. But he says we have to make the best of some bad choices.
Which is the greater evil? Legalized narcotics for America's young or a failed state of 110,000 million on our southern border?
I have to admit that Pat Buchanan is the last person I thought would come out in favor of legalizing drugs.

Now I saw the Mexico situation coming twenty years ago when narco States started their inexorable march north. People said I was crazy. Well here we are. What Pat fails to get is that the march of the narco States does not end with Mexico. Guess what country is North of Mexico? In any case glad to have you aboard Pat. Better late than never.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Having Doubts

Mr. Obama is big into alternative energy. Wind. Solar. Geothermal. However, even his supporters have doubts about his energy plans.

I like Barack Obama but I have doubts about his presidency when I hear him saying that the US will “double the amount of energy that comes from renewable sources by the end of my first term." He should know that that’s not possible. But instead, during his State of the Union speech, he proclaimed that we’ll reach that goal in three years, not four.

Most anyone who has studied the energy situation must wonder about Obama's, or his advisors', energy experience. Presented with the numbers from the table (see below) he would realize that the majority of the renewable power comes from hydro and from wood, about 154 gigawatts. Readily available data show that the 6 percent for hydro and bio is pretty much all we can hope for. Trying to increase those yields we would have to ask: Where shall we find the extra rivers to dam? Lease the Amazon? And where do we find the extra land to double the wood and corn production? Annex Canada? Ukraine?

Understanding those limitations, Obama apparently relies on direct solar, wind, and geothermal energy growth. All three sources are presently producing about 19 GW. To reach the goal of generating 2 x (154 + 19) = 346 GW by 2012 (or 2011), the output of the three sources would have to increase nine-fold. That implies building many times more wind mills, solar plants, and geothermal stations in three years than have been installed in the previous decades.

The cost of these projects, projects that will provide extraordinarily expensive electricity (five to ten times more than coal or nuclear) is enormous even on the scale of the anticipated deficit spending, pardon me, stimulus package. While the cost would be prohibitive, the real question is whether the four-year, now three-year, deadline is at all realistic. Before we look into that, perhaps a comparison with past prophesies will give us a hint.

During the 1970s, Jimmy Carter committed the US to derive 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by the year 2000. Let's check: The proportion of renewable energy production today, 9 years after the deadline and almost 40 years from inception, is essentially the same as during Carter's presidency. Worse yet, the percentage has declined recently from 7.5 to 6.7 percent over the past 10 years.

In 1978, Ralph Nader said “Everything will be solar in 30 years.” Notice that the 30-years mark just passed; the production is somewhere between 0.08 percent and 0.11 percent – depending on what is meant by “everything.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists, projected for the millennium end: “Wind farms will provide 0.68 quads of electricity” (the amount was 94 percent less than predicted), “direct solar 0.60 quads” (the amount was 87 percent less).
I have my doubts too. There is a limit to the amount of intermittent energy sources the electrical grid can absorb. Some think it is ten percent. Some of the more optimistic folks think it is twenty percent. No way is it anywhere near 100%.

Our biggest wind resource is the upper Mid West. There is no where near enough transmission capacity to bring that resource to the loads in the lower Mid West and the coasts. And there is no way that transmission capacity can be built in three years when the permits haven't even been applied for. And that does not even include the NIMBYs and the Ultra Greens who will fight additions to the grid tooth and nail.

Evidently neither Mr. Obama nor his new Energy Secretary have run the numbers. That is no way to do engineering. Or as many of us like to say: Hope is not a plan.

Cross Posted at Classical Values