Archive for January, 2017

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Just shut up and president (2)

January 28, 2017

David Harsyani writes a good column about how those who are supposed to serve the public prefer to lecture it instead. Get ’em, David!

Stop Telling Us How to Be Patriotic

Politicians have no business directing or defining patriotism, especially when their rhetoric sounds like 1950s-era Soviet sloganeering.

It was creepy when former President Barack Obama declared his first Inauguration Day as “National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation” and called upon us to find “common purpose of remaking this nation for our new century.” And it’s creepy when President Donald Trump declares his Inauguration Day as “National Day of Patriotic Devotion,” one in which “a new national pride stirs the American soul and inspires the American heart.”

This kind of self-aggrandizement is what you see under cults of personality, not American republicanism. Far be it from me to lecture anyone on how to love their country, but if your devotion to America is contingent upon the party or the person in office, you’re probably not doing it quite like the Founding Fathers envisioned. […]

We just survived eight years of a messianic presidency with a finger-wagging, patriotism-appropriating administration lecturing us on how to be proper Americans. If you didn’t support the administration’s point of view, then-Vice President Joe Biden might accuse you of “betting against America.” […]

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Thanks, Obama

January 26, 2017

You know, I managed to avoid using this title for a post all through Obama’s term in office. But he finally roused me to use it.

In short, what gets collected in Utah doesn’t stay in Utah anymore.

Here’s Judge Andrew Napolitano writing at Reason about a recent order by former Attorney General Lynch. (My emphasis.)

President Obama’s Parting Shot at Personal Freedom
To make things more convenient for the government, the Obama administration makes it easier for agencies to spy on citizens.

On Jan. 3, outgoing Attorney General Loretta Lynch secretly signed an order directing the National Security Agency — America’s 60,000-person-strong domestic spying apparatus — to make available raw spying data to all other federal intelligence agencies, which then can pass it on to their counterparts in foreign countries and in the 50 states upon request. She did so, she claimed, for administrative convenience. Yet in doing this, she violated basic constitutional principles that were erected centuries ago to prevent just what she did.

Here is the back story. […]

This is the New York Times article Mr. Napolitano links in his post. (I assume it was the basis for his post. My emphasis again.)

N.S.A. Gets More Latitude to Share Intercepted Communications

WASHINGTON — In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.

The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people. […]

At the risk of saying this too many times, let me repeat that you should never expect privacy (or anonymity) when using electronic messaging – e-mail, text, voice, and (probably) internet chat as well.

That’s not just a projection based the news items above; it’s based on stories I’ve heard from people. Your past can come back to haunt you. You probably don’t want to happen when you’re up against an over-eager prosecutor.

Protect your privacy.

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Just shut up and president

January 23, 2017

My late mother-in-law (may she rest in peace) was a big fan of the British royal family. She even subscribed to magazines about them. ‘Struth. As you might imagine, the Windsor family was a topic we didn’t talk about often. But we got on extremely well otherwise.

Once, while touring Britain with my in-laws, we stopped for the night at a pretty cool old English inn called the Wheatsheaf hotel. I think it was this place in Lincolnshire but I’m not certain. (‘Wheatsheaf’ is the name of several inns and hotels in the UK.)

Since we’d arrived late in the day, we headed for the public room to find a cool glass of and to meet the locals. We succeeded. And before long, I heard MIL telling some of those locals that she thought the U.S. needed a royal family too. Sigh…

So I liked this post by Warren Meyer at Coyoteblog. Plus, it’s a three-fer: Meyer, Boudreaux, and Williamson all make good points on this topic.

A Modest Proposal: Let’s Adopt A Ceremonial Royal Family for the US To Safely Absorb People’s Apparent Need for Powerful, Charismatic Presidents

I have been watching the Crown as well as the new PBS Victoria series, and it got me to thinking. Wow, it sure does seem useful to have a single figurehead into which the public can pour all the sorts of adulation and voyeurism that they seem to crave. That way, the people get folks who can look great at parties and make heart-felt speeches and be charismatic and set fashion trends and sound empathetic and even scold us on minor things. All without giving up an ounce of liberty. The problem in the US is we use the Presidency today to fulfill this societal need, but in the process can’t help but imbue the office with more and more arbitrary power. Let’s split the two roles.

Update: Don Boudreaux writes:

A Trump presidency comes along with awful risks for Americans. Yet one very real silver-lining is that Trump’s over-the-top buffoonery and manic barking like a dog at every little thing that goes bump in his sight, along with his chronic inability even to appear to be thoughtful and philosophical and reflective and aware that he is not the center of the universe, might – just might – scrub off some of the ridiculous luster that has built up on on the U.S. Presidency over the course of the past 90 or so years. Let us hope.

He also links a good article from Kevin Williamson on the cult of the Presidency

In this vein, I recommend Gene Healey’s book The Cult of the Presidency. You can read it for free.


Here’s an interesting anecdote that I read recently: many Swiss people can’t tell you who their president is. It turns out that the Swiss president is simply the presiding member of the seven-member Swiss Federal Council.

Wouldn’t that be a nice change? A president who does the job in quiet anonymity? A servant of the people who doesn’t think of the job as director of a reality TV show?

Where’s Calvin Coolidge when you need him?

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The Uncertainty Monster

January 23, 2017

Robert Tracinski writes about climate change at The Federalist. (My emphasis below.)

This is the point that Judith Curry makes when writing about climate.

Why NYT Hid The Numbers For The ‘Hottest Year On Record’

When you read a science report claiming that 2016 was the hottest year on record, you might expect that you will get numbers. And you would be wrong.

They say that mathematics is the language of science, which is a way of saying that science is quantitative. It is moved forward by numbers and measurements, not just by qualitative observations. “It seems hot out” is not science. Giving a specific temperature, measured by a specific process at a specific time, compared to other systematically gathered measurements — that is science.

So when you read an article proclaiming that, for the third year in a row, last year was the hottest year on record, you might expect that right up front you will get numbers, measurements, and a statistical margin of error. You know, science stuff. Numbers. Quantities. Mathematics.

And you would be wrong.

I just got done combing through a New York Times report titled, “Earth Sets a Temperature Record for the Third Straight Year.” The number of relevant numbers in this article is: zero.

We are not told what the average global temperature was, how much higher this is than last year’s record or any previous records, or what the margin of error is supposed to be on those measurements. Instead, we get stuff like this.

Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016—trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row.
Note to the New York Times: “trouncing” and “blown past” are phrases appropriate to sports reporting, not science reporting. Except that no sports reporter would dare write an article in which he never bothers to give you the score of the big game.

Yet that’s what passes for “science reporting” on the issue of global warming, where asking for numbers and margins of errors apparently makes you an enemy of science. Instead, it’s all qualitative and comparative descriptions. It’s science without numbers. […]

It’s almost like they’re hiding something. And that is indeed what we find. I finally tracked down an exception to this reporting trend: the UK newspaper The Independent gives us the relevant numbers.

They should have been in the first paragraph, but at least they’re in the third paragraph: “This puts 2016 only nominally ahead of 2015 by just 0.01C — within the 0.1C margin of error — but….” There’s stuff after the “but,” but it’s just somebody’s evaluation. Even this report can’t give us a straight fact and leave it alone.

For the benefit of science reporters and other people who are unfamiliar with the scientific method, let me point out that the margin of error for these measurements is plus or minus one tenth of a degree Celsius. The temperature difference that is supposedly being measured is one one-hundredth of a degree—one tenth the size of the margin of error. To go back to sports reporting, that’s like saying that the football is on the 10-yard line — give or take a hundred yards. […]

When I was learning lab technique, a lot of time was spent on the importance of margin of error because that’s the limit of what you can know. In fact, I had a professor who would take credit off when people carried more decimal places in their results than the margin of error would allow.

It was one reason he preferred slide rules to electronic calculators. (Yep, it’s been a few decades.) The people with slide rules would skip those gratuitous digits because of the extra work, but people with calculators wanted to keep those extra digits because they were “free”.

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The engineering is settled (2)

January 17, 2017

Here’s an article from Manhattan Contrarian about the problems of making renewable energy financially feasible.

Or as I put it last April, the Engineering Is Settled.

A Dose Of Renewable Energy Realism

In the campaign to jettison fossil fuels as the main source of our energy and replace them with so-called “renewables,” a notable feature is the lack of discussion of the costs and practicalities of trying to make intermittent sources like wind and solar work to run a 24/7/365 electricity grid. Is there any problem here that deserves consideration? In Tuesday’s post I noted that in my home state of New York we are about to try to replace our big Indian Point nuclear power plant with mostly wind-generated power. Actually, we already have wind turbines with approximately the same “capacity” as Indian Point, but unfortunately over the course of a full year they only generate about one-quarter as much electricity as Indian Point. Still, can’t that problem be solved just by buying four times as many wind turbines? It may be a little pricey, but is there any reason why that won’t work?

In a publication called Energy Post on January 10, prominent German economist Heiner Flassbeck has a piece that addresses this question. The headline is “The End of the Energiewende?” Of course the problem is that the wind turbines don’t just run steadily and predictably at one-quarter of capacity; rather, they swing wildly and unpredictably back and forth between generating at near 100% of capacity and generating almost nothing. The “almost nothing” mode can persist for days or even weeks. In Germany under a program called Energiewende (“energy transition”), in effect since 2010, they have been pushing to raise the percentage of energy they obtain from wind and solar, and have gotten the percent of their electricity supply from those sources all the way up to 31%. But Flassbeck now looks at what just occurred during the month of December 2016:

This winter could go down in history as the event that proved the German energy transition to be unsubstantiated and incapable of becoming a success story. Electricity from wind and solar generation has been catastrophically low for several weeks. December brought new declines. A persistent winter high-pressure system with dense fog throughout Central Europe has been sufficient to unmask the fairy tale of a successful energy transition….

Here is a chart from Flassbeck’s piece showing German electricity demand through the first half of the month of December, against the sources of the electricity that supplied that demand. Among the sources, solar, on-shore wind, and off-shore wind are broken out separately:

power-demand-germany-dec-2016

As you can see, at some times wind and solar sources supplied as much as half or more of the demand for electricity, but at other times they supplied almost nothing. Flassbeck: […]

I would dearly love to install solar panels and go off the grid. And I’ve been watching the prices and the expected equipment lifetimes for a couple of decades now to decide when it will make financial sense.

But the problem of storing the energy aside, there are periods of weather like our current one. Today was the sixth gloomy, sunless day in a row in Missouri. That’s not unusual in January or February in the center of the US; it’s more common than not, I believe.

On the other hand, if I still lived in Tucson I’d probably have done it by now. (Check your insolation.)

H.T. Jeff G

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When will these be people be investigated, convicted, and sentenced?

January 17, 2017

Here’s a pretty horrifying story in the State-Is-Not-Your-Friend category.

Some social workers in California presumably lied and falsified evidence about a case involving taking a mother’s children from her custody. What the article doesn’t say, unfortunately, is whether these people are being investigated for those crimes.

You really need to read the whole thing. (Emphasis in the original.)

Judges Reject Orange County’s Claim That Social Workers Didn’t Know Lying In Court Was Wrong

Using taxpayer funds, government officials in Orange County have spent the last 16 years arguing the most absurd legal proposition in the entire nation: How could social workers have known it was wrong to lie, falsify records and hide exculpatory evidence in 2000 so that a judge would forcibly take two young daughters from their mother for six-and-a-half years?

From the you-can’t-make-up-this-crap file, county officials are paying Lynberg & Watkins, a private Southern California law firm specializing in defending cops in excessive force lawsuits, untold sums to claim the social workers couldn’t have “clearly” known that dishonesty wasn’t acceptable in court and, as a back up, even if they did know, they should enjoy immunity for their misdeeds because they were government employees.

A panel at the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit this week ruled on Orange County’s appeal of federal judge Josephine L. Staton’s refusal last year to grant immunity to the bureaucrats in Preslie Hardwick v. County of Orange, a lawsuit seeking millions of dollars in damages. In short, judges Stephen S. Trott, John B. Owens and Michelle T. Friedland were not amused. They affirmed Staton’s decision.

But to grasp the ridiculousness of the government’s stance, read key, Oct. 7, 2016 exchanges between the panel and Pancy Lin, a partner at Lynberg & Watkins. […]

And pity the Orange County taxpayers who are paying attorneys to defend these people.

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A stand on principle

January 15, 2017

A law professor named Adam MacLeod writes about taking his camera-based traffic ticket to court. It’s an interesting read and not too long.

That Time I Turned a Routine Traffic Ticket into the Constitutional Trial of the Century

The traffic-camera ticket: like a parking ticket, it looks lawful enough. When they receive one, most people simply write the check. It seems like the sensible and law-abiding thing to do.

But this is not a parking ticket. In legal terms, it is not a proceeding in rem — against your car. It is a legal action against you personally. And before you pay the fine, you might want to hear my story.

My story is not legal advice. I offer it only to show how our ruling elites have corrupted the rule of law and to suggest why this matters for the American experiment in self-governance.

The Ticket

My story begins with a confession: I got a traffic-camera ticket. An affidavit signed by a Montgomery City police officer, it averred that I had committed a particular traffic violation on a certain date, at a certain time and location. It showed a photograph of one of our family vehicles. It charged me with a “civil violation” of “criminal law.”

I wasn’t driving the car. In fact, at the time I was in a faculty meeting at the law school where I teach. Thus, I decided to challenge this injustice on the principle of the thing.[…]

I wouldn’t take this as legal advice (as the author said). And I wouldn’t try it myself since I’m not a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer to fight one of these tickets is likely to be more expensive than simply paying the fine.

But there’s a lot to be said for standing on principal and holding municipal (and state) goverment’s feet to the fire.

H.T. Paul B

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And he’s not even President yet

January 11, 2017

The news about Donald Trump, the Buzzfeed & CNN articles, and all the reaction to them is quite a show, idnit? The fixes that man gets himself into sometimes remind me of The Perils of Pauline (when I’m feeling charitable).

But the worry, of course, is what he might be getting all of us into.

I don’t know the merits of the document about Trump’s alleged dealings with Russia. At this point, the problem is that the large majority of us don’t know the merits of it.

Glenn Greenwald makes some excellent points about what’s been going on recently at The Intercept today. RTWT.

The Deep State Goes to War with President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer

IN JANUARY, 1961, Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address after serving two terms as U.S. president; the five-star general chose to warn Americans of this specific threat to democracy: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” […]

This is the faction that is now engaged in open warfare against the duly elected and already widely disliked president-elect, Donald Trump. They are using classic Cold War dirty tactics and the defining ingredients of what has until recently been denounced as "Fake News."

Their most valuable instrument is the U.S. media, much of which reflexively reveres, serves, believes, and sides with hidden intelligence officials. And Democrats, still reeling from their unexpected and traumatic election loss as well as a systemic collapse of their party, seemingly divorced further and further from reason with each passing day, are willing — eager — to embrace any claim, cheer any tactic, align with any villain, regardless of how unsupported, tawdry and damaging those behaviors might be.

The serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest. There are a wide array of legitimate and effective tactics for combatting those threats: from bipartisan congressional coalitions and constitutional legal challenges to citizen uprisings and sustained and aggressive civil disobedience. All of those strategies have periodically proven themselves effective in times of political crisis or authoritarian overreach.

But cheering for the CIA and its shadowy allies to unilaterally subvert the U.S. election and impose its own policy dictates on the elected president is both warped and self-destructive. Empowering the very entities that have produced the most shameful atrocities and systemic deceit over the last six decades is desperation of the worst kind. […]


Here’s a more humorous take.


This reent Reason podcast has Nick Gillespie talking to Greenwald about ‘Russian “hacks,” Donald Trump, Wikileaks, and the End of Media Status Quo’. I recommend at least the first 20 minutes.


Finally – and especially for those who haven’t yet ‘recovered’ from the election – I suggest this post from last November: YOU ARE STILL CRYING WOLF.

I won’t try to excerpt it because, as its author writes, it’s a "reduction of a complicated issue to only 8000 words, because nobody would read it if it were longer."

So, yeah, it’s long. But if you have the time, RTWT.

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Inside Venezuela’s hidden healthcare crisis

January 11, 2017

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A bureaucrat’s nightmare

January 8, 2017

This is a pretty humorous video.

Via International Liberty

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Judith Curry moves on

January 8, 2017

I mentioned Judith Curry a few weeks ago. She’s a Professor at the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech.

This week she announced that she’s leaving her academic post and planning to devote her time to a business she co-founded called Climate Forecast Applications Network.

On January 3rd, she wrote at her Climate Etc. blog:

JC in transition

Effective January 1, I have resigned my tenured faculty position at Georgia Tech.

Before reflecting on a range of things, let me start by answering a question that may have popped into your head: I have no plans to join the Trump administration (ha ha).

Technically, my resignation is a retirement event, since I am on the Georgia State Teachers Retirement System, and I need to retire from Georgia Tech to get my pension (although I am a few years shy of 65). I have requested Emeritus status.

So, I have retired from Georgia Tech, and I have no intention of seeking another academic or administrative position in a university or government agency. However, I most certainly am not retiring from professional life.

Why did I resign my tenured faculty position? […]

It’s worth a read if you want to get a feel for how climate research is being funded and handled in academia these days.


Here Dr. Curry talks with Tucker Carlson on January 6th about this topic.

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Let’s end the confusion

January 7, 2017

Here’s all you need to know about bacon.

bacon-flowchart

H.T. Jeff G

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A Constitutionalist Revolution?

January 7, 2017

Where do I sign up?

Jeff G sent this shortly before last Thanksgiving. On the one hand, I’d be thrilled if this turns out to be true. On the other, I’m not sure it applies to the Trump voters I know. Most of those were concerned about (a) the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court and (b) defeating Hillary Clinton at all costs (not necessarily in that order).

Maybe the "SCOTUS voters" had this constitutionalist point in mind. But I’m thinking they could have made the point more clearly by voting for Johnson-Weld.

Here’s John C. Eastman, a constitutional law scholar, writing at the Claremont Review of Books last November. It’s an interesting read and he makes some very good points.

The Constitutionalist Revolution

It started even before Donald Trump was declared the winner. The pundits and commentators, stunned beyond belief, began to pontificate about how this could possibly have happened. No one they know thought that Trump was anything but a boorish oaf. And the uniform view in their circles was that Trump’s supporters were even worse. Must be, else they wouldn’t be Trump supporters.

Then I started to notice a different narrative as the night wore on while the country was awaiting results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—the so-called rust belt. White, blue collar workers were angry at Washington, the pundits conceded. They have lost their jobs to a global economy that they cannot control, and the government—their government—was ignoring their plight. Whether Trump could deliver on his promise to help them, they seemed to know that Hillary Clinton would not.

Notice the underlying assumption. Trump’s voters were angry because government was not doing enough for them, not that it was doing too much to them. Six years into the Tea Party revolution — and make no mistake, this is an ongoing manifestation of the Tea Party revolution — the Washington crowd still does not get it.

I spoke to a lot of Tea Party groups when I was running for California Attorney General back in 2010. These were not (and are not) people seeking more handouts from government to make their lives better. And they were not backward hicks clinging to their guns and Bibles, as the Washington establishment on both sides of the political aisle believed. They are rock-solid citizens, deeply concerned about handing a $20 trillion debt to their kids, but even more concerned that we seemed to have incurred that debt in utter disregard of the limits our Constitution places on government. Eight years of President Obama exacerbated those concerns to the breaking point, and the prospect of a President Hillary Clinton doubling down on rule by executive pen, by acting assistant deputy secretaries, by “guidance” memos from deep in the bowels of an unelected and unaccountable bureaucracy, provoked a citizen uprising. Not a populist revolt, as the pundits believe, but a constitutionalist revolt. […]

You see, the D.C. crowd has viewed the lack of a revolt to their expansion of government beyond its constitutional tether as indicative of agreement rather than mere toleration while the abuses remained tolerable. They should have read another line in that old Declaration: “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” […]

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I second that emotion

January 6, 2017

Nick Gillespie writes a retrospective of last year’s Libertarian presidential campaign.

It reflects my views pretty well, including the part about Bill Weld. But RTWT.

Thank You, Gary Johnson, for Being the Best Thing in 2016!

Before we completely flush 2016 down the memory hole, let us pause to remember Gary Johnson, the former two-term governor of New Mexico who generated a record number of votes as the Libertarian Party’s candidate for president. If there was anything good that happened in 2016 — a year filled so much awfulness that even the Chicago Cubs could win the World Series after a thousand-year drought — it was @govgaryjohnson‘s ramshackle campaign to bring a very different way of thinking and talking about national politics to America.

In the end, of course, there was a lot of disappointment. He didn’t crack 15 percent in polls to route around the bullshit criteria created by the two major parties to keep people like him off the stage; he supported the inalienable rights of gay Nazis to force homophobic Jewish bakers to make German chocolate cakes in the shapes of swastikas; he spaced out while talking to recidivist plagiarist Mike Barnicle on Morning Joe and asked, What is Aleppo?; and so much more. Yeah, yeah, I get it. […]

To all of it, I say, politely: Go screw yourselves, all of you.

Gary wasn’t perfect and I still don’t really comprehend anything about that tongue-thing while talking to NBC reporter Kasie Hunt, who was understandably all like, Get me the hell out of here. But in the end, Johnson pulled almost 4.5 million votes (3.3 percent of the total), compared to 1.3 million votes (1 percent) four years ago. Of course, all of us who voted for Gary Johnson wanted him to do better still, but the world exists to disappoint us believers in small government. […]

During the race I noticed that people had begun to figure out there was such a word as ‘libertarian’ in the language. (I wonder how many points that would get you in Scrabble.)

When I slapped a Johnson-Weld sticker on my ride and got a couple of high signs and honks from passing vehicles, I figured the word was trickling out. One couple saw the sticker in a parking lot and came over to talk about the Governor. In short, the sticker worked better than my Bernie is My Comrade shirt, which only seemed to confuse most people.

But turning the political outlook is hard work and slow as well. Think about the last time a new major political party emerged quickly in the U.S. It was when the Republican party was organized at the start of the Civil War.

Nobody’s written "The Battle Hymn of Free Trade" – or seems likely to. So the LP‘s got a long row to hoe.

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Seasonal humor

January 3, 2017

I read a post at Doc Bastard’s blog and found these paragraphs pretty amusing.

[…] I’ve never made a new year’s resolution for one simple reason: they’re all bullshit. Studies show that nearly 80% of people break their resolution before January 15th, and 90% by January 30th. Studies also show that a certain anonymous blogger made up 100% of the statistics in that last sentence. But seriously, how many people actually keep their resolution long term? Have you? Of course not. And why?

Because new year’s resolutions are bullshit.

The common resolutions are obvious: lose weight, exercise more, get in shape, drink less, quit smoking, save more money, eat better. I can’t do any of those resolutions, because I’m already in great shape, eat well and exercise regularly. Ok, none of that is true, but in all honesty exercising sucks. I hate it, and it sucks. Studies show that people who exercise regularly live 6 years longer than those who don’t, but they spend those 6 years exercising (see statistic on statistics above). So fuck exercise. […]

And the Doc’s continually waging war on medical nonsense in his Twitter feed.

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Greitens gets it

January 2, 2017

The Publicly-Funded-Stadium idea1 just won’t die here in Mound City. The latest go-round is a group hoping to build a stadium for a Major League Soccer team.

The backstory here is that in 2015 the City of St. Louis and State of Missouri failed to commit to building a new stadium for Stan Kroenke. So Mr. Kroenke moved his Rams NFL team to Los Angeles. And I said Hallelujah!

Bear in mind that (a) Mr. Kroenke was estimated to be worth $US 8 billion by Forbes in 2016 and he owns four other professional sports franchises in addition to the NFL Rams. And (b) there’s a 20-year-old football stadium called the Edward Jones Dome that’s perfectly serviceable as far as I know.

Why it should have been necessary for the public to build Kroenke a new stadium is too many for me. And now, after the Rams’ departure, the City of St. Louis is stuck with the debt on the current stadium. Noice!

I can see why Kroenke wanted public funding, of course. The same reason the Soccer Guys do: minimizing risk in an investment is just good business sense. And if you can find some yokels to assume that risk for you, then so much the better. These sports franchise owners make lawyers look good by comparison, don’t they?

Today’s Roster: Jay Nixon is the current Governor of Missouri, Eric Greitens is the Governor-elect, and Francis Slay is the Mayor of St. Louis.

And it’s my emphasis in the articles below.

Gov.-elect Greitens calls public money for St. Louis soccer stadium ‘welfare for millionaires’
By Mike Faulk St. Louis Post-Dispatch Dec 20, 2016 (250)

ST. LOUIS • Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens said he opposes public funding for a Major League Soccer stadium in downtown St. Louis, according to a statement released by his transition team Monday.

This project is nothing more than welfare for millionaires,” Greitens said. “Right now, because of reckless spending by career politicians, we can’t even afford the core functions of government, let alone spend millions on soccer stadiums.

“This back-room wheeling and dealing is exactly what frustrates Missourians.”

Greitens’ statement came one day before the state Development Finance Board vote was scheduled to vote on a request from the city of St. Louis for $40 million in tax credits to go toward the $200 million downtown stadium plan. Last week, legislation was introduced before the city’s Board of Aldermen that could ask city voters to approve up to $80 million for the stadium. […]

Wow… Go Team Greitens!

Here’s another Post-Dispatch column talking about Jay Nixon’s push for public funding for the MLS stadium.

Gov. Jay Nixon’s last stand: Does St. Louis want to be Major League, or not?
By Tony Messenger St. Louis Post-Dispatch Dec 25, 2016 (158)

It’s the fourth quarter and Gov. Jay Nixon is at the 2-yard line with 16½ seconds left on the clock. He needs three yards to get the football over the goal line, but this pigskin isn’t oblong, it’s round.

“We lost one kind of football,” Nixon said Friday in a meeting on the ninth floor of the Wainwright State Office Building in downtown St. Louis. “Let’s get the other kind.”

The governor was reprising his role as Stadium Cheerleader-in-Chief. That’s what I dubbed him last year when he pitched a failed plan to build a new football stadium on the north riverfront in St. Louis before the NFL allowed Rams owner Stan Kroenke to ditch the city for Los Angeles. Now Nixon is lining up behind an effort to bring Major League Soccer to the St. Louis area with a public-private partnership building a $200 million stadium just west of Union Station. […]

“The clock is ticking,” Nixon said Friday. He was talking about the soccer stadium but could have just as easily been referencing his political career. On his way out of the public arena, he seeks one last victory.

“This is that moment,” he said. “Does St. Louis want to be Major League or not?

All respect, Gov, but lining up the sheep to be sheared is only a “major league” status indicator for those doing the shearing – the team owners and the politicians getting their names in the news. The sheep won’t be feeling so “major league” about the shearing.

Luckily, a Post-Dispatch sports columnist makes that very point for me.

St. Louis doesn’t need MLS team to be ‘major league’ town
Jose de Jesus Ortiz St. Louis Post-Dispatch Dec 28, 2016 (56)

In case you needed it, the Winter Classic at Busch Stadium between the Blues and Blackhawks will expose the faulty logic that has been peddled recently by those folks claiming St. Louis needs a Major League Soccer franchise to be a major-league town.

You can debate the merits of doling out welfare for billionaire and millionaire sports franchise owners if you must. I would argue that the SC STL ownership group and MLS have pushed their proposal for public funding with faulty figures and must lower their request from taxpayers now that MLS has said the expansion fee will be $150 million instead of the $200 million estimate they outlined in their request.

We’ll have more time to question SC STL and MLS officials in the next three months. For now, though, there’s no denying that Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon doesn’t give St. Louis enough credit when he portrays the SC STL public funding debate as one in which citizens must decide if they want this town to be a major-league one.

“This is that moment,” Nixon told several of my Post-Dispatch colleagues Friday. “Does St. Louis want to be major league or not?”

With all due respect, Governor, such a statement deserves to be ruled as an E1 — error by the pitcher. With a thriving NHL franchise in the Blues and a perennial baseball power in the Cardinals, St. Louis has more than enough star power to rank as a major-league town. […]


Update 1/3/17:

Today’s Post-Dispatch reports.

Greitens: ‘I have completely ruled out state funding for stadiums’
By Mike Faulk St. Louis Post-Dispatch 14 hrs ago (122)

Major League Soccer investors trying to bring a team to St. Louis probably won’t get $40 million in tax credits or any state money, based on Gov.-elect Eric Greitens’ comments Monday.

“To be very clear, I have completely ruled out state funding for stadiums,” Greitens said Monday said taking questions from journalists in Dellwood.

Hours later, the St. Louis alderman sponsoring the ballot proposal for up to $80 million in city funding for a St. Louis MLS team called the proposal’s future doubtful.

“I was hoping to get to the point where this proposal made sense for St. Louis, but I’m feeling that less and less,” 6th Ward Alderman Christine Ingrassia said by phone.

And the mayor’s office said Monday that getting a stadium built would be difficult without the state. […]


1 Has there ever been a clearer example of Cargo Cult politics than publicly financed stadiums?

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