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    Sunday, November 9, 2014

    14 Facts, Part 3: The Stock Market Run-Up Myth

    In the "14 Facts" series today, I'll take on another.

    4. The stock market continues to set new records since President Obama has been in office.

    This is indeed true, and it's a good thing for investors that stocks are performing well.  As an investor myself, there is actually an historical trend of the stock market performing pretty well during Dem administrations. If there was one single thing I agree that Dems should have done during this cycle that they didn't do, it's trumpet the stock market.

    Why didn't they? 

    Well, when a large part of your commercial appeal is income inequality and class envy, do you really want to run on the fact that you are the party bought and paid for by Wall Street and investment bankers?

    But, the stock market does not exist in a vacuum, and the president's policies are not the only thing that impacts it.  Since the crash, the Fed has pursued an easy money policy that has investors (a lot of them institutional) looking for places to spend that easy money, and in an era where corporations are not spending capital dollars, that money is finding it's way into stocks.

    So, yes, the stock market has done very well, but, to say it's all due to Obama and his policies ignores the more important impact from the Fed.  

    Time Magazine, no right wing mouthpiece, explains the Fed's role in this very recent article, and cautions that sell-offs have occurred the last 2 times the Fed has eased off on the accelerator.  so, maybe it's time to sell? 

    See: http://time.com/money/3545780/federal-reserve-ends-quantitative-easing/

    Saturday, November 8, 2014

    14 Facts, Part 2

    Part 2 of the 14 "Facts" will actually cover several of the points.

    Point 2 is: "We are currently enjoying the longest period of private sector job creation in American history."

    You only have to follow the link to the Washington Post article to see that this is technically true, but as I pointed out in Part 1, job creation during the Obama recovery has been woeful compared to Reagan, and, as the post notes, compared to Bill Clinton as well:

    "The average number of jobs created in this period is significantly lower than in either the Clinton or Reagan period, as shown in this Tableau interactive chart created by Wall Street Journal reporter Matt Stiles. As he noted, the average monthly gain during this period is in the bottom half of the 17 jobs recoveries lasting 12 months or more in the past 75 years..."

    Furthermore, as the Post points out, except for a single month, Bill Clinton had 84 months of private sector job growth and Reagan  71.  Add to that the much higher numbers of jobs for each, and you can now see why Americans are not idiots for knowing that this recovery is subpar.

    Point 3 is: "Unemployment has dropped from 10.1% in October of 2009 to 5.9% and projected to reach 5.4% by summer of 2015."

    This was discussed in my Part 1 article.  The rate drop is largely due to drops in the labor participation rate.  It's good that it has dropped, but as noted by me in Part 1, and WaPo fact checkers in Part 2, the actual job creation has been anemic under Obama.

    14 Facts About The Obama Presidency - Debunked - PART 1

    I saw this posted to my Facebook timeline, and decided that it needed to be debunked. This is part 1 of a 14 part series on it.

    But, I want to thank the Left for finally acknowledging that Reagan's economic record is the benchmark against which all others should be judged.  After arguing with them for 30 years about it, it's nice to see them coming aboard.

    On to the analysis:

    "1. We've now had 63 straight months of economic expansion."

    This would cover the period June 2009 - September 2014, when this article was written, and is in fact, wrong.  Contraction and Growth in the economy is measured by GDP, which is reported quarterly.  In the 63 months preceding September 2014, Q2 of 2010 and Q12014 both experienced negative growth.  Thus, by a technical definition of expansion/contraction, the statement is false.  Perhaps the author is conflating economic expansion to a not being in a recession.  Economists consider a recession to be when there are at least 2 consecutive quarters of negative growth, and that, indeed, has not happened since this recovery began.  However, the statement does not say we've had a 63 month recovery, which would be true.  It says, instead, we've had 63 months of economic expansion, which is a falsehood. Later in the article, Hartung uses another measure to claim the 63 month expansion, but, it's really not the classical definition, and represents cherry picking.

    "That’s right, for 63 consecutive months the US economy has gotten progressively better. That includes 54 consecutive months of private sector job growth. Forbes magazine, no fan of President Obama, crunched the numbers and demonstrated how the economic recovery under President Obama has been better in just about every measurable way than the recovery under President Reagan."

    The author is not a Forbes writer.  It is penned by Adam Hartung, a Forbes online contributor.  Forbes caveats: "Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own."  Thus, Forbes magazine does not give Mr. Hartung's analysis their imprimatur, therefore, it is also false to claim that Forbes magazine says this.  Adam Hartung, a Forbes Contributor, is making this case, not Forbes.  It's kind of like saying if I get my letter to the editor published in the Greensboro News & Record, it reflects their views, or, because my Dad worked there for 30 years, anythign I say reflects the editorial view of the paper.  That would be lying.  No different than this group passing this off as Forbes' work.

    But, even though I have demonstrated that the statement in the posting is false, let's still give the analysis a look and see what it says.

    The headline is "Obama Outperforms Reagan On Jobs, Growth And Investing" but the article really focuses on jobs.  I am going to stipulate that taken from the incredible shellacking the stock market took in the wake of the financial crisis, DJIA/S&P500 growth has been extremely good in this recovery, as it also was in the Reagan recovery.  I'll concede the point that stocks performed very well in both, and that $1 invested at the beginning of this recovery has returned a (slightly) better return than $1 at the beginning of the Reagan recovery.

    But, not everyone is an investor, and while I appreciate Hartung's argument for privatizing social security, the reason the Dems just got killed is the jobs situation, and here, his analysis is off base.

    Let's look at it.

    On the surface, we have a similar, and typical unemployment curve in both cases, and, indeed, measured solely by the unemployment rate, which is that top line number we all see, the Obama graph looks pretty good, even outpacing Reagan's recovery.

    But that's not the entire story.  And Hartung knows this. Unfortunately, his explanation lays the entire decrease in labor force participation at the hands of demographics.  However, many economists peg that number as explaining about 25% of it.  The rest is due to people in school, people on disability (in fact, today there are a record number of Americans receiving Social Security disability benefits), and people who have simply dropped out of the workforce.

    This article is a detailed discussion on the factors driving decreases in labor participation and is worth a read.

    The point here is that there really is no doubt that a focus on the larger labor participation decline may actually help explain why, despite these good top line numbers, people don't feel good about this recovery, and it may explain why they voted as they did Tuesday last.  While the numbers look good, a deeper analysis reveals flaws with them, and people actually feel that.

    Let's look at jobs from another angle, because Hartung is all aflutter over the awesome 200k/month increases averaged during the Obama recovery.  Some number of new jobs are required just to keep the unemployment rate steady  due to population growth and new people entering the workforce.

    These numbers vary widely based on the actual population and economic conditions, but somewhere between 100k-180k/month.

    I will make two points from here:

    1. There are about 7M more people working today than June 2009, the last month of the recession.  That's an average, per month increase of 110k.  
    2. During the Reagan Recovery (Nov 1982 - Jan 1989), the economy added 15M jobs, for an average of 214k/month.  Keep in mind the workforce population was about 50M (about 20% less people) than today.  

    Obama has quite a bit of work to do in the next 2 years to approach this job creating record.

    Wednesday, July 2, 2014

    Get Your Birth Control Here

    The Progressives want to argue that the Hobby Lobby case is somehow about "access" to birth control.

    As most reasonable observers have pointed out, this case was about abortion, not birth control.  The Hobby Lobby owners are not Catholic, and have no religious objections to birth control.  They object to abortion, and in the requirements as drafted by HHS (not Congress, mind you), were four "birth control" methods which are either abortion inducing (such as Plan B) or that prevented implantation of a fertilized egg.  16 other methods of birth control would remain in the HL provided insurance plan.  

    So, there is absolutely NO attempt to deny women access to birth control by HL, nor the SCOTUS in their decision.  That is an outright lie promulgated by the Left.

    Plus, I don't know if you spend any time at the pharmacy in your local Walgreens, but right there is usually, sold over the counter, Plan B and others of these methods.  To act as though the SCOTUS, HL, or any other of the conservative patriarchy is using this decision to deny easy access in a broader sense to even these methods of birth control is fatuous and another lie.

    These are easily available.  

    But I'll go so far as to say, even if HL's owners were devout Catholics and wanted to keep all methods of birth control out of their plan, they'd still have a winning case under RFRA. The hysterical Left would be out of control, but you'd still have the same answers as above - no one being denied their access to any of these means of preventing/ending pregnancy.

    UPDATE: SCOTUS included this in their decision: http://news.yahoo.com/justices-act-other-health-law-mandate-cases-133633160--politics.html;_ylt=A0LEV0_Jw7JTfGsAwEJXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0aTRxYjk3BHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1ZJUDQ2NF8x

    Why, because you can still buy the stuff, and you always will be able to.

    So, what's the final argument that has any merit whatsoever come to?

    Who pays for it.  And that's what is even more subversive about Obamacare and the government takeover of the medical system.  As Justice Alito pointed out the conservatives want your employer and our government OUT of your vagina.  We want your decisions about birth control to be between you and your doctor, and we'd love it if you paid for it yourself.

    What does the Progressive want?  They want to tell you every little thing you can do to and with your body, down to what BCP you use.

    Quite honestly, Progressives will not be satisfied until every woman in America is using the birth control method they prescribe and has had at least one abortion.

    Maybe you like that world.  If so, you're one of them.  


    Monday, June 30, 2014

    Hobby Lobby Wins. Is it pyrrhic?

    The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby today in their case against the government to protect the owner's relgious freedom.  I am saddened that the ruling was won on a 5-4 count.  I find it amazing none of the 4 liberal judges could see their way to protect religious freedom and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  A law passed with vast bipartisan majorities in both Houses of Congress and signed into law by the notorious #warrioronwomyn, Bill Clinton. Apparently, the liberal judges feel it's more important to play politics with religion than it is to protect it.

    So, Democrats will try to make hay of this decision by claiming it's furthering a Republican #waronwomyn by denying the women who work for Hobby Lobby contraception, and they'll go on to claim that this decision denies all women the right to birth control, BECAUSE WE ALL KNOW THE GOP IS AGAINST BIRTH CONTROL AND JUST WANTS WOMEN TO HAVE BABIES AND STAY HOME AND COOK FOR THE PATRIARCHS.

    You do know that, right?

    What, you say, the decision doesn't actually do that?  That doesn't matter to the Liberals.  They were unable to read the Arizona RFRA changes that did nothing to promote discrimination against gays, and lied about that law until Jan Brewer vetoed it, and they won't speak the truth of this decision, either.  I can't blame them, because if people knew the truth, they'd really wonder why we were here in the first place.

    The truth is this law permits Hobby Lobby to not include 4 abortifacients in their health plan, while still providing a benefit for birth control methods more commonly (much more commonly) used by women.  It is the abortifacients that the religious nuts at Hobby Lobby object to, and that's all.

    But, as Mark Steyn points out today, the Left really pushes these things (like the Arizona law) because they are opposed to religious liberty.  Steyn correctly describes the administration's (and most Liberal's) view on this:

    "In Obama's view, "religion" is fine for a once-a-week hymn-sing with a couple of scripture readings but it cannot inform your life. Leave it in the umbrella stand by the front door as you head off to work on Monday morning. There is literally no point to "religion" under this shrunken definition, as the Europeans have begun to figure out. Eventually, even that Sunday-morning private members' club gets opened up to the Bureau of Compliance. Breaking news from our friends across the pond:
    Denmark Forces Churches To Conduct Gay Marriages
    It would be interesting to read the headline "Denmark Forces Mosques To Conduct Gay Marriages", but that's probably what it's going to take to bring a halt to the shriveling space for religion in the public sphere."

    Monday, June 23, 2014

    IRS Hearings Today: Their Email Sucks

    The IRS Comissioner, John Koskinen is up on the Hill tonight, testifying as to why they lost some thousands of Lois Lerner's emails.

    Tonight I have learned that the government has some pretty screwed up information retention requirements, and that the IRS in general is about where the rest of America is in IT maturity.  Democrats want to make it clear that the IRS's email problems are not anything a few hundred million bucks couldn't fix.

    I can empathize with the IRS's data retention problems.  They have massive volumes of email and like most businesses and organizations they have to manage that volume.  Server capacity and storage capacity is always a limited resource, so, they force their end users to save email locally (on their hard drives), which, apparently, in Lois Lerner's case, is what she did.

    This, of course, coupled with users who do not back up their hard drives regularly, leads to crashes and loss of data.  That's what conviently happened to Lois Lerner.  Of course, the IRS is attempting to find all her emails by going through the email of those she may have sent them to, or been included on, and, with luck, they'll find most of them.

    I have some questions:
    1. Did Lois Lerner routinely back up her hard drive, which would have included the impacted emails?
    2. What was IRS policy regarding the back-up of hard drives at the IRS?
    3. If Lois Lerner's hard drive was backed up, what has become of that back-up, and why hasn't it been restored? What are the retention requirements for these back-ups? Are back up tapes re-used (as is common), or are they archived?
    4. What exact efforts were made to retrieve the data off Ms. Lerner's hard drive, including forensic activity after it was not restored using traditional means?
    While Dems mostly preened (although some pointed out the IRS largely followed their rules here), there were some other good points brought up:

    1. Why did Mr. Koskinen not inform Congress immediately when emails under subpoena were learned to be lost?
    2. Who informed Mr. Koskinen that the hard drive was dead and the emails lost? How was this communicated? It is completely unbelievable to me, and obviously to Republican members of the panel, that he could possibly not know the answer to this question.  He seems to have lost his memory on this and on the next question:
    3. When did you learn the emails were lost? He claims it was "April"

    It's not unreasonable to believe that Lois Lerner's hard drive failed and that it took email with it.  It's convenient timing, but it happens.  The response to it is a typical IT response and a typical user wanting all their crap back from a drive they know they shouldn't have been relying on.  I really see no fault there on the IRS's part,  except this is a particular agency we'd expect to be a little more careful in their data management.  

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

    Al Gore - Dumber than Facebook Posters (you know who you are)

    I admit, many years ago, I was enamored of Al Gore.  He seemed cool yet nerdy, and scientifically literate, and as a young, nascent engineer, it was refreshing to have a Senator of national prominence who could speak the language of science.

    (He was also married to the music hating Tipper, and was pro-life, but that was before he had to appeal to national Democrats).

    But, that was before I attempted to read Gore's "Earth in the Balance."

    My first impression of Gore's pseudo-scientific tome was that it was unfootnoted, and my second impression was that it was unreadable drivel, filled with nonsensical science and conclusions.

    It didn't help that Al rode a submarine to the Arctic with B-1 Bob Dornan and one of my best froends at the time, and the report was "Gore is the stupidest man alive, and B1 Bob was on him relentlessly."

    Anyway, Al's out doing his usual schtick, blaming everything, including the Syrian civil war, on global warming.  

    I kid you not:   See: http://nation.foxnews.com/2014/06/19/gore-blames-syria-civil-war-global-warming

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

    The Goreacle, Full of Contradictions

    In Al Gore's essay in Rolling Stone (no link, you can work for it), he says:

    "Enough raw energy reaches the Earth from the sun in one hour to equal all of the energy used by the entire world in a full year."

    Yet, this big, glowing energy ball has less impact on the climate than Mann's carbon burning.


    But wait, there's more. Touting the awesomeness of solar power and how the costs have come down:

    "Germany, Europe's industrial powerhouse, where renewable subsidies have been especially high, now generates 37 percent of its daily electricity from wind and solar."

    So, he admits that solar is only competitive where subsidies are "especially high" as some sort of victory for solar?

    Remarking on the closing of coal plants, he understates:

    "To be sure, some of these closings have been due to the substitution of gas for coal."

    Sure, Al, that would be most, or nearly all.  That, and the prohibitive cost to run coal plants due to government meddling.

    These are just in the first few paragraphs of an essay as tedious to read as "Earth in the Balance."  Irony of ironies is Rolling Stone dared to link to an article about the "10 Dumbest Things Said Abiut Climate Change" in the midst of this stupidity and obfuscation.

    It would be awesome if solar, wind, and nuclear (all carbon free energy sources) could safely replace fossil fuels in the electric grid.  Maybe they can,  I'd just like to see the government stop subsidizing the first two and lessen the restrictions on the latter (and more promising).

    Meanwhile, it'd be great if Al Gore would just exit the stage.  


    Friday, June 13, 2014

    The Obama Crack-Up

    Is the Obama administration less competent than even Jimmy Carter's?  

    At least Carter negotiated the Camp David peace accord, which brought a semi-lasting peace to the Middle East, while the primary foreign policy accomplishment of the Obama admin would seem to be plunging areas of the world formerly secure into bloody civil wars (Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Australia). 

    I guess we can always hope that Obama will see a crazed rabbit on the golf course.

    Monday, February 17, 2014

    Coldest January Ever? Not in California...

    So where does Obama go to push his bogus "climate change" agenda?

    Certainly not to any of the states east of the Mississippi who are suffering through some of the coldest January's in the last 120 years (http://sunshinehours.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/noaa-usa-january-67-januarys-were-warmer/).   

    That wouldn't serve the purpose of "climate change."

    Instead, he scurries off to California to decry the cyclical drought (see http://sunshinehours.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/drought-in-california-cool-pdo-and-warm-amo/) as caused by climate change (that means you and your dastardly SUV).  This despite the fact that California's water problems are also brought on by land use policies and water use policies designed to protect a tiny fish, the Delta Smelt, see http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/61219.  Obama himself vetoed legislation that could have spared California's Central Valley this problem.

    Nothing like using climate change as a bogeyman for problems liberals created.

    When these people tell you they are just trying to save the planet, tell them to stop.

    Climate Change Fascism Redux. Or how i learned Bill Nye is a fake scientist.

    I am so sick of the "climate change" religionists.  Their latest tactic is rolling out the decaying carcass of Bill Nye (the "Science Guy"), as though having a cartoonish buffoon who's legacy is explaining science to toddlers, is going to win the day for them.

    See Nye taken down on the links here.

    I have posted all over this blog, and there are links galore to articles debunking both the correlations and the strength of the correlations between man and "climate change."

    A lot bothers me about those who hold this religious (and I mean that in the most derogatory sense possible) view that Man is responsible for all climate activity on this planet, but, in no particular order here are some:

    1. Their claim that the science is "settled."  That, my friends, depends on what you mean by the "science."  If you mean is CO2 increasing, and is Man a contributor to that, then yes, that is settled.  If you mean, is CO2 a greenhouse gas, then, yes, the science is settled.  But, that's science on the order of "water is chemically H2O" level stuff.  This argument from the CC Religionists attempts to paint you as a bumpkin who believes the Earth is 5000 years old and Man roamed it with the dinosaurs.  In other words, they want you to think you're stupid, (and they're smart and enlightened).  

    For most CC'ers, their knowledge of the "science" ends here.  That's because that's all they hear from AlGore or MSNBC or the MSM, and it's about all they can comprehend.  They don't understand that the Church of Climate Change typically ignores important things that also impact the science, like other greenhouse gases (um, water vapor, for example), natural events (volcanic eruptions, for example), natural climate variability, or that big ball of heat in the sky we call the Sun.

    They don't understand (or willingly ignore) that the Church of Climate Change is built on models developed by "scientists" who often have a vested financial interest in the Church's future.

    2. The "consensus" of scientists means you "deniers" need to shut up.  Judith Curry, Richard Lindzen, Joe Bastardi and the thousands of others who don't ascribe to the man-caused fear mongering theories of the religionists don't count, as they're not in the consensus.  Well, the consensus is not as great as they want you to believe, and I would encourage you to root around the Internet, and you find a lot of people who find the science problematic, and not so settled at all.  If you have an engineering, science, or math background, some of the crap the religionists are passing off as science should seriously concern you.

    3.  Even if you cite experts in the field who produce research that contradicts the party line, and even if it's peer reviewed and well documented and truthful, well, they'll attempt to smear it was "funded by big oil."  This is where Bill Nye devolved to on MTP today.  

    4. Extreme weather events are caused by "climate change" and are proof of "climate change."  This is the absolute most maddening claim.  No responsible climate scientist, and not even the most rabid in the "consensus" category will even touch an attempt to tie a specific weather event to "climate change."  The fact is these links can not be proven, not least of all because there is no link.  All you'll really get from them is that extreme weather is a possible result of climate change.  

    This is clearly an attempt to influence public opinion,  but when everything is caused by climate change, nothing is.  The new religion's name, "climate change," is even used to be as expansive as possible.  Is there someone alive who thinks the climate hasn't always changed?  The Earth has survived through numerous periods of warming and cooling.  The climate has ALWAYS changed.  This is the very nature of things.  Don't fall for this tactic.  This is entirely meant to distract from the incontrovertible fact that global temperatures have remained the same/fallen slightly since 1998, and their models can not explain "The Pause."  This occurring despite global CO2 emissions continuing to increase.  

    Us skeptics say this is because something else is going in here.  These people built their careers (I don't blame anyone for wanting a steady job, but in academia, it's important to be right) on this religion.  Their models were designed to make the most of Man's activities.  Why? Because if you can't say the sky is falling, why should any policy maker fork over the nation's treasury to you to study it more?

    That's one group of the believers.  Those are the cash hounds, who need this charade to continue to keep the money flowing.  The harder group are those who know this is a charade, but see it as an opportunity to bring down Western Civilization,  something they've been trying to do for generations.  These were the communist fellow-travelers and the same people who 40 years ago were whining about a new ice and the population explosion.  

    Regardless of the cause of the man-caused catastrophe, their proscriptions are all the same - it's the West's fault, stop development, and you people in the 3rd world who'd like to be rich - get back to your caves.

    Opposing these people is both a Pro-Science and Moral obligation for me.  That's why I am so passionate about it and find this group to be so dangerous to not just what the West has accomplished but to mankind and what our friends in Brazil and India, and other developing nations may accomplish.  

    Plug-in Hybrids Are Not Rotten

    If you drive around Atlanta, you see a lot of Nissan Leafs (Leaves?) around this place.

    The Leaf is really the first truly usable purely electric car.  Unlike the Chevy Volt, which uses a gas engine as a range extended to keep its electric powertrain running, and the Toyota Prius, which uses the battery really to take over tasks from the gas engine and extend range (i.e. mileage), the Leaf relies solely on it batteries for locomotion.

    Unlike the Volt, it has roughly an 80 mile range before requiring a recharge (the Volt is good for 37).

    They're kind of 2 sides of the same coin.  The Volt can be taken on a trip of some length, because it's gas engine will power an electric motor to continue to run the car.  You get about 400 miles before it's time to refill.  GM says this makes it the equivalent of a 37MPG car in this type of driving.

    I will point out that nearly all turbo diesels sold by VW and Audi beat this easily, pushing 45-50MPG in highway driving.  So, if you're interested in highway efficiency, with the Prius hybrid (which pushes 50MPG) or a TDI is a more efficient choice.

    If all you're doing is local driving, and you can suffer the 4-8 hour recharges required on these things using normal household current, then most people estimate you're looking at about $2 worth of electricity to restore to full charge.  Until gas/diesel is back at $2/gallon prices, that makes the plug-ins more efficient, but, you need to understand the other trade-offs with these, which include the dwell time while they charge, the loss of efficiency in the summer months, and the ultimate super charge when you replace your batteries at $8000 after 6-8 years.

    Top that off with the still real risk from fire with Lithium Ion batteries (google Chevy Volt fires and check out the 787 Dreamliner's problems with this same technology), and I still think people are buying these for vanity reasons, and not because they're either better cars, or even more fuel efficient over the long haul.

    As for me, I did choose a TDI, and I got a car I know will give me 38-50 MPG consistently, and will not require an engine replacement at the 100-150k mile mark.