CO2 and Poop

Great column in NYT today about geoengineering. I’ve heard of carbon capture before, but not the other idea they introduce – solar radiation management.

And more importantly, I never thought about the problem in the terms he raises. Basically, the idea of treating excess CO2 as an unavoidable by-product of human activity and finding a way to treat it to restore it the planet to a more stable condition.

Geoengineering: A Solution to Excess CO2

Many global warming advocates want human activity to slow or change so that there is no excess carbon problem to fix. They object philosophically to humans affecting the planet to such a degree that it requires remediation measures on such a scale as geoengineering would required.

Which made me think of poop…If we applied this sort of ‘no treatment’ logic to human pee and poop, we would be buried under mountains of effluent that would have destroyed the planet.

Are people proposing that we pee and poop less? Or that we are no longer going to treat human waste because it is philosophically objectionable?

Continue reading CO2 and Poop

David Brooks on Republicans

David Brooks, New York Times

David Brooks is one of my favorite commentators. So often he gets things right – at least in my opinion.

Again today, he’s written something that resonates – The Possum Republicans.

He offers some perspective on why the Republican party behaves as it is doing. While everyone on the right profess to want to defeat President Obama, day-to-day behavior seems determined to ensure that does not happen.

I can’t begin to do his writing justice, so I will offer a few telling quotes: Continue reading David Brooks on Republicans

Downward Spiral for the GOP

Lately, I am feeling a bit more skeptical about politics that usual. I think Republicans generally have better policies, especially about economics, but the dynamics of the race are pushing people to do and say ridiculous things on a regular basis.

I also think the party orthodoxy is not flexible or creative enough to address the size and depth of the problems the country faces (same being true for the Democrats). It feels like we’d be better off with the GOP in charge, but I’m not sure we’d actually be doing as well as we could or need to.

It would take a person with tremendous powers of persuasion (and intellect) to move us collectively towards the nuanced and sometimes complicated positions that are probably in our long term best interest – and neither Romney or Santorum are demonstrating they have those powers.

Continue reading Downward Spiral for the GOP

NYT and WSJ react to Obama’s budget: Through the looking glass

Obama’s 2013 budget was released yesterday. In today’s papers, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have shared their reactions. They could not be more different.

In their piece titled A Responsible Budget, the NYT totally buys into the Democratic narrative of how the world works and what the Federal government’s priorities should be. Even as it runs up an unprecedented fourth year in a row with a $1T+ deficit, they do not question a single thing, except to assert that Obama was too soft on defense and could have found more than a measely $5b in cuts.

As is common in liberal analysis (even analysis of budgets), they use very few numbers or charts. In this case, their write-up contains a grand total of 4 numbers (dollar amounts, percentages, dates, etc.) and no charts at all. You’d think that commenting on such a numerically-driven document would require greater use of figures, but why get bogged down with objective reality? The NYT keeps their focus squarely on the liberal plotline.

Continue reading NYT and WSJ react to Obama’s budget: Through the looking glass

George Lakoff – How conservatives and liberals think. or not.

A commenter on this blog (Dan) has repeatedly suggested I read Moral Politics by George Lakoff. He’s suggested it will explain all when it comes to why conservatives are the way they are and vice versa for liberals. Naturally, I never did it, but I’ve been more and more wondering about this question and seeking some insight.

Today there was a piece in the New York Times called The Gulf of Morality that tries to get at how and why the two sides think as they do. And who should be the first person they quote, but Professor Lakoff who makes this ridiculous comment:

conservatives believe in individual responsibility alone, not social responsibility. They don’t think government should help its citizens. That is, they don’t think citizens should help each other.

This is absurd on its face – especially given my post earlier today about conservatives giving a lot more of their income to charity, being more likely to devote their own time to charitable causes (volunteerism), and when they do volunteer, to spend almost double the amount of time doing it.

So if this is what this guy thinks about conservatives, how can Dan be recommending him as the font of wisdom? I wanted to know more. Since I’m too lazy to read an entire book, I took a shortcut and listened to a lecture he gave at UC San Diego in 2005 about the topic of his book ‘Moral Politics’. It’s an hour long and I’ve listened carefully to it twice.

Here are some thoughts:

Continue reading George Lakoff – How conservatives and liberals think. or not.

‘Conservatives are selfish people’ – Not

I make a point to read the New York Times every day, especially the OpEd pieces. I very often disagree with the OpEd pieces, but what are often even more remarkable are the comments. One from a piece today was especially remarkable for its concise and utterly unsupportable point.

The piece is titled The Gulf of Morality and it speaks to an issue that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately which is why/how liberals and conservatives can’t communicate.

I plan to post on the piece itself shortly, but the comment that got me is this from Stephen in New Haven (boldface by me):

Conservatives are a psychological and human anomaly. Although they like to think they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, all they really do is climb over other people on the way up. To put it bluntly: Conservatives are selfish people.

This behavior is completely at odds with human development. Selfishness does not help the group survive. We evolved to live in social groups who look after one another.

Continue reading ‘Conservatives are selfish people’ – Not

Keystone XL – Is there a better route for transporting the oil?

Source: Politico

Read this this morning in the Wall Street Journal:

Credit Suisse analyst Ed Westlake puts it this way: “From a transportation perspective, which is more environmentally risky: Shipping crude across the Rocky Mountains to the British Colombia coast, loading the crude onto tankers which sail down the California coast, through the Panama Canal and into the Gulf of Mexico or building a [southern] pipeline to the latest safety specifications?”

Quite so. Continue reading Keystone XL – Is there a better route for transporting the oil?

Liberals are totally losing it: no fall holidays

I used to sort of understand and even agree with a lot of liberal thinking, but good God what the f— is going on in the liberal mind these days?

Now we are cancelling fall holidays over supposed atrocities of hundreds of years ago and/or vague linkages to witchcraft and/or whatever else. It is absurd – and we aren’t even talking about economic policy or Occupy Wall Street. What a mess.

Via Fox News, WHDH, and other sources, Anne Foley, an elementary school principal in my old state of Massachusetts says this:

“When we were young we might have been able to claim ignorance of the atrocities that Christopher Columbus committed against the indigenous peoples. We can no longer do so. For many of us and our students, celebrating this particular person is an insult and slight to the people he annihilated. On the same lines, we need to be careful around the Thanksgiving Day time as well.”

Taking this impeccable logic forward, why stop at holidays? If we really want to atone for our great, great, great, great, great ancestors sins shouldn’t we do something that really hurts – like slashing our wrists?

Then you combine this thinking with other guilt about the environment, exploiting workers, and so forth and the only logical place to go is either back to the Stone Age or onto the next world. We certainly can’t stay here.

Who knows what the future brings, but I think we can pretty safely say that I won’t be voting Democratic again anytime soon.



8.8 Billion Hours Spent Completing Regulatory Paperwork

The Wall Street Journal today reports about an OMB study which indicates that Americans spent 8.8 billion hours filling out federal forms in 2010. This is down from 2009, but apparently due to a more favorable formula for calculating the figures.

Full article here: White House Tallies Hours Spent Filling Out Forms (paywall)

The OMB study indicates that despite supposedly decreasing in the past year, the burden has increased by 19% since 2000.

Various stats are offered:

  • 70M additional hours in 2010 for employers to claim a new credit for hiring more workers
  • 14.5M additional hours for restaurants to display calorie counts on their menus

The SEC also had the biggest year-over-year increase as a result of doubling its estimate of how long it takes to fill out its forms.

If you do some simple math, you can see that 8.8B hours equals roughly 4.5M full-time workers – or 3.8% of the workforce (153.6M workers – 14.0M unemployed, 1,928 applied work hours per person).

Many would argue this isn’t nearly enough, but I suspect the opposite is true – and it is likely to go well higher with ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, and numerous other regulations in the pipeline.

Regulatory Paperwork Burden
Regulatory Paperwork Burden

It’s all Bush’s fault!

Even 3 years into Obama’s presidency, commentators and commenters are constantly blaming it all on Bush. As we sit here in mid-2011, they make it sound like it has been obvious since Day 1 that Bush left the economy in terrible, terrible shape.

It's all Bush's fault!Seems to me that this is revisionist and largely a response to the reality that Obama’s policies have not worked out very well. As they continue to fail, the left has to blame someone and, surely, it is not going to be Obama. Since they all already hate Bush, he’s an easy target.

I’d raise two points about why this is revisionist:

First, if Democrats knew the economy was so bad when they took office, why did they move so quickly (Stimulus was passed within 3 weeks of Obama’s taking office) from the Stimulus to ObamaCare, Cap and Trade, Dodd-Frank, and other programs.  Surely, none of these could be seen are primarily focused on rescuing the economy or creating jobs. If it was obvious the economy sucked, there is no reason they should have done anything but focused like a laser on additional economic and jobs initiatives.

Continue reading It’s all Bush’s fault!