In their zeal to bring charges against the defendant in this case, the prosecutors and investigators aggressively sought out statements the defendants had been compelled to make to government investigators in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and in the subsequent investigation. In so doing, the government’s trial team repeatedly disregarded the warnings of experienced, senior prosecutors, assigned to the case specifically to advise the trial team on Garrity and Kastigar issues, that this course of action threatened the viability of the prosecution. The government used the defendants’ compelled statements to guide its charging decisions, to formulate its theory of the case, to develop investigatory leads and, ultimately, to obtain the indictment in this case.Interestingly, most commenters at DailyKos are supporting the rule of law, despite the general blood lust against Blackwater on the left. A little ray of hope?
Thursday, December 31, 2009
1. It's not over yet, although things look bad. Pelosi can probably get enough Blue Dogs in line and you knew all along that the "progressives" who vowed to block any bill without a public option were blowing smoke. If the far left succeeds in getting a public option into a conference committee bill, then passage in the Senate becomes doubtful. See leftist discussion here and here, from the left wing Firedoglake on Pelosi's difficulties.
2. Even if something is passed, most of it won't take effect right away, except the taxes. The Democrats have always tried to built support for social welfare programs by getting a constituency hooked on the benefits (see Medicare) so as to make repeal impossible. Because of their need to get this piece of stupidity scored as "not budget busting" (LOL) they have front loaded the taxes, but not the benefits. As the taxes impact the economy, they will have a negative impact. Meanwhile, with no "benefits" forthcoming, the GOP can campaign safely on a promise of repeal. Probably the only popular part of the package will be the promise of portability or the ability to keep one's coverage during job changes. Since this has always been part of the conservative/libertarian discussion, the GOP can promise not to repeal that provision.
3. The debate has focused attention on free market solutions to problems in the health care insurance system. Shame on the GOP for not tackling the issue when they had majorities. However, this debate provides the intellectual ammunition needed to carry on the debate. We may need to eventually repeal the bill bit by bit; having substitute free market mechanisms to solve the real problems with health insurance will be necessary to make it palatable.
Look forward to carrying on this discussion.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
So far, all I have heard is talk of "systemic failures." That's bureaucratic for "no one is to blame, so no one will be held accountable." As usual, Obama sounds great, until you analyze the actual information content of what he is saying.
Terrorism is all about making society less free and more repressive and generally unlivable, because of the threat posed. There is no reason to believe that this attack couldn't have been prevented, so imposing new restrictions on society only advances the jihadist agenda and unnecessarily so.
The other meme given the lie is the one that Democrats are somehow more competent than Republicans to operate the machinery of government. I read this on Daily Kos over the last two years so many times as to induce nausea. The fact is that most of what occurs in government is the result the efforts of nameless, faceless bureaucrats like myself. The role of the either political party is to appoint the right people to lead and to induce change at the top necessary for improved performance. This is very difficult for either party to accomplish, because they are both very ideologically oriented and requires a deep understanding of management. Given the nature of our political system, the upshot is that government needs to be as small as possible, so that management attention can be brought to bear on the problems, like national security, that government is actually meant to solve.
However, as we watch the managerial incompetence of this administration be compared to the previous one, I will enjoy my measure of schadenfreude as the Democrats eat the crap sandwich they have made for themselves.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
My utmost sincere admiration goes out to Jasper Schuringa who reacted quickly to put out the fire and subdue the suspect which prevented an explosion. The last three attempts at terrorism on U.S. airline flights have been thwarted by passengers, not law enforcement. How and why this is true eludes me, but I welcome your suggestions. Here is the list with links:
Friday, December 25, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Duplicitous and Shameful, is how the WSJ characterizes the Senate's recent vote to kill Washington DC's Opportunity Scholarship program. I couldn't agree more, and it comes just in time for Christmas. Notice how the Democrats always claim that everything they do "is for the children" except when they might cross their union paymasters. (BTW: Health care also screws the young disproportionately.) You can just feel the evil oozing from this paragraph:
"Opposition to vouchers is a top priority for NEA," declared the union in a letter sent to every Democrat in the House and Senate in March. "We expect that Members of Congress who support public education, and whom we have supported, will stand firm against any proposal to extend the pilot program. Actions associated with these issues WILL be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 111th Congress."Is the NEA the most evil organization in America? Maybe not compared to Tony Soprano, but give them credit, they are working on it.
Helping the President keep his campaign promise to kill programs that have proven ineffective, the Senate sent President Obama spending bill that phased out the program. How ineffective you ask? Here's a quote from an Earth Times article:
The reading effects of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) show the largest achievement impact of any education policy program yet evaluated in a randomized control trial by the U.S. Department of Education and reveal an important trend toward increased reading gains for students the longer they remain in the program, according to the evaluation’s principal investigator, Patrick Wolf of the University of Arkansas.
Republicans need to get off their dead rear ends, NOW, and make a campaign promise to restore funding for this effort. If there was ever an issue that combines core principles with the desire to reach out to minorities, this is it. Please check the Weekly Standard blog for pictures of those protesting this outrageous action by the Congress. This is fertile ground for the Freedom Coalition.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Banks Don't Belong in the Student Loan Business
Because it turns out that the government would be so much more efficient at this task. For reals, that's his argument, because banks make a profit, the government could perform the role cheaper. Then he turns around and states that the government will outsource the servicing of loans anyway.
Along the way he distorts the fact that colleges switched to direct loans from the feds under extreme arm twisting from the Department of Education.
Friday, December 18, 2009
My take is that the frustrated left led by the likes of Kos and Howard Dean, will withhold cash, support and maybe even votes in 2010, if health care "reform" passes in its rumored current form. (I say rumored, because no one can tell for sure what is actually in the bill at any moment.) Given the enraged and energized state of the right-leaning electorate and the lack of Obama at the top of the ticket to get out the African-American vote, this could be an immense disaster for the Democrats. Further, as I pointed out earlier, the moderates in middle-America would suffer under new taxes that would immediately raise employment costs, without a single benefit until 2013.
Mitch McConnell has come under criticism from Rush for not doing enough to stop this bill. But if Mitch was the evil genius he's sometimes accused of being, then he might be fine tuning his opposition to get the bill to be as crappy as possible, to then just let it pass. Alternatively, he might just be along for the ride at this point, thinking he has a win-win. If health care passes as is, he scores big and if health care loses, he still scores big. An old friend of mine, Jeff, once told me "Never ascribe to malice what can be explained by stupidity." That might apply here.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Just when I thought they had exhausted the playbook of sucky ideas for health care legislation, the Democrats reach for an oldie but goodie, more regulation. From the LA Times article:
The change sprang from a compromise made to placate conservative Democrats wary of a new government program. But shorn of a "public option," the Senate healthcare bill has reverted to a long-established practice of leveraging government power to police the private sector, rather than compete with it. Despite the resistance among Republicans and conservatives to more government regulation, even the insurance industry has agreed to broad new oversight of their business in exchange for the prospect of gaining millions of new customers.I hate how Democrats think that Tea Party protesters are in the hands of big business, it's a slander. I always hate these kinds of short-sighted sell out by the business community, they are only going to get screwed in the end. Better for them to pull out all the stops to prevent passage, especially when that passage looks in doubt now.
Let's recap Obama's goals for health care legislation from his own web site:
- Reduce the cost of health care.
- Increase the number of insured.
- Ensure those with pre-existing conditions are covered.
- Protect Medicare.
- Create a more competition through and insurance exchange and "public option."
- Do not increase the deficit.
Meanwhile the LA Times article goes on to criticize the idea of more regulation, because it will not kill private insurance fast enough. OK, they don't actually say that, but it's pretty clear that's the author's vision.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
At the end of a video-teleconference at work this week, one of the participants wished everyone a Merry Christmas. Unbelievably, a senor Navy officer stated afterward, soto voce to me, "You can't say that." I was aghast and just walked away. PC really is running amok in the Navy today.
HotAir has become my favorite news source. They tipped me to this lengthy article about the real reason people hate government run health care. Once the government is paying for health care, or your employee for that matter, we all end up paying for other people's stupid choices in lifestyle and behavior. The result?
Because that’s what socialized medicine does: it turns each of us into a little fascist. A nagging nanny who tells other people what to do and how to live.
Now, I really don’t care if you overeat, smoke like a chimney, hump like a bunny or forget to lock the safety mechanism on your pistol as you jam it in your waistband. Fine by me. And as a laissez-faire social-libertarian live-and-let-live kind of person, I would never under normal circumstances condemn anyone for any of the behaviors listed above. That is: Until the bill for your stupidity shows up in my mailbox. Then suddenly, I’m forced to care about what you do, because I’m being forced to pay for the consequences.
I earlier commented on BwD that Krauthammer should let Iowahawk do the satire and Charles "the Hammer" should stick to the wonky stuff. Iowahawk returns the favor with a very lengthy post on the machinations behind "value added homogenized data" proving AGW. It's worth a read, especially if you have a technical background.
Friday, December 11, 2009
A little more about the famous place here, scroll half way down.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
This administration seems hell bent on making our problems worse, every day. Some examples.
Headline from WaPo.
U.S. pushes for emissions cuts from China, developing nations.
As if that is really going to happen. India's announcement that they will slow emissions growth (different from actually cutting emissions) by 20%-25% is little more than status quo. China will just cheat. So America will suffer the job killing consequences of a demonstrably ineffective policy of cap and trade, which won't even cut CO2 emissions, much less impact the environment.
The EPA, as expected, ruled that CO2 is a harm to the environment. However, to make such a finding they must show that humans are being harmed. In the technical document a number of unproved assertions are made. I would love for this to go to court, where their data can be exposed. Here is a quote:
It is very likely that heat waves will become more intense, more frequent, and longer lasting in a future warm climate, whereas cold episodes are projected to decrease significantly.Tell that to Dallas.
Meanwhile, Obama is calling for Stimulus III because the first two are working so well to keep down the unemployment rate. This recession is a recovery from asset bubbles due to government intervention in the economy. Until those are unwound and overall debt is reduced, businesses are not going to be able to bring the country out of economic doldrums. By continuing the failed policies of the past, only more so, Obama is making the economy worse. Further, small businesses are facing uncertainty over health care costs, cap and trade costs, potential continuation of Sarbanes-Oxley auditing, and the expiration of death tax relief. No wonder the economy isn't growing.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
The National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) of 1984 treats compensation for marrow donors as though it were black-market organ sales. Under NOTA, giving a college student a scholarship or a new homeowner a mortgage payment for donating marrow would land everyone—doctors, nurses, donors and patients—in federal prison for up to five years.
Note the relation to the proposed health care legislation in the Senate. One size fits all regulations intended to reduce the costs of health care will certainly kill more Americans than the present system.
H/T Institute for Justice.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Marx is famously quoted as saying that religion is the opiate of the masses. But what is really true is that Marxism is the opiate of the so-called intellectual. It has been used to justify the slaughter of millions more than any other belief, all in the name of a system that has proved to be a profound failure.
For those intellectuals who think that the Marx quote is taken out of context, link here to show that he is explicitly calling out religion for being what later leftists would call a form of "false consciousness."
Saturday, December 5, 2009
I heed Dean's call for support for the President's policy; but I must object to particulars nonetheless. Obama's safe speech reminds me of the football coach with a slim lead who punts late in the game and goes into the prevent defense against Peyton Manning. Few will fault him for the safe play calling, but his team loses anyway. In the same way, Obama is signaling his preparation for failure. His lack of enthusiasm and his very quick pronouncement that the surge will only last 18 months are not signs of a man committed to victory, a word that did not enter his speech. McChrystal asked for 40,000 troops for a reason; maybe that reason is that he needed 30,000 and figured he'd never get all he asked for so better to aim high. But by fudging the number to appease his base, Obama looks like a man not fully committed to the strategy he himself laid out last March. Further, the Taliban believe that they are in it for the long haul; by setting a timetable, he has given them cause for greater resolve; they just need to wait this guy out. As George Washington proved over 200 years ago, the key element to winning an insurgency against a remote power, is to keep you army in the field. The insurgent can suffer loss after loss, but as long as his forces continue to demonstrate the capacity to strike back, the war is not over.
Promising to withdraw when you know that the real outcome in Afghanistan depends on how shifting alliances with local warlords work out, only gives incentives to the locals to not cooperate. This single failing of his speech could be his undoing, even if he later changes his mind and argues that "conditions on the ground" dictate a longer engagement, he will have needlessly prolonged the war by giving hope to the enemy and planting doubt in our allies.
Our battle tested armed forces have learned a great deal about conducting counter-insurgency operations in the Middle East, so there is a good likelihood they will succeed. But they could sure use a little more boldness and inspiration from their leader.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Meanwhile, I'll be visiting a local college campus with the youngsters.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
2. Next, Mann et al. regressed the 100 years or so of observed temperatures against the proxy variable principle components:
y = b0 + b1*PC1 + b2*PC2 + ... + bp*PCp + error
the regression coefficients (b's) estimated from recent data were then applied to the older proxy PCs to obtain retrospective "backcasts" or "hindcasts" of the temperatures in 1015, 1016,... 1850.
Voila! The Mann et al. statistical model resulted in the now infamous hockey stick, showing a radical increase in global temperatures in recent years versus the relatively flat milenial variation. This was in large part the basis for the IPCC report.
Now, if you've been following this, Mann's entire temperature reconstruction method rests on knowing (observing) recent periodic global temperatures, y. Quibbling about principle components aside, that's the dependent variable in the backcasts. But as is now becoming increasingly plain, y was constructed from an undocumented process that took raw ground station data and ran it through a black box that included smoothing, filtering, inference, manipulation, baling wire, glue and the juice of one whole lemon. This is what the CRU people are calling "valued added homogenized data." Or what normal people call "made up horseshit." It's also the temperature data that dozens, if not hundreds of AGW studies are based on.This is in fact scandalous to good scientific process and the real scandal is not that some emails were compromised.
We should ask ourselves why we came to this end. I believe it is because we asked science to perform a task it will never be up to. Future predictions based on scientific method will always be imprecise and will necessarily not answer the question of what to do about the situation posed. Even if it were proved that man's carbon emissions are causing temperatures to rise, it is not clear what the best policy would be to deal with it. Our values, our ideology, economics, and yes, politics, all come into play in determining a way ahead. By putting all of the pressure on SCIENCE to answer the question of what to do about increased carbon dioxide in the air, we have shifted the political fight to the realm of science, where it does not belong. The result is science that is conducted like politics. As someone else said, science may be objective, but scientists clearly are not. Given the pressure to produce an answer that would result in more grant money, one can see the economic incentives that tempted climate researchers to fudge their data. This does not excuse their ethical lapses, but in fact shows that ethics matter most when the stakes are so high. Given the defensive nature of the "researchers," the skeptics necessarily became more aggressive and unapologetic in their criticisms, which provoked an even greater "circle the wagons response." In the compromised emails, we see the East Anglia team ever more fearful that the raw data would fall into the wrong hands.
Finally and most tragically I must state that AGW is not proved, nor is it disproved; and we may never know the truth because so much raw data has been lost. And that is a real crime, because, while science may not be able to answer policy questions, it should certainly be called upon to intelligently and dispassionately inform the debate.
I would like to end on a lighter note, so here is a nice youtube video explaining it all, to music. H/T again, to Ace.