pilgrimage

I won’t be blogging for the next few days, the family is off on our secular pilgrimage. Yes, we’re off on our Hajj to Mecca to see the Mouse in Florida.

Disneyworld!

: D

I hope to post a trip report when we get back.

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good game

The Little League All-Star tournament started here tonight. My son had a good game.

He pitched a shut-out no hitter, had 10 strike outs, hit a home run, and batted 1.000.

Not a bad day at the park.

(10 strike outs , out of 12 batters faced. The game ended after 4 innings — 10 run rule)

rotten to the core

My son’s iPod won’t sync with the computer anymore. It works fine when disconnected, but iTunes won’t recognize the device. This sucks mostly because Apple’s support is among the worst in the industry.

To correct the problem (iTunes not recognizing the iPod) the The Apple website has such helpful suggestions as “restore the origial software on the iPod by…” yes, you guessed it, applying the update to the iPod from within iTunes. But iTunes doesn’t recognize the iPod, so the solution is to have iTunes recognize the iPod… … Apple brilliance strikes again.

As for tech support, Apple will only talk to me if I pay them $30. That’s not a charge to fix the problem, that’s the cost for the phone call.

Since the device otherwise works and since it will accept a charge through, it appears that the problem is a software problem. A software problem that, because it’s Apple, can only solved by replacing the hardware. That kind of idiotic hardware/software lock in is, of course, a feature to the kind folks at Apple, not a bug.

a wet, lurid breeze

I thought this administration was supposed to be a breath of fresh air. Clean the swamp, fight corruption, Hope™ and Change™ and all that….

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. has backed off his plan to investigate wrongdoing by the liberal activist group ACORN, saying “powers that be” put the kibosh on the idea.

Mr. Conyers, Michigan Democrat, earlier bucked his party leaders by calling for hearings on accusations the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now (ACORN) has committed crimes ranging from voter fraud to a mob-style “protection” racket.

“The powers that be decided against it,” Mr. Conyers told The Washington Times.

The chairman declined to elaborate, shrugging off questions about who told him how to run his committee and give the Democrat-allied group a pass. — Washington times

Hunh.

Mr. Conyers is the chairmain of the House Judiciary Committee. Who would have the power to call off his investigation?

“The powers that be decided against it.”

I bet they did.

Yay, democracy!

Dunce cap

Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems set to deliver a vote on the “cap and trade” bill today.

Analysis of the bill has been notoriously murky, partly because the Reps voting on the bill haven’t actually read it.

This is a familiar pattern that should trouble everyone, regardless of where they stand politically. Congress repeatedly passing omnibus tax increases without reading the bills is bad news. It’s simply poor governance.

But hey, remember this one?

“Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”

That’s still my favorite line from the campaign. The fact that he could say it with a straight face was just amazing.

But back to cap-and-trade. It’s nonsense. The mistake is in assuming that there’s actually some worthwhile point to reducing energy consumption; there isn’t. Reducing personal energy consumption can make sense if you’re trying to save money, but reducing global energy use? It’s just silly. We don’t want to reduce the amount of energy the world uses, we want to increase the amount of energy the world uses. In a very real sense, energy use is the fundamental definition of wealth. The more energy we use, the longer we live, the better our lives are, etc… etc….

So the issue isn’t energy consumption so much as fossil fuel consumption. But reducing consumption in the U.S. will do nothing to reduce global fossil fuel consumption.

Not a damn thing.

Why? Because fossil fuels are commodities. A reduction in demand in location A just means that there’s more available for location B. Reduce demand in New York and more oil gets used in the China. The energy market is a global market and local variations have little effect on aggregate demand. If we reduce our consumption all we do is lower the cost of fossil fuels in China, India, and Russia.

And from a strict conservation standpoint, shifting consumption from New York to China would result in more pollution, significantly more waste, and far more carbon emissions. First-world industry is remarkably efficient and clean–we extract as much energy out of each barrel of oil as we possibly can (and we keep getting more and more efficient). But all that efficiency is expensive and time-consuming; third world economies just can’t match that level of efficiency. Shifting demand from New York to China is a loss in terms of efficiency, conservation, and carbon.

So Congress will pass a meaningless, massive tax hike–a tax hike that will fall disproportionately on the poor by the way–without reading the bill. The bill will radically reduce American economic efficiency, cost trillions of dollars, and increase the amount of carbon in the global atmosphere. Way to go.

Update: Lest I be accused of just wanting us to stick our heads in the sand….

Let’s assume for a moment that carbon emissions are the most proximate cause of global atmospheric warming and that such warming would have catastrophic consequences for humanity. (I’m open to persuasion on the first and  increasingly doubtful of the second claim, but we’ll leave those issues aside for the moment and accept the dire warnings.)

Reducing carbon emissions globally is extremely difficult, not just as a matter of politics, but as a matter of enforcement. The simple fact is that the countries and factories most likely to avoid, resist, or cheat the system are those countries and factories that are the least efficient and the most responsible for gross carbon emissions. Further, reducing domestic energy consumption only lowers costs for foreign industry, which again, is far more likely to be less efficient and less clean.

The problem of pollution is, as most things are, a problem of poverty. Cleaning the waste of production requires capital investment, investment that is difficult for poor populations to afford. The best way to combat the effects of inefficient industry is to help increase their efficiency. In global terms, that means doing what we can to increase global wealth. That means increased trade, the elimination of trade barriers, including import quotas, tariffs and excise taxes. It means opening borders to allow increased immigration and emigration. It means working to improve basic sanitation and irrigation in the poorest countries, reducing civil strife and putting an end to racial and ethnic cleansing, and supporting human rights across the globe. It means reducing the wasteful kickbacks and obscene political appropriations that dominate most modern democracies, and it means ending the absurd tax laws that limit the flow of global capital.

In other words, good governance would do more in the long run to limit carbon emissions than anything. But good governance generally offers few opportunities for graft. The cap-and-trade bill, on the other hand… that’s graft-a-palooza.

Update: Over at Volokh, Jim Lindgren weighs in on the cap-and-trade bill.

The cap-and-trade bill, if passed by the Senate and actually implemented over the next few decades, would do more damage to the country than any economic legislation passed in at least 100 years. It would eventually send most American manufacturing jobs overseas, reduce American competitiveness, and make Americans much poorer than they would have been without it.

The cap-and-trade bill will have little, if any, positive effect on the environment — in part because the countries that would take jobs from US industries tend to be bigger polluters. By making the US — and the world — poorer, it would probably reduce the world’s ability to develop technologies that might solve its environmental problems in the future.

Update: From IBD:

The House of Representatives is preparing to vote on an anti-stimulus package that in the name of saving the earth will destroy the American economy. Smoot-Hawley will seem like a speed bump.

cost of cap and trade

Taking sides

I am under no delusion regarding the nature of the choice offered to Iranian voters in this last election. This was not an election where freedom and increased liberalization were on the ballot. Mousavi is not a good guy and it’s doubtful in the extreme that his election would presage any great opening of Iranian society. To the extent that the protests could work to reverse the outcome, we’d likely be no better off with the new administration than the current one.

But regime change is not the point. The global struggle for freedom and human rights is not generally won at the ballot box. The struggle for freedom in the midst of tyranny is a long and arduous process, it takes years, consumes lives and is in constant need of support and comfort.

Mousavi may not be champion of liberty, but the protesters in Iran seemed not to be protesting his defeat so much as they were protesting the appalling arrogance of a tyrannical regime that demonstrated that it simply didn’t care. And frankly, the President of the United States of America should be a champion of liberty. He should stand tall and strong and make it clear that the United States stands for freedom, democracy, political liberty, free speech and the right to assemble.

What bothers me about the Obama administration’s response to the protests in Iran is not that they didn’t do more to support the protesters or clamor for a recount… it’s that they didn’t stand up and forcibly and articulately defend the values that Americans hold dear.

If the circumstances dictate that his role is largely oratorical, then embrace the oratory and defend freedom. Instead he opened his press conference by declaring–again–his recognition and support of a regime that was, at that very moment, engaged in the worst kind of political crackdown.

Will Wilkinson has argued that showing support for the dissidents in Iran only aids and abets warmongering neocons, and since we don’t want to go to war with Iran, we should be cautious in the extreme and avoid doing even as little as changing the color of our Twitter avatars.

That’s absurd. It’s the elevation of cheap abstraction over human liberty. There are legitimate reasons why America should avoid armed conflict with Iran and reasons why we should not provide material aid to either of the two sock-puppets in this Iranian election. But there is no legitimate reason not to vigorously and loudly declare our solidarity with the men and women who are resisting oppression.

To shy away from such support, and worse, to ridicule that support because it supports a “narrative” that Bill Kristol might like is the worst kind of petty, provincial, partisan spite.

The protesters in Iran need support, if we cannot offer material support then we should be giving them all of the moral support and political cover that we can. Even if that means ~shudder~ rubbing elbows with other pundits.

The debate

The debate in Iran…

It was an exercise in courageous futility, not a contest. Thousands of riot police and militiamen flooded the area. They used teargas, batons and overwhelming force. Helicopters hovered overhead. Nobody was allowed to stop or to gather, let alone exercise their constitutional right to protest. …

Twitter was flooded with lurid messages. “They pull away the dead — like factory — no human can do this,” said one. “They catch people with mobile — so many killed today — so many injured,” said another. “In Baharestan we saw militia with axe chopping ppl like meat — blood everywhere,” said a third. …

All that can be said for certain is the regime has finally recaptured the streets through strength of numbers and the unrestrained use of violence. Thirty years after the Iranian revolution it no longer rules with consent, but with military might, and it is cracking down with all means at its disposal. — The Times

After President Obama’s harsh words yesterday,

I have made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is not at all interfering in Iran’s affairs. … This is not about the United States and the West; this is about the people of Iran, and the future that they – and only they – will choose.

He’s upped the ante and has brought the full weight of American diplomacy and the power of the Presdiental bully pulpit to bear and… decided that Iranian diplomats can’t come to our parties!

The United States said Wednesday that it would no longer issue invitations for Iranian diplomats to attend July 4 parties at US embassies, following the violent suppression of protests in Iran.

That’ll show them!

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly earlier said that he also believed that not one Iranian diplomat had signed up to attend the events.

Oh.

Well, then… they can’t come to the labor day block party either! You know Biden makes a mean potato salad and Khomeni will just have to go without. That’s what you get for brutally oppressing political dissidents.