Thursday, November 27, 2014

Why oil-producing countries can survive low oil price

How can oil-producing countries survive low oil price? We hear that Russia needs the price to be over $100, but they don’t support cutting production to hold up the price.

Why? Because their budgets are  balanced in their own currency, not dollars. And they can devalue their currency - almost all can. Ecuador can’t; they use the US dollar. Venezuela … I don’t quite understand, but it’s part of the mess Hugo Chavez made in making his oil-rich country poor! They are in trouble. But Russia, Iran, etc. can survive the fall with currency manipulation. If the price drops 10% and they devalue by 10% they get the same price in their own currency.

For the full explanation see: Bloomberg

 

People helping sea turtles hatch along Gulf of California in Baja Calif Sur

Tortuga marina nino

Residents are helping sea turtles hatch along Gulf of California in Baja California Sur. Los Barriles is about 40 NE of Cabo San Lucas. These residents go out every day for months. While on vacation for two weeks we have actively done this two or three times - handling the little guys - and have watched others help several more times.

But the story is in Spanish.

El Pais

OK. I admit it. I am posting this for my own later reference. Hablo pocito EspaƱol.

Photo from original story at El Pais.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rep. Ida Ballasiotes made a difference

She was shocked into action when her daughter was abducted and murdered by a sex offender free on work release. She got citizens involved and got the attention of Olympia. First with new laws, then she got elected as a State Representative and served five terms.

Seattle Times

… Then-Gov. Booth Gardner named [Rep.] Ballasiotes to a task force to study possible reforms. The group’s work eventually led to the Community Protection Act of 1990, which toughened sentences and required registration of sex offenders.

The law also allowed the state to indefinitely lock up certain sexually violent offenders who have completed their criminal sentences but are deemed a continued threat by the courts.

Rep. Ballasiotes was elected a state representative in 1992 and served five terms, continuing to focus on criminal-justice and corrections issues. She was an advocate for get-tough laws that have been copied nationally, including the 1993 “three-strikes” measure that mandates life sentences for those convicted three times of certain serious felonies.

There are now 261 prisoners serving life sentences under that law, according to the state Department of Corrections. ...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Watch 520 bridge construction

Watch 520 bridge construction in aerial photos.

Seattle Times November 18

John Kerry is afraid of Iran's diplomats

Senator Kirk Iran Deal 11 2013

John Kerry is afraid of Iran's diplomats. It is reported that Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif shouts at him and he just takes it. If he had any respect for our nation he would break off the meeting. Wimp. And he claims to represent the US? He represents President Obama and his cowardly actions are Obama’s policy. But not mine.

WashingtonFree Beacon

Graphic: The 2013 Geneva agreement with Iran on nuclear weapons. Wikipedia

Wash Post fact checks a comedy skit

They must be desperate. Public opinion is everything to President Obama and his loyal servants in the press. And they are losing it.

Saturday Night Live did a skit where Bill is a bill in Congress explaining how he gets passed. But President Obama pushes him down the steps.  Because He can do anything He wants. You are losing it, King Obama.

See the skit at American Thinker.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Obama illegally acting on immigration

Obama illegal immigration policy

Here is the letter I send to Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell of Washington on Thursday:

Dear Senator

President Obama cannot put a law in place without it being passed by Congress. We know he can’t do it because President Obama said so - repeatedly - that he cannot allow millions of illegal immigrants to stay. Glenn Kessler, the fact checker at the Washington Post, gives Obama one Pinocchio flip flopped. And Kessler has links to videos. Including
— Univision Town Hall, March 28, 2011,
— Interview with Univision, Jan. 31, 2013,
— Google Hangout, Feb. 14, 2013: Obama said ‘I’m not the emperor of the United States’,
— Interview with Noticias Telmundo, Sept. 17, 2013m

Repeatedly President Obama said it was not legal for him to do what he announced on Nov. 20, 2014.

Furthermore, if he claims he is just using prosecutorial discretion he is wrong. Prosecutors have limited funds so they can’t prosecute every case , but it does not make the cases they set aside to be legal. The unprosecuted cases are still illegal. But Obama violated that also. He claimed that the violators he is not prosecuting have the right to be here, just because he chose not to prosecute them. That is not proper use of prosecutorial discretion and is not a valid reason at all.

Senator, you say it’s time to act. OK. Work in the Senate and with the House to build a bill and get it passed. And tell President Obama it is wrong for him to act without your bill.

Truly,

Ron

Graphic: Cartoonist Rick McKee. See Caglecartoons.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Obamacare architect brags

This week in Obamacare:

A chief architect of Obamacare has been going around saying they had to rig the Obamacare bill in 2010 to trick the CBO* calculation of its cost. And it wasn’t hard to do because the American people are stupid. The CBO cost estimates were key to the Democrats saying Obamacare would cost very little per year. 

Prof Jonathan Gruber of MIT in his own words:

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that.  In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass… Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not."

So he admits to lying, but he is glad he/they did because the end result was worth it. You see no one would respect him if it hadn’t passed.

I am sure he is also happy that Chief Justice Roberts found the individual mandate in Obamacare constitutional because it is a tax. So Gruber and all pass it as a non-tax, then defend it in court as a tax. Yes.

Daily Caller

And there is proof that this was not one stumble off the cuff. This week every time Gruber tried to walk back his own quoted words, another video was found. It’s about six and counting.

Was he involved in creating Obamacare? Washington Post’s fact checker Glenn Kessler checked the statement that Gruber was paid almost $400,000 by the Obama Administration for work on health care reform. Kessler found there is proof he was paid $392,600 and so gave it a Geppetto checkmark, his mark for a true statement.

* Congressional Budget Office

Washington Obamacare exchange shut down

Wash HealthPlanFinder 2014 11 16 7 36 am

Washington HealthPlanFinder, Washington's Obamacare exchange, shut down after 2 plus hours operation Saturday morning. It was its first opening for new enrollees since last spring. It was making calculation errors on tax credits, so its maintainers shut it down.

They say it was best to close it because they learned last year that it is very hard to make corrections after enrollment (Why didn’t they fix that?), so it’s best to keep new people out until the fix is in place. 

Sunday morning it is still closed. Who decided to not open it until after the election? There is no doubt about why they did.

Tacoma News Tribunes

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Trumpeter swans winter near Lynden WA

ST Trumpeter swans Mt Baker

Trumpeter swans spend the winter in NW Washington. Wiser Lake SW of Lynsen, WA, is one location.

Seattle Times

Hillary was the biggest loser

Sen. Rand led a twitter campaign #HIllarysLosers, showing photos of her with her Demo losers - Senators Hagan of NC, Udall of Colorado, Grimes (candidate) of Kentucky, Pryor of Arkansas and (soon to be fulfilled) Landrieu of Louisiana. But many lame-stream commentators claimed she won. ?

Ross Kaminsky pushes back all the happy talk that Hillary won. He takes on their three main points at American Spectator.

1. Liberal claim: By neutering the Progressive wing of the party, the election will allow Hillary to stop selling out to the left.

Reality: Even in comparison to Barack Obama, nobody will buy a rebranding of Hillary as a centrist. She was for Obamacare, then known as Hillarycare, fifteen years before this president shoved it down the throat of an unwilling nation which is still choking on it.

One of the lessons learned by Democrats in 2014 is that their base is disheartened — a mirror image of the lesson learned painfully by Republicans in 2012. In order to raise money, staff phone banks, and get people knocking on doors, Hillary will have to motivate the Progressive base of the party — which she can only do by continuing to appeal to their leftist instincts. Trying to be a bland centrist, much less a near-Republican won’t work for Hillary any more than it worked for Bob Dole or John “maverick” McCain or even Mitt Romney (though Romney had moved aggressively to the right during the primary season).

2. Liberal claim: The election was about President Obama’s leadership rather than Democratic policy preferences, allowing Hillary to campaign somewhat against Obama and portray herself as not seeking “the third Obama term.”

Reality: Of the three claims, this one has the most merit — or at least the first half of it does. The election was as much about Barack Obama’s utter inability to lead and his “my way or the highway” approach to dealing with Republicans (and occasionally even with Democrats) than it was about specific policies despite persistent public opposition to Obamacare. Unfortunately, most independent voters (much less Democrats) are not well-enough informed to have turned against Progressivism more broadly even as they turned against its current leading representative, not realizing that he is that movement’s apotheosis.

So Hillary can attempt to stay close to Progressive policy goals while suggesting that President Obama’s methods were misguided, roughly the same criticism she (not coincidentally) offered of Obama’s mentor Saul Alinsky when she penned her 1969 Wellesley College senior thesis on the man. (Two years later she wrote Alinsky a letter asking when Rules for Radicals would be released, calling the book “the fulfillment of Revelation.” Sounds like a good place to start for another Obama term.)

But again, will the public buy it? That depends primarily on whether Republicans can lash her to the mast of the sinking ship that is the Obama legacy just as they did to now-defeated Democrats across the nation last week. You can bet that a “third Obama term” will be a phrase you’ll be utterly sick of two years from today.

3. Liberal claim: Republicans, being led by the nose by Ted Cruz, will govern like out-of-touch extremists, particularly on social issues.

Reality: Can you name a 2014 Republican candidate for a major office who aggressively campaigned against the Supreme Court’s de facto permitting of gay marriage by refusing to hear cases on the subject (something which may soon change with the Sixth Circuit’s upholding of bans on same-sex marriage)?

...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Google's online interactive, digital atlas

Google has created an online library of maps - a digital atlas. And many are interactive. For example here is a three-layer map of the route of Lewis and Clark in 1804-06. Google allows me to embed it here.

Map from the David Rumsey Map Collection. Use the menu at the upper left to show (1) The hand-drawn map published in 1814 with a slider to control how opaque it is, (2) their route in both direction, and/or (3) their 541 camp sites. Right now I can’t get the route and camp sites to show. See the same map at Google.

See much more at Google Map Gallery.

China's carbon emission increase under Obama's victorious agreement

Senator Inhofe says what any person with eyes can see. Obama gave away the game. It must be a game to him.

USA Today

President Obama and President Xi of China have come to an agreement on greenhouse gas emissions. It's being hailed as a "historic" breakthrough ahead of the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference, but I have three words: Talk is cheap.

 

OUR VIEW: New hope for the planet

 

This reminds me of 1998, when President Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol knowing full well that it would never be ratified by the Senate.

 

China is taking a page from the Clinton playbook. There is nothing binding about President Xi's agreement, and China will face zero consequences if it does not live up to its word.

 

And we should have no such expectation. This is a non-binding charade because as China's economy grows, so will its demand for electricity. China is the largest consumer and importer of coal in the world, accounting for 50% of global consumption.

 

Over the next decade, China is expected to bring a new coal-fired power plant online every 10 days to give its hungry economy the electricity it demands, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Obama got nothing. And he calls this a victory?

President Obama and President Xi of China have come to an agreement on greenhouse gas emissions. It's being hailed as a "historic" breakthrough ahead of the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference, but I have three words: Talk is cheap.
OUR VIEW: New hope for the planet
This reminds me of 1998, when President Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol knowing full well that it would never be ratified by the Senate.
China is taking a page from the Clinton playbook. There is nothing binding about President Xi's agreement, and China will face zero consequences if it does not live up to its word.
And we should have no such expectation. This is a non-binding charade because as China's economy grows, so will its demand for electricity. China is the largest consumer and importer of coal in the world, accounting for 50% of global consumption.
Over the next decade, China is expected to bring a new coal-fired power plant online every 10 days to give its hungry economy the electricity it demands, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Rich Americans ARE paying their fair share

The CBO did a study. The rich were paying their fair share BEFORE Obama’s tax increases.

Investors Business Daily

The CBO looks at the distribution of household income and federal taxes up through 2011, the last year for which it has data. It found, for example, that:

While the top 1% of households accounted for 15% of all income, they paid 35% of all federal income taxes. The bottom 20% accounted for 5.3% of income, but they got more in refundable tax credits, on average, than they paid in income taxes.

Even when you include payroll and other federal taxes, the bottom 20% carried just 0.6% of the total tax burden.

Overall federal tax rates on the top 1% have averaged around 30% for more thaFn three decades, but the rate paid by the bottom 20% has dropped steadily, going from 9% in 1984 to 1.9% in 2011.

Despite all the hullabaloo about how Bush's tax cuts favored the rich, the share of income taxes paid by the top 1% climbed from 22% in Bush's first year in office to 25% by 2008. The share paid by the bottom group dropped from 1.4% to 0.4%.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Even Ron Fornier is mad about Obamacare lies

Ron Fornier is very mainstream, i.e., liberal. He says all liberals should be mad about the lies that Prof Jonathan Gruber is bragging about.

National Journal

Liberals should be the angriest. Not only were they personally deceived, but the administration's dishonest approach to health care reform has helped make Obamacare unpopular while undermining the public's faith in an activist government. A double blow to progressives.

 

Net neutrality would kill investment

It's very 19th century thinking - Lets treat the Internet like water pipes. And the government will control it.

The Internet does so well because the government has left it alone!

But if we put Obama's proposed controls in place those who invest in upgrading it will not be able to recover their investment. It would kill investment. For example AT&T is putting on hold its plan for gigabit Internet.

Electronista

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Explosion of computer science at UofW

There is a space crunch in computer science classrooms and laboratories at University of Washington. It is primarily because of more students who are interested of course. But also due to a change of focus - the internet of things - that requires more space. Professors, researchers and students are designing and building physical objects - from tiny sensors of almost anything to smart wheelchairs and self-driving vehicles. They need laboratory space and tools for this.

About the internet of things, see The UW Ubiquitous Computing Lab - Ubicomp

Seattle Times

Monday, November 10, 2014

Quote re the small, very creative minority that enriches everyone

Sci fi writer Robert Heinlein:

"Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded—here and there, now and then—are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as ‘bad luck.’" 

At Growth Matters, though they don’t seem to know where he said it.

And… Glenn Reynolds used this quote when noting the scary news story that a geologits in Italy was convicted of a crime because he didn’t  warn of an earthquake. But NO ONE can predict earthquakes. Geologists are trying to be able to and there will be great benefit as their science improves. But we can’t (the law and courts can’t) expect anyone to do the impossible. And when they do they stifle the research that will benefit their society. If you were a geologist in Italy would you stay there? NO. As the quote says Italy will be having “bad luck.” Popular Mechanics.

New Republican senators' campaigns - Repeal Obamacare

President Obama criticized Republican candidates by saying Obamacare is so successful that only Democrats are talking about it, not Republican incumbents and candidates. Wrong. Do your homework, Mr. President. Republicans were talking about Obamacare.

Every newly elected Republican Senator talked about Obamacare - about repealing it. Here is the list:

Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.). We don’t have final results from Alaska or Louisiana yet, but both Republicans spoke against President Obama signature program.

CNS News

For example: 

Cory Gardner in Colorado touted patient-centered care and a full repeal and replacement of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare.

“Small businesses and the American people cannot afford President Obama’s countless new regulations and tax increases. There is a right way and a wrong to improve our country’s healthcare system, and the President’s healthcare law just isn’t working. We need patient-centered care and lower costs. It is not too late to start over with a full repeal and replacement of the President’s healthcare law,” Gardner said in a statement.

Follow the link for specifics of all the others.

Yes, we lied to pass Obamacare

Yes, we lied to pass Obamacare, says MIT Prof Jonathan Gruber. But the American voters are stupid.

He is looking in the mirror too much. The American people were opposed to passage. So opposed that the Senate violated its own rules to pass the mess, then did't dare vote again to do a little clean up the House wanted. Stupid? Not us.

Daily Signal

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Hitler learns about the 2014 midterm results

Hitler learns about the 2014 midterm results. And he is not happy. At the link:

PowerLineBlog

Sadly Chile is removing freedoms and slowing economy

Chile is removing freedoms and making their economy less flexible. Higher taxes on capital; higher taxes on consumption.

Capitalism allowPuyehue volcano southern Chileed Chile to triple its income over three decades. That helped everyone. Everyone including the poor. On the PPP * basis Chile’s annual GDP per capita is now equivalent to $23,165, putting it just behind Poland ($24,429) and well ahead of Mexico ($17,925)! A 2013 World Bank study showed that between 1992 and 2009 Chile was “the country with the greatest social mobility on the continent.

Capitalism gives and socialism takes away. The socialist President Bachelet wants equality. Equality of mediocrity. And the markets respond: investment dropped by 12.3% in the 4Q 2013. Capital is leaving and it will leave faster since she increased the taxes. A huge self-inflicted wound that will hurt everyone.

Mary Anastasia O’Grady at Wall Street Journal - might require subscription.

* PPP is purchasing power parity. It takes into account that many basic requirements are cheaper in third-world economies. Investopedia

Photo: Puyehue Volcano in Chile. I don’t recall the source.

American jailed by North Korea released

American Kenneth Bae was jailed for the crime of leaving one (1) Bible in a restroom in North Korea. The dictator Kim Jong Un and his minions could not abide the threat of someone seeing/reading God’s word in his totalitarian country. They held him for two years of hard labor.

He arrived at McChord AFB south of Tacoma Saturday night.

Seattle Times

Friday, November 07, 2014

Spice jet 737 hits buffalo while taking off

Spicejet b738 vt sgk surat 141106 1

Yes. A 737 hit a buffalo on the runway, while taking off at Surat, Gujarat State, India. It was dark...

Aviation Herald

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Let's enjoy Thanksgiving

I like the retailers that will be closed on Thanksgiving and allow their employees to relax:

Costco, Nordstrom,

Barnes & Noble, BJ’s Wholesale Club,

GameStop, Joanne Fabric,

Pier 1, Dillard’s,

Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Burlington Coat Factory.

Shame on Kmart, Walmart and Macys. Shame. And Radio Shack, according to the radio. Shame.

Seattle Times

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Outstanding election graphic re US Senate

NYT 2014 US Senate

The New York Times (and others) has been doing great work in using graphics to communicate data. Look at this: It shows each Senate race over time, who is leading and by how much. 

When blue show the Demo is ahead and the height shows from a small  lead to a huge one. In Kansas there is green color because the Democrat claims to be an independent. When the colors disappear there is a tie.

It’s fascinating to pick a race and follow it across.

Surprise. In Virginia the graph shows the Demo Warner always way ahead. On the morning after the gap is 2,500 votes in the large state.

Here is the link. I am also pasting a screen capture done the "morning after" of November 5.

NY Times

Venezuela is importing oil. Victory for socialism

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves of any country in the world. And it is importing crude oil!

Late President-for-life Hugo Chavez annulled the law of supply and demand and put politics into every decision. And his successor Hugo Maduro has continued  - they removed the experts from the oil industry to replace them by political friends. They support the price of gasoline so it costs pennies. They propped up - and continue - Fidel Castro’s Communists Cuba with billions in oil and other South American socialist presidents.

Also: The government manipulates its currency trying to hide high inflation.

The results: Shortages of toilet paper. First the government took over a toilet paper factory. CNN Then they had to import… toilet paper! Fox News

And now Venezuela is importing oil! And they rely on high oil prices to prop up their economy. $100 is a bit low for Venezuela. $75 clobbers them.

USA Today

And a good read of the overall situation at Hot Air.