Biography

RWP was born in Manchester, in the north of England, in the late 1950s, so he is very old. He really liked the north of England, which by 1965 was hip and had three TV channels, and where he went to a coed school. His parents, for reasons best known to themselves, then yanked him away, to Belfast and then Dublin, which had one TV channel that started up at 6 pm with the Angelus (Catholic call to prayer). He also had to go to an all boys school, where he realized he really missed girls. This probably let him focus on schoolwork, though, and at age 19, after he had finished college, he set off for America, where he still resides. He has a bachelors degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. from Harvard in biophysics, and has lived also in Mainz, Germany, Setauket NY, and Richland WA. He currently divides his time between Nebraska, Rosslyn VA, and Florida.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bob Kerrey's ACU ratings, 1989-2000

The American Conservative Union is one of several organizations that compile a score sheet each year, based on 20 or so Congressional votes, to evaluate, broadly, how conservatively a Congresscritter voted. I've plotted Bob Kerrey's annual ACU rankings for his entire Senate career, 1989 - 2000, and compared them with a 'typical liberal' (Teddy Kennedy, D), a moderate Democrat (Kent Conrad, D), and Kerrey's Nebraska senate colleague, which was Jim Exon (D) from 1989 - 1996 and Chuck Hagel (R) from 1997- 2000.
It is clear that Kerrey's claims to being a moderate, or to 'reaching across the aisle', are hogwash. Year by year, Kerrey voted with the far left of the Democratic party...except for one particularly crass exception, 1994, when he voted like a moderate. 1994, of course, was his re-election year. Kerrey's lifetime ACU ranking was a dismal 8/100. In four of the twelve years he tied or voted more liberally then Teddy Kennedy. In three years (1992, 1995 and 1998) he scored a nice round zero. By comparison, over the same 12 year period, Kent Conrad scored 21, and over Jim Exon's 7 years, he scored 36.

The old knock on Kerrey was that he talked like Ronald Reagan but voted like Teddy Kennedy. As you can see, when he wasn't up for re-election, he voted just like Teddy Kennedy.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Are we in the Euro's event horizon?

My first foray into macroeconomics. Don't laugh.

The title refers to an interesting property of supermassive black holes. In theory, because the Schwarzschild radius of a black hole (the event horizon, assuming it isn't rotating) is proportional to the mass, while the gravitational field falls off proportional to the inverse square radius, an astronaut could cross the event horizon without experiencing significant tidal forces. In essence, the astronaut would be cut off from the universe by a singularity, and doomed, without ever realizing he was fatally close to a black hole. It's a wild analogy, of course, but reading the newspapers this morning led me to wondering if the Euro is large enough that its collapse is now unstoppable, before even its collapse has caused any significant damage.

The first item of news is that Germany is now experiencing a property boom, not as a result of its own macroeconomic policies, but because the flow of money from Southern Europe into German banks has substantially inflated German money supply, and is causing a potential bubble in its property market. This is new and unusual. The German property market has historically been kept stagnant by Bundesbank policy; even quite affluent Germans rent their residences rather than buy them.

The second item, was of course the distress of Spanish Bank Bankia which is suffering a bank run (or bank jog, because it's slower). Greek banks have been experiencing the same phenomenon in the last week. Southern Europeans are now sufficiently convinced of the collapse of the Euro that they're moving their money offshore. Interestingly, until now, this wasn't a substantial problem. Something has changed.

Third, the NY Times has a silly story that says the reason Germany is unenthusiastic about a Greek bailout is their own lack of success in economically stimulating the former East zone, which absorbed trillions of marks and later Euros and still lags the West. Greece's problems are similarly structural, not monetary, it says. Of course, it's all true, but it has the odor of a semi-bluff put out by the Bundesbank; true enough to be plausible, but not the real story.

The real story is that Germany has calculated that, were there to be a growth 'stimulus' as the US, France and most of Europe are advocating, the money would not flow to Southern Europe, where it's needed, but into Germany, where it's comparatively safe. Germany could tamp down asset bubbles by increasing interest rates and contracting its own money supply, but that would simply make Germany a more attractive place to park funds. People are already investing at interest rates near zero; imagine if the interest rates were raised! The result would inevitably a German bubble, not a reinvigoration of the periphery.

The problem is long-term, not short term; it's structural, not monetary; and a stimulus would be suicidal. Meanwhile, without a stimulus, Europe will continue in austerity for a long time, and some countries, such as Greece, Spain, Portugal and probably Italy, are doomed.

A smaller currency would already be in a spiral, as speculators seized the reins. George Soros did this to sterling and to the Malaysian ringgit. But the Euro is too big yet for any single speculator or group of speculators to take down. Nonetheless, I'm traveling to Europe in a month, and despite the currently low price of $1.25, I'm holding out for better. If I'm right, it's going to go substantially lower.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What do terrorist Brett Kimberlin and Bob Kerrey have in common?

The answer first: financial support from Barbra Streisand.

Tomorrow is 'Everybody blog about Brett Kimberlin day', in which the blogosphere will act in unison to respond to terrorist bomber and likely murderer turned leftist activist Brett Kimberlin. Kimberlin has been harassing those who have made it their mission to expose him. The plan is, we each contribute our own slant on Kimberlin and his leftist enablers. I will be out of action the whole day, so I figured I'd get my contribution in early.

One of Kimberlin's recent contributors is Barbra Streisand, to the tune of $10K. Babs has also given $1k to Bob Kerrey. Nice company you're keeping there, Bob! As usual Michelle Malkin has one of the best synopses of the whole incredible convoluted story.

Solving problems across party lines? Don't make me laugh!

Bipartisan Welfare Reform passed in 1996 with the support of 53 Senate Republicans and 25 Senate Democrats, including Bob Kerrey's Nebraska Democratic colleague Jim Exon. 21 Senate Democrats voted against, most of them, like Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer, on the far left of the party. The President signed the bill.

Bob Kerrey voted against it. This was 'reaching across the aisle'?

The bipartisan Partial Birth Abortion Act of 1995 was vetoed by President Clinton. 46 Republicans and 12 Democrats voted to override the veto, including Bob Kerrey's Nebraska Democratic colleague Jim Exon.

Bob Kerrey voted against it. This was 'reaching across the aisle'?

The bipartisan Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2000 was passed by the Senate with support of 49 Republicans and 14 Democrats, including Vice-President Joe Biden and Chuck Hagel.

34 senators voted against. One was Bob Kerrey. This was 'reaching across the aisle'?

Coordination?

It is illegal for a superPAC to coordinate its activities with a candidate. There is, however, nothing to prevent a newspaper from coordinating its activities with a candidate. And indeed, that seems to be what the Lincoln Journal Star is doing.

Yesterday, the tottering Kerrey campaign sent out a tweet bemoaning 'big money in politics' (except the big money that flows to Kerrey from billionaire Democrat donors, of course). And they have a phony online 'petition' against superPAC money.

And today, like one of Pavlov's dogs secreting gastric acid at the sound of a bell, the Lincoln Journal Star writes a wooly-headed editorial castigating Joe Ricketts and mysterious, anonymous superPAC donors, even though it concedes Joe Ricketts isn't the least anonymous.

The timing is pure coincidence, of course.

Meanwhile, the Lincoln Journal Star hasn't shown the least curiosity in finding out why Kerrey was paid million dollar sums last year for nebulous services to Sidney Kimmel and Ronald O Perelman.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Money and speech

The self-unawareness of liberals is a constant source of amusement. Don Walton this morning:
You and I may not be judges, but we know corporations and unions aren't people and money ain't speech
Don seems utterly unaware that thanks to the printing presses and web platform provided by Lee Newspapers, his opinion is more widely read than most of the voices out here on the internet. If "money ain't speech", Don, then it should be no problem to give up your job and blog for free. Or as Ogden Nash wrote
Certainly there are lots of things in life that money won't buy, but it's very funny -- Have you ever tried to buy them without money?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Solar eclipse from Lincoln, NE

A couple of decent sunspot groups visible. One other is already covered by the moon. Nothing fancy. Spotting scope, projected on a piece of paper, photographed with a Canon DLR.

Monday, May 14, 2012

You say that like it's a bad thing...

Chuck Hagel on the modern GOP:
If Nixon or Eisenhower were alive today, they would be run out of the party
Chuck is proud of Richard Nixon? Aside from Watergate, Tricky Dick introduced price controls, invented Affirmative Action, and presided over the start of an era of massive inflation. What exactly is there to love, here?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Obama re-election campaign compromises war against al-Qaida

You won't read this in a US newspaper, except perhaps on page B21, but the lead story in the London Times this morning described the British government as 'extremely angry' that a leak from the White House revealed the identity of the covert British-Saudi agent behind the uncovering of the most recent underwear bomb plot. For those of you unfamiliar with British understatement,'extremely angry' translates into 'Murrican as 'apocalyptically furious'.
“If you’re MI5 and you’re trying to recruit a young British Pakistani or British Arab in the future, how do you persuade them that their actions and their potential identity ... [aren’t] going to be splashed across The New York Times the next week?” Shashank Joshi, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank, said.
In fact, an entire sphere of operations might have been affected:
A particular problem was the widespread circulation of details about the undercover operation to infiltrate al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, according to a senior serving US defence official. Staff in at least four US Government departments, as well as the CIA and the FBI, were on the “need to know” list.
The leak, of course, was all part of last week's pathetic efforts to 'spike the ball' on the killing of Osama, and to portray Obama as tough on terrorism, a pathetically venal reason to jeopardize the intelligence efforts of a loyal ally.
The London Times' leading article (their main unsigned op-ed) also castigated this leak. Yes, it's a big deal, of which your liberal news media will be sure to keep you as uninformed as possible.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Today in Bob Kerrey history: May 9, 2001

Eleven years ago today, highly respected human rights watchdog Human Rights Watch called for an investigation of Bob Kerrey's squad's actions in the Tranh Phong atrocity.
In a letter to Secretary Rumsfeld, Human Rights Watch said recent disclosures by former Senator Bob Kerrey concerning his service as a junior officer in a Navy SEAL team in 1969 suggested that certain military units then operated under standing orders or employed methods that directly violated the Fourth Geneva Convention, resulting in "grave breaches" of that Convention, or war crimes.
Note that they are discussing what Bob Kerrey himself admitted to, not the more serious allegations of Gerhard Klann.
The allegation that members of the team killed unarmed persons in their custody, however, warrants specific investigation by the U.S. government: if proved, such acts would clearly constitute war crimes, for which there is no statute of limitations, and should result in prosecutions.
The major Nebraska newspapers are still silent on the matter.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The backtracking from Bob Kerrey's liberal positions continues...

Bob Kerrey, speaking with his favorite shill yesterday...
The president should have waited to fix our health care system until after our economy had recovered
Bob Kerrey, in a letter he wrote (with Warren Rudman and Pete Peterson) to Harry Reid in October 2009:
We have followed the health care reform debate very carefully. We applaud you and the entire Congress for focusing on what we consider to be the most important and most difficult public policy issue.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The difference between a journalist and a shill

Don Walton has been an unpaid volunteer for Bob Kerrey's various campaigns for over a quarter century. He's even owned up (probably in a weak moment) to his bromantic feelings for Kerrey. But it's useful to take his latest Kerrey press-release, a.k.a. Lincoln Journal Star piece, and examine what could turn its naked shilling into actual journalism.

The first key to analyzing Don the Shill is that when he approves of what you say, he paraphrases it, probably to improve its phrasing. When he doesn't like you, he usually quotes. So, he paraphrases Kerrey:

It's time to have a conversation about whether to consider a constitutional amendment that would replace partisan election of members of Congress with the non-partisan feature of the legislative system modeled in Nebraska, he said.
A real journalist would follow up with "Is there anyone in the entire country, Bob, that thinks this is a feasible idea, let alone a good idea? Most people in the country don't even know Nebraska has a formally non-partisan legislature, which really isn't non-partisan at all. How are you going to get 2/3 of Congress, fierce partisans to a man, to vote for this? Does a single sitting congressperson agree with it? Isn't it entirely out of left field -- the usual 'Cosmic Bob' nonsense, in fact?" (Well, maybe the journalist might be a little less combative!)

More Don:

When he was the Democratic governor of Nebraska from 1983 to 1987, Kerrey said, he was able to achieve legislative results that would not have been possible if the Legislature had been divided and organized by party.
This would be an opportunity for a real journalist to ask about the scandals of Kerrey's single-term governorship, his use of public resources for personal enrichment, the personal counsel and transition team chief who milked a savings and loan dry and then got out of town, his appointed Attorney General (a Republican, natch) who stalled until the statute of limitations ran out and then became his Senate chief-of-staff. Is this the sort of bipartisanship we want; a two-party conspiracy to raid the public till?

The Bob goes on to attack the Republicans he supposedly wants to make common cause with:

Kerrey said he has watched the Republican Senate candidates "move farther to the right and stake out positions" that will make it difficult for any of them to work in a bipartisan manner.
A real journalist might have taken the opportunity to ask why, in those cases where a substantial bipartisan majority actually existed in the Senate, such as for welfare reform (twice) and for banning partial birth abortion, Kerrey instead chose to vote with the extreme left of his party against the bipartisan majority.
"Democrats are wrong to dig in and resist changes in Medicare," he said. "You've got to solve the underfunded liability for Medicare and Social Security. It isn't fair to people under 40 to do nothing."
A real journalist might have asked why Bob didn't get behind the Ryan plan, or even propose some follow-up ideas; and why he supported PPACA, which stripped even more money from Medicare...and why he hasn't publicly criticized the Democrats who have tried to make GOP medicare reform plans a campaign issue.

You would also quote a Kerrey supporter, Ben Nelson, but no critics:

Nelson described Republican Senate candidates Jon Bruning, Don Stenberg and Deb Fischer as "three peas in a pod who would lower taxes on the well-to-do while raising them on a million middle-income Nebraskans."
A young journalist can learn a lot from Don. Do all the things he doesn't do.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Today's stoopid from the Lincoln Journal Star, with an assist to Carl Eskridge

The Journal Star editorial board continued its record of ignorance this morning:
Eskridge pointed out that Lincoln is home to the only flagship campus in the Big Ten without legal protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identify.
I presume Eskridge meant 'gender identity'. It's wrong, regardless. The actual University of Nebraska Lincoln policy
It is the policy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln not to discriminate based on gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.
And even if this policy were not in place, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, as a state institution, is not subject to city anti discrimination ordinances, which may in any case be invalid if they go beyond state protections.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bob Kerrey and racial segregation at UNL; the DN article

Click on the picture above, and you'll get a .gif file of the Daily Nebraskan article reporting Bob Kerrey's vote against a resolution urging the desegregation of UNL student organizations.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A momentous day

My fellow Americans:

I am proud to announce that today our beloved country reached an awesome milestone. As a nation, we owe, according to the Peterson foundation, $15,692,368,067,305.23. Our population, based on a census bureau estimate for January 1, 2012, of 312,780,968, and increasing at a rate of one person every 17 second, is today 313,401,015 persons. According to my calculations, therefore, for the first time in history, every inhabitant of our great nation, man, woman and child, dirt-poor or Bob Kerrey, owes an average of more than $50,000 as their own personal share of the National Debt. In fact, we each owe $50,071 and 21 cents!

It took many great men and women to make this happen, but the greatest contribution of all comes from our President, Barack Hussein Obama, who is responsible for nearly a third of this truly humungous heap of indebtedness.

Take a bow, Mr. President. Take a bow, my fellow citizens. We are further in hock than any nation in the history of the planet!