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Interesting gif for Geoff December 13, 2018

Posted by lumps in Economics, History, Obama's Legacy.
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He’s theeees close to saying “I told you so!”

Hit play and watch China.

Self-Deprecating and Possibly Humorous Morning Anecdote January 17, 2018

Posted by skinbad in Lurkers, Music, Nature Shit, Obama's Legacy, Personal Experiences, Privacy.
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So, I was in the shower this morning. The Mrs had done her morning ritual and was out and on to the kitchen activities. I believed I had the room to myself. Then, unexpectedly, I made a . . . sound. It was surprising in both volume and duration. I almost burst out laughing, but caught myself when I heard my wife’s voice say, “Need more conditioner?” I looked down at the nearly-empty conditioner bottle (nowhere near me) and said, “sure.” Momentarily, a new bottle was pushed around the shower curtain. I took it with a “thanks.”

Let’s just keep this between fake internet friends, OK?

I Apologize October 19, 2017

Posted by skinbad in Entertainment, Heroes, Humor, Obama's Legacy, Privacy, Stupid shit.
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I’m over 50 years old and I should have probably outgrown things like this, but no. I hit a clickbait thing a few weeks ago and got a serious case of the GLAR syndrome. The story is here.

Short version: for a few bucks you can buy a lot of “For Rectal Use Only” stickers. I made the investment. My wife can’t stop shaking her head in disbelief at the stupidity, but I’m kind of a hero to my kids at the moment. I got 1,000 stickers for about 5 dollars. There are plenty to share.

You’re only limited by your imagination.

Obama Legacy: North Korea January 25, 2017

Posted by geoff in News, Obama's Legacy.
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It’s so fun to hear the ex-President tell us how great is administration has been, when by almost any measure it was at best impotent. In the case of North Korea it was far from its best.

Y’all may recall President Bush’s infamous “Axis of Evil,” which prominently featured North Korea. That same year (2002), it was revealed that North Korea had violated a 1994 agreement with the US by operating a secret nuclear weapons development program.

So yeah, Axis of Evil.

  • 2005: The Bush administration leaps into action, reaching a tentative agreement to give a bunch of  goodies to North Korea in exchange for all of North Korea’s nuclear efforts.
  • 2006: North Korea detonates its first nuke.
  • 2007: North Korea signs an agreement to dismantle its nuclear weapons facilities in exchange for . . . a bunch of goodies. And Bush takes them off the list of countries that support terrorism.
  • 2008: Well howdy, howdy, howdy. Turns out that North Korea is missing its dismantling deadlines, and refusing to allow inspectors to check their nuclear weapons sites.
  • 2009: North Korea detonates its second nuke.

By this time everybody can see North Korea’s game. They really, really want to be a player on the international scene, but they have no technology or economy or culture that interests anybody else. Getting nukes is a shortcut to respect ==> just look at Pakistan.

So they string the international community along while they keep developing the nukes, collecting $200 every time they pass “Go.” …or every time they press “boom.”

Enter the Obama administration. Having seen that neither diplomacy, economic carrots, nor economic sticks (i.e., sanctions) are stopping North Korea, and that North Korea has blatantly violated two treaties, you might think they’d have learned something. Something like, “Gee, you can’t negotiate with these guys. You’re going to have to step things up.”

But of course they figured that the Bush administration was just incompetent at negotiating, because, well, cowboy Republican neanderthals is why.

  • 2011: They resume talks with North Korea.
  • 2012: North Korea agrees to stop missile and nuclear development in exchange for . . . a bunch of goodies.
  • 2013: North Korea detonates its third nuke.
  • By the end of President Obama’s term, North Korea detonates a fourth nuke, claims to have also detonated a hydrogen bomb, tests medium-range ballistic missiles, and claims to have developed intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The Obama administration didn’t do any worse than the Bush administration in terms of diplomacy. Their crime is not respecting their predecessor’s efforts and instead arrogantly/foolishly repeating their mistakes. As WaPo put it:

Mr. Obama has failed to take the North Korean buildup seriously enough. For years, his administration pursued a policy of “strategic patience,” which mostly consisted of ignoring North Korea while mildly cajoling China to put more pressure on the regime. In February, Mr. Obama signed into law a bill pushed by congressional Republicans that gave him broad new powers to sanction North Korea and cut off its economic lifelines.

However, . . . Mr. Obama has not used the powers Congress gave him. As The Post’s Anna Fifield recently reported, customs data shows that China’s trade with North Korea in June was almost 10 percent higher than the previous year, in spite of the sanctions. Though the White House has issued executive orders sanctioning Mr. Kim and other senior leaders, congressional leaders point out that it has yet to penalize any Chinese companies or banks for continuing to do business with the regime.

The upshot is that 10 years after North Korea detonated its first nuke, they have made significant progress on nuclear weapons technology as well as missile technology capable of carrying nuclear weapons. But the president thought that diplomatic business-as-usual would suffice, especially since his administration would be sooooo much more empathetic and diplomatic and stuff.

So it is directly due to both former President Obama and former Secretary of State Clinton that the world, and the United States in particular, have become a much more dangerous place.

[North Korea timelines taken from the BBC and CNN]

Obama’s Legacy on Foreign Policy, In Brief January 18, 2017

Posted by geoff in News, Obama's Legacy.
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So the Obama administration has prepared briefing materials for the incoming Trump administration:

The Obama administration has written 275 briefing papers for the incoming Trump administration: nearly 1,000 pages of classified material on North Korea’s nuclear program, the military campaign against the Islamic State, tensions in the South China Sea, and every other kind of threat the new team could face in its first weeks in office.

Seems like if President Obama had had an effective foreign policy, they could have written far fewer papers.

Obama’s Legacy: Hitting the Links January 17, 2017

Posted by geoff in News, Obama's Legacy, Politics.
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President Obama played more golf than any president for the past 55 years!

During his eight years in the White House Mr Obama played a total of 306 rounds of golf, a commitment to the game his opponents called excessive and frequently used to attack his work ethic.

Mr Obama’s passion for golf contrasted with that of his predecessor, George W. Bush, who played just 24 times in office. Mr Bush gave up entirely in 2003 because he felt images of him playing seemed insensitive while US soldiers were fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That’s 10 months of golf he played during his 96 months in office.

Actually below average for golfers, but few of them are leaders of the free world.

Well, I guess President Obama wasn’t either.

Obama’s Legacy: Bending the Healthcare Cost Curve January 15, 2017

Posted by geoff in Economics, News, Obama's Legacy.
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Y’all may remember this from the bad old days when President Obama was pitching the Affordable Care Act:

After meeting with Senate Democrats on Dec. 15, President Barack Obama made a number of claims about what the health care bill would achieve if passed.

“We agree on reforms that will finally reduce the costs of health care,” Obama said. “Families will save on their premiums; businesses that will see their costs rise if we do nothing will save money now and in the future.  This plan will strengthen Medicare and extend the life of that program.  And because it gets rid of the waste and inefficiencies in our health care system, this will be the largest deficit reduction plan in over a decade.

“Now, I just want to repeat this because there’s so much misinformation about the cost issue here.  You talk to every health care economist out there and they will tell you that whatever ideas are — whatever ideas exist in terms of bending the cost curve and starting to reduce costs for families, businesses, and government, those elements are in this bill.”

Naturally you’re curious as to whether he did in fact reduce spending on healthcare and bend that cost curve. As usual with this president, it seems that his promises were based on either blind optimism or a desire to deceive the American public (chart from Forbes):

I’ll let you decide whether optimism or deception is at fault here.

Obama’s Legacy: Cybersecurity is Suddenly a Priority January 7, 2017

Posted by geoff in Crime, News, Obama's Legacy.
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So the administration and Democrats have finally realized the need for improved cybersecurity. Of course, while they were bumbling about in happy oblivion, those of us in the trenches have been seeing our medical, financial, and online information being compromised at increasing rates for more than 10 years.

Here’s what breaches and record exposures have looked like from 2005 – 2015:


There were 980 data breaches in 2016, with 35,233,317 records exposed.

Since 2005, we’ve had 6,789 breaches in total, and 886,544,750 records have been exposed. That means pretty much everybody in the United States has had their information exposed at some point.

But that never bothered the Obama administration before the election. Now that they lost an election, however, it’s suddenly important.

This has been the most self-centered administration I have ever seen.

Obama’s Failed Legacy: Losing Manufacturing Jobs Like a Boss January 6, 2017

Posted by geoff in Economics, News, Obama's Legacy.
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President Obama claimed that restoring manufacturing jobs was a high priority of his administration. Here’s how he did:

Date Number of Manufacturing Jobs
January 31, 2009 12,561,000
December 31, 2016 12,275,000

Total manufacturing jobs created after 8 years: -286,000. Some legacy.

He also claimed that he’d add a million manufacturing jobs during his second term.* Here’s your chart:


Let it be noted that the manufacturing job peak during the Bush administration (April 2006) was 14,226,000. The peak during Obama’s administration was 12,338,000. Advantage Bush by almost 2 million jobs.

*President Obama made his promise to add 1 million manufacturing jobs during the “next four years” at the Democratic National Convention in September 2012. The chart above therefore assumes that September 2012 was the starting point. If you assume that he really meant “during my second term,” his performance is just as bad, as you can see from the chart.

Obama’s Employment Legacy: Anemic and Insufficient January 6, 2017

Posted by geoff in Economics, News, Obama's Legacy.
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Y’all may recall last month, where we noted that while the president has been bragging about his consecutive months of job creation (which has never been an economic metric in the history of man, ever), but it turned out that the vast majority of new jobs (94%!) were part-time.

But that should come as no surprise to long-time readers of this blog, because we’ve been ignoring part-time jobs since we started the new chart in 2010. And when you ignore part-time jobs and account for population growth, the employment picture looks like this:


You can see that after Obama’s eight years, he’s only gotten us halfway back to where we were in 2004 (which I consider more “normal” than the rise just before the crash). Some legacy.

The disturbing part is that we’ve been going nowhere for a year. That combined with the recent announcements of store closures and layoffs by Sears, Kohl’s, and Macy’s, makes me concerned about the jobs picture.

Trump, at least, seems to have given a high priority to jobs retention and creation. And his strategy for employment is completely different than Obama’s: rather than emphasizing education and training programs, he’s emphasizing improving the business environment, and using that as an incentive (cudgel, bribe, whatever) to convince companies to stay and grow in the US.

In R&D we have the concept of technology “push” vs. demand “pull.” Technology push means you develop a technology or product that the market hasn’t yet asked for. It might be a revolutionary, paradigm-changing technology, but most often it’s a dud in the marketplace, because nobody needs it.* A more reliable strategy, by far, is to allow the needs of the market to pull the technology forward. I.e., you develop technologies to meet the demands of the market. Not as innovative or revolutionary, but in the end the consumers are happy and the developers are paid.

Trump’s and Obama’s approaches are similar, I think. Obama is on the “push” side, developing employees in the hope that somebody will “buy” them. Trump is on the “pull” side, increasing demand and assuming that the education & training systems will respond to meet that demand.

The disadvantage is that is can take several years for the education and training systems to respond, but the disadvantage of Obama’s approach is that all that training & education is futile if the demand doesn’t exist or if you don’t correctly predict where that demand will be.

All in all, I think I have far more faith in Trump’s approach.

*True confessions: I’m an inveterate technology pusher. The hell with those customers who don’t know what’s good for them! That’s why I’m a poor, poor technology pusher. But, like the scorpion crossing the river on the back of the frog, it’s just my nature.

The Fleeting Value of Iraqi Lives January 4, 2017

Posted by geoff in News, Obama's Legacy.
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(I’m going to try to find the time to write a series of posts summing up President Obama’s legacy. He’s also been reviewing his legacy in recent days, putting himself at severe risk of shoulder injury from excessive patting of his own back. My reviews may be a wee bit more critical…)

I recall a decade ago when not a day went by without the press screaming about civilian casualties in Iraq. And, to an extent, they were justified in doing so. But now you don’t hear anything at all. But here’s how the casualties during their 2 terms stack up:

Bush’s 2 Terms: 106,210

Obama’s 2 Terms: 82,381

Pretty comparable, though you might arguably claim that casualties during President Obama’s first few years were not his responsibility – they were a legacy from Bush’s policies. So I’ll let you pick the point at which you think Obama’s policies took root:


The bars in red are all civilian casualties in Iraq (per Iraq Body Count), while the blue bars are those caused by the US and its allies (excluding Iraq itself).

The civilian deaths during Bush’s administration were tragic, but those during Obama’s administration were equally so. And in both cases, those deaths caused by the US and its allies were particularly grievous.

Yet while the press dwelled incessantly on Iraqi casualities and the culpability of the coalition during Bush’s terms, they haven’t said a word for the past 8 years.

It’s like the value of an Iraqi life disappeared after President Obama’s inauguration.

Grading Obama’s Education Performance December 6, 2016

Posted by geoff in News, Obama's Legacy.
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HuffPo tells us that one of President Obama’s 2008 campaign promises was:

I’ll invest in early childhood education. I’ll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries, and give them more support. And in exchange, I’ll ask for higher standards and more accountability.

So how are we doing on higher standards and more accountability? The Program for International Student Assessment, a study which evaluates math, science, and reading skills in 15 year olds in 72 countries every three years, recently released the 2015 results. Here are the results for the United States from 2000 – 2015 (2000 was the first year of the survey; some subjects were added after 2000):