Thursday, January 28, 2016

Yet Another Bad Energy Bill

The Senate has an energy modernization bill - and it's just another failed exercise pushing that politicians know best even though they never do.

Conservative Counter To Trumpism

Donald Trump's ideas have some merit but other of his ideas don't - an alternative to Trumpism is presented here.

Free College Can't Solve Anything

The myth pushed by Bernie Sanders and others is that college needs to be free - the problem is it doesn't solve anything.

Obama's Obsession With David Petraeus

Barack Obama's White House has shown ever-more determination to humiliate David Petraeus - ant it may be becauzse he's a reminder that Obama's abandonment of Iraq threw away US victory.

Weapons Evolution

A look at the evolution of robot weapons. The Cylon Empire slowly becomes - in a sense - real.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

NASCAR 2016 Preview

NASCAR is now less than a month from Speedweeks 2016 and with the recent Media Tour the sport has seen several issues, notably Tony Stewart going off on Brian France and also taking some shots at Gene Stefanyshyn during the Media Tour.   A look at what may develop for 2016 -

**  - One of the big stories is the implementation of a charter system for team owners, first discussed (and advocated) by MRN racecaster Dave Moody. The idea is also discussed by FOX Sports' NASCAR analysts, among them former team owner and Race Team Alliance quasi-member Andy Petree. Moody's analysis indicates the charter system won't affect qualifying; the only change is that supposedly NASCAR will be able to establish equity for raceteams and to attract more people into buying into raceteams - he cites the collapse of Rob Kaufmann's former team Michael Waltrip Racing and the fact it has nothing of value for a new owner or co-owner beyond some outdated racecars and a shop.

Supposedly a charter system will help Kaufmann attract new money because he would be locked into the field every week having competed for two-plus seasons.   Andy Petree states the sport's business model has to change because of so many teams struggling financially, and writer Tom Jensen argues the new system "won't make the rich guys richer," while Tom Baker of the Race Chaser website authors a piece noting the charter idea is a team owners' idea and that it indicates there is some genuine give-and-take between NASCAR and teams going on.

But the more one reads into the idea, the more questions one has - and some, like Mike Hillman and former driver Rick Mast, have been asking.   As respondent Matthew McCowan notes in Moody's blog, the charter system is "the New York taxi driver business model.  It doesn't help competition there.....creating artificial value is not a good thing"  Indeed New York's fight over Uber shows an attempt by the city to shake down the ridesharing company and trying to protect uncompetitive taxi services.

A Q-and-A piece on the charter system adds more questions - "Instead of teams being rewarded based on performance-based purses, the balance will shift to teams being rewarded for full-time participation. This is an old NASCAR goal - getting teams to run all the races - dating to the 1970s when the Wood Brothers never tried to enter all the races and in the 1967-80 period won over sixty races as a part-time team. The old Winners Circle Program was a bureacratized version of promoter-paid appearance money.  But if teams are being rewarded for participation, what particular incentive do they have to try harder to win?   This is what always seems to be missing from NASCAR decision-making - are teams truly incentivized to go for the lead?

Moreover NASCAR's issues are more about what the teams are doing more than who are the owners - the blunt truth remains that spendaholism by raceteams is the undiscussed crisis of racing; there has long remained a need for some kind of spending control regime for raceteams, and I have yet to see anyone in authority in NASCAR or the RTA address it. "How much would you pay to be cannonfodder?" is a pointed question asked by veteran NASCAR writer Mike Mulhern about the charter system.

** - NASCAR's creation of artificial value, if that's indeed what happens with a charter system, has been in keeping with the artificiality created since the dawn of the Chase format.   Its extension to the Xfinity and Truck series is lauded by NASCAR because they actually think it has made for more competitive point races in the Cup series, oblivious to the fact the Chase concept revolves around wholly artificial points reracks.   Steve O'Donnell's assertion that Chase formats create "unprecedented level of excitement as teams tactical decisions that could impact their spot in the Chase" and "put a premium on in-race strategy" is laughable because the racing has not become more competitive in the twelve previous seasons of Winston Cup's Chase.  

A telling stat as measured by the Racing Reference website - of twelve Chases, in seven of them the points champion in a natural points format was different from the Chase-declared champion, including the last two series champs.

** - Further displaying the folly of a Chase is what Rodney Childers of Kevin Harvick's team stated about the 2015 season (in which Harvick would have been champion over Joey Logano in a non-Chase format) - that his team hurt itself during the "regular" season by racing "too fast every week" because "once you win a couple of races you don't need to be showing everybody what you've got and making them work harder to catch you."

The idea that it's wrong to go for the win is beyond foolish, and looking at his season it was the reracks that caught everyone up to him.   Disincentivizing real effort is wrong at any level of society or sports; it's dumbing everything down when NASCAR needs to be defining everything Up.

** - With just twelve winners in 2015 the Cup series enters 2016 a mixed bag - the positive of 2015 was the quasi-collapse of Chevrolet and the resurgence of Toyota, which won eleven of the last 21 races, all of them by JGR, while Joey Logano's Ford and the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets won the rest.  

Ford faces the toughest climb with the collapse of Roush Racing's engineering competence; the blue ovals have the Penske juggernaut, the Roush fleet,  Richard Petty's outfit that appears in better financial shape than it's been in awhile, and a full-time return of Wood Brothers Racing, fielding the #21 with Ryan Blaney, a driver who showed some legitimate promise in 2015.   That Penske was the only Ford winner in 2015 cannot be considered good enough for the Dearborn people; it needs all its teams to win, even as Roush appears unable to engineer a comeback.

Toyota's fleet is led by JGR and that appears to be it other than the switch of Furniture Row's team to Toyotas.   Chevrolet got wins by Hendrick and Stewart-Haas last season and nothing else - the Teresa Earnhardt/SABCO duo managed six top five finishes in 2015 but was otherwise MIA while RCR kept plodding to nowhere with eight top-fives among its three cars and Austin Dillon's ride in the venerated #3 producing just five top-10s and nothing else except a vicious flip into Daytona's fencing.

The rest of the field in all three major touring series testify to the sport's inefficient economic model, as one is hard-pressed to see a darkhorse emerging into contention.  And it leaves one wondering whether a new winner (there were none in 2015 among drivers) can emerge, even with a hyped rookie class.

So we await Speedweeks 2016.

The Subsidizing of Solar Failure In California

California's artificially high energy costs derive in part from subsidizing solar power.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Democrats' Continuing Jobs Problem

The Democratic Party continues to prove it has no grasp of real economics when Bernie Sanders and company talk about jobs with "shovel-ready jobs" rhetoric Barack Obama had to admit after the fact was unrealistic.

Why The Deficit Is Different Compared To The Past

A lengthy analysis examines that the fiscal imbalance in the US - aka big government's overspending - is different from the recent past.

The Limits Of The Auto Manufacturers In Racing

This repost of the VW Diesel Cheating fiasco is made to make a larger point about the auto manufacturers in relation to racing. The manufacturers have built their cars - both for the street and in their approach to backing raceteams - to where they won't let individual owners be able to fix their own cars and raceteams have become too dependent on a limited number of outside suppliers, usually the factories themselves, to race.   In the past of some 30 years ago raceteams could build their own racecars and their own engines, and as late as 1996 such autonomy was still in existence.

Lack of transparency from the manufacturers is why the VW cheating deal happened and it reflects myopia by the manufacturers - if they'd be open and let individuals be able to fix their own cars, and/or open up the technology book for individual garages like Wakefield Tire in Massachusetts as opposed to just dealership ones, it won't hurt a manufacturer's bottom line - on the contrary such goodwell improves the relationship with the customer.

It applies to racing as well, as raceteams who would be allowed to build their own engines etc. - at present in NASCAR only about four teams have their own engine shops and the manufacturers have done nothing I can see to train or assist more teams to be able to build engines - long ago proved they would be loyal to a manufacturer.  "People see their cars as extensions of themselves," because they are extensions of people.   Manufacturers need to be more open and allow more autonomy for customers and also raceteams because that builds more such extensions and benefits the manufacturers in the long run.

Iran Is Not Iran Inc.

The rush of European businesses into Iran is merely subsidizing Islamo-Arab imperialism.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Look At The Middle East And The Myth Of Outsourcing Victory

A recent look at Syria and the myth of a coalition against Daesh/ISIS makes several bottom lines -

Defeating Islamo-Arab imperialism is the key.

Iran is the one waging aggression against Iraq - further illustrating the stupidity of Obama's withdrawal there.

The US can't outsource defeating the enemy and cleaning up the mess - of course that's been the reality since the First World War. It also is a driving dishonesty in Barack Obama's sham debate about Syria.

UPDATE, APRIL 21: The slow return of US forces to Iraq showcases a reality Obama and company have long denied but which reality won't let them avoid - Boots on the ground defeat Islamic imperialism.

CBO Shows Anew Government Spendaholism

The CBO's latest report on the debt shows anew how government meddling and spending has been a failure.

The Climate Snow Job

Extreme weather has nothing to do with climate change.

Patriotic Assimilation And Immigration

A look at the history of assimilation of immigrants and how the last 30-plus years have seen the push for the tribalism called "diversity."

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Iran's Infrastructure Of Imperialism

Liveshot Kerry criticized Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz when Moniz accurately stated the nuclear-appeasement deal with Iran would leave Iran with more money for international terrorism. Kerry has recently admitted Iran indeed has increased its terrorist backing. But he also doubled down on excuse-making by claiming Iran will spend to repair its infrastructure - an assertion also at variance with the facts. Liveshot's verbiage is continuation of the issue of the Obama administration's appeasement and the myth of Iranian moderates.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

No, NASCAR's 2016 5&5 Rule Won't Work

As the 2016 Winston Cup media tour proceeds we've had several pieces lauding the low downforce package for the Cup cars to be used this coming season, from the likes of USA Today (here from latter October of 2015) and from Carl Edwards during the 2016 Media Tour as he laid out three reasons why the low downforce package will be better. Tony Stewart also touched on this in a Dave Moody interview critical of Brian France's aloofness from garage areas - at Pocono in 2015 Stewart says Brian France "gave me a hard time" for lobbying for lower downforce as Gene Stefanyshyn lobbied for higher downforce.

What is always missed in these discussions is that history has already proven low downforce doesn't work, a fact Stewart seemed oblivious to in his shots at Stefanyshyn's racing credentials during his interview, illustrating that credentials doesn't always mean command of the facts.  The first version of the 5&5 Rule debuted in 1998.   It was designed to lower downforce and thus reduce corner speeds - the rationale cited was the same then as it is now - and increase passing, it accomplished neither, to where late that season Terry Labonte publicly stated the package had made the racing boring, and NASCAR dropped it in November.  

Downforce increased.   In August-September 1999 Goodyear made a tire change to a compound designed to battle Hoosier in Winston West racing; it had more stagger and debuted at Michigan.

Late in that 1999 Yankee 400 the battle for the lead swelled into a spirited nose to nose fight reminiscent of Michigan of old - i.e. of the bias-ply tire era.

Another heated battle for the lead developed at the Delaware 400 at Dover that September.  But by 2001-3 Goodyear was running a much harder tire compound.  In 2004, after heavy lobbying from Rusty Wallace and after John Darby took over the garage area, NASCAR tried the 5&5 Rule again and doggedly kept it, via multiple spoiler reductions to go with some three Darby-mandated swaybar changes and resultant changes by Goodyear to tires - and it all accomplished nothing.   The COT then debuted in 2007 as a low downforce concept - and failed.  

Drivers lauded NASCAR after the races at Kentucky and Darlington because they ran low downforce - yet passing didn't improve.  Neither race stood out for anything - Kentucky didn't approach any kind of record for lead changes in 2015 - it had thirteen official and nine unofficial; in 2011 it had twenty official.   Darlington saw 24 lead changes in 2015, not exactly a significant upgrade over the 21 lead changes of 2011's running with high downforce or even 2014's running that saw 22.  

And criticism of the high downforce package used at Indianapolis and Michigan in the summer of 2015 ignored the real problems with passing - the cars still have too much horsepower (by well over 300) and the tire used simply isn't sufficient for grip; the fact the cars never stalled out in traffic as opposed to with low downforce ought to be recognized as a manifest positive.   Contrast this with the Truck series and the epic Kasey Kahne-Erik Jones sidedraft battle in 2015 with a tire that gripped well enough that they could lean hard and fight thusly - it raced more like old bias-plies than radials, notorious for needing to catch the car instead of race it.   The Trucks are also high downforce vehicles.  

What remains the truth is that underpowered and overgripped racecars have produced the most lead changes, be it Indycar or Indy Lights on the superovals, the NASCAR Modifieds at New Hampshire, the Trucks on big tracks, and in restrictor plate racing - the 80 lead changes at the Cal Indy 500 at Fontana would not have been possible with lower downforce; neither would the Erik Jones-Kasey Kahne shootout last May.

Making the same mistakes made in 1998, 2004, and beyond won't make the racing better, and NASCAR needs to know better - still.  Racing is about lead changes, not throttle control.  It's about not having to catch a racecar, not about struggling to handle. 

A superb insight is provided in a question asked by veteran NASCAR writer Mike Mulhern - what is the over-under on the first rule change for 2016?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

House Fraudulence About Drug CEO Martin Shkreli

Martin Shkreli was CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals and in 2015 he bought the rights to a drug whose price he raised to $750.00 a pop. A lot of social media sanctimony followed, and he's been supoenaed by the House of Representatives. The problem, though, is the usual one - Shkreli is not the problem, government meddling created his so-called "price-gouging."

Democratic Fraudulence - Drink To That In Flint

Flint, Michigan is a failed city, the result of the Democratic Party - and the attempt to blame its water issues of recent on the Republican governor of Michigan showcases anew the Democratic Party's endless buck-passing.

A Quick Guide to Democratic Socialism

Bernie The Bozo in three queasy steps and how they never work. Include to this is this takedown on his healthcare plan.

The Hillary Suck-Up Who Exposed Her

Lost in the shuffle is that Hillary Milhous Clinton was proven a liar and crook by one of her suck-ups. We also return to the smoking gun proving Hillary a liar about Benghazi et al - her server - and we also see that The Justice Department is not cooperating with the FBI in investigating Hillary - which may see the FBI force it to prosecute her.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Social Security Truth The NY Times Can't Admit

The NY Times is bloviating again about Social Security and once again can't admit the truth about the bankruptcy of this and other entitlements.

Some bottom lines -

Social Security costs have outrun the economy's ability to sustain the program, and it's only getting worse.

Politicians won't raise taxes to keep it solvent - that tax increases are advocated for Social Security merely illustrates the program's unsoundness.

Social Security is draining workers' standard of living.

The real problem with any entitlement - it is NOT a savings program, it is a money shuffle.

The program is becoming like collapsing state pension programs.

NASCAR's Chase To Nothing

Brian France does little more than prove he is utterly clueless about racing, and now he astonishingly has changed NASCAR's Busch and Truck Series into Chase formats despite respectable point races in those two series over the last decade without a Chase format.   France's cluelessness shows in his comments about the misbegotten format -

"When we looked at how successful the format is (in Winston Cup)...."  Stop.   There has been no success with the format in Winston Cup.   The artificial exclusion of fields from any kind of points contention for the final three months of the season, the artificial reracking of points, and the resultant lack of legitimacy to the series champion - all shown with winless Ryan Newman's reracking into title contention in 2014 and Kyle Busch's title despite missing a third of the season, and with the Racing Reference website's comparison of the Cup champ with what the actual champion would be under a points format that flowed naturally as was done until 2004 (with Kevin Harvick beating Joey Logano for the title by 21 points if 2015 was a non-Chase format) - has resulted in an undeniable net loss in popularity, attendances, and sponsorships for racing.  

"The way to win in the future is you've got to beat people, you've got to be winning, you've got to be in the crosshairs of elimination at any given moment." 

So where are the lead changes?   For any of that to be true, Brian, the lead changes would have to be increasing.  The strategy would have to be "I have to go for the lead right now."  That lead changes are nonexistent shows apart from the sport's dismal handling of technology and spending issues that drivers are NOT trying harder.   The winner of the most races is not gaining on winless drivers.    Incentive to win, far from being enhanced, has been stifled - to where Kevin Harvick's crew chief acknowledged Harvick's pursuit of win after win hurt his Chase chances in 2015..   No one is trying to win these races because NASCAR will not allow anything to be gained from it - they're just riding and trying to collect points.  

This makes NASCAR honcho Steve O'Donnell's assertion that the new format would eliminate points-racing - he cited Erik Jones' stroker ace imitation at Homestead as an example of what the Chase format will ostensibly eliminate - all the more dishonest.  

Stifling incentive to win is the inevitable result of a new format to the Truck Series - a caution clock.   Every twenty green-flag minutes will see a mandatory caution.   "We think it's going to add to the strategy during the race," says O'Donnell - this in the face of realworld evidence that knowing when cautions will fly makes drivers not try to lead.   Citing that Cup teams make pitstops under early competition cautions by O'Donnell as usual ignores what really happens - nothing changes as far as going for the lead - the only spot in a race that's worth having - goes.

In 1974 NASCAR ran a one-season-only points format that rewarded purse money won times number of starts divided by 1,000 - the purpose was to reward winning races above everything else.   That format worked - the only issue was it worked too well - the 1974 point lead changed nine times between Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough, who won ten races each; Petty outpointed almost the entire field at several late-season races because he'd won more money than anyone else, while David Pearson campaigned just 21 races and finished third in points with seven wins.   Convoluted as that point system was, it was fundamentally the correct idea - and it's what NASCAR needs, a points system that requires winning races and most laps led, with top finishes secondary to points success. 

Brian France's lack of understanding about racing continues to prove itself with another misbegotten idea for a sport woefully dry on competitive worth, a sport whose competitive apex was among the most compelling sporting dramas anyone could imagine.   2016 is supposed to be better than what Brian France thinks.

The State Of Obama Sanity

Barack Obama's last State Of The Union speech merely showed how bereft of substance he's always been, and the collapse of his legacy has begun..

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Reality Of Income Mobility

President Obama and other class war demagogues like college students who support Bernie Sanders lie about income inequality.  What actually exists is economics mobility and the role of demographics.

Obama Appeasement And Human Rights

Obama has bequeathed worsened international savagery.

No To NFL In Los Angeles

The NFL has now lost its mind voting to move the St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles.  The Rams are to play in the decrepit LA Coliseum for three seasons as a new stadium is built in Inglewood - this as funding for this proposed stadium remains murky and with the history of cost overruns to such facilities something to keep in mind.    The move personifies the myth that the NFL has been pushing that Los Angeles wants an NFL team.

The reality has always been different.   The Rams sold well in the early 1950s but as the city and its entertainment empires grew it stopped being a sports town, even as Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NHL, and auto racing established facilities and teams in that sprawling megopolis and ran into an unchanging reality - fan support never amounted to anything to be excited about.   The Rams were joined by the Raiders in 1982 amid heavy controversy and by 1995 both were gone - in the press conference to announce the move of the Rams to LA, Roger Goodell claimed they and the Raiders left because the city did not upgrade their existing stadiums.   This, though, is not the truth - the truth is the Rams and Raiders by 1994 could no longer deny that no legitimate audience existed for the NFL in Los Angeles.  

It's a lesson auto racing learned more graphically with the failure of Ontario Motor Speedway and Riverside International Raceway and the more recent fall of the Fontana speedway even with the most amazing Indycar race ever seen.   Ontario in particular illustrates the illusions that drive sports bodies into thinking Los Angeles is a worthwhile market - Ontario was built on grossly optimistic attendance assumptions and when those assumptions crashed by the end of 1971 the track went through several owners before dying outright after the 1980 season.   Riverside outlived Ontario by just eight years.

The city has never proven it is any kind of sports town; instead Los Angeles remains what it has long been - a party town, a transient town that dabbles in sports from time to time but never sustains support for any of its teams or the speedways.   This is a point partly made by Boomer Esiason on Inside The NFL some weeks back that remains ignored by seemingly everyone in the league.

The NFL failed in Los Angeles already, and nowhere is there any evidence it can work now.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Obama Blows Gunsmoke Part II

Barack Obama shed perfunctory and insincere tears when advocating his pointless new idea for gun control - the classic feign of the intellectual. It comes as Congress has passed a bill to repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood - a repeal that has substance to it and as Planned Parenthood has long been exposed as a body cannibalizing fetuses for parts as it pretends to offer services actual clinics offer for free while it abuses its patients while shilling for millions in subsidies and taking the Department Of Health And Human Services - among others - as hostages. "It's only a matter of time before they end up on the wrong side of this argument."


This piece captures the heart of intellectuals -  their love of government as opposed to people.

GM Salmon Is Just the Beginning

The case against GMOs - never credible to start with - continues to weaken.

Ben Carson's Tax Plan

A look at Ben Carson's tax plan, what may be the best of any candidate's tax plans.

Refuting The Big Short

Hollywood's bad habit of "true story" films that are false continues with The Big Short, pushing the myth of Wall Street causing the mortgage crash of 2008 when the fact is government meddling is what created it. Moreover, the myth pushed in the film is the housing crash precipitated the recent downturn in the economy - lost is that the Fed unwisely worked to prevent inflation and ignored market expectations. And making it all worse is the film won Academy Awards it doesn't deserve.