Patterico's Pontifications

1/31/2013

EPA Defies Sanity, or Defines Insanity

Filed under: General — JD @ 10:28 pm

[Guest post by JD]

The Obama EPA’s War on Jobs Continues Apace.

I really am struggling for the right adjective to describe this. It has been clear the the Obama EPA has absolute contempt for American jobs, the economy, the rule of law, and basic sanity.

Less than a week ago, the Environmental Protection Agency received a slap on the wrist from a federal appeals court that ruled that the EPA may not force oil companies to pay for an credits for failing to comply with a rule mandating that they incorporate a certain amount of cellulosic biofuels into their product. The EPA estimated that the industry would produce and make available for purchase 8.7 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels in 2012, but the industry only actually produced less than 21,000 gallons — and the court thankfully decided that the EPA could not inflict regulatory punishments based on their wildly enthusiastic and fanciful projections.

So, they just got done getting whacked in Court for trying to fine someone for not using something that essentially doesn’t exist, at least not anywhere near their projections. In a rational world, their mandates would mandate something that exists.

So, last year, their projection was around 8,700,000 gallons, when reality was around 21,000 gallons. The EPA projected approximately 415 times as much a reality allowed for.

What to do? Temper projections to match reality? Are you on crack?! This is the Obama EPA.

EPA raised how much cellulosic biofuel — those made from non-edible feedstock — it expected refiners to blend this year as part of the renewable fuel standard.

EPA set the mark at 14 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel, up from about 8.65 million gallons last year. …

I really would love it if someone could explain this.

—JD

Hagel Open Thread

Filed under: General — JD @ 12:31 pm

[Guest post by JD]

Sen Graham clobbered Hagel.

The Dems like to quote Reagan out of context.

Apparently, clueless is a feature, not a bug, for the Hagel nomination.

I understand that Cruz, McCain, and others, took him to the woodshed as well.

—-JD

It’s Obama’s Economy Now

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:40 am

Things that spur economic recovery include abolishing the corporate income tax, eliminating or reducing unemployment benefits and food stamp eligibility, eliminating the minimum wage, and slashing regulations.

What has Obama done? Not that.

He owns it. He can lie about it, but he owns it.

Just wait until the inflation starts.

1/30/2013

Initial Q4 GDP Negative 0.1. Negative. UPDATED

Filed under: General — JD @ 12:28 pm

[guest post by JD]

Let that sink in. Q4 GDP negative 0.1. Yet immigration is now his new focal point. Remember when he pivoted to jobs for the 82nd time, and wouldn’t rest until the economy was back on track?

Recovery summer. The economy has turned the corner. We are on the right track. The private sector is not hurting.

In other new, the Presidents Jobs Council, which hasn’t met in almost a year, will expire this week.

This is going to be a looooooooooong 4 years of Obama’s war on the American economy.

UPDATED

Shockingly and unexpectedly, Obama Administration blames Republicans for the negative 0.1%

WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney blamed the unexpected drop in gross domestic product last quarter on congressional Republicans, saying they introduced uncertainty into the economy with fiscal cliff brinkmanship.
“There is more work to do and our economy is facing headwinds,” Carney said in response to a government report showing that the economy contracted by 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, “and that is Republicans in Congress.”

“It can’t be we’ll let sequester kick in because we insist tax loopholes remain in place for corporate jet-owners,” Carney said, laying the blame on Republicans and pressuring them to avoid another crisis over the next round of talks on the sequester.
“It’s not a game — it’s the American economy,” he said.

Every once in a while Carney tries to one-up his normal mendoucheity. There is so much in that little segment. Blaming this on a fiscal cliff that they wanted to drive off. Blaming the sequester that the Obama admin inserted and advocated. Blaming a continuing sluggish economy on political opposition. Using standard class warfare BS about corporate jets, and then having the temerity to whine that this is not a game, while treating it as exactly that for the last 4 years. It is double ironic to blame the sequester on Team R when it was Team O’s poison pill, and the House has sent bills to the Senate to make different cuts, that the Senate Dems refuse to consider. It would be comical if it wasn’t sad. And dishonest.

—JD

List of People Who Claimed Invited Comments Were “Heckling”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:27 am

This is a follow-up to JD’s post from last night, with more detail, and naming names.

So a bereaved father made this statement advocating the ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines:

At the 15 minute mark, the father says:

I ask if there’s anybody in this room that can give me one reason or challenge this question … why anybody in this room needs to have one of these assault-style weapons or military weapons or high-capacity clips.

At this point, he pauses for effect, as if inviting people in the room to comment. When nobody says anything, he says: “And not one person can answer that question.” As if people’s silence proved he was right.

Then a few people say — not yell — things about the Second Amendment, some quoting the part about how the right to bear arms “shall not be infringed.” In this way, he was disallowed from arguing that the silence of people in the room signaled agreement with his position.

Then an official threatened to remove the people whose comments had been solicited, for the offense of responding to the father’s request for comment: “Please no comments while Mr. Heslin is speaking. Or we’ll clear the room. Mr. Heslin please continue.”

This was described as “heckling” by a number of people. You can watch the video above to confirm my description of the account, and reach your own conclusion about whether this constitutes “heckling.” Once you’ve reached your conclusion, you’ll probably want a list of people who described this as “heckling,” so you can factor this episode into your decisionmaking about whether to trust these people in the future.

Luckily, in a post that JD linked last night, Twitchy has compiled tweets from many of these people. I think they should be named. They include Eric Boehlert, Charles Johnson, David Frum, Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed, John Marshall, Piers Morgan, Raw Story, Gawker, Slate, the Daily Beast, and HuffPo, among others.

Each used the word “heckled” to describe people a) giving comments that had been invited, and b) refusing to have their silence falsely portrayed as agreement with an opinion they rejected.

Allahpundit has the details on how Slate, Piers Morgan, and others retracted (Morgan acted the ass in his apology, as you would expect). Larry O’Donnell doubled down, pretending to ignore the fact that the father was calling for the BAN of these weapons, and that the father was falsely portraying silence as agreement.

Message to Eric Boehlert, Charles Johnson, David Frum, Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed, John Marshall, Piers Morgan, Raw Story, Gawker, Slate, the Daily Beast, and HuffPo:

This is a good example of why we don’t trust you.

UPDATE: It’s a neat little Catch 22, isn’t it? If you speak out, even if invited to, you’re a jerk, because they are the parents of victims. If you are silent, you agree with them. Either you are for gun control or you’re an insensitive, terrible person. Now there’s a narrative Big Media can love.

1/29/2013

Another Rhetorical Question

Filed under: General — JD @ 5:23 pm

[Guest post by JD]

Is there anything that MSNBC and the rest of the institutional Left will not lie about?

Sandy Hook parent heckled? Nope.

— JD

Open Thread: Amnesty II

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:32 am

Because Amnesty I was so awesome.

How does this work out for the GOP? I think the argument is: you have to stop antagonizing Latinos and support anmesty that will legalize millions of people who aren’t ever going to vote for you, because otherwise you will lose elections.

That about sum it up?

That sounds like the kind of logic our GOP should go for.

But that’s election politics. What about the moral equation?

I’m not sure why people who came here illegally as adults should cut in line in front of people who tried to become citizens the right way. How to deal with people brought here at a young age is a more difficult question, since it’s not their fault they’re here. You could argue the incentive aspect, but as long as we have birthright citizenship, there is an incentive to come here illegally for your children’s sake. I don’t particularly mind helping out people who have spent their whole lives here and are technically illegal through no fault of their own.

But it’s different for adults.

If we believe amnesty is immoral because it allows lawbreakers to cut in line, where is this electoral benefit that mandates rewarding illegal behavior? Please explain.

A Rhetorical Question About the Media

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:25 am

How does a guy being investigated for sleeping with underage prostitutes appear on This Week and not get asked about it?

1/28/2013

No, Really: More Choice Does *Not* Paralyze Consumers

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:12 pm

Interesting reactions to my post about the “jam experiment,” which purported to show that consumers bought less jam when confronted with more choices.

One fella named Chip S. came along to say that the whole argument was a ridiculous strawman; nobody really believes that result.

Chip S. was annoyed because I had posited, without doing research on it, that this study would be the type of thing Big Media and Freakonomics types would write about:

You can easily see journalists writing an article that wows the public. Call the Freakonomics guys. Can’t you envision a section of a chapter talking about this surprising result, and discussing the likely reasons for it? Perhaps the shoppers were paralyzed by indecision when presented with so many choices. Valuable information, certainly, for any marketer to know.

Valuable — and almost certainly wrong.

Was I wrong that this would be the sort of study Big Media and Freakonomics types would jump on?

Please. Would I ask the question so publicly if the answer were unflattering to my predictive powers?

I looked this evening. There is a New York Times article pushing the idea. There is a book that features the study as an example of how choice can paralyze people. There are blog posts making the same point. And plenty of my commenters came out in support of the jam study’s conclusion — seemingly overlooking Manzi’s assertion (as reported by my post) that, if anything, studies show the opposite of what the jam experiment purports to show.

Why, as it turns out, even the Freakonomics people wrote about it. What is especially funny about their post is that they clearly love the counter-intuitive finding, admit that it fits their preconceptions — and then quote someone showing the study’s results cannot be replicated consistently . . . and then . . . and then conclude that, hey, maybe people should streamline choices anyway:

So even if jam studies of the future prove inconclusive, it still seems wise to streamline choices whose complexity might otherwise hamper a good outcome.

In other words, the result is just so much fun, it’s a shame to toss it overboard just because it cannot be shown to be accurate.

People love this so much, I thought I would look for Manzi talking about this in a written format, and let him make the argument himself, rather than have me report to you about something I heard in a podcast. So I found Manzi discussing this in more detail at the Corner and thought it was worth quoting at length:

What are the odds that we would see one randomly chosen group of about 100 of the people who were given a coupon have a redemption rate that is ten times as large as another similarly sized random group of people given the exact same coupon? It’s larger than you might think. Consider an example. A recent in-store coupon executed by a large-format grocery-store chain was distributed to more than 1.3 million shoppers. I randomly divided them into about 13,000 groups of 100 shoppers each. I then randomly paired each of these groups with one other, creating about 6,500 randomly matched pairs of randomly selected groups of 100 shoppers. In a little over 9 percent of these pairings, the redemption rate was at least ten times as high in one group as in its matched pair. The jam experiment, by this simplified and indicative metric, would fail to achieve standard measures of statistical confidence required to reject the hypothesis that this was just random variation.

And while the specifics will vary for any given coupon – based on characteristics like product category, average redemption rate, time of year, and so forth – this indicative analysis almost certainly understates the actual probability of seeing this much difference between the two groups in the experiment. The two groups of jam buyers were not assigned randomly. Because the experiment was done for a total of ten hours in only one store, and because shoppers were grouped in hourly chunks, there are all kinds of reasons why the people who happened to show up during the five hours of limited assortment might have different propensity to respond to one-dollar-off coupons for a specific line of jams than those who arrived in the other five hour period. Maybe a soccer game finished at some specific time, and several of the parents who share similar propensities versus the average shopper came in nearly together, or maybe a bad traffic jam in a part of town with non-average propensity to respond to the coupon dissuaded several people from going to the store at one time versus another. Remember, all of the inference is built on the purchase of a grand total of 35 jars of jam. This is one reason why rigorous retail experiments, when a lot of money is at stake, are typically executed for dozens of randomly assigned stores for a period of weeks — and even sample sizes like that are pushing the envelope of causal inference.

But the result is at least interesting, and the right way to figure out whether or not the result is valid and generalizable is replication. Over the past ten years, a number of such experiments have been done by academics to evaluate the asserted paradox of choice for product categories ranging from mp3 players to mutual funds, and a paper was published in February (Scheibehenne, et al.) that conducted a meta-analysis of 50 of them (h/t Tim Harford). Across all of these experiments, the average effect of increasing choice on consumption or satisfaction was “virtually zero.” Further, this meta-analysis showed a positive average effect of increasing choices for those experiments that, like the jam experiment, tested the effect of choice on consumption quantity, rather than some measure of satisfaction, as the outcome. That is, when it comes to sales, more choice is better.

This is consistent with all of the unpublished assortment experiments that I’ve seen, and should not be surprising. As a store adds more and more products to a given product line assortment – say, canned soup – sales will rise sub-linearly with product count.

The key, again, is whether repeated experiments produce a predictable result — not how much fun the answer is, or whether it is in line with your preconceptions.

It’s a hard lesson to remember, but I think it’s a valuable one.

Stan The Man

Filed under: General — JD @ 6:38 pm

[Guest post by JD]

As a lifelong Cardinal fan, the passing of Stan Musial at the age of 92 was a horrible day.

The relationship between Stan the Man, Cardinal Dolan, and Pope John Paul II was fascinating. Cardinal Dolan’s stories and anecdotes from decades of their friendship are heartwarming.

The story of when Cardinal Dolan met Stan the Man …

For Dolan, the funeral will be a goodbye to part of his childhood. From the ages of 6 to 16, the Cardinals “meant the world” to Dolan, he said. Every morning during the season, he woke up and grabbed the Globe Democrat to check the baseball standings and box scores. On so many summer nights, he fell asleep to the voices of Harry Caray and Jack Buck calling the games. Once a year or so, Dolan’s father took him to see The Man at work in Sportsman’s Park.

His boyhood, Dolan said, “was a healthy fantasizing about baseball as personified by Stan — about talent, consistency and day-in-day-out leadership of the club.”

When Dolan was about 10, he and his brother were at Lambert Field to pick up their grandmother from a trip to New York. As they waited at the gate, they saw Musial, and their father encouraged them to go shake his hand.

In his homily at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York last Sunday — a day after Musial’s death — Dolan recalled the memory for his flock.

“I can remember meeting him when I was 10 years of age, and it’s as if it were yesterday when I went up to him and I said, ‘Hi, Stan,’ ” Dolan said at the service, which was recorded by the archdiocese. “And he rustled my hair and he said, ‘How are you, Slugger?’ I will never forget that.”

Nor would I.

A great story about Musial and the Pope, John Paul II.

Dolan said Musial later told him that one of the greatest thrills of his life was not when he reached the 3,000-hit mark, but on Oct. 16, 1978, when Wojtyla was elected Pope John Paul II.

Musial’s visits to Rome — where he and other friends of John Paul were led up the Vatican’s “Polish staircase” to the pope’s private apartment — meant visits with Dolan, and the two men got to know one another over the years.

“When I would see Stan on those occasions, he was always beaming,” Dolan said. “He was so fond of the Holy Father.”

According to George Vecsey’s biography, “Stan Musial: An American Life,” Musial and the pope — both athletes — were “physically and psychically comfortable with each other.”

During one early-morning trip up the Polish staircase for a private Mass with John Paul in his personal chapel, some American priests recognized Musial, according to Vecsey’s book.

“I’m entitled to be here because I’m also a Cardinal,” Musial told them.

The whole linked article is just so good. Click on the link.

One final excerpt ….

In 2001, after Dolan was named a St. Louis auxiliary bishop, the two men ran into one another at a Mass Dolan was celebrating at the Church of the Annunziata in Ladue.

Musial grabbed Dolan after Mass and they went to Schneithorst’s Coffee House, where Musial was a regular, for breakfast. As Dolan told the story in his homily at St. Patrick’s last weekend, he asked Musial — who had a career batting average of .331 — what he might bat if he was playing today.

“Ahh. If I were playing today, with everything — with a juiced-up ball and bat and AstroTurf, I might hit .275,” Musial said.

“Stan, I think you’re selling yourself short,” Dolan said. “.275?”

Musial shrugged. “Well, I’m 80,” he said.

This is not just a loss for baseball. Stan Musial was a man never tarnished by scandal, sometimes described as even boring. He was a lifetime .331 hitter. He had the exact same amount of hits at home as he did on the road. He was a devout believer, and was married to his wife, Lil for over 7 decades. He will be missed.

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