Free Markets, Free People

Politics

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Awaiting Act II of the charade called “democracy”

Act II, of course, being the Democratic National Convention where the fix was in from the beginning for the chosen son, or in this case witch.

Everyone expected the RNC to be a circus, but this particular convention promises to take the cake.  Thus the 4 mile fence they’ve built around the venue to keep the plebs at a distance.

So, Democratic voters, you really thought you had a role in all of this?  Bwaahaaahahaha.  You hadn’t a chance of deciding.  Your vote was simply part of the stage props necessary in the attempt to keep the facade of “democracy” alive.  The Superdelegates picked long before the first vote was cast had already decided the contest.  You were window dressing.

And I have to tell you, I am loving the Wikileaks DNC email dump.  Latinos are part of the “Taco Bowl” constituency.  Just shut up, grab a burrito and vote for Hillary.  They’ll ignore you later.

Meanwhile, it appears “Clinton, Inc.” is having a pre-move in sale:

The documents, which were circulated among top DNC officials in April, could raise legal questions for the party, says Ken Boehm, the chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group.

“The disclosed DNC emails sure look like the potential Clinton Administration has intertwined the appointments to federal government boards and commissions with the political and fund raising operations of the Democratic Party,” Boehm told The Daily Caller.

“That is unethical, if not illegal.”

The claim now circulating is the DNC server was hacked by Russia.  But Hillary’s server?  As safe as the gold in Ft. Knox, rest assured.

What a world we live in.  We have two of the worst candidates – that’s right, there is no “lesser of two evils” this time – running for a job in which they’ll each try to outdo the current worst president the US has ever suffered under.

As for the profession of “journalism”, you know what to expect:

At the beginning of the Republican National Convention last week, NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer confronted presidential nominee Donald Trump about dialing down the intensity of the passions percolating at the event. “Would you be willing to make a pledge to speak to everyone involved in this convention and say, ‘Please tone down the rhetoric’?” Lauer urged. “Can you say to the people who are going to take to that podium this week, ‘No personal attacks, no vitriol, keep it civil?”

The irony there is that political journalists themselves, Lauer included, have become as inflammatory as the politicians they lecture about incivility. In the aftermath of last month’s Orlando terrorist massacre at a gay nightclub, for example, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper badgered the increasingly offended Attorney General of Florida interminably about her stance on gay marriage. More recently, Fox News’ Shepherd Smith berated Gov. Bobby Jindal for using the “divisive” phrase “All lives matter.” CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, who wears her biases as openly as her keffiyeh, hammered away contentiously at British MP Daniel Hannan for nine minutes over the recent Brexit vote.

Screw it.

~McQ

Vote Properly, You Virulent Racist!

It’s been interesting watching the commentary about the British electorate’s choice to Leave the European Union. In many ways it reflects the pre-Brexit arguments of the Remain camp, which was essentially that all right-thinking people should vote remain and that those who didn’t were just racists and nationalists. That sort of analysis has even leaked into supposedly non-political outlets like Jalopnik, one of whose stories about Boris Johnson’s checkered career as an automotive journalist began with this:

Boris Johnson, the flop-haired ex-mayor of London, has been an outspoken supporter of Brexit, or however you call the thing where old scared racist people in the UK want to keep brown people out of their country and think that ditching the shitshow that is the EU is going to help them with that.

Well, there you go. A perfectly condescending dismissal of any idea that leaving the European Union had any intellectual support at all.

Less blunt was the New York Times, who began an article about the residents of Sunderland, a strongly Labour constituency in northern England that voted overwhelmingly for Leave, thusly:

Sunderland stunned the country when voters overwhelmingly opted to leave Europe in Thursday’s referendum, by 61 percent to 39 percent. It was a far higher vote for Britain’s exit than pollsters had predicted, and it was the first sign that Prime Minister David Cameron’s gamble on staying in the bloc had lost.

Sunderland’s citizens seem to have voted against their own interests. Not only has the city been a big recipient of European money, it is also the home of a Nissan car factory, Britain’s largest, and automobiles produced there are exported, duty free, to Europe.

The citizens of Sunderland seemed not to have been impressed by this or other advantages, such as:

They can swim at the Sunderland Aquatic Center, a £20 million project with an Olympic-size pool that the European Union helped finance. They can send their children to the sleek, modern Sunderland University campus, which also received union financing.

European Union money also helped establish Sunderland Software City, a business center that offers support and advice to aspiring software entrepreneurs.

Sounds great, except…

However splashy these projects may be, they remain largely inaccessible to Sunderland’s working class. Many cannot afford the £30 monthly fees at the Aquatic Center, and people in the nearby Washington neighborhood said they had never set foot inside.

As for Sunderland University, the tuition, which the government recently raised, is too much for many young people.

The article goes on to note that Sunderland has one of the highest unemployment rates in the UK.

So, how is voting Leave a vote against their interests? Well, let’s hand wave our way past that question, which, really, no right-thinking person would ask.

No, on second thought, let’s not, though to properly unpack this, we have to consider many things.

There’s a growing sense, not only in Great Britain, but in the US as well, that the elites, or the political class, or whatever you’d like to call them, are incompetent and have been leading us astray. And the response from elites is to call those criticisms illegitimate. Those doing the carping are assumed to be racists or nationalists, both of which, of course, are unpleasant, dirty types of people. Both the UK’s Leavers and the US’s Trumpers share some commonalities. Among them are skepticism over free trade and free immigration; concerns that elites dismiss as foolish and uneducated. And, of course racist.

But perhaps the Leavers weren’t so concerned with brown people because they were brown, but because they were concerned at seeing buses being blown up in London, British soldiers being beheaded in broad daylight in the High Street, and dozens of children being raped for years in Rotherham. Perhaps, the British people have come to wonder about immigration because many immigrants seem less interested in becoming British than they are in making Britain more like the Middle East. And, maybe, just maybe, the Leavers prefer to live in Britain, in the free and modern culture that has developed over the last 1,500 years, rather than go back to live in the year 692. Maybe they wouldn’t be any more interested in living in the 13th-century culture of Richard the Lion-Hearted any more than they are in living in the Dark Age culture of Middle Eastern immigrants.

When people come into your country from elsewhere, they don’t do so simply as fungible economic units, but as real people, who bring along cultural and political ideas that may conflict those that are traditional in your country. It is almost at the point where elites cannot even conceive of an argument that implies the superiority of one culture over another, so they dismiss this argument as nationalism and nativism. But, the thing is, a free society that continually imports immigrants who have no interest in individual liberty, religious freedom, and political pluralism, will eventually have none of those things. The problem isn’t race. It’s culture.

National sovereignty means something. At the very least, it means that the people of a country have the absolute right to restrict immigration to the sort of people that will, in their judgement, benefit the country, and, once the immigrants arrive, to force them to assimilate to the country’s national culture more than the country accommodates the culture of the immigrant. No obligation exists, in any sense whatsoever, that requires the people of a country to allow entry to immigrants who desire to transform the country into something different. It is entirely legitimate to reject calls for sharia in the UK, just as it’s entirely legitimate to be upset by seeing political protestors in the US waving Mexican flags or wearing “Make America Mexico Again” hats, explicitly letting us know where their primary political allegiance lies. Nor is it illegitimate to wonder why such people are in this country, and not in the corrupt shithole of a country that they so obviously prefer, yet so oddly fled.

Even on an economic level, questions of culture and country aside, people know whether they are better off today than they were 20 years ago. That’s true whether you’re an unemployed shipbuilder in Sunderland, or a textile worker in North Carolina, where about 650 textile plants closed between 1997 and 2009. A carpenter in Norwalk, CA, where low wages due to nearly uncontrolled immigration from Mexico and points south have made it impossible to raise a family on a tradesman’s salary, can see it happening, just as a plumber in Lincolnshire can see his wages drop as an influx of Polish tradesmen pour in.

One of the interesting demographic results of the Brexit vote was that people over 50 years of age were overwhelmingly in favor of Leave, while people under 30 just as keenly supported Remain. The standard explanation, as Jalopnik presented it, is simply that older people are reflexively racist against “the brown people”. Conversely, I submit that the older people have a breadth of perspective that enables them to judge what the country was like prior to submitting to the EU, compare it to the country’s situation today, and determine whether the result is an improvement. They’ve seen industry leave the north of England and an influx of immigrants who either don’t seem all that interested in becoming British or whose arrival has depressed wages for working people. Apparently, they’ve decided that’s not the Britain they were promised in 1975 or the one they want to leave to their children. Perhaps their children disagree, but those children have never had the opportunity to learn that things could be different. Indeed, they’ve been constantly taught the opposite by an education system and popular culture that characterizes Euroskepticism, as well as skepticism about free trade and unrestricted immigration, as aberrant and racist.

Now, it may be true that free trade is a net benefit. But even in the best of circumstances, such as assuming that NAFTA and the WTO are actually free trade agreements—a dubious assumption1—the benefits of free trade are widespread and diffuse, while the closure of textile plants and steel mills leave highly visible victims and long-term job losses for certain communities. That’s a political problem, not an economic one, and it’s one that elites haven’t addressed well. As a result, it’s biting them in the ass, whether it’s an unexpected Leave win for Brexit or an unexpected presidential nomination for Donald Trump. Remember, the Leave vote won even in the traditionally Labour-voting constituencies of northern England. Either working people don’t understand what’s going on in their own lives, or the promises of the elites haven’t been born out by their actual experience. Which is more likely?

But let’s go even further. Even if you could prove that, on balance, free trade is an unquestionable economic benefit, people might still prefer to be measurably poorer if that’s the price that must be paid to maintain their traditional social and political cultures. (This has even more relevance in the case of the EU, because the EU actually has power. Imagine if NAFTA had an unelected Commission in Ottowa or Mexico City that could impose laws on the United States.) Perhaps people don’t regard their economic interests as important as their national or cultural interests. It doesn’t matter what elite opinion thinks the people’s most important interests are. In a democratic society, ultimately, it only matters what the people think they are. People get to determine their own priorities, and not have them dictated by elites. The people get to answer for themselves the question, “In what kind of country do I want to live?”

Of course, I would argue that we don’t have truly free trade or, increasingly, a free economy in the United States. The Progressives  always look at the rising income inequality and maintain that it’s the inevitable result of capitalism. That’s hogwash, of course, and Proggies believe it because they’re dolts. But the problem in this country isn’t free trade—we have precious little of it—or unrestricted capitalism, since we have precious little of that as well. The issue behind rising income inequality isn’t capitalism, it’s cronyism. Income isn’t being redirected to the 1% because capitalism has failed, it’s happening because we abandoned capitalism in favor of the regulatory crony state and its de facto collusion between big business/banking interests and a government that directs capital to favored political clients, who become “too big to fail”. It doesn’t matter, for instance, whether the president is a Democrat or Republican, because we know the Treasury Secretary will be a former—and future—Goldman Sachs executive.

Indeed, what we call “free trade” nowadays isn’t the Theory of Comparative Advantage in action. It’s corporations being allowed to ship jobs to low wage countries overseas to offset the cost of regulatory burdens in the US that restrict competition from new entrants to the market. That works great for large corporations.  Not only do they get to offset the regulatory costs by overseas production, but slower job growth in the US flattens domestic wages, too, and sends millions out of the labor force altogether. For working people, the biggest financial rewards from the current “free trade” regime seem mainly reaped by large business and banking interests. Again, people know if their own lives are better or worse than they used to be, and if the promises of elites have been born out by their own experience.

The game is increasingly stacked against small business. We’ve made it harder and harder for working people to start or stay in business, restricted their access to finance and capital, and forced them to knuckle under to onerous regulatory burdens. Even with flat middle class wages keeping labor costs in check, the regulatory burden restricts small business formation. As a result, working people have begun begin to feel trapped. They see no way to improve their lives and they can see their own incomes stagnating—as middle class incomes have, in fact, been stagnating for at least 20 years.

Add to that the additional downward wage pressure that everyone agrees is the inevitable result of increasing the supply of labor through large-scale immigration. Then top it off with immigrants refusing to assimilate to culture of the host country in seemingly greater numbers. Now you have all of the necessary elements for a political revolt by the people the elite see as the rubes and hayseeds in flyover country. Rather than foreseeing and trying to ameliorate the results of these trends, the elite have chosen to ignore them at very least, or dismiss them with contempt at worst.

Most people, most of the time, are perfectly happy to let elites run the country. After all, it seems to make the elites happy to run run things, and as long as they’re reasonably competent at it, and do it reasonably unobtrusively, no one much seems to care. But when elite competence is compromised by faulty ideology and cronyism, people become unhappy. And when the elite response to complaints is dismissal or insult, political problems begin to bloom. People begin to think about politics. They begin to do things. It is no coincidence, as our Soviet friends used to say, that the last decade has seen the rise of the TEA Party, the Occupy Movement, and the Trump phenomenon. People of all political stripes are becoming unhappy.

I think we’re about to watch the elites start paying a price for their incompetence, inattention and contempt. Euroskepticism is on the rise elsewhere in Europe. If EU membership were put to a popular vote in the Netherlands, Spain, or Sweden, there is a good chance that Leave would win there, too. Indeed, it’s possible that a vote to leave the EU might even win in France, the nation for whom creating and strengthening the EU has been the primary policy goal for 60 years.

Perhaps the “Vote Remain, you virulent racist!” PR campaign for staying in the EU needs a bit more thought.

So, too, does the idea that Donald Trump supporters are all rubes and hayseeds. However much we might dislike the messenger, and Trump is certainly dislikable, and however slim his personal characteristics make his chance of winning the current election, the fact is that his message has gained much more ground than most thought possible a year ago. The key elements of that message are the same ones that resulted in a Leave vote in the UK. In the hands of a more astute politician, how much more effective would that message be?

I leave it to you to ponder the answer to that question.

___________________

1 By the way, free trade doesn’t require agreements and treaties. It just requires that government not interfere with trade. If there’s a treaty involved, you can be virtually certain that some industry is being protected.


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Science vs. “science”

Megan McArdle touches on one of the great political truths of today:

Ask a Washington dinner party full of moderately well informed people what will happen with Iran over the next five years, and you’ll end up with a consensus that gee, that’s tough. Ask them what GDP growth will be in fall 2019, and they’ll probably converge on a hesitant “2 or 3 percent, I guess?” On the other hand, ask them what’s going to happen to the climate over the next 100 years, and what you’re likely to hear is angry.

How can one be certain about outcomes in a complex system that we’re not really all that good at modeling? Anyone who’s familiar with the history of macroeconomic modeling in the 1960s and 1970s will be tempted to answer “Umm, we can’t.”

And that’s sort of the root of the problem, isn’ t it?  The “science” of “climate change” is based in modeling “a complex system that we’re not really all that good at modeling”, just as in years past economists attempted the same thing with similar results.

So, how is the inability to capture all the variables, even variables of which little is known at present (and, dare I say it, some unknown) and put them in a model and claim … “science”.  Seems to me its a guess at best.  That’s certainly what economists found when they tried to model economies or even parts of economies.  The number of variables is just too vast and the knowledge of those variables is imprecise at best.

McArdle goes on to talk about the experience of economists and how models have pretty much been put in their place in the “dismal science”.  They’re aids, but they’re certainly nothing to bet your career or economic policy on.

Somehow, however, that’s not been the case with climate models – even when they’ve been shown to be horribly inaccurate time after time (in fact, not even close and have such a tenuous grasp on the mechanics of climate they can’t even reproduce the past).

That’s not stopped those who proclaim the “science is settled” from attempting to vilify and condemn those who disagree.  Money grafs from McArdle:

This lesson from economics is essentially what the “lukewarmists” bring to discussions about climate change. They concede that all else equal, more carbon dioxide will cause the climate to warm. But, they say that warming is likely to be mild unless you use a model which assumes large positive feedback effects. Because climate scientists, like the macroeconomists, can’t run experiments where they test one variable at a time, predictions of feedback effects involve a lot of theory and guesswork. I do not denigrate theory and guesswork; they are a vital part of advancing the sum of human knowledge. But when you’re relying on theory and guesswork, you always want to leave plenty of room for the possibility that your model’s output is (how shall I put this?) … wrong.

Naturally, proponents of climate-change models have welcomed the lukewarmists’ constructive input by carefully considering their points and by advancing counterarguments firmly couched in the scientific method.

No, of course I’m just kidding. The reaction to these mild assertions is often to brand the lukewarmists “deniers” and treat them as if what they were saying was morally and logically equivalent to suggesting that the Holocaust never happened.

And that’s where we are.  McArdle ends with a plea for sane and objective discussion but in my opinion, that ship sailed when we saw state Attorney Generals band together to prosecute “deniers” under the RICO statutes.  Of course that doesn’t change the science or “science” but it does make it much more difficult to dial back the rhetoric.  There is a reason for that:

The arguments about global warming too often sound more like theology than science. Oh, the word “science” gets thrown around a great deal, but it’s cited as a sacred authority, not a fallible process that staggers only awkwardly and unevenly toward the truth, with frequent lurches in the wrong direction. I cannot count the number of times someone has told me that they believe in “the science,” as if that were the name of some omniscient god who had delivered us final answers written in stone. For those people, there can be only two categories in the debate: believers and unbelievers. Apostles and heretics.

This I wholeheartedly agree with and the actions of those who believe in man-made climate change constantly validate my position. This has moved well beyond objectivity and rational discourse.  It is into the realm of religious belief.  It is interesting which side of the ideological curve tends to believe the “science” presented and to agree with the oppressive sanctions offered to silence those who disagree.  The same ones who will tell you they’re “progressive”.  For those of us who read a bit, we know the history of “progressivism” and what is happening on the “progressive” side of this issue is exactly what you’d expect from them.

Now apply that knowledge to other “progressive” ideas and policies and you’ll soon understand what their end game looks like.

~McQ

So now what?

Now that it seems it will be Trump or Clinton – two sides of the same coin.  No.  Two of the same side of the coin.  What is America, you know the country that the Obama administration left badly listing to port and rudderless, going to do now with that … choice?

As I and many here have pointed out, it’s not the politicians fault that those are our choices, it’s the voter’s fault.  They do what is necessary to get elected and stay there – the voters enable both of those things.  And then don’t pay attention to what’s going on, become party bots and go to the polls to pull one lever or another … as instructed.

I’m also enjoying a bit of irony.  Mainly at the expense of those who, in the past, have always told me that a vote for a libertarian candidate or being not willing to vote for the prevailing GOP candidate is as good as a “vote for the other side”.  Now that it appears that Trump will be the GOP’s candidate, I’m hearing a completely different tune from many of them.

The GOP has been known for quite some time as the “stupid party” and that moniker seems quite accurate and appropriate at the moment.

As for the Democrats, well they have an equally disgusting choice as their candidate.  She’s a criminal and as big a con artist as is Donald Trump.  She is, in the parlance, a grifter.  She, like the joker in the Oval Office at the moment, has never accomplished a thing in her time of “public service”.  In fact, the only thing she has going for her right now is she’s a woman – for the first “woman president” vote.  Of course we’ve just suffered through almost 8 years of that sort of first and apparently the country has a masochistic streak that is yet unsatisfied.

I mean either one of these idiots is an abysmal “choice” so it is clear that if either is elected we’ll again be led poorly and ineptly right toward the abyss.

It’s the perfect ending for a once great republic – regardless of who wins, we’ll end up being led off the cliff by a NY liberal.  How … apropos.

In the meantime, the libertarian party’s membership is booming.  Of course those coming on board are no more libertarian than Donald Trump is conservative.  But then, its about the only reasonably agreeable and calm port the defectors can find in this political sh*t storm.

~McQ

Two real world examples of socialism and big government that leftist voters ignore

It isn’t like you have to go back ages in history to see governing models that don’t work.  The recent end of the Cold War provided perfect examples.  But they collapsed in the ’80s and our younger generation has no memory of the hardships the people of those countries suffered under socialist totalitarian rule.  They also give indications that they think government is the solution for all our problems instead of understanding that for the most part government is responsible for many of our problems.  It seems they think that if we just had big government, everything would be lovely.

The “Feel the Bern” crowd are enamored with “social democracy”.  They like to point to Europe and pretend that the system is a desirable one.  But instead of pointing to Europe, perhaps they should cast their eyes to the south – to Venezuela.  They might find it, oh, I don’t know, enlightening:

In 1999, Venezuela was taken over by Socialist who promised that he would punish big corporations and redistribute wealth to “the people” to provide health care, education, infrastructure, and even out income inequality. (Sound familiar?) The American Left cheered. Celebrities like Sean Penn and Danny Glover praised his Democratic Socialist economic measures. Chavez systematically nationalized the oil, banking, agricultural, food distribution, telecommunications, and power industries in Venezuela; because running them as social democratic communes would eliminate “greed” and give the people lower cost goods and services. The American Left praised him for “democratizing” the Venezuelan economy. When Chavez shut down opposition TV, radio, and newspapers the American Left defended it as necessary to protect the Revolution.

The American Left likes to pretend now that Venezuela isn’t a real example of Social Democracy; but up until the economy collapsed (as every sensible person knew it would) they were Chavez’s biggest cheerleaders, as the links above (or any Google search) shows.

It is, of course, a horrific example of a socialist takeover, but a typical one.  A once well-off country with the most proven oil reserves in the world reduced to literal poverty.  Food shortages, other commodity shortages, you name it, you can’t get it there.  Oh, and about those oil reserves?  Well it seems that Venezuela has an energy crisis.  And the government’s solution?  Well it said everyone should take Fridays off (yeah, screw productivity – that’s a capitalist construct) and this bit of brilliance:

Last week, his government said it was shifting its time zone forward by 30 minutes to save power by adding half an hour of daylight.

Socialism … in Venezuela’s case they’re actually feeling the burn.

Then there is Brazil.  Brazil is the lover of “big governments” wet dream.  Or as it has now become, a nightmare.  Brazil is a failing state and the primary reason that it is failing is because of the premise under which it has operated for decades.  Big government paternalism:

For all its modernist appeal, it was one more expression of the country’s long and troubled attachment to the concept of a giant paternalistic state, responsible for managing the affairs of the entire society, from its biggest companies to its poorest citizens.

[…]

“The problem is, from time immemorial, Brazil’s political leaders only see one way forward, the growth of the state,” said Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a former leftist intellectual who sought to reduce the size of Brazil’s government while president from 1995 to 2002. “But you need another springboard for progress, that doesn’t exclude the state but that accepts markets. This just doesn’t sink in in Brazil.”

Many wan’t to blame Brazil’s problems on corruption like the corruption scandal now rocking the nation.  But the corruption arises from the base problem … big, unanswerable government:

While many observers of Brazil’s predicament have focused on the country’s corruption, that may miss the point. Brazil’s deeper problem lies in the failures of its Leviathan state, which has perennially reached for the utopian visions embodied in Brasília but instead has produced recurring cycles of boom and dramatic bust.

Of course there a huge lessons to be learned from these two countries that apply to this country and the current political arguments now being made.  All, to some degree or another (with Socialist Sanders being the extreme) argue for both social democracy and bigger government.  We apparently don’t learn from other countries but insist on learning the hard way, by repeating what has already failed any number of times.

That’s because of arrogance and the belief that the only reason any of this hasn’t worked in the past is the right people weren’t in charge.

With the class of politicians we have running today, Hugo Chavez would be a better choice to run their ideas.

And we all know how well he did.

~McQ

The GOP’s plan to have a brokered convention

Or, let’s pretend we follow the rules when it is to our advantage, but let the people believe they’re a part of the process otherwise:

Political parties, not voters, choose their presidential nominees, a Republican convention rules member told CNBC, a day after GOP front-runner Donald Trump rolled up more big primary victories.

“The media has created the perception that the voters choose the nomination. That’s the conflict here,” Curly Haugland, an unbound GOP delegate from North Dakota, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday. He even questioned why primaries and caucuses are held.

Haugland is one of 112 Republican delegates who are not required to cast their support for any one candidate because their states and territories don’t hold primaries or caucuses.

Even with Trump‘s huge projected delegate haul in four state primaries Tuesday, the odds are increasing the billionaire businessman may not ultimately get the 1,237 delegates needed to claim the GOP nomination before the convention.

That last line, of course, is the out.  No 1,237 delegates, no automatic nomination, regardless of what the majority of the electorate want.  Of course, that electorate is largely ignorant of “the rules”.  As for the 112 “at large” delegates, also known as the “fudge factor”, anyone want to guess who names those delegates and to whom they’re beholding?  Clue: it isn’t a candidate the establishment doesn’t want.

So:

This could lead to a brokered convention, in which unbound delegates, like Haugland, could play a significant swing role on the first ballot to choose a nominee.

Ya think!

And this is where the smugness creeps in (like this fellow really wanted the rules “to keep up”):

“The rules haven’t kept up,” Haugland said. “The rules are still designed to have a political party choose its nominee at a convention. That’s just the way it is. I can’t help it. Don’t hate me because I love the rules.”

Of course, if Trump hits the delegate total before the convention, it’s all moot.  But, the Republican version of the Democrat’s Super Delegates build in a fudge factor that could be the difference between a Trump nomination and a brokered convention.  And once the convention gets past the first ballot, it is anyone’s ballgame … well, except Trump.  The establishment, would again, rule. The people?  Well, get over your frustration, your betters will decide what’s best for you … by the rules!

So?  So anyone who thinks that the parties would really leave the choosing to “the people”, get a clue.  Both sides have “rules” that help the process deliver an acceptable candidate to the established party.

Because, well, you’re not to be trusted with such a decision.

~McQ

 

Let’s make the US like Germany … er, Mississippi?

The “social democracy” or “democratic socialism” model that many of the left want so badly is showing it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  For instance:

Since Sweden is held up as a sort of promised land by American socialists, let’s compare it first. We find that, if it were to join the US as a state, Sweden would be poorer than all but 12 states, with a median income of $27,167.
Median residents in states like Colorado ($35,830), Massachusetts ($37,626), Virginia ($39,291), Washington ($36,343), and Utah ($36,036) have considerably higher incomes than Sweden.
With the exception of Luxembourg ($38,502), Norway ($35,528), and Switzerland ($35,083), all countries shown would fail to rank as high-income states were they to become part of the United States. In fact, most would fare worse than Mississippi, the poorest state.
Oh, my!  Say it ain’t so, Bernie!
Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, has a median income ($25,528) level below all but 9 US states. Finland ranks with Germany in this regard ($25,730), and France’s median income ($24,233) is lower than both Germany and Finland. Denmark fares better and has a median income ($27,304) below all but  13 US states.
And Mississippi? Well, when adjusted for purchasing power, we find a funny thing (heh … I couldn’t help myself):
Now that we’ve accounted for the low cost of living in Mississippi, we find that Mississippi ($26,517) is no longer the state with the lowest median income in real terms. New York ($26,152) is now the state with the lowest median income due to its very high cost of living.
More importantly, when the European countries are adjusted for purchasing power, they fare even worse:
Once purchasing power among the US states is taken into account, we find that Sweden’s median income ($27,167) is higher than only six states: Arkansas ($26,804), Louisiana ($25,643), Mississippi ($26,517), New Mexico ($26,762), New York ($26,152) and North Carolina ($26,819).
We find something similar when we look at Germany, but in Germany’s case, every single US state shows a higher median income than Germany. Germany’s median income is $25,528. Things look even worse for the United Kingdom which has a median income of $21,033, compared to $26,517 in Mississippi.
So? So, myth busted.  If you want everyone to be the equal of  … well, now, New York … just listen to the siren song of social democracy. High taxes, marginal benefits and low purchasing power.  When you can’t even point to them being better than Mississippi in terms of median income, maybe it would be better not to hold up European social democracies as something to “strive” to be like.
~McQ

Dilemma

Thomas Sowell observes:

The “Super Tuesday” primaries may be a turning point for America — and quite possibly a turn for the worse. After seven long years of domestic disasters and increasing international dangers, the next President of the United States will need extraordinary wisdom, maturity, depth of knowledge and personal character to rescue America.

Instead, if the polls are an indication, what we may get is someone with the opposite of all these things, a glib egomaniac with a checkered record in business and no track record at all in government — Donald Trump.

If so, the downward trajectory of America over the past seven years may well continue on into the future, to the point of no return.

Donald Trump is the wrong guy at the right time (much like Obama in 2008) and that, at least to me, is what is so dangerous about this manifestation of anger that is suddenly sweeping the country, at least on the right.  We get another 4 years, at least, of incoherence and dangerous ineptness.  About the only hilarity would be the Republicans initiating impeachment proceedings on a “Republican” president … and I could actually see that happening.  So watch who Trump names as VP if he’s the nominee. By the way, I’m fine with the anger and like the movement, just not happy with the choice of “candidate” to represent it.

Not that the alternative is any better.  If you want a high level grifter in the White House,  Clinton fills the bill.  In Clinton’s case it’s influence peddling among many other things:

In June 2009, Clinton emailed Neera Tanden, a former Clinton campaign operative, then a top aide to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and now the president of the Center for American Progress.

Clinton wanted Tanden to arrange a meeting between three doctors and Nancy Ann DeParle, the White House official leading its health care reform efforts.

“I can arrange it, no worries,” Tanden assured her. “I know Dean Ornish from the Obama campaign,” Tanden said, referring to one of the trio.

Ornish is a high-dollar Democratic donor. According to federal campaign finance records, he’s given more than $700,000 to Democratic campaigns, party organs, and outside groups since the 1990s.

His organization, the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, previously received $3.5 million in earmarks courtesy of then-House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), one of the recipients of his political contributions.

Ornish has donated to both of Clinton’s presidential campaigns, and co-hosted a fundraiser for the campaign in 2007. He is also a high-dollar donor to the Clinton Foundation, having given between $100,000 and $250,000, according to the Foundation’s website.

Tanden apparently arranged the meeting between Ornish and DeParle. “Thanks for following thru,” Clinton wrote five days later.

We’ll be back to selling the Lincoln bedroom, and why not?  They got away with it the last time.

What’s interesting is not that the two probable choices are so awful and are likely to do irreparable harm, but that on the right, there’s an open revolution going on and on the left it is the blessing and intrenchment of machine politics designed to “win” at any cost and certainly ignoring any moral problems with their candidate.  The right is so mad they’ll take anyone who spits in the establishment’s face and the left is committed to fixing the establishment even more firmly in Washington DC.

~McQ

Summing up the state of America

Zero Hedge sums up both the “Super Tuesday” results and the broader political and policy situation in the US very well:

Negative interest rates. The war on cash. More quantitative easing. Monetary policy described as a “helicopter drop”. An avowed socialist running for President – and competing well. Another candidate under investigation by the FBI for mishandling classified information. A debate that featured a candidate begging for someone to attack him so he could get some air time. One candidate accusing another of stealing from the party and calling another a liar. The closed captioning for most of the debate reading “unintelligible yelling”. An accomplished, serious-minded governor getting drowned out by three buffoons competing to see who can get the biggest guffaws from a crowd that makes the audience at a professional wrestling match look reserved and intellectual.

It’s getting weird and the market is having a tough time figuring out what to take seriously, what to ignore, what to laugh nervously about and what to just laugh at. Are we really about to put up our very own American version of Silvio Berlusconi as the Presidential candidate of a formerly serious political party? Is the other party really having a competitive race with one candidate running on an overtly socialist agenda that is barely distinguishable from his opponent’s? Who doesn’t claim to be a socialist? Are central banks actually considering pushing interest rates more negative after getting basically no positive response from the initial push below the previously sacrosanct zero bound? Has the Federal Reserve actually told banks to prepare for negative interest rates here in the US right after raising rates for the first time in years? Are serious economists actually have a debate about whether it is a good idea to just print up cash and pass it out? Is that really monetary policy? Are governments really talking about banning actual currency, the very money created by that government? Money that depends, oh by the way, solely on people’s trust that the government will stand behind the money they are about to outlaw? Has everyone lost their freaking minds?

My sentiments to a tee.  This is probably the most awful domestic political climate I’ve seen in my lifetime.  I’ve can’t remember having such a horrible “choice” before.  And for me, there really isn’t a choice given who is likely to win on either side.

Yes, there’s anger out there on both sides toward the political establishment.  They took a great country and have run it into the ditch.  Got it and agree with the anger.  But what this is boiling down to is the white version of Obama and a crook that makes Nixon look like an altar boy in comparison.  The voting public obviously wants some sort of political change but it also seems to be demanding change that will make a bad situation worse.

The pregnant question is “how did we get here?”  The Republican party obviously got here by a fairly conventional route – promise them anything to get elected and then, basically, ignore them.  The “them” being the GOP faithful.  So how did Trump become the answer, unless you’re a low information voter who is content to let a more unstable version of the current resident of the White House call the shots? How can anyone spend anytime researching the guy and come away with a positive feeling about what he’d do if he were in the Oval Office?  I’m sorry, but this bombastic political chameleon, who has duped and used people his whole life, will be as large if not a larger disaster than Obama has been.

And as for the crook on the other side, if anyone wants to firmly establish corruption at the highest levels of the country just to say we have a “woman president”, then you deserve to be horsewhipped.  Machine politics will survive and become even more pervasive and controlling.  Is this what everyone wants?   The Democrats are sliding hard left.  Sanders is popular because he too has a vast support group that is willfully (or not) ignorant and wants “free” stuff.

For goodness sake this is about what is best for the country, not some ideological check mark.  Certainly a woman should be our chief executive at some time.  But Clinton?  As a whole, those who voted for Obama willfully ignored the glaring and obvious reasons not to elect him to make sure the race check mark was made.  And what did it give us?  The worst president in my lifetime.  Now, it seems, the voting public is going to double down and make him the second worst president in my lifetime regardless of who wins in November.

 

“The main problem in any democracy is that crowd-pleasers are generally brainless swine who can go out on a stage & whup their supporters into an orgiastic frenzy—then go back to the office & sell every one of the poor bastards down the tube for a nickel apiece.” – Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72

That’s where we’re headed.  Those that want to see it “all burn down” may be in the middle of seeing just that.

~McQ

Stray Voltage

A little reading for you about how awful the Obama Syrian policy (or lack thereof) has been using Samantha Powers own words against her and the administration.

Even die-hard supporters of President Barack Obama’s “realist” approach to foreign affairs are nauseated by the White House’s Syria policy. New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, a vocal supporter of the nuclear weapons agreement with Iran, is fed up with nearly five years of the “fecklessness and purposelessness” of a Syria policy that “has become hard to distinguish” from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s. “Syria is now the Obama administration’s shame,” Cohen wrote last week, “a debacle of such dimensions that it may overshadow the president’s domestic achievements.” Ambassador Dennis Ross and New York Times military correspondent David Sanger also published articles excoriating Obama’s policies in Syria. There is a military solution, it’s “just not our military solution,” a senior U.S. security official admitted to Sanger. It’s Putin’s.

Think  of the charge of “war crimes”, something the Dems used to love to try and hang on George W. Bush.  It’s a pretty negative review.

Speaking of negative reviews, here’s one for the laughs it brings.  All you ever wanted to know about Kanye West and then some.  Kanye will not be happy, but I chuckled all the way through it. Some good points, in general, are made, not just about West:

West’s prepubescent views on everything Kanye haven’t stopped over the past decade, but everyone is too scared to mock him because he’s black and they don’t want to be called racist. He’s aware of this, so when his clothing line fails he says it’s because people were too “racist” to buy his stuff (this from a guy who gets to wear the Confederate flag on his bomber jacket). His clothing line was made up of people wearing brown nylons and strange “skin-colored” sweatshirts that looked like they were made out of Nazi lampshades. We recently learned that this foolish mistake put him $53 million in the hole and he took to social media to beg Mark Zuckerberg to bail him out to the tune of $1 billion. No word yet on why you get to be $947 million in the black when you screw up that badly. Forbes’ two cents is Yeezus might be able to get the money tax-free.

Read the whole thing … it’s worth it.  Another example of the Emperor having no clothes – in this case, literally.

Another example of the absurdity of the claim that ID laws “disenfranchise” minority voters:

On Tuesday, however, it was the state of Wisconsin that had the last laugh. Just one business day after Oliver predicted mass disenfranchisement due to voter-ID laws, Wisconsin held its first election with the voter-ID requirement. And according to a study by the University of My Eyeballs, turnout increased 55 percent statewide over the last similar spring-primary election.

In 2013 — the last contested statewide supreme-court election — around 364,000 voters turned out in Wisconsin. On Tuesday night, that number skyrocketed to about 564,000 voters. Even the 2011 Supreme Court primary, which took place during the electric Wisconsin public-union battle, drew only around 420,000 voters — well short of Tuesday’s total.

And the turnout bump wasn’t due to rural Caucasians flocking to the polls en masse. In the city of Milwaukee, which is 53 percent ethnic minority, the vote nearly doubled, from 34,000 to 65,000. Earlier, local election watchers had predicted a turnout of about 30,000.

Georgia, my home state, has had a voter ID law for a few years and have had exactly the same experience.  This is the “global warming” of voting.  Or said another way, if they keep repeating the big lie often enough, it has to be “true” doesn’t it – regardless of whether or not the facts destroy the myth.

So how are we doing economically and how is that reflected in the job market?  Well, Dems are going to tell you we’re at “full employment” because the fudged unemployment rate is around 5%.  This chart gives lie to the claim:

-1x-1

Women fare slightly better, but as you can see, the US is bottom of the barrel when it come to “employment to population ratio” for men. Heck of a job there, Dems. Oh, and Bernie says he’ll fix this.  Just sayin’.

Pertaining to the GOP and SCOTUS, file under “predictable” and cross-file under “stupid” as in “Stupid Party:

The playbook is the same every time. Even in the face of less consequential political fights, Republicans start out talking tough. Then, leadership allows the weakest liberal members to begin dissenting from the party line and even trash talking the party to the media. Next, leadership says they have to embark on the legislative process to be fair but still oppose the initiative and will personally fight against it. Then, depending on how many votes it needs to pass, they decide whether to throw in with the liberal Republicans.

And sure enough:

Yesterday, the dominos began to fall. While Sens. McConnell, Hatch, and other senior leadership members were still talking tough, liberal Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) announced his support for Obama to put forth a “consensus” nominee. And although Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the Majority Whip, reiterated his desire that the next president fill the vacancy, he said that holding hearings is entirely up to the Judiciary Committee Chairman and scheduling a floor vote is entirely up to McConnell.

And then:

Obama knows how to push the RINO buttons. He will nominate someone who comes highly recommended in the legal field and it will be a big “first.” Perhaps the first transgendered Muslim immigrant to be picked. He knows Republicans are very sensitive to looking like “obstructionists,” especially in the face of such “historic” progress.    At that point, it will become a slow bleed. You will see Sens. Murkowski, Collins, Kirk, and other liberals join with Heller and call for “fair hearings.”  (How eerie that just two weeks ago, I called for Sen. Grassley to be replaced because his spot on the Judiciary Committee Chairman is too vital for someone so fickle.) Grassley will undoubtedly cave to pressure and that will get the ball rolling.

And once the nominee goes through the meat grinder of confirmation hearings, how can he not get a floor vote?  To that end, the weakest members of the committee, beginning with Lindsey Graham, will likely vote the nominee out of committee and onto the floor.

How many times have you seen this happen?

Freedom of speech is a wonderful and protected right.  But one thing some people seem never to understand is that it doesn’t shield you from the consequences of your “speech”:

In the wake of Beyonce’s controversial Super Bowl halftime performance of her new song “Formation” — which critics say contains an anti-cop message — police and politicians around the country have been speaking out against it.

But the criticism could be manifesting itself in practical ways, given what’s happened since police in Tampa, Florida, got a request to work her April 29 concert in town.

Usually off-duty officers sign up to work concerts and sporting events for extra cash, but to date no officers have signed up for the show, WTVT-TV reported. And given it’s expected to sell out, that could be a security issue.

That’s a great way for cops to get their message across.

Speaking of no one signing up, I got a huge laugh from this story.  You remember Ed Schultz don’t you?  Once with MSNBC and now with Russian (propaganda) TV?  Well, like Kanye West, Ed has become a little full of himself.  Ed decided to start a “Super PAC” feeling pretty sure he could save the middle class:

Last year Ed Schultz started the Americans for a Strong Middle Class Super PAC.

“I feel like I am perfectly positioned with my national platform, with my name and visibility and credibility with the middle class, to be the person to head up this super PAC,” he told  told the Fargo Forum. “We are a 527; we are a nonprofit; we are incorporated in Washington, D.C., and we are going to get involved in issues around the country that are vital to a strong middle class, with our focus on jobs and wages, health care, education, trade agreements and justice.”

“Middle class issues are here to stay,” Schultz continued.

Unfortunately for Ed, his PAC isn’t.  A couple of weeks ago, Big Ed quietly folded Americans for a Strong Middle Class Super PAC.

Only none of that actually happened. According to Mediate, Schultz ran up $10,345.44 in legal fees, $3,000 in web design fees, and a $100 loan and only collected $25 in donations to the organization which was apparently headquartered at a UPS store in downtown Washington D.C.

I’m sorry I coughed up a lung laughing at the donation total.  That’s about what Big Ed’s ideas are worth, and, in the market place of ideas, that’s what he was able to bring in.  Capitalism – don’t you love it?  No wonder the left hates it.

Finally, I love it when a loony law is field tested:

Seattle Parks and Recreation is facing a first-of-a-kind challenge to gender bathroom rules. A man undressed in a women’s locker room, citing a new state rule that allows people to choose a bathroom based on gender identity.

It was a busy time at Evans Pool around 5:30pm Monday February 8. The pool was open for lap swim. According to Seattle Parks and Recreation, a man wearing board shorts entered the women’s locker room and took off his shirt. Women alerted staff, who told the man to leave, but he said “the law has changed and I have a right to be here.”

“Really bizarre,” MaryAnne Sato said. “I can’t imagine why they would want to do that anyway!”

Oh, my … hoist on their own petard, eh?  The other lung was coughed up on this one.  This isn’t bizarre at all.  This is precisely what critics of this sort of stupidity said would happen.

According to the SJW’s who pushed this “gender inclusiveness” law, all one has to do is “feel” like another gender and they’re in like Flynn.  Apparently, at least that day, this guy was feeling particularly female.  And yet, those exposed to the “woman” felt the situation was “bizarre”.  Imagine.

Loved this quote – by the way, he’s talking about the new law and the SJWs:

“Sort of works against the point they’re trying to make. They’re causing people to feel exposed and vulnerable with the intention of reducing people feeling exposed and vulnerable,” said pool regular Aldan Shank.

Exactly right, sir.  This is how laws that sound wonderful in drunken dorm room bull sessions end up when put into practice.   As usual, never factored in is something called “human nature”.

Funny that.

Have a great weekend!

~McQ

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