Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Danger – exploding heads!

I’m still laughing over the stunned looks on the MSNBC hosts faces last night.  The elite were steamrolled and they’re still trying to figure out why?  Let me give you two quick reasons:

  1. Hillary Clinton was a deplorable candidate (thought I’d toss the word “deplorable” at her since it was one she used to characterize the half of the US voting population she despises).  I cannot think of a worse candidate for any major party.  She almost lost to a back bench socialist, and would have, had the primary not been rigged.  She’s never, in her political life, had an approval rating above 48%.  Drop on the email scandal, the appearance of Justice Department manipulation and collusion in the investigation, not to mention Wikileaks and she was destined for the mat and a 10 count.
  2. Donald Trump, like Obama 8 years ago, was the beneficiary of the perfect political storm. How so?  This revolution on the right has been brewing for over 10 years.  The GOP was absolutely deaf to it.  The Tea Party really kicked it off and it worked hard to put GOP politicians in office that would take on the size of government and the out of control spending at a minimum.  Well it did that and what did these politicians do?  Nothing. They gave it lip service for a while, but in the end, they didn’t even try. Obama and the Dems, on the other hand, were expanding both the size and intrusion of government by every means available and continued to spend us into the poor house. The Republicans essentially colluded in this travesty.  Enter the primaries.  The constituency that makes up the right made it clear that establishment GOP members need not apply.  Donald Trump had figured that out and understood their frustration (Paul Ryan finally figured it out and said in remarks today, “Donald Trump heard a voice out in this country that no one else heard.” – Duh!). He appealed to that frustration.  The establishment GOP was clueless.

Result?  President-elect Donald J. Trump.

The Republicans – and the Democrats – got exactly what they had earned by ignoring the “deplorables”.

Certainly there are lots of other reasons that can be tossed on the pile.  But the obvious “demand for change” that was blithely ignored by the GOP is one of the majors.  Horrible Hillary was just the cherry on the top of the cake.

Then there’s this:

To suggest that Trump voters are worried about anything real is to invite scorn from certain corners of the mainstream media. The “economic anxiety” tweet, a special brand of sarcasm that mocks the suggestion that Trump supporters are buttressed by economic forces, has entered the online lexicon. Many cannot stomach the fact that people are driven to Trump by anything besides racism.

Yet the decline felt in certain corners of the country isn’t just about economics; it’s about every element of life — from family to life expectancy to the drugs that have infected communities. The feeling that so many of America’s opinion leaders see your concerns as the product of stupidity at best, or racism at worst, confirms the worst fears of many. They already worry that the coastal elites don’t care about them, and many among those elites seem happy to comply.

This was a total and complete repudiation of what are commonly known as the “ruling elites”.  They have been rebranded as the “out-of-touch elites” with this election.  They are as stunned as anyone.  Why?  Well the title to the article cited is “Life Outside the Liberal Bubble”.  It details why this victory by Trump has caught the left completely off guard.

And you ought to scroll through the rest of the NYT opinion pieces you’ll find on that linked page.  All full of gloom, doom, hate and angst.  Trump hasn’t even taken office and the world is ending.  If you think “Chimpy McBush Hitler” was bad, wait until the leftist hate machine gets over their shock and focuses on their newest target.

Oh, and Paul Krugman?

So we are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight. I suppose we could get lucky somehow. But on economics, as on everything else, a terrible thing has just happened.

Because, you know, things didn’t turn out as another elite expected.  Whatta maroon.

Why were the elites so wrong?  Because people see the results of their meddling and are finally angry enough to do something about it.  And not just here.  Trump is just a beneficiary of that anger.  The anger has been boiling for quite some time:

What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.

But the problem is the one-eyed following the blind: these self-described members of the “intelligentsia” can’t find a coconut in Coconut Island, meaning they aren’t intelligent enough to define intelligence hence fall into circularities — but their main skill is capacity to pass exams written by people like them. With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30 years of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating at best only 1/3 of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers (or Montaigne and such filtered classical knowledge) with a better track record than these policymaking goons.

People are simply tired of the prescriptions of the self-described “intelligencia” with no skin in the game and no accountability for the usually dismal outcome of their prescriptions.  And they are deathly tired of the 1-5 listed above.  But they’re stuck, for the moment, with this group. They also know that government, because of its size and intrusiveness, is a problem not a benefit.  They hold these nabobs responsible and want out from under their “guidance” backed by government.  It’s not a far fetched wish and certainly not one I’m at all unsympathetic with.

However, the IYI still hold sway today.  We have one that shows up here every now and then to lend us his “expertise”:

The Intellectual Yet Idiot is a production of modernity hence has been accelerating since the mid twentieth century, to reach its local supremum today, along with the broad category of people without skin-in-the-game who have been invading many walks of life. Why? Simply, in most countries, the government’s role is between five and ten times what it was a century ago (expressed in percentage of GDP). The IYI seems ubiquitous in our lives but is still a small minority and is rarely seen outside specialized outlets, think tanks, the media, and universities — most people have proper jobs and there are not many openings for the IYI.

Beware the semi-erudite who thinks he is an erudite. He fails to naturally detect sophistry.

Sound like anyone we know?  Time for a purge.  Will a Trump presidency be the beginning of such a purge (and I mean purge in the most benign sense)?  Who the hell knows?

Finally, stay tuned for an avalanche of hypocrisy on the left as they start to gin up their opposition to all things Trump.  Executive orders, an Obama staple?  Taboo.  They’ll begin yammering about the sanctity of Congress … and the Constitution.  And they’ll be as obstructive as they can … that’s already the declared stance of one “progressive” group.  And you have to love those out there on the left claiming Trump has “no experience”!  Yeah, and the last guy just had a mountain of it, didn’t he?  At least Trump has “run something and done something”.  All Obama has “done” is head this country down hill in a free fall.

But enough.  Disclaimer – I did not vote for Donald Trump, nor Clinton, but I did vote.  My candidate of choice wasn’t especially attractive politically either.  But I could not find it in myself to enable either of the two top contenders.

Water under the bridge.  Georgia went exactly as expected – to Trump.  Now, given the fact that the country has spoken pretty emphatically, I wish him the best and hope like hell he can rise to the job.  Just as importantly I hope he can begin to unite and heal the divide this country now suffers – if the left will let him.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

*yawn* Another “election”

Sorta.  For those who choose to vote for either of the major two party candidates it is truly a choice of the lesser of two evils … with emphasis on the last word.  What I’m wondering is whether or not this will be a Brexit.  There’s an odd sort of rumble out there that says it’s possible.

When is the last time you’ve seen people reluctant to show who they were voting for with yard signs and bumper stickers?  Most odd.

Lots of questions to ask at the conclusion of this mess.  The biggest being “how did this happen?”

Like many people along the Lincoln Highway, she wonders how it came down to Clinton and Trump: “You’d think, I mean you would really think, [we] would have picked better choices.”

You’d sure would think so … but here we are.  And much of that is the fault of the ossified major parties and the out-of-touch elite who manipulate as much as they can in their own favor.  Government is, of course, their favorite instrument.  And that’s left most of America wondering.  They look around and find:

“We have had a good life. We’ve worked hard, we’ve tried our best, and that is the good of this country,” she said. “The bad is how hard the government makes it to do just that.

And government continues to even make it harder.  It’s called a corrupt government which enables crony capitalism.  Rent-seeking.  You name it, we now have it.  And we also have a government that is essentially out of any politician’s control.  Unless, as a body, they decided to do something about it.

But that’s not how you show up as a poor representative from Iowa and thirty years later go home a millionaire is it?  That’s not how the game is played.

The problem isn’t the corrupt politicians we are considering today.  They’re just a symptom of a far worse problem.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 04 Nov 16

Podcastlogo 150x150

The presidential race is tightening. Or is it? We don’t know. We don’t know anything. Will Twitter die, and if so, whatever will we do? The Cubs win the World Series. Brexit? Not so fast. Google got two AI’s to talk to each and built their own encryption for their conversation, and now, no one knows what they’re saying to each other, which is not frightening at all. The AIs are coming. Virtual Reality is on the way, too, and you can already buy porn for your Oculus Rift. The New Puritans need to be slapped down. Thank goodness for the Obama Era’s racial healing.

This week’s podcast is up on the Podcast page.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Time to punch back?

In some places they riot in the street when corruption at the highest levels is uncovered (I’m thinking Brazil at the moment, and then there’s Venezuela). They protest government tyranny (Turkey). We just seem to sit placidly and watch the world go by as it is uncovered here.  Not only that, millions are planning on or have already voted for the corruption to be elevated to the White House where a “for sale” sign can then be firmly planted in the front yard. I mean, what will stop them?

Victor Davis Hanson characterizes the Clinton Mob very well, I think:

For the Clintons, power is the narcotic of being sought out, of being surrounded by retainers, of bringing enemies to heel and enticing sycophants with benefits. Liberalism and progressivism are mere social and cultural furniture, the “correct” politics of their background that one mouths and exploits to obtain and maintain political clout — and to get really, really rich without guilt or apology.

If she manages to slip all of these crimes she’s involved in and somehow snags the presidency, we will have officially arrived … at Banana Republic status.

I was stopped at a stoplight today and saw a guy behind me just singing away with a song.  He looked older than me.  I immediately thought of my dad singing to a 40’s or ’50’s classic.  Then I realized he could just as easily, in this day and time, have been singing along to “Stairway to Heaven”.  Argh.

Good!  It’s about time this sort of “journalism” paid a price!

A federal court jury decided Friday that a Rolling Stone journalist defamed a former University of Virginia associate dean in a 2014 magazine article about sexual assault on campus that included a debunked account of a fraternity gang rape.

The 10 member jury concluded that the Rolling Stone reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, was responsible for defamation, with actual malice, in the case brought by Nicole Eramo, a U-Va. administrator who oversaw sexual violence cases at the time of the article’s publication. The jury also found the magazine and its parent company, Wenner Media, responsible for defaming Eramo, who has said her life’s work helping sexual assault victims was devastated as a result of Rolling Stone’s article and its aftermath.

We covered this a bit when the article first came out and the story began to collapse.  This is what should happen when “agenda journalism” defames people and lies about events to make an agenda point. Agenda journalism is characterized by shoddy work since inconvenient facts are simply ignored in favor of the approved narrative.

We all understand and agree that “rape is bad” and must not be tolerated.  However, it doesn’t have to be lied about and sensationalised to make that point.  “Rolling Stone” already had a reputation for shoddy agenda journalism that had landed it in hot water before.  Whatever was left of any integrity and reputation they had was left shredded on that federal courtroom floor.

One of the things severely lacking in our political process is accountability.  About all we ever hear is an “oops” and “sorry about that”.  A perfect example?  Obamacare:

Michelle Harris, a 61-year-old retired waitress in northwest Montana, has arthritis in both shoulders. She gets a tax subsidy to help buy coverage under Obamacare, though she still pays $338 a month for the BlueCross BlueShield plan. Yet with its $4,500 deductible, she says she’s doing everything she can to avoid seeing a doctor. Instead, she uses ibuprofen and cold-packs.

“It hurts, but we don’t have that kind of money,” Harris said in an interview. “So I deal with it.”

Harris is one of many people with Obamacare plans that feature high out-of-pocket costs that can put health services out of reach. That’s because the insurance coverage Harris and others like her have purchased is designed not to kick in until patients have spent thousands of dollars.

Welcome to the new world where “you can keep your insurance and you can keep your doctor. Period”, don’t mean what you think it means. And accountability for screwing up a system that was working? “Oops, sorry about that.”  What’s even worse is those that screwed it up are now telling us they’re going to “fix it”.

Okay, I’ll eat my words … there is some accountability.  But unfortunately it’s rare. Remember Chris Chrisitie’s “Bridgegate”?

Two former officials linked to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s office were found guilty on all charges Friday in connection with the closure of lanes in 2013 on the George Washington Bridge in an apparent act of political retribution, the fallout for which has come to be known as Bridgegate.

Again, good!  More please!  Lots more.

And finally in the “world gone mad” department, we have this:

Millions of Spanish children have been called out on strike this weekend, with families and teachers asked by a national parents’ association to say no to homework.

Because Spain is so, uh, competitive in the world today.  Uh huh, yeah, this’ll fix that. For good.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

*tap* *tap* “Is this thing on?”

So I’m back from a long needed … break.  No really … needed.

That and being thoroughly swamped with work and depressed about the politics we suffer today.

Screw it … I’ll just do random commentary then.

I found this to be absolutely hilarious and something I’ve suspected for years.  To the “publish or die” folks in academia it seems like publishing is the same thing as dying:

Professors usually spend about 3-6 months (sometimes longer) researching and writing a 25-page article to submit an article to an academic journal. And most experience a twinge of excitement when, months later, they open a letter informing them that their article has been accepted for publication, and will therefore be read by … an average of ten people. Yes, you read that correctly. The numbers reported by recent studies are pretty bleak: – 82 percent of articles published in the humanities are not even cited once.  Of those articles that are cited, only 20 percent have actually been read. Half of academic papers are never read by anyone other than their authors, peer reviewers, and journal editors. All of this is very unfortunate. Ideally, the great academic minds of a society should be put to work for the sake of building up that society and addressing its problems. Instead, most Western academics today are using their intellectual capital to answer questions that nobody’s asking on pages that nobody’s reading. What a waste.

What a waste?  What a laugh! The problem, however, is those who end up being published also end up believing their research and theory, etc. has been validated.  And that sense of validation leads them to push their pet theory even further and to introduce it, at least on a limited basis (like their humanities department) to receptive ears – after all, it’s been peer reviewed (given the lack of intellectual diversity among “peers” in academia, you can imagine the bias involved).  In the humanities we’ve seen the result in some of the looniest ideas concerning gender and sex and race bobbing to the surface in universities and influencing/encouraging SJWs to adopt and act on them.  Thus the circus we now observe within the universities in this country.

I’m certainly not attempting to blame all of that on the fact that no one but “peers” read these articles, but it certainly has to have had some influence.   When you’re pitching to an echo chamber, you hear what you hope to hear and are encouraged to put it action somewhere (like, uh, academia).

I heard that Steven DenBeste passed away recently.  If you’re not familiar with the name, Steven was one of the original (if not “the” original) bloggers with his blog the USS Clueless.  And he helped influence and launch a thousand other blogs and establish the form as something to be taken seriously.  If you’ve never heard of him or read him, do yourself a favor and google his blog and enjoy.  He passed on way to early and will be missed by all of us old time bloggers and blog readers.

I think it is clear to everyone who can candidly assess Obama’s foreign policy that it is a huge (and dangerous) failure. Take the “Pacific Pivot” as an example.  The latest defection?  Malaysia, who just gave China an order for patrol boats.

Najib’s overture to China is spurred in part by anger over U.S. Department of Justice investigations into the country’s scandalous sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB. That controversy has damaged Najib’s international reputation and sent him straight into Beijing’s arms, as China has helpfully agreed to buy the fund’s power assets. Now, that gesture is starting to pay off. China and Malaysia started joint military exercises last year, and reports suggest that Najib will sign agreements on high-speed rail and port projects during his trip to Beijing.

The Malaysian pivot to China is especially embarrassing given President Obama’s clear efforts to court Najib. In 2014, Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Malaysia in nearly 50 years; later that year, Najib was the president’s golf buddy during his vacation in Hawaii. Yet that personal outreach cannot disguise the fact that the promises of the Obama administration’s pivot, particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), have failed to come through. Like Duterte, Najib has apparently made the calculation that Beijing has more to offer than Washington—and unlike Duterte, this decision cannot be dismissed as the impulses of an anti-American demagogue.

DOJ will go hammer and tongs after a foreign entity but when confronted with a highly placed politician who has (per the FBI) clearly broken the law?  Yeah, not so much.

That said, the Pacific looks more dangerous than ever since Obama took office.  And Europe.  And the Middle-east.  And …

Really?

Earlier today, the D.C. City Council voted to allow physician-assisted suicide. But the debate isn’t over. The Washington Post reports that “the council must still hold a final vote on the bill, possibly as early as Nov. 15,” and that the mayor, Muriel Bowser, must decide if she’ll sign or veto the bill.

I get that people want to end their lives because of pain, etc.  But physicians?  Whatever happened to “first, do no harm?”  Make it legal if you must, not that anyone bent on suicide cares much for laws, but why involve physicians?

In case you missed it, that big yellow thing that hangs in the sky everyday is at it again.  Check out this news:

The sun has been completely spotless on 21 days in 2016 and it is currently featuring just one lonely sunspot region.  In fact, on June 4th of this year, the sun went completely spotless for the first time since 2011 and that quiet spell lasted for about four days.  Sunspot regions then reappeared for the next few weeks on a sporadic basis, but that was followed by several more completely spotless days on the surface of the sun.  The increasingly frequent blank sun is a sign that the next solar minimum is approaching and there will be an even greater number of spotless days over the next few years.  At first, the blankness will stretch for just a few days at a time, then it’ll continue for weeks at a time, and finally it should last for months at a time when the sunspot cycle reaches its nadir.  The next solar minimum phase is expected to take place around 2019 or 2020. The current solar cycle is the 24th since 1755 when extensive recording of solar sunspot activity began and is the weakest in more than a century with the fewest sunspots since cycle 14 peaked in February 1906.  One other note, the weak solar cycle and the expectation for continued low solar activity this upcoming winter is an important factor in this year’s colder-than-normal Winter Outlook for the Mid-Atlantic region.

The weakest cycle in a century promising a “colder-than-normal” winter for the world (China’s forecasting the same). Science. However, you can bet that somehow this unseasonably cold winter will be charged off to the ravages of man-made “climate change”, unless it is a warm winter which, of course, will be charged off to man-made “climate change” as well.  Ideological religion.

Meanwhile in the Socialist paradise of Venezuela, government has a solution to the food shortage.  Urban farming!  No, really.  And you know it’s going to work because they’ve even established a ministry to ensure it does.  No fooling – the Ministry of Urban Agriculture.  And the ministry has announced that there’s plenty of land for all city dwellers:

When the project was presented in February, the newly created Ministry of Urban Agriculture announced that 12,000 square kilometers — about 4,600 square miles — would be planted in the first 100 days. The government promised to invest $300,000 in seeds, equipment and educational projects, and to help with logistics.

Eight months later?

Eight months into the project, only 21 square kilometers (about 8 square miles) of land have been cultivated, according to the ministry.

On target with the Great Stumble Backwards!  Seems the Socialist big government blue model has to be reestablished every generation or so to prove it isn’t the people in charge that are the problem (although they are a problem) but the flawed model that defies human nature instead.  Bernie doesn’t approve this message.

And some things never change.

~McQ

 

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 28 Oct 16

Podcastlogo 150x150

There’s a chicken-duck-woman thing waiting for us. The FBI seems to have reopened the email investigation on Hillary Clinton, because Anthony Wiener is the gift that keeps on giving. I thought we had already established that she was above the law, so there’s no need to address this moving forward. Vladimir Putin is a scary guy. The Chinese are somewhat less so. Apple’s new Macbooks have no touchscreen and a shitty keyboard. On the other hand, they’re 30% more expensive, so theres that. Obamacare is crashing, so expect to have single-payer health care in the next four years.

This week’s podcast is up on the Podcast page.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 27 Oct 16

September durable goods orders slipped -0.1%. Ex-transportation orders were up 0.2%, but core capital goods orders fell -1.2%.

The Pending Home Sales Index rose 1.5% to 110.0 in September.

The Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index was unchanged at 6 in October.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 3,000 to 258,000. The 4-week average rose 1,250 to 253,000. Continuing claims fell 15,000 to 2.039 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index 1.6 points to 43.9 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-13.1 billion last week, with total assets of $4.454 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-4.6 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply fell by $-9.3 billion in the latest week.


Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 26 Oct 16

New home sales rose 3.1% in September, to a solid 593,000 annual pace. Year-on-year, new home sales are up 30%.

The nation’s trade gap in goods narrowed sharply in September, to $-56.1 billion vs a revised $-59.2 billion in August.

Markit’s PMI Services Flash for October rose sharply, up 2.9 points to 54.8.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -4.1% last week, with purchases down -7.0% and refis down -2.0%.


Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 25 Oct 16

The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.7% in August, following July’s strong 0.5%.

More subdued is the S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller HPI, which, unlike the FHFA data, shows only a 0.2% increase for August. On a year-over-year basis, Case-Shiller is up 5.1%.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index fell from 104.1 to a weaker-than-expected 98.6 in October.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index rose 3.6 points in October to 99.1 from September’s revised 95.5. 

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index rose to -4 in October from -8 in September.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales growth fell back to 0.3% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.0%.


Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Buy Dale’s Books!