Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Stray Voltage

Oh, Canada:

On Wednesday in Ottawa, Justin Trudeau was sworn in as Canadian prime minister. He wasted no time in announcing his newly chosen cabinet of exactly 15 men and 15 women, which fulfilled a campaign pledge he’d made about gender equality. One reporter asked Trudeau why the perfect male-female split was so important to him. The prime minster’s response: “Because it’s 2015.”

Translation – the best qualified for the job is a 20th Century concept.  In the 21st Century, it’s what you have (or don’t have) between your legs that matters.  Heh, yeah, governance won’t suffer.  Trust them.

Hillary Clinton signed a non-disclosure form concerning classified material?  Say, didn’t David Petraeus sign one too?

As the nation’s chief diplomat, Hillary Clinton was responsible for ascertaining whether information in her possession was classified and acknowledged that “negligent handling” of that information could jeopardize national security, according to a copy of an agreement she signed upon taking the job.

A day after assuming office as secretary of state, Clinton signed a Sensitive Compartmented Information Nondisclosure Agreement that laid out criminal penalties for “any unauthorized disclosure” of classified information. …

Meh.  We know this isn’t going anywhere soon, if ever.  And besides, “what difference does it make now.”  She’s a Democrat after all.

One very important reason we need the Idiot-in-Chief out of office as soon as possible:

The picture being painted by Obama’s soon-to-be-former advisors is one of a president paralyzed with indecision. He is being increasingly tested by the world’s bad actors and revisionist powers and has little resolve to act early and decisively. That is an impression that was confirmed by Reuters in October. They reported that the president was similarly incapacitated by the People’s Republic of China’s brazen decision to create new islands that would function as naval and air bases in the middle of the contested Spratly Islands late last year.

* * * * * * *

As the fruits of Barack Obama’s feckless approach to foreign affairs ripen, and the conflicts that he sought to resolve only deteriorate, the president’s advisors are increasingly training their fire on him. In the final year of this administration, that trend is only likely to intensify. If the Obama era is going to be remembered as the period when the seeds of chaos and conflict were sown, surely more creatures of Washington are going to emerge to make sure that they do not take the blame for sowing them. A president who has so perfected the art of throwing others under the bus is about to get the same treatment.

He’ll get a dump-truck load of criticism in the near future as the rats desert the obviously sinking ship.  “Pathetic”, “weak” and “indecisive” will some of the kindest descriptions this man’s legacy will reap.

Camile Puglia calls out the feminists and SJWs on the transgender issue:

“I think that the transgender propagandists make wildly inflated claims about the multiplicity of gender,” she said.

“Sex reassignment surgery, even today with all of its advances, cannot in fact change anyone’s sex, okay. You can define yourself as a trans man, or a trans woman, as one of these new gradations along the scale. But ultimately, every single cell in the human body, the DNA in that cell, remains coded for your biological birth.

“So there are a lot of lies being propagated at the present moment, which I think is not in anyone’s best interest.

“Now what I’m concerned about is the popularity and the availability of sex reassignment surgery, so that someone who doesn’t feel that he or she belongs to the biological birth, gender. People are being encouraged to intervene in the process.

“Parents are now encouraged to subject the child to procedures that I think are a form of child abuse. The hormones to slow puberty, actual surgical manipulations, etcetera. I think that this is wrong, that people should wait until they are of an informed age of consent.

Child abuse as well as abusing any thinking person’s intellect.  They radical left has vastly over reached on this one.  And that’s a good thing.

And what is wrong with the way public policy is formulated today?  Well, it could be as simple as this:

The first lessons I teach my economics students are about means-and-ends and tradeoffs. I tell them that whenever we analyze a policy matter, whether it’s the minimum wage, health care, ivory hunting or abortion, we have to ask ourselves these questions. First, do the chosen policies achieve the desired goals? Second, what tradeoffs do we face with regard to a particular policy; that is, are there alternatives that would yield better results?

These kinds of simple questions often are ignored by policymakers and the public.

Instead, today the party is considered first and foremost and alternatives are hardly ever considered. If it is deemed good for the party, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.  Thus the mess in which we find ourselves.

Have a good weekend.


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Economic Statistics for 5 Nov 15

Chain stores are reporting weaker rates of year-on-year sales in October, as warm weather held down sales of seasonals. 

Challenger reports that layoff announcements fell in October to 50,504 vs September’s 58,877.

Non-farm productivity rose only 1.6% in the 3rd Quarter, while unit labor costs rose 1.4%.

The Gallup Good Jobs rate (GGJ) was 45.3 percent in October, about the same as the last two months.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 16,000 to 276,000. The 4-week average rose 2,500 to 262,750. Continuing claims rose 17,000 to 2.163 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -1.7 points to 41.1 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $0.4 billion last week, with total assets of $4.490 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-6.6 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $15.4 billion in the latest week.

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EPA chief wants to clamp down on air conditioning coolant

Because, you see, air-conditioning uses HFCs and she’s convinced that banning them would help lower the global temperature and fight global warming – you know, the pseudo-science that has proven to be unproven … in fact, almost everything the alarmists predicted would happen hasn’t and everything that wouldn’t happen has.

But when you’re really in the redistribution of income business any narrative, no matter how discredited, will do:

EPA Chief Gina McCarthy wants the world to stop using hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in air conditioners and other consumers products as part of President Barack Obama’s plan to fight global warming.

McCarthy is so determined to make this happen, she’s taking the lead role at an ongoing United Nations summit to expand the current global treaty covering ozone-depleting substances. The EPA chief hopes that her agency’s recent HFC regulations will convince other countries to join the U.S. in limiting the chemicals.

“Because of the importance of taking aggressive action on these chemicals to achieve global climate goals, I will be leading the United States delegation at that meeting,” McCarthy wrote in an oped for The Guardian.

“Over the past year, the US Environmental Protection Agency has completed four separate actions that both expand the list of safer alternatives to HFCs and prohibit them from certain uses in the refrigeration air conditioning, foam, and aerosol sectors where safer alternatives such as hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs), hydrocarbons and lower-polluting blends are available,” McCarthy wrote.

“Solutions are here, and it’s time to amend the Montreal Protocol to reflect that,” McCarthy wrote, adding that phasing out HFCs would avert 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of the century.

Total nonsense, of course.  And, a rhetorical question – who will something like this hurt most?  That’s right, those who can least afford it.  This is politics marching to the tune of a bankrupt ideology.  HFO’s cost more than HFCs.  HFCs, by the way, do not deplete the ozone layer and as real science has shown, greenhouse gasses are not having the warming effect on the earth that the “science” of the alarmists have claimed.

So what’s the point?  Zealotry.  Zealotry in the service of ignorance simply because she has the power.  She “believes” this to be true and thus you will conform if she has her way.

Meanwhile in the real world:

A team of European researchers have unveiled a scientific model showing that the Earth is likely to experience a “mini ice age” from 2030 to 2040 as a result of decreased solar activity.

Their findings will infuriate environmental campaigners who argue by 2030 we could be facing increased sea levels and flooding due to glacial melt at the poles.

How long have we been saying the bulk of our climate is determined by that big yellow burning thing in the sky?  You know, the one the alarmists have either ignored or discounted.

Guess who I think has a better chance of being correct in this case?


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Economic Statistics for 4 Nov 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -0.8% last week, with purchases and refis both down -1.0%.

The ADP Employment Report is calling for 182,000 new net private sector jobs in October. We’ll see, in Friday’s Employment Situation.

September’s international trade deficit came in at $-40.8 billion, compared to $-48.3 billion the prior month.

For the sixth month in a row, Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index held steady at 32 in October.

Markit’s PMI Services Index fell -0.3 points to 54.8 in October.

ISM’s non-manufacturing index jumped 2.2 points to a very strong 59.1 in October.

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Houston, we have a solution

And in this day and time, surprisingly it’s “no”.  Michael Walsh writes:

And bathrooms won, as Texas voters said to hell with with “equality and inclusiveness,” which they and the rest of the country are just now figuring out mean a wholesale destruction of cultural norms as the descendants of the Frankfurt School continue their merry work to overturn thousands of years of human history. The war against the Left is partly a fight over the language, which we are losing, and this is a good example. ”Transgender” bathroom “rights” has gone down in Houston. But it will keep coming back until heteronormativity is destroyed.

There’s always a line.  Sometimes it surprises us when it is finally reached and crossed, but you can always count on that happening at some point.    The line is the place in any cause where those who favor the cause push it too far and people finally wake up and say, “you know, this is BS.”  Apparently the “transgender” nonsense is the “cause” that crosses the line.

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance — Proposition 1 on the local ballot —would have extended bans on employment and housing discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national original and other classifications to gay people, bisexual people and transgender people.

What Houstonians figured out rather quickly is this had nothing to do with “equal rights”.   It had to do with using the force of law to humor a special class who wanted to buck the norm for no good reason other than they could.  Opponents called it the “bathroom ordinance”.  Why?

Under the defeated ordinance, local businesses that discriminate against various classes of people — including transgender people using whatever bathroom they want — would face fines up to $5,000. The failed law specifically exempted religious institutions.

But everyone else?  Well, they were on the hook for that $5k fine if they didn’t establish that men with penises who claimed they felt like a woman would be allowed to use the women’s bathroom.  That idea obviously went over like a lead balloon in Houston:

By the wee hours of Tuesday morning, 95 percent of the ballots had been counted and 61 percent of voters opposed Proposition 1.

It only came to a vote because the Supreme Court ruled that the ordinance required the vote of the people it would effect, i.e. the citizenry.  And the citizenry resoundingly sent a message to city hall.  NO!

This, of course, doesn’t mean the issue will go away.  Once started by the political left, they never seem to go away.  However, they’re going to have to find a new way to approach the cause other than forcing it on people.  Seems few, if any, of their “causes” are popular enough that the people want to enact them by vote.  So control of government is more than just desired, it’s essential.

Anyway, hooray for Houston.  They got this one right.


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Economic Statistics for 3 Nov 15

For the 11th time in 14 months, factory orders fell in September, down -1.0%, as the strong dollar continues to cripple exports.

Motor Vehicle sales surged to an 18.2 million annual rate in October, the highest rate in 12 years.

Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index averaged -13 in October, up just 1 point from the previous month.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales climbed to 1.9% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.5%.

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Meanwhile, in Europe …

All is going as planned … well, at least as George Soros has planned:

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban accused billionaire investor George Soros of being a prominent member of a circle of “activists” trying to undermine European nations by supporting refugees heading to the continent from the Middle East and beyond.

“His name is perhaps the strongest example of those who support anything that weakens nation states, they support everything that changes the traditional European lifestyle,” Orban said in an interview on public radio Kossuth. “These activists who support immigrants inadvertently become part of this international human-smuggling network.”

Of course, Orban is under intense attack for trying to protect his nation’s sovereignty by keeping these uninvited refugees from flooding his country.  And one of the activist who have decided that nation states are “obsolete” is George Soros.  In fact, he doesn’t even bother to deny it:

Soros said in an e-mailed statement that a six-point plan published by his foundation helps “uphold European values” while Orban’s actions “undermine those values.”

“His plan treats the protection of national borders as the objective and the refugees as an obstacle,” he said in the statement. “Our plan treats the protection of refugees as the objective and national borders as the obstacle.”

And, of course, we all suspect his hand in the illegal immigration crisis the US faces as well.

Don’t you love it when someone, unilaterally and without consultation, decides somethings obsolete and then does everything in his or her power to undermine that established norm?

I mean, who are you anyway?  The “little people”, of course, and per Mr. Soros’ philosophy, he exists to make decisions for you.  After all, the rabble doesn’t know what’s best for them, do they?


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Economic Statistics for 2 Nov 15

Gallup’s US Consumer Spending Measure reports that, in October, Americans’ daily self-reports of spending averaged $92, up $4 from September. 

October’s PMI Manufacturing Index rose a full point to 54.1. This seems to be counter to the various recent Fed surveys.

The ISM Manufacturing index is barely positive at 50.1 for October, and contradicts this month’s PMI.

Construction spending, led by housing, rose o.6% in September, and is up 14.1% from September, 2014.

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Another closet totalitarian speaks out

This is one that you have to read to believe.  It is one of those irredeemably stupid people and two time losers that helped Obama to two terms.  Of course you won’t be particularly surprised that she is the director of Women and Gender Studies at The College at Brockport – whatever that is.  Apparently she and her family ate off of Obama placemats prior to 2008 and were pretty sure that this was the guy who could change the world, stop the seas from rising and deliver the utopia that includes “free stuff” and world peace.  Then reality set in, sort of, and the goodie bag wasn’t delivered as promised, the seas ignored him and world peace was even more illusory than before his ascension.   But they still BELIEVE!

Today, I write this letter with a bleeding heart. I admire Obama. But he has let me down. I am disappointed because his presidency could have done more for our country, and sadly, the many taken lives who cannot read this essay. I still worry about urgent social tensions facing our nation, and I recognize their ongoing complexities in policy and legislative action. But gun violence can be averted. Can our country ever be free from senseless gun-crime?

Firearm possession should be banned in America; President Obama can orchestrate this directive. His presidency can be remembered as a remarkable turn in United States history where a progressive leader forever changed the landscape under which we live and work. This is his legacy. To establish gun control laws in America that will reduce high levels of male violence and usher in a culture of peace and civility.

Barack Obama is the president of the United States. He can change the country. He can do it today. I believe in him.

Ye gods.

Gun violence can be averted by banning guns?  One would assume then that knife violence, sword violence, club violence and fist violence  can all be “averted”- if we “ban” all those things.  Because we know that as soon as a law is passed, and all those are banned, it will “usher in a culture of peace and civility”.  Because … every violent male will put those things aside and become a part of … what?

Would anyone actually want to be a part of this woman’s world?  She’s all for taking things away from you. In fact, she lobbies for it.  And my guess is she’d be fine if the things were taken away from you violently in the name of her utopia. You know, whatever’s necessary.  After all, that’s what government is for, right?

As with most progressives, she’s anti-freedom, a closet totalitarian and has an anti-male bias so strong it colors everything she says or does.

And she votes.


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