Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Stray Voltage


Thought you might enjoy this.

No surprise here:

“Hundreds of immigrant families caught illegally crossing the Mexican border told U.S. immigration agents they made the dangerous journey in part because they believed they would be permitted to stay in the United States and collect public benefits, according to internal intelligence files from the Homeland Security Department.”

Now where would they ever get such an idea?

Hey, wait, didn’t Obama promise “no boots on the ground” in Syria?

The U.S. plans to send a small team of Special Operations forces to Syria as boots-on-the-ground advisers to rebel groups, according to military sources.

President Barack Obama has authorized “fewer than 50” Special Operations forces to deploy to northern Syria, The Associated Press reported.

I’m sure there will be massive anti-war protests this weekend because of this broken promise and escalation in Syria.

Yup, and pigs will fly …

Apparently we don’t have time anymore to debate important things  like a national budget in the Senate:

Forced by opponents to hold votes after midnight, GOP leaders held the support of just enough Republican and Democrats to give final Congressional approval to a two year bipartisan budget deal, as lawmakers backed away from a possible U.S. government default.

You see, now they have to read it to find out what’s in it.  How, you ask?  How does this happen?  Well, here’s a clue: 18 Republican Senators voted to shut off debate on the two year budget deal.  Among them McCain, McConnell and Graham.  And establishment Republicans wonder why no one on the right is particularly interested in any of them becoming President.

Finally, a reminder.  Ahmed says:



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So, what do you think?

I find this observation by Joel Kotkin to be interesting:

Generational politics pose both risks and rewards for each party. A Trump candidacy may excite older voters and many younger white voters, but the cost among a pro-immigrant, heavily minority millennial voting bloc could prove damaging over the longer run.

Democrats, too, face risks, particularly if they continue on the path of radical wealth redistribution and draconian climate change regulation. Although still strong, support for Obama has been steadily weakening since 2008. Millennials are the only age group to still approve of President Obama’s record, but by only 49 percent, not exactly a ringing endorsement.

The future may be determined by the extent that millennials feel that Democratic policies inhibit their ability to move up economically. Younger millennials, having grown up during a weak economy under a progressive president, are notably more conservative than older ones, notes a recent Harvard study.

They increasingly share some attitudes with conservatives, having become notably more deeply distrustful of many of the nation’s political institutions. Nearly half describe themselves as independents, far more than any other age group.

To be sure, mllennials will likely stay more liberal than boomers (about as many are conservative as liberal), but they could shift further to the right once they enter their 30s and start earning a living.

Independent is a pretty flexible label and hides a lot of biases that might otherwise put them solidly in one camp or the other.  But the realities of life do indeed have a tendency to temper idealism.  As you grow older, you realize how little your priorities for what you earn matter to government.  You are simply a cash cow to them and they’ll use force to make you pay your “fair share” … as defined by them.

When you begin to get into your career and raise a family, and watch as your priorities in life become second to the government’s you have a sort of epiphany.  Most, at least, begin to pay a little more attention to what is happening via government and begin to drop the youthful silliness that marks their adolescent and college years (colleges are incubators of silly ideas … see past 7 years).   You begin to see government for what it really is … a “legalized” and ever expanding protection racket.  Something that, if Paulie ran it in the neighborhood, would be illegal because it would be considered extortion.  But then, if you disagree with government and refuse to pay the protection money, what happens?

These are the things … just some among many … that begin to dawn on people as they get older.  And it usually pushes those with the ability to reason, to the more fiscally conservative, smaller less costly side.

Of course, some never get it, and they’re the type that elected this idiot in the White House and will vote for Hillary Clinton (or Bernie Sanders and then Hillary Clinton).

They will never understand that there is nothing free in the world, most of the problems we are “scared” with originate with government (and that government is NOT the answer) and simply have no problem with their freedom being limited if it is limited by the “right people”.

However, as you read this blurb, you see something that should clue you into why we’re in this shape.  And it isn’t millennials.  It’s boomers.  They defy the point I’m trying to make (“about as many are conservative as liberal”) with about half remaining in fantasy land.  Of course, they also lived in the golden age of the US in terms of total wealth.

So I dispute the belief expressed by the author that millennials will “likely stay more liberal than boomers.”  Perhaps socially, as in social issues.  But in pocket book issues, they’re hardly found the living easy.  And the big government help they were told was so necessary and good isn’t at all panning out like promised.

Is there any wonder the Democrats are insistent on importing new voters, legally or not?

But are millennials “game changers” like Kotkin contends?

Frankly I don’t really see any generation as “game changers” at the moment.  But you may disagree.


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Economic Statistics for 28 Oct 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -3.5% last week, with purchases down -3.0% and refis down -4.0%.

September’s deficit in international trade in goods declined to $-58.6 billion from August’s $-67.2 billion. Exports rose 3.1% and imports fell -2.5%.

The Federal Open Markets Committee left interest rates unchanged today, with a Fed Funds target rate of 0.0%-0.25%.

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Economic Statistics for 27 Oct 15

Durable Goods order fell again in September, down -1.2% overall, with ex-transoportation orders down -0.4% and core capital goods down -0.3%. On a year over year basis:
Durables: -3.0%
Ex-Transportation: -5.1%
Core capital goods:  -7.3%

The Case-Shiller home price index rose a slight 0.1% in August, and is up 5.1% on a year-ago basis.

The PMI services flash reading for October fell -1.2 points to 54.4.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell sharply from 103.0 to a worse than expected 97.6 in October.

The Richmond Fed’s Manufacturing Index rose from -5 to a still-negative -1 in October. All five regional Fed economic activity reports are negative.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index slipped -1.7 points, but remained healthy at 114.3.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales rose to 1.5% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.3%, as slow improvement continues.

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Germaine Greer states reality – chaos and vilification ensue

One thing about getting old is you’re less tolerant of BS, no matter what the stripe. That’s especially true if you’re one of the women who helped define modern “feminism”.

Germaine Greer, the 76-year-old author of “The Female Eunich,” is making waves by lambasting the idea that Caitlyn Jenner may be honored by Glamour Magazine as “Woman of the Year.” Jenner isn’t a woman, says Greer. He’s just attention-starved and seeking to steal the limelight from the women in the Kardashian family.

He hasn’t actually had to endure what feminists depict as the true horrors of womanhood, such as being cursed with what Greer delicately characterizes as a “big, hairy, smelly vagina.”

When told that such comments are hurtful to the transgender community, Greer doubled down. “Try being an old woman. For goodness sake, people get hurt all the time, I’m not about to walk on eggshells.”

Now frankly, I think much of “feminism” is BS. And especially the phase it is now in. Feminism, as I see it, helped start this movement toward the “cult of the victim”.

All that being said, it is hilarious to see what is happening with the Jenner thing. I happen to agree with Greer – he’s an attention seeking whore living among the ultimate attention seeking whores and he wants more of the attention.

So how does this sort of nonsense (not the repudiation of Greer but the “Jenner thing”) gain traction? The usual suspects are involved:

Our insatiable media must find new ground to break in tantalizing the public and normalizing what was once considered aberrant behavior. Cultivating a live-and-let-live attitude isn’t enough; alternative lifestyles must be celebrated as not only equal but superior to the boring, oppressive traditions that have dominated until now.

Indeed, it is the so-called “cool kids” who dominate the culture wars because the dominate the media and entertainment industry. Who are the “cool kids”? Well, they’re those who don’t want to be judged on their aberrant behavior or actions and thus try to normalize them by shouting down and vilifying anyone who stands up for more traditional lifestyles.

To this point, they’ve been mostly successful in their methods. But there’s always a time in any sort of movement such as this that lines begin to be crossed. Lines where it is obvious even to those who support the cause generally where they can see that “the emperor has no clothes”. Jenner provides one of those moments and Greer calls the “cool kids” out on it.

Reaction? See above. In a petition begun to keep her from speaking at Cardiff University in the UK, Greer is vilified with feminist code language for “dirty, rotten traitor” to the cause:

“Greer has demonstrated time and time again her misogynistic views towards trans women, including continually misgendering trans women and denying the existence of transphobia altogether.

“Trans-exclusionary views should have no place in feminism or society.

“Such attitudes contribute to the high levels of stigma, hatred and violence towards trans people – particularly trans women – both in the UK and across the world.”

So there. The fact that Jenner doesn’t possess that big, old smelly defining thing, nor has had to live with it disqualifies her as a “woman” in Greer’s view. But we’re dealing with post-modern feminism now. And that’s whatever the radical feminists say it is. Greer is no longer welcome in that club.

And I’m laughing my rear end off.


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Another Obama administration foreign policy “triumph”

In another “foreign policy triumph” for the US, Afghanistan, a client nation of the US for over a decade, is apparently turning to an old patron:

Afghanistan, battered by worsening security, is reaching out to an old ally and patron—Russia—just as the Kremlin is seeking to reassert its position as a heavyweight on the world stage.

President Ashraf Ghani has asked Moscow for artillery, small arms and Mi-35 helicopter gunships for his country’s struggling military, Afghan and Russian officials say, after the U.S. and its allies pulled most of their troops from Afghanistan and reduced financial aid.

“Russia is seizing the opportunity,” a U.S. official said.

Certainly, there are plenty who are aware of the old saw, “the graveyard of empires” and will shrug this off as good riddance. Let Russia deal with it.

Of course the point is that Afghanistan is turning to Russia mainly because it doesn’t have any confidence in the US anymore. We all understand that Afghanistan is both tribal and corrupt. But that goes with the territory, literally and figuratively. Russia is unlikely to worry to much about that.

It also demonstrates on a micro level what we are seeing on a more macro level. With the decline of US influence in the area, Russia is taking the opportunity to assert its own. Whether you care one whit about Afghanistan, this is a disturbing trend. And, just as obvious, our “leaders” haven’t a clue on how to stop the trend. Obviously Afghanistan feels that their worsening security is inextricably linked to US decisions. The country appears to have no confidence in the US.

Unfortunately, that ‘no confidence’ vote didn’t originate in Afghanistan. It has been echoed by other countries in the region as well … to include Israel.

The foreign policy of this administration, that of Mr. Obama, Ms. Clinton and Mr. Kerry, have seen the withdrawal of the US in the area and a diminution its prestige and power.

Some may cheer this, but the bottom line is that such actions (or lack thereof) have made the region and the world a much more dangerous place than it was in 2008.


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Colleges: First Amendment outdated?

That, at least, is the result of a survey recently completed:

To put some numbers behind that perception, The William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale recently commissioned a survey from McLaughlin & Associates about attitudes towards free speech on campus. Some 800 students at a variety of colleges across the country were surveyed. The results, though not surprising, are nevertheless alarming. By a margin of 51 percent to 36 percent, students favor their school having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty. Sixty-three percent favor requiring professors to employ “trigger warnings” to alert students to material that might be discomfiting. One-third of the students polled could not identify the First Amendment as the part of the Constitution that dealt with free speech. Thirty-five percent said that the First Amendment does not protect “hate speech,” while 30 percent of self-identified liberal students say the First Amendment is outdated.

This is simply the latest proof that colleges and universities in this nation are turning from bastions of free speech and academic freedom to institutions that are enabling and enforcing “speech codes” that student activists demand. The result is the death of “robust intellectual debate” on campus. Now administrations feel moved to “protect” those who are uncomfortable with uncomfortable ideas. And they demand penalties and the quashing of those ideas. The very notion that our great institutions of higher learning have bought into this anti-intellectualism should be an anathema to them. But instead they support these sorts of movements.

Just recently Williams College began an “Uncomfortable Learning” speaker series to provide “intellectual diversity” on campus. Ironically, it then disinvited conservative writer Suzanne Venker when, according to the college, her proposed visit was “stirring a lot of angry reactions among students on campus.” Obviously her ideas went beyond “uncomfortable learning”, however Willams College now defines that phrase. But one thing is clear, Williams College is about as committed to “intellectual diversity” as Hillary Clinton is to the truth.

Given all this, is anyone even remotely surprised to see supposed intellectuals who are the products of this sort of education system calling for the jailing of “climate deniers” and the banning of their speech? Free speech is dying in this country and it is doing so in the very institutions that should be its staunchest defender.


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