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Free Markets, Free People

Stray Voltage

Interesting:

Just west of Midway Airport, in the bungalow belt dominated by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, some Democrats are defecting to The Donald.

“Right here, I’m a Donald Trump voter,” says retired city plumber Tom Izzo.

“So many Americans are out of job, but we got all these illegals working here. Something’s got to happen,” he says.

Izzo represents a bit of a trend. In 2008, just 6 percent of Chicago primary voters selected Republican ballots. This year, it’s up to 10 percent. And that’s not far away from the 13 percent back in 1980, the year Ronald Reagan attracted so-called blue collar Reagan Democrats.

I’d agree … there is certainly some of that.  But there is also a good bit of voting for Trump in the primaries with no intention at all of voting for him in the general election, but instead, for Hillary.  That said, among blue collar workers, the illegal immigration issue is where both parties are completely disconnected from their voters – or at least those voters who make up the bulk of their base.  You know … the one’s from “flyover” land.

Meanwhile, the pot (and plot) continues to simmer:

Former Hillary Clinton IT specialist Bryan Pagliano, a key witness in the email probe who struck an immunity deal with the Justice Department, has told the FBI a range of details about how her personal email system was set up, according to an intelligence source close to the case who called him a “devastating witness.”

Yeah, we’ll see.  Right now it’s only “devastating” in the media.  We’ve all but been warned that the DoJ is not eager to pursue this at all. And, of course, to this administration specifically, and Democrats generally, the “rule of law” is an inconvenience.

You remember Margaret Thatcher famously saying that socialism worked fine until you run out of other people’s money?  Well, a disbelieving Venezuela is learning the truth of that statement the hard way:

Thatcher’s axiom did eventually catch up with Venezuelan socialism. Even when oil prices were hovering above $100 per barrel, the government’s finances went increasingly into the red. Now that a barrel of Venezuelan crude is trading at only $25, the situation has reached a breaking point. External debt has gone up by 115 per cent in the last decade and inflation is out of control: the IMF says it will reach 720 per cent this year. The situation is so bad that the government recently had to use 36 Boeing 747 cargo planes to import five billion notes of its worthless currency.

Behind the macroeconomic figures is a deepening humanitarian crisis. The government lacks the dollars to pay for imports which, compounded with price controls and their devastating effect on production, has caused widespread shortages. People queue for hours only to find empty shelves in government-run supermarkets. Even if they’re lucky, they can only buy a few products— in return for which they must undergo fingerprint scanning under the country’s rationing system. A national poll found that the percentage of Venezuelans eating two or fewer meals a day increased by more than 10 percentage points last year. Looting is now a common occurrence.

The economic crisis is having a particularly nasty impact on healthcare. According to the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation, only 20 per cent of the drugs that doctors require are available. People must rely on social media to scout the country for medications for their loved ones. The lack of spare parts means that much medical equipment is useless: 86 per cent of X-Ray machines are out of service, for example. “Babies born prematurely are dying like little chicks” was a February headline of El Nacional, Venezuela’s last independent daily. It quoted a resident doctor in one of the public hospitals saying that, due to the shortages, they cannot save the lives of all patients. “We are operating under war conditions,” she said.

So, despite all the examples and all the warnings, things go exactly as they were predicted to go in that country.  Meanwhile, in this country, we have a significant portion who feel that “free stuff” is their entitlement and are feeling the “Bern”.  To me, given all the examples of what they want that have failed in the world, this say a lot about their intelligence … or lack thereof.

The Obama blame game … again:

Barack Obama has sharply criticised David Cameron for the UK’s role in allowing Libya to become a “shit show” after the fall of the dictator Muammar Gaddafi, in an unprecedented attack on a British leader by a serving US President.

Mr Obama said that following a successful military intervention to aid rebels during the 2011 Arab Spring revolt, Libya was left to spiral out of control – due largely to the inaction of America’s European allies.

In a candid US magazine interview, Mr Obama said: “When I go back and I ask myself what went wrong… there’s room for criticism, because I had more faith in the Europeans, given Libya’s proximity, being invested in the follow-up.”

Well one thing he didn’t ask himself is “what would a real leader do”, because he has no idea what leadership entails.  But he knows a lot about casting blame for failures in which he should have been leading.  And, of course, real leaders don’t do that.

Radley Balko points to another encroachment on liberty:

A while back, we noted a report showing that the “sneak-and-peek” provision of the Patriot Act that was alleged to be used only in national security and terrorism investigations has overwhelmingly been used in narcotics cases. Now the New York Times reports that National Security Agency data will be shared with other intelligence agencies like the FBI without first applying any screens for privacy.

Yes, that’s right, the NSA is sharing data domestically now … and it has nothing to do with either national security or terrorism … as initially promised.

Anyone surprised?

And a final update about “The New Red Guard” involves Western Washington University where TNRG wants control:

Students at Western Washington University have reached a turning point in their campus’s hxstory. (For one thing, they’re now spelling it with an X—more on that later.) Activists are demanding the creation of a new college dedicated to social justice activism, a student committee to police offensive speech, and culturally segregated living arrangements at the school, which is in Bellingham, up in the very northwest corner of the state.

Seems legit. No totalitarian tendencies showing there, are there? Well, maybe, just a tiny bit:

At the heart of this effort lies a bizarrely totalitarian ideology: Student-activists think they have all the answers—everything is settled, and people who dissent are not merely wrong, but actually guilty of something approaching a crime. If they persist in this wrongness, they are perpetuating violence, activists will claim.

The list of demands ends with a lengthy denunciation of WWU’s marginalization of “hxstorically oppressed students.” The misspelling is intentional: “hxstory,” I presume, was judged to be more PC than “history,” which is gendered, triggering, and perhaps violent. It’s easy for me to laugh at these clumsy attempts to make language obey the dictates of political correctness—but I laugh from a position of relative safety, since I am not a WWU professor.

On the other hand, if a member of campus were to insist on the proper spelling of the word, would he or she (or xe) have to answer to the Committee for Social Transformation?

Of course they would. But seriously, knowing this sort of nonsense is rampant at this University, why would any parent want their child to go there? That’s a question the University of Missouri is trying to answer as we speak.

Oh, and one more thing to note – “Student-activists think they have all the answers—everything is settled, and people who dissent are not merely wrong, but actually guilty of something approaching a crime.”

Sound familiar?  Yeah, think RICO and “climate deniers”.  Gee, wonder where they learned that?

Have a great weekend!

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 10 Mar 16

Information revenue in the 4th Quarter of 2015 rose 1.8%, compared to the revised 0.7% in the 3rd Quarter.

The US Treasury reported a budget deficit of $-192.6 billion in February. The deficit is up 8.7% overall in 2016 compared to February 2015.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 18,000 to 259,000. The 4-week average fell 2,500 to 267,500. Continuing claims fell 32,000 to 2.225 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.2 points to 43.8 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $2.6 billion last week, with total assets of $4.481 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-0.9 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $14.0 billion in the latest week.


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This should anger and terrify any freedom loving person

This is just something that shouldn’t be “discussed” at all, much less “discussed” by law enforcement:

During Lynch’s testimony at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said that he believes there are similarities between the tobacco industry denying scientific studies showing the dangers of using tobacco and companies within the fossil fuel industry denying studies allegedly showing the threat of carbon emissions…

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)… concluded his comments by posing a question to the country’s top law enforcement officer.

“My question to you is, other than civil forfeitures and matters attendant to a criminal case, are there other circumstances in which a civil matter under the authority of the Department of Justice has been referred to the FBI?” he asked.

“This matter has been discussed. We have received information about it and have referred it to the FBI to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which we could take action on,” Lynch answered. “I’m not aware of a civil referral at this time.”

Seriously?  As flawed as the data is and as broken as the models have been shown to be, there is certainly nothing “settled” about anything to do with “global warming” or carbon.  Nothing.

But that’s not the point is it?  This is about shutting up dissent.  And why would anyone want to shut up dissent?  Well, frankly, for the usual reasons – power and control.  You have a group of true believers (or at least those who claim to be) who have positions of power and want to use it to control how you live your life.  They’ve been looking for a way for quite some time and have finally, thanks to Al Gore and the boys, found what they believe is a fail-safe way to kite more money from taxpayers and “evil corporations” and they can’t stand to have a group out there shooting their “science” in the keister with facts.  The “electricity rates are going to jump under my plan” ideologues aren’t going to pass up this chance to cripple the fossil fuel industry and they have just the pseudo-science with which to do it if they can shut these dissenters up.

Thus a US Congressman questioning the nation’s chief law enforcement officer about whether or not that officer is discussing means and  methods of doing just that.  If every anyone deserved to be impeached and thrown out of Congress, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is the candidate of choice in my estimation.  And to be Number 1, you have to be pretty damn bad (we could instead settle for a little tar and feathers and running him out of town, I suppose).  As I see it, any call to quash dissent by a government official acting in his official capacity is grounds for removal – unless you’re in Communist China, perhaps.

Power and control.  That’s what this is all and it is why there is anger and frustration on both sides of the political spectrum.  People have had it with both sides.

~McQ

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News you might otherwise miss

Because, you know, the current political circus has sucked all the air out of the coverage of anything else … or maybe it has distracted everyone so much they aren’t paying attention. But this story is one that is and has been inevitable since the debacle of Obamacare was passed and instituted:

Federal health officials are seeking to deny medical reimbursements to doctors and hospitals that have served patients insured by failed Obamacare health insurance co-ops, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.

Instead, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are insisting it, not medical providers, has the first right to any remaining funds as 12 of the 24 co-ops go through the liquidation process.

A legal showdown is expected over who pays for the co-op debacle that to date has lost at least $1.4 billion in federal solvency loans. The failures have forced the cancellation of health insurance policies for at least 800,000 customers.

The confrontation now pits medical providers against CMS bureaucrats who claim the federal government should be first in line to get any leftover funds.

The government’s plan has failed, those who trusted the government to implement it properly so they’d be reimbursed have been stiffed, and who is it trying to muscle their way to the front of the line for any money available?  Why the same institution that set up this enormous scam, of course.

That’s what you get when you pass laws no one has read with policies written for and by bureaucrats and special interests, and haven’t a clue as to how any of it will work in the real world.  And no one should forget, this is all on the Democrats, who wrote it, passed it and signed it into law. Every bit of it.

And now, the institution that brought about all this failure is putting those it is supposed to serve at the back of the line for reimbursement.  Of course we’ve seen this before, haven’t we? Think GM bankruptcy and bailout.  Yeah, creditors … back of the line.

Mandy Cohen, CMS’s chief operating officer, was the first Obama administration official to assert the federal government would preempt reimbursements to local or state medical providers. She did so during a Feb. 25, 2016, House oversight subcommittee hearing on health care.

“For federal loans, there is an order of repayment,” Cohen said. “I believe we are at the very top of all of the creditors.”

Well, except for a little thing like the Supreme Court saying the opposite:

Cohen’s testimony also puts CMS on the record as ignoring a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court verdict that held the federal government is next-to-last in line for payment in insurance cases and policyholders are first. Cohen claimed the Justice Department will enforce the CMS policy.

Same bullying government, same guy (and party) in charge.  And of course the Justice Department will enforce “CMS policy” even if “CMS policy” is contrary to the law, because, the law is selectively enforceable under this administration, isn’t it?

~McQ

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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
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