The year 2015 was an annus horribilis in Venezuela with a 10 per cent decline in gross domestic product, following a 4 per cent fall in 2014. Inflation reached over 200 per cent. The fiscal deficit ballooned to 20 per cent of GDP, funded mainly by the printing press.
In the free market, the bolivar has lost 92 per cent of its value in the past 24 months, with the dollar costing 150 times the official rate: the largest exchange rate differential ever registered. Shortages and long queues in the shops have made daily life very difficult.
As bad as these numbers are, 2016 looks dramatically worse. Imports, which had already been compressed by 20 per cent in 2015 to $37bn, would have to fall by over 40 per cent, even if the country stopped servicing its debt.
Add to that the murder rate in Venezuela being the highest in the world (even with strict gun control) and you have a real “worker’s paradise” don’t you? I wonder if the Bernie bots are capable of learning anything from this? Yeah, no chance.
Speaking of Bernie and socialism, how about that red hot debate last night? Laughed my keister off with this Hillary quote:
Hillary Clinton compensated for her complete lack of likability by falling back on playing the victim. She accused Bernie Sanders of ignoring feminism, black people and gay rights. She sputtered that, “Senator Sanders is the only one who would describe me, a woman running to be president, as exemplifying the establishment.” Somehow a fabulously wealthy woman who is backed by the entire Democratic political establishment isn’t the “establishment” because of her gender.
She had a tough time explaining her ties to Wall Street too, which I found hilarious. If ever anyone defined “establishment” it would be Clinton. And the irony of this supposedly “tough woman” playing the victim card shouldn’t be lost on anyone either.
Loved David Corn’s tweet. He said his 14 year old daughter was watching the Democratic debate and remarked “it’s like watching my grandparents fight”.
Gallup’s analysis of political party affiliation at the state level in 2015 finds that 20 states are solidly Republican or leaning Republican, compared with 14 solidly Democratic or leaning Democratic states. The remaining 16 are competitive. This is the first time in Gallup’s eight years of tracking partisanship by state that there have been more Republican than Democratic states. It also marks a dramatic shift from 2008, when Democratic strength nationally was its greatest in recent decades.
It’s interesting because I think it identifies a trend and a level of dissatisfaction with the current occupant of the White House. And if true, I think it spells big trouble for the Democrats in a presidential election year. And if the unlikable Hillary Clinton gets the nod for the Dems (a woman who has never polled over 45%), unless Trump GOP pick, the GOP wins. If it ends up being Trump, then the GOP will again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Speaking of polls, is this indicative of reality or an outlier?
The Democratic race has dramatically tightened, according to a new Quinnipiac University national poll out Friday that shows Hillary Clinton with a razor-thin lead over Bernie Sanders.
Clinton leads Sanders 44 percent to 42 percent, well within the margin of error of the poll, which was conducted after the Iowa caucuses.
The picture of a neck-and-neck race is a huge change from Quinnipiac’s last national poll conducted Dec. 16-20 that showed Clinton with a massive lead over Sanders, 61 percent to 30 percent. It’s not clear yet whether other post-Iowa polls will also show Sanders surging ahead and catching up to Clinton.
Couple this with the fact that Bernie raised more campaign dough than Clinton in January and it should be setting off alarm bells in Clinton campaign headquarters. And, in fact, it may explain a more combative Clinton last night.
On the special snowflake/SJW front, you know, those who unilaterally believe they get to decide what is or isn’t okay in today’s culture, it is now racist to wear a toe ring or bangle bracelet:
According to a piece in the totally logical social-justice blog “Everyday Feminism”, it is racist and offensive to wear toe rings or bangle bracelets in almost any situation.
Yep. According to the article’s author, Aarti Olivia, wearing these kinds of jewelry amounts to an appropriation of South Asian culture. Olivia explains that in her culture, “it has been traditionally expected that married women wear bangles,” and that although that tradition is no longer “imposed upon women,” they do “wear them for religious or festive occasions.”
“In pop culture, you have probably seen the likes of Iggy Azalea and Selena Gomez wear them for music videos and performances,” Olivia writes. And that, she continues, is not okay.
I wonder if she knows that today’s music is mostly played on instruments invented by dead white guys from Western Europe. So, using her logic, if she plays an instrument (violin, guitar, clarinet, saxophone, piano, etc.) is it “cultural appropriation”? And if so, shouldn’t she stop right now and apologize?
Or does this nonsense only cut one way?
“If NASCAR embraced electric cars it could change the world…We could convert all of our racecars to electricity — right now — and show the public exactly what electrons can do,”
Yup, and the NASCAR track would be … a strangely quiet place during a race. Kind of like Bill Nye’s brain.
Have a great weekend.
Or so the most recent Gallup poll says:
Yes, that’s right – climate change.
Notice the top “problem”, and apparently increasingly seen as such by more and more Americans.
Notice also that every other problem listed is one in which government has at least a finger in if not stuck in it up to the elbow.
Our public education system is not good – it’s run by the government. Our federal budget is a disaster – government ill-discipline. Foreign policy doesn’t exist – government malfeasance. Terrorism is increasing – government ineptitude. National security at risk – government incompetence. Race relations – government partisan bias. Poverty – government enabling. And healthcare – don’t even get me started. Etc. etc.
Every “problem” under the top problem have become more of a problem because of government meddling, incompetence, over-reach, bumbling, malfeasance or partisan bias.
And yet one of Obama’s stated goals as president was to again make big government “cool”.
Well, heck of a job there, Barack.
Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup lays out one of the biggest lies our government is party to each month.
The unemployment rate.
Right now the lie claims that only 5.6% of those who want to work aren’t working. That’s simply not true.
But it is a lie that banks on you not looking into how the government computes this number. It banks on you using a different definition – i.e. one that defines unemployment as I have above – the unemployed are those who want work but can’t find work.
However, the government uses an entirely different set of criteria to come up with their number and ignore a huge portion of the public which is out of work.
If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job — if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks — the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed. That’s right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news — currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed.
Yet politicians and the media keep pushing that number out there without any caveat or qualifier. They too expect you to use your definition of unemployment while they knowingly push this lie.
And, it’s even worse than that. Here’s another way they pad that official number:
There’s another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 — maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn — you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
Of course “few Americans know this”. It’s because our government goes out of its way to avoid telling us this. The official unemployment numbers is a fantasy number with very little basis in reality. It is aimed at serving the political resumes of our government masters. It is designed to pretend there has been progress in the employment field. There hasn’t. Period.
Yet another figure of importance that doesn’t get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find — in other words, you are severely underemployed — the government doesn’t count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
None of this gets much press. The politicians and bureaucrats glibly push this lie and the media dutifully publish it with little or no research into its efficacy. We have the lowest labor participation rate in about 40 years meaning huge numbers of Americans remain unemployed or grossly underemployed while our political betters celebrate false employment numbers and claim things are “getting better”. It is all about the next election instead of service to this country for them.
I hear all the time that “unemployment is greatly reduced, but the people aren’t feeling it.” When the media, talking heads, the White House and Wall Street start reporting the truth — the percent of Americans in good jobs; jobs that are full time and real — then we will quit wondering why Americans aren’t “feeling” something that doesn’t remotely reflect the reality in their lives. And we will also quit wondering what hollowed out the middle class.
The middle class is the real victim of these horrid economic conditions. Pretending that “all is well” on the employment front lets politicians off the hook when it comes to addressing the problems the middle class in this country are facing – like UNEMPLOYMENT! They simply point to the lie and claim that “historically” that rate signifies “full employment” and they’re the heroes that brought it down.
When your government purposely lies to you, any trust you may have in it vanishes. And it portends even worse problems. If it will lie about the unemployment rate, what else will it lie about? And what steps will it take to maintain those lies and protect those who tell them?
What was supposed to be a servant to the people is evolving quite rapidly into the people’s master. Government wasn’t envisioned like this at all at our founding. In fact, what we have today is anathema to what our founders envisioned. A huge, bloated, powerful, coercive and dishonest government which seems to think it has the right to intrude at all levels of our life. The particular lie Clifton exposes is only one of many it has pushed over the years. And unless something is done and done quickly it will only get worse.
Maybe it is time for a convention of the states.
It is something government is quite good at doing, even though the solution usually ends up being worse than the problem.
And then there are “problems” that aren’t really problems, but government sees an opportunity to step in and “solve” it via, well, more government and less freedom, of course.
Two out of three Americans are dissatisfied with the way income and wealth are currently distributed in the U.S. This includes three-fourths of Democrats and 54% of Republicans.
On it’s face, you might not think much about this, since very few people are satisfied with their condition, regardless of how good it really is. Everyone thinks they should be doing better. And, for the most part, many like to blame others for their inability to realize whatever goals and dreams they’ve set out for themselves. It’s certainly not their fault they aren’t the CEO of a Fortune 100 company … it has to be the “elite” or the “rich” or the “old boy network” that’s kept them from their dream. And they certainly think they should be making more than they do. They’re worth it, just ask them.
They’re also fertile ground for the biggest con artist in the world to use their dissatisfaction to promise them their dream at the expense of others. Instead of saying, “Don’t like your situation? Work harder and smarter then”, this bunch of grifters promise to use their power to help the dissatisfied get “their due”. And so:
President Barack Obama spoke about income disparities in a Dec. 4, 2013, speech, saying he wanted to prioritize lowering income disparity and increasing opportunities, particularly for the poor, during the rest of his second term. He most likely will return to that topic in his State of the Union speech at the end of the month. Gallup’s Jan. 5-8 Mood of the Nation survey included a question asking Americans how satisfied they are with income and wealth distribution in the U.S. Few, 7%, report that they are “very satisfied” with the distribution, while 39% of Americans say they are “very dissatisfied.”
Who says a failing economy can’t be used to increase political and governmental power? Just hide and watch. Of course, it is no coincidence that the “dissatisfaction” with the “distribution” of “income and wealth” took a nose dive with the economy, is it?
But you know the old Rahm Emanuel saying – “never let a crisis go to waste”, even if it is a manufactured crisis. If it is an opportunity to expand government (especially if that expansion accrues more power to government and less to the people) then it’s all good.
They’ll have to move fast though:
Obama will almost certainly touch on inequality in his State of the Union address on Jan. 28. This will certainly resonate in a general sense with the majority of Americans who are dissatisfied with income and wealth distribution in the U.S. today. Members of the president’s party agree most strongly with the president that this is an issue, but majorities of Republicans and independents are at least somewhat dissatisfied as well.
Although Americans are more likely to be satisfied with the opportunity for people to get ahead through hard work, their satisfaction is well below where it was before the economic downturn. Accordingly, improvement in the U.S. economy could bring Americans’ views back to pre-recession levels.
Heaven forbid the economy get better before more useless programs can be “funded” and more plans executed to relieve the “rich” and “wealthy” of their money for the usual vote buying schemes.
But with this crew in charge, an economic turnaround isn’t very likely anytime soon … so I’m sure they feel pretty darn safe at the moment and believe that they have plenty of time.
I’m not sure why a majority of America once did consider Obama a strong and decisive leader, but then there are a lot of things I can’t explain. But Gallup’s latest poll makes it clear than President Obama is no long considered a strong and decisive leader, at least for the moment:
After six messy weeks — defined chiefly by the partial government shutdown and troubled rollout of the federal government’s healthcare exchange website — President Barack Obama’s reputation with the American public has faltered in some ways, but not in others. Most notably, for the first time in his presidency, fewer than half of Americans, 47%, say Obama is a “strong and decisive leader,” down six percentage points since September.
The current spin coming from the White House and Democrats says this is all a cumulative bump in the road that had to be suffered. The disastrous ObamaCare rollout, the government shutdown, the perceived lie about keeping one’s healthcare insurance if they wanted it have all, as Obama’s favorite preacher would say have “come home to roost”.
The question, however, isn’t when will this pass, but whether it will pass at all? Is this just a bump in the road for the Obama team or is it the “new normal” for him?
There’s no question the trend in his approval ratings the past few months have been anything but encouraging. One thing politicians have learned throughout the ages that they’re unlikely to keep their job if they lose the trust of their constituency. There’s obviously very little reason for Obama to be concerned about losing his job, however, loss of trust now, barely into his second term, could mean his second term agenda is all but dead on arrival. His desire to push immigration reform and climate change legislation wouldn’t even get our of the starting gate. That’s because other politicians, the ones he needs to get the job done for him, will have no fear of defying his wishes and facing the wrath of the people.
So how has Mr. Obama’s trustworthiness done? Not well:
Similarly, the share of Americans who view Obama as “honest and trustworthy” has dipped five points. Exactly half of Americans still consider Obama honest and trustworthy, but this is down from 55% in September and 60% in mid-2012 as Obama was heading toward re-election.
He’s at 50% and sinking. And you’ve got other Democrats taking the lead in trying to fix the ObamaCare debacle while he seems to be doing what he usually does – dither.
The hit, then, to both his trustworthiness and decisiveness are a bit of a double whammy to his ambitious agenda. And it may not be recoverable as Gallup points out:
Of more concern for the White House, Obama’s once-positive image as a strong and decisive leader has suffered, in addition to his longtime reputation for being honest and trustworthy. Of these, the decline in Obama’s honesty rating may be the most noteworthy because Gallup has previously found that this dimension is one of the most important drivers of his overall job approval. Thus, the recent controversy over whether the president honestly described Americans’ ability to retain their own healthcare plans under the Affordable Care Act could have the most significant implications for his presidency.
As Insty would say, indeed. Taking hits in decisiveness and trustworthiness are not hits you shrug off. They represent core qualities or a lack thereof and once lost, they’re very hard to regain. Mr. Obama is seen more and more to be lacking those qualities. That doesn’t bode will for him in the next 3 years.
Six in 10 Americans (60%) believe the federal government has too much power, one percentage point above the previous high recorded in September 2010. At least half of Americans since 2005 have said the government has too much power. Thirty-two percent now say the government has the right amount of power. Few say it has too little power.
Is this a partisan view? Yes and no.
As you’d expect, Republicans and Democrats pretty much switch positions depending on who is in the White House. But the telling line is the Independent line. It is higher now than it was in the Bush years.
Of course, the pregnant question is, “so what are you going to do about it?”
The answer, if the recent past is any indication, is “not much”. Probably change the Senate over to the GOP, and possibly, in the next presidential election, change parties again.
And then what? Again, look at the trend on the graph above. We’ve changed parties before and yet we still see the power of government continuing to grow. Will another party change really make any difference?
One other thing to note in passing, take a look at the Democrat line in the last year. Democrats who think government has too much power are up 13 points. If I had to guess that is a direct result of the IRS and NSA scandals, ObamaCare and the EPA and other regulatory agencies over-reach. Anyone who thinks those scandals, new regulations and abuse of power haven’t been significant is living in a dream world or, alternately Maine, which is about the same thing.
Ok, they’re downbeat according to Gallup:
So what? I mean, this is what I don’t get. The American public just re-elected possibly the worst and most incompetent president in my lifetime (what the hell do you have to do to get fired?), they refuse to make their leaders face up to the realities of the fiscal situation, they give away freedoms like some universities give away condoms and suddenly they’re “downbeat” about America’s future?
They should be downbeat – they as much as anyone have generated the culture that has produced these politicians that they continue to reward with reelection term after term. If you don’t make those who represent you do what they should be doing, if you continue to reward their kicking the can down the road with re-election, why in the hell should they do anything? Especially when those who try “die”, politically speaking.
And, of course, you have the compliant press who has no compunction anymore about pursuing an agenda that supports the premise that there is a free lunch and the rich should pay for it.
I’m fed up.
Can you tell?
What is spin and what is fact out there right now? Well, if I had to guess, we’re in the 80 to 90% factor when talking about spin. Both campaigns are heavily engaged in trying to convince the public that the election is as they say it is.
One of the more persistent bits of spin has been “early voting has heavily favored Obama”.
I’m not sure how those who were tossing that little nugget out there were so sure, but that’s been the story. And obviously, it’s intent was to calm the waters, make it appear that Obama was in control and that his base was enthusiastic and out supporting him at the voting booth.
Except it seems it may have been just that – spin.
Hmmm. That doesn’t at all track with the Obama spin does it? In fact, it’s not even close. The report says 15% of registered voters have voted. And at this point, at least according to Gallup, Romney leads 52 to 46. If true, that points to two problems for the Obama campaign (beside the fact that their claim seems to be hogwash) – 1) enthusiasm and 2) GOTV effort. Not so hot in either category, huh?
Yes, I know, there are all kinds of things that can be said about this, with “whys” and “wherefores”, caveats and whatever.
However, given this, one thing should be clear – when the Obama campaign again claims they’re leading in early voting, they’ll have to come up with something to counter this, won’t they?
And, speaking of spin, one could argue that perhaps … perhaps … the early voting indicates the possible outcome and it’s percentage.
Gallup has a poll out saying fewer and fewer Americans want more regulation of US businesses. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, really, given the current economic situation (I say that because it’s anyone’s guess how the population would feel if we were going great guns economically):
Americans say there is too much (47%) rather than too little (26%) government regulation of business and industry, with 24% saying the amount of regulation is about right. Americans have been most likely to say there is too much regulation of business over the last several years, but prior to 2006, Americans’ views on the issue of government regulation of business were more mixed.
Here’s what I found fascinating about this particular poll:
The collapse of Lehman Bros., the failure of the secondary mortgage market, and other business problems in 2008 and 2009 might have been expected to increase Americans’ desire for more government control of business and industry. But that was not the case. Americans’ views that there is too much government regulation in fact began to rise in 2009, perhaps in response to the new Obama administration and new business regulation policies such as Dodd-Frank, reaching an all-time high of 50% in 2011 before settling down slightly this year to 47%.
Now it is well disguised in there, but the bottom line is that Gallup is saying that the American public didn’t buy into the notion that the financial collapse was all the fault of “Big Money” or “Big Business”, despite the administration and politician’s best efforts to spin it that way. There’s obviously some fault to be found on the private side, but it appears the public also puts a lot of it on government and government policy. That’s encouraging.
Of course the unsurprising aspect of this poll was the breakdown of who didn’t think there was too much regulation of US businesses and, in fact, thought there ought to be more:
Another, in a long line of reasons I find the Democrats to be much more dangerous to our future freedom (at least at the moment) than the GOP.
Gee, I wonder if they’ve figured out they’re being a little too obvious about it?
Yeah, probably not. They have “3 layers of editors” after all.
Now there are those out there that say, much like voter fraud, there’s really no bias in the media, they’re professionals.
Well, we may call them that, but that doesn’t make them professionals.
More importantly, much like voter fraud and a myriad other things, it ignores human nature.
What there’s been in the past, for the most part, is plausible deniability. It just wasn’t obvious or if it was, it was arguable. Now?
Well now it is really hardly arguable anymore. Treatment of recent events brings that into startling focus. Yesterday on QandO Facebook, we linked to an article that listed 6 plausible headlines if Obama was a Republican president.
And yes, they’re quite plausible. In fact, I think that it is almost inarguable.
As interesting as the first graph above is, the second it telling in another way:
How is it telling? Well, who is the most satisfied demographic? 18 points higher than the average in the above of those who are a great deal or fairly satisfied with the media. And, as expected, at least if you follow the news media at all, the GOP is horribly dissatisfied. In fact 74% have little or no trust in the media.
But that’s not the important story in that graph. It’s the slide of the independent voter from a postion of trust to one of distrust. A 21% drop from 2001 to now.
It is that demographic’s distrust that best tells the story. They really have no dog in the hunt in terms of strong ideology. Their claim is they vote the candidate that best represents them at the time. So if anyone’s view is less tainted by ideology or concern, it would be independents. And they’ve shown a marked downward trend in trust for the media.
The point? Well the point may be that the media’s best biased efforts may not pay off quite as well as they hope or they’ve enjoyed in the past.
One of the reasons is there are a multitude of other sources out there that are readily available and help point out the half-truths and spin that is seen quite often in media reports these days. It also says, at least to me, that such sources are being both sought out and believed (if the independent number has any validity at all).
On a broad level, Americans’ high level of distrust in the media poses a challenge to democracy and to creating a fully engaged citizenry. Media sources must clearly do more to earn the trust of Americans, the majority of whom see the media as biased one way or the other. At the same time, there is an opportunity for others outside the “mass media” to serve as information sources that Americans do trust.
That’s precisely what is happening. The media monopoly has gone the way of feudalism. The digital printing press has seen to that. The problem is, the media, for all their self-lauding and claims of being “professionals” haven’t yet caught on to the fact that they’re fast becoming the equivalent of the buggy whip in an automotive society.
And it’s their fault.