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.
At the end of a get out the vote campaign event in New Hampshire on Wednesday, […] was asked about […] plans for protecting cyber security.
“It is one of the most important challenges the next president is going to face,” […] said.
[…] said that the technology offenses conducted by hostile states have become more advanced. […] named Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea as countries that are just going to accelerate their attacks on the cyber infrastructure of the United States.
“We first have to figure how to create what would be an understanding with these nations that we will not tolerate their cyber theft and their cyber evasiveness, and we certainly would never ever sit still for a cyber attack,” […] said.
No. Instead we’ll just put secret material on a private server located in a bathroom somewhere and you can just help yourself.
And yes, it was Hillary Clinton, the irony impaired candidate.
The AP reported that during Clinton’s time at the State Department that it was one of the worst agencies in the federal government at protecting its computer networks. The deteriorating situation continued well into when John Kerry took over.
Nobody wants to hear sting play the lute, or Donald Trump insult Megan Kelly. But, if you want hear this week’s podcast, it’s on the podcast page.
Don’t expect this sort of treatment should Queen Hillary ever get the nomination. Expect every one of the GOP candidates to be treated like this if they’re even somewhat viable. The Washington Post takes Bernie to the whipping post:
Mr. Sanders’s story continues with fantastical claims about how he would make the European social model work in the United States. He admits that he would have to raise taxes on the middle class in order to pay for his universal, Medicare-for-all health-care plan, and he promises massive savings on health-care costs that would translate into generous benefits for ordinary people, putting them well ahead, on net. But he does not adequately explain where those massive savings would come from. Getting rid of corporate advertising and overhead would only yield so much. Savings would also have to come from slashing payments to doctors and hospitals and denying benefits that people want.
He would be a braver truth-teller if he explained how he would go about rationing health care like European countries do. His program would be more grounded in reality if he addressed the fact of chronic slow growth in Europe and explained how he would update the 20th-century model of social democracy to accomplish its goals more efficiently. Instead, he promises large benefits and few drawbacks.
And that’s just a sample. They pretty much trash the low information, economically illiterate’s dream candidate. Bernie’s the “free stuff” guy, yet even he has to admit that someone has to pay for his “free stuff”. Of course those who support him stop listening right after “free”.
But that’s really not the point. Hillary is sinking in the polls. The presumptive favorite is in a tight race in the first two primary states. Bernie, despite the fact that he’s clueless, is almost even with the chosen one of the big time Washington media establishment. You know, the one’s with Democrats with bylines? Way to close for comfort. And Clinton isn’t helping. In fact, it seems she’s beginning to crack a little bit. Additionally, she’s wearing thin with the voters who are just as tired of the circus she was a ringmaster in as they are of the Bush dynasty. And all these reminders of her past residence in the big house is beginning to make inroads and erode her support. Then there’s that email thingie.
So up steps the editorial board of the WaPo to take a few well aimed pot shots at her closest competitor. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily disagree with anything they say about Bernie. I just question the timing and intent.
That said, I loved this chaser they included near the end:
Mr. Sanders tops off his narrative with a deus ex machina: He assures Democrats concerned about the political obstacles in the way of his agenda that he will lead a “political revolution” that will help him clear the capital of corruption and influence-peddling. This self-regarding analysis implies a national consensus favoring his agenda when there is none and ignores the many legitimate checks and balances in the political system that he cannot wish away.
This podcast, at 2:56.11, is the longest podcast we’ve ever done. The first 1:15 is mainly boring and unlistenable, while the remainder mainly consists of Dale screaming like an asshole at Michael. So, there’s that. Anyway, it’s on the podcast page.
Anthony DeChristopher over at The Hill thinks the latest finds on Hillary’s email server are a “game changer”. And he makes a good point … it’s a game changer for someone:
Special Access Programs (SAP) is a game changer. It is now undeniably clear that the results of the FBI investigation will be the end of one of two things: Hillary’s bid for the White House or the legitimacy of the FBI—at least when it comes to prosecuting cases on the mishandling of classified material.
The FBI’s reputation has been tarnished in the last decade or so. No longer is it thought of quite in the same way it once was. A series of missteps, scandals and problems have lowered the once sterling reputation of the law enforcement agency.
On the other hand is a powerful political figure that’s in the running for President of the United States and just happens to be of the same party and the presently serving President of the United States. To make it clear, the FBI works for the executive department under the Department of Justice. And, of course, the DoJ is headed by an Obama appointee. Oh, and remember, the Dems want to hold on to the White House.
Hillary Clinton is a “win at any price” person. She badly wants to be the first female President of the United States. Badly. Very, very badly.
The FBI wants to polish up its reputation as the incorrigible and incorruptible law enforcement agency that isn’t swayed or impacted by politics, but simply enforces the law.
Something has got to give.
DeChristopher is apparently a former Special Forces soldier who gives you a brief run down of the gravity of the Clinton offense.
First, when imagery that is classified SECRET//NOFORN (no foreign national) is viewed, regardless of the absence of classification markings, it is distinctly evident. Second, any documents that contain or reference HUMINT is always classified SECRET, and if specific names of sources or handlers are mentioned, they are at a minimum SECRET//NOFORN. Third, SIGINT is always classified at the TS level. It’s not uncommon for some SI to be downgraded and shared over SECRET mediums, however, it is highly unlikely that a Secretary of State would receive downgraded intelligence. Finally, SAP intelligence has been discovered on Clinton’s private server, and many are now calling this the smoking gun. SAP is a specialized management system of additional security controls designed to protect SAR or Special Access Required. SAR has to do with extremely perishable operational methods and capabilities, and only selected individuals who are “read on” or “indoctrinated” are permitted access to these programs. The mishandling of SAP can cause catastrophic damage to current collection methods, techniques and personnel.
Got it? This isn’t something that is hard to figure out, and anyone who has worked at high levels of government for years already knows all this. Now comes the chaser:
In other words, if you have worked with classified material for more than a day, it seems highly implausible that someone could receive any of the aforementioned over an un-secure medium without alarm bells sounding. However, reading about a Special Access Program on an unclassified device would make anyone even remotely familiar with intelligence mess their pantsuit.
You can tell it has put her highness off her stride, but she’s resurrecting the VRWC to cover that.
However this is going to be interesting to watch. There is a large amount of evidence that points to her being directly responsible for a horrific, nay, epic security breach at the highest level.
Will the FBI do it’s job? Or is this, like so many Clinton scandals, going to end up with no action being taken when you can be sure if it was you or I, we’d be frog-marched so fast to the local hoosegow that it would make our heads swim.
But we’re the little people, aren’t we?
As much as the media would like to cast what’s going on during the GOP presidential nomination process as a “crisis for the GOP”, the Dems have their own establishment crisis problem. And it is getting very little media coverage. But Kim Strassel talks about it today in her WSJ piece. As much as the Democrats (and media) would like voters to believe the right is melting down and heading toward Tea Party land, it seems clear the left is getting ready to “Move On.”
On both sides, frustration with the establishment is the most evident feature:
Some of Mrs. Clinton’s struggles are self-imposed. She’s a real-world, political version of Pig-Pen, trailing along her own cloud of scandal dust. Even Democrats who like her don’t trust her. And a lot of voters are weary or unimpressed by the Clinton name. For all the Democratic establishment’s attempts to anoint Mrs. Clinton—to shield her from debates and ignore her liabilities—the rank and file aren’t content to have their nominee dictated.
Especially because many of those rank and file belong to a rising progressive movement that has no time or interest in the old Clinton mold. Barack Obama’s biggest legacy may prove his dismantling of the Democratic center. He ran as a uniter, but he governed as a divisive ideologue and as a liberal, feeding new fervor in the progressive wing.
These progressives proved more eager than even the Republicans to steadily pick off Democratic moderates—and helped the GOP to decimate their ranks. The Democratic congressional contingent is now at its smallest size since before FDR. But boy is it pure, and it retains an unwavering belief that its path to re-election is to double down on the Obama agenda.
I have to admit loving the characterization of Hillary as “Pig Pen”. That notwithstanding, you’d think Hillary, who has prepared for this since Bill first stepped into the White House, would be a natural choice of the left. But then how does one explain the rise of someone who uses the term “socialist” to describe himself because communist would likely be a bridge too far? It’s because the left and right have drifted further apart over the years and the “establishment” of both parties has been set adrift. It’s because to more and more Americans (who didn’t live during the Cold War and didn’t see the wreck the Soviet Union was when it imploded) are enamored with the idea of “equality” as the left now describes it. Equal income, high minimum wage, free this and free that. When you’re an economic illiterate, those things are appealing. And when you further believe the government is the instrument of all things good, well, you’re on the road to serfdom.
Just as Donald Trump is busy calling out the GOP pretenders to the throne, the lefty heroes are undermining the chances of the anointed one:
The president insists that financial institutions were entirely to blame for the 2008 crisis, and that government’s role is to transfer more from those greedy capitalist owners to poor Americans. Out of this class warfare came the likes of Occupy Wall Street, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and today a Sanders campaign that describes “wealth and income equality” as the great “moral issue” of our time.
Mrs. Warren, a progressive hero, went out of her way last week to praise the Sanders Wall Street “reform” plan. Even Joe Biden wanted in on the action, lauding Mr. Sanders and suggesting that Mrs. Clinton was still “relatively new” to the income-inequality debate. Hillary is stuck trying to explain why her campaign donations from bankers aren’t a disqualifier.
The usual subjects have also rallied around the Clinton opposition:
These movements and activists (who also embrace the gun debate, and the women’s-rights debate, and socialized health-care debate) are now the beating heart of the Democratic Party. And they are rallying around Mr. Sanders. MoveOn.org has endorsed Bernie. The liberal Nation magazine has endorsed him. Bill McKibben, the head of 350.org, has endorsed him. Jodie Evans, the co-founder of the antiwar group Codepink has endorsed him. Celebrity activists like Susan Sarandon and Mark Ruffalo are feeling the Bern.
Now no one is saying that all that is enough. But for both parties, if ever they figured out they had missed their wake up call, this is the season that drills that home. For too long, both establishment parties have taken their voters for granted, essentially merged into a tax and spend entity that no one is satisfied with, and have missed the proverbial boat for government reform. Of course, reform is defined differently by the right and left, but you get my point.
The party that is in trouble this year isn’t the GOP or the Democrats, per se. It is the party of establishment politicians who’ve ignored the restless and frustrated voters one election too many. People are tired of the Obamafication of politics – talk, talk, talk and then do what the hell you want to do.
We’ll see how it all turns out, but it is one of the more interesting political periods of my lifetime – and I’ve been around since Truman.
This week’s podcast is up on the Podcast page.
So yesterday was one of those days with a million things to do and not enough time to do them … such as blogging. Anyway, today, we see a college pushing back against the tyranny of the ignorant:
Oxford University installed its first female vice-chancellor this week, Louise Richardson, who boldly stressed the importance of free speech and critical thinking at university amid roiling student protests.
Addressing students for the first time in her new role, Richardson urged them to be open-minded and tolerant; and to engage in debate rather than censorship, alluding to countless calls from students at Oxford and other universities across the U.K. to ban potentially offensive speakers and rename or remove historical monuments.
“How do we ensure that we educate our students both to embrace complexity and retain conviction?” she asked. “How do we ensure that they appreciate the value of engaging with ideas they find objectionable, trying through reason to change another’s mind, while always being open to changing their own? How do we ensure that our students understand the true nature of freedom of inquiry and expression?”
Richardson’s installment comes as students at Oxford’s Oriel College campaign to dismantle a statue of Cecil Rhodes, the British colonialist who endowed the Rhodes Scholarship.
They claim the monument glorifies a man who was “the Hitler of South Africa” and speaks to “the size and strength of Britain’s imperial blind spot.”
Uh, that’s history, and that’s precisely the message that was conveyed by Ms Richardson to those who would take down Rhode’s statue:
Richardson stood by the university’s chancellor, Lord Patten of Barnes, as he referenced the statue debate, reminding students that history cannot be rewritten “according to our contemporary views and prejudices.” He, too, was forthright in his criticism of speech codes and calls for “no-platforming” controversial speakers.
The point Richardson makes seems to be a difficult one for the SJWs to grasp. Obviously none of them are Rhodes Scholars. Good for Louise Richardson.
The “melting pot” makes a comeback:
A generation ago the Europeans, who had bled themselves white in war after war, usually in the service of chauvinistic nationalism, decided they could save the day with a new concept called multiculturalism. The concept was vague but expansive, which celebrated ethnic and other cultural differences and sprinkling them with holy water. “Multi-culti” became fashionable.
Soon Europe’s native minorities were joined by vast new numbers of arrivals from places far from Europe, many from former colonial appendages. By cultivating their differences, rather inviting them to join a melting pot that had worked so well for so long in North America, tolerance and “cultural enrichment” became the norm.
But there’s a growing realization that maybe “multi-culti” hasn’t worked so well, after all. Prominent Europeans are turning their backs on the idea. Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany have called the scheme, however well meant, into serious question.
Segregating by culture, claiming all cultures are as viable as the next and “tolerating” what is intolerable in the native culture do not lead to a harmonious or united nation. You’d think smart people could have figured that out before going all in on this sort of experiment that had “bad idea” written all over it when it began. And that’s been proven now, with the wrecked lives of a number of British girls (Rotherham):
The British Home Secretary, Theresa May, told Parliament that “institutionalized political correctness” was responsible for the lack of attention given to the mass rape.
In other words, between protecting over a thousand girls from repeated gang rape and protecting Muslims from being identified as the rapists, British authorities chose to protect multiculturalism and “diversity.” In the competition between multiculturalism and one of the most elementary instincts and obligations of higher civilization — the protection of girls and women from sexual violence — higher civilization lost.
And look what their choice got them. The authorities need to be in jail for their refusal to do what was right and, by the way, their job. Oh, and feminists? Where are you?
How bad a candidate is Hillary Clinton? This is just an indicator:
Bernie Sanders has a 19-point lead over Hillary Clinton among Democratic and independent women ages 18 to 34, according to a USA Today/Rock the Vote poll.
The Vermont senator, who has been surging in the polls in the last two weeks, won 50 percent compared to Clinton’s 31 percent among millennial women.
However, I have to say, if your choice on that side of the political spectrum is narrowed down to these two, you’re stuck with two bad candidates anyway.
A poll out Thursday from the Pew Research Center shows more Americans distrust sharing their personal information with social media companies, smart cars and homes than office surveillance cameras, retail loyalty programs and health services websites.
According to the study, 54 percent of American adults polled found the prospect of security cameras in their workplace capable of tracking employee performance and attendance with facial recognition technology and stockpiled footage “acceptable,” compared to 51 percent who said it was “not acceptable” to give up personal information in exchange for free use of a social media platform, which would use the data to target users with ads.
“More acceptable”? How about finding neither “acceptable.”
By the way, if you’re wondering why Clinton is losing millennial women to Sanders, this may be the cause:
As for Mrs. Clinton, she has clearly been rattled by Mr. Trump’s merciless resurrection of her alleged complicity in the sometimes brutal handling of women involved in her husband’s dramas. This reminds everyone of—and introduces young voters, who were children during the Gennifer Flowers through Monica Lewinsky stories to—the whole sordid underside of Clintonism. Mrs. Clinton clearly wasn’t expecting it, and she bobbled. She has never gone up against a competitor like Mr. Trump.
History is a bear, and this is a history that I would bet (especially in the light of the Cosby problem) that many of those women weren’t familiar. It really puts “hollow” in the claim of feminism Clinton has been trying to sell them. Instead, it shouts “enabler”. Add in all the other negatives and the candidate looks even less attractive to them. Most of us would consider it to be well earned shadenfruede.
Is the next recession already teed up? And will it be worse than 2008?
A major contributor for this imminent recession is the fallout from a faltering Chinese economy. The megalomaniac communist government has increased debt 28 times since the year 2000. Taking that total north of 300 percent of GDP in a very short period of time for the primary purpose of building a massive unproductive fixed asset bubble that adds little to GDP.
Now that this debt bubble is unwinding, growth in China is going offline. The renminbi’s falling value, cascading Shanghai equity prices (down 40 percent since June 2014) and plummeting rail freight volumes (down 10.5 percent year over year), all clearly illustrate that China is not growing at the promulgated 7 percent, but rather isn’t growing at all. The problem is that China accounted for 34 percent of global growth, and the nation’s multiplier effect on emerging markets takes that number to over 50 percent.
China has been in trouble for a while. In my best Rev. Wright voice, I wonder if the “chickens are coming home to roost?” I also wonder if so, what that means in terms of stability for China’s ancient totalitarian ruling class.
And in the world of participation trophies and no consequences, this was inevitable:
With nothing but hope and her faulty judgement, Cinnamon Nicole allegedly spent her entire life savings buying up all the Powerball tickets she could afford. But the Cordova resident ended up a broke loser when none of her lucky numbers matched Wednesday’s $1.6 billion Powerball numbers.
So what’s a penniless woman to do when she’s still all filled with hope but not a hint of common sense? Create a GoFundMe page, get donations and “spend another fortune trying to hit it big again.” That’s what Nicole did before GoFundMe decided they weren’t going to stand idly by while she makes a mockery of the crowdfunding site and shut her Powerball Reimbursement page down.
And yes, before GoFundMe shut her down, she had actually raised $800.
Have a great weekend.
It’s Donald Trump’s World. We’re just living in it. On the Podcast Page.