Friday, June 27, 2014

Let Me Leave You With This Thought

Thought of the day is a simple, yet insightful, demolishing of an annoying trope of Obama's.  From Prof. Instapundit...with paratheticals provided by yours truly.
Government, we are sometimes told, is just another word for things we choose to do together.
Like a lot of things politicians say, this sounds good. And, also like a lot of things politicians say, it isn't the least bit true.
Many of the things government does, we don't choose (just one off the top of my head...funds Hamas). Many of the things we choose, government doesn't do (i.e. enforce border security). And whatever gets done, we're not the ones doing it. And those who are doing it often interpret their mandates selfishly (IRS targeting).
Might I also add that things we choose to do together are often done together via things like churches, civic organizations (Tea Parties?), and corporations.

Have a nice weekend.

Pure Genius: From the Grave, Texas Billionaire Keeps Government's Grubby Paws Off Billions

Here is an amazing story.  It's about a billionaire whose billions are arranged just so, and things seem to be happening just so, that his heirs are going to save a boatload on estate taxes. 

I love it, it's pure genius.  The author thinks it is amazing too, but I am sure he disapproves big time.  You gotta read the whole thing, because it's a tad complicated, but here is a gist...
Here are two facts about the federal estate tax:
  • The estate tax rate for 2013 and 2014 is 40 percent of the value of the estate.4
  • The executor can choose to determine the value of the estate either on the date of death, or on the "alternate valuation date," which is the date six months after the date of death.5
For Harold Simmons's estate, that alternate valuation date is tomorrow -- six months from his death. Today is the last trading day before that valuation. How's Valhi done in the last six months?
Source: Bloomberg
Oh.6 The stock closed yesterday at $6.01, reducing the value of the estate's holdings by $2.8 billion -- and its estate-tax liability by $1.1 billion -- since Simmons's death.
Of course, this brings up the tired old debate about the estate tax...yadayadayada.  For my part, I love this.  The money is theirs and not the government's and I applaud Simmons for keeping as much of it as possible from the government to waste on its silly utopian schemes and/or its lazy, sclerotic and contemptuous bureaucratic hordes.  (For another pro-inherited wealth argument go here.)

But that is not the point I want to make today.  The point is that Simmons's setup was cooked up in response to the last "strengthening" of the estate tax laws, which were designed, no doubt, to combat the previous tax avoidance schemes, and on back through history ad infinitum

Those that are outraged and inclined to design newer and better regulations and laws to combat this example of tax avoidance, well, you'll only be launching the next wave of estate-tax planning and tax avoidance artistry that will outrage you all over again years hence.  So, stop trying to build the perfect estate-taxing mousetrap.  Give it up and live with a simple, low and reasonable estate-tax regime and you'll never have to read an article like Levine's again.

ADDENDUM:  If you catch the drift of what is going on here, it is not hard to conclude that the stock will most likely go back up.  I don't promote stock tips on this website, so that's not a tip, just a capital markets curiosity for all to ponder.  Chalk it up to the intellectual debate over Efficient Market Hypothesis.

Economics Is Not Hard, Although We've Made It Hard

The shale boom was made possible by a few key things, not least of which is secure property rights, in this case mineral rights.
A wide variety of factors—from favorable geology to deep capital markets to mineral rights for property owners—helped the shale boom take off in the U.S., and have made this energy revolution devilishly tricky to replicate abroad.
This will come as no surprise to anyone who has read one of the most important economics books that no one has ever heard of.

We have the answers, we just don't like them.

Lefty Logical Disconnect of the Day

Hot on heels of the latest lefty crusade - college sexual assault, where the logic goes something like this: college, which we've been encouraging and subsidizing for decades, is actually a villainous hive of violent sexual predation - we have a new charming disconnect.

We all know that America is irredeemably racist.  Even the notion of a half-assedly policed southern border is obviously horribly racist toward Hispanics.  Yes, we are so racist that parents feel the need to send their children hundred of miles unaccompanied to this land of hatred.  And, to do so by dint and at the hands of cutthroat, mercenary, and violent traffickers of their self same race.

As AmmoGirl at Powerline notes, can't have it both ways:  America is racist or these Honduran or Guatemalan or whatnot parents are some damn shitty parents.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

"We Didn't See This Coming At All"

Of course, you didn't.

Alternate headline:  "After Marinating the Culture in Sex and Violence, Hollywood Is Shocked That One of Its Own, Murders Out Of Sexual Frustration."

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lib: Yes, We Lied, But Righties Are Still Wrong, Because They're Mean

Jonathan Chait has discovered why conservatives don't like ObamaCare…and it is refreshingly not the fact that the Lightworker is black.  James Taranto reveals the big reveal…
Chait imagines that he's found out his ideological adversaries. His big reveal:
But at least conservatives are now representing their true bedrock position on Obamacare. It is largely a transfer program benefitting people who either don't have enough money, or pose too high a health risk, to bear the cost of their own medical care. Conservatives don't like transfer programs because they require helping the less fortunate with other peoples' money.
Wait, ObamaCare is just a big wealth redistribution scheme!  Who knew?  I didn't, after all, it wasn't proposed as such.  It was a way to improve healthcare, to lower costs, and to fix a "broken" system.  If I had known it was just to take money from some people and give it to others in the form of healthcare services, then I could have pointed to Medicare and Medicaid and said, "Wait, we already have such programs, one for the elderly and one for the poor, why do we need another?"

Which, of course, would have led to uncomfortable debates about Medicare and Medicaid's inferior health outcomes and on top of their cratering fiscal outlooks.  And the Obamacrats weren't out to have that discussion, they were simply out to sell a shiny new thing to a citizenry ready to buy whatever because of that nice seeming (and black) salesman.

Bottom line, we were right in analyzing ObamaCare for what it really was, but wrong for having done so; and, lefties weren't wrong for lying because what they lied for was right, in their view?  Sounds about right.

#NarrativeFail: College Kids Actually Want Wall Street Jobs

90,000 college undergraduates applied for 1,000 internship slots at MorganStanley.

First they were telling use those crazy college kids were shunning Wall St. for Washington (i.e. "public service" on the heels of the Obama wave.  Maybe they don't want to be associated with all that anymore given how the IRS, HHS, VA et al. haven't quite covered themselves in glory as of late.)

Then it was start-ups...

Doesn't seem to be actually playing out that way.

Shocking: Person Who Maintained Her Innocence, Declared Innocent

Here is a very curious headline...
Brooks Acquitted After Weeks of Evading Blame
Here's a thought...she was evading blame because she was innocent of blame, which is why she was...acquitted.

Funny that, people who believe in their own innocence (vindicated by the legal system) actually evading blame.

But for the Murdoch-hating MSM, there is just no believing there nothing evil deep down at work.  Note, Bloomberg is a competitor to the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal.

Green Losers Get Shock When They Go To Sell Their Homes

Here is another example of the "Rubes Don't Get It/What's the Matter with Kansas" mentality from the elitist media clerisy.  Solar panels on the roof of your home drive down the value of your home...because, well, people are stupid and they can't recognize a good thing when they see it...
“Homeowners don’t understand what they’re signing when they get into this,” said Sandy Adomatis, a home appraiser in Punta Gorda,Florida, who created the industry’s standard tool for valuing the systems. “You’ve got another layer to add on top of finding a buyer for the house. It’s not a plus.”
and in case you didn't get the point...
“They’re essentially moving into a home with a lower cost of ownership, a lower cost of energy,” so a solar lease shouldn’t make it harder to sell a house, said Jonathan Bass, a spokesman for SolarCity in San Mateo, California. “It becomes a selling point instead of a point of misunderstanding.”
Stupid homebuyers, it's a selling point, despite what you might think...
Scott Vineberg, a SolarCity customer, received multiple offers for the Scottsdale, Arizona, home he sold in January. The lease made the deal more complicated because the buyers were reluctant to take over the contract and asked him to pay off the balance in advance, about 10 years of payments.
“I don’t think they understood it,” said Vineberg. He refused to pay off the lease, and instead provided years of documentation to verify the monthly energy savings. After the sale closed, the buyers opted to pay off the lease, and Vineberg installed another SolarCity system at his new home.

Monday, June 23, 2014

How Do You Say, "Do Me A Solid?" In German?

New York ObamaCare-Compliant Premiums Going Up 25%?

File under "ObamaCare is working".

Remember how I've chronicled how health insurance costs for my small business in New York state has ballooned over the years even pre-ObamaCare?  Well, post ObamaCare is actually worse, and the hits just keep on coming.  I just got my Notice of Proposed Rate Change for 2015 for my OA EPO HSA Comp 5000 100 PY plan from Aetna.

25.3%.  Yup. After tripling from 2008 to now, I can expect another massive increase in healthcare insurance premiums.  Of course, I don't qualify for subsidies, so that is why ever-increasing amounts are being extracted from me.  Subsidy-qualifiers, I'm sure will not see even near that increase if they see any.

I have to run the numbers, but I am pretty sure I am going to self-insure in 2015.  I have to weigh the penalty versus being involved in this ridiculous wealth distribution scheme.

ASIDE:  Speaking of life at my small business, I am required, by the SEC, to archive my emails, so that every incoming and outgoing email is archived for a period of five years.  The cost for this service (actually, this service plus more in the bundle) is $100/month.  Now, obviously it wouldn't be $100/month for the IRS but given economies of scale, the per user rate for email archiving should be vanishingly small for an organization the size of the IRS if it weren't for legendary government procurement prowess and, ahem, other concerns.


At PJ Media, Don Sucher has a list of excuses cultural explanation in list form as to why the Baby Boomers are the way that they are.  In the John Lennon section there is this gem:
“Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can / No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man.”
Again, nice words, whether sincerely sung at Lennon’s 72 acre Surrey Estate with its splendid gardens and manmade lake, or in any of the five apartments he and his second wife, Yoko Ono, kept at one time in New York City’s fabulously exclusive Dakota apartment building.
Exactly how I feel about the Boomers, at least our elites of that ilk.  Sting and The Police captured this essence in their song "Born in the 50s" although my sense is that Sting was writing of his cohorts with pride rather than derision.

Topical this subject is, as we learn that Hillary "bristled" at Obama's lame Benghazi deception, alas, not because it was a deception, but because it was not a plausable decpetion, i.e. not a deception worthy of the famed political genius of Clintonism.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Drug Development News

Not surprising

Viagara was, after all, originally developed to treat angina.  But when study participants started getting spontaneous erections...well, the rest is history.

El-Erian Is So Incredibly Wrong on Argentina

In addressing the Argentinian debt crisis, global elitist conventional thinker Mohamed El-Erian placed a flawed notion at the foundation of his argument.
When a sovereign faces severe payment difficulties, the best option for the collective good is to find an orderly way to reduce debt and put the country on the path to economic recovery. 
No, no, and no.  This may be the best option if you believe in all manner of Keynesian nonsense, which El-Erian surely does, but it's a terrible way to approach sovereign defaults.

First, whether the process is orderly or not does not necessarily effect the views of the creditors involved.  The screwing of Chrysler's bondholders in the early days of Lightworkerism was indeed orderly, but I am sure that creditors learned valuable lessons that increased their caution.  Raw expropriation of property rights is damn orderly.  Likewise, a messy fight such that Argentina and the holdouts are now waging may ultimately vindicate the rule of law and hold borrowers accountable.  So orderly is meaningless.  Orderly is a nice to have, but it does not equate to just, fair or proper.

Second, why is the priority to reduce debt?  Debt can be restructured and most of the time, that's what happens because it is in the best interests of all that debtors have burdens eased without creditors having capital destroyed.  That El-Erian's stated priority from the outset is the destruction of creditors' assets is profoundly dangerous and reflects a special sensitivity to the sovereign's position vis-a-vis investors.  He thinks governments are more important and should have sway.  That's bad for too many reasons to list.

Finally, El-Erian assumes that wiping the credit card clean sets a country on a path to economic growth.  This is just daft and not worthy of an intelligent and experienced man such as El-Erian, thus my reference to Keynesian nonsense.  Wiping the fiscal burden clean and resetting a country's borrowing power simply sets up the next cycle of borrow and spend economics, perpetuating the disastrous, Keynesian treadmill that keeps these serially defaulting countries poor.  Is Argentina just unlucky, did they just happen into a one-time mess?  No.  They are irredeemably profligate.  They are, as El-Erian's colleagues at Bloomberg note, "persistently uncooperative and undeserving of sympathy."  Does anybody think that giving Argentina a pass won't start them on their next irresponsible credit-fueled binge?

There are many complex and wrenching issues involved in a potential sovereign default, and El-Erian pretends to address this, but his position is merely a deceptive pro-sovereign absolutism, which is dangerous in general and especially misguided in the case of Argentina.

Warsh and Druckenmiller Echo NBfPB

Long-time readers know that I have mentioned several times the current economy, the economy delivered to us by the Obamacrats, is great for owners and crappy for workers.
So as the world beyond our borders recovered, having indulged in less over the top business bashing, US manufacturers have been able to secure alot of business exporting our great products to the world, but have little incentive to hire (ObamaCare) and expand here at home (card-check, EPA, NLRB, etc). Ergo the profits but not too much hiring. So that's how we got an economy that stinks for "workers" but is OK for "owners". (I use quotations marks because these terms are the false dichotomies of our political discourse as if "workers" don't own and "owners" don't work.)
Well, today the WSJ has an op-ed by Stan Druckenmiller and Kevin Warsh, saying the same thing.
The aggregate wealth of U.S. households, including stocks and real-estate holdings, just hit a new high of $81.8 trillion. That's more than $26 trillion in wealth added since 2009. No wonder most on Wall Street applaud the Fed's unrelenting balance-sheet recovery strategy. It's great news for those households and businesses with large asset holdings, high risk tolerances and easy access to credit. 
Yet it provides little solace for families and small businesses that must rely on their income statements to pay the bills. About half of American households do not own any stocks and more than one-third don't own a residence. Never mind the retirees who are straining to make the most of their golden years on bond returns.
Warsh and Druckenmiller place the onus, it seems, squarely on the Fed's monetary policy, and undoubtedly that is a contributor, but I think they miss the significant role of fiscal and, especially, regulatory policy.  Also, not helping is the political rhetoric and the dubious legal assaults on business coming from this administration.

Apres Obama, Le Deluge

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Astorino for Governor

Obama at 41, Yellen at 35, Stocks at 1950

OK, that title is just a bunch of numbers.  Let me translate:  Obama Doing Crappy in the Polls and Janet Yellen Keeping Money Easy Means Stocks are Up.

Long-time readers know what I think happens to stocks when Obama takes it on the chin in the polls.  Plus, easy money means inflation, eventually.  And stocks are an inflation hedge, over the long run.

So, the combination of the two is yielding the obvious results.  Enjoy it for now.

Perfect Symbol of What "Liberals" Have Become

"Liberals" have become the closed-minded authoritarians that they once fought so hard to bring down.

Meet the book-burners that modern feminists have become.  Are witch trials next?  Oh wait...

or Oh wait...

Are You Ready?

ObamaCare IS Working...For Its REAL Purpose

When Democrats say that "ObamaCare is working" they are absolutely correct in that its main (mostly unspoken) function - wealth distribution - is being achieved.

It is not "working" in the sense that most Americans would think because they were lied to about the law's goals and mechanisms.  Those lies include lower healthcare costs and better healthcare outcomes.

But the wealth distribution piece is working well.  Multiple taxes are flowing in from health insurers, medical device manufacturers, wealthy people, etc.  And subsidies are flowing out...the LA Times reports.
Nearly 9 in 10 Americans who bought health coverage on the federal government’s healthcare marketplaces received government assistance to offset their premiums.
The government's healthcare exchanges are thus revealed to be (shocker) a virtual guarantee of a subsidy.  If you go through them, you're getting money.  It's an absolutely well-functioning wealth distribution machine.  Whether it does a damn thing for healthcare is not clear, and beside the point anyway.

Measuring My Edge Over the Conventional Wisdom

Chuck Todd is about as conventional wisdomy as you can get (OK, maybe not as CWy as, say, David Gergen...).  Todd muses that the Obama presidency is "over."

I have been saying it for years, writing those actual words ("Obama" and "over") in July of 2013, but more or less making the case for some time before that.

So, I'm good for beating the conventional wisdom by about 1.5 to 2 years.  What's my latest ahead of schedule call?  Inflation.

Oh, and war.

Obama's Betrayal, Our Shame

I refer you, dear reader, first to this post which highlighted Richard Fernandez's take on Obama's utterly disastrous approach to the world in the context of US security.

Now, I refer you to this Dick Cheney/Liz Cheney op-ed in the WSJ.  It is devastating.  If ever there was a time to RTWT, this is it.  One key bit
On a trip to the Middle East this spring, we heard a constant refrain in capitals from the Persian Gulf to Israel, "Can you please explain what your president is doing?" "Why is he walking away?" "Why is he so blithely sacrificing the hard fought gains you secured in Iraq?" "Why is he abandoning your friends?" "Why is he doing deals with your enemies?" 
In one Arab capital, a senior official pulled out a map of Syria and Iraq. Drawing an arc with his finger from Raqqa province in northern Syria to Anbar province in western Iraq, he said, "They will control this territory. Al Qaeda is building safe havens and training camps here. Don't the Americans care?" 
Our president doesn't seem to. Iraq is at risk of falling to a radical Islamic terror group and Mr. Obama is talking climate change. Terrorists take control of more territory and resources than ever before in history, and he goes golfing. He seems blithely unaware, or indifferent to the fact, that a resurgent al Qaeda presents a clear and present danger to the United States of America.
The tragedy unfolding in Iraq today is only part of the story. Al Qaeda and its affiliates are resurgent across the globe. According to a recent Rand study, between 2010 and 2013, there was a 58% increase in the number of Salafi-jihadist terror groups around the world. During that same period, the number of terrorists doubled.
In the face of this threat, Mr. Obama is busy ushering America's adversaries into positions of power in the Middle East. First it was the Russians in Syria. Now, in a move that defies credulity, he toys with the idea of ushering Iran into Iraq. Only a fool would believe American policy in Iraq should be ceded to Iran, the world's largest state sponsor of terror.
and finally,
Al Qaeda and its affiliates are resurgent and they present a security threat not seen since the Cold War. Defeating them will require a strategy—not a fantasy. It will require sustained difficult military, intelligence and diplomatic efforts—not empty misleading rhetoric. It will require rebuilding America's military capacity—reversing the Obama policies that have weakened our armed forces and reduced our ability to influence events around the world.
The killer jihadis are on the march and causing slaughter with knives and guns.  If not stopped they will cause more slaughter with tanks, missiles, and - God forbid - nuclear weapons.  Sooner or later this fight will have to be re-fought and our sons will have to do it.  And some will die doing it.  I pray not my son, but someone's son will, and that isn't much comfort to me.  Our sons dying in a battle to eliminate a threat that shouldn't have been.  That is the tragedy that we face and that is our shame - that is the shame we have earned based on what we did in November 2008 and 2012.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Michelle Obama Meets Fox Butterfield

If ever there was a perfect "Fox Butterfield, Is That You?"  moment, this could be it.  (If you don't get what I am talking about, go here.)
In an interview with First Lady Michelle Obama explained she used to struggle to feed her kids right—even though she received an education from Harvard and Princeton.

“Before coming to the White House, I struggled, as a working parent with a traveling, busy husband, to figure out how to feed my kids healthy, and I didn’t get it right,” she explained, sharing a story about her children’s doctor who pulled her aside to talk about her family diet. “I thought to myself, if a Princeton and Harvard-educated professional woman doesn’t know how to adequately feed her kids, then what are other parents going through who don’t have access to the information I have?” she recalled.
The FLOTUSworker very likely feels she is raising awareness but she is more likely creating animosity.  Let me humbly suggested that she doth protest too much.  Americans probably don't sympathize with her too much and likely are scratching their heads thinking Harvard/Princeton must not be so swell at educating if their graduates can't figure out basic shit that most of us can figure out.

But then again, perhaps that is precisely the point, that Harvard and Princeton churn out graduates so focused on tangential, impractical learning that they lack fundamental knowledge and are thus unable to function day to day as the rest of us do.  Thus the Butterfieldian logic to FLOTUSworker's lament.

Inflating Away...

Hey, did somebody say "inflation"?  Yeah, been saying for a while now.

Well, guess what?

A separate report said consumer prices recorded their largest increase in more than a year in May as costs for a range of goods and services rose, pointing to a steady firming of inflation pressures. 
The Labor Department reported its Consumer Price Index increased 0.4 percent last month, with food prices posting their biggest rise since August 2011. The uptick in price pressures should comfort some Federal Reserve officials who had worried that inflation was running too low. Still, the main inflation gauge watched by the Fed continues to run below the U.S. central bank's 2 percent target.

Clintons: Taxes for Thee, But Not for Me

Here we have a classic case of lefty hypocrisy, although hardly an innovative one - the Kennedy clan was/is famous for the use of trusts and other state-of-the-art estate planning techniques designed to protect their dynastic wealth from the taxman.  This kind of hypocrisy is so conventional among elitist lefties that it hardly registers on the outrage meter anymore.
Wealthy Clintons Use Trusts to Limit Estate Tax They Back
 Bill and Hillary Clinton have long supported an estate tax to prevent the U.S. from being dominated by inherited wealth. That doesn’t mean they want to pay it.
To reduce the tax pinch, the Clintons are using financial planning strategies befitting the top 1 percent of U.S. households in wealth. These moves, common among multimillionaires, will help shield some of their estate from the tax that now tops out at 40 percent of assets upon death.
In a better world, this would matter to people.  Nope, the Clintons will remain paragons of virtue, selflessness, and public-spiritedness in the eyes of the public for it must be so to maintain and accrue more political power for progressive elites.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Save The (London) Whales?

It is the singular brand of greed found only in capitalists that leads to their perfidious machinations, right?  Wrong.
Add Greenpeace International to the ranks of losers in the $5.3 trillion-a-day global foreign exchange market. 
The Amsterdam-based nonprofit organization said it lost 3.8 million euros ($5.2 million) last year after an employee bet that the euro wouldn’t strengthen against other currencies, Greenpeace said on its website. Greenpeace, which runs environmental campaigns in more than 40 countries, didn’t name the employee, who worked in its international finance unit and has been relieved of his position.
 Care to donate to Greenpeace now that you know they are fiddling in the global currency markets?

Friday, June 13, 2014

US GDP By State

Here is that great map of US states' GDP that gives you a sense of how awesomely awesome the US economy is.

I would note that Russia is not represented but the Russian economy is as big as California's.  And yet Putin is kicking the US's ass geo-politically.  Embarassing.

Day of Reckoning

Do not read this Richard Fernandez post if you want to have a happy Friday (and why should you, after all, this is the age of Obama and avoiding sobering news means it doesn't exist and life can go on happily).

Essentially Fernandez says that American sons (and daughters who can do 3 three pull-ups, oh wait, even if they can't) will have to die because Obama is a dickhead.

When you add in the Eastern European crisis and the growing expansion of China to the Middle Eastern collapse, it is not hard to see the obvious. Unless a miracle saves Obama, the nation will be facing a global and existential security crisis within a short time.  America will face a supercharged Islamic terrorism with thousands of recruits in the West available as a 5th Column, supplied with vast amounts of money and in potential possession of most of the world’s oil. For how long until Saudi Arabia’s Islamic children eat its parents? 
And then the real price of Obama’s campaign to stuff the voter rolls with “undocumented aliens” will soon have to be paid. Like a child throwing a tantrum, president Obama has deemed it clever to throw open the southern border, ascribing what any sane person would regard as territorial suicide to high-minded humanitarianism. It has somehow become cool to encourage the invasion of America and racist to even consider that might be bad idea.  But through that portal, what might come? Well, Bienvenido y Allah Akbar.
And that’s just part of his legacy. Obama has presided over the destruction of American influence in the Middle East, the hollowing out of the US economy, the perversion of American intelligence assets and the maltreatment of American veterans.
The accumulated weight of Obama’s errors are now too great to escape.  There is no soft landing.  It’s crunch time. America waits on its ill-defended beaches behind Obama’s Cash-for-Clunkers, Solar Panel, Carbon Trading Certificates and Obamacare sandbags, though it still has no Keystone XL pipeline.
  Pretty pessimistic, I'll concede, but it is hard to find those nuggets of evidence that argue for optimism.

What the Hell Is John Kerry Talking About?

While jihadis blaze a trail of barbarism from Mosul to Baghdad, leaving beheadings and refugee crises in its wake, and Russian tanks of unknown origin penetrate eastern Ukraine, our Secretary of State is in London talking about rape.  Now, no one is for rape and we'd all like to see it end, but is this really the most pressing subject matter of the day?  This is what should be pre-occupying our energies at this precise point in time?

It is as if this administration would not actually deal with the real problems of the world but would rather just yammer on about its time-tested campaign themes, constantly blowing the dog-whistle to its followers.

UPDATE:  OK, so truth be told, this development makes me happy.  The fact that John Kerry is on the sidelines, far away from anything important is a good thing.  But just means we have larger problems.

Was Mitt Romney Right About Everything? Again.

We've been here before.  He was right about Iraq it seems now too.

Say what you will about Romney as a candidate, but he was probably the best person to run for President in decades.  Instead, we opted to stay with the cheesy lying narcissist.  Enjoy it America.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

No 2nd Amendment In Iraq Means This...

A man is executed in a video released by ISIS

I doubt very much that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis want to 1) leave their homes, or 2) live under al Qaeda's "rules", or 3) be killed.

I suspect they would fight back if they could.  I suspect they'd fight, if they had guns.

This is what happens to a defenseless citizenry.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Argentina Makes Basic Economic Error...Again

The Kirchner regime in Ar-hen-teena isn't quite done wrecking the economy down there, they've still got more tricks up their sleeves.  The latest, interest rate caps.
Argentine banks fell in New York trading after the central bank capped consumer interest rates yesterday, potentially damping profits for lenders.  
Grupo Financiero Galicia SA’s American depositary receipts sank 7.2 percent to $13.97 at 1:55 p.m. in New York, the biggest decline since January, while Banco Macro SA retreated 5.2 percent and BBVA Banco Frances SA lost 5.1 percent. The benchmark Argentine Merval fell 0.2 percent.  
After calls from Argentina’s Economy Minister Axel Kicillof and Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich to end “usury” by lenders, the central bank led by Juan Carlos Fabrega decided to regulate rates on personal loans and credit cards. The government is trying to reactivate lending amid sluggish growth in South America’s second-largest economy
Wait.  You reactiveate lending by making lending less profitable?  Who knew?

This is an old gambit - price controls - and we know how it will end, in shortages.  Given that we are talking about shortages of consumer credit, this is about the most contractionary thing Kirchner & Co. could do.  Don't these people know anything?  Sadly, more economic pain is on the horizon.  No sympathy though, Argentinians seem to like this sort of thing, they keep voting these losers in after all.

Cantor's Loss Actually Puts the GOP In a Great Position to Immigration Reform Right

I tried to look inside the game-planning on the GOP's strategy a few months back.

It now looks like whatever strategy they were going to pursue is moot, the GOP voters of Virginia's 7th congressional district have set the strategy for them.  Immigration reform along the lines of what the Dems want seems to be dead for now, taking the pressure off the GOP to do something and strike a bad deal with the Dems.

If the GOP can hold the House and take the Senate, they can craft a reform proposal much more to their liking.  Of course, when they do that, the Lightworker will oppose it (maybe not vocally, but he will oppose it).  If they are smart the GOP can then go into the 2016 elections saying that they have a sensible proposal that Obama is thwarting.  This is the best of all possible scenarios, and the GOP couldn't have come up with this strategy on its best day.  Remarkably, the good sense of the voters in Virginia 7 have made this strategy a reality.

UPDATE:  Steven Hayward doesn't think optimism is the order of the day.

Just a Reminder...

al Qaeda is, like, so on the run

Harvard's Uninspired Hire to Run Its Money, Leaves After...Uninspiring Performance

At the time, six years ago, I said that Harvard made a lackluster hire, perhaps even a diversity-inspired hire to run its endowment.  After a lackluster number of years, Jane Mendillo is out.  She's candid about the reality, even after six years she's blaming it on her predecessor (sound familiar?).
"When I first got here, I would say the portfolio was not well-positioned for the financial crisis," Ms. Mendillo said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. "The first couple of years here, we were not able to put money to work in the way we would have liked."
For the institution, this bad hire's consequences can be measured in actual dollars.
Harvard has placed an unnecessary burden on future stakeholders as the shortfall in resources will demand higher tuition or more donations to meet the university's resource requirements. For what? In the name of the false gods of Diversity and/or Income Equality. Time will tell, but the amount laid at the feet of these gods in sacrifice could amount to billions of dollars.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cantor Loses


1) Virginia GOP voters are anti-Semites, and

2) The TEA Party is dead

UPDATE:  The NYTimes actually goes with the anti-Semite theme.  I guess if victimology is all you know, that's how you see everything.

UPPDATE:  I caught Brat on Hannity last night (btw, haven't watched Hannity in ages, but the show has been given new life under the auspices of a new producer at Fox) and was so impressed that I got out of bed, went downstairs in my pajamas to the computer and gave his campaign $500.  Unfortunately that now means he is beholden to Wall Street interests!!

UPPPDATE:  And check out the guy's CV here.  Not that I am as enamored of academic credentials as the average bloke, but, still, this is impressive.  Although, there is a serious deficiency in his bio, no community organizing experience.  Whatever will we do without organized communities?  Oh wait, we've got that already...

We Gave Iraqi Jihadis These Humvees

This is a direct consequence of the Lightworker taking a powder on negotiating a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq.  Everybody knew the Iraqi army couldn't (or wouldn't) fight the jihadis, so the jihadis were going to win and take possession of some nice hardware.

Same will happen in Afghanistan.  When Obama pulls us out in 2016 (before the election), the Taliban will waltz right in and take possession of all the junk we've given the Afghan army.  The Taliban must be licking their lips.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Is Obama Weak or a "Tyrant"? Yes.

Some lib thinks she's caught us dolts in a contradiction.

What has been distinct about Obama’s situation is that his critics have simultaneously accused him of being both weak and excessively strong, with words like “tyrant” and “dictator” popping up regularly.
Does this make any sense? How can Obama be both a dictator and a weakling?
This is hard question?

Let's handle this one simply for the slow-minded.  Domestically, yes, tyrant.  OK, not really tyrant, but lawless, overreaching executive.  So tyrant lite.  Yes.

Foreign policy-wise?  Total weakling.  Weakest of the weak.  Purposefully so, no doubt, but that doesn't change the reality.  Weak is weak.

There you have it.  Easy enough?  Lawless at home, total pussy abroad.

He can be both, just like he can be evil and stupid

The Global Warmer of My Dreams

The combination of its sheer beauty and Dan Neil's journo-snottiness makes me want to go out and buy this thing

Feast your eyes on this loveliness and then take in the obstreperously moralistic tone that can be achieved today only by an exquisitely proper journalist...
One of the few vehicles on the market that can still reliably return single-digit fuel economy during a night on the town, the LWB's efficiency is—and I mean this in the nicest way possible—negligent (EPA-rated 14/19/16 mpg, city/highway/combined).
And that is only one of the ways the LWB is a paragon of moral decay. It is obscenely fast—0-60 in 5.5 seconds—wretchedly comfortable, and belligerently large.
The LWB is how you roll when you just don't care. Really. Don't care.
I want one.  But somehow I fear the ghost of my 1st Gen Irish-American father awaking from his blissful heavenly repose in the afterlife to actively haunt me for even thinking of spending $122,000 on an automobile.  Trust me, I want to roll like I just don't care, rolling over preening pricks of Neil's ilk, but I can't.  Rest in peace, Dad.

Lefties Begrudgingly Admit What Has Been Obvious for Years

W.R. Mead is out with an "Incredible Shrinking President" type admission that Lightworker isn't what the world thought he was.


But those of us  could see clearly, saw this years ago, or least saw where we were heading years ago.

The Clintons Are Back to Feel Your Pain

Hillary is inexplicably trying to prepare the battlespace by bamboozling Americans into thinking she knows that feeling of poverty and insecurity that we all feel.  Yes, moving out of the White House, they were HOMELESS!!  Heavens to Betsy, the HORROR.

There are about one billion reason this is pure bullshit.  The Clintons' debt was always going to be expunged by the Democratic money machine.  Each of them had standing offer to write authorize ghost-written tell-all books worth millions of dollars.  Influence Peddling Inc. The Clinton Foundation was already setup and fully operational the day Bubba left office.

Almost reminds me of when John Edwards tried to learn about poverty by joining a hedge fund. But she feels your pain America.

The Left Finally Has the Right-Wing Gun Nuts They've Been Dreaming Of

Congratulations to the MSM and the anti-Tea Party and anti-2nd Amendment crowd.

After trying for years to paint any and all shootings as right-wing nutjobbery in contravention of the facts - from Loughner to Holmes toLanza to Rodger, etc., all of whom were mentally disturbed leftists - and all Tea Partiers as trigger-happy loons, they finally have their right-wing gun nuts that they've been pining for all these years.

It looks like Mr. & Mrs. Jarad Miller of Las Vegas are indeed, bona fide right wing, Tea Partyin' gun nuts.

Yup.  With 250 million guns floating around America and Tea Partyism rampant in the land (or is it dead?  I can't get it straight) for over five years, lefties now have two people and one incident with which to bolster their claim that anti-government extremism is on the march and coming to a scene of mass slaughter near you.

Smart Power!

In my view this is just plain smart.

However, in the interests of bashing the Lightworker, I will use this to mock the idiotic notion of "smart power" emanating from his administration.
Tony Abbott is seeking a conservative alliance among "like-minded" countries, aiming to dismantle global moves to introduce carbon pricing, and undermine a push by US President Barack Obama to push the case for action through forums such as the G20. 
Visiting Ottawa for a full day of talks with the conservative Canadian Prime Minister and close friend Stephen Harper, Mr Abbott flagged intentions to build a new centre-right alliance led by Canada, Britain and Australia along with India and New Zealand.
Australia, Canada, Britain?  Hmm...just our three most important Anglophone allies (arguably our three most important allies, period).  Teaming up to directly oppose a key policy of the POTUS.

Smart power, indeed.


I like this take.  Male privilege indeed.

And here's the shocking spectacle of men taking high-paying jobs from equally deserving women.

UPDATE:  The guy is on a roll today...

Obama's Relationship With Military Was Already in the Crapper Pre-Bergdahl

Hey guess what?  In the wake of the Bergdahl fiasco, pundits are commenting that maybe Obama has pissed the military off irreparably this time.

Readers of NBfPB know that Lightworker did that long ago.  Now, he's just poking them in the eyes for shits and giggles.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Yes, Mme. Lagarde, We Would Like You To Grovel

I said that the ever so mild fiscal conservatism of the Cameron government in the UK would a) not result in a slowing economy, b) wasn't really "austerity" and c) would be used mercilessly by the media to lambaste putative austerity and the Cameron government.

Of course, leading the charge of anti-"austerity" and anti-Cameron catcalls was not other than the IMF, the grand poobahs on Euro-Keynesian nonsense.  Alas they got it entirely wrong and now Christine Lagarde has to answer for it publicly.  Her answer is interesting.
Christine Lagarde has asked whether she needs to grovel on her knees before George Osborne over the IMF’s incorrect warnings on the UK economy, as she warned against raising taxes.
“Do I have to go on my knees?” Ms Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund said, when asked whether she has apologised to George Osborne over the fund’s low growth forecasts and calls to adopt a ‘Plan B’ of less austerity – calls the body now accept it got wrong.

Well, yes actually, it would be nice if you did get on your knees and beg for forgiveness, but we'll spare  Madame Lagarde the embarrassing ritual if we could disband the IMF.  Otherwise, yes, get down on bended knee and repudiate your statist, Keynesian nonsense once and for all.

Friday, June 06, 2014

5 Reasons Stocks Are Rocking

CNBC has one of those typical, easy-on-the-brain cells explanation stories on why the stock market is rocking.  Of course, I love giving you the obliquely mocking raw version of these type stories, and I can't resist this one.  So here goes...

NBfPB's 5 Reasons Why the Stock Market Is Shining Bright

1)  Obama is Over - Done.  Caput.  Fork Protruding Out of Him.

2)  Inflation is Coming - Stocks are an inflation hedge

3)  Housing Faces Head Winds - Lower mortgage rates has made real estate a tad rich and the prospect of higher rates has buyers skittish.

4)  There actually is a glimmer of hope for the economy - See 1.

5)  The Bond Bubble is Getting Ridiculous

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Speaking Of Thoroughly Predictable...

And speaking of "who could have seen that coming?"... there is this:

College Graduates Struggle to Find Employment Worth a Degree

Yeah, who could have seen that coming?

Stocks Hitting Highs As Obama Flounders...Again

With Obama piling up an ever-more impressive record of incompetence and destructiveness and the stock market racing ahead, it is worth pointing out that I have always maintained that these phenomena are connected...

See here, here, here, here, here and here. Oh, and here and here (for the legendary Donny Baseball early early call).

I don't have time to update the graph, but suffice it to say that if I did, it would look exactly the same, only more so.

Who Could Have Seen This Coming?

Over at Instapundit there is this...

Related: Walter Russell Mead: Obama’s Failing Foreign Policy, Groping For A Reset. “You don’t demonstrate your mastery of world events by making smart speeches about how intelligent your foreign policy is; you demonstrate your mastery of world events by having things go your way.” Well, that goes beyond the core competency. Plus, from the comments: “Some of us saw this coming a mile away. But we’re racists and bitter clingers.”

Saw this coming?  You mean like this...
 American Weakness Begets Chaos
Thailand is in flames. North Korea is sinking South Korean naval vessels. Iran is hurtling fast toward nuclear capability (and is on the brink of a confrontation with Israel). Piracy is rampant in a major world shipping lane. Mexico is in a civil war with drug cartels on our border. Russia is flat out usurping power in Kyrgyzstan. Pakistani army officers are supporting terrorism operations on American soil. Al Qaeda is resurgent in Iraq. The Taliban are hitting the heart of the US's base of operations Afghanistan after years of our presence there.
Historians of a certain ilk understand and have made the case that American weakness begets chaos around the world. A strong America, girded with allies, focusing on commerce around the world dampens the desire for bad actors to violently usurp power and encourages peoples to support governments that allow for participation in global commercial activity. Nations and peoples follow and emulate a strong and prosperous America. Yet today, America has trashed two cherished, geo-politically important relationships - with Great Britain and with Israel. We are mute on North Korea and Chavez and solicitous of Ahmadinejad, Assad and Putin. Our President is spending precious political capital trashing our own states (and by extension, our federalist structure) while spouting mushy inanities like "We are not defined by our borders." On the economic front, we are sliding into protectionism, systematically dismantling dynamic free market entrepreneurial capitalism in favor of a statist/crony capitalist hybrid.
Elite pundits say America is on the decline and they are likely right, but we are not in an irreparable decline. We are in a decline of choice. We have chosen (or more accurately, been asleep and let certain factions of us choose) declinist policies. We have chosen weakness and opted for appeasement of usurpers and thugs. We have consciously built barriers to economic propserity. None of this was inevitable and a reversal is indeed possible, but we have to see things clearly for what they are and make the choices to reject weakness and stagnation. Britain failed to do it earlier this month. What will we do this November and in 2012? Will we emulate Britain and choose to muddle along? Our own fate hangs in the balance, but so does much much more. Chaos is on the march around the world. Eventually it will land here or force our invlovement in which we pay a heavy price. Which way will we go?

Income Inequality Comes From Smart, Ambitious People Marrying Each Other

Mark Perry has a very important post up if you are interested in the debate over income inequality.  It is a must read.  It illuminates a key piece of evidence that underpins what ought to be society's conclusion on the issue (and has been my conclusion for some time) - that income inequality is not a problem, it should be ignored.

Basically, what has gone on over the past several decades is the rise of the two-earner family, and most notably the rise of the high-earning two earner family.  The economy has opened up to women sufficiently so that women who choose to work, can.  Over time women have made such strides educationally and thus in the workforce, that they can occupy high-paying jobs is large numbers.  These women form households with highly educated, high-earning men and voila, we've got the phenomenon of the "power couple" goosing income inequality at the household level.  Income inequality is purely a phenomena of social organization, not of an economic system.  And that is something the government cannot fix.

Not that we need this explanation to insist the government stay out of this business, it should stay out of our business as a matter of principle. Our government was not intended and should not be used to distribute or redistribute economic resources according to its own criteria.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Laugh. Cry. Whatever

On the front page of today's WSJ print edition, these two items are literally adjacent to each other in the What's News section.

Jihadist Groups' Threat To U.S. Grows, Report SaysA8
The threat to the U.S. from global jihadist groups has escalated in the past three years, with the number of groups increasing by more than 50% and the estimated number of militants doubling, according to a report to be released on Thursday.
 Justice Department Relaunches Domestic Terror Task ForceA3
Attorney General Eric Holder said he would reconstitute a long-defunct task force on domestic terrorism to try to expand efforts to stop violent attacks inside the U.S.
Yup.  The Islamic terrorist threat is regaining strength and the Obama administration is stepping up the hunt for American white guys who don't like the government.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Obama Bulls-Eyes WRM's "Sour Spot"

Walter Russell Mead  has numerous times highlighted Obama's ability to hit what he terms the "sour spot", an attempt to negotiate a trade-off that results in achieving neither aim and/or pleasing no one.  Lightworker has certainly achieved the Sour Spot here.  He is unlikely to get his goal of cooperation from the Taliban, he has bolstered the view that he is soft on terrorism (that's on a good day, some would say he is indifferent, even supportive), he stands side-by-side with the Bergdahls, who many Americans will see as creepy and/or weird hippies, and he's further angered the military by taking such bold steps in support of a deserter.

This is one of Dear Leader's more amazingly unfathomably boneheaded moves.  But hard-core lefties think much differently than most Americans.  I'm sure to the Obama crowd this all makes perfect sense.

Susan Rice Lies for Her Boss Again

The Army, of course, knew that Bergdahl was a deserter, which by definition is not serving with "honor and distinction" in the words of Susan Rice, who has now gone before the nation twice to lie in the service of shielding her boss from criticism over either incompetence or poor judgement.

I guess you have to admire that type of loyalty, that would lead one to tell a provable lie to millions of people to serve merely the ends of power, draining every last ounce of personal credibility from oneself in order to retain vanishing influence and esteem.  Or not.

Wait, it just dawned on me.  To a depraved lefty like Rice, deserting IS serving with honor and distinction. You've got to remind your self how these people think.

Cultural Relativism Tolerates Barbarity

I'm sure there is a more daft, morally bankrupt analysis of the rape epidemic in India than this take, but right now I can't think of it.
Toilet Shortage in India Fuels Rape as Women Are Easy Prey; Walking to the Wheat Fields
Yes, I get it.  If modern plumbing were more pervasive in India, girls wouldn't have to poop in fields.  But what in tar-nation would lead a Western writer to conclude that this lack of plumbing fuels the underlying depravity of rape?  I'm a big fan of plumbing and I think everybody should have it, but this assessment is indicative of moral retardation.  The depravity behind these rapes pre-exists and is independent of modern conveniences like plumbing.  The lack of indoor plumbing only creates a better opportunity for the depravity to manifest itself in a committed crime.
“When women go to the fields they are easy prey for men,” said Shaibal Gupta, an economist at the Asian Development Research Institute in Patna in the eastern state of Bihar. “I struggle to describe it. It’s one of the most dastardly acts imaginable.”
This is logic in the complete absence of morality.  I could just as easily say that the lack of armed guards escorting little girls out into the fields to poop is fueling the rape epidemic.  The root of the problem is that women are seen as prey for assault in the first place, not that open-air defecation creates an opportunity for depraved men.  Lefties are always harping on root causes except, of course, if the root cause is a lack of morality, especially western Judeo-Christian morality - that would be judgmental and disrespectful of their culture.  OK then, don't be disrespectful or judgmental and watch more little girls get raped and murdered.
The whole gross affair (and the weenie lefty view of it) puts me in mind of British General Charles Napier...
A story for which Napier is famous involves a delegation of Hindu locals approaching him and complaining about prohibition of Sati, often referred to at the time as suttee, by British authorities. This was the custom of burning widows alive on the funeral pyres of their husbands. The exact wording of his response varies somewhat in different reports, but the following version captures its essence: “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”[2]

Monday, June 02, 2014

The Shocking Science of Income Inequality

I've mentioned the sheer stupidity of the Gini Coefficient before. The Gini Coefficient is the pseudo-scientific metric that lefties use to add a veneer of authority to their income inequality rants.  Well, Mark Perry has some shocking Gini Coefficient coverage over at his blog.  Click through only if you have a strong stomach, and certainly don't view this in front of children.

NYT In Irrelevant, Cheeky, Untruthful AGW Propaganda

Of course, just in time to feed the narrative of Lightworker's latest policy push the New York Crimes is out with some data that tells us that 1) Americans totally believe in global warming climate change, 2) they totally want the government to do something about it, and 3) Republicans think like people in Pakistan.

Of course, these conclusions are much different from the conclusions that you would draw if you looked at data from a standard-bearer pollster like, say, Gallup.  Gallup data indicates that only about 40% of Americans think it is a serious issue and even less think the government should do anything about it. Ditto for Bloomberg's Global Investor Poll (not limited to Americans, but presumably fairly smart and informed people).

And that graph in the Crimes piece is too cute...I get it, Republicans are right there with Egyptians and Pakistanis.  Haha.  Whatever.  A Democrat won a senatorial election four years ago by shooting the Cap and Trade bill with a rifle.  And look at those Brazilians, they are even more fervent than Democrats, but what are the Brazilians doing?  Spending $150 billion these next few years on...wait for it, OIL EXPLORATION.  This is after borrowing tens of billions from the Chinese to develop their oil deposits in the past ten years.  So who bloody cares what these right-and-proper thinking Brazilians say in a poll?

Global warming is dead, dead, dead.  Even if it is happening for whatever reason, no policy movement to combat it is going anywhere.

I Have a Very Basic Question

So, I've read three or four major media articles about the Lightworker's desperate legacy groping, cynical fundraising scam new climate policy initiative (like this one) and, curiously, nowhere in any of the reportage is there mention of the underlying law which gives the EPA authority to promulgate this new, sweeping rule.  I thought regulators could only regulate under the authority of a specific piece of legislation.  Absent a change in law, I don't see how the EPA can pursue a major escalation of regulation.  Am I missing something here?

Now, I know that the law doesn't matter to this crowd, but seriously, this is major stuff.  When we are talking a potential $50 billion hit to the economy, shouldn't we pay attention to this stuff?

Lefty Logical Contradiction of the Day: Minimum Wage Laws Worsen Sprawl

At the sociological level, all good lefties loathe (and I mean LOATHE), "sprawl".  Sprawl is the extension of mainstream life - commerce, housing, political power - away from urban cores.

And yet, pet policy priorities of the left promote sprawl in direct contravention of their desire to rein it in and/or to reverse it.

Today's example comes from the Seattle area where the small municipality of SecTac has enacted a massive, abrupt minimum wage hike.  Of course, lefties thought they could avoid the laws of economics this time for some inexplicable reason.  Alas, it is not to be, but here is the relevant tidbit for our purposes today...
After decades in Seattle, Northwest Caster and Equipment recently made the difficult decision to move to unincorporated Lynnwood, according to a report by KOMO news.  The owner of the family business blames Seattle’s increasingly difficult business climate for the move:  “It just seems like increasingly the city’s become a more difficult place to do business.”
Lynnwood?  That would be in the opposite direction from the Seattle core.  Activity, people and power get pushed out to the hinterlands one dumb law or regulation at a time.  But they add up.  And lefties wonder why their beloved urban cores are dying or losing out to the burbs.

Crime in DeBlasio's NYC

I warned of the potential for a return to the bad old days of mayhem brought about by soft-on-crime lefties like the one that NYCers just elected.  This NY Post report has the story of 13 shot in 9 hours.  Is the lawlessness coming back?
At least 13 people were shot in nine bloody hours in the city over the weekend — including two teens participating in a memorial walk for a friend killed by a stray bullet, police said.
Too early to tell, but the news is not encouraging.