Dec 14, 2016

New York Times Slams "Liberal Bubble" Safe Spaces Across America's College Campuses

I haven't published a lot over the past couple of years, but my post-election note on Millennials seemed to strike a chord with people and was picked up by a couple of newspapers and many websites.  Following up on that note's theme, I ran into this op-ed in the NY Times, written by Nicholas Kristof, a Pulitzer Price winning author and self-anointed liberal.  I found it quite instructive as to liberal viewpoints and also refreshingly introspective-something we don't see from the liberal media or advocacy groups.  

I hope you enjoy it. 

After Donald Trump’s election, some universities echoed with primal howls. Faculty members canceled classes for weeping, terrified students who asked: How could this possibly be happening?
I share apprehensions about President-elect Trump, but I also fear the reaction was evidence of how insular universities have become. When students inhabit liberal bubbles, they’re not learning much about their own country. To be fully educated, students should encounter not only Plato, but also Republicans.
We liberals are adept at pointing out the hypocrisies of Trump, but we should also address our own hypocrisy in terrain we govern, such as most universities: Too often, we embrace diversity of all kinds except for ideological. Repeated studies have found that about 10 percent of professors in the social sciences or the humanities are Republicans.
We champion tolerance, except for conservatives and evangelical Christians. We want to be inclusive of people who don’t look like us — so long as they think like us.
I fear that liberal outrage at Trump’s presidency will exacerbate the problem of liberal echo chambers, by creating a more hostile environment for conservatives and evangelicals. Already, the lack of ideological diversity on campuses is a disservice to the students and to liberalism itself, with liberalism collapsing on some campuses into self-parody.
At Oberlin College soon after the election, students erupted in protests after a local bakery was accused of racial profiling of a black student in a shoplifting case. The student senate endorsed a boycott of the bakery, and demonstrators carried signs calling the owner a racist.
But allegations of a pattern of racist behavior were undermined by police records showing the overwhelming share of people detained for shoplifting at the bakery were white. This may actually have been a case of liberal hysteria.
Some of you are saying that it’s O.K. to be intolerant of intolerance, to discriminate against bigots who acquiesce in Trump’s record of racism and misogyny. By all means, stand up to the bigots. But do we really want to caricature half of Americans, some of whom voted for President Obama twice, as racist bigots? Maybe if we knew more Trump voters we’d be less inclined to stereotype them.
Whatever our politics, inhabiting a bubble makes us more shrill. Cass Sunstein, a Harvard professor, conducted a fascinating study of how groupthink shapes federal judges when they are randomly assigned to three-judge panels.
When liberal judges happened to be temporarily put on a panel with other liberals, they usually swung leftward. Conversely, conservative judges usually moved rightward when randomly grouped with other conservatives.
It’s the judicial equivalent of a mob mentality. And if this happens to judges, imagine what happens to you and me.
Sunstein, a liberal and a Democrat who worked in the Obama administration, concluded that the best judicial decisions arose from divided panels, where judges had to confront counterarguments.
Yet universities are often the equivalent of three-judge liberal panels, and the traditional Democratic dominance has greatly increasedsince the mid-1990s — apparently because of a combination of discrimination and self-selection. Half of academics in some fields said in a survey that they would discriminate in hiring decisions against an evangelical.
The weakest argument against intellectual diversity is that conservatives or evangelicals have nothing to add to the conversation. “The idea that conservative ideas are dumb is so preposterous that you have to live in an echo chamber to think of it,” Sunstein told me.
Of course, we shouldn’t empower racists and misogynists on campuses. But whatever some liberals think, “conservative” and “bigot” are not synonyms.
One of America’s most eminent scientists is Francis Collins, an evangelical Christian who is director of the National Institutes of Health. Few scholars had as much impact on modern thought as Gary Becker, the conservative University of Chicago economist. Condoleezza Rice, a secretary of state for George W. Bush, would add value to any campus.
I’m not arguing for affirmative action for conservatives — partly because conservative academics say they don’t want preferences. But I do think we can try harder to recruit job applicants who represent diverse views, to bring conservative speakers to campuses and to avoid a hostile work environment for conservatives and evangelicals.
We’re seeing an uptick in hate crimes in society tied to Trump’s rise, and the last thing we need on campuses is reciprocal illiberalism, this time led by liberals.
As individuals, we can also follow smart people on social media whom we disagree with. In my latest email newsletter, I suggest some conservatives to follow.
I fear the damage a Trump administration will do, from health care to foreign policy. But this election also underscores that we were out of touch with much of America, and we will fight back more effectively if we are less isolated.
When universities are echo chambers, they become conservative punch lines, and liberal hand-wringing may be one reason Trump’s popularity has jumped since his election.
It’s ineffably sad that today “that’s academic” often means “that’s irrelevant.” One step to correcting that is for us liberals to embrace the diversity we supposedly champion.

Nov 10, 2016

Millennials to America "Where's My Participation Trophy?"

Today's note isn't really about the election outcome except to say that I have been unhappy with our Presidents for a generation, so for those who aren't happy with this one, get over it.  This too shall pass.  

Personally I'm cautiously optimistic that a non-affiliated moderate President sympathetic to business needs combined with a Republican House and Senate could end the eight year dismantling of the business friendly country we live in and begin the rejuvenation of the middle class.

Now, for today's topic.  I was involved in a group chat yesterday with my nephew and son, discussing the election.  They are both millennial college students, one at Oregon and one at St. John's, neither bastions of conservatism.  They were both very pro-Trump, obviously making them outliers on their respective campuses.  Both are athletes at their school, which will be relevant to this story.  

They were both relaying the despair that was spreading across their campuses as students were crying and agonizing over the election results.  I was in shock hearing what they had to say about their classmates' reaction.  I will save the story about my nephew being kicked out of an anti-Trump rally for another day.

As I read news reports on the election, my attention became gripped on the reactions across college campuses. I wasn't so much interested in the protests, but instead the response of administrators and professors.  These headlines almost made milk come out of my nose:
Colleges Try to Comfort Students Upset by Trump Victory
Despair over Clinton's Loss Prompts "Cry-in" at Cornell
 Play-doh for the Distraught
 University of Illinois Sets up Safe Spaces for Precious Snowflakes
 Trumpophobia Melts Snowflakes
 Then I read about a Yale professor cancelling a mid-term because of students being distraught.  Students at the University of Michigan playing with Play-Doh and coloring in coloring books in an effort to self-sooth. The President of that same university saying it will take "quite some time to completely absorb the results".  St. John's having a town hall to discuss peoples "feelings" about the election.  I even heard unconfirmed rumors of schools shutting down for the day.  


I think this ludicrous reaction is a direct result of participation trophies in youth sports and the associated logic that goes along with them.  These delicate snowflakes don't understand winning and losing.  Competition is about competing, winning, losing and then learning the lessons from both results.  People who have never lost cry when they lose because it isn't about the competitive process, it's because they didn't get their guaranteed results.  Try and you'll get a reward, even if you fail.  I'll guarantee when you travel back to these kids' homes you see bedrooms full of 11th place ribbons and a ton of "participation" trophies and certificates.  

We raised our children with a different mentality.  My kids took pride in throwing their participation awards in the trash.  Their bookshelves are packed with trophies, their walls covered with awards, NONE for participation.  All for winning or earning an honor.  Succeed and you get a reward, fail and you learn a lesson. 

One of my proudest moments as a parent was when my son's high school football coach said at his senior banquet "in 25 years of coaching I've never had an athlete more competitive, one more driven to win."  His freshman coach said "he's so driven to succeed he makes everyone else around him better."  

Why did he turn out like that?  Partially genetics, but also a mentality we instilled in our kids that when you fall down you don't cry, you "rub some dirt on it and get back in there."  I've seen my kids not leave the field with broken bones and dislocated joints because they want to compete so badly.  

Today's millennials are under the misunderstanding that equal opportunity means equal outcome.  That's not the case nor how life works in America.  Everyone should have an equal shot but competition dictates that someone wins and someone loses.  The Olympic podium doesn't have 36 spots for participants, it has one at the top.  You shouldn't enjoy losing or failure, but crying about it because you didn't get your participation trophy isn't how life, or elections, work.  

If you're unhappy with the election results, then do something about it.  Make an effort to find a candidate whose views represent yours, yet also a majority of Americans.  Get involved in the process.  You're young and will experience roughly twenty more Presidential elections before you depart this planet.  You won't win them all.  Deal with it.  

When you eventually graduate with your overpriced diploma and your hyper-sensitivities, go compete somewhere, learn how to get your ass kicked and then learn how to fix your inadequacies that led to the loss so you can win the next time out.  You will be more successful in life and a much better employee.  Why do you want to be a better employee?  So people like me, who expect you to show up the day after the election whether your candidate won or lost, don't fire you two days after the election because you needed a PTO (personal time off for the people of my generation who don't know what it means).  

Rub some dirt on it and get back in there.  
"Elections have consequences, and at the end of the day, I won."-Barack Obama, 2009"

Oct 19, 2016

Voter Fraud-Part of the Clinton Strategy

Over the years I have lamented that it's shocking we can't ask for a single piece of identification at the voting booth.  For some reason liberals want you to show IDs to buy tobacco, open a checking account, or any number of activities, yet they feel that anyone should be able to exercise their right to vote or have an abortion without a single shred of evidence that the person is who they say they are.  I've never smoked, but in California you now have to be 21 years old to buy tobacco products, yet apparently a young girl can seek an abortion at any age, without parental notification or consent?  Our soldiers stationed here can't even buy chewing tobacco if they are under 21, but a 14 year old girl is free to have a dangerous medical procedure without her parents knowledge.

Now this-a post from Zero Hedge, demonstrates more smoke around the Clinton campaign and the
Obama White House related to voter fraud.  This whole thing stinks, kind of like the poop that the Clinton Bus dumped all over the streets of Georgia yesterday.


Why Did Vote-Rigging Robert Creamer Visit The White House Over 200 Times During The Obama Admin

by Tyler Durden
Earlier today we wrote about a new Project Veritas undercover video that uncovered several democratic operatives openly discussing, in explicit detail, how to commit massive voter fraud.  One of the operatives was a person by the name of Robert Creamer who is a co-founder of a democratic consulting firm called Democracy Partners.  Within the video, an undercover journalist details a plan to register Hispanic voters illegally by having them work as contractors, to which Creamer can be heard offering support saying that “there are a couple of organizations that that’s their big trick" (see: "Rigging Elections For 50 Years" - Massive Voter Fraud Exposed By Project Veritas Part 2").
Unfortunately, the embarrassing video caused Creamer to subsequently resign from consulting the Hillary campaign as he issued a statement saying that he was "stepping back from my responsibilities working the [Hillary] campaign" over fears that his continued assistance would be a distraction for the campaign. 
But voter fraud isn't Creamer's only criminal specialty.  A quick look at Wikipedia reveals that Creamer spent 5 months in federal prison back in 2006 for a "$2.3 million bank fraud in relation to his operation of public interest groups in the 1990s."
So, with that kind of history, you can imagine our surprise when we discovered that a Mr. Robert Creamer showed up on the White House visitor logs 340 times beginning in 2009 when Obama took office and culminating with his latest visit in June 2016.  Moreover, in 45 of those instances, Creamer was scheduled to meet with POTUS himself.  Perhaps this is just two old Chicago "community organizers" hanging out?
<a href="" _mce_href="" title="Robert Creamer" target="_blank">Robert Creamer</a>
According to his website bio, Creamer has been a "political organizer and strategist for over four decades" and has been very involved with the Obama administration over the years.  He even "provided strategic advice" to Obama on the "Iran nuclear deal."  Ironically, Creamer "began his organizing career in 1970 working with Chicago’s Citizen Action Program (CAP), which had been organized by Saul Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation."
Robert Creamer has been a political organizer and strategist for over four decades.

During that time he has worked with many of the country's most significant issue campaigns. He was one of the major architects and organizers of the successful 2005 campaign to defeat the privatization of Social Security. He has been a consultant to the campaigns to end the war in Iraq, pass universal health care, hold Wall Street accountable, pass progressive budget priorities, and enact comprehensive immigration reform.

He is General Consultant to Americans United for Change where he helped coordinate the campaigns to pass President Obama’s landmark jobs and economic recovery legislation.

Creamer has provided strategic advice for a wide array of progressive causes ranging from the movement to stop gun violence,defending the Obama Administration’s Iran nuclear deal, raise the minimum wage and guarantee the right of collective bargaining.

During the 2008 and 2012 Presidential Elections he worked with the Democratic National Committee as a consultant to the Obama Presidential Campaign coordinating field based rapid response to Republican Presidential candidates.

During his career, Creamer has worked on hundreds of electoral campaigns at the local, state and national level.

Creamer began his organizing career in 1970 working with Chicago’s Citizen Action Program (CAP), which had been organized bySaul Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation. CAP successfully campaigned to reduce the sulfur dioxide in Chicago’s air by almost two thirds.

In 1974 he founded the Illinois Public Action Council – later known as Illinois Citizen Action – which became the state’s largest consumer advocacy organization and progressive political coalition. He directed the organization for 23 years.

Creamer has been a full time political consultant since 1997 when he co-founded the Strategic Consulting Group, now a component part of Democracy Partners.

He graduated from Duke University and did graduate work at the University of Chicago.

He is a board member of the Midwest Academy organizer training institute and the Sentencing Project which is seeking to end mass incarceration and reform the nation’s sentencing laws.

Creamer is an author and regular contributor to the Huffington Post. He is married to Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky from Illinois. His recent book is titled, Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win.
Finally, Creamer's wife is none other that Jan Schakowsky, a U.S. Representative for Illinois's 9th congressional district which she has served since 1999.

Just another plume of smoke?

Oct 4, 2016

Bill Spills the Beans on Obamacare

After Minnesota announced a 67% premium increase for Obamacare subscribers, and most people with private insurance have been experiencing Obamacare related increases since 2010, Bill Clinton finally showed that periodically a Clinton can tell the truth.

Sep 22, 2016

CIA: "Under Obama We Have Lost All Credibility with the World"

I had the pleasure this week of listening to a small group presentation by a Former Acting Director and Deputy Director of the CIA.  For obvious reasons I need to keep his/her name out of this post, however, some of his comments were enlightening.

Regarding President Obama's refusal to back his promise to act if Syria crossed his self-imposed "red-line" of using chemical weapons, this former intelligence officer said he/she received 40-50 calls from former peers in other countries with a consistent question of "what did you just do?"  Although our National Security team recommended taking action, President Obozo refused and critically damaged our standing around the world.

He/she took the conversation a step further by saying Obama's refusal to lead, or even participate, in protecting our global interests contributed to us losing "all of our credibility with our allies."

The bottom line is that under this President terrorism both around the globe and in the US has soared; our global standing has been damaged for both the short and long term; our allies are now seeking new alliances as we have abandoned them; and Russia has re-emerged as a global, imperialistic power.

I do recall BHO promising to "repair our standing" within the world community.  Guess that's another failed promise during a Presidency filled with failures.

Does that make you reconsider whether to vote for Hillary or not?

Sep 9, 2016

My Favorite Quote of the Week

I was reading an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, and someone wrote a comment about theWashington Post complaining that Hillary's emails were receiving more scrutiny than a normal person would face.  Duh!

Here's the quote:  

"I keep hearing 'can liberals actually be that dumb?' so often that I think they're taking it as a challenge." 

Have a great weekend


Sep 2, 2016

A Reformed Liberal's View of Liberal Policies

George McGovern, long known as the Liberal's Liberal, died in 2012.  In 1992 he wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in which he lamented about his lack of understanding about the impact his legislative record had on businesses.  This would be a great re-read for Barrack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and the Clinton campaign.

A Politician's Dream Is a Businessman's Nightmare: A 1992 column on the realities of running a business

Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late.
-- Justice Felix Frankfurter
It's been 11 years since I left the U.S. Senate, after serving 24 years in high public office. After leaving a career in politics, I devoted much of my time to public lectures that took me into every state in the union and much of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
In 1988, I invested most of the earnings from this lecture circuit acquiring the leasehold on Connecticut's Stratford Inn. Hotels, inns and restaurants have always held a special fascination for me. The Stratford Inn promised the realization of a longtime dream to own a combination hotel, restaurant and public conference facility -- complete with an experienced manager and staff.
In retrospect, I wish I had known more about the hazards and difficulties of such a business, especially during a recession of the kind that hit New England just as I was acquiring the inn's 43-year leasehold. I also wish that during the years I was in public office, I had had this firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day. That knowledge would have made me a better U.S. senator and a more understanding presidential contender.
Today we are much closer to a general acknowledgment that government must encourage business to expand and grow. Bill Clinton, Paul Tsongas, Bob Kerrey and others have, I believe, changed the debate of our party. We intuitively know that to create job opportunities we need entrepreneurs who will risk their capital against an expected payoff. Too often, however, public policy does not consider whether we are choking off those opportunities.
My own business perspective has been limited to that small hotel and restaurant in Stratford, Conn., with an especially difficult lease and a severe recession. But my business associates and I also lived with federal, state and local rules that were all passed with the objective of helping employees, protecting the environment, raising tax dollars for schools, protecting our customers from fire hazards, etc. While I never have doubted the worthiness of any of these goals, the concept that most often eludes legislators is: "Can we make consumers pay the higher prices for the increased operating costs that accompany public regulation and government reporting requirements with reams of red tape." It is a simple concern that is nonetheless often ignored by legislators.
For example, the papers today are filled with stories about businesses dropping health coverage for employees. We provided a substantial package for our staff at the Stratford Inn. However, were we operating today, those costs would exceed $150,000 a year for health care on top of salaries and other benefits. There would have been no reasonable way for us to absorb or pass on these costs.
Some of the escalation in the cost of health care is attributed to patients suing doctors. While one cannot assess the merit of all these claims, I've also witnessed firsthand the explosion in blame-shifting and scapegoating for every negative experience in life.
Today, despite bankruptcy, we are still dealing with litigation from individuals who fell in or near our restaurant. Despite these injuries, not every misstep is the fault of someone else. Not every such incident should be viewed as a lawsuit instead of an unfortunate accident. And while the business owner may prevail in the end, the endless exposure to frivolous claims and high legal fees is frightening.
Our Connecticut hotel, along with many others, went bankrupt for a variety of reasons, the general economy in the Northeast being a significant cause. But that reason masks the variety of other challenges we faced that drive operating costs and financing charges beyond what a small business can handle.
It is clear that some businesses have products that can be priced at almost any level. The price of raw materials (e.g., steel and glass) and life-saving drugs and medical care are not easily substituted by consumers. It is only competition or antitrust that tempers price increases. Consumers may delay purchases, but they have little choice when faced with higher prices.
In services, however, consumers do have a choice when faced with higher prices. You may have to stay in a hotel while on vacation, but you can stay fewer days. You can eat in restaurants fewer times per month, or forgo a number of services from car washes to shoeshines. Every such decision eventually results in job losses for someone. And often these are the people without the skills to help themselves -- the people I've spent a lifetime trying to help.
In short, "one-size-fits-all" rules for business ignore the reality of the marketplace. And setting thresholds for regulatory guidelines at artificial levels -- e.g., 50 employees or more, $500,000 in sales -- takes no account of other realities, such as profit margins, labor intensive vs. capital intensive businesses, and local market economics.
The problem we face as legislators is: Where do we set the bar so that it is not too high to clear? I don't have the answer. I do know that we need to start raising these questions more often.
Mr. McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate, died Sunday at age 90.

Aug 22, 2016

Macro vs. Micro

I have been periodically reading The Grumpy Economist (, published by professor John Cochrane.  Normally I don't lean towards academics as they are too theoretical, however, John seems to have a more applied viewpoint of economics.  Obviously I agree with the post below, otherwise I wouldn't be re-posting.



Micro vs. Macro

The cause of sclerotic growth is the major economic policy question of our time. The three big explanations are 1) We ran out of ideas (Gordon); 2) Deficient "demand," remediable by more fiscal stimulus (Summers, say) 3); Death by a thousand cuts of cronyist regulation and legal economic interference.

On the latter, we mostly have stories and some estimates for individual markets, not easy-to-use  government-provided statistics. But there are lots of stories.

Here is one day's Wall Street Journal reading while waiting for a plane last Saturday:

1) Holman Jenkins,
... unbridled rent seeking.  That’s the term economists use for exercising government power to create private gains for political purposes. 
Channelling Jefferson,
Mr. Obama’s bank policy dramatically consolidated the banking industry, which the government routinely sues for billions of dollars, with the proceeds partly distributed to Democratic activist groups. 
His consumer-finance agency manufactured fake evidence of racism against wholesale auto lenders in order to facilitate a billion-dollar shakedown.
 His airline policy, urged by labor unions, led to a major-carrier oligopoly, with rising fares and profits. 
His FDA is seeking to extinguish small e-cigarette makers for the benefit of Big Tobacco and Big Pharma (whose smoking-cessation franchise is threatened by cheap and relatively safe electronic cigarettes). 
His National Labor Relations Board, by undermining the power of independent franchisees, is working to cartelize the fast-food industry for the benefit of organized labor.
Summing up,
We could go on. Mr. Obama’s own Council of Economic Advisers complains about the increasing cartelization of the U.S. economy—as if this were not a natural output of regulation. In a much-noted Harvard Business Review piece this spring, James Bessen, an economist, lawyer and software entrepreneur, cites increased “political rent seeking” to explain the puzzle of rising corporate profits in the absence of job creation and economic growth.
The truth is, government playing neutral arbiter over the private economy doesn’t produce rents. A stable and predictable regulatory system produces only mingy or non-existent rents.
2) Uber class action buffet
Federal judge Edward Chen on Thursday rejected a $100 million settlement in a class action alleging that Uber misclassified drivers as independent contractors. That’s a big pot of cash, but the judge says the ride-hailing company can be raided for billions more....Judge Chen complained, however, that the settlement required class members to drop all employment-related claims (e.g., minimum wage, rest and meal breaks and workers’ compensation) ...he settlement would have pre-empted at least 15 lawsuits for employment-related claims as well as cases “before various administrative bodies such as the NLRB.”...the settlement would have scotched lawsuits brought under California’s Private Attorneys General Act—known among businesses as the “bounty hunter law”—that lets private attorneys litigate labor, safety and health code violations on behalf of the state. California pays the lawyers’ fees and keeps 75% of the bounty. The state’s Labor & Workforce Development Agency carped that the statutory penalties against Uber could exceed $1 billion.  
Uber brings flexible employment to thousands, and dramatically better and cheaper rides to consumers and businesses. Whatever you think of contractors vs. employees, nothing in this improves productivity and economic growth, or encourages the needed massive investment towards self-driving ubers.

3) You don't need a dentist to fill a cavity Whether (cheaper, less licensed) dental therapists will be allowed to provide basic services especially in poor areas where there are no dentists.

4) How Obama’s FDA Keeps Generic Drugs Off the Market
 One of the biggest factors fueling the angst over drug prices in the U.S. is that some older medicines that should be sold cheaply as generics are still priced very high, often owing to a dwindling number of generic competitors recent years the Food and Drug Administration has imposed on generic firms many of the same costly requirements that the agency applies to branded-drug makers.  
In 2003...we estimated that it cost less than $1 million for a firm to file a generic-drug application. ...Today, filing a generic application requires an average of about $5 million and can cost as much as $15 million.... 
For generics filed in 2009, the median review time exceeds three years. Yet generics launched in 2015 took about four years for the FDA to approve, since less than 2% of applications were approved on their first submission.    
A new FDA draft regulation...would force the generics to clutter their drug labels with defensive advisories to avoid “failure to warn” lawsuits. Legal fees stemming from the regulation would add over $5 billion to annual health-care costs, rising to $8.6 billion by 2024, ...
And this is just one morning's reading of one paper's opinion section while sipping coffee at the airport. Even the New York Times is waking up to the apres-Obama regulatory deluge.

As these stories make clear, the problem is not benevolent but ham-handed interventionism. The problem, much tougher, is best described as "cronyism." A veneer of public purpose stifles markets, to drive profits to connected parties in return for political support.

Can we really screw up every single market but make it all up with "demand?" The "ideas" and "stimulus" approaches presume everything else in the economy is working just fine. Is investment really slow only because there are, fundamentally, just no good ideas to invest in any more?

The deeper economic issue is whether "macro" and "growth" outcomes really can be separated from "micro" distortions in each market.

Aug 18, 2016

Obama's Promise of Improving our World Standing-More Failed BS

Remember when Obozo promised that he would "repair our standing around the world"?  HE has systematically destroyed the effectiveness of NATO, empowered Russia, given billions to Iran so they could support global terrorism AND become partner with Russia, released terrorists, abandoned Syria (who cares about 500,000 dead civilians), allowed the "Junior Varsity" of terrorist groups to take over most of Iraq, and given Cuba carte blanche without requiring them to do anything.

In the note below you will notice references to "the West", that's us.  Obozo has allowed NATO ally Turkey to swoon into the sphere of Russia (notice a trend here?).  It's ironic the Left has criticized Trump for his bromance with Putin, but fails to look inward at their failed policies that have allowed him to bring that country back as he attempts to rebuild the old Soviet block-without even a threat, much less a response, from our fearful leader.

Thanks to Zero Hedge for the note:

As Turkey "Considers Military Cooperation" With Russia, US Said To Move Nukes Out Of Turkey

by Tyler Durden
Over the past month, ever since the "failed" Turkish coup, there has been a dramatic, and surprising, deterioration in the of Turkey with various European states, most notably Austria and Germany, as well as with the US, and NATO in general. This was confirmed once again earlier today when Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu lashed out at NATO, in an interview with Russian Sputnik, saying the alliance is not fully cooperating with Ankara. More importantly, he hinted that Turkey would consider military cooperation with Russia.
In the interview, Cavusoglu said that Ankara has become alarmed at the lack of willingness shown by NATO to cooperate with Turkey, which is a member of the alliance. "It seems to us that NATO members behave in an evasive fashion on issues such as the exchange of technology and joint investments. Turkey intends to develop its own defense industry and strengthen its defense system,” he said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu
And, as a result of Turkey's rising animosity toward NATO, it appears to have handed yet another fig leaf to the Kremlin: “In this sense, if Russia were to treat this with interest, we are ready to consider the possibility of cooperation in this sector," Cavusoglu said when asked about the possibility of working with Russia in the defense sphere.
It was Cavusoglu’s strongest rebuke of NATO to date. In an interview with the Anadolu news agency on August 10, he said that Turkey and Russia would look to establish a joint military, intelligence, and diplomatic mechanism, while adding that relations with NATO were not as satisfactory as he would have wished. He also proposed to bypass the dollar in bilateral trade between Turkey and Russia.
“Turkey wanted to cooperate with NATO members up to this point,” he said. “But the results we got did not satisfy us. Therefore, it is natural to look for other options. But we don’t see this as a move against NATO,” he told Anadolu.
Cavusoglu accused the West of treating Turkey and Russia like “second class countries” simply because they did not see eye-to-eye. "They consider Russia and Turkey to be second class countries, and they are outraged that these second class countries dare to criticize them… Therefore, faced with the straightforwardness and resilience of Erdogan and [President Vladimir] Putin, they feel very worried and anxious," Cavusoglu said.
Cavusoglu’s criticism was not restricted to NATO, as he launched a broadside towards the West, saying it was largely responsible for the crisis in Ukraine. “Look at what has happened in Ukraine,” he told Sputnik. “They were always threatening the country and forcing it to make a choice between them and Russia. They were saying, ‘you will either be with us or with Russia.’ This course of action is futile. What is happening in Ukraine is a reflection of the main problems in the region.”
* * *
To be sure, Russia has promptly taken advantage of these Turkish overtures, and in addition to the recent meeting between Putin and Erdogan where the two leaders vowed to boost economic and diplomatic ties, a member of Russia’s upper house of parliament has suggested that Turkey could provide its ?ncirlik air base for Russian Air Forces jets in their campaign across the border in Syria, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported.
“Turkey could provide the ?ncirlik base to the Russian Aerospace Forces for its use in counterterrorism operations [in Syria]. This could become a logical continuation of Turkish President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s step toward Russia,” Senator Viktor Ozerov, member of the Russian Federation Council Defense and Security Committee, was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti on Aug. 16.
According to Russian news agencies, Ozerov did not rule out that Ankara could offer the use of its air base after Erdogan’s reconciliatory visit to St. Petersburg last week, where he affirmed support for Russia’s anti-terrorist mission in Syria. “It is not guaranteed that Russia needs ?ncirlik, but such a decision could be regarded as Turkey’s real readiness to cooperate with Russia in the fight against terrorism in Syria, and not just pay lip service,” Ozerov was also quoted as saying.
Ozerov also clarified that the decision could be taken based on similar agreements made with Syria on the use of the Hmeymim facility and the latest use of the Hamadan airfield in western Iran to carry out airstrikes in Syria, the Russian news website Sputnik reported on Aug. 16.
Turkey opened its ?ncirlik base to the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition in
July 2015 after a bilateral agreement was signed among both parties.
Notably, Incirlik airbase is where the US has stationed over 50 B61 nuclear bombs, as reported before. Which may explain why according to EurActiv, which cites two independent sources the US has "started transferring nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania, against the background of worsening relations between Washington and Ankara."
According to one of the sources, the transfer has been very challenging in technical and political terms. “It’s not easy to move 20+ nukes,” said the source, on conditions of anonymity.
Another source told that the US-Turkey relations had deteriorated so much following the coup that Washington no longer trusted Ankara to host the weapons. The American weapons are being moved to the Deveselu air base in Romania, the source said. Deveselu, near the city of Caracal, is the new home of the US missile shield, which has infuriated Russia.
EurActiv has asked the US State Department, and the Turkish and the Romanian foreign ministries, to comment. American and Turkish officials both promised to answer. After several hours, the State Department said the issue should be referred to the Department of Defense. EurActiv will publish the DoD reaction as soon as it is received.

The Romanian foreign ministry strongly denied the information that the country has become home of US nukes. “In response to your request, Romanian MFA firmly dismisses the information you referred to,”  a spokesperson wrote.

According to practice dating from the Cold War, leaked information regarding the presence of US nuclear weapons on European soil has never been officially confirmed. It is, however, public knowledge that Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy host US nuclear weapons.
Recall that earlier this week, a US-based Think Tank, The Stimson Center, warned that US nuclear bombs In Turkey are at risk of "Seizure By Terrorists Or Other Hostile Forces."
As such, while unconfirmed, EuroActiv's report does make strategic sense for the US and Romania, which is emerging as the new Eastern European focal point in the Cold War 2.0, even as NATO, and the US, quietly vacate Turkey. However, if even tangentially confirmed, it will merely accelerate NATO member Turkey's recent, and abrupt, shift away from the US sphere of influence and into that of Russia, a move which would have the biggest geopolitical consequences for the global balance of power since the end of the Cold War.

Aug 11, 2016

Hillary, The Donald, and Obama-They All Slept Through Econ 101

Hello All

I haven't posted in a very long time, but given all the garbage coming from our two candidates as well as our sitting President regarding the economy, I felt compelled to add my two cents.

This week both Hillary and The Donald offered their prescriptions to solve our economic woes.  Both plans are horribly off the mark, although I will say that The Donald ALMOST gets it right in a couple of areas.  Unfortunately he really can't explain it as he is just repeating what his team of economists told him.

Hillary came out and had the chutzpah to criticize The Donald's plan as she proposed a Keynesian nightmare that won't solve anything except her desire for power by buying votes with economic sounds bites that strike a populist chord.

Amazingly these two candidates are so bad that the country has taken another look at Obama and decided he really isn't as bad as we all suspected.  I think part of his improving approval rating is a direct result of him taking the George Bush approach to leadership.  When Bush was in office he rarely gave major speeches.  During the first seven years of the Obama administration he gave a speech- actually, lecture would be a more accurate description- almost daily.  The American people couldn't stand him-with the exception of the 18% self-described liberals and the media, who are liberals but don't describe themselves as such.  Now that he's taken to golfing and working on both his foundation (think Clinton Foundation) he doesn't have as much time to lecture us on how we should think, act, and be, and his popularity has risen accordingly.  Sometimes less is more.

Polling Data

RCP Average7/29 - 8/10--51.744.4+7.3
Gallup8/8 - 8/101500 A4946+3
Rasmussen Reports8/8 - 8/101500 LV5247+5
Reuters/Ipsos8/6 - 8/101459 A5045+5
Bloomberg8/5 - 8/81007 A5044+6
Economist/YouGov8/6 - 8/9911 RV4949Tie
Monmouth8/4 - 8/7683 LV5640+16
ABC News/Wash Post8/1 - 8/4815 RV5345+8
McClatchy/Marist8/1 - 8/3983 RV5340+13
NBC News/Wall St. Jrnl7/31 - 8/3800 RV5244+8
IBD/TIPP7/29 - 8/4921 A5240+12
FOX News7/31 - 8/21022 RV5245+7
CNN/ORC7/29 - 7/311003 A5445+9
PPP (D)7/29 - 7/301276 LV5047+3

The fallacy being followed by both of these candidates is that "shovel ready" spending on infrastructure has a stimulative effect on the economy.  This analysis is based upon observations from the 1940's and 1950's when the highway system in this country was expanded dramatically.

Consider a strawberry farmer in Peoria (please don't lecture me that they don't grow strawberries in Peoria, this is just an illustration) in the 1940's.  Because there was no paved road to Chicago, this farmer didn't have access to the larger Chicago market.  In steps the government to build the road, which has three impacts which are important.  First, jobs are created immediately.  This isn't stimulative in the long run because, unless the government wants to keep spending (I mean, who could imagine that?) those are temporary jobs.  Second, the money diverted from the private sector to pay for those jobs has a higher multiplier effect than the jobs, meaning ultimately, unless the economy has tons of slack, the impact of those jobs is actually negative on the overall economy.  Third, the new road creates access to a new market for the farmer, who can expand his business to address the new market, planting more strawberries, buying more fertilizer, using more water, possibly hiring more help, all of which is stimulative to the country's economy and hopefully his bottom line (I'll try to skip the tangent where the Democrats try to achieve something similar without letting anyone but the Clinton Foundation profit, for now).

Fast forward to 2016.  The road is in disrepair, but still being used by the strawberry farmer.  The government decides to repair the road, again creating temporary jobs at the expense of the private sector, in essence reducing economic activity in the overall economy.   Once the road is repaired and the temporary jobs move on or go away, we are left with the same road, albeit in slightly better condition.  Now, assuming there weren't road closures during the repair, the strawberry farmer is in exactly the same position he was in prior.  Not better nor worse.  The net is that there is no long term economic benefit from this activity.  It's akin to hiring someone to break a window, then hiring someone else to fix it.  In the end there is no difference except you've wasted some money.

This isn't to say there aren't infrastructure projects that could be additive to the economy, it's just that these two boneheads running for President are focused on roads and bridges like they are manna from heaven and spending money in this fashion will save the economy.  Hillary, who lies more than Charles Ponzi, actually mentioned in her painful, convoluted, overly contrived, pandering economic presentation a piece of infrastructure spending that could help the economy-broadband spending.  Now, it would appear from her presentation that she is actually just focused on getting subsidized or free internet access (aka Mo' Free Shit) to her constituents, however, in a knowledge based society, better access to information would be beneficial and could have a stimulative economic impact.  Unfortunately, with the exception of a couple of airports where throughput needs to be increased, the rest of her spending plan is exactly what she accused The Donald of-enriching special interests.  The temerity she demonstrates with her criticisms of pandering to special interests when her top donors are those she attacks is unfathomable.

 Let's talk a bit about the wage growth that Obozo was touting in February.  Unit Labor Costs, ie compensation, was reported to increase by 4.5% in the first quarter.  Obozo out on his victory tour, telling everyone that his economic policies were finally working.  Well, guess what kids?  The BLS revised that growth from an increase of 4.5% to a decline of 0.2%.  Have we seen that in the mainstream media?  No, because even though they are bemoaning the lack of income growth for the middle class, they are touting Obozo's success at getting wages up.  The 0.2% decline?  That's known as an inconvenient truth.

Anyway, I hope you are all well.  I'll try to post periodically and keep it on the economy and markets as opposed to the horrific leadership choices we now face.