Archive for Finance and money

Awareness creeping in – but only sometimes

The leftist next door by Paul Mirengoff – “As more information becomes available, we learn that Rene Boucher, the man who assaulted and seriously injured Rand Paul, is (as John suggested) a rabidly anti-Trump leftist.” … “Add up the Antifa rioting, the campus shout-downs, and the two sets of assaults on congressional Republicans, and I say we already have a serious problem.”

Cost Benefits of Switching to Solar: A State-by-State Guide by Andy Bowen – “The ITC is a 30% federal tax credit for residential and commercial solar systems. It’s a dollar-for-dollar reduction in income taxes that would otherwise be paid to the federal government.” Bowen provides an example of what happens when you ‘drink the Kool-Aid’, swallowed the propaganda hook, line, and sinker and have left the planet.

The advantages of solar power and other renewable energy sources are colossal, and arguably necessary for our survival. On solar, the electric grid becomes more efficient and resilient to natural disasters (including hail) and disruptions — not to mention scalable to the 1.3 billion people on our planet living without electricity. On solar, power becomes cleaner, moving us that much closer toward the net zero goal advocated by climate researchers. But the benefits don’t stop there.

colossal” and “necessary for our survival” ? How on earth did man survive before the invention of solid state electronics? What are the implications of taking 30% of your expenses from other persons by the force of government to support your fantasies? What happens to a society that is not rational about its use of money and denies the reality of the actual costs, all of the costs, of its decisions (consider: the zoo animals are under threat of starvation and predation in Venezuela reported this morning)

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Detailing a puzzling derangement

Paul Mirengoff wonders Guardrails or roadblocks? – It’s about the puzzling case of Charles Krauthammer’s Trump Derangement Syndrome. You’d think Dr. Krauthammer should know better as he was specially trained to observe and analyze human behavior as a psychiatrist. There is a lot of deviant behavior to observe and it isn’t from Trump. Krauthammer should perhaps consider himself. For instance, what is it the drives him to insert “unfit” opinions into a discussion with Tucker? Mirengoff details other puzzling behavioral expressions from Krauthammer. “Careening recklessness” is as indicative as “unfit” as these are judgments, not opinions or observations. Phrases like these tell the discerning observer about the talker and his guardrails.

The estimable Charles Krauthammer celebrates five instances in which, he says, the “guardrails” of our democracy “held against the careening recklessness of” President Trump.

far from being a guardrail to democracy, when generals say no to the president they threaten it. After all, generals are not elected by the American people.

Two of the three rejecting Senators — Murkowski and McCain — campaigned on the promise of supporting repeal of Obamacare. I fail to see how they struck a blow for democracy when they violated their promise to voters.

Of the other three examples Krauthammer cites, only one has anything to do with democracy.

One more point on guardrails. They exist on only one side of the road. If the Democrats regain power, they will not be in evidence.

Just because President Obama was smooth doesn’t mean he didn’t careen recklessly. He did, which is a major reason why we have President Trump.

The big hurdle that the never Trumpers have to mount in their allegations of “unfit” or “idiot” or similar is the record of events. The behaviors used to ignore, hide, or obfuscate this hurdle to satisfy innate feelings and prejudice is what should be of interest to a psychiatrist.

John Hinderaker exposes more of the mud in the swamp: Comey’s FBI Lied About Lynch-Clinton Meeting – “The Department of Justice has finally responded to ACLJ’s FOIA request with a small number of documents.” This foot dragging is another area where the new AG might put some attention.

There are only two possibilities here: either someone at the FBI destroyed documents relating to the Bureau’s communications about the Lynch/Clinton meeting, or someone at the FBI lied in response to ACLJ’s FOIA request. Federal agencies have personnel dedicated to responding to FOIA requests, and presumably the people who carry out this relatively mundane task would not lie or destroy documents without instructions from the top.

Lynch’s DOJ created talking points about the meeting, but they apparently are secret, as they were redacted from all of the emails that contained them. How a FOIA exception could apply to those talking points, which were designed to be shared with reporters, is a mystery. But that is how the Obama administration responded to all FOIA requests on controversial matters: with evasion and obfuscation if not with outright lies. And President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions do not yet, and may not ever, control the Department of Justice.

Luboš Motl: Gary North, Mojmír Hampl on fatal volatility of cryptocurrencies – “Don’t be afraid of bitcoin.” This is making sense of a current fad.

By the “fear”, Hampl means that the cryptocurrencies don’t really represent any “competitor” to the fiat currencies.

The key reason why the cryptocurrencies aren’t really competitive with the fiat currencies is that they lack what is perhaps the most important defining virtue of any currency: its predictable value relatively to the things that people will need to buy for them, the reason why they accept and hold the currencies in the first place. I wrote these things many times.

Hampl says that the price stability is also the main task of the central banks like his. In particular, when he asks the people what’s the “money supply” in Czechia, people usually don’t have a clue but they more or less know what the latest inflation rate is. That’s because the latter is much more important for the usability of the currency than the former!

The fact that the number of Bitcoins in circulation is known – and will go towards 21 million – implies that the amount of “real things” in the inflation basket you may buy for one Bitcoin is not predictable. And that’s bad. The kids who spread the Bitcoin and blockchain ideas as a gospel may understand some technical algorithms but they don’t understand something that is much more important for an economic proposal – basics of economics. The central banks are effectively adjusting the money supply (through the interest rates or extraordinarily measures) in order to keep the money’s value predictable – because the predictable value of the money is what makes them so useful and optimizes the performance of the economic players who use them in their activities and planning. So the variable money supply of a fiat currency is a good thing, not a bad thing – because it’s a necessary condition for the stability of quantities whose stability or predictability is important! This stabilization of the money’s value is what Hampl calls the “elastic money”.

There is ignorance and some is driven by fantasies. It becomes a problem when it drives behavior.

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Circling the drain?

Jazz Shaw reports on fiscal situations in both Venezuela and Connecticut: Venezuela is now either Cuba or North Korea – “The vote was, of course, largely a sham.” This is why election integrity and voter fraud are concerns, but only if it is the will of the people that are paramount. That is why the Left’s opposition to verifying election integrity is indicative.

The “vote” in Venezuela yesterday went largely as expected, with the government of tyrant Nicolas Maduro claiming that upwards of eight million people voted to essentially wipe out the elected legislature and replace it with some window dressing which essentially makes him dictator of the country. This is a condition which could last for his entire life unless his people manage to find a way to oust him from office.

the real losers in all of this will be the Venezuelan people. They are currently starving while living on some of the richest farmland on the continent and their government is almost bankrupt while sitting atop some of the largest proven crude oil reserves in the world. These are the fruits of socialism. Watch closely if you are cheering for similar policies in the United States.

And then there is Connecticut is circling the drain financially – “This is one of those situations where we might be able to take two seemingly incongruous facts and put them together to find a deeper meaning.”

Fact number one: Connecticut is one of the richest states in the nation depending how you measure such things. Fact number two: Connecticut has managed to run up nearly $75B in debt and is teetering on the edge of being in worse financial shape than Puerto Rico. (The Daily Beast)

How many states do we need to see this story unfold in before we realize that this formula simply doesn’t work? And we’ve got the same problem looming on the horizon for the federal government. The responsibility of saving for a long term income above and beyond social security falls on the shoulders of the worker in the real world. The days of privately funded, fat retirement plans in the private sector are essentially gone. But the government continues to keep up with this unsustainable system on all levels. Sooner or later the chickens will come home to roost. That’s already happening in the liberal paradise of Connecticut. Perhaps everyone can learn a lesson from their errors.

David Horowitz: Why the Middle East Is a Disaster via John Hinderaker at Powerline.

In fact, the primary cause of the disasters in the Middle East is the Democratic Party’s sabotage of the War in Iraq. Democrats first voted to authorize the armed overthrow of Iraq’s terror regime but within three months of its inception reversed their position 180 degrees and declared the war “immoral, illegal & unnecessary.” The reason for the Democrats’ reversal on the war had nothing to do with the war itself or the so-called absence of weapons of mass destruction, but was rather a political response to the fact that an anti-war Democrat, Howard Dean, was running away with their presidential nomination. It was this that caused John Kerry and his party to forget that the war was about Saddam’s defiance of 17 UN Security Council resolutions, and refusal to allow the UN inspectors to carry out their efforts to ascertain whether he had destroyed his chemical and biological arsenals.

The path to rectifying these disasters and to stopping Islamic genocides of “infidels” in the Middle East, is first of all to restore America’s active presence in the region, taking a firm stance against radical Islamic terrorism. This is an effort which, thankfully, the Trump administration has already begun. Second, it is to make America’s policy firmly and consistently anti-terrorist, which the Trump administration has not yet done. This would mean, for example, cutting off all funds to the terrorist Palestinian Authority and the Hamas government in Gaza, and halting all “peace” negotiations until the Palestinians renounce terror and support Israel’s right to exist.

The lesson to remember in all this is that despite its human weaknesses and flaws, America is still the only great power in the world today that cares about human dignity and decency and has the wherewithal to defend them and the peace.

Hinderaker also notes Kip Hansen provides a useful corrective at Watts Up With That on the ‘plastics are forever’ doomsday cult. “The simple fact is that plastics do degrade in the environment, especially in the ocean (and lakes, streams, rivers).” … “Does that mean that we should dump plastic objects into the ocean? Obviously not. Hansen concludes with some common sense observations” and Hinderaker applauds.

If anyone ever advocates capital punishment for those who throw trash off the decks of cruise ships, I’m in. Sometimes, when talking to an environmentalist who goes on and on about global warming, etc., I like to change the subject and talk about littering and what can be done to stop it. Litter (including plastics) is, in my view, the most serious environmental issue, albeit one that never seems to be of much interest to environmentalists who can raise much more money by talking about global warming.

Also at WUWT, Ross McKitrick: In the fight between Rick Perry and climate scientists — He’s winning – “Policy makers and the public need to understand the extent to which major scientific institutions like the American Meteorological Society have become biased and politicized on the climate issue.”

Perry’s response prompted a letter of protest from Keith Seitter, executive director of the American Meteorological Society.

It is noteworthy that the meteorological society remained completely silent over the years when senior Democratic administration officials made multiple exaggerated and untrue statements in service of global warming alarmism.

But the meteorological society leapt to condemn Perry for a cautious response to an awkward question.

Furthermore, Seitter’s letter invites skepticism. It pronounces confidently on causes of global warming “in recent decades” even though this is where the literature is most disputed and uncertain. … But to the meteorological society, the fact that these and many other questions are unresolved does not prevent them from insisting on uniformity of opinion.

Elections, Finances, Wars, and Science. All subject to wishful thinking and ideological fantasies taking precedence over intellectual integrity.

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It’s a dangerous path the Left is taking

Where the real danger lies:

Think about it: Wright was so proud of her behavior that she put it out there for the world to see. She felt no shame; no need to hide her actions.

Cheryl K. Chumley says For Republicans, it’s getting dangerous out there – “Wright ultimately left the scene — but was apprehended after she posted details of the incident to her Facebook page. And it’s that little facet of the story that seems most remarkable.”

This particular story ended with Wendi Wright, 35, being arrested and charged with felony reckless endangerment. And the specifics of her charges come down to this: She allegedly chased Kustoff and his aide, Marianne Dunavant, in her car as they drove from the town hall event, ultimately intimidating them to the point that they pulled into the driveway of somebody they knew.

Is Wright demented? Or just an average Democrat in the Trump era?

Certainly, the atmosphere in the country has turned much more accepting of violence as a form of leftist political protest in recent months — since the rise of President Donald Trump, in fact.

The congressional halls of Democratic offices are filled with calls to impeach Trump, finding an actual impeachable offense be danged. And the media, the ever complicit media, don’t mind rising from the mud, when opportunity presents, to join the anti-this, anti-that fray as well.

All this, meanwhile, comes on the heels of an appeal by a Huffington Post editor-at-large for leftists to simply hound those of the pro-Trump camp by following Republican politicians to their places of work, places of dining, places of living, and stand outside and protest and demand answers. Answers to what? Apparently, to why they’re Republicans, refusing to vote Democratic.

But this is the tone and atmosphere of the country right now. And it’s one created and fueled solely by the left. So what’s a good Republican to do to stay safe?

what’s called for in the face of these bullies is to fight harder. Bullies don’t back down unless they’re met with a force that’s to be reckoned with. And how do you best fight lying, deceptive, argumentative, angry, irrational, violent socialist-minded partisans with intent on corrupting the Constitution and destroying the greatness of America? With truth. With courage. With the full armor of God — including the breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith and sword of the spirit.

In the face of such power, evil, as these lunatic leftists represent, can only flee.

John Daniel Davidson: The American Left Is Talking Itself Into Violence – “The recent violence that’s marked our college campuses is seeping into the rest of society, and the vast majority of it comes from the intolerant Left.”

Something is wrong with the American Left. The recent spate of violent protests on college campuses has been well-documented, but the violence and intolerance championed by left-wing student activists is beginning to creep off campus and into mainstream public life.

The reason for this is straightforward enough: although progressives pride themselves on their putative tolerance and diversity, the imperatives of leftist politics are fundamentally illiberal. Justice imposed through power is the philosophical foundation of the political left, and when earnest progressives become convinced the only avenue to power is violence, their tolerance quickly falls by the wayside. Consider a few recent events, none of which involved college protesters but all of which were marked by threats of violence.

Leftist Intolerance Invites A Breakdown Of Civility

How has it come to this? No doubt, leftist ideology invites a kind of intolerance that leads to violence, as we’ve seen. But this tendency is exacerbated by a breakdown of civility fueled by social media. Would we see the kind of brutal, cutthroat behavior that’s marked the crowds at these town halls if those people had not inured themselves somewhat to it?

The problem here is picking a bogey man, social media, to sidestep and destroy the argument presented that it is a much deeper and more insidious evil at play.

William A. Jacobson: Buzzfeed asks: Why is Harvard Law Prof. Larry Tribe spreading conspiracy theories? – “A reputation is a terrible thing to waste.”

Lawrence Tribe, Harvard Law School professor, has sullied his reputation with his Trump Derangement Syndrome, as Buzzfeed documents

One of the great untold stories is how many liberals have damaged themselves in the desire to get Trump.

If Trump doesn’t go to jail, like so many of the liberal conspiracy theorists are predicting, there will be a price to pay for their delusions, and that price will be their reputations.

David Keene: A lesson in the loss of liberty – “Mischief-makers have turned new surveillance powers against Americans.”

Liberal civil libertarian types were convinced back then that it was dangerous to entrust too much to the likes of George W Bush, but went silent when Barack Obama entered the White House. …

Imagine what sort of public uproar would have erupted if, during the 2008 campaign, it had been revealed that the outgoing Bush administration had been caught doubling or tripling surveillance of its opponents and was “unmasking” candidate John McCain’s foreign policy advisers whose names may have been picked up through surveillance of noncitizens in troubled areas of the world. The media, Democrats in Congress and the liberal pundits would have simply gone berserk, but the cavalier use of these same powers by Mr. Obama against folks they don’t like hasn’t fazed them a bit.

The answer should be obvious. It goes beyond ideology to the nature of trusting government with too much power. When any government official assures the public that he or she can be trusted with powers we wouldn’t trust to “bad guys,” we should be wary because powers that can be abused will be abused by someone at some time for motives good or bad.

Clarice Feldman provides a summary on Russian Hacking and Collusion: Put the Cards on the Table – “The notion that Russia interfered in the election to help Donald Trump was a John Brennan/James Clapper confection created in an unorthodox way, and defied logic, given that Hillary and her associates had far closer connections to Russia than Trump or his associates did.”

12 prominent public statements by those on both sides of the aisle who reviewed the evidence or been briefed on it confirmed there was no evidence of Russia trying to help Trump in the election or colluding with him:

Law professor Jonathan Turley says much the same thing: “No one has yet to explain to me what the core crime that would be investigated with regards to Russian influence,’ Turley said Wednesday evening. “I don’t see the crime, so I don’t see how it’s closing in on Trump.”

Unless you think it makes political and constitutional sense to have an FBI director holding open forever an investigation of his boss with no factual basis, you might understand how ridiculous Comey’s refusal to publicly detail his reasons for so doing.

But there is much more than the misjudgment of allowing these people to head the investigation, which has run on for months with an ocean of leaks and no evidence.

if this is Watergate, it’s not because this president is trying to cover up any wrongdoing on his part, but rather Comey and others at the FBI are trying to cover up theirs, rather like Mark Felt. The drive to arrogate power to one’s self is a feature of Washington politics, and hardly unknown to the top ranks of the FBI.

Jazz Shaw picks up on how petty CNN has become: Impeachable? Trump gets TWO scoops of ice cream while the peasants all get one

they really didn’t have much of a point to make here. The best they could do was point to this as an example of how the White House staff is settling in with Trump and getting used to his preferences. But by the time they write it up on the web site the tone has definitely changed. Notice how they can’t be satisfied with simply saying that the staff has picked up on his druthers in dining. They have to paint the mental imagery of a plump, greedy child who has suddenly been turned loose in the palace and has the royal staff fetching him bowl after bowl of dessert treats.

So take that as you will. It might be a story about ice cream or the tale of some Caligula-like emperor who is gobbling up the riches of the realm while the peasants are forced to do without. This. Is. CNN. They report… you decide.

Or, another example by John Sexton: Michelle Obama is not happy about the rollback of her school lunch guidelines – “Mrs. Obama suggested that issues like school lunches should be above politics and yet she’s asking her audience to question the motives of the people who are making these changes.”

Ultimately, there has to be a balance between allowing kids to eat what tastes good to them and what will keep them healthy. It should be possible for adults to disagree about where that middle-ground is without assuming anyone who has a different opinion has bad motives and wants to see kids “eating crap.”

Or Jazz, again: This is how progressives undermine capitalism in the name of “character” – “It really wouldn’t merit much national attention were it not such a sterling example of enshrined, liberal tribal beliefs being carried over in the real world to the point of self-ridicule.” The community’s choice in which coffee shop is to replace an outed one … “what’s the difference if you drove down the property values and stopped someone from providing some jobs to local folks and possibly making a profit?”

On the U.S. economic front, Mark Perry is Putting America’s ridiculously large $18.6T economy into perspective by comparing US state GDPs to entire countries – “Overall, the US produced 24.7% of world GDP in 2016, with only about 4.5% of the world’s population.”

 

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Fake Law™ Anyone?

Silvio Canto, Jr. aksk Who needs elections? We got judges! – “What do you do when you lose everything between Maryland and the California border? You look for friendly judges who hate Trump as much as you do.” He cites Marc O. DeGirolami is a law professor at St. John’s University and the author of The Tragedy of Religious Freedom.

“Welcome to the rise of fake law. Just as fake news spreads ideologically motivated misinformation with a newsy veneer, fake law brings us judicial posturing, virtue signaling, and opinionating masquerading as jurisprudence.

“And just as fake news augurs the end of authoritative reporting, fake law portends the diminution of law’s legitimacy and the warping of judges’ self-understanding of their constitutional role.”

It may go on for a while. In other words, it won’t be long before every law that passes a red state, such as the new sanctuary city rules in Texas, will be frozen by some judge who thinks he knows best.

How much longer will this nonsense go on?

It may be time for Chief Justice John Roberts to remind judges that they are in the wrong branch if they want to make law.

For a variety of the ‘both sides do it’ fallacy, see Andrew C. McCarthy describing why No, the FBI Was Not a Trump Partisan – “The Democrats’ latest canard ignores difference between criminal and intelligence investigations.”

There is nothing more inequitable than treating two fundamentally different things as if they were the same.

Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal, based on mountainous evidence of law-breaking, resulted in a criminal investigation. The suspicion that associates of Donald Trump have troubling ties to Kremlin insiders, based on comparatively sparse evidence, has resulted in a foreign-intelligence investigation. The two types of inquiry are fundamentally different — dissimilar in their objectives, their processes, and their presumptions about secrecy and disclosure. The only similarity is that each is called an “FBI investigation.” To contend that this makes them equivalents, suitable for similar treatment, is akin to saying red and blue must be the same thing because each is a color.

There is no equivalence between criminal and intelligence investigations — the former expected to result in public disclosures, the latter classified and presumed secret. To claim otherwise is to elevate politics over national security . . . or to be just plain dumb.

Andrew Heaton: Lighten Up, Francis – “The Pontiff ought to stick to flock-tending and lay off capitalism.”

Francis sure gibbers a lot about economics, and when it comes to market forces the man is anything but infallible.

Take his latest and rather pointed jab at libertarianism.

Pope Francis no doubt sees libertarianism as hand-in-hand with the other evil he frequently warns his flock about: capitalism. Spake Francis in his 2013 Evangelii Gaudium, “Inequality is the root of social ills.”

His Holiness’ apprehension of evil people like myself springs from the assumption that we’re all very selfish, and happy about it. But classical liberalism doesn’t endorse selfishness as a virtue, it just champions individuals as the primary decision-makers of society.

Adam Smith pointed out that your baker doesn’t sell you bread out of the goodness of his heart, he does it to earn a living. When you throw self-interest and competition into the mix, bread prices plummet and scales of economy crank out enough bagels that for the first time in human history entire societies are more concerned about gluten intolerance than starvation.

Finally, let’s look at the pope’s stated root of all social ills: inequality. If we lived in a feudal state where lords become wealthy by plundering serfs, inequality would indeed be a heinous evil. Fortunately we don’t live in that zero-sum world.

Bill Gates didn’t become a billionaire by impoverishing America—quite the opposite. And if we doubled everyone’s income tomorrow many people would be lifted out of poverty, but the gap between us and whoever Bernie Sanders wants to hang this week would be even greater. Poverty and inequality simply aren’t the same thing.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I suspect it’s also publicly funded.

How much longer will this nonsense go on?”

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Poverty in many forms

Mark A. Hewitt: What African Airports Taught Me about Obamacare – “During a 2010 Corporate Council on Africa convention in Washington, D.C., I delivered a 15-minute presentation on what it took to take Roberts Field, an airport that had been effectively dismantled and shut down, to a post-war “functional and safe” airport” and learned about poverty and racism.

In Zimbabwe, the government led a racially driven land grab solely for redistribution to blacks. The South African black-majority government will also lead a racially driven land grab solely for redistribution to blacks. In America, Obama led a racially driven insurance grab solely for redistribution to minorities and illegals.

Republicans in Congress should vigorously reject this racist-motivated law and repeal it with extreme prejudice.

Well, No, But I Did Fly Over It Once – “Princeton economics professor emeritus and Nobel laureate Angus Deaton has been running around making an extraordinary claim: “Being really poor in America is in some ways worse than being really poor in India or Africa,”

This claim was qualified—Deaton is referring to those who live in extreme poverty. But The Scrapbook did once spend two months following around economists from the U.S. Agency for International Development in the slums of Asia, and we can say with near-scientific certitude that Deaton’s claim is so idiotic it could only have been uttered by a Nobel Prize winner.

And if you’re still confused about how Donald Trump got elected, the patronizing ignorance of Ivy League professors about life between the coasts offers a clue.

Andrew Malcom says What’s important about Trump’s budget is not what you think – “For years Washington budget bees on both sides have hoodwinked Americans by announcing annual budget “cuts” that were not real cuts at all.” Trump has shifted the paradigm and the usual referents for discussion are no longer a solid base for prognostication and analysis.

Trump’s budget is only important for its political messaging. Which is still very important but has nothing to do with actual spending.

His budget sets out his goals and priorities. It tells Americans – supporters and opponents alike – that the new chief executive actually intends to follow through on major campaign promises – to rebuild the depleted military, to reduce foreign aid giveaways with dubious results, to launch a major infrastructure rebuild, to steer considerable authority back to states. It sets bargaining parameters with Congress.

Thomas Lifson: Oops! CNN accidentally confirms story that Brit intell passed along Trump communications to Obama admin – “Courtesy of Grabien, here is a disastrous interview in which the guest, Larry Johnson, confirmed the story that Judge Andrew Napolitano told on-air about British intelligence passing along surveillance data involving the Trump administration.” The general rule is that the more upset the Left gets about some Trump statement, the more likely it is that Trump was substantially correct.

Roger Kimball has a bit of a slog in describing A Government of Laws, Not Men but the conclusion is worthy of note.

Thus we see another way in which the principle of “a government of laws not men” can be violated. It used to be that we were on the lookout for individuals arrogating to themselves the power of the law. Now we find individuals denying our lawfully elected representatives the legitimacy to exercise their rightful authority.

We know from history that the first sort of violation is an invitation to tyranny. Some otherwise intelligent people seem not to appreciate how the latter is an invitation to anarchy and mob rule.

It is too early, I think, to say how this will end. Perhaps, as I hope, the odor of insurrection will dissipate and President Trump can go about the nation’s business with the presumption of legitimacy he deserves. But that may not happen. In which case, this observation from Alexander Bickel’s The Least Dangerous Branch: The Supreme Court at the Bar of Politics (1962) is pertinent: “Enforcement crises must be resolved by the use of the minimum force necessary, but above all decisively and promptly, so that the futility of resistance is never in the slightest doubt. Those who pass from litigation and political obstruction to overt insurrection must not be led to expect that will be negotiated with.”

An invitation to tyranny” is something to worry about. That is what leads to poverty.

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3/0/2017: The Lynch Mob

Luboš Motl breaks the barrier this morning with his post on The climate lynch mob at MIT. He sets the scene with the Murray Middlebury fracas.

Jay Parini and other professors at that college realize that some basic rules of Free Speech 101 were grossly neglected. However, the wild young people keep on calling themselves “college students” and they are basically dictating the atmosphere – and what is possible and what is impossible – on that college.

A zoo would be a much more appropriate place to keep these young people than a college. Let me emphasize that I recommend this habitat to the participants of that protest regardless of their race, gender, or ethnic background.

Sadly, not just gangs of politically radicalized young people may be described as marginally brain-dead inhabitants of the U.S. universities these days. Whole faculties sometimes behave in nearly equivalent ways.

Two weeks ago, Richard Lindzen – a retired MIT professor of atmospheric physics – penned a letter to Donald Trump that urged him to withdraw from the UNFCCC … Note that the petition hasn’t attacked anyone at all … Unfortunately, a “counter-letter” authored by Lindzen’s MIT climate colleagues was different in character.

22 signatories of this “counter-letter” include full professors … Needless to say, the fact that 10 members of the faculty at that program refused to sign wasn’t mentioned by anybody, surely not by the left-wing press that promoted the counter-letter. Another “detail” that no one mentioned is that none of these people is impartial.

It’s ludicrous for them to pretend that they are giving an independent testimony about some external problems. They’re not witnesses. Obviously, they are the defendants now.

They are denying this fact – and their extreme left-wing comrades in the media are denying, too

Those of us who have read the communist propaganda press (and those of us who are somewhat familiar with 100 Authors Against Einstein) recognize the style.

I am telling you, Kerry Emanuel and other 21 members of the MIT climate lynch mob. You are violating the rules of decent interactions between the scientists. It is getting out of control, many people are watching what’s happening, and because of your similarity to the immature leftists at the Middlebury College I have started with, the opinion is strengthening that the problem of your presence at scholarly institutions deserves a vigorous solution.

The Coyote picks up on the same theme: Global Warming is Killing Environmentalism – “I have written many times that someday we will look back on the early 21st century and decide that the obsessive focus on Co2 and global warming gutted the environmental movements effectiveness for a generation.”

Twenty years ago, the clean air and water acts enjoyed tremendous public support, even grudgingly among Republicans. No one, even in the Left-hated Reagan Administration, ever made a serious effort to impinge on them. However, over the last 20 years, environmentalists have overreached themselves. Their obsession on climate and other crazy overreaches (like the Waters of the United States rules) have caused a lot of people to starting thinking all environmentalism is bullsh*t. Yet another way the global warming obsession is undermining the environmental movement.

Mark Perry: Wednesday evening links, all charts and map edition – pictures (graphs) can make a point. The Map of the Day shows the relative sizes of stock market capitalization, Trade freedom is compared to GDP per capita, exports are compared to imports, the newspaper jobs history graph shows a remarkable reversal, college costs have risen much faster than inflation, and gender differences in colleges have also flipped.

Just wondering though, with all of that admirable and demonstrated success at dominating academically in higher education, do we really still need thousands of women’s centers and commissions across the country at almost every college and university? Perhaps they were necessary before 1980 to help women succeed in college, but their superiority over men in earning college degrees for more than three decades might suggest they don’t need any special or extra help today that isn’t also available and offered to men?

The 60/40 flip in colleges favoring women seems to be correlated with the overwhelming bias and activism on campus. This might be something to examine. Medical school graduates are now close to gender parity but still do not show the overall campus feminine bias. Might this have something to do with the hard STEM emphasis in medicine?

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3/7/2017: A bonfire built by the Left

Ed Feulner: Eradicating election fraud – “It’s common sense that voters should show an ID.”

Efforts to enact even the simplest reforms of voter laws — not only in New Hampshire, but elsewhere nationwide — are met with bitter opposition from liberals. Every proposal is greeted with hysterical and baseless accusations of racism and disenfranchisement.

Indeed, Ms. Young notes, liberals try to compound the problem. They “open the door to more fraud by championing changes to the process like mandatory voter registration, all mail-in voting, same-day registration, no-excuse absentee voting, and not requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration.” You almost expect every box of cereal to carry a voter-registration form these days.

President Trump has wisely called for an investigation into voter fraud: “You have people that are registered who are dead, who are illegals, who are in two states. You have people registered in two states. They vote twice.”

Richard Berman: Minimum wage resistance – “Localities are fighting back to save collapsing businesses.”

The stories of job loss and business closures caused by big wage hikes are a far more powerful check on policymakers considering starter wage increases than basic economic logic. Personal stories tap into the anger and sadness — emotions necessary to change perspectives — whereas another economic study usually doesn’t register.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to share some recent stories of minimum wage harm with the hope of convincing policymakers to join the resistance. Sadly, I don’t have enough room to highlight all the recent consequences. What I have chosen to illustrate are examples of the recent fallout in only two states — Arizona and Washington. (For a more complete list of stories, visit Facesof15.com.)

And these lost jobs (as well as those that will not be created) are opportunities that go beyond the loss of a paycheck. They cut off the valuable first rung of the employment ladder that propel people with low skills toward careers and away from government dependency and violent crimes.

It’s often said you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. If you want to be part of the latter, forward this article to your friends and peers. Only with a more informed electorate can we expect rational economics to be the political default option.

Andrew Follett notes that New York Won’t Allow Cost Of Green Energy Mandates To Appear On Power Bills – “New York regulators shot down plans to list on utility bills how much extra customers will pay under the state’s new Clean Energy Standard (CES).”

Green energy subsidies in New York are worth more than double existing federal subsidies. Federal green energy tax credits are worth $23 per megawatt-hour of power, while state subsidies are valued at up to $47.24 per megawatt-hour.

New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), the state’s power grid regulator, sharply criticized Cuomo’s plan to boost state green energy use, saying it could cause blackouts and would make it hard to ensure reliable electricity.

Solar and wind power get 326 and 69 times more in subsidies than coal, oil and natural gas for the comparative amount of energy generated, according to 2013 Department of Energy data collected by Forbes. Green energy in the U.S. got $13 billion in subsidies during 2013, compared to $3.4 billion in subsidies for conventional sources and $1.7 billion for nuclear energy according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Kelly Riddell: Five reasons why Trump’s wiretapping claims aren’t crazy – “There are many reasons to question Mr. Trump’s charges, but still, there are many reasons to take them seriously. Below is a list of why some Republicans are wary at the Democratic response so far, and why Mr. Trump may have a point.” Richard Fernandez has an interesting analogy for Trump’s tactics in a story of Long Knives – “The most singular thing about Donald Trump’s wiretap accusation against Barack Obama is how he’s refusing to play the game of extremities…”

The story illustrates how in a sword fight, as in politics, the combatants often attack each other’s extremities (sword hand, extended foot, arm) first before venturing into body strike range. To get into killing range you must often risk being killed yourself. So sword fighters usually wait for their foes to weaken or an opening to develop. … Trump’s gone right past Schumer, ignored the surrogates and gone straight for the former president himself.

This escalation represents a real threat to Obama. Suddenly everything is out of control. Nobody would have minded much if Trump had gone after one of Obama’s henchmen — which is probably what was expected — but none can foresee how an exchange of blades between principals will end. It is safe to say, however, that unless the combatants disengage, someone will get hurt. It will be a terrible moment for American political civility when a king lies on the political floor. The whole point of a peaceful transition of power is to prevent a clash between kings. Yet the very tragedy the electoral process is intended to prevent is happening before our eyes.

VDH has more in this vein on The Ancient Laws of Unintended Consequences – “Eight years of a fawning press have made the Left reckless.” It is an important, if rather lengthy summary, of the leadup to a bonfire built by the Left.

Something like hubris incurring Nemesis is now following the frenzied progressive effort to nullify the Trump presidency.

“Fake news” was a term the Left invented to describe the ancient practice of propaganda

Thus “fake news” seemed a proper if belated summation and clarification of years of liberal bias in the media that were supposed to be our custodian of the truth.

Is “fake news” also the proper description for nonfactual accounts of “hate crimes,” an increasingly percentage of which prove to be pure inventions (at the University of Louisiana, in North Carolina, in Santa Monica, etc.) fabricated to accord the “victim” media attention, compensation, or sympathy?

Illegal immigration offers another Nemesis moment. Media outrage now surrounds almost every effort by ICE authorities to detain an illegal alien on deportation lists compiled during the Obama administration. Activists, Democratic politicians, and Mexico itself allege that the Trump administration is hounding the blameless, as if there were neither immigration law nor a concept of deportation for violations of it.

the subject of election-time courting of Russia suddenly reopened the question of past Democratic electioneering gymnastics with foreign powers,

But Nemesis was not done. It is now reported that the Obama administration during the campaign went to a FISA court to tap the communications of Trump-campaign officials and unofficial supporters.

But then Nemesis again appeared. It turned out that almost everyone in Washington — especially Sessions’s Democratic accusers — had met with the Russians

Finally, after Democrats, Obama officials, and the media massaged the leaks from surveillance of Team Trump, in Samson-like fashion, Trump pulled down the temple on everyone — by tweeting groundbreaking but unsupported accusations that a sitting president of the United States and his team were the catalysts for such unlawful tapping.

We are learning that Trump is inexact and clumsy but often prescient; his opponents, usually deliberate and precise but disingenuous.

Behind the collapse of the ‘Russia Hacking’ narrative, is panic spreading in the Obama camp? by Thomas Lifson – “Make no mistake: the Saturday morning tweet sent out by President Trump alleging tapping of phones in Trump Tower has changed the political calculus on both sides.”

The mainstream media obsessively calls his charge “unsupported” by evidence, and denigrates it as imprecise and incomplete. Yet, as Andrew McCarthy – a former Assistant US Attorney – explains in National Review, “While You Weren’t Looking, the Democrat–Media Election-Hacking Narrative Just Collapsed.”

By his tweet, President Trump forced the purveyors of this narrative to fiercely deny that any wiretapping took place at the Trump Tower. It is a no-win situation for the president’s enemies: either they repudiate their narrative of the last several months about Russia, or they admit that under President Obama, a spying effort was launched against the candidate of the opposition party.

Once again, Donald Trump is playing Road Runner to the Dem-media establishment’s Wile E. Coyote. His “rash”and “unsupported” tweet has decisively changed the game.

Lifson also thinks “that a trap has just sprung on the Democrats, and they need a fall guy.”

Now, the investigation will include the Watergate-like probability that conversations of Trump campaign officials were being listened to and the conversations leaked to the media. There is criminal liability to consider, and the need to pin responsibility on someone. All skillful criminals (the ones that stay out of jail for the big crimes) understand the need for a fall guy.

Which brings me to something truly extraordinary: an attorney general, just weeks out of office, posted a video calling for “marching”, “blood” and “death.”

It is still too early to have a lot of confidence in this reading of the murky waters of the Democrats’ internal power plays, but it does fit the pieces together pretty well.

Don’t bypass A.C. McCarthy: While You Weren’t Looking, the Democrat–Media Election-Hacking Narrative Just Collapsed – “That supposed FBI investigation of collusion with the Russians? Never mind …

But still, the media and Democrats have always had a serious vulnerability here — one they’ve never acknowledged because they’ve been too swept away by the political success of the fantasy narrative. It is this: At a certain point, if compelling evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to steal the election did not materialize, the much more interesting question becomes “How did the government obtain all this information that has been leaked to the media to prop up the story?” The most plausible answer to that question: The Obama administration, through the Justice Department and the FBI, was investigating the associates of the opposition party’s presidential nominee, and perhaps even the nominee himself, during the campaign. Otherwise, what explanation can there be for all of the investigative information — much of it classified, and thus illegal to disclose — that has been funneled to the press?

Ace is the ‘must read’ for the morning titled Charles Murray and the Flight 93 Election. “How far along the decline do you imagine we are? How close to the Point of No Return are we? … Because I guarantee you, your answer to this question largely determines your answer to the Great Trump Question.” He gets into the poles of the debate, the difficulties of the debate, and even “Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs.”

Stated as offensively and provocatively as possible (and I’m cribbing this from a cynical friend): Morality is a luxury good. Rich, prosperous countries breed a value of life. Desperately impoverished people will murder people for a meal.

To have one’s most elemental political needs satisfied and thus be free to think only about our Estonia policy is also a luxury good.

And not everyone has that luxury.

And even without anyone convincing anyone of anything at all, maybe just talking about this fundamental disagreement rationally instead of talking about each other could at least ease the frenzy of the fight.

Ace notes the tendency towards the ad hominem but fails to note that much of what he is describing is behavior. It is a critical distinction to make between behavior and the person. When he looks for dialog, he is looking for people who can discuss their behavior, not people who take any observation about their behavior as a personal affront. This gets into effective discipline and leadership and it also gets into correction of destructive personal behavior such as alcoholism or other drug dependencies. Both the Middlebury Murray fracas and Flight 93 were important because of behaviors, not the people. The Muslim racism charge – assuming Trump is blaming terrorism on Muslims rather than noting the behavior is overwhelming committed by a group with certain beliefs – is another example of failing to distinguish behavior from the person. This gets into the argument about profiling which, from a law enforcement perspective, is looking for specific behaviors while the Left insists it is discriminating against the person. The Voter ID argument falls into similar lines.

A bonfire has been built and it is burning. What will it consume?

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Two views of economics

In looking at the question of air fares over time, two articles popped up that provided an interesting compare and contrast in how different people see the same thing.

How Airline Ticket Prices Fell 50% in 30 Years (and Why Nobody Noticed) by Derek Thompson 2/28/2013. — “ there was simple reason why flying was absurdly expensive. That was the law.”

Don’t believe the airfare spin: Cost to travel is sky high by Joe Brancatelli 5/8/2014 — “The real price of flying has risen sharply since the dawn of deregulation and far outpaces the inflation rate of the last 40 years.”

That makes it clear that the divergence of views is about markets and regulation. There are clues about this in the titles used and empty claims, insinuations, and innuendo that drip out of one of the views. Brancatelli starts with “don’t believe the spin” which is an assertion that anyone who doesn’t share his view is lying. More in this vein is “we expect nothing less than obfuscation from Airlines for America” (the ‘evil corporation’ thesis) and “fool flyers into thinking that the lobbying group is anything but a front (the ‘stupid and ignorant consumer’ thesis).” A significant indicator is his “The “fare” you pay today isn’t an accurate reflection of your true cost of flying” which assumes price is somehow related to “true cost” which is an assumption that is grossly ignorant of economics. So how does Brancatelli support his thesis? Look at the conditions and qualifications he puts on his price comparisons in order to provide a supposedly even and fair comparison. It’s what is missing in his presentation that is the core of the argument.

In contrast, Thompson points out that managing cost and price is a matter of profitability and Brancatelli’s conditions and qualifications are matters of consumer choice that the airlines can use to find the sweet spot in what the customer values.

What Brancatelli says is that, if you want to fly now like you flew than, the actual price might be a bit higher. What Thompson says is that when you fly now, you have tools and choices at your disposal to balance the price you pay with the service that best suits what you want. 

The core issue? Who makes your purchasing decisions for you and to what extent? This is the same issue at play with Obamacare where the government decides what you must buy and you have no choice about whether to buy or not. The regulation tends to raise prices and that then generates a demand for price controls and that is a deadly spiral into the sort of depths we see in Venezuela right now.

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Watch California and learn what not to do

In the brouhaha about the electoral college, one observer reported that taking LA and NYC out of the election would have put the popular vote and the electoral college in sync. A more common observation just notes that the tilt in California would handle the difference. That means the electoral college procedure worked as intended for who wants LA and NYC or just California to govern the rest of us? A case in point is the pension panic in Loyalton, CA. See Californians See Their First Pension Cut. — “For years, we’ve been warning this day was coming: California pensioners in the small town of Loyalton have just been told that their benefits will be cut in 2017.”

Three years ago, Loyalton pulled out of CalPERS for current employees after being told that its accounts were only 40 percent funded even though the city had reliably paid its dues to the system. Now, CalPERS openly admits it’s punishing current Loyalton retirees for that decision.

This is just the beginning. CalPERS is only 65 percent funded overall, after failing to realize its expected 7.5 percent return.

The pension problem is much more than just a California problem, of course. It is even at the core of the Social Security solvency worries. California is just at the head of the pack and showing how ugly the situation can get. Somebody is going to pay. The state determined it is to be the pensioners in Loyalton right now. This might be a pity ploy to try to get the federal government – you and I – to pay. As can be seen in places like Cuba and Venezuela and many other socialist governments, there comes a point where you run out of other people’s money. 

There is another path, it is to grow more money rather than to print more money. That, coupled with improvements in management and governance, might reduce the pain. The problem is that the Left’s understanding of growing more money is a skewed and misplaces as their understanding of many other issues such as gun control and climate change. 

There are many lessons from history and California is providing such lessons much closer to home. Watch California and learn how to avoid their mistakes.

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Pipeline report: modern ‘social’ protest

The Survival Blog has a report based on information from one of the riot participants.

In talking to one of the “protesters”, he is paid $1500 per week with legal and medical costs covered. In addition, he receives a bonus each time he is arrested. Their encampment receives supplies and propane for free with multiple deliveries each week. He looks on it as a job, and this is not his first protest.

The Indians aren’t too happy but the State is kicking in to make sure that these rioters don’t freeze with on site support. One LEO thinks the state should provide bus service to a nice warm jail instead. 

A question not asked: Who is paying and why? 

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The worst. Except for all the others

Jon Evans has been around as a columnist for TechCrunch. What he sees lead him to suggest Three cheers for Valley capitalism.

It’s easy to be critical of the tech industry, and even easier to be critical of capitalism itself. Let us all continue to do so; criticism is valuable. But let’s remember that we do so because they are so important. Capitalism is still what lifts the world’s least fortunate out of poverty, and technology increasingly feels like the last, best hope of a world otherwise dead set on ruining itself.

I frequently complain about the industry myself in this space, but not this week, because I spent much of it in Havana … which basically felt like a picturesque disaster area, still under the thumb of oppressive one-party rule. It’s hard not to strongly approve of capitalism and free markets, for all of their flaws when left unchecked, after you see people excitedly queueing to buy tomatoes on one of the world’s most fertile islands.

For all of its obvious failings and its copious waste, the flywheel that is Silicon Valley and its outposts — spinning out startup after startup to test and experiment with new technology, absorbing their remains if they fail, accumulating their burgeoning energy if they succeed — remains an engine of change and progress unlike any other on the planet, with the possible exception of Shenzhen’s hardware ecosystem.

So let us not cease in our criticism. Let us remember that capitalism is only our least bad alternative, rather than one which is actively good; let’s keep a wise eye out for something better. Let us lambaste the tech industry when it sins, which is often.

But let’s remember to do so with a grudging respect, because there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot else out there offering much in the way of alternatives to various flavors of dystopia.

It appears that he can’t quite come to grips with the big picture. Silicon Valley (and Shenzhen) are only small components of something much larger. He has no clue as to what “actively good” might be and how the capitalism in his favored environment handles “its obvious failings and its copious waste.” He misses the feedback mechanisms and the factors that corrupt them and how the “flaws” are indeed checked and corrected.

There are lessons to be learned and there are examples out there (and in history) to provide this learning. It can be difficult. A grudging acceptance is one step in the right direction.

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The Malthusians and Feynman

Professor Motl was prompted by a Stephen Hawking left wing Malthusian assertion to cite a ‘been there, done that’ of another theoretical physicist who made more sense. Feynman vs Hawking on inequality in the world:

Feynman knew why this stuff was and still is garbage. Poverty is the default state of affairs and on the contrary, it’s growing wealth that is exceptional and requires some conditions to be fulfilled. Most importantly, the growing countries require the concentration of the capital which allows the appropriate people to invest into technology and education which create systems and facilities that are capable of producing the wealth and those are more important than the wealth itself!

So the inequality in the wealth is just a symptom of the actual, much deeper inequality in something else – the infrastructure, the concentration of the capital in the past, a free capitalist system that encourages the work that improves the society, education, and, even more deeply, people’s skills and will to educate themselves and do things that are useful for humans in their environment (e.g. their consumers) and/or mankind as a whole. Most of the mankind’s wealth didn’t exist to start with, wasn’t created by a theft from other humans, and it cannot be produced by redistribution. Redistribution is just a zero-sum game. Well, too much redistribution is really a negative-sum game because it discourages the people from working hard and creating new wealth.

You may see that Feynman has praised the machinery that produces the wealth and the #1 precondition for this machinery is the concentration of capital. But the concentration of capital is basically synonymous with inequality, something that both the Jewish leftist at Feynman’s conference as well as Stephen Hawking present as the #1 illness! So the leftists’ #1 culprit is basically the same as the sensible people’s #1 hero responsible for the progress in the world.

The inequality thing is a bogus construct for social warriors – people who need propaganda rather than substance. Those pushing it are thinking of the great physical discoveries of the archaeologists such as the pyramids and other great works of kings that concentrated capital and flaunted wealth and power but built nothing to improve the human condition. Compare and contrast to the concentration of capital in Western Cultures, especially in the U.S. Wealth was from the voluntary concentration of capital that built and created new wealth. People contributed to create a concentration of capital by choosing the people and their ideas that they thought would return a share of created wealth back to them. 

There is a glimmer of understanding of these concepts that has been prompted by the president elect’s nationalism and focus on the creation of manufacturing jobs in the U.S.A. The problem is that of negativity. For instance, the reduction in the workforce in agriculture coupled with the increase in output – a classic case of capital concentration creating a wealth that all people share in terms of nutrition – is seen as a reduction in labor and not as an increase in productivity. The result of productivity is seen as a zero sum game: if you produce all that is ‘needed’ then that is the total fixed sum. You’d think everything from cell phones to the gourmet craze to the organic infatuation would be enough to provide a clue otherwise but, no, Malthusian influence is strong with these folk. (see Malthusian Trap and Zero Sum Game on Wikipedia). 

Inequality is not a result but a symptom or indicator. “So the inequality in the wealth is just a symptom of the actual, much deeper inequality in something else. Wealth in aggregate becomes a measure of culture that encompasses the vigor of the people and their motivation to succeed, build, create, and grow. It is the difference between impoverished neighborhoods that are well kept and those that are decrepit. It is the difference between the animal (nonthinking, reactive, selfish) view of humanity of the Malthusians and others on the left and the humanitarian view that respects people and their abilities to behave in a way to improve not only themselves but their community as well.

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Free Range Kids so why not Free Market Medical?

The idea has been under attack much like Uber and Lyft but good ideas are hard to keep down. Taylor Millard provides his take on Changing the medical equation — “An Oklahoma doctor brings the market back to medicine.”

“We thought, ‘let’s just open our own place and get away from these lunatics and not deal with the federal government,’” Dr. Smith said, as he recounted the discussions prior to the center’s opening. “We decided we were going to be honest and fair with our pricing and not deal with the feds. And that was our mission.”

“Dealing with them was the easiest thing in the world,” patient Michelle Ray said. “I called to verify that the price listed on the website was inclusive and accurate. I made an appointment and they told me everything I would need before, during, and after surgery.”

In 2014 he helped launch the Free Market Medical Association, which hooks up patients with like-minded doctors. FMMA holds conferences to show doctors how to make a cash-only system work.

Let the market work!

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Trump keeps coming up right.

An IBD editorial wonders: Clinton Foundation Scandal: A Justice Department Cover-Up Exposed?. Of course, it is Trump’s money that has been subject to allegation but also, as usual, investigation in that direction does not find anything. Looking the other direction is a different matter. The State Propaganda Machine spends more time lambasting Trump’s crude and vulgar and ugly and demeaning and so on comments about the election being rigged or the Russian influence or the other problems he sees that everyone with eyeballs can see too.

One report has it that there are at least five FBI investigations into Clinton related corruption. One of them is has roots going back to the Holder decision to not worry about Black Panthers guarding a voting station. It is about the corruption in the DoJ itself.

Now it appears that Justice has successfully sidelined a critical investigation into the corrupt Clinton Foundation purely for political reasons. If so, then the Justice Department itself is guilty of obstructing justice.

This is the very definition of a “rigged system.”

There is a mad scrambling to defend against the light of day. Trump is getting more of those ‘he was right about that’ judgments as more see that he was talking about the shape of the forest and his detractors are trying to put his comments as talking about individual insect eaten leaves. That only goes so far. Maybe.

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Influence peddling

Instapundit posts a note

The Clintons don’t produce any desirable consumer products, or perform any traditionally useful services like accounting or dry cleaning. They have built no factories, dug no mines, nor worked any farms. They hold no patents and have developed no real estate. They are not medical doctors of rare skill. They haven’t starred in any hit movies or sung any popular songs. They have (allegedly) written and sold some books, but not the kind of bestsellers that get turned into TV shows and make real money.

And yet they have grown rich “beyond the dreams of avarice” since Bill left office nearly 16 years ago, and even richer since Hillary entered international politics just eight years ago.

How?

By peddling influence — an activity which generates great wealth only in a corrupt and overly bureaucratic society.

That’s the swamp that needs to be drained, and it runs much deeper and wider than most anyone realizes.

This cites Clinton Foundation’s Fundraisers Pressed Donors to Steer Business to Former President by James V. Grimaldi and Anupreeta Das at the The Wall Street Journal.

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Chasing El Dorado and burning bridges

An IBT Editorial: Apple Now, Google, Amazon Next? Why EU Hates Successful U.S. Firms.

Taxes: The European Union’s laughably misnamed “competition commission” has slapped a $15 billion penalty on Apple for supposed back payments of taxes. This is nothing more than a cash grab by money-hunrgy Eurocrats, and is Exhibit A in why the EU is failing.

We’ll spare you all the dry technicalities of Apple’s case because, in fact, the EU is going after a whole slew of mainly U.S. companies that do business there — including Google, Amazon, Starbucks and McDonald’s. The reasons in each instance are as varied as the companies themselves.

In the meantime, the EU has investigations going on just about every major successful U.S. company doing business there. But companies will only take so much abuse. Sadly, the EU’s socialist-leaning rulers show no signs that they get it.

It is the quest for gold and burning the bridges on the path to wealth. It is the appeal of socialism. It is the idea that money is found and discovered and must be taken from those that have it. The problem is that wealth is created and taking it from those that have it destroys the machinery that creates more of it. 

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Using the courts as a political weapon

A unanimous SCOTUS ruled on The McDonnell Case: Another Study in Criminal Law as Democratic Partisan Warfare. Clarice Feldman explains.

It’s common for those unhappy with a decision to criticize the partisanship of the judges involved, but the weakness of the case, which was evident when it was argued in the Supreme Court (and during the trial itself), and the fact that it was reversed unanimously warrants a raised eyebrow. It comes on the heels of the reversed prosecutions of then-Senator Ted Stevens, Governor Rick Perry, House Majority leader Tom DeLay, the IRS war on Obama’s opponents in the tea party and other conservative groups, and the outrageous trampling the rights of those who worked for and supported Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. This case and those matters lead to an inescapable conclusion: With the endorsement of partisan juries and/or judges, the Democratic Party seeks to and will use the power of the prosecution to destroy Republican political leaders and anyone who supports them.

The law was thus rather well settled on this point, and neither the prosecution nor the trial and appellate courts gave it the required deference nor exercised any reasonable (or fair) judgment on the salient issue.

In the meantime, McDonnell’s political career, finances and family have suffered greatly by this strained reading of the law to cover conduct which the Supreme Court and ordinary common sense supports was not criminal , but rather ordinary and perfectly proper official conduct.

What I would bet on is that Democrats will continue to stretch the criminal law for partisan advantage, and that, if elected; Hillary will appoint prosecutors and judges willing to continue to mount such legal warfare.

“Warrants a raised eyebrow?” That seems to be a bit of understatement, especially in light of the previous post about a cohort of partisan AG’s going after the First Amendment for the cause. The Left, and the Democrats, loose many and suffer many casualties but they keep going, keep at it, knowing that there will be an occasional victory and another small push forward in the cause.

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Another unnecessary cost for those who can least afford it

Nicole Raz reports that Nevada has a trash problem — but in reverse.

Throwing trash into a landfill is so cheap in Nevada that it’s posing a challenge for the state to beef up more eco-friendly waste management programs.

In most other states, where the cost of land is higher than Nevada’s, there is an economic incentive to divert waste from landfills and look to other means of more eco-friendly waste management, like composting.

Noack said it largely comes down to demand.

“And there is demand, and we see it even with tourists,” he said, adding that he will get complaints from people about a lack of recycling bins on the Strip.

“Something should be done in that regard, but the way we have made inroads with some of these casinos is through green events, green buildings, zero waste. They themselves want to be LEED Platinum to get an award,” Noack said. “If we can get one going, then you can shame the others into also becoming green properties.”

He added that demand from residents is limited because people don’t want to pay more for their monthly garbage bill.

People seem to forget that landfills are also recycling, just slower (and more natural!). Nevada is getting hit on a lot of these expensive PC fronts these days. Consider the effort to subsidize solar and the response at solar energy fairness.

It Nevada it used to be ‘leave me alone’ but these days it seems that there are those who can’t leave anybody alone and want others to pay for their fantasies.

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Believe it or not (and, no, this isn’t Ripley)

Mark Perry put up another map comparing U.S. state economies to that of foreign countries to try to illustrate just how massive the U.S. economy really is. The comparisons of GDP is only part of the story. There is another, more stunning, statistic about the power of the U.S. IBT comments Just How Crazy Big Is The U.S. Economy?

Economist and IBD contributor Mark Perry recently put together a map of the U.S., with the state names replaced with countries that have comparably sized economies. It is eye-opening.

New York’s economy, for example, is equal in size to all of Canada. California’s is as big as France. New Jersey and Saudi Arabia have comparable GDPs.

Perry’s map doesn’t show this, but you’d only have to combine Texas, Florida and Indiana to have a GDP that’s bigger than all of the U.K.
Overall, he notes, the U.S. produces 24.5% of the world’s economic output, but with less than 5% of its population.

There’s a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth at how much the U.S. consumes and a lot of this is in the zero sum game paradigm where what one has was taken from somebody who now doesn’t have. As with nearly every such manufactured crisis about how the world is going to run out of something, the paradigm is palpably wrong.

Perry points out that wealth is created and the U.S. does a better job of this creation than nearly another other country on the planet and by usually quite a large margin. Despite the numbers, many citizens don’t believe it. This may be because they are too close and cannot gain a broad perspective of just how good they have it. That provides opportunity for politicians. Sanders wants to emulate one poor producing country and Trump wants to protect against those who can’t compete.

Believe it or not, the U.S. is a big country in very many ways.

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