Sweden Burning

February 22nd, 2017

God looks out for children, drunks, the United States of America, and Donald Trump.

Trump is like a magic machine that instantly creates hubris in his enemies just for it to be clobbered by nemesis in short order. Like this week:

Trump: Whoa, look what happened in Sweden last night!

Liberals: Ha ha, there was no Swedish incident! Trump is a moron! A rube! A—

Sweden: BOOM!

Right after liberals had piked up several more pallets of smug from Sam’s comes word of riots breaking out in the Stockholm borough of Rinkeby, with those delightful Muslim immigrants we keep hearing so much about throwing stones and burning cars.

If Rinkeby sounds vaguely familiar, that’s where a 60 Minutes film crew was assaulted last year:

“There are no 55 declared no-go zones in Sweden.” A Swedish resident confirms what it’s like to live in one (all spelling [sic] from the original Swedish source):

Some claim that it is really dangerous to go to specific areas in Sweden. There is a term being used in Sweden that is ”no go zones”. I live in an area often described as that and well, i can go outside any time I want and walk around the area and nothing special will happen. But, at the same time, lots of people still does not feel safe in this area. Some of them is security personell and police officers.

And car owners. There is a lot of cars being set on fire. I have not a perfect answer yet to why this is happening. Some cars that are set on fire is about insurance fraud. I would say that more of those fires is about keeping the police busy. Just a few blocks away, there is lots of drugs being sold on the streets. If there is a police with resources to act, it means bad business for the local druglords. So lots of cars being set on fire is related to this, just to keep the police busy.

Some claim that cars being set on fire is about some muslim takeover or some kind of jihad. There is no evidence at all for that. I have never really seen anything than confirms such a claim.

But what is true is that the police get attacked in some of these no go zones. I have seen, and filmed that, myself. Immigrant kids throw rocks and even molotov-cocktails towards police officers during riots. The most known riots was those in Husby in northern Stockholm in 2013. Such riots does not happen very often, but there is definately tensions just below the surface in these areas, so we can most probably expect somewhat similar stuff going on in the future.

And working as a police officer in these areas means you often need back up from your colleagues. It happen more and more often that police officers are getting physical attacked. In an area nearby where i live someone threw a hand grenade towards the police who was sitting in a van. It was pretty much pure luck that they didn’t get injured. At other occasions there is molotov cocktails being thrown at the police and other stuff that can seriously harm, or even kill, a police officer.

So, well, you can’t totally deny that for some people these areas could be considered ”no go areas”. And, oh yes, some of these areas is pretty much ”no go” if you are trying to film or takes photos. There is a big chance that you will be attacked. It have happened to me and a lot of others as well.

Sweden bold social experiment in letting in refugees isn’t going as well as they hoped:

Sweden’s admirable humanitarianism is outstripping its capacity to absorb newcomers. Nothing if not an earnest and well-meaning society, Sweden has always accepted more than its share of refugees. Immigration was already at elevated levels before the latest influx into Europe from the Middle East, which prompted Sweden to try to see and raise the reckless open-borders policy of German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Sweden welcomed more than 160,000 asylum-seekers in 2015, including nearly 40,000 in October of that year alone. For a country of fewer than 10 million, this was almost equal to 2 percent of the population — in one year. The flow doubled the number of asylum-seekers at the height of the Balkans crisis in 1992.

The foreign-born proportion of the Swedish population was 18 percent in 2016, double that of 1990. As of 2015, the most common county of origin for the foreign-born was Finland, which makes sense as it is a neighboring Scandinavian country. Next are Iraq and Syria.

Predictably, it isn’t easy to integrate people who don’t know the language, aren’t highly skilled, and come from a foreign culture. Sweden’s economic policies don’t help. As a report of the Migration Policy Institute put it politely, Sweden is “an interesting case” because “the state is committed to fostering large-scale immigration despite huge integration challenges in the labor market.”

There is a stark gap in the labor-force-participation rate between the native born (82 percent) and the foreign born (57 percent). As the Migration Policy Institute points out, Sweden is an advanced economy with relatively few low-skills jobs to begin with. On top of this, high minimum wages and stringent labor protections make it harder for marginal workers to find employment, while social assistance discourages the unemployed from getting work.

None of this is a formula for assimilation or social tranquility. In a piece for The Spectator, Swedish journalist Tove Lifvendahl writes, “A parallel society is emerging where the state’s monopoly on law and order is being challenged.”

And the fiscal cost is high. According to Swedish economist Tino Sanandaji, the country spends 1.5 percent of its GDP on the asylum-seekers, more than on its defense budget. Sweden is spending twice the entire budget of the United Nations High Commissioner responsible for refugees worldwide. Pressed for housing, Sweden has spent as much on sheltering 3,000 people in tents as it would cost to care for 100,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan.

On top of all that, rapes in Sweden increased 13% last year, and hate crimes against Jews are on the rise as well.

The problems of non-assimilated Muslim immigrants are replicated across much of Europe, but Sweden’s case is particularly acute…

Milo Screws Up, Apologizes

February 21st, 2017

Not gonna talk about it.

Not gonna talk about it.

Not gonna talk about it.

Not gonna—

DAMMIT!

I wanted to avoid the whole “Milo Yiannopoulos Defends Pedophilia Controversy” because there’s too much squick factor and more heat than light surrounding the issue.

Here’s the statement that landed the once and future @Nero in hot water:

MY: In the homosexual world, particularly, some of those relationships between younger boys and older men — the sort of ‘coming of age’ relationship — those relationships in which those older men help those young boys discover who they are and give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable, sort of rock, where they can’t speak to their parents.

(Unnamed interviewer): It sounds like molestation to me. It sounds like Catholic priest molestation to me.

MY: But you know what? I’m grateful for Father Michael. I wouldn’t give nearly such good head if it wasn’t for him.

That…does not sound good. Especially given the gay community’s notorious tolerance for what they euphemistically call “eubophilia” (i.e., an attraction to post-pubescent teens still under the age of consent). Indeed, science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany has explicitly endorsed such relationships in a way Yiannopoulos didn’t.

But those comments, as released, seem to have content deliberately excised from them, as per Stephen Green at Instapundit:

The law is probably about right, that’s probably roughly the right age. I think it’s probably about okay, but there are certainly people who are capable of giving consent at a younger age, I certainly consider myself to be one of them, people who are sexually active younger. I think it particularly happens in the gay world by the way. In many cases actually those relationships with older men…This is one reason I hate the left. This stupid one size fits all policing of culture. (People speak over each other). This sort of arbitrary and oppressive idea of consent, which totally destroys you know understanding that many of us have. The complexities and subtleties and complicated nature of many relationships. You know, people are messy and complex. In the homosexual world particularly. Some of those relationships between younger boys and older men, the sort of coming of age relationships, the relationships in which those older men help those young boys to discover who they are, and give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable and sort of a rock where they can’t speak to their parents. Some of those relationships are the most-

And this was evidently edited out as well:

You’re misunderstanding what pedophilia means. Pedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13-years-old who is sexually mature. Pedophilia is attraction to children who have not reached puberty. Pedophilia is attraction to people who don’t have functioning sex organs yet. Who have not gone through puberty… That’s not what we are talking about. You don’t understand what pedophilia is if you are saying I’m defending it because I’m certainly not.

Still not great, but far from the “defense of pedophilia” Yiannopoulos’ critics have made it.

For his comments, Yiannopoulos has been disinvited from speaking at CPAC (an event that was already controversial due to CPAC board members not being informed of his invitation in the first place) and his book deal has been been cancelled. (The way these things are usually handled, Yiannopoulos will get to keep his advance money and is free to sell the book elsewhere. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him go the route of a successful Kickstater.)

Yiannopoulos has both apologized for his comments and said that they were taken out of context:

I am a gay man, and a child abuse victim.

I would like to restate my utter disgust at adults who sexually abuse minors. I am horrified by pedophilia and I have devoted large portions of my career as a journalist to exposing child abusers. I’ve outed three of them, in fact — three more than most of my critics. And I’ve repeatedly expressed disgust at pedophilia in my feature and opinion writing. My professional record is very clear.

But I do understand that these videos, even though some of them are edited deceptively, paint a different picture.

I’m partly to blame. My own experiences as a victim led me to believe I could say anything I wanted to on this subject, no matter how outrageous. But I understand that my usual blend of British sarcasm, provocation and gallows humor might have come across as flippancy, a lack of care for other victims or, worse, “advocacy.” I deeply regret that. People deal with things from their past in different ways.

As to some of the specific claims being made, sometimes things tumble out of your mouth on these long, late-night live-streams, when everyone is spit-balling, that are incompletely expressed or not what you intended. Nonetheless, I’ve reviewed the tapes that appeared last night in their proper full context and I don’t believe they say what is being reported.

I do not advocate for illegal behavior. I explicitly say on the tapes that I think the current age of consent is “about right.”

I do not believe sex with 13-year-olds is okay. When I mentioned the number 13, I was talking about the age I lost my own virginity.

I shouldn’t have used the word “boy” — which gay men often do to describe young men of consenting age — instead of “young man.” That was an error.

I am certainly guilty of imprecise language, which I regret.

Anyone who suggests I turn a blind eye to illegal activity or to the abuse of minors is unequivocally wrong. I am implacably opposed to the normalization of pedophilia and I will continue to report and speak accordingly.

Rating: Plausible. The bit about Father Michael and giving head did indeed sound to me like black humor rather than advocacy. As for the rest, it should be no surprise that a professional troll and shit-talker managed to go too far. Yiannopoulos did not confess to being a child molester, he confessed to not minding being molested; disturbing enough in its own way, but not remotely the same order of magnitude of disturbing.

In any event, Yiannopoulos screwed up, paid the price, and apologized. But the furor with which he has been attacked by many in the “professional conservative” ranks (i.e., those insider and establishment types that were #NeverTrump even when the only other option was a Hillary Clinton presidency). It seems that President Trump’s success has so unhinged them (I’m looking at you, Bill Kristol) that they wanted to take Yiannopoulos’ scalp because they couldn’t take Trump’s. They’d still rather lose politely with Romney than win a bare-knuckles brawl with Trump due to their own status anxiety over being Important.

What I do know is that Milo Yiannopoulos has always stood up for freedom of speech and against Social Justice Warriors trying to silence any who oppose them. It’s perfectly acceptable to me that conservatives would ask Yiannopoulos be disinvited as speaker over his comments. What wouldn’t be acceptable is if “conservatives” launched a violent riot to prevent him from speaking, but leftists actually did launch a riot to keep him from speaking. And that would have been unacceptable even if he had been there to launch a enthusiastic intellectual defense of pedophilia. (Which, of course, he wasn’t.)

No wonder I didn’t want to write this piece, as it will probably please exactly no one (even me).

Ace of Spades also has some thoughts on Yiannopoulos and outrage culture. “Who knows — maybe this very post you’re reading right now will be cited as the reason Ace Must Now Be Purged to Maintain the Purity of the Body of the Church of Twitter.”

Trump Budget to Eliminate PBS, NEA, NEH, LCS, Americorps?

February 20th, 2017

Let’s take a look at this New York Times piece titled “Popular Domestic Programs Face Ax Under First Trump Budget.”

WASHINGTON — The White House budget office has drafted a hit list of programs that President Trump could eliminate to trim domestic spending, including longstanding conservative targets like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, AmeriCorps and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities.

At this point I have to break out this Archer meme:

You know what all these programs have in common: None are constitutionally enumerated concerns of the federal government.

And note the headline: “Popular Domestic Programs.” Popular to who? Why, Democrats, of course. I would imagine that 90+% of the money spent on those programs goes directly into the pockets of Democrats, and mostly well-heeled and well-connected ones at that.

More:

Work on the first Trump administration budget has been delayed as the budget office awaited Senate confirmation of former Representative Mick Mulvaney, a spending hard-liner, as budget director. Now that he is in place, his office is ready to move ahead with a list of nine programs to eliminate, an opening salvo in the Trump administration’s effort to reorder the government and increase spending on defense and infrastructure.

Most of the programs cost under $500 million annually, a pittance for a government that is projected to spend about $4 trillion this year. And a few are surprising, even though most if not all have been perennial targets for conservatives.

Mr. Trump has spoken volubly about the nation’s drug problems, yet the list includes the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, which dispenses grants to reduce drug use and drug trafficking. And despite Mr. Trump’s vocal promotion of American exports, the list includes the Export-Import Bank, which has guaranteed loans to foreign customers of American companies since the 1930s.

While the total amount of annual savings of roughly $2.5 billion would be comparatively small, administration officials want to highlight the agencies in their coming budget proposal as examples of misuse of taxpayer dollars. An internal memo circulated within the Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday, and obtained by The New York Times, notes that the list could change. Proposals for more extensive cuts in cabinet-level agencies are expected to follow.

All this, of course, could be a trial balloon, and the actual budget cuts could be far more timid. But overall, it’s exceptionally promising, especially since Trump did not evidence much (if any) enthusiasm for budget cutting on the campaign trail. But a willingness to kill entire agencies (especially those that make of some of the Democratic Party’s favorite slush funds) is incredibly heartening.

If America is going to deal with the existential threat that is the national debt, there needs to be a lot more budget cutting ahead.

Happy President’s Day

February 20th, 2017

In celebration, I’m relinking this classic Presidential knife fight post:

In a mass knife fight to the death between every American President, who would win and why? Someone beat me to the obvious answer that a final showdown would see Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt doing a dagger-wielding version of a Mexican standoff, so I took it too far and walked through how I thought every president would turn out. An hour later the result greatly exceeded the maximum 10,000 character limit for a post, so I’ve decided to blog about it instead.

Read the whole thing, if you haven’t already. It’s pretty much why blogging was invented…

I May Have to Buy This Shirt

February 18th, 2017

This one right here.

W Shark

And if there’s a Kickstarter to get that scene into Sharknado 5, I’m in…

LinkSwarm for February 17, 2017

February 17th, 2017

Welcome to another Friday LinkSwarm! Absent from this roundup is who really got National Security Advisor Mike Flynn axed, because there’s not enough time in the world to read all those links…

  • Illegal alien convicted of that voting fraud Democrats swear doesn’t exit. Pro-tip: One key to avoiding deportations is to avoid committing felonies… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “If a border wall stopped a small fraction of the illegal immigrants who are expected to come in the next decade, the fiscal savings from having fewer illegal immigrants in the country would be sufficient to cover the costs of the wall.”
  • Revised executive travel order coming soon?
  • Former Democratic Senator Jim Webb has a message for Democrats:

    The Democrats have not done the kind of self reflection that they should have, starting in 2010. And I was talking about this in the ’10 elections. You’ve lost white working people, you’ve lost flyover land, and you saw in this election what happens when people get frustrated enough that they say, ‘I’m not going to take this Aristocracy.’ You know Bernie’s a good friend of mine, Bernie can talk about Aristocracies all he wants.

    You know, the fact that you’ve made money doesn’t make you a member of that philosophy. Look at Franklin Roosevelt. But there is an Aristocracy now that pervades American politics, it’s got to be broken somehow, in both parties, and I think that’s what the Trump message was that echoed so strongly in these flyover communities.

    One wonders if Webb was using “flyover country” for emphasis, or if Democrats actually use “flyover country” seriously when taking amongst themselves. If so, they might add that to the list of reasons middle America hates Democratic coastal elites…

  • Obama vastly increased the NSA’s powers on his way out the door. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • This Politico piece on thinkers that have influenced Steve Bannon (and thus President Trump) is neither to be taken entirely at face value, nor dismissed out of hand. It includes mention of Curtis Yarvin AKA Mencius Moldbug AKA “the Urbit guy” that Social Justice Warriors keep trying to keep from speaking, as well as the author of the much-cited “Flight 93 Election” manifesto. They’re interesting thinkers, but I rather doubt they’re at the center of Trump’s political ideas.
  • Over 100 rioters from President Trump’s inauguration indicted on rioting charges.
  • Trump and the GOP congress have already cut $2.8 billion in regulations. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “The EU country whose brutal crackdown on Muslim migrants makes Trump look liberal.” Spoiler: It’s Hungary.
  • Woman who lived under Hitler says Trump isn’t Hitler.
  • Iowa follows Wisconsin’s lead on reigning in the power of public sector unions.
  • Prominent Jewish Democrats are increasing uneasy with Keith Ellison as DNC chair. “‘It’s almost like the Democrats want to entirely destroy their party,’ [Democratic New York state assemblyman Dov] Hikind said. ‘When someone like Ellison can be a leading candidate to be the head of a major party, we’re in a lot of trouble.'”
  • Pro-Palestinian reporter changes his mind after living in Israel for 18 months:

    Before I moved to Jerusalem, I was very pro-Palestinian. Almost everyone I knew was. I grew up Protestant in a quaint, politically correct New England town; almost everyone around me was liberal. And being liberal in America comes with a pantheon of beliefs: You support pluralism, tolerance and diversity. You support gay rights, access to abortion and gun control.

    The belief that Israel is unjustly bullying the Palestinians is an inextricable part of this pantheon. Most progressives in the US view Israel as an aggressor, oppressing the poor noble Arabs who are being so brutally denied their freedom.

    Snip.

    IT WASN’T until the violence became personal that I began to see the Israeli side with greater clarity. As the “Stabbing Intifada” (as it later became known) kicked into full gear, I traveled to the impoverished East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan for a story I was writing.

    As soon as I arrived, a Palestinian kid who was perhaps 13 years old pointed at me and shouted “Yehud!” which means “Jew” in Arabic. Immediately, a large group of his friends who’d been hanging out nearby were running toward me with a terrifying sparkle in their eyes. “Yehud! Yehud!” they shouted. I felt my heart start to pound. I shouted at them in Arabic “Ana mish yehud! Ana mish yehud!” (“I’m not Jewish, I’m not Jewish!”) over and over. I told them, also in Arabic, that I was an American journalist who “loved Palestine.” They calmed down after that, but the look in their eyes when they first saw me is something I’ll never forget. Later, at a house party in Amman, I met a Palestinian guy who’d grown up in Silwan. “If you were Jewish, they probably would have killed you,” he said.

    Snip.

    Even the kindest, most educated, upper-class Palestinians reject 100 percent of Israel ‒ not just the occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. They simply will not be content with a two-state solution ‒ what they want is to return to their ancestral homes in Ramle and Jaffa and Haifa and other places in 1948 Israel, within the Green Line. And they want the Israelis who live there now to leave. They almost never speak of coexistence; they speak of expulsion, of taking back “their” land.

  • UK journalists heads explode when Trump’s climate advisor tells them the truth. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Gay liberal New York writer does even-handed profile of Milo…and is instantly ostracized. “I realized that, for the first time in my adult life, I was outside of the liberal bubble and looking in. What I saw was ugly, lock step, incurious and mean-spirited.”
  • The MSM lose their minds when Trump lets outlets other than themselves ask questions.
  • The media spends months complaining Trump won’t let them ask question, then complains when he does because they don’t like the answers.
  • Ann Althouse watches President Trump’s press conference so I don’t have to.
  • The New York Times is very upset President Trump is fighting back. “The constant Moonbat attacks on Trump are one of the reasons Trump won. And Trump knows that the vast majority of the media, which votes Democrat and allows their person political beliefs to color all their coverage, will never give him a chance and or honest coverage so why not fight back?” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Islamic State suicide bomber kills 100 at Sufi mosque in Pakistan.
  • Paris burns again.
  • Putin is cozying up Iran just as it’s suffering the same demographic crash affecting so many nations:

    Iran is dying, and no one knows it better than Vladimir Putin, who worked successfully to raise Russia’s fertility rate, unlike Iran’s theocrats, who have failed to persuade Iranians to have children.

    Russia’s relationship to the only Shi’ite state of significance is less an alliance than a dalliance, motivated by Moscow’s fear of Sunni radicalism and its desire to establish a strategic beachhead in the Middle East.

    But Iran is a depreciating asset whose value will disappear within a 20-year horizon. The question is not whether, but at what price Russia will trade it away.

    Snip.

    First, Iran may well become the first country in the world that will get old before it gets rich. Its fertility rate (the number of live births over the lifetime of an average woman) fell from 7 in 1979 to perhaps 1.7 today.

    That produced an enormous generation of people now in their 20s to 40s who have very few children. As this generation ages, the proportion of Iranians over the age of 60 will soar from about 7% today to around 40% by mid-century.

    Other countries face an aging crisis, but with ten times the per capita income: Iran’s nominal GDP per capita is only US$5,300, compared with US$56,000 for the United States, for example.No poor country can care for an elderly population comprising two-fifths of the total. Iran will undergo an economic disaster unprecedented in history. That is baked in the cake, and nothing its government can do will make much different at this late stage.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Louisiana Democrat state senator resigns after repeatedly beating his wife.
  • New York coop provides a microcosm of why Socialism doesn’t work:

    The year isn’t off to a good start for the Park Slope Food Coop. In January, two members of the venerable Brooklyn institution were accused of stealing more than $18,000 worth of goods. Each had been caught shoplifting once, and when police consulted surveillance tapes, it turned out that the two men (one of whom was 79 years old!) had some seriously sticky fingers.

    Snip.

    In 2013, The New York Times reported the shop lost $438,000 in stolen items.

    But that’s only a drop in the bucket compared to the value that’s recently been lost from the coop’s pension fund. The fund — which is for staff, not members — had been invested in small, speculative companies and racked up two years of losses.

    According to the Times, “It appears to have gone into hedge-fund mode years ago, when one co-op member, also a hedge-fund investor, made stock-picking his unpaid job.” Last summer, members were told that the coop had to pour in more than $1 million to keep it flush.

    Snip.

    In 2011, for instance, coop members were caught paying other people — notably their nannies — to take over their 2-hour-per-week shifts at the market. As it turned out, the well-heeled bankers and lawyers and psychiatrists in the neighborhood who bill several hundred dollars an hour for their time didn’t think rearranging the broccoli was worth it.

    Hat tip: Instapundit, who also offers up the following illustration:

  • Blocking a road? Expect the NYPD to haul your ass to jail. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • More problems for Bill Clinton’s pal: “Pedophile Jeffrey Epstein is accused of luring an underage girl into his elaborate sex trafficking enterprise under the guise of using his wealth and connections to get her into a prestige NYC college.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Bill Maher defends booking Milo Yiannopoulos in the face of liberal boycotts.
  • Dear diabetics: You know that “U.S. ends subsidies for blood sugar testing strips” thing your more credulous friends posted on Facebook? Debunked.
  • Austin health food chain MyFitFoods shuts down.
  • Rare book heist in London: “In the early morning hours of January 30, a gang of thieves, in a carefully coordinated scheme, broke into a warehouse near London’s Heathrow airport and made off with over £2 million in rare books. The books, belonging to three different rare book dealers, were being shipped to the United States for the 50th Annual California International Antiquarian Book Fair this past weekend.” Complete list here. (Hat tip: Bill Crider.)
  • He contains multitudes:

  • He divided them.
  • Democratic State Senator Carlos Uresti’s Offices Raided by FBI, IRS

    February 16th, 2017

    Via Dwight comes word that the offices of Democratic State Senator Carlos Uresti have been raided by the FBI and the IRS:

    Agents have been confiscating documents from the office of the Democratic lawmaker.

    “I can confirm the FBI and IRS are lawfully present and conducting a lawful law enforcement activity,” FBI spokeswoman Michelle Lee told the Express-News.

    Lee also said no arrests have been made so far.

    Uresti is currently facing a grand jury investigation into possible public corruption charges related to his involvement with FourWinds, a San Antonio oil-field services company accused of defrauding investors.

    While Uresti is “innocent until proven guilty,” having both the FBI and IRS lawfully conducting lawful law enforcement in your office is not a good sign.

    When last we checked on Sen. Uresti, he was sharing a bathroom with a female staffer not his wife and involved in the UT admissions scandal.

    Here’s more on the FourWinds story, which I had not been previously following:

    The one-time marketing director for a bankrupt San Antonio frac-sand company with ties to state Sen. Carlos Uresti has been criminally charged in an alleged scheme to defraud investors.

    On Wednesday, Eric Nelson was charged in an information with conspiracy to commit wire fraud for allegedly altering a FourWinds Logistics’ bank statement to inflate the amount of money in the account. The bank statement was then mailed by an unnamed co-conspirator to prospective investors, according to the charging document.

    Nelson has agreed to a plea deal, according to sources, but records show that it is sealed. His attorneys declined to comment.

    The San Antonio Express-News in August chronicled the demise of FourWinds, which had more than $14 million in claims against it. Investors have alleged that CEO Stan Bates wasted their money on personal expenses, expensive gifts, exotic car rentals and lavish vacation, according to a court document. Bates has denied the allegations.

    Uresti provided legal services for FourWinds and served as its outside general counsel for four or five months in 2014, he said in an interview this summer. He received FourWinds shares, as well as a $40,000 loan from the company that he failed to disclose initially. He also collected a $27,000 commission on a Harlingen woman’s $900,000 investment in a joint venture with FourWinds. The woman ended up losing about $800,000.

    Really, who of us hasn’t forgotten a $40,000 loan? “Oh yeah! That little thing! Sorry, totally slipped my mind!”

    Uncle Sam’s mills grind slowly, but exceedingly fine. One way or another, I suspect Republicans will view Uresti’s west Texas District 19 as a pickup target in 2020…if not sooner…

    Texas vs. California Update for February 15, 2017

    February 15th, 2017

    Welcome to another Texas vs. California Roundup!

  • California Governor Jerry Brown wants to hike gas taxes by 42% to bail out CalPERS.
  • Brown’s pension reforms have failed:

    Since 2012 passage of his much-heralded changes to state retirement laws for public employee, the pension debt foisted on California taxpayers has only grown larger.

    The shortfall for California’s three statewide retirement systems has increased about 36 percent. Add in local pension systems and the total debt has reached at least $374 billion. That works out to about $29,000 per household.

    It’s actually much worse than that. Those numbers are calculated using the pension systems’ overly optimistic assumptions about future investment earnings.

    Using more conservative assumptions, the debt could be more than $1 trillion.

  • And speaking of Brown: Math is hard.
  • Why California can’t repair its infrastructure: “California’s government, like the federal government and most other state and local governments, spends its money on salaries, benefits, pensions, and other forms of employee compensation. The numbers are contentious — for obvious political reasons — but it is estimated that something between half and 80 percent of California’s state and local spending ultimately goes to employee compensation.”
  • Put another way: “Governor Moonbeam and the other leftist kooks in charge are flushing a staggering $10 billion down an unneeded high-speed rail project, on top of the still more staggering $25.3 billion per year they spend on the illegal aliens they have gone out of their way to welcome.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • California can’t afford green energy:

    California has the highest taxes overall in the nation, worst roads, underperforming schools, and the recent budget has at least a $1.6 billion shortfall.

    Moreover, depending on how the numbers are analyzed California has either a $1.3 or a $2.8 trillion outstanding debt. This is before counting the maintenance work needed for infrastructure, particularly roads, bridges and water systems. Yet tax increases aren’t covering these obligations.

  • Three of the ten least affordable cities in the World are in California: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose.
  • Austin named best city to live in the U.S. But wait! San Jose ranks third! I can only assume that “affordability” was not a significant criteria. Dallas/Ft. Worth ranks 15th (one ahead of San Francisco), Houston 20th, San Antonio 23rd (one behind San Diego).
  • “A sizzling residential real estate market fueled by incoming Californians, low supply, high demand, flat salaries, and local property taxes are pricing people out of homeownership in Austin.” More: “The Texas A&M Real Estate Center examined the Austin local market area (LMA) over five years. In January 2011, the Austin-Georgetown-Round Rock area median home prices were $199,700. By January 2015, that median hovered at $287,000. At the end of 2016, university real estate analysts found the home mid-price point at $332,000.” Of course, in my neck of the woods, $332,000 will buy you a 2,500 square foot house, while in San Francisco, you’d be lucky to find a 500 square foot condo…
  • “An IGS-UC Berkeley poll shows that 74 percent of Californians want sanctuary cities ended; 65 percent of Hispanics, 70 percent of independents, 73 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans.”
  • Of the top 20 cities for illegal aliens, five (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego and Riverside) are in California, while three (Houston, Austin and Dallas/Ft. Worth) are in Texas. I’m actually a bit surprised to see that San Antonio isn’t on that list, while Seattle and Boston are. “American citizens who paid into the system don’t receive benefits like long-term medical care because — in part — we’re all subsidizing aliens.”
  • California pays $25.3 billion in illegal alien benefits, or $2,370 per household. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • By contrast, Texas pays $12.1 billion in illegal alien benefits, or $1,187 per household. (IBID)
  • “In testimony provided before the California Senate’s Public Safety Committee, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) decided to admit that “half of his family” is residing in the United States illegally and with the possession of falsified Social Security Cards and green cards.”
  • “California spent on high-speed rail and illegal immigrants, but ignored Oroville Dam.”
  • Pensions are breaking budgets across San Diego. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Despite California having some of the best recreation spots in the world, we have systematically reduced our business in California by 50%, and I have a moratorium in place on accepting new business (I won’t even look at RFP’s and proposals to avoid being tempted.)”
  • That same blogger on why his company pulled out of Ventura, California. Like this:

    It took years in Ventura County to make even the simplest modifications to the campground we ran. For example, it took 7 separate permits from the County (each requiring a substantial payment) just to remove a wooden deck that the County inspector had condemned. In order to allow us to temporarily park a small concession trailer in the parking lot, we had to (among other steps) take a soil sample of the dirt under the asphalt of the parking lot. It took 3 years to permit a simple 500 gallon fuel tank with CARB and the County equivalent. The entire campground desperately needed a major renovation but the smallest change would have triggered millions of dollars of new facility requirements from the County that we simply could not afford.

    And this:

    A local attorney held regular evening meetings with my employees to brainstorm new ways the could sue our company under arcane California law. For example, we went through three iterations of rules and procedures trying to comply with California break law and changing “safe” harbors supposedly provided by California court decisions. We only successfully stopped the suits by implementing a fingerprint timekeeping system and making it an automatic termination offense to work through lunch. This operation has about 25 employees vs. 400 for the rest of the company. 100% of our lawsuits from employees over our entire 10-year history came from this one site. At first we thought it was a manager issue, so we kept sending in our best managers from around the country to run the place, but the suits just continued.

  • California has some of the highest taxes in the nation, but can’t pay for road maintenance:

    Texas has no state income tax, yet excellent highways and schools that perform above average, way above California’s bottom-dwellers. Yet both states have similar demographics. For example, in the 2010 U.S. Census, Texas was 37% Hispanic, California 37.6%.

    Texas is a First World state with no state income tax that enjoys great roads and schools. California is a Third World state restrained from getting worse only by its umbilical-cord attachment to the other 49 states, a cord the Calexit movement wants to cut, but won’t get to.

    California is Venezuela on the Pacific, a Third World state and wannabe Third World country; a place with great natural beauty, talented people, natural resources – and a government run by oligarchs and functionaries who treat the rest of us as peons.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • “Texas Ends 2016 with 210,200 Jobs Added Over the Year.”
  • All Houston does economically is win.

    The Houston metropolitan area’s population now stands at 6.6 million with the city itself a shade under 2.3 million. At its current rate of growth, Houston could replace Chicago as the nation’s third-largest city by 2030.

    Why would anyone move to Houston? Start with the economic record.

    Since 2000, no major metro region in America except for archrival Dallas-Fort Worth has created more jobs and attracted more people. Houston’s job base has expanded 36.5%; in comparison, New York employment is up 16.6%, the Bay Area 11.8%, and Chicago a measly 5.1%. Since 2010 alone, a half million jobs have been added.

    Some like Paul Krugman have dismissed Texas’ economic expansion, much of it concentrated in its largest cities, as primarily involving low-wage jobs, but employment in the Houston area’s professional and service sector, the largest source of high-wage jobs, has grown 48% since 2000, a rate almost twice that of the San Francisco region, two and half times that of New York or Chicago, and more than four times Los Angeles. In terms of STEM jobs the Bay Area has done slightly better, but Houston, with 22% job growth in STEM fields since 2001, has easily surpassed New York (2%), Los Angeles (flat) and Chicago (-3%).

    More important still, Houston, like other Texas cities, has done well in creating middle-class jobs, those paying between 80% and 200% of the median wage. Since 2001 Houston has boosted its middle-class employment by 26% compared to a 6% expansion nationally, according to the forecasting firm EMSI. This easily surpasses the record for all the cities preferred by our media and financial hegemons, including Washington (11%) and San Francisco (6%), and it’s far ahead of Los Angeles (4%), New York (3%) and Chicago, which lost 3% of its middle-class employment.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Texas conservative budget overview vs. the 2018-2019 proposed budget.
  • On the same subject: how to reduce the footprint of Texas government.
  • “Berkeley funds the Division of Equity and Inclusion with a cool $20 million annually and staffs it with 150 full-time functionaries: it takes that much money and personnel to drum into students’ heads how horribly Berkeley treats its “othered” students.”
  • New LA housing initiative to undo previous housing initiative. Frankly all of them sound like market-distorting initiatives guaranteed to backfire…
  • “California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more. And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco.”
  • “For the past five months, BART has been staffing its yet-to-open Warm Springs Station full time with five $73,609-a-year station agents and an $89,806-a-year train dispatch supervisor — even though no trains will be running there for at least another two months.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “After studying “tens of thousands of restaurants in the San Francisco area,” researchers Michael Luca of Harvard Business School and Dara Lee Luca of Mathematica Policy Research found that many lower rated restaurants have a unique way of dealing with minimum wage hikes: they simply go out of business.”
  • Meet Gordon, the robot barista. How’s that $15 an hour minimum wage working out for you, San Francisco?
  • “Nestle USA announced today that it is moving 300 technical, production and supply chain jobs to the Solon [Ohio] plant as part of the company’s plan to relocate its headquarters to Arlington, Virginia, from Glendale, California.”
  • Auto dealer AutoAlert is moving it’s headquarters from Irvine, California to Kansas City.
  • Peter Thiel to run for governor of California?
  • The Oakland Raiders may not be moving to Las Vegas after all, because billionaire Sheldon Adelson backed out of the stadium deal, accusing Raider owner Mark Davis of trying to screw him.
  • Now there’s talk the Raiders may rexamine moving to San Antonio.
  • Or even Dan Diego.
  • Lawsuits are flying over the Dallas Police and Fire pension fund debacle. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Meetup Doesn’t Want Republican Business

    February 14th, 2017

    Yesterday I got an email from Meetup, the company that allows you to set up group meetings:

    Meetup has always served as an organizing platform for a wide range of political views, welcoming everyone from the Howard Deaniacs to the Tea Party. Meetup will always welcome people with different beliefs.

    But after the recent executive order aimed to block people on the
    basis of nationality and religion, a line was crossed. At a time when core democratic ideals feel under attack, we feel a duty to spark more civic participation.

    Last week, we created 1,000+ #Resist Meetup Groups to act as local hubs for actions on behalf of democracy, equality, human rights, social justice, and sustainability. Already 50,000+ people have joined.

    These #Resist Meetups are open to anyone who want to create a bright future that’s rich with opportunity and freedom for all.

    Meetup exists to connect people so they create opportunity and make the world they want. We hope members take these Meetups forward to be powerful together.

    I’m not going to bother refuting the “block people on the basis of nationality and religion” lie because I’ve done it already.

    What’s notable here is that Meetup has decided it’s an extension of the Democratic Party and doesn’t want any further Republican business.

    I just deleted my Meetup account and suggest that everyone who is not a leftwing agitator do the same.

    I would also suggest expressing your displeasure at this turn of events to Meetup’s Board of Directors:

  • Andreas Stavropoulos of Draper Fisher Jurvetson: @astavropoulos
  • Brad Burnham of Union Square Ventures: @BradUSV
  • Di-Ann Eisnor of Waze: @DiAnnEisnor
  • Esther Dyson of EDventure: @edyson
  • Scott Heiferman, CEO of Meetup @heif
  • If you know of a good substitute for meetup, tell people in the comments below.

    Remember When Japan Was Going To Take Over the World?

    February 13th, 2017

    Do you remember those fabulous 80s?

    Reagan was President, cyberpunk was new, and Jennifer Grey had a nose.

    Also, everyone knew that Japan was going to take over the world.

    Giant Japanese electronic companies like Sony, Toshiba and Fujitsu were leaders in their markets, Japan had a big export surplus, and Japanese companies were buying up iconic American assets like Rockafeller Center. Experts assured us that Japan was ascendant and that we needed to follow the “Japan Inc.” model of public/private partnerships, as well as the heavy vertical integration of the Japanese zaibatsu conglomerates, if we wanted to compete in the world market.

    It turns out that almost all that just about every aspect of that prescription was horribly wrong:

    Fast-forward 30 years. When one of Japan, Inc.’s leading corporations makes the news, as often as not it’s the result of an accounting scandal in which corporate profits were grossly overstated for years as a matter of policy–a policy intended to mask the stagnation in the company’s sales, product lines, competitive position and profits.

    What happened to the often-copied, much-vaunted Japan, Inc.? Many observers see Japan’s core problem as demographics: as its birth rate has fallen below replacement levels, the population of Japan is aging rapidly. Since young people start households and spend money, economic growth depends largely on the spending of young people rather than the declining spending of older people.

    While a decline in the youthful demographic certainly impacts growth, this view overlooks the larger problem: Japan, Inc.–its educational system, government, banking and corporate sector–was optimized for the mode of production that existed in the postwar world from the late 1940s to the late 1980s.

    Now that the Digital-Industrial Revolution is remaking the way goods and services are produced and distributed, the system that worked wondrously well in 1960 no longer aligns with the needs of this emerging mode of production.

    In the 1980s, Japan’s optimized-for-industrial-exports system reached its zenith, and many US pundits built careers predicting that Japan would soon eclipse the US in every economic and financial metric.

    But the excesses of Japan’s banking sector and the rise of new technologies that didn’t lend themselves to gradual improvement and vertically integrated corporations disrupted the predictions of Japan’s global dominance.

    Just as Sony ate the lunches of slower, less efficient American companies like RCA, soon the Japanese electronic giants found themselves being beaten by more nimble and disruptive international competitors like Apple and Samsung.

    Toshiba is now so broke they may need to spin-off their semiconductor business, despite it being the most central and profitable business in their company, probably because building a new state-of-the-art 300mm wafer fabrication plant for 10nm process technology can now cost up to $14 billion.

    Many other Japanese companies have been rocked by accounting scandals:

    In the five years since a $1.7bn accounting scandal was uncovered at Olympus, the number of improper accounting cases exposed each year in Japan has nearly doubled. It hit an all-time high of 58 cases in the 2015-16 fiscal year, according to Tokyo Shoko Research, which provides data on corporate failures.

    In many cases, the revelations have shone a light on malpractice and subterfuge dating back years — the legacy of management terrified of failure but left fighting decades of economic stagnation, squeezed costs and a shrinking domestic market.

    And those demographics don’t make anything easier:

    Children accounted for 12.8% of the population, the ministry said. By contrast, the ratio of people aged 65 or older was at a record high, making up 25.6% of the population. Jiji Press said that, of countries with a population of at least 40 million, Japan had the lowest ratio of children to the total population – compared with 19.5% for the United States and 16.4% for China…

    The proportion of people aged 65 or over is forecast to reach nearly 40% in 2060, the government has warned.

    Japan’s government has been running huge budget deficits since 2009, and debt now stands at about twice the size of the economy.

    For a while, the South Korean chaebol looked like they were going to supplant the Japanese zaibatsu as world beaters, but Samsung and LG have started running into some of the same problems.

    The lesson here is not “Merica, fark ye!”, it’s that capitalism works. The creative destruction of capitalism is necessary to keep economic progress moving forward. My biggest fear is that in his efforts to save American jobs, President Trump will prop up the GMs and Boeings of the world at the expense of smaller, nimbler competitors looking to supplant them.

    For the country’s long-term economic well-being, government should get out of the business of picking winners and losers entirely.