Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Remember When Japan Was Going To Take Over the World?

Monday, 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.

Trump Kills TPP

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

President Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States from the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership agreement, as both he and Hillary Clinton promised to do on the campaign trail. (We can speculate that Clinton was just lying, and that she would happily flip-flop and sign TPP once safely ensconced in office, but the glorious thing is that now we’ll never know.)

Free trade is a good idea, and multinational free trade agreements do generally help grow the economy. My suspicion is that TPP probably would have provided a net benefit, albeit it one that might be hard to measure if you weren’t employed in an industry (like apparel) called out by TPP. Vietnam and Malaysia were included, so maybe my sneakers would have gotten slightly cheaper.

But the question of whether this particular free trade treaty was actually a good or bad thing requires actually analyzing and reading the thing, and I have to give that a pass. For the historical record, here’s the cached text of the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership agreement. I didn’t have time to read that gargantuan tome of trade minutia back when it was a going concern, and I’m certainly not going to now. It’s less a platonic ideal of free trade ripped from the quill of Adam Smith and more a vast dog’s breakfast of competing special interest requests that, on the whole, probably nudges trade in a slightly freer direction while scratching numerous well-heeled backs.

Trump is not necessarily opposed to trade agreements in principle, but seeks more bilateral trade agreements than multinational ones. There were real concerns about TPP (especially in the areas of copyright agreements, labor laws, environmental regulations, and enshrinement of certain dodgy foreign part content requirements into law) that could be addressed in smaller bilateral agreements. The Washington Examiner suggests that a bilateral trade agreement with the UK should be at the top of Trump’s list.

Trump invited a lot of union leaders to the White House to help dance on TPP’s grave, and he garnered lavish praise from the likes of the UAW and the Teamsters (the still-breathing Jimmy Hoffa the Younger) for the move.

Setting aside the fact that the UAW probably did far more than Japanese competition to cripple the U.S. auto industry, imagine if Trump were able to get private sector unions to not even flip their support to Republicans, but just significantly cut back their campaign donations to Democrats. That would cripple their fundraising at a time when they’re already hurting for being completely out of power and for alienating Jewish Americans (traditionally a key Democratic Party funding constituency) over Israel. That could be a big domestic political positive even if ditching TPP is theoretically a small net economic negative.

LinkSwarm for January 13, 2016

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Time to extract more pure wheat from chaff!

  • Glenn Greenwald says Democrats will go to any lengths to avoid blaming themselves for their debacle:

    I really haven’t experienced anything even remotely like the smear campaign that has been launched by Democrats in this really coordinated way ever since I began just expressing skepticism about the prevailing narrative over Russia and its role that it allegedly played in the election and, in particular, in helping to defeat Hillary Clinton. I mean, not even the reporting I did based on the Edward Snowden archive, which was extremely controversial in multiple countries around the world, not even that compared to the attacks now.

    And the reason is very, very obvious, which is that it has become exceptionally important to Democratic partisans to believe that the reason they lost this election is not because they chose a candidate who was corrupt and who was extremely disliked and who symbolized all of the worst failings of the Democratic Party. It’s extremely important to them not to face what is really a systemic collapse on the part of the Democratic Party as a political force in the United States, in the House, in the Senate, in state houses and governorships all over the country. And so, in order not to face any of that and have to confront their own failings, they instead want to focus everything on Vladimir Putin and Russia and insist that the reason they lost was because this big, bad dictator interfered in the election. And anyone who challenges or anyone who questions that instantly becomes not just their enemy, but now, according to their framework, someone who’s actually unpatriotic, that if you question the evidence, the sufficiency of the evidence to support this theory, that somehow your loyalties are suspect, that you’re not just a critic of the Democratic Party, you’re actually a stooge of or an agent of the Kremlin.

  • In fact, Greenwald is all over this week’s LinkSwarm, saying that the U.S. “deep state” is at war with Trump:

    For months, the CIA, with unprecedented clarity, overtly threw its weight behind Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and sought to defeat Donald Trump. In August, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell announced his endorsement of Clinton in the New York Times and claimed that “Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.” The CIA and NSA director under George W. Bush, Gen. Michael Hayden, also endorsed Clinton and went to the Washington Post to warn, in the week before the election, that “Donald Trump really does sound a lot like Vladimir Putin,” adding that Trump is “the useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited.”

    It is not hard to understand why the CIA preferred Clinton over Trump. Clinton was critical of Obama for restraining the CIA’s proxy war in Syria and was eager to expand that war, while Trump denounced it. Clinton clearly wanted a harder line than Obama took against the CIA’s long-standing foes in Moscow, while Trump wanted improved relations and greater cooperation. In general, Clinton defended and intended to extend the decadeslong international military order on which the CIA and Pentagon’s preeminence depends, while Trump — through a still-uncertain mix of instability and extremist conviction — posed a threat to it.

    Whatever one’s views are on those debates, it is the democratic framework — the presidential election, the confirmation process, congressional leaders, judicial proceedings, citizen activism and protest, civil disobedience — that should determine how they are resolved. All of those policy disputes were debated out in the open; the public heard them; and Trump won. Nobody should crave the rule of Deep State overlords.

    Yet craving Deep State rule is exactly what prominent Democratic operatives and media figures are doing.

    One need not buy all of Greenwald’s analysis of geopolitics or Trump to conclude that his analysis of the current alliance between Democrats, the media and the intelligence community is essentially correct. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • Borepatch, who is a real life computer security expert, is not impressed with the Russian hacking claims:

    My take is that several state actors certainly hacked Hillary’s email server for years and years, and silently read all her communications. Probably more than one state actor penetrated the DNC email system for several years.

    It’s plausible than an insider leaked the DNC emails – some BertieBro IT Admin type who saw how the sausage was being made and who was smart enough to cover his tracks while pointing clues towards Russia.

    Bottom line, this is a tale told by an idiot; full of sound and fury and signifying nothing. We know that something happened, but we don’t know who did it, and what they say in the report doesn’t change that.

  • Borepatch, in turn, points to this detailed analysis of the security on both Hillary’s email server and the DNC:

    At this point, we can largely dispose of Hillary’s Hack. It was an open book to all comers and at least one was Romanian (and sharing with friends) and not Russia. However, I’d say it was almost certain that at some time a Russian intrusion happened. The name of the server was obvious. The location insecure. The operating system and protective layers a joke. Frankly, I’d expect them to be “in” the same day they first looked at it. Which means something like 8 years ago. So why didn’t things leak then?

    Because the Russians Are Not Stupid. A fundamental of spycraft is you don’t expose sources and methods, you use them to collect intel for your use, not publication. I suspect they enjoyed a near real time email feed from the Secretary Of State for years, in silence. This argues for email dump to be someone other than them. My personal muse would be an NSA guy, aghast at what was in evidence. Like a Snowden, but not willing to give up the $1/4 Million salary… He (or she…) would have all the requisite skilz to pull it off and leave no finger prints, access to PRISM, and lots of neat toys to work with. Though more likely would be the underpaid I.T. guy Hillary had set it up who was making a backup one day and dropped a load… But I digress.

    The bottom line on Hillary is we know she kept a full copy (found on Huma’s Laptop with the Wiener…) and that it was around until she had her lawyers erase it. We know it surfaced in full at the time the laptop went to the FBI, and in parts before that. We know at least one of her hackers was found (though he had likely not leaked it) and that he said he had a doomsday copy for safety. He wasn’t a very good hacker, so that shows lots of good ones walked right in and snagged copies. Assigning source of any Hillary leaks is going to be an exercise is “ME ME MEE!!! PICK MEEE!” with a dozen hands up in the room.

  • More from Guccifer 2.0 himself: “I have totally no relation to the Russian government. I’d like to tell you once again I was acting in accordance with my personal political views and beliefs. The technical evidence contained in the reports doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. This is a crude fake.” (Hat tip: Zero Hedge.)
  • “The opposition research firm that hired a former British spy to dig up dirt on Donald Trump is the same shady outfit that was hired by Planned Parenthood to put a positive spin on videos showing the sale of baby parts.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Our new Secretary of Defense sounds serious about defeating the Islamic State. “We should try to shut down its recruiting, shut down its finances, and then work to fight battles of annihilation — not attrition, but annihilation — against them; so that the first time they meet the forces that we put against them, there should basically be no survivors.”
  • Speaking of which: “Islamic State publishes video of toddler executing prisoner on playground.”
  • House Republicans are already laying the groundwork to repeal ObamaCare.
  • News media buries story of Jeff Sessions bankrupting the Klu Klux Klan in Alabama because it doesn’t fit their narrative. (Hat tip: Dierctor Blue.)
  • Mexican illegal aliens are already self-deporting in advance of Trump’s inauguration. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • The problem with rule by experts:

    The problem that we are faced with, and what the American people seem to be rebelling against, are the “experts” who seek to influence government policy in ways voters are either opposed to or at the very least find ineffective and expensive.

    To put it bluntly: those experts have screwed a lot of shit up. Obamacare, American foreign policy, the war on drugs, domestic environmental policy, the economy…the list of issues is seemingly endless. The American people were told for at least the last eight years that the smart set was in charge, and things would be just dandy if only we allowed the “experts” free rein. The problem is that there are a lot of things that may seem smart on paper but which just won’t work when forcibly applied to the citizens of 50 separate states, with 50 separate economies, and 50 distinct voting bases, and this assessment assumes that those implementing policy actually have America’s best interests as a free republic at heart.

    This leads us to the real heart of the matter: liberty. The Washington political and bureaucratic classes have no Constitutional right to force the “solutions” to any of these problems on their fellow citizens. The health insurance “problem” is not a national problem insofar as there is no Constitutional right to health insurance (or even healthcare), and the answer to what problems there are in healthcare in Texas are very probably not the same as the answer for New Hampshire or Oregon. The federal government institutes regulations constantly affecting the economy that have no Constitutional basis. There is no Constitutional basis whatsoever for banning or regulating any drug at the Federal level, and yet we’re told we have a national “opioid epidemic” that demands a federal solution. Foreign policy experts are undoubtedly necessary, but our foreign policy, when any logic or reason can be discerned in it at all, certainly doesn’t seem to be guided by any experts in the field. There is even a very good possibility that actually fixing any “problem” at the federal level is viewed as bad for business, because without the problem to solve there would be a lot of unemployable experts.

    In short, the American people don’t have a problem with experts or intellectuals. What they have a problem with is incompetence, and it is just a fact of life that the larger and more remote the government and bureaucracy become, the more incompetent and unaccountable they will be.

  • Thanks Obama. “93 percent of police officers are concerned about their safety on the job; 72 percent are less willing to stop suspicious characters; and 75 percent report increased tension between cops and the black community.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • U.S. troops sent on permenant deployment to Poland. Given that Poland joined NATO in 1999, it’s a surprise it took this long. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • About half the EU has been cheating on the 3% deficit ceiling fiscal discipline rule half the time. Only Finland, Estonia, Luxembourg and Sweden have never broken the rule. And Poland, France and the brexiting UK have actually violated the rule more than Italy and Ireland. Once again: Austerity hasn’t been tried and found wanting in the EU, it’s been declared difficult and left untried.
  • Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames “terrorist exchange rates” for attacking his country. Fun how that happens when you ruin your own country… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Social Justice Warriors already deterring people from the “Women’s March on Washington.” See, they were all set to flaunt the peacock feathers of their leftwing virtue, only to be told “they had a lot of learning to do.” Because there’s nothing more fun than being lectured about how you’re a racist when you’re not. Welcome to Red State America, liberal white women! (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “DNC Chair Candidate Forum to Be Held at Anti-Israel Restaurant” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Germany court rules that an attempt to burn down a synagogue is a “justified expression of criticism of Israel’s policies.” You know, I think I’ve seen this movie before…
  • Heh: “Intolerance at Berkeley as Faculty Demand Gay Immigrant Stay Off Campus.”
  • More: Berkley Social Justice Warriors dox the hosts of Milo’s speech. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • 1. “CEO Raises Salaries to $70K for EVERY Employee” 2. ???? 3. Wrecked company. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • Teach women not to lie about rape.
  • Social Justice Warrior drama at the Free Software Foundation. “‘Developer’ Leah Rowe has been making unhinged, outrageous claims of harassment and bullying on behalf of her anonymous friend who was let go by the FSF. She then stole the Libreroot project from the community, locked it down away from the other devs, and made a unhinged claims of wrongdoing by the FSF and two employees. She has provided no evidence of any of these claims and as she is a post-modernist, we’re supposed to substitute her feelings for any facts as being equivalent.” The amazing thing is that, for once, FSF head honcho Richard Stallman (who is somewhere on the continuum between “true software visionary” and “fanatic lunatic no one wants to deal with”) isn’t the person at fault for the drama…
  • “An Arizona Department of Public Safety officer has survived an attempt on his life after a passing motorist shot dead a highway sniper who took aim at the trooper after stopping to assist an individual in a rolled vehicle.”
  • Also from Arizona: Naked woman steals police car, goes joyriding.

  • Clockboy’s lawsuit dismissed.
  • William Peter Blatty, RIP.
  • What the hell? YouTube takes down Legal Insurrection’s channel at the behest of anti-Israeli activists.
  • Slate won’t even delete their big mistakes:

  • Texas vs. California Update for January 12, 2017

    Thursday, January 12th, 2017

    It’s been a long time since I compiled one of these, so this is going to be monstrously large. Also, just as I was finishing this up, the San Diego Chargers announced they were moving to Los Angeles. Hell, LA has proven in the past it’s incapable of adequately supporting one NFL franchise, much less two…

  • When you look at the full recession records, not just the last few years, Texas is still kicking California’s ass. “Over that time frame, Texas has grown more than THREE TIMES FASTER than California. Actually 3.4 times faster (Texas grew at a 4.1% annual rate vs. 1.2% for California).” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “A just released study calculates the total state and local government debt in California as of June 30, 2015, at over $1.3 trillion.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California faces its first budget deficit since 2012. Or at least it’s first official deficit since then. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • A second judge, this one on the California First District Court of Appeal, rules that public pensions may be modified.
  • The California Democratic Party has gone hard left, and it’s taking the rest of the state with it:

    Increasingly, inside the party, it’s been the furthest Left candidates that win. In the Democrat-only Sanchez vs. Harris race for the U.S. Senate, the more progressive candidate triumphed easily, with a more moderate Latina from Southern California decimated by the better funded lock-step, glamorous tool of the San Francisco gentry Left.

    Gradually, the key swing group — the “business Democrats” — are being decimated, hounded by ultra-green San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer and his minions. No restraint is being imposed on Gov. Brown’s increasingly obsessive climate change agenda, or on the public employee unions, whose pensions could sink the state’s finances, particularly in a downturn.

    The interior parts of California already rank near the bottom, along with Los Angeles, in terms of standard of living — by incomes, as opposed to costs — in the nation. Compared to the Bay Area, which now rules the state, the more blue-collar, Latino and African American interior, as well as much of Los Angeles, account for six of the 15 worst areas in terms of living standard out of 106 metropolitan areas, according to a recent report by Center for Opportunity Urbanism demographer Wendell Cox.

    Given the political trends here, it’s hard to see how things could get much better. The fact that most new jobs in Southern California are in lower-paying occupations is hardly promising. In contrast, generally better-paying jobs in manufacturing, home-building and warehousing face ever-growing regulatory strangulation.

    Sadly, the ascendant Latino political leadership seems determined to accelerate this process. In both Riverside and San Bernardino, pro-business candidates, including San Bernardino Democrat Cheryl Brown, lost to green-backed Latino progressives.

    For whatever reason, Latino voters and their elected officials fail to recognize that the increasingly harsh climate change agenda represents a mortal threat to their own prospects for upward mobility. Before this week’s election, California policy makers could look forward to Washington imposing such policies on the rest of the country; now our competitor regions — including Utah, Arizona, Nevada and Texas — can double down on growth. Expect to see more migration of ambitious Californians, particularly Latinos, to these areas.

    California is on the road to a bifurcated, almost feudal, society, divided by geography, race and class. As is clear from the most recent Internal Revenue Service data, it’s not just the poor and ill-educated, as Brown apologists suggest, but, rather, primarily young families and the middle-aged, who are leaving. What will be left is a state dominated by a growing, but relatively small, upper class, many of them boomers; young singles and a massive, growing, increasingly marginalized “precariat” of low wage, often occasional, workers.

  • Sanctuary cities might drive California into bankruptcy:

    California is about to face the music as Donald Trump becomes 45th President of the United States. Their Sanctuary Cities violate federal law and after Jeff Sessions is confirmed as Attorney General (and he will be), they are going to either have to knock that off or have funding to their law enforcement and their government stripped away. Sessions can’t wait and I have to say, I will enjoy watching this showdown. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that Trump pulling 37% of federal funding for their governments would cause chaos and upheaval. Yes, it will… it will also cause California to go absolutely toes up bankrupt.

    It’s simple. They can either follow the rule of law, or the free flow of money from DC gets cut off. In 2015, that amounted to about $93.6 billion. That’s a lot of money to turn away because you insist on not following the law. Let’s see how long that lasts. I love the thought of this. It’s about time Sanctuary Cities were stopped and this is an excellent way to do it. New York, Chicago and DC will all face the same choice by the way. Imagine the meltdown. Good times.

  • “California paid LESS to the feds per capita than Texas. California got MORE back per capita from the feds than Texas.” Freeloaders love the Blue State model… (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Another way of looking at California’s economy:

    California has 39 million people — 43% larger than the 2nd largest state (Texas). Such GDP comparisons don’t tell us much in terms of the PROSPERITY of a nation. Or a state.

    The proper comparison is PER CAPITA GDP. Using that more meaningful figure, CA is the 10th most prosperous state.

    But an even MORE accurate comparison is to take the per capital GDP and adjust it for COL. Because of California’s high taxes, crazy utility laws, stifling regulations (paid by consumers) and sky-high housing costs, CA in 2014 ranked WAY down in 37th place. Only 13 states were worse.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Same as it ever was:

    Governor Jerry Brown announced today that the budget was $1.4 billion in deficit. At the end of last year, the state announced that it was giving state employees a raise which would cost taxpayers over $2 billion over the next four years. Do you think there is a connection?

    A story ran locally in Southern California saying that over 105 employees in Santa Monica, a medium sized city, earn over $300,000 a year. The Governor of the state of California earns $174,000 per year. If you do the research, you will find that there are over 200 state employees that earn more than that

    When I was deciding what I wanted to do in my younger years, my mother told me I should go to work for the government, good benefits she said. I knew I would be bored and would die young if I became a government drone. My little sister listened to her. Today, my little sister is retired on a great government pension, I still fight to pay my taxes. Given the pay that even the lowest government official receives, my mother was right.

    Our government pension system is over $500 billion upside down. Retired state employee health benefits add an additional $300 billion or more to that deficit. The system is out of control. Pay and benefits to government employees at state and local levels is incomprehensible, and the government leaders still come to you and I and ask us to foot the bill for their indulgences.

    What is even more evil about the system is that government unions, led by thugs who force people to pay union dues for the privilege of having a government job, take the money from the government employees and put it into the political system to pay for the campaigns of the Governor, statewide elected officials, legislators and city councils with whom these unions then negotiate for the out-of-control pay and benefits. If anyone tries to limit them, as I once tried by tying everybody’s salaries to the Governor’s salary, they are marked for political defeat. And the system perpetuates itself, taxes to employees to unions to politicians, as it did in the Soviet Union, until the whole system collapses.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • California has stopped growing:

    Driven by rising out-migration and falling birth rates, California’s population growth has stalled, leading analysts to consider a possible forecast of a so-called “no-growth” period in the future.

    Although Americans nationwide have been flooding south and west for years, the Golden State has become an exception. Nearly 62 percent of Americans lived in the two regions, Justin Fox observed from Census figures. “That’s up from 60.4 percent in the 2010 census, 58.1 percent in 2000, 55.6 percent in 1990 — and 44 percent in 1950. The big anomaly is California, which is very much in the West, yet has lost an estimated 383,344 residents to other states since 2010.”

    “The state’s birth rate declined to 12.42 births per 1,000 population in 2016 — the lowest in California history,” the San Jose Mercury News noted, citing a state Department of Finance report. “In 2010, the last time figures were compiled, the birth rate was 13.69 per 1,000 population.”

  • California Democrats legalize child prostitution.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Some are objecting to the term “legalization”.
  • California Democrats vote to line Eric Holder’s pockets:

    Last week California’s progressive lawmakers announced that they’ve put former Attorney General Eric Holder, now a Covington & Burling partner, on retainer as the state’s outside counsel. “This is potentially the legal fight of a generation, and with Eric Holder we’ve added a world-class lawyer,’’ said Senate majority leader Kevin de León.

    This is odd. Typically states hire outside counsel for help with specific cases, but the legislature is paying Mr. Holder $25,000 a month for three months under the initial contract, apparently for 40 hours a month and the privilege of his attention if something comes up.

  • At least one California assemblyman thinks that the Holder deal is illegal. “California courts have interpreted the civil service mandate of article VII of forbidding private contracting for services that are of a kind that persons selected through civil service could perform ‘adequately and competently.'”
  • In California, robots are replacing people in warehouse work. The minimum wage is mentioned, but only in passing.
  • California is the state third most likely to enter a death spiral in a recession. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to increase their own salaries by more than $19,000 a year, despite public comment from dozens of opponents.”
  • “California state firefighters will receive substantial raises of up to 13.8 percent this year, according to newly released details from a proposed contract that their union negotiated just before Christmas.” Just the thing a state with a budget deficit needs…
  • “The evidence is clear that standards of living are substantially higher in Texas than in California, which has a model of excessive government.” More: “During the last decade, economic growth in the real private sector has increased by 29 percent in Texas compared with only 14 percent in California. Job creation increased by 1.2 million in California compared with 1.7 million in Texas, which has a labor force two-thirds of that in California. Remarkably, Texas’ job creation was roughly one-third of total civilian employment increases nationwide.”
  • Texas ranked third nationally in economic freedom for the sixth consecutive year. California ranked 49th, just ahead of New York.
  • California Democrats vow to go all-out to keep illegal aliens from being deported. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • CalPERs plans to sell $15 billion worth of equities over the next two years. Also: “CalPERS’ current portfolio is pegged to a 7.5% return and a 13% volatility rate” even though the most recent returns were “a 0.6% return for the fiscal year ended June 30 and a 2.4% return in fiscal 2015.”
  • But the shift from Fantasyland to Reality has been a slow and painful one for CalPERS:

    Overseers of the nation’s largest pension trust fund, the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), last month reduced – albeit reluctantly – its projection of future earnings by a half-percentage point.

    With earnings on investments the last two years barely exceeding zero, CalPERS has been compelled to sell assets to make its pension payments – which far outstrip contributions from state and local governments and their employees.

    Reducing the “discount rate” to 7 percent will force employers, and perhaps employees, to kick billions of more dollars into the system to slow the growth of CalPERS’ “unfunded liabilities,” as the $150-plus billion debt is termed.

    However, the extra contributions generated by lowering the discount rate will not erase that debt, which is likely to keep growing if CalPERS’ investment earnings continue to fall short, as many economists expect. In fact, CalPERS’ own advisers see a prolonged period of relatively low earnings, and say the system shouldn’t count on more than 6.2 percent.

    Rationally, the discount rate should have been lowered by at least another full percentage point. But CalPERS has already increased its mandatory contributions by 50 percent to make up for investment losses during the Great Recession and other factors, and cutting the discount rate to 6 percent would probably mean bankruptcy for a number of local governments, especially some cities.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • And CalPERs needs to do a lot more:

    This is why the CalPERS board must do far more — starting with, on a large scale, finally embracing pension reforms and, on a smaller scale, shuttering an over-the-top corner of the CalPERS website that says it’s a myth that pension costs are crowding out “government services like police and libraries.”

    It’s no myth. The Los Angeles Times reported last month that pensions and retirement health benefits now consume 20 percent of revenue in Los Angeles and Oakland and a stunning 28 percent in San Jose. While the state government is in better shape than most local governments, it’s beginning to feel the strain as well. On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that beginning in April, the state will increase vehicle registration fees from $46 to $56 to help cover the soaring cost of pensions for California Highway Patrol officers. In 2000, the state had to pay about one-eighth of annual CHP pension costs. Now it must pay about half.

  • “Home values in San Francisco have doubled in a matter of four years. Since 2012 the typical San Francisco home went from $600,000 to $1,200,000. The Bay Area is under a tech based hypnotic spell and foreign money just can’t get enough of million dollar crap shacks in San Francisco. As we all know trees do not grow to the sky with unlimited potential and at a certain point the laws of reality have to hit. Only 11 percent of households in San Francisco can actually afford to purchase the typical $1.2 million crap shack.”
  • San Francisco welcomes immigrants…unless they threaten to move next door. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “New housing data show foreclosure activity in California dropped to an 11-year low in 2016. But the state is still working through a backlog of homes purchased with bad loans during the last housing bubble.”
  • How America’s restaurant bubble is about to burst. Actually, the piece focuses mainly on the impossibility of running a profitable fine dining restaurant in San Francisco and other similarly expensive locales. (Hat tip: Zero Hedge.)
  • “How the University of California exploited a visa loophole to move tech jobs to India.”
  • The Census bureau says that Texas continued to grow in 2016. “Another big gainer was Texas, whose addition of about 433,000 people accounted for 19% of the country’s growth. The state, with 27.9 million people, grew from a relatively strong flow of immigrants and people relocating there from other states.”
  • Texas was second relocation destination choice in 2015:

    Texas experienced a net gain of out-of-state residents in 2015, with 107,689 more people moving to Texas than Texas residents moving out of state. This is a 4 percent increase in the net gain of Texas residents from 2014 (103,465 residents).

    The total number of residents moving to Texas from out of state in 2015 increased 2.8 percent year-over-year to 553,032 incoming residents. The highest number of new Texans came from California (65,546), followed by Florida (33,670), Louisiana (31,044), New York (26,287) and Oklahoma (25,555).

    Texas once again ranked third in the nation for number of residents moving out of state (445,343) in 2015. The most popular out-of-state relocation destinations for Texans were California (41,713), Florida (29,706), Oklahoma (28,642), Colorado (25,268), and Louisiana (19,863).

  • Arizona and Florida managed to dethrone Texas for the relocation top spot for the first time in a dozen years.
  • Why is Austin housing more expensive comapred to other Texas cities? “The reasons vary, but boil down to Austin’s relative unwillingness–thanks to NIMBYism and regulations–to build more housing.”
  • It doesn’t help that Austin is experiencing a net influx of 3,000 Californians a year. Seems like more…
  • California ban on modern sporting rifles went into effect January 1. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Police in Kern County, California, have killed more people per capita than in any other American county in 2015.” Caveat the first: The Guardian. Caveat the second: Thanks ever so much for that full-frame background video designed to bring by computer to a screeching halt, Guardian
  • How Marfa, Texas turned itself into an art colony.
  • Students at California law schools are doing horribly on the bar exam. “Law schools are admitting less and less qualified students in an effort to bolster their bottom lines. And why do their bottom lines need to be bolstered? Because they have too many faculty relative to student demand for the schools, and are either reluctant or unable to reduce the size of the faculty to “right size” the law school relative to present demand for the JD.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Maybe they should start calling it “North American Apparel“:

    Canadian apparel maker Gildan Activewear Inc. has won a bankruptcy auction for U.S. fashion retailer American Apparel LLC (curxq) after raising its offer to around $88 million, a person familiar with the matter said Monday.

    Gildan’s takeover marks the end of an era for the iconic Los Angeles-based company, which was founded in 1998 by an eccentric Canadian university drop-out and grew to become a part of U.S. popular culture thanks to its racy advertising.

    Gildan will not take any of American Apparel’s 110 stores, but will own its brand and assume some of its manufacturing operations, the source said. The deal is subject to a bankruptcy judge approving it on Thursday.

  • State of California: You can’t mention actresses ages, because Reasons. IMDB: Free speech. Bite me.
  • And if you hadn’t seen them already, two previous BattleSwarm stories that touch on the Texas vs. California issue:

  • Interview with TPPF’s James Quintero on the Texas Municipal Pension Debt Crisis
  • The Texas 85th legislative session opens with budget tightening on the agenda.
  • Venezuelan Socialism Out-Grinches Itself

    Monday, December 26th, 2016

    The ongoing failure of socialism in Venezuela is one of those continuing stories that always threaten to turn post-worthy. This week’s Christmas season hook: the government’s Grinch-like seizure of toys:

    Caracas, Venezuela (CNN)Venezuelan officials have confiscated nearly 4 million toys from a toy distributor, accusing the company of planning to sell them at inflated prices during the Christmas season.

    On Saturday, the government initially said it had confiscated 4.8 million toys. It revised the figure Sunday, putting it at 3.821 million.

    Critics say the consumer protection agency, which targeted the toy warehouse this week, has become “the Grinch that stole Christmas” because many families won’t be able to buy the confiscated toys for the holiday.

    Agency head William Contreras disputed that, saying executives at toy distributor Kreisel-Venezuela, the largest of its kind in the country, “don’t care about our children’s right to have a merry Christmas.”

    Lack of toys are not the biggest problem for children in Venezuela. Thanks to the Magic Power of Socialism™, a child’s scrapped knee can mean death. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

    Last month’s death of Cuba’s communist dictator Fidel Castro shouldn’t eclipse the ongoing collapse of Venezuela, Latin America’s other failed socialist state:

    Except for Nicaragua in the 1980s, Venezuela has more wholly adopted Castro’s economic and ideological model than any other Latin American nation. The late Hugo Chávez took his cues from Castro on everything from his fondness for army fatigues to his 10-hour speeches. Chávez also adopted the Castro model of seizing private property, suppressing the independent media, hounding political opponents and making cause with rogues in Damascus and Tehran.

    For a while Venezuela escaped some of the inevitable consequences thanks to a flood of petrodollars. That’s over. Inflation is forecast to reach 1,640% next year. Caracas is the world’s most violent city. Hospitals have run out of basic medicines, including antibiotics, leading to skyrocketing infant mortality. There are chronic and severe shortages of electricity, food and water, as well as ordinary consumer goods like diapers or beer. Nicolás Maduro, Chávez’s handpicked successor, has put his leading political opponents in jail.

    And there’s hunger. An estimated 120,000 Venezuelans flooded into neighboring Colombia to buy food when Mr. Maduro briefly opened the border in July. Desperate Venezuelans are trekking through the Amazon hinterlands to make it to Brazil. And, like Cubans, they are taking to boats, risking their lives to make it to the nearby Dutch colony of Curaçao. Where there’s socialism there are boat people.

    Zero Hedge has been keeping track of the twists and turns of Venezuela’s ongoing hyperinflation:

  • First Maduro’s idiot socialist government threw in the towel and announced they were printing currency with denominations 200x larger than the previous currency.
  • The results were swift: The bolivar crashed 22% in one week.
  • Then, following the moronic lead of Narendra Modi’s India, Venezuela announced that they were pulling 100 boliver notes from circulation, ahead of larger bills being available.
  • Then they closed the borders to prevent “currency smuggling.”
  • And yet, despite all this, despite children starving to death in the street, opposition parties cannot get their act together to oppose Maduro’s socialists. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

    As long as the government keeps failed socialist policies and printing money, the economic nightmare plaguing the people of Venezuela will continue.

    LinkSwarm for December 16, 2016

    Friday, December 16th, 2016

    Next week come two joyous events: Christmas, and Donald Trump being confirmed President by the electoral college. The first is a time of family celebration, and the second means liberals can finally shut the hell up about their asinine cockamamie schemes to keep the duly-elect 45th President of the United States of America from taking office.

    Enjoy a Friday LinkSwarm:

  • Speaking of the electoral college, publicity whore faithless elector Chris Suprun turns out to be a serial liar rather than a 9/11 first responder.
  • Linux guru Eric S. Raymond (who I’ve been on panels with at the odd science fiction event and such) has a long piece on the hard truths Democrats need to face to exit the political wilderness:

    First, your ability to assemble a broad-based national coalition has collapsed. Do not be fooled into thinking otherwise by your popular vote “win”; that majority came entirely from the West Coast metroplex and disguises a large-scale collapse in popular support everywhere else in the U.S. Trump even achieved 30-40% support in blue states where he didn’t spend any money.

    County-by-county psephological maps show that your base is now confined to two major coastal enclaves and a handful of university towns. Only 4 of 50 states have both a Democratic-controlled legislature and a Democratic governor. In 2018 that regionalization is going to get worse, not better; you will be defending 25 seats in areas where Trump took the popular vote, while the Republicans have to defend only 8 where Clinton won.

    Your party leadership is geriatric, decades older than the average for their Republican counterparts. Years of steady losses at state level, masked by the personal popularity of Barack Obama, have left you without a bench to speak of – little young talent and basically no seasoned Presidential timber under retirement age. The fact that Joseph Biden, who will be 78 for the next Election Day, is being seriously mooted as the next Democratic candidate, speaks volumes – none of them good.

    Your ideological lock on the elite media and show business has flipped from a powerful asset to a liability. Trump campaigned against that lock and won; his tactics can be and will be replicated. Worse, a self-created media bubble insulated you from grasping the actual concerns of the American public so completely that you didn’t realize the shit you were in until election night.

    Your donor advantage didn’t help either. Clinton outspent Trump 2:1 and still lost.

    Your “coalition of the ascendant” is sinking. Tell all the just-so stories you like, but the brute fact is that it failed to turn out to defeat the Republican candidate with the highest negatives in history. You thought all you had to do was wait for the old white men to die, but anybody who has studied the history of immigration in the U.S. could have told you that the political identities of immigrant ethnic groups do not remain stable as they assimilate. You weren’t going to own the Hispanics forever any more than you owned the Irish and the Italians forever. African-Americans, trained by decades of identity politics, simply failed to show up for a white candidate in the numbers you needed. The sexism card didn’t play either, as a bare majority of married women who actually went to the polls seem to have voted for Trump.

    But your worst problem is less tangible. Trump has popped the preference bubble. The conservative majority in most of the U.S. (coastal enclaves excepted) now knows it’s a conservative majority. Before the election every pundit in sight pooh-poohed the idea that discouraged conservative voters, believing themselves isolated and powerless, had been sitting out several election cycles. But it turned out to be true, not least where I live in the swing state of Pennsylvania, where mid-state voters nobody knew were there put Trump over the top. Pretty much the same thing happened all through the Rust Belt.

    That genie isn’t going to be stuffed back in the bottle. Those voters now know they can deliver the media and the coastal elites a gigantic fuck-you, and Republicans know the populist techniques to mobilize them to do that. Trump’s playbook was not exactly complicated.

    Some Democrats are beginning to talk, tentatively, about reconnecting to the white working class. But your real problem is larger; you need to make the long journey back to the political center. Not the center you imagine exists, either; that’s an artifact of your media bubble. I’m pointing at the actual center revealed by psephological analysis of voter preferences.

    First on his list of suggestions: Give up their suicidal gun control policies.

    (Hat tip: Sarah Hoyt at Instapundit.)

  • The always pungent Jim Goad talks about how victimhood identity politics destroyed the Democratic Party:

    Still scratching their pointy heads over losing an election they were certain that history had preordained them to win, the Democrats are blaming everything except their own stupidity and arrogance.

    The intersectional house of cards has fallen. Every maladjusted minoritarian mini-tyrant in the country is freaking the frick out that their ragged, patchwork coalition of misfits is crumbing before their eyes. From coast to coast, every HIV-positive mulatto one-armed transgender lesbian midget is suddenly worried that Trump and his supporters in the heartland will become “normalized.”

    Huddled inside a rainbow-colored yet opaque bubble, it’s obvious that they have no idea what just hit them. Many overpaid and demonstrably clueless strategists seem to think that perchance they didn’t call people racists, sexists, homophobes, and Islamophobes enough. Maybe if they just verbally shat upon the stupid, uneducated, hateful, and soon-to-be-extinct white masses in flyover country who put Trump over the top, they could have shamed enough of these irredeemable rubes into voting for a party and an ideology that clearly hates their guts.

    Not for a moment does it seem to have occurred to them that maybe it’s not so wise to play aggressively hostile identity politics when your designated opponent is still the demographic majority.

    Listen up, dimwits: When you encourage racial pride in all groups except whites, you aren’t exactly making a case against “racism.” If you have even a semblance of a spine, sooner or later you’ll hear this nonstop sneering condescension about how you were born with a stain on your soul and say, “Hey, fuck you. I’ve done nothing wrong, but you’re really starting to bother me.”

    I suspect that for perhaps the majority of those who voted for Trump, it had nothing to do with the stupid, juvenile, leftist catchall excuse of “hatred.” If you really think extraordinarily complex social conflicts over power and resources can be explained by a dumb word such as “hatred,” I hate you.

    Instead, a large swath of voters grew so tired of being actively hated, they struck back and said “enough.” They didn’t “vote against their interests,” as is so often patronizingly alleged; they voted against the condescending, scolding, sheltered creampuffs who try to dictate their interests to them.

  • “NY Times Hires Reporter Who Sent Stories to Hillary Staffers for Approval.” This is my shocked face. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • For all the lunatic leftist blather, Obama Administration Attorney General Loretta Lynch says that there’s no evidence Russians hacked voting machines. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Also, it wasn’t Russia that obtained Hillary’s emails, it was disgruntled Democratic insiders that gave them to Wikileaks.
  • And speaking of disgruntled Democratic insiders, some Clintonistas are only too happy to see the back of Huma Abedin. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “Records: Too many votes in 37% of Detroit’s precincts.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Lots of Democrats are pretty clear about the contempt they hold regular Americans in, but few are so stupid as to actually call America’s heartland “flyover country” in public.
  • “David Brock’s Media Matters Has Hidden $1,052,500 From The IRS Since 2010.”
  • In another entry in the “liberals keeping it classy” annals, a reporter tweets about Trump having sex with his own daughter.
  • Hillary Clinton didn’t win “America’s” vote, she won California’s:

    California voters are alone responsible for Clinton’s “win” in the popular vote. The latest tally shows Clinton up by about 2.8 or so million votes. She’s won California by nearly 4.3 million votes. So, take away California and the rest of the country starts to look like… well, it looks like the rest of the country. California is weird, but if that’s what the Democrats want to elect a president of, then the only thing you can really say to them is, “Congrats, you already have Jerry Brown.”

  • Scott Adams on dwindling liberal protests against Trump: “What are you doing that is more important than stopping Hitler?????????”
  • More on that Trump vs. Department of Energy dust-up. How long do you think that stonewall will last when Rick Perry is running the place? (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • Along with the selection of Mad Dog Mattis for Secretary of Defense, the selection of Michael Flynn for National Security Advisor signals that Trump is tossing political correctness out of the Pentagon. Good.
  • How Trump can use the power of the purse to crack down on illegal alien sanctuary cities. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Get ready for more Scott Walkers as Republicans control 25 state capitals: tax cuts, pension reform, right to work, school choice.” (Usual WSJ hoops apply.)
  • Obama tries to create a new ethnic group for Democrats to pander to.
  • How an underachieving screwup from Plano named John Georgelas became Yahya Abu Hassan, a leader of the Islamic State.
  • Indian prime Minister Narendra Modi’s insane “demonitization” scheme continues to wreck India’s economy.

    The parched branches of big banks are still fortunate. For unexplained reasons the RBI has supplied almost no new cash at all to India’s hundreds of smaller rural co-operative banks or to its 93,000 agricultural credit unions, so keeping millions of farmers from deposits that total some $46bn. It has also banned these institutions from competing with “pukkah” banks in exchanging old bills for new. With no cash flowing, farmers cannot even seek help from informal networks that in normal times account for more credit in rural areas than formal institutions. And although India’s 641,000 villages house two-thirds of its people, they contain fewer than a fifth of its ATMs. These are being slowly modified to supply the new notes, which unhelpfully are smaller than old ones; for now most stand idle.

    Starved of cash, India’s rural economy is seizing up. A study by two economists at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research found that in the second week of the drought, deliveries of rice to rural wholesale markets were 61% below prior levels. Soyabeans were 77% down and maize 29%. Prices have also collapsed. In Bihar, Scroll’s reporters found desperate farmers selling cauliflower for 1 rupee ($0.01) a kilo, a twelfth of the prior price.

    It is not only farm incomes that are pinched. An investigation by Business Standard, a financial daily, found that virtually none of the estimated 8m piece workers who hand-roll bidis, a kind of cigarette, has been paid since the cash ban. Another Indian daily, the Hindu, reports that more than half of the 600-odd ceramics factories in the town of Morbi, a centre of the tile industry in the state of Gujarat, with a combined output worth some $3.5bn a year, have temporarily closed because they cannot pay workers. In Agra, the hub of Indian shoemaking, some firms are paying workers with supermarket coupons to keep them on the job.

    India’s wealthy few have servants to take their place in the still dismally long queues snaking outside banks, but the pain reaches even to the top. A dentist in a posh part of Delhi is shocked by a 70% fall in trade since the cash ban. “All my patients can pay with plastic so I assumed I was safe, but I guess people are just being careful about spending in general.” This does seem to be the case. A brokerage that surveys consumer-goods firms says November sales have fallen by 20-30% across the board. Property sales, which traditionally are made wholly or partly in cash, have plummeted even more.

    Small wonder that Fitch, a ratings agency, on November 29th cut its forecast for India’s GDP growth for the year to March 2017 from 7.4% to 6.9%. That is in line with most financial institutions’ trimmed estimates, although some economists think the damage could be even worse. “There will be no or negative growth for the next two quarters,” predicts one Delhi economist who prefers anonymity. “Consumer spending was the one thing really driving this economy, and now we are looking at a negative wealth-effect where people feel poorer and spend less.”

    Perhaps more embarrassingly for Mr Modi’s government, there are few signs that its harsh economic medicine is achieving the declared goal of flushing out vast hoards of undeclared wealth or “black” money. Officials had predicted that perhaps 20% of the pre-ban cash would not be deposited in banks, for fear of disclosure to the taxman. Yet within three weeks of the “demonetisation”—well before the deadline to dispose of old bills, December 30th—about two-thirds of the money had already found its way into “white” channels. Some of this is doubtless illicit: inspectors of Delhi’s bus system have found that the bulk of daily takings now mysteriously appears in the form of the banned bills, which public-sector firms can still deposit, rather than the usual small change. Reports from Maharashtra, in the centre of the country, suggest that brokers are offering to buy old notes with a face value of 10m rupees for 8.4m, suggesting that they have found ways of laundering them.

  • India’s Foxconn cell-phone factory has let 25% of its workforce go due to declining sales.
  • Speaking of phones, how long you have to work earn enough to buy an iPhone varies widely by country, from 24 hours in New York to 627 hours in Kiev, which is even more than Nairobi (468 hours).
  • Popping the liberal university bubble:

    When students inhabit liberal bubbles, they’re not learning much about their own country. To be fully educated, students should encounter not only Plato, but also Republicans.

    We liberals are adept at pointing out the hypocrisies of Trump, but we should also address our own hypocrisy in terrain we govern, such as most universities: Too often, we embrace diversity of all kinds except for ideological.

  • “In 2015: 4,454 men died on the job (92.4% of the total) compared to only 367 women (7.6% of the total). The ‘gender occupational fatality gap‘ in 2015 was again considerable — more than 12 men died on the job last year for every woman who died while working.”
  • Another day, another fake anti-Muslim “hate crime” exposed.
  • Llewellyn Rockwell of the Mises Institute explains Trump: “To get to where we want to go, the American political class has to be hit hard, and the media and the universities need to be exposed for the propaganda factories they are.”
  • Liberal women cutting off their long hair because of Trump. Says Instapundit: “Trump wins, and Democratic women respond by making themselves less attractive. Sorry, Democratic men!”
  • Formerly rich man forced to sublet his palatial digs to renters to make ends meet. Wait, did I say man? I meant The New York Times.
  • Pictures from an abandoned Russian military base above the arctic circle. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “City Of Chicago Working Around Clock To Clear 18 Inches Of Bullet Casings From Streets.”
  • Dripping Springs ISD stonewalls open records request over tranny bathrooms.
  • LinkSwarm for October 24, 2016

    Monday, October 24th, 2016

    The latest Clinton Corruption update pushed the LinkSwarm to Monday:

  • National Review published Victor Davis Hanson’s endorsement of Donald Trump. And the moon became as blood…
  • Trump leading in poll that has best track record over last three elections.”

    The poll with the best track record over the last three presidential elections gave Donald Trump a 2-percentage-point edge over Hillary Clinton on Saturday.

    The Investor’s Business Daily/TIPP tracking poll has Trump with 42.1 percent and Clinton at 39.7 percent.

  • Thoughts on #NeverTrump: “They are putting a great volume of energy into bringing about a disaster, for which they will not take any ownership.”
  • No one trusts the media anymore. “Only one in nine Americans believes that Hillary Clinton is ‘honest and trustworthy.’ They don’t trust the media’s cover-up of her misdeeds, and the cover-up of the cover-up of the cover-up.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Why I Now Feel Compelled To Vote For Trump“:

    More than anything, I can’t sit idly by and allow these perpetrators of fraud to celebrate and leak tears of joy like they did when they helped elect Barack Obama in 2008. I have to know I weighed in not only in writing but in the voting booth. The media needs to be destroyed. And although voting for Trump won’t do it, it’s something. Essentially, I am voting for Trump because of the people who don’t want me to, and I believe I must register my disgust with Hillary Clinton.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • And speaking of media bias, the Rolling Stone campus rape hoax case goes to trial. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Here’s a New Yorker piece on the failure of the Euro. It provides a good, but incomplete, overview of the Euro’s failure (nowhere does it note that Europe’s cradle-to-grave welfare state is unsustainable, and it fails to note that none of the nations practicing “austerity” in southern Europe have cut outlays to match receipts). And the myopic policy prescription offered is, of course, more central planning. But there are some good bits. Like this:

    The U.S. unemployment rate hit ten per cent for a single month in 2009 and is now below five per cent; the eurozone unemployment rate hit ten per cent around the same time, and is still in double digits. In some European countries, youth unemployment is more than forty per cent. America’s economy is bigger than it was when the crisis hit. The eurozone’s is smaller. To take just one example, Italy, the third-largest economy in the eurozone, has a per-capita G.D.P. that’s lower than it was at the end of the last century.

    Also this:

    Stiglitz observes that if the countries that committed to the single currency in 1992 had known what they know now, and if people had had the chance to vote on the proposal, “it is hard to see how they could have supported it.” That’s a hell of an indictment.

  • Hey, remember how we were told California’s assisted suicide law would only apply to terminally ill people who wanted to die? Now insurance companies are enouraging suicide rather than pay for life-extending drug treatments.
  • Even The New York Times figures out that new gun laws wouldn’t prevent most mass shootings.
  • Russia is conducting nuclear survival drills. (WSJ hoops apply.) Good thing we have Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama running things rather than that warmonger Bush… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • College isn’t for everyone:

    But if you’re not sure yet what you want to do, then take time to decide before you spend $30,000, $50,000, or $100,000 you don’t have for something you don’t need. In the meantime, start working. You’ll probably only find low-paying, hard-working jobs at first, but guess what? If you go to college, you’ll be working those same jobs when you get out, only you’ll be four years older and fifty grand poorer.

  • Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have discovered a chemical reaction to turn CO2 into ethanol. Better idea than corn subsidies…
  • The Large Hadron Collider “nightmare scenario has come true:

    For the last ten years you’ve been told that the LHC must see some new physics besides the Higgs because otherwise nature isn’t “natural” – a technical term invented to describe the degree of numerical coincidence of a theory. I’ve been laughed at when I explained that I don’t buy into naturalness because it’s a philosophical criterion, not a scientific one. But on that matter I got the last laugh: Nature, it turns out, doesn’t like to be told what’s presumably natural.

  • Hamilton County, Tennessee doesn’t monitor parole tracking devices outside business hours. A good thing people never commit parole violations nights and weekends… (Hat tip: Fark.)
  • This just in: Democratic Representative Shelia Jackson Lee is still an idiot.
  • AT&T trying to buy Time Warner. I’ve got a bad feeling about this…
  • Internet-connected CCTV cameras made by Chinese firm Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology seemed to make up the heart of the botnet used in Friday’s DDoS attack.
  • Yuan hits all time low against the dollar.
  • Microsoft Surface sucks.
  • Texas is goat country.
  • Venezuela Re-institutes Slavery

    Monday, August 1st, 2016

    On June 2, 1816, Simon Bolivar landed in Venezuela and declared all slaves in Spanish America free. In 2016, the “Bolivarian Revolution” in Venezuela reinstitued slave labor on farms:

    Venezuelan ministry last week announced Resolution No. 9855, which calls for the establishment of a “transitory labor regime” in order to relaunch the agricultural and food sector. The decree says that the government must do what is “necessary to achieve strategic levels of self-sufficiency,” and states that workers can be forcefully moved from their jobs to work in farm fields or elsewhere in the agricultural sector for periods of 60 days.

    (Hat tip: Instaundit.)

    I’m sure if you went into Houston’s Fifth Ward or Atlanta’s south side and announced “Hey, due to a food emergency, we’re going to need to put you back on the plantations. But it’s only for 60 days!” I’m sure they’d be totally understanding…

    This follows months of food riots. Animals are starving to death in Venezuela’s zoos because they can’t afford to feed them. “Danta from the Caricuao zoo died from hunger.” There you go, liberals: An animal with a name! Now we just wait for all that spontaneous outrage…

    Danta Tapir

    So what is country whose people are literally starving due to the Magic Power of Socialism™ to do? Why, institute censorship, of course! And why reform your failing socialist econmy when you can threaten to arrest international executives because their local factories can’t produce goods due to a lack of raw materials?

    Leftist leaders around the world love proclaiming “Socialism or Death!” But as Venezuela proves yet again, socialism is death…

    First Day of DNC Makes RNC Look Like A Lovefest

    Monday, July 25th, 2016

    You’ve probably already heard that DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned for leaked DNC emails showing the whole DNC was in the tank for Hillary as deeply as we already knew, and that she instantly accepted a position with the Clinton campaign, going from a de facto shill to a de jour one.

    How popular is Schultz? Her own Florida Democratic delegation booed her at their morning breakfast.

    But the booing didn’t end there! California’s Democratic delegation booed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

    In the background of an MSNBC interview, people (presumably Bernie Sanders supporters) chant “Lock her up!”.

    The boos didn’t end at the main stage either. “Sanders supporters booed loudly at virtually every mention of Hillary Clinton’s name and at other times, defiantly led chants of ‘Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!'”

    The logistics do not seem designed to cool tempers either. “It’s about a 30-minute walk and not the most pleasant experience in near-100-degree temperatures.” Reporters are saying the Philadelphia DNC has the worst logistics they’ve seen at any national convention.

    James Woods tweeted this:

    Finally, Ace of Spades offers up the convention schedule the DNC deserves.

    “How to Bank $200 Million as a Public
    Servant and claim to be broke”
    Hillary Clinton
    4:45 PM

    All in all, the DNC is making the boos that greeted Ted Cruz’s RNC speech look like whatever the big story was on December 6, 1941…

    Now a glimpse at a far more august political occasion:

    LinkSwarm for July 11, 2016

    Monday, July 11th, 2016

    I was busy buying books this weekend, so I couldn’t keep up with all the horrific police shootings. So that dominates the top of today’s LinkSwarm:

  • Remember that #BlackLivesMatter is being funded by liberal billionaires George Soros and Tom Steyer.
  • Creating hatred against white people and against police has been the major accomplishing of Black Lives Matter since its inception in 2014.”
  • To that end, Heather McDonald’s new book The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe looks like it could be interesting.
  • 43% of America’s cop killers are black.
  • “Until blacks start changing these pathologies, the whole ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, with its insistence that everyone has to change except for blacks themselves is nothing more than Progressive kabuki theater aimed at diverting attention from the fact that Democrats are facilitating self-destructive behaviors in the black community and that blacks are using the Democrat propaganda machine as an excuse to avoid the terrible (but not insurmountable) challenges that really claim black lives.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • More on the same theme:

    Who, exactly, is in charge of these cities and city agencies about which African Americans do have many legitimate complaints? Philadelphia, Cleveland, Detroit, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago: Not exactly famous enclaves of conservative Republican political dominance. Because Dallas is in Texas, people sometimes forget that it is a city like any other American city, and Democrat-dominated. In Dallas, as in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Detroit, that Democrat domination is due in great part to a black Democratic voting bloc.

    Eventually, someone is going to figure out that the black progressives protesting municipal arrangements in places such as Baltimore are protesting the municipal arrangements created by black progressives working for the interests of the Democratic party. Dallas’s racial politics aren’t as one-sided as Detroit’s, and neither are its party politics; it is Democratic, but not as lopsidedly Democratic as, say, Philadelphia. It even has had a Republican mayor (the office is technically nonpartisan) within living memory. No doubt somebody in Dallas already is trying to figure out a way to blame that mayor for the murder of those five police officers.

  • “Friends and family tell us that Alton Sterling was a great guy. That may well be the case, but he is also a convicted sex offender felon with a violent temper, who had six arrests for battery, two domestic violence charges, multiple illegal weapons charges, and who had fought with police over weapons before.”
  • The Curious Case of Philando Castile. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Majority of Americans disapprove of the decision not to charge Hillary Clinton over EmailGate. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Maybe that’s why Trump is up two points over Clinton in the latest Rasmussen poll. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Czech President calls for EU, NATO referendums.
  • Fascinating story on a history of the mob in Houston.
  • Mickey Kaus examines who Trump should pick as VP.
  • “Quantitative easing only works when you’re the only country doing it.”
  • “More than 100 Nobel laureates have a message for Greenpeace: Quit the G.M.O.-bashing.”
  • Mass-shootings have declined so much that the left has had to redefine what a “mass shooting” is.
  • Important safety tip: Don’t breast-feed your children while doing cocaine. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • 12 die in Java gridlock during Ramadan.
  • Ted Cruz staffs up for a 2020 Presidential run.
  • Members of Donna ISD school board convicted of extortion. (Previously.)
  • SuperGenius tries to rob gas station, ends up shooting himself in the groin. I also wonder if he’s the towering intellect that managed to clip his own driver’s side mirror at the pump in the video…
  • There’s an anime series that follows the lives of teenage girls who are also assault rifles. Oh Japan, don’t ever change…