Venezuela Takes The Express Lane To The Dustheap Of History

December 11th, 2014

There’s been a lot of talk of how low oil prices are screwing Russia, but Venezuela is, if anything, more screwed thanks to the Magic Power of Socialism™:

U.S. currency is vital to Venezuela, which imports as much as 80% of what it consumes; 96% of its exports are petroleum products…In effect, the one-third decline in the price of oil means that the state oil company must either raise or divert enough production because Venezuela effectively owes China 67 million barrels of oil, roughly 27 million more than it did before, for this loan alone. And there are billions of dollars in other loans to consider.

And the outlook for the immediate future is equally grim:

Venezuela’s economy is expected to contract in 2014 and 2015, and even though it’s already recognized as the 14th least competitive economy in the world (according to the World Economic Forum) and the eighth-worst economy for doing business (according to The World Bank), [President Nicolas] Maduro’s laws seem to discourage private investments even more. The new laws reinforce bureaucracy and the difficulty of doing business in the country, particularly in the area of taxes.

“Increasing numbers of low-income Venezuelans are souring on Maduro as they suffer a declining economy, the highest inflation in the Americas, chronic shortages of basic goods and one of the world’s highest murder rates.”

If Venezuela’s economy collapses, they might take Cuba down with them, since the Castro brothers are so heavily dependent on Venezuelan oil subsidies to prop up their own moribund economy.

Compounding Venezuela’s crises is the fact that it’s probably going to default on its bonds. So they’re finally reaching the point in socialism where the run out of other people’s money. Next to that singular problem, U.S. sanctions on government Venezuelan officials for killing protestors are a trivial irritation…

Tottering Rolling Stone UVA Rape Piece Collapses, Burns Down, And Sinks Into The Swamp

December 10th, 2014

Now the Washington Post has done a follow-up to the Rolling Stone UVA rape piece. If the first Washington Post piece “raised questions” about the story, this one absolutely demolishes it.

Read the whole thing.

What a “Sober” South Texas Democratic Judge Looks Like

December 10th, 2014

For all the justified talk of Republican gains in the Rio Grande Valley, it’s still overwhelmingly Democratic at the county level. So it’s no surprise that when a Democratic 13th Court of Appeals Justice Nora Longoria got arrested for DWI, the charges were dismissed by Democratic Judge Rolando Cantu.

You can take a look at what a “sober” South Texas Democratic judge looks like below.

Texas Democrats: The Party of Drunk Drivers.

Eulogies for The New Republic Go Straight Past Laments To Rending of Garments

December 9th, 2014

The aftershocks following the collapse of The New Republic following an editorial change by Facebook millionaire owner Chris Hughes (no doubt still stinging from his inability to buy his boyfriend a congressional seat) continue to reverberate around the punditocracy.

For those who care, here’s the list of those who resigned:

Senior editors Jonathan Cohn, Isaac Chotiner, Julia Ioffe, John Judis, Adam Kirsch, Alec MacGillis, Noam Scheiber, Judith Shulevitz and Jason Zengerle; executive editors Rachel Morris and Greg Veis; digital media editor Hillary Kelly (who resigned from her honeymoon in Africa); legal affairs editor Jeffrey Rosen; and poetry editor Henri Cole and dance editor Jennifer Homans. Contributing editors Anne Applebaum, Paul Berman, Christopher Benfey, Jonathan Chait, William Deresiewicz, Justin Driver, TA Frank, Ruth Franklin, Jack Goldsmith, Anthony Grafton, David Grann, David Greenberg, Robert Kagan, Enrique Krauze, Damon Linker, Ryan Lizza, John McWhorter, Sacha Z. Scoblic, Cass Sunstein, Alan Taylor, Helen Vendler and Sean Wilentz.

There’s some real talent in there (Applebaum and Kagan among them). As well as some of the usual liberal chattering class. And if you hadn’t heard, the magazine has cancelled its next issue amidst the exodus.

There’s so much tasty schadenfreude on each side of the dispute it’s hard to know whose tears to start lapping up first. Or, as Mark Hemingway put it, “If I have to pick sides between liberal policy journalists insisting they are immune to the reality of business economics and a Silicon Valley enfant terrible who tried to buy his hapless husband a Congressional seat, I’m afraid I’m left rooting for injuries.”

Let it be said at the outset that as liberalism’s flagship magazine, The New Republic was kind of important for a quite a long time, and that in the last few decades it did offer an intellectually moderating influence to the hard left and their Social Justice Warrior cadres. That said, when’s the last time a New Republic piece that wasn’t a fabrication rocked people’s worlds? It had been in decline for a while, and the Obama era merely hastened the process.

Proving that even a winy liberal sycophant can be right twice a day, Dana Milbank offers up perhaps the most even-handed assessment of how Hughes screwed the pooch.

Check out the comically high dudgeon evident in this letter from former staffers: “The New Republic is a kind of public trust. That is something all its previous owners and publishers understood and respected. The legacy has now been trashed, the trust violated.”

As Clive Crook put it, “Sometimes you just have to marvel at the self-importance of the American political commentator. The outrage in that high caste provoked by the drama at the New Republic has been something to behold.”

Getting back to Mark Heminigway, “The New Republic’s demise appears to be a direct consequence of the liberal ideology it espoused.”

The New Republic took on a genuinely interesting role of being a magazine for liberals that had the guts to regularly question their assumptions. “One reason for the New Republic’s demise has not been fully appreciated, and that has to do with its unique tradition of heterodox liberalism,” observes former New Republic editor David Greenberg. Indeed, it’s not really appreciated at all. While the magazine was so heterodox that “Even the liberal New Republic [insert the magazine espousing conservative/contrarian policy here]” is an actual Beltway banality, people only pretended to see this as a virtue. Lip service is given to its diversity of opinion, but a great many on the left are using recent events to hammer the magazine for betraying the progressive cause. Even sympathetic obituaries for the magazine have gone out of their way to disdain the pivotal moments in recent decades where the magazine expressed genuine intellectual courage, including publishing Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve, killing Hillary Clinton’s likely-to-have-been disastrous attempt at a overhauling health care, endorsing the Iraq war, and being a strong voice in support of Israel.

Not only is Hughes gutting of the magazine not particularly surprising, it’s such a common story that this ending was essentially foretold two years ago.

Liberalism needs heterodox opinions the way a sucking chest wound needs chest seal dressing, but liberals want heterodox opinions the way a teenage girl wants to hear how badly her favorite boy band sucks.

Democrats Hate the South, And The South Hates Them Right Back

December 8th, 2014

With the defeat of Mary Landrieu, the Democratic Party no longer has a single national office holder anywhere in the South. In fact, with South Carolina re-electing Tim Scott, “there are now more black Republicans than white Democrats from the Deep South.”

Moe Lane says we shouldn’t be surprised by this turn of events:

It’s not demographics, and it’s certainly not gerrymandering, and shoot, it’s not even Barack Obama. It’s that the people who run the Democratic party [expletive deleted] hate the South.

And Southerners have noticed. It really does astound me that the national Democratic apparatus apparently thought that they could defecate on an entire section of the country for fifty years and still get that section to vote for them at the end of it.

And least you think that Lane is exaggerating liberal contempt for the South, along comes Michael Tomasky to provide an outstanding example of what Lane was talking about.

Practically the whole region has rejected nearly everything that’s good about this country and has become just one big nuclear waste site of choleric, and extremely racialized, resentment. A fact made even sadder because on the whole they’re such nice people! (I truly mean that.)

With Landrieu’s departure, the Democrats will have no more senators from the Deep South, and I say good. Forget about it. Forget about the whole fetid place. Write it off. Let the GOP have it and run it and turn it into Free-Market Jesus Paradise.

And there’s your window into the Democratic Party’s id. The most economically dynamic part of the country is a “Fetid Free Market Jesus Paradise.” Tomasky has some advice for the Democratic Party: “At the congressional level, and from there on down, the Democrats should just forget about the place. They should make no effort, except under extraordinary circumstances, to field competitive candidates. The national committees shouldn’t spend a red cent down there.”

I heartily endorse this strategy for the Democratic Party (with the exception that they should continue to pour money down the rathole that is Battleground Texas). Because what could possibly go wrong with that strategy? Besides Republicans making significant inroads among Hispanic and black voters in those states?

It’s also revealing that Tomasky quotes (approvingly) that Democrats are “not going to ever be too good on gays and guns and God.” Well, good thing only 73% of Americans identify themselves as Christian. And unremitting hostility to gun ownership hasn’t exactly been a surefire electoral winner for Democrats…

It’s not just national-level Democrats either. The Statesman notes that there will be only seven “non-Hispanic white Democrats in the Texas House and Senate when the 84th session of the Legislature convenes in January.” That piece also notes that “In 1983, white Democrats held 21 of the 31 state Senate seats and 85 of the 150 House seats.”

In this really interesting interview with former Texas GOP chair Wayne Thorburn about his book Red State: An Insider’s Story of How the GOP Came to Dominate Texas Politics (which I’m going to have to pick up), he talks about how liberal Democrats actively drove conservatives out of their own party so they could take control of it:

Q The most ironic part about “Red State” for me is how Democratic liberals actually encouraged their followers to vote Republican as a way of driving conservatives out of their own party. That doesn’t appear to have been too smart in the long run.

A For many years beginning in the 1940s Texas politics consisted of contests between conservatives and liberals in the Democratic primary. The more ideologically committed liberals saw themselves as the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,” meaning that they were more in line with the northern wing in control of the national party. To gain control of the Texas party they needed to drive conservatives out of the Democratic primary, something that could be done only if the Republicans were a viable alternative. Thus, some prominent liberals endorsed a GOP candidate when the Democrats had nominated a conservative. This pattern began with John Tower in 1961 and continued on to include George H.W. Bush when he ran against Lloyd Bentsen for the U.S. Senate in 1970. Two old sayings come to mind: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” and “Be careful what you wish for.” The liberals succeeded in gaining control of the Democratic Party by 1976 when the contest between Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford drew nearly a half-million voters into the GOP primary. Two years later in 1978 their candidate knocked off Gov. Dolph Briscoe in the Democratic primary. The result of that, however, was the election of William P. Clements as the first Republican governor in 104 years. What the liberals failed to recognize was that most Texans were conservatives and to them ideology trumped party tradition and loyalty. As the Texas Democratic Party became more clearly liberal, the Republican Party was seen as the only conservative alternative in the state.

In short, it was the intolerance of liberal Democrats that drove voters away and turned Democrats into what Instapundit has dubbed “a dying regional party”…

Postscript: Actually, that first link says there are no more white Democrats holding office in the Deep South, however they define that. But there are still two white Democrats in the U.S. House from Texas: Lloyd Doggett and Beto O’Rourke, both of whom (I think) represent majority minority districts.

Little Rock Holiday Inn Presidential Seeks Very Specific Client

December 8th, 2014

The Little Rock Holiday Inn Presidential seems firmly committed to celebrating the legacy of the 42nd President (and, to a lesser extent, his wife and other Presidents).

But I think they go a bit farther than that.

Paul Martin, my CHL instructor, sent me this picture of an ad for the hotel:

HIPresidnetialLR

And least you think that picture of the slinky blonde is some sort of mistake, it’s in the hotel’s regular ad rotation:

I can think of two types of women who sit on top of pianos with slinky short dresses with a glass of wine. Since I don’t see her holding a microphone, I’m going to assume she’s the other. Or, as someone said on Paul’s Facebook post: “Wow, an escort and a steak. Who knew a Holiday Inn suite had that kind of concierge service?”

In short: I don’t think the Holiday Inn Presidential just celebrates Bill Clinton, I think they’re actively seeking him as a regular client

Mary Landrieu Loses

December 6th, 2014

So it was foretold, and so it has come to pass. Congratulations to Bill Cassidy for being elected to the United States Senate.

But hey, she only lost by 12 points. Given some polls had her down by as much as 24 points, she still beat the spread…

Rolling Stone UVA Rape Story Falls Apart, Feminists Freak Out

December 5th, 2014

In today’s LinkSwarm, I mentioned how the Rolling Stone accusation of a fraternity gang rape at the University of Virginia was unraveling. Well, shortly after that it collapsed completely. So much so that even Rolling Stone itself is backtracking on its allegations, albeit in a weasely “we were taken in” fashion:

In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced. We were trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault and now regret the decision to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account. We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story.

At this point, the only way Rolling Stone could be more embarrassed is if “Jackie” turned out to be James O’Keefe in a wig.

As the central premise of the article collapses, it’s interesting to look at the tantrums thrown by some of Twitter’s more notable feminists. Take, for example, Amanda Marcotte:

Here Marcotte has managed to put on a veritable clinic in how to cram as many logical fallacies into a single tweet as possible:

  • Smear those who doubt the truth of the now-discredited Rolling Stone piece as “rape apologists.”
  • By extension, Marcotte is smearing everyone who has every doubted any rape allegation, or who insists on the English common law doctrines of innocent until proven guilty and right to due process, as “rape apologists.”
  • “Rapes are hoaxes”: Again, Marcotte uses rhetorical slight-of-hand to conflate people doubting this particular allegation of rape to a universal strawman that people are calling all rapes everywhere “hoaxes.”
  • “Why oppose investigating them” Once again, Marcotte constructs a strawman put forth by none of the story’s critics; indeed, she is accusing conservatives of espousing exactly the opposite opinions of what they’ve actually espoused, namely that every accusation of rape should investigated by the criminal justice system.
  • The problem is that Marcotte and so many of her feminist allies want campus rape allegations investigated not by the criminal justice system, but by star-chamber campus tribunals where the accused will not enjoy the rights of innocent until proven guilty and due process under the law. This is in response to the myth of a “rape culture” so pervasive on college campuses that (under pressure from the Obama Administration) many have adopted due-process-violating “sexual assault” tribunals. As liberal lawyer Alan Derschowitz put it: “Harvard’s policy was written by people who think sexual assault is so heinous a crime that even innocence is not a defense.”

    Not to mention the fact that these policies have “defined rape downward” to the point where “campus sexual assault” now includes “having consensual drunken sex that they regret later.” Opposition to star chamber prosecution of fake rape is in no way the same as opposition to real rapes by the criminal justice system, in the same way that opposition to feminists’ radical far-left ideological agenda is not the same as “hating women.”

    And many on Twitter were quick to call Marcotte on her BS:

    I guess Marcotte learned nothing from the time she called people skeptical of the Duke lacrosse rape-accuser: “rape-loving scum”.

    Marcotte was gardly alone in her freakout. Take, for example, Sally Kohn:

    Or Jessica Valenti:

    People would be a lot more likely to believe feminists on rape if they weren’t using it as yet another excuse to wage culture war for their far-left wing Social Justice Warrior/Victimhood Identity Politics goals.

    Finally, via Twitchy, comes this gem:

    LinkSwarm for December 5, 2014

    December 5th, 2014

    Let’s jump into it:

  • IRS cites taxpayer confidentiality in defying a federal judge by refusing to hand over documents showing it violated taxpayer confidentiality by sharing that information with the White House.
  • By 2020, some 90% of Americans will be forced onto ObamaCare exchanges.
  • So left-wing stalwart magazine The New Republic just let several long-time editors go, reduced their publishing schedule from 20 issues a year to 10, and put a former Gawker-person in charge as editor, which is just short of putting up a sign reading “Dead Magazine Walking.” John Podhoretz traces their decline to the age of Obama:

    I think the answer is that there never was any Obamaism to champion; there was no serious vision of America and the world being laid out by the administration that provided fertile ground out for intellectual cultivation, for voices on the outside to make sense of that serious vision and help it cohere into an argument. (In the 1980s, ironically, it was the New Republic‘s own Charles Krauthammer who did just that in explicating the “Reagan Doctrine,” though even more ironically, he did it in the pages of Time Magazine rather than in TNR.)

    What there was, instead, was the increasing reliance on the cheap-shottery of the Internet era—in which TNR and others were driven more by a kind of grinding loathing of the Right than by an effort to create a more effective and serious Center-Left. The magazine foundered because liberals foundered, because Obamaism was a cult of personality that demanded fealty rather than a philosophy that demanded explication.

    Also: I was unaware that The Weekly Standard had twice the circulation of The New Republic. And you should check out the rest of that piece, not least for the perfect title…

  • And speaking of Podhoretz, his New York Post piece on why Hillary’s supposed cakewalk to the Democratic nomination is a sign of party weakness is well worth reading: “Hillary Clinton has no natural claim to her party’s nomination. She’s not even an especially gifted politician. Aside from the spectacular incompetence of her 2008 campaign, she is as gaffe-prone as Dan Quayle and as awkward as Bob Dole.”
  • For the left, the truth no longer matters. “For the Left, this is all tribal, white hats vs. black hats. Fraternity members and police officers are, in their view, by definition on the wrong side of every dispute.”
  • Mary Landrieu isn’t just going to get beat in Saturday’s runoff, she’s primed to get slaughtered, trailing in the latest polls by 24 points.
  • European “austerity” isn’t.
  • The European economic crisis has gotten so bad that traditional left-wing and right-wing parties are thinking of teaming up to thwart newly ascendent Euroskeptic parties.
  • Fracking is kicking Putin’s ass. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Battles with jihadists kill 20 in Chechan capital of Grozny. I guess December is rerun season in Russia as well…
  • Wisconsin might be getting ready to pass right-to-work legislation. Hey Wisconsin unions: How’d that whole “recall” thing work out for you? “You come at the king, you best not miss.”
  • Evidently teenage boys have too many cooties to be taken in at the Salvation Army. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • How PBS lied about Ferguson.
  • The Rolling Stone story of an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity continues to unravel. If there was an actual gang rape, the perpetrators should be arrested and tried. If not, Rolling Stone has some editorial house-cleaning to perform…
  • Breitbart demolishes Lena Dunham’s “raped by a Republican” story. Plus this nugget from a liberal college administrator “‘Asking whether or not a victim is telling the truth is irrelevant,’ Ms. Hess proclaimed. ‘It’s just not important if they are telling the truth.’”
  • On the same theme:

  • Andrew Klavan on #GamerGate and the immense gozangas on display in Soul Caliber. Nice shirt! (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • The UK announced they’re finally going to pay off their World War I debt. Governments come and go, but sovereign debt is almost immortal…
  • Another day, another 36 people killed by jihadists in Kenya.
  • In Denmark, “27 percent of male descendant of immigrants from non-Western countries aged 20-24 years were convicted of an offense in 2013.”
  • Shakespeare First Folio found.
  • Newly discovered Ayn Rand novel to be published.
  • And speaking of Rand, her longtime disciple/lover Nathaniel Branden died at age 84. I’m sure he would be deeply offended at the suggestion he’s gone on to the afterlife…
  • Detroit man steals ambulance to go to a topless bar.
  • I have no joke here, I just like typing Vegan Strip Club Riot.
  • Texas vs. California Update for December 4, 2014

    December 4th, 2014

    It’s another Texas vs. California update!

  • The real reason the University of California system is raising taxes: “The real driving force behind the tuition hike is the university’s woefully underfunded pension system, which currently serves 56,000 retired employees. It’s a generous system, despite some reductions the university made for new hires in recent years. An Associated Press analysis found 2,129 retired UC employees collect pensions of more than $100,000 a year; 57 receive more than $200,000; and three receive more than $300,000.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Here’s the rare Texas vs. California item where both Texas and California get dinged: “Calpers holds about 75% of its portfolio in stocks and other risky assets, such as real estate, private equity and, until recently, hedge funds, despite offering benefits that, unlike IRAs or 401(k)s, it guarantees against market risk. Most other states are little different: Illinois holds 75% in risky assets; the Texas teachers’ plan holds 81%.”
  • A look at the relative pension costs of three bankrupt California cities: San Bernardino, Stockton and Vallejo. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Magpul, is moving its headquarters from newly gun-hostile Colorado to Austin. This is on top of moving its manufacturing facilities to Wyoming.
  • “Something is happening in California. An unstoppable movement for reform is building, attracting support from conscientious Californians.” Much as I’d like to believe it, I remain skeptical that real education and pension reform can happen in California as long as it remains a one-party Democratic state… (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • How California’s three-decades old Proposition 65 is threatening to bankrupt small businesses and enrich trial lawyers.
  • California: Roads? We don’t need no stinking roads. 57% of San Diego County’s projected infrastructure spending is on mass transportation…and critics are saying that’s not enough.
  • I’m surprised that I stumbled on this piece on the Newport Beach Police Department before Dwight did:

    In recent years, daily examples of faithful public service inside the Newport Beach Police Department (NBPD) have been overshadowed by alarming corruption. City officials ignore or downplay the misconduct, but NBPD bosses turned the agency into a darker, stupider version of Animal House. Court records and internal documents show the city’s boys in blue have accepted gratuities in exchange for favors, gotten frat-boy drunk at work, lied under oath, passed out confidential information to pals, encouraged oral sex from female job applicants, committed wild adultery on duty, doctored official reports, hurled feces, dished out horrific domestic violence against wives and girlfriends, engaged in intoxicated bar fights, issued criminal threats, vandalized property, converted powerful agency spy equipment to personal use, and rigged promotion systems to ensure mostly see-no-evil, management-loyal employees rise–and let the hijinks continue.

    Plus open war against whistle-blowers.

  • Speaking of public employees behaving badly, from Dwight comes this story of LA firemen being investigated for faking certifications.
  • Texas home sales reach their highest level in five years.
  • The headquarters of national buyer’s co-op NATM Buying Corp. is moving from Long island, New York to Irving, Texas.
  • Finally, in case you missed it a few days ago, three Texas budget links from the Texas Public Policy Foundation:

  • A detailed call for greater transparency in the Texas budget
  • A look at what an actual conservative Texas budget would look like; and
  • A real Texas Budget Worksheet, with historical budget data.