Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Christmas Video: Deck the Halls With Macro Follies

Monday, December 25th, 2017

Economic primer cast as Christmas holiday commercial. Silly, but slicker production values than you usually see.

Merry Christmas, one and all!

Venezuela Officially Bankrupt

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

The inevitable has happened: The Magic Power of Socialism™ has officially bankrupted Venezuela:

Milton Friedman once joked that if you put the government in charge of the Sahara Desert in five years there would be a shortage of sand. He could have been talking about Venezuela and its oil wealth. But it is no joke.

On Monday Caracas missed interest payments due on two government bonds and one bond issued by the state-owned oil monopoly known by its Spanish initials PdVSA. Venezuela owed creditors $280 million, which it couldn’t manage even after a 30-day grace period.

Venezuela is broke, which takes some doing. For much of the second half of the 20th century, a gusher of oil exports made dollars abundant in Venezuela and the country imported the finest of everything. There were rough patches in the 1980s and 1990s, but by 2001 Venezuela was the richest country in South America.

Then in 2005 the socialist Hugo Chávez declared that the central bank had “excessive reserves.” He mandated that the executive take the excess from the bank without compensation. Today the central bank has at best $1 billion in reserves.

Falling oil prices are partly to blame, but the main problem is that chavismo has strangled entrepreneurship. Faced with expropriation, hyperinflation, price controls and rampant corruption, human and monetary capital has fled Venezuela.

As of Tuesday evening, the Investment Swaps and Derivatives Association still had not declared Venezuela in default. That matters because this will trigger the insurance obligations inherent in the credit default swaps. But S&P Global Ratings declared the country in default Monday. On Tuesday morning the Luxembourg Stock Exchange issued a suspension notice for the bonds with missed payments.

From the richest nation in latin America to one where people have to eat their own pets to stave off starvation.

LinkSwarm for October 27, 2017

Friday, October 27th, 2017

Let’s take a break from talking about Hillary Clinton’s scandals so we can talk about Barack Obama’s scandals. At the end of the day, though, there’s a significant chance they all tie up together in one giant knotted scandal tangle…

  • “‘Smoking gun’ email reveals Obama DOJ blocked conservative groups from settlement funds“:

    While Eric Holder was U.S. attorney general, the Justice Department allowed prosecutors to strike agreements compelling big companies to give money to outside groups not connected to their cases to meet settlement burdens. Republican lawmakers long have decried those payments as a “slush fund” that boosted liberal groups, and the Trump DOJ ended the practice earlier this year.

    But internal Justice Department emails released Tuesday by Goodlatte indicated that not only were officials involved in determining what organizations would get the money, but also Justice Department officials may have intervened to make sure the settlements didn’t go to conservative groups.

    In one such email in July 2014, a senior Justice Department official expressed “concerns” about what groups would receive settlement money from Citigroup — saying they didn’t want money going to a group that does “conservative property-rights legal services.”

  • The IRS has finally admitted that it illegally targeted conservatives:

    In an unprecedented victorious conclusion to our years-long legal battle against the IRS, the bureaucratic agency has just admitted in federal court that it wrongfully targeted Tea Party and conservative groups during the Obama Administration and issued an apology to our clients for doing so. In addition, the IRS is consenting to a court order that would prohibit it from ever engaging in this form of unconstitutional discrimination in the future.

    In a proposed Consent Order filed with the Court yesterday, the IRS has apologized for its treatment of our clients (36 Tea Party and other conservative organizations from 20 states that applied for 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) tax-exempt status with the IRS between 2009 and 2012) during the tax-exempt determinations process. Crucially, following years of denial by the IRS and blame-shifting by IRS officials, the agency now expressly admits that its treatment of our clients was wrong.

  • House Republicans manage to pass something resembling a budget. Is it a good or bad budget? “Answer cloudy, ask again later.”
  • How Democrats committed political suicide passing the assault weapons ban in 1994.

    “So mostly everybody is like jumping for joy. And I’m walking around like a zombie. But nobody really gave a damn what my feelings were. So I went back to the office and I got a call from Congressman [Jack] Brooks who is the congressman from Texas and Chairman of [the Judiciary] committee and he said, ‘Well you just lost me my seat.’ And he and I had a good relationship. I said, ‘Well, you voted against it. The president doesn’t want you to do anything going forward that would jeopardize you. And if we come back from the conference and all that stuff…’ And he was just really down, down, down… He said, ‘my seat is done.’”

    Snip.

    In all, eight Democratic Senators lost their races and 54 Democratic House members too. The list included those who opposed the assault weapons ban but reluctantly voted for it (like Speaker Tom Foley) and those who had tried to strip the crime bill of the assault weapons ban, like Brooks.

  • Left-wing heroes that treat women like garbage. In addition to Harvey and Teddy, there’s Bill Clinton, Andreas Baader, several Black Panthers, and assorted “male feminists,” though it occasionally veers into the weeds.
  • What Harvey Weinstein tells us about the liberal world.”

    Harvey Weinstein seemed to fit right in. This is a form of liberalism that routinely blends self-righteousness with upper-class entitlement. That makes its great pronouncements from Martha’s Vineyard and the Hamptons. That routinely understands the relationship between the common people and showbiz celebrities to be one of trust and intimacy.

    Countless people who should have known better are proclaiming their surprise at Harvey Weinstein’s alleged abuses. But in truth, their blindness is even more sweeping than that. They are lost these days in a hall of moral mirrors, weeping tears of admiration for their own virtue and good taste.

    You know what’s really shocking? That piece is from liberal commentator Thomas What’s the Matter With Kansas Frank…

  • Besides Hollywood, you know what other powerful liberal establishment is full of sexual harassers? The EU Parliament.
  • Joe Bob Briggs on how illegal aliens knock Americans off the lowest rungs of the economic ladder:

    One of the cruelest things we do to prisoners is pump them up with the idea that, if they educate themselves in prison and learn a trade, they will be able to work when they get out. This is a lie. They probably won’t be able to work, because, aside from typical job-interview demerits like too many nasty facial tattoos, that felony conviction automatically eliminates them on most application forms. As late as the ’70s, in Arkansas, it was considered a badge of civic pride if you hired a couple of convicts and a couple of blind, deaf, or wheelchair-bound citizens at your business—which is why we didn’t use the term “hardcore” for any of the unemployed.

    Would it be a stretch to say all these convicts have been replaced by young able-bodied illegals? I don’t think so.

    Snip.

    “Get rid of the illegal Mexicans and see how fast that wage goes up to $15 on its own, no government intervention needed.”

  • “Tucker Carlson: If Robots Are Killing Jobs, Why Allow 1M Low-Skilled Workers To Immigrate Legally?” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Flake flakes.
  • Boston “fair wage” pizza shop dedicated to “economic justice and healthy food” fails. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Young Chinese are taking a pass on Communist propaganda.
  • Evidently actually reading the Constitution is not a requirement to be head of the DNC. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Another week, another fake hate crime. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • The “sexual assault” allegation against George H. W. Bush is just silly.
  • Program automatically produces Slashdot headlines. Too bad these are fake, as I would totally read “Sun Sues New Star Trek To Stop The Math.”
  • Evergreen cartoon:

  • China: Ghost Cities and Ghost Collateral

    Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

    Remember China’s ghost cities, the sprawling, mostly-empty cities built across China on credit?

    Well say hello to ghost collateral:

    Back in 2014, a scandal erupted when media reports confirmed what many had previously speculated about China’s banking system: namely that much of China’s staggering loan issuance had been built (literally) upon air and that billions (or trillions) in loan collateral had been “rehypothecated” between two, three or many more debtors – or never even existed – forcing banks to accept that they would never recover much if any of the pledged collateral – in most cases various commodities – if the economy were to suffer a hard-landing resulting in mass defaults. The most famous example involved collateral fraud at China’s 3rd largest port, Qingdao, where numerous borrowers were found to have “pledged” the same collateral of steel and copper to obtain funding from various banks.

    So how extensive is the problem?

    At risk of spoiling the surprise, what has been going on in China, either in conventional asset-backed lending, as well as among the more esoteric, complex commodity-funded deals, which we discussed extensively in the early part of 2013 is nothing less than pure fraud: in some cases, collateral that has been pledged simply doesn’t exist. In others, it disappears as borrowers in financial distress sell the assets. There are also instances in which the same collateral has been pledged to multiple lenders, i.e. rehypothecated. “One lawyer said he discovered that the same pile of steel was used to secure loans from 10 different lenders” Reuters reports.

    And while China was able to brush off its “ghost collateral” problems three years ago when it still had substantial debt incurrence capacity, and debt/GDP was about 100% lower, now that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep the Ponzi scheme – by definition – running, especially with the recent crackdown on shadow banking, the pervasive collateral problems are about to become a huge headache for Beijing again: with the mainland facing its slowest growth in over a quarter of a century, defaults are mounting as borrowers struggle to repay their loans.

    It’s long been known that China’s economy is built, to some extent, on smoke and mirrors (even more so than our own economy). But it looks like it might be smoke and mirrors all the way down…

    LinkSwarm for April 28, 2017

    Friday, April 28th, 2017

    It’s been a week, so enjoy an extra-late Friday LinkSwarm

  • There’s lots of meat in President Trump’s tax reform proposal:

    Individual Reform

    Tax relief for American families, especially middle-income families:

  • Reducing the 7 tax brackets to 3 tax brackets of to%, 25% and 35%
  • Doubling the standard deduction
  • Providing tax relief for families with child and dependent care expenses
  • Simplification:

  • Eliminate targeted tax breaks that mainly benefit the wealthiest taxpayers
  • Protect the home ownership and charitable gift tax deductions
  • Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax
  • Repeal the death tax
  • Repeal the 3.8% Obamacare tax that hits small businesses and investment income
  • Business Reform

  • 15% business tax rate
  • Territorial tax system to level the playing field for American companies
  • One-time tax on trillions of dollars held overseas
  • Eliminate tax breaks for special interests
  • Texas House passes anti-Santuary City bill that fines officials for violating federal immigration laws.
  • North Korean ballistic missile test fails. Cue the sad trombone.

  • Obama’s Iran deal was even worse than we thought. “By dropping charges against major arms targets, the administration infuriated Justice Department officials — and undermined its own counterproliferation task forces.”
  • If Democrats keep moving left, they could experience another election like 1972:

    The highest-profile Democratic-party supporters are increasingly smug Hollywood actors, rich Wall Street and Silicon Valley elitists, and embittered members of the media, along with careerist identity groups and assorted protest movements — a fossilized 1972 echo chamber.

    Democrats’ politically correct messaging derides opponents as deplorable racists, sexists, bigots, xenophobes, homophobes, Islamophobes, and nativists. That shrill invective only further turns off Middle America. Being merely anti-Trump is no more a successful Democratic agenda than being anti-Nixon was in 1972.

  • If the election were held today, Trump would still beat Clinton.
  • Former Mayor of Hubbard, Ohio pleads guilty to raping a four year old. Go ahead, guess which party he’s a member of.
  • The Other McCain does his part for sexual assault awareness month.
  • The media does indeed live in a bubble, both geographic and ideological, of its own making.
  • Hundreds of illegal voters in North Carolina. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Nancy Pelosi: tried, drunk or stroke? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • 107 Cancer Papers Retracted Due To Peer Review Fraud. But don’t worry: All climate science is completely on the level…
  • When Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke swore up and down he never hire any campaign consultants, what he meant was he’d hire some.
  • “Facebook and Google confirmed as victims of $100M phishing scam.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • President Trump as a systems thinking President.
  • NYPD corruption scandal. Bribes? Check. Guns? Check. Prostitutes? Check. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Marine Le Pen heads to a runoff with Emmanuel Macron on May 7. Is there a better figurehead for modern Globalism than a Socialist investment banker?
  • Dishonest medical equipment startup Theranos used a shell company to secretly buy outside lab equipment to actually run the lab tests they were faking as coming from their own equipment. And check out that picture caption: “[CEO] Elizabeth Holmes speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting.” Because of course she did.
  • Liberals love denouncing the imaginary Christian theocracy of The Handmaid’s Tale (now a miniseries) because it keeps them from having to think about the real Islamic ones oppressing women all over the world right at this very moment.
  • Related: “Lesbian Couple Discover Islamic Culture During Exciting International Trip.”
  • “When God sends a Plague of Wild Boars against you, he’s done sending messages, and is now sending armored bacon.”
  • Less than half of Democrats know a gun owner.
  • Richard Gere blacklisted in Hollywood on China’s orders.
  • Sonny Bunch has some “helpful” advice for Democrats. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Nordstrom selling $425 fake muddy jeans. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • You too can own a baseball inscribed to Justice Antonin Scalia by Joe DiMaggio.
  • “My Boyfriend Ate Nothing But Pineapple For A Week And Now His Dick Is Covered In Bees.”
  • Easy On, Easy Ossoff: GA06 Goes To Runoff

    Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

    Democrats were hoping to pick up a House seat in the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, Newt Gingrich’s old district most recently held by Republican Tom Price, who became President Trump’s Health and Human services secretary. Though Price regularly won the district with more than 60% of the vote, Trump only beat Clinton there by 1.5%, making Democrats think they could flip it in a nationalized special election with documentary filmmaker Jon Ossoff (who doesn’t even live in the district) running against multiple Republicans in a jungle primary, and poured $8.3 million (95% of it from out of state) into the race.

    And early last night it looked like that strategy might pay off, as Ossoff opened a big lead in early voting, only to see it whittled away as voting-day returns came in. He ended up with 48.1% of the vote and will face Republican Karen Handel on June 20. Adding up all the remaining Democratic votes in the race only gets Ossoff to 48.9%. With results so close, both Democrats and Republicans will no doubt pour millions into the runoff.

    Next up on the Special Election Calendar: the May 2 primary for South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District, where Republicans will be favored to retain OMB Director Mick Mulvaney’s seat in the general election, which also falls on June 20.

    Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus at CPAC

    Sunday, February 26th, 2017

    Considered including this in Friday’s LinkSwarm, but decided this panel with Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus at CPAC was important enough for a separate post.

    A few points:

  • As previously reported, there’s none of the discord here between Bannon and Priebus that the mainstream media likes to ascribe to them. I’ve seen panels where the panelists were barely hiding their animosity with other panelists, and there’s none of that on display.
  • As for President Trump’s cabinet being the best cabinet in the history of cabinets: George Washington’s first cabinet included Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, so no.
  • “The greatest public speaker in those large arenas since William Jennings Bryant.” Untrue. Martin Luther King, Jr. takes that crown, unless Bannon meant campaign speeches given in Presidential campaigns. There John F. Kennedy was a better speaker, but his venues tended to be smaller.
  • Priebus’ pick for biggest priority of the first 30 days of the Trump Administration: “Neil Gorsuch.”
  • Priebus’ pick for second and third biggest priorities: deregulation and immigration.
  • Bannon’s picks for same: Nations security/sovereignty, “economic nationalism,” and “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Suck it, Jacques Derrida!
  • I’m not sold on “fair trade” and economic nationalism, or how the Trump Administration will keep them from becoming protectionism and crony capitalism. Given their embrace of the Export-Import Bank, the answer appears to be “they won’t.” But it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that their vision of more bilateral trade deals can pan out better for American economic interest than the dog’s breakfast of Trans-Pacific Partnership would have. It’s “the devil’s in the details” question, and there are so many, many devils…
  • Bannon: “The rule of law is going to exist when you talk about sovereignty and you talk about immigration.”
  • The Trump Administration is clearly the most serious about deregulation of the economy since Reagan, and maybe the most serious ever.
  • Bannon: “If you think they [the mainstream media] is going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken. Every day it is going to be a fight.”
  • Bannon and Priebus use close synonyms to describe each other: “dogged” and “indefatigable.”
  • Watch the whole thing.

    (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)

    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: