The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, December 09, 2016


It looks like Facebook and Twitter firestorms over the election of Donald Trump have calmed a bit, but the new approach seems to be long, heartfelt articles in major left-leaning publications (e.g., NYT, LAT, The Atlantic, Salon, The New Yorker, WaPo, etc., etc.) that lament Hillary Clinton's loss and Trump's election. I suppose these pieces are supposed to be cathartic (for the writer and the reader) but upon closer examination, they're just a little ridiculous.

A typical example is a piece in the Washington Post by a single mom, Stephanie Land, entitled, "Trump’s election stole my desire to look for a partner." Ms. Land writes about her search for a life partner over the past months. She finally finds a nice man, and then states:
But two weeks later, the election happened. Once it was clear that Donald Trump would be president instead of Hillary Clinton, I felt sick to my stomach. I wanted to gather my children in bed with me and cling to them like we would if thunder and lightning were raging outside, with winds high enough that they power might go out. The world felt that precarious to me.
Ms. Land then tells us that her young daughter was traumatized (“But Mom. You said Hillary was going to win.”) and her car broke down. She concludes with this:
I’ve lost the desire to attempt the courtship phase. The future is uncertain. I am not the optimistic person I was on the morning of Nov. 8, wearing a T-shirt with “Nasty Woman” written inside a red heart. It makes me want to cry thinking of that. Of seeing my oldest in the shirt I bought her in Washington, D.C., that says “Future President.”
I guess people like Ms. Land can't process the notion that the future is always "uncertain," that there are an equal number of woman (and men) who feel differently that she does, and that Trump's election is no reason to alter her personal life. But whatever.

Let's think back to 2012. Yes, many of us who opposed Barack Obama's reelection based our opposition on an established record of failure. When Obama beat Mitt Romney, we were disappointed, possibly even chagrined, but very, very few articles like Ms. Land's appeared in any media.* With this in mind, Andrew Klavin writes:
... when Obama was reelected over Mitt Romney, a much wiser, more adult, and steadier hand, I was dismayed. I was saddened. I was even distraught.

But I did not become a sniveling, whiny, self-obsessed pansy. I did not, that is to say, behave like leftists are behaving now.

I did not cry. I did not protest. I did not demand a recount. I did not urge electors to betray the voters. I did not say Obama was not my president. I respected the will of the people, even though I found it hard to respect the people whose will it was.

But the left? Never mind the college snowflakes who can't even hear an idea they disagree with without retreating to a safe space. What about the adults? The New York Times, a former newspaper, now reads like a 12-year-old girls' sleepover after a mouse got in. It's embarrassing. "How to Cope With Trump?" "Trump's Threat to the Constitution?" "Trump's Agents of Idiocracy!"

The guy hasn't even done anything yet!
But that doesn't matter. After all, progressives have already made up their minds that Trump is a very bad—even demonic—man. And once a progressive makes up his or her mind, introducing evidence to the contrary is difficult or impossible. It's all about belief, after all.

And this comment, from conservative satirist Ben Stein:
Why are people so upset? What has Mr. Trump done that’s so awful? His choices for the Cabinet fall well within the range of the usual types — Wall Street, campaign helpers, ideological bedfellows. Despite what you may have read online, none of them has made horrible statements. None is a Klansman. None is a Nazi. They have different views from those of the ACLU, but that’s what you get in a free country.

The voters voted in a candidate with certain views. That candidate won fair and square. He gets to choose people he agrees with and who agree with him.

The media powerhouses and the morons on college campuses cannot accept that someone with views different from theirs will be president. They riot. They burn Old Glory. They stop speaking to me.
It's fascinating to observe. The reaction is ... well, embarrassing, and I don't mean for the "deplorables" who voted for Trump. I'm embarrassed for progressives. Hand-wringing, over-the-top articles like like Ms. Land's are truly embarrassing, and I suspect they will continue to appear in one form or another for the next four years.

* Here is a flashback to my comments after Obama's 2012 win. You'll note that I was concerned, but not once did I suggest that I would in any way alter my personal life, that I was spiraling into a deep depression, that I was emigrating to Canada, or that I felt that Obama voters were deplorable or irredeemable. I did note that they were gullible, but that's pretty mild criticism when compared to current progressive rants about fake news, white supremacy, all of the "isms", and a dirty campaign (as if TV commercials in 2012 showing Romney pushing grandma off a cliff weren't, uh, dirty?).

Thursday, December 08, 2016

The Dakota Pipeline

The media is on the warpath (yeah, that is a foreshadowing pun) about "fake news." Interesting, then, that most of what has been reported about the Dakota Access Pipeline is fake. The land grab, the climate impact, the danger it poses to ground water—all 'fake.'

The trained hamsters in the main stream media never met a left-leaning activist they didn't like, never dismissed concerns about "climate justice," even when those concerns are outright bogus, and never-ever take any side but the one taken by minority populations who are viewed as perpetual victims. All three characteristics—activism, climate justice, and the ultimate minority (Native Americans)—come into play when reporting on the pipeline occurs. Most of that reporting is "fake news" but of course, the kind of fake news that the MSM applauds.

Kevin Cramer writes:
Escalating tensions were temporarily defused Sunday when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at the direction of the Obama administration, announced it would refuse to grant the final permit needed to complete the $3.8 billion project. The pipeline, which runs nearly 1,200 miles from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota to Illinois, is nearly complete except for a small section where it needs to pass under the Missouri River. Denying the permit for that construction only punts the issue to next month—to a new president who won’t thumb his nose at the rule of law.
But maybe the Native American and environmental activists had a point and their use of environmental and cultural "blocking" techniques was justified? Uhhh ... no.

Cramer explains:
This isn’t about tribal rights or protecting cultural resources. The pipeline does not cross any land owned by the Standing Rock Sioux. The land under discussion belongs to private owners and the federal government. To suggest that the Standing Rock tribe has the legal ability to block the pipeline is to turn America’s property rights upside down.

Two federal courts have rejected claims that the tribe wasn’t consulted. The project’s developer and the Army Corps made dozens of overtures to the Standing Rock Sioux over more than two years. Often these attempts were ignored or rejected, with the message that the tribe would only accept termination of the project.

Other tribes and parties did participate in the process. More than 50 tribes were consulted, and their concerns resulted in 140 adjustments to the pipeline’s route. The project’s developer and the Army Corps were clearly concerned about protecting tribal artifacts and cultural sites. Any claim otherwise is unsupported by the record ...

This isn’t about water protection. Years before the pipeline was announced, the tribe was working with the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps to relocate its drinking-water intake. The new site sits roughly 70 miles downstream of where the pipeline is slated to cross the Missouri River. Notably, the new intake, according to the Bureau of Reclamation, will be 1.6 miles downstream of an elevated railroad bridge that carries tanker cars carrying crude oil.

Further, the pipeline will be installed about 100 feet below the riverbed. Automatic shut-off valves will be employed on either side of the river, and the pipeline will be constructed to exceed many federal safety requirements.

Other pipelines carrying oil, gas and refined products already cross the Missouri River at least a dozen times upstream of the tribe’s intake ...

This isn’t about the climate. The oil that will be shipped through the pipeline is already being produced. But right now it is transported in more carbon-intensive ways, such as by railroad or long-haul tanker truck. So trying to thwart the pipeline to reduce greenhouse gas could have the opposite effect.

So what is the pipeline dispute really about? Political expediency in a White House that does not see itself as being bound by the rule of law. The Obama administration has decided to build a political legacy rather than lead the country. It is facilitating an illegal occupation that has grown wildly out of control. That the economy depends on a consistent and predictable permitting regime seems never to have crossed the president’s mind.
Gee ... in just a few short paragraphs, Cramer provides interesting context. But because that context blows up the media's tired leftist narrative, it is conveniently omitted from virtually every media report. Tell me again about "fake news."

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Paul's Prognostications

Paul Krugman is one of the progressive elite. He's a Nobel-prize winning economist, is a best-selling author, and has his own column in The New York Times in which he pontificates on subjects far removed from economics, and is a fire-breathing leftist. I have, on more than one occasion, suggested that Krugman may be unbalanced.

Today, the Down Jones Industrial average closed at an all-time high of 19,549.62. It has been rising steadily after the upset election of a president that seems to care about growing the economy, establishing an environment in which millions of jobs can be created in the private sector, respecting business, and reducing suffocating regulations.

The shock of Donald trump's unlikely victory did cause markets to drop precipitously on the evening of the election. Most rational people, including yours truly, shrugged their shoulders, recognizing that the instantaneous uncertainty caused by the upset was behind the drop, not Donald Trump himself. Within a day, the markets recovered and began their upward march.

This is what Paul Krugman wrote on the night of the election:
2016-11-09T00:42:44-05:00 12:42 AM ET

It really does now look like President Donald J. Trump, and markets are plunging. When might we expect them to recover?

Frankly, I find it hard to care much, even though this is my specialty. The disaster for America and the world has so many aspects that the economic ramifications are way down my list of things to fear.

Still, I guess people want an answer: If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.

Under any circumstances, putting an irresponsible, ignorant man who takes his advice from all the wrong people in charge of the nation with the world’s most important economy would be very bad news. What makes it especially bad right now, however, is the fundamentally fragile state much of the world is still in, eight years after the great financial crisis ...

So we are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight. I suppose we could get lucky somehow. But on economics, as on everything else, a terrible thing has just happened.

Krugman, like far too many leftists, is so blinded by his ideology that he could not sort out a stock market blip (that was both understandable and trivial) from a "global recession, with no end in sight." Kind of funny, actually.

Now, it may very well be that this overheated market will drop hard, and it's an absolute lock that progressives will blame Trump. But when you hear crazy Paul and his ideological bedfellows rant about Trump's part in the next stock market decline, be sure to remember what he wrote on 2016-11-09T00:42:44-05:00 12:42 AM ET.


Over the past few decades, a trend that emphasized centralized control swept the globe. Whether it was the EU and its attempts to control many aspects of decisions made by sovereign European nations or the growth of big intrusive government (B.I.G.) in the USA, or the spread of socialist regimes in countries like Venezuela, the intent has been simple—a small group of elite decision makers in business, finance, and foreign policy would control all important aspects of government. This "system" would act globally to benefit us all. Except it didn't. The elites in media, business, government and politics loved the "system" because: (1) they were the ruling class in charge of it; (2) it served their needs and made many of them rich, and (3) it concentrated power among a small number of men and women who were members of an elite club.

Those who were not members of the elites accepted the meme that all was well, that the "system" worked for their benefit, that it provided stability and prosperity. Until it didn't.

The seeds of the great unraveling began in 2007-2008 when the world economic system collapsed. The cause of the collapse was grossly irresponsible (some would say, outright criminal) behavior by the elites. Elite financial institutions acted in ways that destroyed trillions of dollars in hard-earned individual wealth. Elite governmental regulators looked the other way as millions received mortgages they could not afford or pay off. Financial institutions packaged those shoddy mortgages into even shoddier financial instruments. Elite politicians did nothing. And as a consequence, many individuals were ruined and many small businesses failed. The perpetrators of the collapse were bailed out by the very people—the taxpayers—who suffered the most harm. The elites told us that catastrophe would occur without a bailout, that the world financial system would collapse, that all of us would suffer—but those not in "the club" suffered while the elite players used taxpayer money to survive and prosper.*

Those early seeds laid the roots of mistrust. People began to realize that the smartest kids in the room weren't really very smart at all. Their decisions often went bad, their policies hurt rather than helped the average citizen, their newly found love of politically correct thinking led to cultural upheaval (think: massive Middle Eastern immigration into Europe and its detrimental effects), their blatant grasp for more and more power did far more harm than good.

Bret Stevens writes:
The populist wave now cresting across much of the world is sometimes described as a revolt against globalization: immigrants failing to assimilate the values of their hosts, poorer countries drawing jobs from richer ones, and so on. But the root complaint is not about economics. It’s about justice. Why does the banker get the bailout while the merchant goes bankrupt? Why does the illegal immigrant get to jump the citizenship queue? What right does a foreign judge have to tell us what punishments our criminals deserve? Why do our soldiers risk their lives for the defense of wealthy allies?

Those of us who believe in the liberal international order (now derisively called “globalism”) ought to think about this. There are powerful academic arguments to be made for the superiority of free trade over mercantilism, or of Pax Americana over America First. But liberalism’s champions will continue to lose the argument until we learn to make our case not in the language of what works, but of what’s right.
The old aphorism about pendulum swings seems appropriate at this point. The pendulum swung wildly to provide the elites with centralized control and power. When they failed to exercise these gifts with any semblance of wisdom, the pendulum swung back toward populism.

Sadly, there are no guarantees that this latest swing will lead to wise leadership. It can be argued that there is wisdom in crowds, but it can also be argued that there is chaos in mobs. Things are changing, but it's difficult to determine whether for good or ill.


* At the time, I was against the bail out. I felt that at least the worst offenders (select banks, and finacial houses) should have been allowed to fail and their executives brought up on criminal charges. The reason was "moral hazard", defined in Wikipedia in the following way: "In economics, moral hazard occurs when one person takes more risks because someone else bears the cost of those risks. A moral hazard may occur where the actions of one party may change to the detriment of another after a financial transaction has taken place."

Because the elites were not made to pay any significant price for their irresponsible actions, they will do it again. In fact, they already are.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Fake News

The main stream media (and many Democrats) are aflutter about "fake news"—stories that often originate within social media or on some sketchy websites that have little of no basis in fact. To give these stories a dark tinge, the usual suspects argue that the "Russians" or the "alt-right" are sometimes the originators and that during the past year, the fake news effort was a devious plot to sway the election. Talk about paranoia!

There is no question that poorly sourced and/or completely erroneous news stories do exist (and are sometimes published with the main stream media itself), but recent suggestions that the news be "curated" so that "fake" news can be eliminated are very dangerous.

Karol Marcowicz writes:
To be sure, there is such a thing as actual fake news: Made-up stories built to get Facebook traction before they can be debunked. But that’s not what’s really going on here.

What the left is trying to do is designate anything outside its ideological bubble as suspect on its face.

In October, President Obama complained that we need a “curating function” to deal with the “wild-wild-west-of-information flow.” Who would be doing this “curating” is unclear — but we can guess: “Obviously,” Noah Feldman writes at Bloomberg View, “it would be better if the market would fix the problem on its own . . . But if they can’t reliably do it — and that seems possible, since algorithms aren’t (yet) fact-checkers — there might be a need for the state to step in.”

In other words, censorship. And who might the government look to target in this crackdown? In an interview with Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone last week, Obama said again that the “The biggest challenge that I think we have right now in terms of this divide is that the country receives information from completely different sources.” Uh-oh.

Seemingly with a straight face, Obama then told Wenner: “Good journalism continues to this day. There’s great work done in Rolling Stone.” Rolling Stone, of course, ran a sensational, and false, story last year about a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity that was thoroughly discredited. The magazine was forced to pay a university administrator it defamed $3 million in damages, and there may be more lawsuits in store. “Good journalism” and Rolling Stone do not go hand in hand.

And then Obama removed all doubt. He blamed Trump’s win in part on “Fox News in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country.”
Image, for just a moment if Donald Trump suggested a "curating function" that would filter news. The Dems and their media supporters would be apoplectic—and for once, they'd be right.

In fact, the MSM is as responsible for as much 'fake news' as any other outlet. Left-leaning newscasters and commentators at CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, and the remaining usual suspects desperately want to validate their narrative that Trump is a loose cannon, doesn't understand the government or foreign policy, and is really an 'alt-right' fanatic. Therefore, the trained hamsters spin every story so that the headline fits that meme. For example, to demonstrate Trump's lack of foreign policy experience, the trained hamsters would have us believe that we're on the brink of war with China over a simple congratulatory phone call from Taiwan. What utter nonsense! Yet, the trained hamster's 'fake news' on this topic has become conventional wisdom.

Because most sources within the mainstream media are demonstrably biased, it's the reader's/listener's/viewer's responsibility to examine multiple sources and viewpoints and to be skeptical about reporting that just doesn't feel right or worse and promotes one political viewpoint to the exclusion of others. That skepticism should be applied equally to borderline websites and to the main steam media—the past eight years have demonstrated that both are fully capable of producing propaganda rather than real news stories.


Steven Hayes writes:
This background [the post-modern meme that there is no objective truth] needs to be kept in mind when surveying the media freak out about “fake news” and how Trump lies. More so than the usual politician? More so than Al Gore, the Clintons, and Harry Reid? It is a curious thing that it took Trump to make the media express outrage at the “terminological inexactitudes” (to use Churchill’s wonderfully obfuscating phrase for “lie”) of politicians. But beyond the selective outrage, it is especially fun to take in the media’s indignation that Trump is supposedly getting away with it, despite relentless “fact-checking,” because we live in a “post-truth” world.

... Who is it that created this “post-truth” climate? Once again, it was liberalism. And just how vigorously has the mainstream media ever stood against this nihilist undertow? That would be zip, zilch, nada ... But like the time an independent counsel was used against a Democrat, liberals hate it when their doctrines are used against them.

To the contrary, speaking of “fake news,” I recall a certain prominent journalist—I’d rather not repeat his name—who trafficked in a wholly fake news story about a president, and whose forged documents were defended as “fake, but accurate.” So the media doesn’t have a lot of standing to complain about “fake news” just now, let alone a “post-truth” world they helped create.

Memo to the Mainstream Media: Welcome to the world your intellectual comrades created. What Trump is doing is saying, “Okay, this is the world you created. Have some of this!” I’m going to enjoy watching the media meltdown of the Trump years.
Among the many reasons that progressives hate Donald Trump is that he punches back—hard. The media demonizes Trump, and guess what? Trump flips it around and demonizes them. If you're comfortable dishing it out, you damn well better be equally comfortable when it comes back and smacks you upside the head.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

The Question

Progressives and the main stream media will never truly accept the reality of a Trump presidency, but they have begun to recognize that the earth has not tilted on its axis, Ku Klux Klan members have not invaded their neighborhoods, Muslim-Americans have not been rounded up and placed in concentration camps, and millions upon millions of illegal aliens will not be shipped off to Mexico on January 21, 2017. Even Jill Stein has decided to abandon her demands for a recount in key battleground states.

I was one of many who was fairly certain that Trump would lose the election. I made the mistake of believing deeply flawed polling data and as a consequence, misread the clear signs that Hillary Clinton was in trouble. I was not alone. Virtually everyone in the MSM, almost every member of the glitterati, and most Democrat and GOP politicians gave The Donald little chance. But among the elites in this country, there was a smug arrogance in their predictions that is palpable when you watch this compilation video:

The prevailing attitude was simple—no one I know would vote for Trump and I know only intelligent, moral, and accomplished people. To the elites, that meant that no intelligent, moral, or accomplished person could possibly vote for Trump. Even suggesting such a thing would be amusing and silly (see the video) and we can all laugh at those who think—delusionally—that Trump had a chance.

Their smug arrogance crashed and burned on November 8th. In its aftermath we saw hysteria, anger, and more than a little irrational thought. Fortunately, that's beginning to abate, replaced by the all-encompassing criticism of everything Trump does and everyone he brings onto his team.

That's fine and to be expected. After all, the Democrats and their media allies are the opposition party and should try to obstruct Trump. The only question they might ask themselves, after reappointing people like Nancy Pelosi and nominating Louis Farrakan disciple Keith Ellison as a candidate for DNC chairman, is this one: Are the American people in favor of our attempt to abort Trump's presidency before it even begins, or might the American people be willing to give Donald Trump a chance?

And before they answer that question, I'd suggest they learn a lesson from the smug arrogance they exhibited before the election.

Friday, December 02, 2016


We just learned from the GAO that taxpayers will be on the hook for $108 billion in unpaid student loans. That's a gross under-estimate of the overall liability that the shrinking pool of people who pay income taxes (you know, the ones who never seem to pay their "fair share") will have to cover. The editors of The Wall Street Journal comment:
The Education Department claims the national student loan default rate is 11.3%, yet only half of all debt is in repayment. Borrowers can seek forbearance or deferment if they are unemployed, return to school or claim financial difficulties. Or they can enroll in income-based repayment plans that let them discharge the debt after making payments equal to 10% of their discretionary income for 20 years. Those who work in “public service”—government or a nonprofit—can wipe out their debt in 10 years without a tax penalty.
Unless the Trump administration modifies the millennial vote-buying scheme hatched by the Democrats, "forgiveness" programs will create a liability that makes the $108 billion look like chump change.

But student loan forgiveness for college graduates in programs like gender studies—programs that have done little to prepare those students for jobs that might allow them to pay back their debt—is not our most pressing worry. If the current student loan program is bad, public pensions are horrendous.

For decades, the Democrats have played nicey-nice with public sector unions, providing rich pension plans that would be impossible to properly fund even in the best of circumstances. The reason, of course, is that the the Dems need union votes, and rich pensions are the driver for that eventuality. Existing public sector pensions are grossly underfunded, their financial status is dishonestly reported, and their ability to make future payouts is very bleak. The Orange County Register reports on the situation in California:
... Official estimates peg combined unfunded pension and retiree health care obligations at more than $200 billion, although some, such as the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, charge that the state’s actuarial assumptions are overly optimistic and understate actual costs by as much as $1 trillion.
Here's the thing. This is not just California's problem, or Illinois, or Connecticut ,or New York, or any other of the many blue states (and a few red ones) that are in serious pension funding trouble.

The very same taxpayers in states that have solvent pension programs will be asked to bail out states who have been grossly irresponsible with their public pensions. After all, who wants to see grandma eating dog food, right?

Many of those same taxpayers do not work for government and have set aside their own money to fund a Keogh or IRA or even a 401-K, recognizing that pension payouts were largely based on their contributions and responsible actions. Now, those same taxpayers will be asked to bail out the states that have acted irresponsibly and the politicians who enabled them.

Thursday, December 01, 2016


When a politician speaks—any politician—pay relatively little attention to his or her words. If they're intelligent and seemingly focused, smile and nod, but apply healthy skepticism. If they're crass and unfocused, frown and shake your head, but recognize that they're just words. The only thing that matters is results—not good intentions, not histrionics, not sound bites, not a cool demeanor or a winning smile—RESULTS!

Results are achieved only when the politician has solid core principles (e.g., a focus on a strong economy, respect for the law, a recognition that Islamic terrorism is a long term threat, an aggressive, American-first foreign policy), when the politician and those around him have the experience to assess incoming facts and make sound, defensible decisions, and when based on those decisions, he or she can formulate effective strategies toward achieving measurable accomplishments. The key to the success of any politician—and by that I mean the benefit that politician brings to our country, not himself—is the people he has around him (and the degree to which those people are strong enough to influence him).

Daniel Henninger comments on the emerging Trump cabinet:
... the Trump transition has been talking to and appointing some of the most accomplished and serious individuals in Republican and conservative politics. Donald Trump isn’t pulling rabbits out of a hat. Somebody at team Trump has a first-rate Rolodex.

By now, it should be obvious that the Trump operation exists in two parts. One half is the operation’s face, Donald Trump. The other half is the operation behind the face. Mr. Trump’s persona has often made it difficult to take the entire Trump phenomenon seriously. That, we learned, is a mistake.
It's extremely difficult to be a business success, much less to build a business empire without knowing how to hire and fire. It is crucial to bring in outstanding people and let them build a path to success. It appears that despite Democrats and trained hamsters in the media accusing almost every Trump appointment of "racist" or a "bigot," being "too wealthy" or "alt-right", Donald Trump is building a "first-rate" team.

The problems this country has encountered over the past eight years occurred because too much attention was paid to words and style, and not nearly enough was paid to substance and results. Until fairly recently, the public seemed perfectly okay as they listened to seemingly intelligent and focused (?) words, while the media willfully refused to report results. Much to the chagrin of the Democrats, that all changed on November 8th. Now results are what will matter, the media will be merciless in assessing those results, and that's a very good thing.

Throughout the Obama presidency, regular readers of this blog read the phrase "Team of 2s" on many occasions. That's a play on the old management axiom that when assessing a manager on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being world-class), 9s hire 10s and 3s hire 2s. Obamas team of 2s generally had no private sector experience, no broad-based strategic experience, had identically the same ideological bent as Obama himself (thing: "yes men"), and were often hired more on the basis on identity politics than personal competence.

Donald Trump may be a 5, but it looks like he's hiring 9s. That, in an of itself, is a very good sign. We'll still have to wait on results (after all, he's not the president as yet), but first indications are actually quite good.