Archive for the ‘corruption’ Category

The Western Spring.

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

migrants

Belmont Club and Richard Fernandez have come up with a good term to describe what is happening now.

It’s on, the long awaited fight against PC orthodoxy is finally on. Trump is unlikely to apologize, CAIR even more unlikely to back down. With 3 million Middle Eastern and African refugees due to arrive in Europe this year the clashes between German protesters are only likely to intensify.

The commotion you hear is not going to stop, it will only get worse. The Western Spring is finally here, and before it’s done it threatens to change everything.

The “Arab Spring” has proved a disaster for the Middle East. Much of that disaster was midwifed by Obama and Hillary. Obama hleped The Muslim Brotherhood overthrow our ally, Mubarak. The Washington Post was very optimistic.

CAIRO – It was sparked on social-networking sites, and inspired by a revolution in Tunisia. In 18 days, it grew into something astounding – a leaderless people’s movement that at every turn outsmarted a government with an almost unblemished 30-year record of suppressing dissent.

Of course, it didn’t turn out the way they expected.

Despite the government’s efforts to sow violence that could be pinned on the demonstrators, the vast majority did not take the bait.

In the first days of the protests, they were attacked with high-pressure water hoses, tear gas, birdshot, rubber bullets and live ammunition. Protesters responded with rocks, but also with pamphlets instructing demonstrators to appeal to the police as fellow Egyptians.

When police withdrew from the streets and prisoners were released from their cells, Egyptians formed security committees to protect their neighborhoods. And when pro-Mubarak forces – many of them thought to be paid thugs and undercover police – attacked anti-government demonstrators, the protesters fought back but did not escalate the violence.

More than 300 people were killed over the past 18 days, with each death giving the movement more momentum. In Tahrir Square, posters of the dead grace every corner. A curly haired girl named Sally, a man named Hassan, a boy named Mohammed.

The leftist innocence drips from the article. Mubarak believed that the US conspired to bring him down. Knowing Obama, he was probably correct. Of course, we should follow Napoleon’s rule, “Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.”

(more…)

The Coming Financial Armageddon.

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

An interesting piece in New York magazine describes the opinions of the man who wrote the book, The Big Short.

He is not optimistic.

Dodd-Frank really worked, and they kind of disagreed with the end of the movie, which implies that this is all going to happen again.
It sort of worked. One thing it has not changed is the sheer size of these institutions, they’ve gotten bigger rather than smaller. And I don’t understand that , I would have thought that from Too Big To Fail we would have found a way to make them small enough so that it was ok for them to fail. And know there’s all this complicated language about how you can resolve them in bankruptcy but I don’t believe it, and the markets don’t believe it. The bigger thing is — I regarded this crisis at bottom as a problem of incentives. People behaved badly because they were incentivized to behave badly, and the incentives haven’t really changed that much.

No, they haven’t and ZIRP is one reason. ZIRP is “Zero Interest Rate Program.”

I think they should have broken up the banks.

And in your opinion, why didn’t that happen?
It didn’t happen because the Obama administration decided that it was worse than the course of action they took. They considered it, kind of. If you asked Tim Geithner why it didn’t happen, he would say how am I going to do that? I am going to have to nationalize these banks, and then break them up. Well, we’re really not equipped to run the entire financial system out of the Treasury. And the system is in such disarray and chaos that we are more likely to create more crisis, than resolve the crisis if we do that. Which is not a terrible argument.

Geithner is, of course, the villain of Sheila Bair’s book, “Bull by the Horns.” My review of her book points out this statement.

Her tenure was stress filled and some of that stress came from the actions of soon-to-be Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. The story opens in the crisis of late 2008 when the TARP legislation was first defeated by the House, then finally passed. She notes that the purpose proposed for the bill was immediately abandoned after it was signed. It was supposed to fund purchase of the toxic assets held by banks and by investors but quickly became a bailout for the big banks, judged too big to fail. Much of her time was spent fending off Geithner as he seemed to be obsessed with the welfare of CITIBank, a huge and weak international player. She is very critical of his efforts and of the CITIBank management.

Soon after this he became Treasury Secretary for Obama. Like a lot of people, he was thinking this.

Another kind of reform, which would eventually cause them to shrink a lot, would be vastly increasing the capital requirements, which has been floated by people, require them to hold not just about 7 percent or 6 percent but 20 percent, and what happens is they’d become a lot less profitable, they can’t take big big bets and no one would want to invest in them or work for them. But that has been roundly defeated at the regulatory level. I think, beneath that, the bigger problem is, virtually everybody at the table, even well-meaning government employees, when they are talking about what to do about these places, have — even if they aren’t thinking about it consciously, cannot help but consider the likelihood that the way they are going to make a living, a very good living, when they get done with government work, is to go work for one of these places.

That is called Moral Hazard and it has defeated any attempt at reform. And it may now be too late to fix it.

Analysts also point to concerns over Chinese market regulators, who they believe do not appear to have a good grasp of the market, even with the introduction of the circuit breakers. In an attempt to stabilize markets, China’s securities regulator has issued new rules to restrict the number of shares major shareholders in listed companies can sell every three months to 1 percent.
Marc Ostwald, a strategist at ADM Investor Services, believes that Soros’ comments — alongside a gloomy report Wednesday from the World Bank — only serve to cast a “long shadow” over global markets.
“It should be noted that the current turmoil distinguishes itself from 2008, when reckless lending, willful blindness to a mountain of credit sector risks and feckless and irresponsible regulation and supervision of markets were the causes of the crash, given that central bank policies have been encouraged and been wholly responsible for the current protracted bout of gross capital misallocation,” he said in a morning note.

Why is this different from 2008 ? It isn’t.

people didn’t want to know there was a bubble in the housing market, even though everyone knew something bad was going on.
It was really true, I remember coming across this phenomenon, on the wrong side of things: People were just thinking, “This doesn’t have to last very long for me to do well. And if it all goes down it’s not going to affect me. So why think about it too much?” There’s a great line in the movie: “You tell me the difference between corrupt and stupid and I’ll have my wife’s brother arrested.”

This explanation is still relevant.

For five years, Li’s formula, known as a Gaussian copula function, looked like an unambiguously positive breakthrough, a piece of financial technology that allowed hugely complex risks to be modeled with more ease and accuracy than ever before. With his brilliant spark of mathematical legerdemain, Li made it possible for traders to sell vast quantities of new securities, expanding financial markets to unimaginable levels.
His method was adopted by everybody from bond investors and Wall Street banks to ratings agencies and regulators. And it became so deeply entrenched—and was making people so much money—that warnings about its limitations were largely ignored.
Then the model fell apart. Cracks started appearing early on, when financial markets began behaving in ways that users of Li’s formula hadn’t expected. The cracks became full-fledged canyons in 2008—when ruptures in the financial system’s foundation swallowed up trillions of dollars and put the survival of the global banking system in serious peril.

That was part of it. The rest was the corrupt bargain that Democrats had with lobby groups for minorities.

I wrote about this in 2008 as it was happening.

Things did not begin to heat up again until the end of the Clinton Administration. The internet stock bubble left a lot of people with money to invest but few good opportunities. Many had taken their money out of the stock market after making plenty of money. Secondly, after 9/11, the Bush Administration was determined to avoid a recession brought on by the huge capital loss of the WTC collapse. The Panic of 1907 was precipitated by the San Francisco Earthquake and the huge losses to insurance companies. The Great Depression was partly a reaction to the default of war loans from World War I and the reparations demanded of Germany. There was fear that another severe financial panic would follow 9/11. In fact, that may have been a large part of the plan by Osama bin Laden. As a result, the banks had a lot of money to lend and they soon ran out of worthy borrowers. What to do ? Lend it to people with less than sterling credit. After all, houses were going to keep going up in price, weren’t they ?

Enter the chislers and scammers. Some of whom were former Clinton Administration members who got themselves appointed to the boards of the two big mortgage lenders. Did they have a broad background in mortgage banking ? No. They were politicians, like Jim Johnson who recently left the Obama campaign where he had been serving as the co-chair to vet potential VP nominees. What was his background ? Politics, not finance.

James A. Johnson is a United States Democratic Party political figure. He was the campaign manager for Walter Mondale’s failed 1984 presidential bid and chaired the vice presidential selection process for the presidential campaign of John Kerry. In the 2008 election, he is a member of the vice-presidential selection process for the presumptive Democratic nominee, Senator Barack Obama.

From 1991 to 1998, he served as chairman and chief executive officer of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), the quasi-public organization that guarantees mortgages for millions of American homeowners. Previously, he was vice chairman of Fannie Mae (1990-1991) and a managing director with Lehman Brothers (1985-1990).

The rest is history but much of it is at that link.

The Trump Phenomenon

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

trump

A good column in the NY Post today describes the elites horror at the Trump supporters.

It was quite evident at Meet The Press this morning as the guests expressed suitable horror at Mr Trump’s progress toward the GOP nomination.

Now, after months of whistling past the graveyard of Trump’s seemingly inexorable rise and assuring themselves that his candidacy will collapse as voters come to their senses, a CNN poll released Wednesday showing Trump now lapping the field has the GOP establishment in full meltdown mode. The survey shows Trump with nearly 40% of the primary vote, trailed by Ted Cruz at 18%, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio tied at 10%, and the also-rans (including great GOP hope Jeb Bush) limping along far behind.

I am not a Trump supporter but I am intrigued at the steady progress he is making toward success. I have been a fan of Angelo Codevilla’s characterization of America’s Ruling Class.

The recent collapse of Republican Congressional resistance to the left’s political agenda as noted in the surrender of Paul Ryan to the Democrats in the budget, has aggravated the Republican base and its frustration.

Ryan went on Bill Bennett’s radio show on Tuesday to tell his side of the story, which involves the fact that he inherited from outgoing Speaker John Boehner an unfavorable budget framework, as well as some of the tradeoffs involved (especially defense spending). He also laid out the argument I’ve heard elsewhere, which is that he needed to “clear the decks” so that a real return to “regular order” budgeting next year will be possible. You may or may not be persuaded, but the contrast with Boehner is fairly plain, I think.

In other words, perhaps the omnibus should be thought of as something like the Dunkirk evacuation. But if so, we still need our Churchill to explain it and chart the path forward in a compelling way. This requires the presidential field to step up.

Dunkirk brought the British Expeditionary Force home almost intact, although minus their weapons. Ryan did the equivalent of surrender.

Their panic was best articulated last week in The Daily Beast by GOP consultant Rick Wilson, who wrote that Trump supporters “put the entire conservative movement at risk of being hijacked and destroyed by a bellowing billionaire with poor impulse control and a profoundly superficial understanding of the world .?.?. walking, talking comments sections of the fever swamp sites.”

Some might take that as a backhanded compliment. Can the GOP really be so out of touch with the legions of out-of-work Americans — many of whom don’t show up in the “official” unemployment rate because they’ve given up looking for work in the Obama economy? With the returning military vets frustrated with lawyer-driven, politically correct rules of engagement that have tied their hands in a fight against a mortal enemy? With those who, in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino massacres by Muslims, reasonably fear an influx of culturally alien “refugees” and “migrants” from the Middle East?

The Daily Beast is not exactly the Republican voter and the “GOP Consultant” seems to be ignoring the possibility that his job prospects might be harmed by his contempt for the voters he is supposed to understand and convince.

(more…)

Is the Ryan budget the final gasp of the government unions ?

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

As usual. Richard Fernandez has a unique view of current events. He compares the present federal government to Boss Tweed’s Tamany Hall.

But in actuality the impetus for moderating political excess often comes from the elites themselves when mismanagement finally becomes so bad it threatens the survival of everyone.

Until things reach the point of failure mismanagement has the effect of leaving voters no alternative but content themselves with the opposition party. Republican voters may have been disappointed and outraged at the perceived sellout by a Paul Ryan-led Congress to the Obama administration. “It was another Republican “compromise” meaning Democrats got every item they asked for,” said the Drudge Report.

Paul Ryan has engineered a “compromise” with Democrats that gives them everything they wanted.

Today, he defended it on Meet The Press.

And in divided government you don’t get everything you want. So we fought for as much as we could get. We advanced our priorities and principles. Not every single one of them, but many of them. And then we’re going to pick up next year and pick up where we left off and keep going for more.

Is this true ? I doubt it.

(more…)

A very interesting explanation of Europe’s suicide.

Monday, October 26th, 2015
Pegida-Demonstranten haben sich am 19.10.2015 in Dresden (Sachsen) vor der Semperoper versammelt und tragen ein Plakat mit der Aufschrift «National Stasi Agency». Vor einem Jahr war Pegida (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes) in Dresden erstmals auf die Straße gegangen. Foto: Michael Kappeler/dpa +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Pegida-Demonstranten haben sich am 19.10.2015 in Dresden (Sachsen) vor der Semperoper versammelt und tragen ein Plakat mit der Aufschrift «National Stasi Agency». Vor einem Jahr war Pegida (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes) in Dresden erstmals auf die Straße gegangen. Foto: Michael Kappeler/dpa +++(c) dpa – Bildfunk+++

I am a fan of James C Bennett and his book, “The Anglosphere Challenge.” I have just come across an essay of his from 2003 that seems to have a lot to say about the current crisis in Europe.

His thesis is that this is a suicidal period for Europe that began with The Holocaust.

I have to agree with his premise.

Scholars such as Alan Macfarlane have found that individualistic social patterns (such as a preference for nuclear over extended families) have been very deep-seated in England, going back at least to the 14th century, while the reverse has been true in Continental Europe up to the Industrial Revolution.

This might suggest that both fascism and communism emerged on the European continent as a search for the lost security (at the expense of individual independence) of the extended family under the patriarchal rule of the paterfamilias in the traditional Continental society shattered by the Industrial Revolution.

Another explanation, not mutually exclusive with the above, may lie in seeing the Holocaust not as an isolated instance of social madness, but the latter half of a great historical cycle beginning with the emancipation of Europe’s Jews during the Napoleonic Wars.

I think this is a great insight. I also enjoyed his book, “America 3.0,” more for its history than for its optimistic view of the future.

His points are chiefly about the difference in family structure between England and America with nuclear family structure and the other countries which have an extended family structure that is so common in societies where trust and security is constantly threatened.

I wonder if the trust levels in those European countries from 2008 has changed? I think they have and this is evidence, at least for Germany.

“You’re as big of an asshole as that idiot Ralf Stegner,” a certain Birgit M. recently wrote in a letter to Thomas Kutschaty, justice minister of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It was a referrence to the deputy party leader of state chapter of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), who recently said the organizers of the weekly Pegida marches in Dresden and elsewhere should be investigated by intelligence services. “You should all be put in a sack and have a hammer taken to you,” Birgit M. wrote in her tirade.
Then there was the man who called Dorothea Moesch, a local SPD politician in Dortmund, late in the evening on June 30. “We’re going to get you,” he threatened. “We’re at your door.”

Another local SPD politician in Hesse, district administrator Erich Pipa, has been similarly threatened. “We can have you taken out at any time,” he was informed in a letter.

The SPD, of course, is the Social Democratic Party which supports all the left wing causes including unlimited immigration.

Pipa became the target of hatred because he was recently awarded a Federal Cross of Merit, Germany’s highest civilian honor, for his longtime lobbying work on behalf of refugees. Finally, Stahl was the subject of denigration because of his public declaration that he wants refugees to feel welcome in his city.

Why would anyone be upset about that ? This will not end well, at least in continental Europe. Britain ? Who knows ?

Although the Anglosphere began the Industrial Revolution in the 17th century, the period roughly from 1830 through 1930 saw a very rapid expansion of that revolution in Western Europe, and most particularly in German-speaking Europe. This expansion resulted in the emergence of a brilliant and dynamic civilization.

Given the prominence of Jewish Europeans in that civilization, it must be asked whether one of its principal stimuli was not the excitement of mutual discovery, in which newly emancipated Jews brought their analytical skills honed by their tradition of scholarship and debate, while accessing the much wider world of Western science, literature, and scholarship from which they had previously been closed off?

How can we calculate how much more dynamism was added by the everyday interaction of people who had previously been kept in parallel and uncommunicative spheres? The Germanosphere, including not just the Second Reich, but Austria-Hungary, German Switzerland, and the German-speaking communities of Eastern Europe and the Americas, really might better be dubbed the Judaeo-Germanosphere during that period.

This seems to me to be major insight and I compare it with the book by Paul Johnson, “The History of the Jews.”

It is a bit fanciful but I compare this to the famous quote from Robert Heinlein,

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded—here and there, now and then—are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as ‘bad luck’.”

– Robert A. Heinlein

How many of the “small minority” is made up of Jews I have no idea but there is an interesting parallel.

Gradually, however, Europe seemed to run out of creativity, in everything from arts, to academia, to demographic vigor, to the will to political reform. Endless rehashing of elsewhere-discredited Marxism replaced creative political thought. Overt fascism and national chauvinism were banned, but a new Euro-chauvinism took its place, loudly proclaiming the superiority of European ways over crude American ones — a new chauvinism on a wider scale, based like the old national chauvinism primarily on resentment.

It may be coincidence, but these new generations are the ones who grew up without the experience of studying, working and socializing with substantial numbers of Jews. Can this have no effect on politics?

Now, 12 years after this essay was written and after 7 years of the most anti-Semetic US president of modern times, I see that we are joining this moral poverty so typical of Europe. The Germans seem intent on importing a population of Muslims with no history of innovation or cultural development to take the place of the declining and judenrein population of native Germans. I should probably correct my use of the term “anti-Semetic” above as Obama seems very fond of Arabs, who are also “Semites.” The proper term would be “anti-Jewish.”

America 3.0 has a more optimistic outlook than I have. My own review of America 3.0 is less optimistic about the solution which I fear will be bloody and expensive and might end in a new dark age.

The analysis of American history is worth the price of the book and the time to read it. I wish the recommendations for recovery were more likely to be adopted. There are some excellent points about future trends, as in medicine for example. I like some of the suggestions for defense policy. The whole thing is a nice exercise in predicting the future. I just wish it would happen that way. I previously reviewed George Friedman’s The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century. I think I like this one better and highly recommend it.

As I watch what is happening, both here and in Europe, my fears overwhelm my remaining optimism. I hope I’m wrong.

Is Obama our punishment ?

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

Obama was an unusual candidate for president in 2008. I had serious questions in 2008.

One criticism of Obama is that his portfolio is mighty thin. He has no record. Well, he actually does and and here it is. Pretty interesting.

It’s a lengthy record filled with core liberal issues. But what’s interesting, and almost never discussed, is that he built his entire legislative record in Illinois in a single year.

Why was that ? In 2002, the Democrats took over the Illinois legislature, not because of Bush as the reporter says, but because the Republican governor got caught selling drivers’ licenses to truckers with bad driving records. A disastrous truck accident splashed the whole story across the newspapers and the Democrats took over in the next election.

The white, race-baiting, hard-right Republican Illinois Senate Majority Leader James “Pate” Philip was replaced by Emil Jones Jr., a gravel-voiced, dark-skinned African-American known for chain-smoking cigarettes on the Senate floor.

Jones had served in the Illinois Legislature for three decades. He represented a district on the Chicago South Side not far from Obama’s. He became Obama’s ­kingmaker.

Several months before Obama announced his U.S. Senate bid, Jones called his old friend Cliff Kelley, a former Chicago alderman who now hosts the city’s most popular black call-in radio ­program.

I called Kelley last week and he recollected the private conversation as follows:

“He said, ‘Cliff, I’m gonna make me a U.S. Senator.’”

“Oh, you are? Who might that be?”

“Barack Obama.”

Obama ended up in the US Senate because the GOP Senator, Peter Fitzgerald, did not run for re-election. Why ?

While State Senator he was a member of a group of conservative state senators elected in 1992 who often challenged the leadership of the Illinois Republican Party and were dubbed the “Fab Five”, the group also included, Steve Rauschenberger, Dave Syverson, Patrick O’Malley and Chris Lauzen.

After a hard-fought primary victory against Illinois Comptroller Loleta Didrickson, in which the latter had the support of most national and state-level Republican leaders, Fitzgerald defeated first-term Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun in 1998, and served for one term in the U.S. Senate. He was the first Republican in Illinois to win a U.S. Senate race in 20 years, and the only Republican challenger in the country to defeat an incumbent Democratic senator in the 1998 election cycle. Although Moseley Braun was dogged by negative publicity of corruption charges, Fitzgerald defeated her by only 2.9%.

Fitzgerald is a staunch conservative on such issues as opposition to abortion (except to save the life of the mother), gun control, gay marriage and taxes, but on some issues, particularly environmental issues — he opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge throughout his tenure in the US Senate — he broke with conservative colleagues. He was one of only a handful of GOP Senators to support the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation.

He was a “maverick” and was not supported by “the Illinois Combine,” a term coined by columnist John Kass to describe the bipartisan corruption in Illinois politics that has brought the state to bankruptcy.

I called former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, the Republican maverick from Illinois who tried to fight political corruption and paid for it. For this sin, he was driven out of Illinois politics by political bosses, by their spinners and media mouthpieces, who ridiculed him mercilessly.

Senator, what do you call that connection that Stuart Levine describes from the witness stand, you know that arrangement across party lines, with politically powerful men leveraging government to make money — what do you call it?

“What do you call that Illinois political class that’s not committed to any party, they simply want to make money off the taxpayers?” Fitzgerald said. “You know what to call them.”

What?

“The Illinois Combine,” Fitzgerald said. “The bipartisan Illinois political combine. And all these guys being mentioned, they’re part of it.”

(more…)

Where we are going and how we got here.

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

I have posted a number of previous opinions on how and why we invaded Iraq. The most recent is here.

There are other explanations that cover this question.

From late 1998 onwards, the sole inhibition on Saddam’s WMD programme was the sanctions regime. Iraq was forbidden to use the revenue from its oil except for certain specified non-military purposes. The sanctions regime, however, was also subject to illegal trading and abuse. Because of concerns about its inadequacy – and the impact on the Iraqi people – we made several attempts to refine it, culminating in a new UN resolution in May of this year. But it was only partially effective. Around $3bn of money is illegally taken by Saddam every year now, double the figure for 2000. Self-evidently there is no proper accounting for this money.

Because of concerns that a containment policy based on sanctions alone could not sufficiently inhibit Saddam’s weapons programme, negotiations continued after 1998 to gain re-admission for the UN inspectors. In 1999 a new UN resolution demanding their re-entry was passed and ignored. Further negotiations continued. Finally, after several months of discussion with Saddam’s regime this year, Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, concluded that Saddam was not serious about re-admitting the inspectors and ended the negotiations. That was in July.

All of this is established fact. I set out the history in some detail because occasionally debate on this issue seems to treat it almost as if it had suddenly arisen, coming out of nowhere on a whim, in the last few months of 2002. It is an 11 year history: a history of UN will flouted, lies told by Saddam about existence of his chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programmes, obstruction, defiance and denial. There is one common consistent theme, however: the total determination of Saddam to maintain the programme; to risk war, international ostracism, sanctions, the isolation of the Iraqi economy, in order to keep it. At any time, he could have let the inspectors back in and put the world to proof. At any time he could have co-operated with the UN. Ten days ago he made the offer unconditionally, under threat of war. He could have done it at any time in the last eleven years. But he didn’t. Why?

This is from Tony Blair’s speech to Parliament.

There are too many people who don’t remember what happened. This really goes back to the end of the Ottoman Empire.

(more…)

Is this 1789 ?

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

ruling

In 1789, the French Revolution began. How ?

On May 5, 1789, Louis XVI convened the Estates-General. Almost immediately, it became apparent that this archaic arrangement—the group had last been assembled in 1614—would not sit well with its present members. Although Louis XVI granted the Third Estate greater numerical representation, the Parlement of Paris stepped in and invoked an old rule mandating that each estate receive one vote, regardless of size. As a result, though the Third Estate was vastly larger than the clergy and nobility, each estate had the same representation—one vote. Inevitably, the Third Estate’s vote was overridden by the combined votes of the clergy and nobility.

The essay of Angelo Codevilla in American Spectator in 2014 described a similar phenomenon in 21st century America. American citizens begged for control of illegal immigration and crony capitalism.

As over-leveraged investment houses began to fail in September 2008, the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties, of major corporations, and opinion leaders stretching from the National Review magazine (and the Wall Street Journal) on the right to the Nation magazine on the left, agreed that spending some $700 billion to buy the investors’ “toxic assets” was the only alternative to the U.S. economy’s “systemic collapse.” In this, President George W. Bush and his would-be Republican successor John McCain agreed with the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. Many, if not most, people around them also agreed upon the eventual commitment of some 10 trillion nonexistent dollars in ways unprecedented in America. They explained neither the difference between the assets’ nominal and real values, nor precisely why letting the market find the latter would collapse America. The public objected immediately, by margins of three or four to one.

Today, we have a situation in which the Muslim world of the middle east is being overrun by a radical faction of Muslims who call themselves ISIS.

Richard Fernandez, whose writing I read every day, has another good discussion of what is happening and likely to happen in the future.

The anniversary of the U.S. war against the Islamic State passed with little notice. It was August 7 of last year that President Obama authorized the first airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, a campaign he expanded a month later to include targets in Syria. So far this month, the president has delivered remarks on the Voting Rights Act, his deal with Iran, the budget, clean energy, and Hurricane Katrina. ISIS? Not a peep.

(more…)

America is in Play

Friday, August 28th, 2015

trump

Peggy Noonan has a column today that has lots of people talking.

I have been pessimistic about the future of the country for a while. Recently, I have been very pessimistic.

One of the arguments for the impossibility of an event is lack of previous failure. “It never failed before and thus can never fail ever”. The Washington Post’s editorial board invokes a variant of this logic to refute Donald Trump’s border policy, arguing there are so many illegal immigrants it is too expensive to deport them all, leaving no alternative but to accept more.

Naturally, the WaPo is certain they know what could happen.

A useful case study is California, whose economy accounts for about 13 percent of U.S. gross domestic product and whose 2.6 million undocumented workers include almost a tenth of the state’s workforce.

Well, guess what ? Peggy is talking to Hispanics.

Something is going on, some tectonic plates are moving in interesting ways. My friend Cesar works the deli counter at my neighborhood grocery store. He is Dominican, an immigrant, early 50s, and listens most mornings to a local Hispanic radio station, La Mega, on 97.9 FM. Their morning show is the popular “El Vacilón de la Mañana,” and after the first GOP debate, Cesar told me, they opened the lines to call-ins, asking listeners (mostly Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican) for their impressions. More than half called in to say they were for Mr. Trump. Their praise, Cesar told me a few weeks ago, dumbfounded the hosts. I later spoke to one of them, who identified himself as D.J. New Era. He backed Cesar’s story. “We were very surprised,” at the Trump support, he said. Why? “It’s a Latin-based market!”

What is going on ?

On the subject of elites, I spoke to Scott Miller, co-founder of the Sawyer Miller political-consulting firm, who is now a corporate consultant. He worked on the Ross Perot campaign in 1992 and knows something about outside challenges. He views the key political fact of our time as this: “Over 80% of the American people, across the board, believe an elite group of political incumbents, plus big business, big media, big banks, big unions and big special interests—the whole Washington political class—have rigged the system for the wealthy and connected.” It is “a remarkable moment,” he said. More than half of the American people believe “something has changed, our democracy is not like it used to be, people feel they no longer have a voice.”

I could not agree more. I keep recommending Angelo Codevilla’s essay in American Spectator. I even saved it on this blog because Spectator dropped it for a while. Now it seems to have become such a topic of conversation that it is back on their web site.

I have even been saying that we need a revolution, and maybe it is coming.

“It is accepted that primary schools have increasing numbers of pupils, which causes all manner of problems, but what is frequently not referred to is why we have such a boom in numbers.

“And the answer is unlimited immigration into this country. It hits some areas harder than others but there cannot be many primary schools in the country which have not been affected at all,” said Mr Nuttall, UKIP Education spokesman.

Wow ! That is Britain ! I will be in Britain in little more than a week and it will be interesting to have this conversation with my friends, a retired British Army physician and his wife. We will go to Belgium while avoiding the Chunnel to avoid rioting at Calais as “migrants” try to invade Britain though the Chunnel in search of the Dole.

finn_calais_port__3080803k

This might even be the start of the West trying to save itself from the predicted Suicide.

In 1964, as today, it is very easy to see how a thinking person might see the intellectual drift to the left as a move toward societal suicide. For liberalism is a cry for the supremacy of general good intentions over the practical application of common sense. Burnham said that liberals are often driven by “profound non-rational, often anti-rational sentiments and impulses.” Ideas like the welfare state and leniency on criminals to facilitate rehabilitation may have sounded good coming out of the mouth of a liberal, but they were disastrous in practice.

Burnham’s book, “Suicide of the West”, was in effect a warning that leftward drift would ultimately destroy all affluence and freedom in the world. Fortunately, many of the readers of his book heeded Burnham’s cry and helped stem the leftward movement of policy and ideas in America.

Is it ending ?

Here We Go !

Monday, August 24th, 2015

ghost

UPDATE: Here is a good description of what I think is coming.

The US stock market is being buoyed upward by technology shares that are pure luxury items, a bit like the China Ghost Cities.

America’s technology darlings aren’t exactly making good on Silicon Valley’s legacy. Microsoft, Cisco, IBM and a few other businesses of the old guard have a reasonable claim to being the companies that run the world, but Twitter and Facebook? Not so much – whatever their crazy valuations.

You see, as much as global financial concerns are going to hit tech companies harder than other sorts of enterprise, so too will their own lack of ambition. The ugly truth is that Silicon Valley has largely given up trying to fix big problems and has retreated into photo-sharing apps and productivity tools. That may sound harsh, but just look at some of the absurd and pointless startups that are getting vast checks written and tell me that founders don’t need a kick up the ass and a reminder that no one has solved batteries yet.

I have been pessimistic for several years. That may be just my own psychological makeup but I am not the only one.

California is getting a bit agitated about what is happening in China.

Gyrations in the stock market have taken California’s fragile finances for a ride before — when the dot-com bubble burst, when the Wall Street crash sank the national economy less than a decade ago.

So when the market continued its dive Monday, state officials began glancing around for their seat belts.

More than most states, California depends heavily on taxes from the wealthy, pulling about half of its income tax revenue from just 1% of residents in recent years.

California is a top down society because it depends on income tax. Texas doesn’t and its state government is funded by sales tax, which everyone pays, even illegals.

The Obama Administration has been playing a Ponzi Scheme for years.

A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation where the operator, an individual or organization, pays returns to its investors from new capital paid to the operators by new investors, rather than from profit earned by the operator.

(more…)