Posts Tagged ‘politics’

The leftward shift of Fox News.

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

I have not been a big fan of Fox News but it was the only source of relatively neutral political reporting on TV for years. Some years ago, Charles Krauthammer famously said, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes found a “niche market ” with 50% of the population.

I said some years ago that the genius of Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes was to have discovered a niche market in American broadcasting — half the American people. The reason Fox News has thrived and grown is because it offers a vibrant and honest alternative to those who could not abide yet another day of the news delivered to them beneath layer after layer of often undisguised liberalism.

What Fox did is not just create a venue for alternative opinion. It created an alternate reality.

A few years ago, I was on a radio show with a well-known political reporter who lamented the loss of a pristine past in which the whole country could agree on what the facts were, even if they disagreed on how to interpret and act upon them. All that was gone now. The country had become so fractured we couldn’t even agree on what reality was. What she meant was that the day in which the front page of The New York Times was given scriptural authority everywhere was gone, shattered by the rise of Fox News.

Now, in a trend that has become depressingly common, the heirs of Murdoch are taking over and shifting the programming left. Roger Ailes has been named by a disgruntled ex-employee in a fairly laughable sexual harassment suit. Carlson was fired and then, after being fired, sued alleging harassment.

Ailes, predictably, dismissed the charges as false.

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What the Hell is going on ?

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Brig-4

I have been ruminating about the Hillary case since the Bill and Loretta meeting at the Phoenix Airport last weekend.

What is going on ?

The meeting was a big secret and no reporters were supposed to be there. However, a local TV station was at the airport.

The temperature was 115 degrees. Bill Clinton was alleged to be playing golf but HE DID NOT DO SO. He was meeting with a donor.

Former President Clinton was visiting the Phoenix area and arrived to Sky Harbor Monday evening to depart.

Sources tell ABC15 Clinton was notified Lynch would be arriving at the airport soon and waited for her arrival.

Lynch was arriving in Phoenix for a planned visit as part of her national tour to promote community policing.

ABC15 asked Lynch about the meeting during her news conference at the Phoenix Police Department.

I did see President Clinton at the Phoenix airport as he was leaving and spoke to myself and my husband on the plane,” said Lynch.

She made some risible remark about discussing golf and grandchildren. She had no children, let alone grandchildren.

This story stinks to high heaven.

Then Comey had his short announcement. CNN, of course, loved it.

Comey last navigated politics this turbulent in 2004, when he was deputy attorney general and he was at the center of a dramatic showdown with the White House over a surveillance program ordered by President George W. Bush. Comey and other Justice Department and FBI officials threatened to resign in the dispute, and Comey, a Republican, emerged a hero to the political left.

This is a lie. Comey was hip deep in the controversies of the Bush Administration and not in an impartial way.

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Does the Republican Party want to win this election ?

Friday, June 10th, 2016

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I’m starting to wonder if the Republican Party, that is the institutional party not the voters, really wants to win the election if it means accepting Trump as the nominee.

I was skeptical at first when it looked like Trump was not collapsing of his own weight.

About December, he began to look like there was a real chance of winning.

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 am still not that enthusiastic but it seems that he has attracted a large following of people who might be motivated enough to elect him president. The Republican Party seems horrified by the prospect.

This talk of ousting Trump as the nominee seems more likely to be a big flashing public signal to Trump to get his act together right away. (The smart lefty writer John Judis thinks Trump’s scripted speech Tuesday night is a sign he got this message.) If you were really going to depose Trump from being the GOP nominee in Cleveland, I’m not sure you’d go big with lots of public chatter about it as you’re seeing right now.

For example, Michael Mukasey a former Attorney General, has written a pearl clutching op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about Trump’s feud with the judge in the Trump U case.

Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was born in Indiana to parents of Mexican origin and belongs to an association of lawyers of Mexican origin, is sitting on a case in the Southern District of California that charges fraud against Trump University. Donald Trump in recent days has attracted much attention by suggesting that Judge Curiel should be disqualified for bias because the judge’s rulings are adverse to Mr. Trump and because, in campaigning for the presidency, the candidate has criticized Mexicans and proposed building a wall on the southwest U.S. border.

Mr. Trump’s claim against Judge Curiel is both baseless and squalid, but some in the chorus of critics are not themselves entirely without fault.

The accusation about the “association of Mexican (Mexican-American ?) lawyers” neglects to mention it’s name, La Raza Legal Lawyers Association.

Not all agree with Mukasey.

Curiel served on the selection committee in 2014 for the La Raza Lawyers of San Diego Scholarship Fund. Six of seven of the recipients of these scholarships ranging from $1500 to $1600 were born in Central America. One of them, Ricardo Elorza, described himself as “undocumented.”

Donald Trump has been critical of Curiel, calling him a “hater” over the weekend. “The judge was appointed by Barack Obama, federal judge. Frankly, he should recuse himself because he’s given us ruling after ruling after ruling, negative, negative, negative,” Trump said. (RELATED: Trump U Docs: Employee Calls Program A Huge Scam)

“What happens is the judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great. I think that’s fine,” Trump added.

I think Trump was inartful in his statement but, is he so wrong ? A scholarship for an illegal immigrant student might suggest bias against Trump and his emphasis on illegal immigration.

Mukasey again. Whether they know it or not, judges demonstrate symbolically every time they mount the bench that personal considerations have no place in deciding cases.

If only that were true.

The left seems to understand what is going on.

Never Trump Republicans like Bill Kristol, and whoever else would rally behind French’s potential third-party candidacy, do not take the presidency as seriously as they claim to: If they did, they’d admit that they find Hillary Clinton to be a better choice than Donald Trump.

There seems to be no doubt on the Democrats side in spite of all the baggage that Hillary brings.

Even those who should support the nominee seem doubtful.

The reluctant Trump supporters in the upper echelons of the GOP keep expressing surprise and/or dismay at the fact that Trump hasn’t toned things down or been “reined in” yet. If they truly thought this was a possibility, it’s further proof that the party has transcended clueless. Trump is a 69-year-old man who has never had a filter, he isn’t going to develop one overnight, especially simply because some people he deems inferior are exhorting him to.

I don’t think Trump believes the “donor class” is inferior. He probably knows most of them think he is “inferior.”

The portion of the electorate that has propelled Trump to this point are attracted to the very things that the “Harumph!” wing of the GOP finds problematic. When they say they want him to be more of what their vision of a proper candidate is, they are asking him to do a 180 from the version of him that his supporters love.

It isn’t just the Trump faithful who are in love with the lack of a connection between Trump’s brain and mouth, however. Trump himself sees it as an asset. He is very much adopting an attitude of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” now. He’s earned the right. The idiots who let him rise to power have no real basis for their claims that he needs to be the kind of candidate they view as a winning candidate.

That’s largely because they rarely win.

The left is already planning to describe him as mentally unbalanced, as they did Goldwater.

In a speech last week, Hillary Clinton took her befuddlement with Donald Trump and dropped it squarely at the feet of America’s mental health professionals. “I’ll leave it to the psychiatrists to explain his affection for tyrants,” she said, in response to comments Trump had made marveling at the political effectiveness of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

She’s not the first person to suggest the Republican presidential candidate could use a session on the couch. Back in November, Vanity Fair got five psychiatrists and psychologists to weigh in on Trump’s mental health.

Goldwater did not fight back. Trump does and that is why his supporters love him.

Also, the political left is doing a good job of explaining why we should choose Trump.

Much more about the city sanctioned riot at the Trump Rally here.

San Jose is a sanctuary city for illegal aliens. Remember, all of these videos took place within sight of the San Jose police department, the police officers therein, and the San Jose police Chief Eddie Garcia. According to his own statements, Chief Garcia spent two full days preparing his officers and leadership for the event. He was right there on scene, at the mobile command center. Garcia watch this all as it took place.

It’s pretty clear the rally-goers were set up. Here is an eye witness account.

The Trump event attendees were forced to walk past the protesters afterward, after the event was over, to get to their cars. Broad areas of sidewalks and streets, that were not blockaded before the event started, were blockaded by barriers after the event ended, and standing in front of those barriers were lines of individual police officers telling Trump event attendees what route to follow to get to their vehicles.

I had parked in a parking garage right next door to the event. Before the event, an easy walk to the event, after event over, had to square 4 blocks of sidewalk lined with protesters who somehow knew the exact route that Trump supporters/event attendees had to walk, and were waiting for them.

But the GOPe is planning to try to wrest the nomination away from him at the convention.

Is there a better definition of a suicide pact ?

To Stop the Train.

Saturday, June 4th, 2016

I have been using the analogy of pulling the cord to stop the train when it is headed for the cliff, even if you don’t know what happens next. I see that Richard Fernandez has now adopted the analogy.

I don’t see Trump voters as doing anything noble or particularly courageous but it is a risk and many of us are willing to take it.

Fernandez uses the example of Torpedo Squadron 8 which was a factor in the success of the US Navy in the Battle of Midway. John Waldron did not sacrifice his men and his own life voluntarily but he had a mission and he carried it out in spite of everything that stood in his way. The fighters of Fighting 8 that were supposed to provide cover got lost in the confusion. According to Alvin Kernan’s book “The Unknown Battle of Midway: The Destruction of the American Torpedo Squadrons ,” other pilots nearly attacked the leader of Fighting 8 after the battle.

Fernandez uses the sacrifice of Waldron and Torpedo 8 as a metaphor for the 2016 election while remembering the crucial battle fought 74 years ago today.

While the path leading to the present is disputed, no one appears to deny America has now arrived in a critical place whose abnormality is most evident in a contest between two presidential candidates neither of whom is widely supported by their nominating parties. None of the two candidates is actually expected to solve the multiple foreign policy and domestic crises currently besetting the country. In fact one candidate may have helped cause many of the current problems while the other’s main attraction is that he may function as a demolition charge which will clear out the roadblocks that have paralyzed America.

If political columnist Ron Fournier is right about this election cycle, it is less about achieving incremental policy change than precipitating a radical institutional change. In that case the current unpopularity contest can be seen as an deliberate process to increase instability by hoping the worst man wins, not in order to continue the status quo but to tear things down and start afresh.

I think it is more important to stop the trends initiated by Obama and the increasingly radical Democrats than to attempt any serious foreign policy initiative.

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What happened to Venezuela?

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

venzuela

Venezuela is in the news as the country cannot even buy paper to print money.

This all goes back to 1998 when Chavez was elected by the people.

He was an army officer and had previously attempted to overthrow the government, a coup that failed.

in the early 1980s. Chávez led the MBR-200 in an unsuccessful coup d’état against the Democratic Action government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez in 1992, for which he was imprisoned. Released from prison after two years, he founded a political party known as the Fifth Republic Movement and was elected president of Venezuela in 1998.

Venezuela is an example of The Curse of Natural Resources.

The idea that resources might be more of an economic curse than a blessing began to emerge in debates in the 1950s and 1960s about the economic problems of low and middle-income countries.[3] The term resource curse was first used by Richard Auty in 1993 to describe how countries rich in mineral resources were unable to use that wealth to boost their economies and how, counter-intuitively, these countries had lower economic growth than countries without an abundance of natural resources. An influential study by Jeffrey Sachs and Andrew Warner found a strong correlation between natural resource abundance and poor economic growth.

Venezuela is only the latest and worst example. The history is depressingly familiar.

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What is going on in Syria ?

Saturday, May 7th, 2016

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Our feckless president has been lecturing the US public about various topics he considers important but what has actually been going on ? We do know that a Navy SEAL named Charles Keating was killed in Iraq.

(CNN)When a team of less than a dozen U.S. military advisers came under attack in Iraq Tuesday from more than 100 ISIS fighters, Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV was part of the force sent in to rescue them.

All the advisers made it back. Keating, a decorated combat veteran and star athlete who decided to enlist after the 9/11 attacks, did not.
Providing new details Wednesday about the operation that took the life of the grandson of prominent financier and World War II pilot Charles Keating Jr., Coalition spokesman Col. Steve Warren said that the clash between ISIS and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces the advisers were assisting was “a big fight, one of the largest we’ve seen recently.”

That’s Iraq, where Obama pulled out all US forces but is now sneaking a few back in, hoping no one notices.

In Iran, Obama’s foreign policy “advisor” named Ben Rhodes, admits it was all a lie.

“I immediately developed this idea that, you know, maybe I want to try to write about international affairs,” he explained. “In retrospect, I had no idea what that meant.” His mother’s closest friend growing up ran the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which then published Foreign Policy. He sent her a letter and included what would wind up being his only piece of published fiction, a short story that appeared in The Beloit Fiction Journal. It was titled “The Goldfish Smiles, You Smile Back.” The story still haunts him, he says, because “it foreshadowed my entire life.”

From writing short stories, Rhodes now writes fiction as national policy.

Rhodes strategized and ran the successful Iran-deal messaging campaign, helped negotiate the opening of American relations with Cuba after a hiatus of more than 50 years and has been a co-writer of all of Obama’s major foreign-policy speeches. “Every day he does 12 jobs, and he does them better than the other people who have those jobs,” Terry Szuplat, the longest-tenured member of the National Security Council speechwriting corps, told me. On the largest and smallest questions alike, the voice in which America speaks to the world is that of Ben Rhodes.

Is the policy that Rhodes writes working ? Better not to know.

Iran has been supporting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. They have spent a lot of money and lives defending him against his people and the Russians. How is that working out ?

The Russians are back in Palmyra, which the ISIS types tried to destroy.

The orchestra played pieces by Johan Sebastian Bach and two Russian composers, Sergei Prokofiev and Rodion Shchedrin, in a second-century Roman amphitheater, the set for a 2015 film produced by the Islamic State that featured the execution of 25 people.

The contrast was intended to underscore what Russia sees as its underappreciated role in helping Syrian forces liberate Palmyra from zealots and fighting on the side of civilization against barbarism.

The Russians were so eager to make that point that they flew a group of reporters from Moscow to Syria and then bused them to Palmyra to see the performance. The production, attended by a heavily guarded V.I.P. guest list, was broadcast live on Russian state television.

Does Obama know about this ? Probably not. Ash Carter seems to be running foreign policy these days.

Rhodes’s opinions were helpful in shaping the group’s [Iraq Study Group] conclusions — a scathing indictment of the policy makers responsible for invading Iraq. For Rhodes, who wrote much of the I.S.G. report, the Iraq war was proof, in black and white, not of the complexity of international affairs or the many perils attendant on political decision-making but of the fact that the decision-makers were morons.

One result of this experience was that when Rhodes joined the Obama campaign in 2007, he arguably knew more about the Iraq war than the candidate himself, or any of his advisers. He had also developed a healthy contempt for the American foreign-policy establishment, including editors and reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and elsewhere, who at first applauded the Iraq war and then sought to pin all the blame on Bush and his merry band of neocons when it quickly turned sour. If anything, that anger has grown fiercer during Rhodes’s time in the White House. He referred to the American foreign-policy establishment as the Blob.

How is Iran, Obama and Rhodes ally, doing ?

They seem to be having trouble as they are recruiting child soldiers, as they did in the Iraq-Iran War.

Iran’s regime has done this before. During the Iran-Iraq War, which killed around a million people between 1980 and 1988, the Basij recruited thousands of children to clear minefields.

After lengthy cult-like brainwashing sessions, the poor kids placed plastic keys around their necks, symbolizing martyrs’ permission to enter paradise, and ran ahead of Iranian ground troops and tanks to remove Iraqi mines by detonating them with their feet and blowing their small bodies to pieces.

Children have been fighting in wars as long as there have been wars, but shoving them into the meat grinder in the 21st century is a war crime expressly prohibited and sometimes even punished by all civilized governments. The International Criminal Court in The Hague, for instance, convicted Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo of war crimes in 2012 for “conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years and using them to participate actively in hostilities.”

The Basij is a paramilitary branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or Pasdaran, and it’s commanded by the iron-fisted head of state, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. It’s mostly used for internal repression and provided many of the shock troops who brutally suppressed non-violent demonstrations during the Green Revolution in 2009.

Why are they now going back to the tactics of 1988?

“Second,” he continued, “the war in Syria and keeping the dictator Bashar Assad in power is so crucial for the Iranian regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei that he is willing to pay any price for this objective. In February in a meeting with the families of the regime’s forces who were killed in Syria, Khamenei said that if we did not fight in Syria, we would have had to fight with our opposition in major Iranian cities. Resorting to the tactic of mobilizing teenagers only leads to one conclusion, the mullahs are facing a deadly impasse in Syria.

So, the Russians seem to be winning and the Iranians are losing and who does Obama ally with ?

Rhodes’s innovative campaign to sell the Iran deal is likely to be a model for how future administrations explain foreign policy to Congress and the public. The way in which most Americans have heard the story of the Iran deal presented — that the Obama administration began seriously engaging with Iranian officials in 2013 in order to take advantage of a new political reality in Iran, which came about because of elections that brought moderates to power in that country — was largely manufactured for the purpose for selling the deal. Even where the particulars of that story are true, the implications that readers and viewers are encouraged to take away from those particulars are often misleading or false. Obama’s closest advisers always understood him to be eager to do a deal with Iran as far back as 2012, and even since the beginning of his presidency. “It’s the center of the arc,” Rhodes explained to me two days after the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was implemented.

And some people think Trump will be a foreign policy disaster.

The Trump Preference Cascade is moving.

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

rally

Earlier in the year, I predicted that a preference cascade is forming around Trump.

“This illustrates, in a mild way, the reason why totalitarian regimes collapse so suddenly. (Click here for a more complex analysis of this and related
issues). Such regimes have little legitimacy, but they spend a lot of effort making sure that citizens don’t realize the extent to which their fellow-citizens dislike the regime. If the secret police and the censors are doing their job, 99% of the populace can hate the regime and be ready to revolt against it – but no revolt will occur because no one realizes that everyone else feels the same way.

We are in a similar period right now. No one wants to put a Trump bumper sticker on their car because it seems an invitation to vandalism.

Siva is accused of slashing the tires of a Ford Focus and pouring yogurt into the car’s open sunroof while it was parked at a Gig Harbor Fred Meyer.

Police say Siva told them he attacked the vehicle because of the Trump sticker on the rear bumper. Siva allegedly told police he considered the sticker a “hate symbol” and vandalizing the car “improved the community.”

The victim of the crime is considered to be at fault because his bumper sticker was a “hate symbol.”

Rioters at the Trump rally in Costa Mesa California this week felt the same way. They showed their anger in obvious ways.

Protest organizers in Southern California said the anti-Trump demonstrations spread through word of mouth and involved mostly young people, including many high school and college students. They brought with them Mexican flags, which were once discouraged at immigrant rights rallies for fear they would be regarded as un-American.

The demonstrations outside the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa on Thursday night blocked traffic and caused tense moments. Some protesters performed screeching burnouts in their cars or did doughnuts at intersections. Others kicked at and punched approaching vehicles, shouting expletives. Ranchera and hip-hop music was blasted throughout the streets. At least 17 people were arrested, and both a Trump supporter and a teenage anti-Trump protester were hurt.

No mention of payment but many of us believe these “demonstrations” are being funded.

What is particularly interesting to me is who is attending these rallies ?

I would like to have attended but I worked that day and was heading home when I heard about it. It was too late and I am not up to that much excitement at my age, anyway. What were the people waiting in line to attend like ?

As noted, the most interesting part of the rally proved the demographics: it was probably 60% women. Lots of minorities as well, plenty of people holding “Latinos for Trump” signs. It was a good mix of African-American, Asian, White, and Hispanic–everybody got along well. Over the loudspeaker, we kept hearing somebody saying over and over that if we saw protestors in the crowd, please do not touch them or say anything to them, just alert security by yelling “Trump! Trump! Trump!” Initially, I thought this was ridiculous, but it worked. Random protestors would get in with the rally crowd and start yelling, and folks would shout, “Trump! Trump! Trump!” The very efficient security personnel would escort the protestors out. No violence.

Doesn’t this sound like the Tea party rallies in 2010 ?

The national polls now show closer numbers and Rasmussen has them tied. Given what I believe is a Bradley Effect, in which people being polled may conceal their real choice to avoid being labeled bigoted by a pollster, I think we might be looking at a Trump landslide. I have wondered if he would implode at some point but I don’t see it.

I really hope the GOP Convention is not attacked by rioters and I do worry about assassination attempts but we will see how this goes on.

Feminism and Victimhood Culture.

Friday, April 8th, 2016

We are living an age when any reference to women runs the risk of violating the “victimhood” rights of feminist women.

What is “Victimhood?” It was explained by two sociologists in 2014.

We’re beginning a second transition of moral cultures. The first major transition happened in the 18th and 19th centuries when most Western societies moved away from cultures of honor (where people must earn honor and must therefore avenge insults on their own) to cultures of dignity in which people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transgressions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling.

The “Honor Culture” requires that one avenge insults to preserve honor. The law and third parties are avoided and this culture is typical of areas where law and authority is mostly absent. A classic example is the American West in the Age of the Frontier. As law and authority became available, the culture gradually changed to one of The Culture of Dignity in which people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transgressions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling. Lawyers have made this culture ubiquitous, even in war.

Now, we have a new phenomenon.

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Government: the things we do together.

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

cal

Barack Obama is fond of describing government this way.

As President Obama said the other day, those who start businesses succeed because of their individual initiative – their drive, hard work, and creativity. But there are critical actions we must take to support businesses and encourage new ones – that means we need the best infrastructure, a good education system, and affordable, domestic sources of clean energy. Those are investments we make not as individuals, but as Americans, and our nation benefits from them.

That was a reaction to Romney’s criticism of his silly comment.

I prefer the quote attributed to Washington.

“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence,—it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant, and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”

Now, we see a new imposition.

The Department of Labor says its so-called fiduciary rule will make financial advisers act in the best interests of clients. What Labor doesn’t say is that the rule carries such enormous potential legal liability and demands such a high standard of care that many advisers will shun non-affluent accounts. Middle-income investors may be forced to look elsewhere for financial advice even as Team Obama is enabling a raft of new government-run competitors for retirement savings. This is no coincidence.

Labor’s new rule will start biting in January as the President is leaving office. Under the rule, financial firms advising workers moving money out of company 401(k) plans into Individual Retirement Accounts will have to follow the new higher standards. But Labor has already proposed waivers from the federal Erisa law so new state-run retirement plans don’t have the same regulatory burden as private employers do.

State run retirement plans. What could go wrong ? Well, we saw one version in Cyprus in 2013.

European leaders reached an agreement with Cyprus early on Monday morning that closes down the island’s second-largest bank and inflicts huge losses on wealthy savers.

Those with deposits of less than €100,000 (£85,000) will be spared, but those with more than €100,000 – many of them Russian – will lose billions of euros under draconian terms aimed at preventing the Mediterranean tax haven becoming the first country forced out of the single currency.

The deal is expected to wreak lasting damage on the Cypriot economy, which has grown reliant on offshore banking and Russian money. Analysts said Cyprus could see its economy contract by 10% or more in the years ahead.

Well, those Russian oligarchs deserved it. Maybe American companies attempting “inversion” deserve it too.

CEOs have learned to keep mum in the Obama era, lest their companies be punished like J.P. Morgan after Jamie Dimon criticized some parts of Dodd-Frank. So it’s worth noting the candid reaction after a new Treasury rule scuttled the merger between Pfizer Inc. and Allergan PLC.

The companies ended their $150 billion tie-up after Treasury Secretary Jack Lew issued new rules that made it harder for companies like Pfizer to move to Ireland to legally lower their taxes. Pfizer will have to pay Allergan a breakup fee of $150 million, though Allergan shares are still down more than $10 billion since the Treasury ambush.

I am not a slavish advocate of corporate tax avoidance but we are in an era of confiscation.

“If the rules can be changed arbitrarily and applied retroactively, how can any U.S. company engage in the long-term investment planning necessary to compete,” Mr. Read writes. “The new ‘rules’ show that there are no set rules. Political dogma is the only rule.”

He’s right, as every CEO we know will admit privately. This politicization has spread across most of the economy during the Obama years, as regulators rewrite longstanding interpretations of longstanding laws in order to achieve the policy goals they can’t or won’t negotiate with Congress. Telecoms, consumer finance, for-profit education, carbon energy, auto lending, auto-fuel economy, truck emissions, home mortgages, health care and so much more.

Now, they want everypne to “invest” in state run “retirement programs.” CalPERS has not distinguished itself, except perhaps in corruption.

After spending years dogged by unpaid debts, California labor leader Charles Valdes filed for bankruptcy in the 1990s—twice. At the same time, he held one of the most influential positions in the American financial system: chair of the investment committee for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, the nation’s largest pension fund for government workers. Valdes left the board in 2010 and now faces scrutiny for accepting gifts from another former board member, Alfred Villalobos—who, the state alleges, spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to influence how the fund invested its assets. Questioned by investigators about his dealings with Villalobos, Valdes invoked the Fifth Amendment 126 times.

Well, it is California where Hispanics, especially illegals, run the state.

Last month the board of California’s new “Secure Choice” retirement plan wrote to state legislators about their “exciting win” in Washington. They reported that employers enrolling workers in the new government-run plan “would have no liability or fiduciary duty for the plan.” Score! The California bureaucrats added that “we have been given the green light to auto-enroll workers into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).”

What could go wrong ?

Unions and the march of robots.

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

port
California has now decided to impose a a $15 per hour minimum wage on its remaining business economy.

Denial of consequences is an important part of left wing philosophy.

“California’s proposal would be the highest minimum wage we have seen in the United States, and because of California’s sheer size, it would cover the largest number of workers,” said Ken Jacobs, chairman of the UC Berkeley center. “This is a very big deal for low-wage workers in California, for their families and for their children.”

Implicit in all the assumptions is the belief that employers will not adjust by reducing the number of minimum wage employees they have.

The UC Berkeley estimate also includes some who earn slightly more than the lowest wage and stand to benefit from a ripple effect as businesses dole out raises to try to maintain a pay scale based on experience, Jacobs said.

If Brown’s plan passes, 5.6 million low-wage workers would earn $20 billion more in wages by 2023, according to the UC Berkeley analysis. It assumed no net jobs would be lost as businesses look to trim costs.

The experience in other places has not been positive.

Even a former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, Alan Krueger, has cautioned recently that “a $15-an-hour national minimum wage would put us in uncharted waters, and risk undesirable and unintended consequences.”

Krueger is the economist whose “study” of the effect of minimum wage increases in fast food industry has been debunked as invalid.

But Card and Krueger’s conclusion is that there’s no effect, not that increases in the minimum wage increase employment as a general rule. “We believe that this research provides fairly compelling evidence that minimum-wage increases have no systematic effect on employment,” they write in their 1995 book, “Myth and Measurement: The New Economics of the Minimum Wage.” They also write, “On average, however, our findings suggest that employment remains unchanged, or sometimes rises slightly, as a result of increases in the minimum wage.” It would be fair for Hanauer to cite the individual studies showing an increase in employment, but to characterize Krueger and Card’s work on a whole as showing an increase in employment resulting from a minimum wage increase is inaccurate.

In less polite terms, it’s bunk ! Newer studies with better methods have shown That employment is reduced.

Second, the studies that focus on the least-skilled groups provide relatively overwhelming evidence of stronger disemployment effects for these groups.

Now, we come to the larger issue the entire “Blue Model” of employment and politics.

The teachers’ unions won a temporary victory to force non-members to pay “agency fees” involuntarily, a decision that resulted from the death of Antonin Scalia last month.

With the absence of the late Antonin Scalia’s reliably-conservative vote, labor unions clenched an unexpected Supreme Court victory on union fees for government workers.

With agency fees – and the structure of union dues – remaining intact, union leaders hailed the court’s affirmation but warned there could be further challenges ahead.

The union case is among a handful of key disputes in which Scalia’s vote was expected to tip the balance toward a result that favored conservatives.

Some non-union teachers in California sued over the fair share fees, claiming that the fees are unconstitutional and violate their freedom of speech and association.

That decision will probably stand until a new Justice is confirmed and a Hillary Clinton presidency would keep the matter going. What about the rest of the world ?

But in the larger context the public unions greatest enemy isn’t the ghost of Antonin Scalia but the onslaught of technology. Recently, the mighty International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) was forced to let giant robots handle cargo in the port of Los Angeles. “At one of the busiest shipping terminals in the U.S., more than two dozen giant red robots wheeled cargo containers along the docks on a recent morning, handing the boxes off to another set of androids gliding along long rows of stacked containers before smoothly setting the boxes down in precise spots,” wrote the Wall Street Journal. “‘We have to do it for productivity purposes, to stay relevant and to be able to service these large ships,’ said Peter Stone, a member of TraPac’s board.”

About ten years ago the Longshoreman’s union struck the port of Los Angeles to try to keep out GPS devices to locate containers.

Traditionally, clerks had climbed around containers to identify them and mark their location. Like Luddites in the 18th century, they attempted to keep their 80 jobs by paralyzing the worlds busiest port.

The union says that over 51 permanent positions have been lost to outsourcing in recent years — a claim that the Harbor Employers refutes. According to the Harbor Employers, those 51 individuals either “retired with full benefits, quit, or passed away during the past three years.”

It is unclear when the strike will end but the Port of LA is urging both sides to come to an agreement promptly for the sake of international commerce.

But the union says the workers are standing up to some of the world’s largest shipping lines to protect the future of American jobs in the industry. “We just reached the point where somebody had to stand-up and draw the line against outsourcing, because these companies will eventually take all the good jobs,”said Fageaux.

According to its website, the Port of Los Angles is responsible for 1.2 million jobs in California and 3.6 million jobs across the country.

No matter. Those 51 jobs were important !

Eventually, the union lost. Now new troubles are coming.

In the end, even those advantages proved insufficient to stop automation. There will be pressure to deploy more robots. The “TraPac site is one of only four cargo terminals in the U.S. using the technology. That is fewer automated terminals than there are at the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands alone.” The ILWU is fighting a rearguard action; its members are training on automated terminals “to ensure there’s a future for the workers”. And probably to keep alive the possibility of paralyzing the docks via strike by console operators.

None of this can disguise the fact is that the glory days of union crane jobs are over. The CEO of Carl’s Jr, a hamburger chain, predicts that fast food restaurants of the near-future will have no human employees. A special report in the New York Times says “the robots are coming to Wall Street.”

Within a decade … between a third and a half of the current employees in finance will lose their jobs to … automation software.

Already, CAT scans are read by radiologists in India. Radiologists who have no local credentialing and who are unknown. All X-rays now are digital and can be transmitted across the world.

For the poor the citizenship deal is votes in exchange for welfare or sinecures. For the financially better off it is campaign contributions in exchange for crony capitalist opportunities. The Friedrichs vs California Teachers Association is an example of the latter, with the Supreme Court unable to reject a transaction that is ultimately unsustainable.

Technology may have changed the debate around closed union shops, quotas, identity politics and mandatory minimum wages from one of ideology to economics. What’s the use of ideological policies, if they’re can’t deliver the goods? If the public employee’s unions can do no better at protecting their fiefdom than the ILWU, if immigrants from Mexico can find no employment because robots are doing all the work then what will the politicians promise?

Yes. What can they promise ?