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    The ISIS Ramadan Massacre in Orlando

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 13th June 2016 (All posts by )

    It’s interesting watching the Main Stream and alternate media “world view bubbles” vie for the narrative following the ISIS Ramadan Massacre at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. The Drudge Report, likely due to Drudge’s ties with the LGBT community in Florida, the UK Media, and blogs like THE LAST REFUGE (AKA The Conservative Treehouse), GATEWAYPUNDIT, AND DAILYPUNDIT drove American television media coverage in a way that effectively removed two days of official denial of Muslim terrorism in the previous San Bernadino ISIS attack time line. During this “vying for narrative” the Institutional Media and Official Government mask slipped and showed that this election is no longer about merely who will be President, but whether American political freedom will survive.

    These are the facts of the ISIS Ramadan Massacre in Orlando, as best I can gather.

    THE FACTS OF THE ISIS RAMADAN MASSACRE
    We know now from the 911 and a Bright House cable News 13 in Orlando call audio that some time before his 2:00 AM Sunday morning attack, OMAR MIR SEDDIQUE MATEEN announced he was pledging his allegiance to ISIS for the atrocity he was going to commit. Some time later (hours?!?) MATEEN began shooting his way past the police officer hired by Pulse Nightclub to guard the entrance to the club. This officer and two more who “rode to the sound of the gunfire” engaged MATEEN and were driven away by MATEEN’s superior weaponry, an AR-15 with “high capacity magazines” and apparently MATEEN’s superior marksmanship (more on this below).

    You cannot tell with media and police sources this early, but this implies that MATEEN’s magazines were something more than the US Army standard 20 and 30-round box clips. Aftermarket AR-15 large capacity clips and drums can be had with up to 100 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition. MATEEN’s ability to drive away three trained police officers, two of which arrived in a squad car that very likely had an AR-15 in the trunk, per mass shooter protocols, argues MATEEN ran the three police first responders out of ammunition.

    MATEEN then proceeded to kill 50 and wound 53 more people inside the crowded venue, and then, finally, to take hostages. It was unclear if the three police officers above engaged MATEEN inside PULSE or not. It is clear they were driven out of the Pulse, leaving those inside the venue to MATEEN’s mercy.

    And MATEEN had none.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Current Events, Internet, Islam, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Media, National Security, Obama, Politics, Rhetoric, RKBA, Terrorism, The Press, USA, War and Peace | 49 Comments »

    Does the Establishment GOP Want to Win This Election ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 10th June 2016 (All posts by )

    trumpflag

    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.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Elections, Politics, Trump | 25 Comments »

    Lest We Forget: “Reasons Why Dodd-Frank Was a Horrible Law”

    Posted by Jonathan on 8th June 2016 (All posts by )

    Jeff Carter:

    One thing I have noticed over the years is when there is a crisis, it’s a really bad time to pass sweeping legislation. The momentum and justification for legislation comes from fear. “We don’t want that to happen again”, supporters say. For example, 9/11 happens and we get the Department of Homeland Security which is mostly a waste of money and allows the government to pry into all kinds of places it shouldn’t.
     
    Dodd-Frank is a result of the financial crisis. There are so many bad actors in this crisis that it’s hard to list them all, but the root cause was the implicit backing government gave Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac-along with legislation and regulation that encouraged bad behavior. Sure, the ratings agencies were paid by the big banks and slanted the playing field. The big banks knew exactly what they were doing with the mortgages. But, without the implicit backing of government, the game never gets played.

    and

    Here are some data points:
     

  • Before Dodd-Frank 75% of banks offered free checking
  •  

  • After Dodd-Frank 25% of banks offered free checking
  •  

  • Small business costs are up 15% to comply with new regulation
  •  

  • 15% less credit card accounts, and a 200 basis points more in cost
  •  
    Remember, many small businesses get started by using credit cards. You might think they are stupid. But why should you import your financial/moral compass on them. Maybe they see the annual percentage rate credit card companies charge as cheap compared to the opportunity that lies ahead of them.
     
    In the state of Missouri, there were 44 banks with less than $50M in assets. Prior to Dodd-Frank they were profitable. Post Dodd-Frank, 26/44 are losing money and will either go out of business or be consolidated. Your local community bank which is often the lifeblood of local capital is dead. How many other states are like Missouri? It’s no wonder small town rural America is having a tough go in the Obama epoch.
     
    Dodd-Frank tried to make central party clearing mandatory for all transactions in the OTC market. Professor Craig Pirrong has blogged brilliantly about this and other aspects of Dodd-Frank. It works for a few, but not for all. This makes it more expensive to hedge risks. Businesses pass along the cost to consumers. In many cases, clearinghouses have to become the actual counterparty to the hedge. This stops commerce and more importantly has created more too big to fail institutions. Those too big to fail clearinghouses are now backed by the full faith and credit of the American taxpayer, you.

    These are great points and Jeff’s post is worth reading in full.

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, Markets and Trading, Politics, Systems Analysis | 4 Comments »

    An Eye Witness Report from the 6-2-2016 Trump Rally in San Jose

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 4th June 2016 (All posts by )

    This is from Trump event attendee Karen Powers:

    As a Trump supporter, I was there, in San Jose, attending the Trump event on June 2.
     
    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.
     
    Frankly, it was pretty obvious that either law enforcement personnel or the mayors office, someone in the know, had told the protesters where the Trump supporters would be forced to walk after the event. Attendees only went where law enforcement officers told them to go in order to get to our cars. We followed their instructions. The protesters knew, seemed well informed, of the direction where Trump supporters were going to be heading even before we exited the event, and protesters lined that walking route as a result, literally laying in wait where no law enforcement was present.
     
    There was an intent to force the supporters and protesters together. There was no intent to keep them apart.
     
    Trump supporters exiting the event were literally set up like rats in a maze, forced to follow a prescribed set of boundaries, which led directly to the protesters and not away from them.
     
    The press got their story but the clash was completely avoidable. It was created by intention and by design.

    Let’s be really clear about the implications of this report. These rioters were acting as an official arm of the Democratic Party controlled San Jose city government in suppressing the civil rights of Americans. The presidential election in November 2016 is no longer about “Trump” or “Hillary”.

    It is about whether we will retain American political freedom.

    Posted in Big Government, Elections, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Politics, Trump | 29 Comments »

    To Stop the Train.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 4th June 2016 (All posts by )

    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.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Current Events, History, Military Affairs, Politics, Trump | 13 Comments »

    Powering Down

    Posted by David Foster on 4th June 2016 (All posts by )

    Everyone is aware of Obama’s suppression of the Keystone XL pipeline project.  But the legal, regulatory, and PR assault against critical infrastructure construction goes far beyond this. WSJ reports that:

    Many major fossil-fuel projects across the U.S., from pipelines to export terminals, have been shelved or significantly delayed because of a confluence of new regulations, grass-roots opposition and a drop in energy prices.  Overall, more than a dozen projects, worth about $33 billion, have been either rejected by regulators or withdrawn by developers since 2012, with billions more tied up in projects still in regulatory limbo.

    Among the projects that the WSJ article identified as ‘cancelled’ were the $875MM ‘Constitution’ gas pipelines for the Northeastern US and the $3 billion “Northeast Direct” for the same region.

    Natural gas is, of course, a major source for generating electricity, and the only practical way of getting the gas to the power plants is via pipeline.

    (The CEO of New England’s power grid operator), said pipeline) projects are badly needed. Residential consumers in New York and New England paid between 5% and 41% more than the national average for natural gas in March, the latest month for which data were available. They also paid more for electricity, which itself is increasingly made with natural gas. 

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation, Obama, Politics, USA | 9 Comments »

    The Administrative State to Citizens: You Have No Rights

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 1st June 2016 (All posts by )

    The Pacific Legal Foundation, who last year at the Supreme Court won the right of citizens to challenge EPA rulings, has now won the right of citizens to challenge the determinations of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

    It is not enough that agencies pass rulings and regulations that amount to law without their ever going through Congress or being voted on. Increasingly, the Administrative State takes the approach that you will do whatever they say without recourse, under penalty of egregious fines or imprisonment. Your tax dollars at work.

    PLF is donation supported.

     

    Posted in Big Government, Law, Libertarianism, Political Philosophy, Politics | 14 Comments »

    The Quality of Your Enemies

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 27th May 2016 (All posts by )

    … or the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie Donald Trump.
    Paraphrasing the motto across the front of a favorite tee shirt that I wore out years ago, “I used to be disgusted; now I’m only amused.” I’ll cop to being both amused and disgusted when Donald Trump first hove into sight as a potential GOP nominee earlier in this election cycle. The whole thing was a joke, and I was certain he was playing it as such, playing it for the laughs and as an ego boost. Yes, The Donald of the bright orange tan and hopelessly fake comb-over, a crass, loudmouth East Coast real-estate speculator, with vulgar and over-the-top tastes in everything from interior to exterior decoration, in the words of the writer at Zero Anthropology, a “mountain of Grade A Beef in a $10,000 suit,” significant other of one Marla Maples back in the day when he first became an enduring feature on the front pages of national tabloids – that Donald Trump did not strike me as likely presidential timber. Still really doesn’t, but then I never thought a no-name minor Chicago machine pol with precisely nothing on his professional resume save being the editor of the Harvard Law review and identifying as black was presidential timber either, yet the post turtle got elected to that high office twice.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Politics, USA | 25 Comments »

    Trump Clinches the GOP Nomination

    Posted by Lexington Green on 26th May 2016 (All posts by )

    Donald J. Trump has now clinched the GOP nomination, with 1,237 delegates committed to voting for him on the first ballot at the GOP Convention. It was a scant few months ago when this idea was literally laughable to most supposedly knowledgeable persons.

    Congratulations to Mr. Trump. Now, to rally as much of the GOP as possible for the upcoming election. Then, onward to the great American voting public, to defeat Hillary Clinton. And then, if Fortune continues to smile upon his efforts, we shall see whether Mr. Trump can pull off the YUGEST deal of his career, and can Make America Great Again.

    I have always supported the GOP nominee, and this year is no exception. Trump defeated the other sixteen candidates in fair combat, though it was ugly at times.

    Stopping Hillary Clinton is so important that the proverbial man-shaped cardboard cutout with “GOP” scrawled on it in Sharpie marker would get my vote. I cannot fathom the continuing quibbling by purported Republicans and Conservatives, given the stakes, and the destruction a Clinton presidency would inflict. Defeating her TRUMPS all other considerations. Trump is the chosen means to that necessary end. So be it. Let us go forward together. #NeverHillary

    Beyond being not-Hillary, Trump is a wildcard. Much of what he has published, and says he wants to do, is good. As I wrote elsewhere, there is plenty of material to find common ground with the legacy GOP and its leaders. The list of proposed Supreme Court justices he recently published is very good. So, there are things to like about Mr. Trump, as well as some things not to like so much. But this election, like all American Presidential elections is a simple, binary decision. There is no imaginary third option, as some people seem to wish. It is Trump or Clinton, period, end of report.

    And Trump is clearly preferable to Clinton.

    Congratulations and good luck to Mr. Trump, and God bless America.

    GOP Elephant #MAGA

    Posted in Elections, Politics, Trump | 32 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 26th May 2016 (All posts by )

    Where are the law journal articles and op-ed’s on the potential legal consequences of Clinton’s legal jeopardy? Where? HJLPP? WSJ?

    Seth Barrett Tillman on Twitter

    Posted in Elections, Law, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Media, Politics | 5 Comments »

    A Fine Friday Miscellany

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 20th May 2016 (All posts by )

    Ah, the stupidities come so thick and fast of late. It’s like the rain here in Texas, which has been pouring down with such intensity over the last few days that all the usual low-water flood-danger locations have been – as any fool could easily predict – flooded and closed to vehicle traffic. It rained so hard on Thursday morning that for the first time in ages, we skipped walking the dogs. Looked out at the flooded street, the flooded front walkway, rain coming down sideways, and the sky so dark that it looked like twilight already; nope – not even the dogs were keen, especially Nemo the Terrier-God-Knows-What, who loathes and despises water with a wholly undoglike passion.

    But social and political stupidities – what a rich buffet was laid before us this week, even apart from the gross stupidity of deciding that the ostensible civil rights and good-will of what may be .03% of the general population – that miniscule transgender portion of it – supersedes the rights of women and girls in a public restroom/locker/changing room to be certain they are not being letched on by a perv who has twigged to the fact that if he only declares that he feels female on that particular day that no one will want to firmly escort his perverted ass out of said safe space. Yes, the Kennedy Administration vowed to put a man on the moon, the Obama Administration has put a man in the Ladies’ Room and damned if the pervy wretch isn’t insisting that he has a perfect right to be there. Progress, y’all. While the perv element may have witless friends in the form of various celebrities ostentatiously declaring that they won’t be performing in *insert the location here* because hate/failure-to-socially-advance/toleration-eleventy!! I am brought to wonder if their concerts were significantly less than sold-out, and this is a handy means of cancelling an event and putting a convenient cover over the economic failure of it all. And I am also reminded of the way that mobs came out to eat at Chick-fil-A, in response to an announced boycott because the gaystapo getting all (you should pardon the expression) butt-hurt over the Chick-Fil-A CEO mildly expressing personal support for traditional marriage.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Environment, Politics, Privacy, Society | 37 Comments »

    The Day Trump Won

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 5th May 2016 (All posts by )

    The day Trump won the GOP nomination is not what the media and political consultants would have you believe. The latter are now doing their mea culpas about being blind to Trump’s rise. In particular, they assume Trump won with Tuesday’s Indiana primary outcome because Senator Ted Cruz then dropped out of the race. Nate Silver’s “Why Republican Voters Decided On Trump” is typical of these.

    And like them, Silver is utterly wrong for omitting the only two words that mattered – Muslim Terrorism.

    It is not surprising that Nate Silver, working for the uber-P.C. New York Times, would stick to political numbers and ignore the bleeding obvious – that Trump jumped to his decisive lead on December 2, 2015, when immigrant Muslim terrorists gunned down 36, killing 14, at the Inland Regional Center Christmas party in San Bernardino, California.

    Trump closed the deal with the American people in the next week because he was the ONLY American leader to state the bleeding obvious, that San Bernardino was Muslim Terrorism, and that we need to suspend Muslim immigration while devising more effective ways to keep out terrorist immigrants.

    Trump won the GOP nomination in the week of December 2-8, 2015, because he bet his candidacy on stating the obvious truth in the face of an entrenched culture of political correctness which the GOP primary voters rightly perceived as a direct threat to America’s security at home.

    Trump won by taking the risk of being a leader.

    And the other GOP candidates lost because they were so concerned about not making a mistake that they could not perceive or take the opportunity to win.

    Posted in Culture, Elections, Politics, Trump, USA | 78 Comments »

    Prediction: Preference Cascade

    Posted by Lexington Green on 5th May 2016 (All posts by )

    Prediction. We are going to see a preference cascade in which many Republican politicians and much of the conservative media come out and openly endorse and campaign for Hillary Clinton as the only way to stop Donald Trump. Once a few do it, the rest will feel protected and pile on. It will start with neocon foreign policy wonks, then spill over to journalists. This will be a major realignment.

    Posted in Elections, Politics | 37 Comments »

    Lex Radio Appearance Discussing Trump’s Candidacy

    Posted by Lexington Green on 5th May 2016 (All posts by )

    Sheila

    I was interviewed on May 4, 2016, by Sheila Liaugminas on Relevant Radio.

    We discussed the GOP nominee for President, Donald J. Trump.

    The audio is at this link. I am the first guest, so just start at the beginning.

    Sheila kindly linked to my Chicago Boyz post entitled Why I am not worried about President Trump appointing judges, which we discussed on the show.

    Posted in Elections, Politics, Religion, USA | Comments Off on Lex Radio Appearance Discussing Trump’s Candidacy

    April Showers

    Posted by Grurray on 29th April 2016 (All posts by )

    Yesterday, the GDP figures were released for the first quarter of the year, and they showed that the economy is flatlining. We grew at only a pitiful 0.5%. Much of it was caused by a huge decline in business investment, which saw the biggest monthly drop since the recession.

    This is mostly blamed on the troubles in the oil and gas industry, but output in other areas of the economy also showed weakness. Factory orders dropped and have remained flat the past several months. Car sales plummeted 2.1% last month, their biggest drop in a year. With gas prices low this is the one thing we should see rising. The car industry stumbling means there may be some other underlying problems.

    The conventional wisdom, on the other hand, views this as just a blip. The winter season in the post-recession era has usually been the weakest time of year only to be followed by a rebound into the rest of the year. The exception was 2012 where the high hopes at the start gave way to the rising probability of an Obama reelection. The economic shock spread during the year, and the traditional holiday hangover came a little early in the wake of the electoral wreckage. This year, with the jobs market expected to stay strong and the Fed signaling it will put the brakes on further interest rate increases, the economy is seen bouncing back as the rough waters give way to the calm port.

    It may very well turn out that way for all I know. My crystal ball has been a little foggy lately, so I wouldn’t venture a guess either way. However, there may be some other causes for concern further down the road. This week the McKinsey Institute just issued a research report on the stock market, ominously titled, Diminishing returns: Why investors may need to lower their expectations. In it they provide a detailed analysis of why the next 30 years will see lower stock market returns than the previous few decades.

    Now admittedly, most analysts’ forecast for the next 30 days can usually be attributed to luck. A forecast for the next 30 years probably isn’t something you want to bet the whole farm on. A small corner of the barn maybe, but I would save the rest of the homestead to see how things actually unfold.

    The report lays out in detail why the oversized returns between 1985 and 2015 were possible, and the reasons they say are because of four factors: low interest rates, low inflation, high productivity from technological advances, and favorable demographics from emerging markets entering the global economy. Nothing controversial there. The first three elements increased profit margins, and the last one provided cash influxes, which kept interest rates low, which in turn increased the others. Virtuous cycle – wash, rinse, repeat. They also include some calculations, but the self-evidence is apparent enough.

    The wrench in the works is going to be the fact that those elements won’t have the effect that they once had. Interest rates are already rock bottom, and in some cases even below that. Squeezing more out of low yields is going to be tougher and tougher. In 1980 inflation was 13% and interest rates were 20%. Now they’re currently at 1.6% and 0.5% respectively. There’s nowhere to go but up. Sideways is always a possibility, but we’re still in the same boat. That won’t drive future growth either like it once did.

    Demographic growth may still hold up. There’s still a whole lot of world out there with the potential to drive a modern global economy. The question is will they be capable of replicating what we saw in the recent past with hundreds of millions of Chinese rising out of the Maoist ashes and into the middle class? Any new emerging markets will have a lot more work to do. The report points out that the countries with the largest economies have seen slowing population growth, and that will continue to decelerate

    In Western Europe, aging is more striking than in the United States. In France, for example, the share of the working-age population is expected to decline from 63 percent to 58 percent over the next 20 years. In Germany, the fertility rate has exceeded replacement rate in only seven of the past 50 years. Employment has already peaked in Germany, and its labor pool could shrink by up to one-third by 2064. Until the 2015 influx of refugees from Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere, the German population was expected to shrink by as much as 0.3 percent per year over the next 20 years.

    Germany has decided to address their demographic collapse by welcoming in an unproductive culture. Either way they haven’t much left to contribute in preventing the forecasted shortfall.

    McKinsey does hold out hope for some technological breakthroughs which could pick up the slack in productivity. Whatever it may be, they say it will need to have a bigger impact than the previous computer and internet revolutions because of the other headwinds. The best scenario would be in some combination with fast growing emerging market or industry. The problem with that happening is now that taxes and regulation are increasing, companies involved in fast growing sectors will tend to want to stay private, so equity returns will be elusive for only a select few.

    Interestingly, one sector highlighted that will benefit from higher interest rates is insurance companies. The era of low to zero interest rates has made it difficult for them to make any money on annuities. Their annuities pay out guaranteed yields to customers, but ZIRP and NIRP keep profits low. Fixed income annuities in which insurers bear most of the risk will benefit from higher yields.

    However, variable annuities where the customers share the risk have more exposure to equities, so they would be vulnerable to the lower growth/lower returns environment. Providers of variable annuities along with other asset managers will need to adjust their investment strategies:

    To confront this, asset managers may have to rethink their investment offerings. One option would be for them to include more alternative assets such as infrastructure and hedge funds in the portfolios they manage. Such alternative assets already account for about 15 percent of assets under management globally today.

    To chase returns, investors will be forced into riskier assets, possibly with dubious intentions, i.e. government boondoggles otherwise known as shovel ready infrastructure projects. We may already be seeing something like this with the imminent government takeover of financial advisors

    The Department of Labor dealt a bit of a surprise blow to fixed indexed annuities in the final iteration of its rule, issued Wednesday, by lumping the annuities into a more complex and costly regulatory regime than they have presently, representing an about-face from the department’s original proposal.

    Just like Obamacare pushes out the small to medium firms that can provide much needed innovation in order to capture the market, the new DOL fiduciary rules will push out small to medium sized advisors to replace them with automated puppets that will be programed to herd investors into investing in government programs.

    There’s a good reason the Obama Administration is currently fighting so hard to keep these rules. It’s a template for taking over other industries. And with that it’s another impediment to productivity growth and innovation which reinforces the grim forecast of diminishing returns by McKinsey.

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Miscellaneous, Politics | 7 Comments »

    When Will Pres. Obama Pardon Hillary Clinton? And for What Crimes?

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 28th April 2016 (All posts by )

    Back in January 2016 there was a lot of speculation over whether Pres. Obama would pardon Former Sec of State Hillary Clinton for E-Mail/Server-gate, (See Google Link ).

    Now that Trump has the GOP nomination well in hand with a preference cascade in the North East (See MSNBC video link), Trump has said Hillary should be prosecuted for E-Mail/Server-gate, and that Democratic strategist Dave “Mudcat” Saunders is telling the Daily Caller Trump Will Beat Hillary Like ‘A Baby Seal’. It is time to again ask the questions:
    1. When Will Obama Pardon Hillary? and
    2. For What Crimes?

    I suspect, whatever the answers to those two questions are, after January 2017 GOP Congressional committee chairmen will call her in to testify under oath, in hopes of catching her in a perjury trap.

    Discuss.

    Posted in America 3.0, Americas, Culture, Current Events, Politics | 19 Comments »

    “Britain’s political class risks losing the authority to govern”

    Posted by Jonathan on 25th April 2016 (All posts by )

    From an astute commentary by Robert Salisbury, former Leader of the House of Lords. Almost all of the essay applies as well to the USA and other western countries.

    Our own country is caught by all this, as it was in the first half of the 19th Century and in the middle decades of the 20th. We were able to adapt to survive: in the 19th by extending the franchise and in the 20th by expanding public services and mass prosperity. As a result British governments regained the authority to govern. They did so by reforming the institutions of representative government the country already had, thereby responding to the demands of an electorate emboldened and liberated by technological change.
     
    Today, governments are once again losing the authority to govern, and for similar reasons. Another major financial crisis might lose them it completely; but a new crisis might not even be needed. Whitehall’s failure to control immigration, its puny efforts to tackle the housing question, the feebleness of our defences, the incompetence of our transport and energy policies might, whether jointly or severally, tip us over.
     
    In the past, the country has been sustained in times of crisis by a solid body of electors who felt they had an interest in the existing structures which kept them, on the whole, safe and relatively prosperous. That body’s support is no longer so solid. The IT revolution is largely responsible. The speed of communications make governments and Parliamentary procedures look flat-footed. Increasingly the public is at least as well-informed as the Whitehall departments who are telling them what to do. It is virtually impossible to keep anything secret and anyone who betrays a confidence is regarded as heroic. The more rules we have, the more the public feels they are used as a means of flouting their spirit.
     
    Worst of all, social media stimulate one issue politics and make the simple solution credible. You and I know that competent administration is boring and usually demands compromises. We also know that effective legislation needs careful preparation, much internal and external debate, a mind-numbing command of detail and a lively warning mechanism against the law of unintended consequences. The same applies to parliamentary scrutiny.
     
    Any sensible electorate would be only too pleased to delegate this necessary day-to-day grunt to a Whitehall and Westminster it trusted and, although interested and argumentative, get on with the rest of its life.
     
    Sadly, that is not where we are.

    The candidacies of Trump and Sanders are in large part responses to public concerns about the problems Salisbury describes. They are inadequate responses, likely to fail politically and on their own terms and eventually to be superseded by other responses. The pot will continue to boil at greater or lesser intensity depending on who gets elected and what follows. It seems unlikely that the underlying problems will begin to be solved unless the voters develop a realistic understanding of what needs to be done, and start electing politicians who are both willing and competent to do it. It may be a while.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Big Government, Britain, Elections, Europe, Politics, Predictions, Quotations, Systems Analysis, Tea Party, Trump | 24 Comments »

    What I don’t know about White House Press Briefings, but would like to

    Posted by TM Lutas on 25th April 2016 (All posts by )

    I’m currently doing background work on creating an oversight site for the White House press briefings. It’s an interesting, small project with the potential for outsized visibility because of who it is aimed at and will be covering. But there’s a good bit of research that needs to be answered before a site goes up:

    1. I don’t know what all the stakeholders in the White House Press Briefing consider to be a successful press conference.
    2. I don’t know who asks good questions.
    3. I don’t know what constitutes a good question, or a good answer.
    4. I don’t know how to get a day pass.
    5. I don’t know how to get a hard pass.
    6. I don’t know who shows up.
    7. I don’t know how question opportunities are distributed.
    8. I don’t know how it all matters to the task of informing the public.

    If you’ve got insight into these questions or additions I should put on my research agenda, please let me know in comments.

    Update:
    Just found this

    Posted in Media, Politics, Systems Analysis | 9 Comments »

    “Tillman Responding to Washington Post Op-Ed: Gregory L. Diskant–Obama can appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court if the Senate does nothing”

    Posted by Jonathan on 13th April 2016 (All posts by )

    Seth Barrett Tillman:

    Finally, the same 1869 federal statute which mandated a 9-member Supreme Court has also established a quorum of only 6 members.[4] Thus, there is no rush to fill any Supreme Court vacancy, in spite of the fact that some future cases might end up tied 4-to-4. Given that Congress has set a quorum of 6 members, it stands to reason that Congress expected some Justices: to recuse themselves in specific cases; to take temporary leave to fulfil other government duties;[5] to recuperate for a reasonable time if ill; and to die. The Court, as a functioning institution, goes on, at least, as long as it has 6 members, and surely Congress must have understood that a 6 or 8 member Court can deadlock.[6] Indeed, historically, there have been lengthy periods of time where the Court, by statute, was expressly composed of an even number of members. For example, when Chief Justice John Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court, its size was set to 6 members by statute. To the extent worries about deadlock are a consideration, it is a political consideration for the American People, not a legal consideration, constitutional or otherwise.

    RTWT.

    Posted in Law, Politics | 8 Comments »

    A pretty good analysis of Trump/Cruz by Rush Limbaugh.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 12th April 2016 (All posts by )

    cruz-cheating

    I usually don’t listen to Limbaugh as the timing doesn’t work for me. I did come across this transcript and it seems to be pretty accurate as to what is going on.

    The party is never going to write themselves out of control of this process. So when that happens, oh, panic sets in! So reason that Trump ends up here with essentially a 22% bonus in delegates is because the Republican Party set it up so that the front-runner gets bonuses for being the front-runner, ’cause they thought they were gonna be in charge of who the front-runner ended up be.

    They wire it or try to in a lot of ways. The problem is, they’re working four years in advance and they’re always basing rules on what went wrong the last time.

    Rule 40 was directed at Ron Paul in 2012.

    The problem now is to stop Trump. How to do that ?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Conservatism, Current Events, Elections, Politics, Polls | 28 Comments »

    “Part II, Louise Arbour’s Millions”

    Posted by Jonathan on 11th April 2016 (All posts by )

    From Seth Barrett Tillman’s update on an earlier post that was linked here:

    “Louise Arbour had one response to Farage and Steyn that, I think, was missed by the audience and by F & S. Arbour said:”

    Read the rest of Seth’s new post here.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Civil Society, Europe, Immigration, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Tradeoffs | 2 Comments »

    Feminism and Victimhood Culture.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 8th April 2016 (All posts by )

    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.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Culture, Feminism, Morality and Philosphy, Personal Narrative, Philosophy, Politics | 14 Comments »

    When Slander Goes Rampant

    Posted by David Foster on 8th April 2016 (All posts by )

    In her memoirs, Russian combat pilot Anna Egorova remembered her mother ”kneeling before the icons, as she firstly listed all our names, the names of her children, begging God for health and wisdom for us, and then at the end of each prayer repeating: ‘God save them from slander!’”  She didn’t understand that word ‘slander’ in her childhood, Egorova wrote, but after her brother was sent away as An Enemy of the People, “it was exposed before me in all its terrible nakedness.”

    I was reminded of Egorova’s story by a recent article by Richard Rahn titled The high cost of slander:

    Endless cruelties have been and continue to be committed on the basis of group slander. The communists and socialists imprisoned and slaughtered many of their merchant and property-owning citizens on the basis of a gross slander, not to mention what the Nazis did to the Jews. In America, blacks, gays, many ethnic groups and women were first stereotyped, then slandered, and then discriminated against. But the fashion of which groups of individuals can be slandered has changed to such people as Wall Street bankers; pharmaceutical, coal and oil company executives; conservative scholars; those who question the global warming establishment; and white males, among others.

    The general rule that one is innocent until proven guilty goes back at least to ancient Roman law: Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat — “Burden of proof lies on him who asserts, not on him who denies.” Over the centuries, not only individuals, but whole classes of people, have been denied this basic human right. The oppressors normally begin by slandering a group, and then use the slander to discriminate and ultimately persecute — and, unfortunately, this persists even in America.

    If one listens to Bernie Sanders’ rants, somehow all of those who work on Wall Street are far greedier than most other Americans. It is also obvious that he has no idea of what the functions of financial markets are, nor the disaster that would occur without them. Yes, there are plenty of unethical and incompetent people on Wall Street, as there are in Washington and in most other places in America. That does not justify indicting all who work in a particular industry and a particular place. The ignorant attacks on the financial industry have resulted in increasingly costly and destructive regulation, which increases the risk in the financial system rather than diminishing it.

    RTWT.  Indeed, much political writing and speech these days is reminiscent of the two-minute hate sessions which were a feature of the totalitarian society portrayed in Orwell’s 1984.  Any day on Facebook, one can see the sharing and sometimes the origination of extreme and even vile assertions about individuals and whole groups…usually people and groups that are Designated Targets, similarly to Emmanuel Goldstein in 1984.

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Leftism, Politics, USA | 11 Comments »

    “Trump Voters and Modern American Legal Academia”

    Posted by Jonathan on 8th April 2016 (All posts by )

    A biting critique of recent public arguments by liberal academics, by Seth Barrett Tillman:

    There is a final possibility. Apparently, some non-originalists believe they are part of a victimized, long-suffering, powerless, discrete, insular intellectual minority. As Professor Jack Balkin, a prominent commentator (but not one of the Alliance-for-Justice-350), wrote:

    Accepting that opposition as the proper frame for debate just locks liberals into a clever rhetorical strategy created by movement conservatives in the 1980s, who wanted to put themselves on the side of the American constitutional tradition, and liberals on the outside looking in. [here] [here] (emphasis added)
     
    and,
     
    The notion that in order for liberals to believe in a living Constitution they have to reject originalism in all of its forms is the biggest canard ever foisted on them. [here] [here] (emphasis added)[3]

    In this intellectual milieu, signing a letter you do not really believe is not hypocrisy: it is virtue. Thus, signing such a letter is the natural and justified response of victims to an unfair world imposed upon them by malevolent intellectual forces which have deformed reasoned, public debate. That’s not hypocrisy: that’s something else entirely. I am going to refrain from characterizing that reason, but I expect the public will take the hint.
     
    Is it any wonder that millions of Americans vote for Trump?

    Worth reading in its entirety.

    Posted in Academia, Elections, Law, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Trump | 2 Comments »

    “Louise Arbour Welcomes You To Administrative Unit 34B”

    Posted by Jonathan on 8th April 2016 (All posts by )

    From Seth Barrett Tillman’s new post about western cultural confidence (and the lack thereof):

    Our administrative unit’s official motto is: Health, Fairness, Environment, Culture. So it should not surprise you that we chose you among other applicants seeking to immigrate to our (now your) prefecture because you have (as far as we can discover) no strongly held views, on anything. We believe that (former) outsiders like you from distant regions add to our ever-growing cultural diversity, but we seek to do so in a way that guarantees our social cohesion.
     
    In the event that you violate a minor domestic regulation (i.e., under Schedule 1 and its annex) and you are under 18, you will be assigned community service and ordered to apologize to any victims of your wrongdoing (should they remain alive). If you violate a major domestic regulation (i.e., under Schedule 2 and its annex) and you are over 18, you will be sent down for correction, but we cannot send you back to your former prefecture, as it is in political disarray and your human rights may be threatened by your return there. Your statutory right to residence vests after 60 days; your statutory right to vote in municipal elections vests after 6 months; your statutory right to vote in prefecture-wide elections and for an inter-prefecture delegate vests after 1 year…

    Highly recommended.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Civil Society, Europe, Immigration, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Tradeoffs | 2 Comments »