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  • Archive for the 'Big Government' Category

    What do Democrats Want ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 25th July 2020 (All posts by )

    I have been watching the gradual, then sudden, dissolution of a political party. My parents were Democrats. They were shocked when they learned I had voted for Richard Nixon in 1960. Jimmy Carter was a failure as a President but I wasn’t really worried about the country when he was in office. His actions with Iran and the Panama Canal were harmful but they were a matter of policy. Ronald Reagan, not a governor I was fond of in California, was a successful president. He was able to work with the Democrat Party in spite of some far left loonies like Chris Dodd. Many of the far left members of the Democrat Party favored communists like the Sandinistas but they were kept in line by the old pols to whom graft and spending were more important. Tip O’Neill would let Reagan win the Cold War as long as Reagan let the Democrat Congress run up the deficit.

    Bill Clinton changed much of this dynamic in two ways. First, he was a lot more ideological than previous presidents and second he was incompetent at it. Clinton is a very smart man but his wife, Hillary, was far too obvious in her corruption. First the 900 FBI files, then the White House Travel Office. Both were scandals that primed him for a big loss.

    Then the 1994 elections turned the Congress over to the Republicans and we learned how little they were interested in Conservatism. They accomplished nothing before being ousted by Democrats in 2006. This, of course, was followed by the housing and mortgage collapse of 2008. There was some attempt by Bush administration officials to rein in Congress and the debt explosion but it was probably too late anyway. The 2008 election placed Congress in Democrats’ hands for the first time with a Democrat president since 1974. Clinton’s two years did not result in much happening. The first Obama Congress spent like drunken sailors but were quickly reined in in 2010.

    What might happen if Biden won the presidency and the Democrats got a majority in the Congress ?

    In the past until now, there was zero chance that the hard Left would ever win an American election. No socialist has ever come close. Even Bernie Sanders accepted that the Democratic establishment for six years broke rules, leveraged candidates to drop out, and warped the media to ensure that he would remain a septuagenarian blowhard railing at the wind from one of his three houses. George McGovern was buried by a landslide. Most Democrats, after Kennedy and until Obama, never won the popular vote unless possessed of a Southern-accented hinting at centrism.

    Only the Great Depression and World War II ensured four terms of FDR, who still knew enough not to let his house socialists ruin the wartime U.S. economy.

    But in perfect storm and black swan fashion, the coronavirus, the lockdown, the riots, anarchy and looting, all combined with Trump Derangement Syndrome to be weaponized by the Left—and the media far more successfully than with their failed pro forma, legalistic efforts with Robert Mueller and impeachment to destroy the Trump presidency—have pushed socialism along.

    I thought Obama was an empty suit. Biden is an empty head.

    Who is behind all this and why ?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Current Events, Elections, Trump | 44 Comments »

    Feds Begin Pressing Charges

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 28th June 2020 (All posts by )

    It took a bit, but the Feds have begun the process of charging, and hopefully, if guilty, incarcerating those responsible for criminal activity during the riots of the past few weeks. One notable case was worked here in Madison – the arrest of this person was what sparked the riots last week. If you read the indictment of this person, he was extorting local businesses and, in general, being a total and complete nuisance. Enjoy your time in club fed, dude.

    A different person that I know was recently charged with a federal crime, convicted and sent to prison – this case got me interested in federal cases and from my bit of research, it appears to me that at least 99% of those cases end up with plea deals or convictions. In other words, if you are charged by the feds, from what I have been reading, there is likely a lot of good evidence against you.

    I am happy that this is happening. I grew up in Rockford, IL and I was always amazed that the Chicago and State of IL legal folks couldn’t ever get anyone prosecuted for all of the bribes, kickbacks and other nonsense in Chicagoland. Only the feds would do it. Seems like a similar deal is happening with the new rioters.

    Posted in Big Government, Crime and Punishment, Current Events | 32 Comments »

    If you think Congress does not work, thank John McCain

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 23rd May 2020 (All posts by )

    John McCain was elected to the Senate in 1986, taking Barry Goldwater’s seat after two terms in the House. In 1987, as a rather naive =freshman Senator, he was involved in the “Keating Five” affair This involved assistance to a constituent of McCain’s but was, in fact, a Democrat influence peddling matter. McCain was included chiefly to make it “bipartisan.”

    The five senators—Alan Cranston (Democrat of California), Dennis DeConcini (Democrat of Arizona), John Glenn (Democrat of Ohio), John McCain (Republican of Arizona), and Donald W. Riegle, Jr. (Democrat of Michigan)—were accused of improperly intervening in 1987 on behalf of Charles H. Keating, Jr., Chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which was the target of a regulatory investigation by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB). The FHLBB subsequently backed off taking action against Lincoln.

    Lincoln Savings and Loan collapsed in 1989, at a cost of $3.4 billion to the federal government (and thus taxpayers).

    This experience affected McCain severely, making him obsessed with his reputation and leaving him open to more manipulation by Democrats. What followed was The McCain Feingold Act also known as the “Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.” It made a huge change in the way Congress conducted business.

    McCain-Feingold tilted influence in our political system toward the ideological extremes. For centuries, political parties played a moderating role: Because they comprise a broad coalition of interests, parties had to mediate among competing constituencies, looking for ­middle-ground positions that would draw maximum support. Traditionally, they used their preponderance of resources to impose discipline on extremists who threatened party comity.

    That description is pretty much nonsense. What it really did was to place legislation in the hands of Congressional staffs and lobbyists. Congress members spend their days and months raising money while staffs and lobbyists write the laws. That is why Nancy Pelosi told us that “we have to pass the bill to find out what is in it.” She was referring to Obamacare but it applies to all legislation the past 18 years since McCain Feingold.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in America 3.0, Big Government, Crony Capitalism, Elections | 11 Comments »

    The Flynn Case Collapses.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 7th May 2020 (All posts by )

    Today, the Department of Justice (so- called) dropped its prosecution of General Michael Flynn. This followed a ferocious defense by Sidney Powell, an attorney and author of the excellent book, “Licensed to Lie” which explained the federal misbehavior in the Enron cases, one of which resulted in a unanimous decision by the US Supreme Court that reversed the conviction of Arthur Anderson Accounting Corporation in a miscarriage of justice by Andrew Weissmann who should be disbarred for the Mueller investigation which he ran with Mueller as a senile figurehead.

    Why was Flynn prosecuted ?

    Here is an explanation.

    The only other Republican candidate to repudiate the “Bush Freedom Agenda” was Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. That is why the 2016 Republican primary became a two-man race between Trump and Cruz. The whole of the American Establishment had signed on to a utopian crusade to impose the liberal world order on the Muslim world. After nine years of frustration in Iraq, it saw in the so-called “Arab Spring” demonstrations of 2011 a second chance to bring its agenda to fruition. The result of this was the near-collapse of Egypt and an eight-year civil war in Syria that killed half a million people and displaced 10 million refugees.

    Flynn called attention to this massive intelligence failure and had to be destroyed. It’s a shame that Cruz did not endorse Trump at the end on become part of a unity campaign.

    I have previously posted my opinion on the Flynn matter, which does not differ from David Goldman except in detail.

    After Flynn was driven out of his post at DIA, things got even more threatening to the intelligence officials, as he became a prime advisor to candidate Trump and, early in the campaign, other Republicans. After the 2016 elections, the IC officials went all-out to keep him out of the White House, sometimes resorting to spreading ridiculous stories. President Obama warned Trump not to appoint Flynn as national security advisor, and Susan Rice actually warned the president-elect that Flynn might be in violation of the Logan Act, for which nobody has ever been prosecuted, and hence blackmailable by the Russians. Meanwhile, the Bureau had opened a counterintelligence investigation of Flynn’s activities. His digital communications were monitored, “unmasked” at the request of Obama officials, and leaked to friendly journalists.

    Goldman’s version is a little different.

    As chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012, Flynn had warned that American support for Sunni jihadists in Syria had the unintended effect of supporting the new caliphate movement, that is, ISIS. Among all the heads and former heads of the 17 agencies that make up the US intelligence community, Flynn was the only one who had objected to the disastrous covert intervention in Syria and foreseen its baleful consequences. Obama fired him, but Donald Trump hired him as a top campaign aide and then appointed him national security adviser.

    The Syrian debacle brought Russia into Syria in 2015; the American-backed jihad had turned into a Petri dish for Russian Muslims from the Caucasus, as well as Chinese Uighurs and a motley assortment of foreign militants. Russia had interests of opportunity, for example, a warm-water refueling station for its Mediterranean fleet, but the risk of blowback from the Syrian civil war was the most urgent motive for President Vladimir Putin’s intervention.

    That is the background to the mutiny in the US Intelligence Community against the elected commander-in-chief. America’s noble – or perhaps narcissistic – intentions did more damage than Trump’s indifference.

    In retrospect, I think I agree even more with Goldman on this. I supported the Iraq War at first but it was botched beyond redemption.

    This is another post I made on the same topic last February.

    CIA must be disestablished. Its functions should be returned to the Departments of State, Defense, and Treasury. FBI must be restricted to law enforcement. At home, the Agencies are partisan institutions illegitimately focused on setting national policy. Abroad, Agencies untied to specific operational concerns are inherently dangerous and low-value.
    Intelligence must return to its natural place as servant, not master, of government. Congress should amend the 1947 National Security Act. The President should broaden intelligence perspectives, including briefs from State, Defense, and Treasury, and abolish CIA’s “covert action.” State should be made responsible for political influence and the armed services for military and paramilitary affairs.

    This is an obvious fact. Our intelligence capability has been destroyed in China and Iran by CIA incompetence in its secure communication systems.

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Current Events, Iraq, Law, National Security, Trump | 17 Comments »

    Law, Interpretation, Code, Checks

    Posted by David Foster on 26th April 2020 (All posts by )

    Many people in government–including President Trump and several Congresspeople–have expressed dismay about the ‘stimulus’ checks sent to organizations such as Harvard University and Shake Shack.  I haven’t observed much curiosity, though, about why these checks got sent out in the first place.

    Was the CARES act so written as to require money to be sent to such organization?  I haven’t read through this very large document, but here it is if anyone feels inspired to do so.

    Was the language of the law so ambiguous that it was interpreted by the detailed implementers as requiring such funding, even though that was not Congressional intent?

    Was it simply a matter of a coding error in a program that had to be written or modified very hastily in order to send out millions of checks?

    I’m curious about the lack of curiosity re this matter.

    Posted in Big Government, COVID-19, Law, Tech | 8 Comments »

    Worthwhile Reading

    Posted by David Foster on 22nd April 2020 (All posts by )

    Waiting for Good Dough.  Excerpts of some thoughts on central banking and monetary policy, from a newsletter issued by Paul Singer’s hedge fund, Elliott Management.  Best post/article title I’ve seen in a long time.

    Remote work in industry during the pandemic and maybe afterwards…some thoughts from the CEO of GE Digital.

    Skills development in industry.  Career progression doesn’t always have to involve college education.

    Grim excerpts and critiques an Atlantic article which is a rather hysterical attack on a class of people who are very different from the author.

    Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen (he was coauthor of the first widely-used web browser and cofounder of Netscape) writes about the need for America to focus on building things. Surely most of us here will agree with that spirit, but a lot of his specifics seem dubious to say the least. Stuart Schneiderman offers some thoughts; worthwhile comment thread.

    A cat and a dog offer differing views about the merits of the work from home approach.

    Posted in Big Government, COVID-19, Deep Thoughts, Economics & Finance, Education, Leftism, Tech, USA | 11 Comments »

    Risk Register

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 18th April 2020 (All posts by )

    There are, of course, many items that could be placed in a risk register for our ongoing management of COVID-19. I find myself drawn to those categorizable as, or perhaps triggered by, human perception and behavior. By way of limiting the scope of this post to reasonable attention spans, here are my current top 3: Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Capitalism, China, Civil Society, COVID-19, Current Events, Health Care, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Law Enforcement, Markets and Trading, Predictions, Religion, Society, Statistics, USA | 21 Comments »

    The Dark Night of Fascism…

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 17th April 2020 (All posts by )

    …is said to always be descending on America but landing in Europe … but in the instance of this Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic, a peculiar variant of it looks to be landing in Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia, seeing as those states have been blessed with governors breaking all land speed records in getting in touch with their inner authoritarian. One might be forgiven for suspecting that their motivation is not so much for keeping those vulnerable to the newly-improved Chinese respiratory crud in quarantine, but one might also be forgiven for a healthy sense of suspicion; that governors like … Gretchen “Karen the Governator” Whitmer are actually making a frantic display of authority, in a pathetic attempt to demonstrate that they can, actually, make wise use of such authority. Karen the Governator is additionally challenged by the prospect of being theoretically in the running to be nommed to the VP slot in Joe Biden’s hapless campaign for the office of president of these United and temporarily locked-down States. Sigh – the thing about authority, class, good taste, or being a lady – is that if you must make an overt demonstration of those qualities to the masses – then you don’t possess them at all. While it’s absolutely fine that a real-life Natasha Fatale has lost the Russian accent and taken on the onerous duties of being the elected governor of Michigan, going all overboard like the bossiest boss of the most nightmare HOA imaginable (I’m all about building a second career!) … is not a good look. Demanding that retail outlets which are already open and have customers withing – not sell garden seeds, flooring, and baby car seats on the grounds that such are non-essential is bloody insane. And illogical. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Blogging, Current Events, Just Unbelievable, Media | 18 Comments »

    Proactive to Punishment

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 10th April 2020 (All posts by )

    I can’t decide which is the more dispiriting element of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic; the fact that so many local authorities in America and Britain are letting their inner authoritarian out for an untrammeled romp while sanctimoniously insisting that it’s all for our own good whether we like it or not (or agree or not), that a large number of ordinary citizens are falling all over themselves in volunteering to inform on neighbors who are doing nothing more than going for more than one walk a day, visiting a park or beach, or exercising in their front garden, and that representatives of our National Media Establishment are as malicious a set of scurvy, biased, panic-sowing incompetents as ever crawled out of a journalism school armed with delusions of adequacy along with the degree. Age 27 and know absolutely nothing, as Ben Rhodes remarked. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Civil Society, COVID-19 | 46 Comments »

    In Medias Res

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 4th April 2020 (All posts by )

    What I’ve got so far:

    1. Everything’s on the table. The likelihood that your preexisting ideology or priorities are an entirely adequate match to what this situation truly requires of us is close to nil. “In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” ― Eric Hoffer
    2. That said, your life experience will give you insights. Privilege your experience over your ideology and nominal priorities.
    3. All disasters are local. Concentrate on your meaningfully immediate environment, which in this case will be the local market for medical resources. For most of the US, that will be our MSA. For those outside an MSA (metropolitan or micropolitan) that will be their county; and for some it will be the group of counties that feed into the one hospital in the region.
    4. Deprioritize pandemic news from outside your local area. There are people in the massive NY/NJ/MA outbreak that I worry about, but what happens there will only modestly resemble what happens in the KC MSA, not least because of the difference in population density, which can approach 20x.
    5. Mitigate or avoid your own risk (including the risk you pose to others) by both following the hygiene advice we’ve all heard and minimizing your physical interaction with anyone outside your immediate household. Internalize R₀ = b × k × d, where R₀ is the reproduction number of the virus, b is the probability of infection given contact with an infectious person, k is the contact rate, and d is the infectious duration. While the nominal R₀ of COVID-19 is ~3, your personal R₀ can be driven to < 1 by your own behavior.
    6. The general form of the challenge confronting us is abrupt wide variation in formerly relatively constant phenomena. In Talebian terms, we have migrated from “mediocristan” to “extremistan.” The multiplicative nature of a novel viral pandemic, especially by comparison to the relatively predictable seasonality of influenza viruses, has a thick-tailed (power law) probability structure and complex payoffs (notoriously ranging from large numbers of nearly asymptomatic cases to abruptly life-threatening “cytokine storm” reactions). For detail, see The Fourth Quadrant: A Map of the Limits of Statistics.
    7. So we find ourselves at serious risk of running out of ventilators, ICU beds, and even hospital beds generally, to say nothing of supplies (but see “all disasters are local,” above), raising the prospect of significant second-order mortality among those unable to obtain adequate care for entirely unrelated illnesses and injuries.
    8. In this connection, many prior customs, techniques, tools, and materials are being revealed as highly dysfunctional and, if all goes sufficiently well, will be swept into the dustbin of history. The bad news for me is that my earlier fears about easily-bottlenecked processes have been realized. But we may look forward to significant adaptation, including deregulation of medical services.
    9. Similarly, a large number of purported fixes and remedies will fail. Folk remedies, in particular, seem likely to be disastrous, and this blog’s audience needs no persuasion that attempts at central planning will fail thanks to the Hayekian local knowledge problem. In that connection, and to quote something I wrote a few years back: “John Gilmore famously said that ‘the Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.’ The future adaptation of representative democracies will depend on our capability, as individuals, to interpret endemic institutional dysfunctionality as damage and route around it.”
    10. The relatively vulnerable are closer to the center of the network: affluent, living in high-density major cities, well-traveled, extroverted, socially active, with large numbers of regular contacts (even if mostly in a “bubble” as per Murray’s notorious quiz). But some are the alienated and defiant who reject risk avoidance or even risk mitigation tactics (or attempt folk remedies instead), ordinarily associated with …
    11. The relatively invulnerable, who are at or near the edge of the network: impoverished, living in rural or low-density metro areas, untraveled, introverted, socially isolated, rarely in face-to-face contact with others. Many of these people have mental health issues and associated substance abuse problems. But the relatively invulnerable are also the intelligent and conscientious who promptly adopt appropriate risk management strategies.
    12. The post-pandemic preferences of the relatively invulnerable will have massive economic and cultural effects. I expect a reasonably quick partial recovery from the economic shutdown, but full recovery may take several years. Many of the “third places” which have done well over the last few decades will not regain their patronage, and as of early April 2020, we can only guess which ones. Fond hopes of some of my co-religionists aside for a sudden revival, I believe church attendance and involvement will be well down in the aftermath, and will not significantly grow until the next “Awakening,” which per Strauss and Howe should occur at mid-century. Until then, believers will be culturally marginalized and congregations will be smaller—but comprised of relatively fervent, active members.
    13. Geopolitical risks are heightened, especially US-China tensions, and if Xenakis’ “58-year hypothesis” holds, this very year will see an echo of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
    14. The most important output of this process—and it is a process, with inputs, providers, outputs, recipients, etc—will be a collective lessons-learned database, comprised of both tacit and explicit knowledge, and somehow transmitted to future generations.

    Posted in America 3.0, Big Government, Business, China, Christianity, Civil Society, COVID-19, Culture, Current Events, Economics & Finance, Health Care, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Libertarianism, Military Affairs, Organizational Analysis, Predictions, Religion, Society, Systems Analysis, USA | 34 Comments »

    Supply Chain Management in a Time of Crisis

    Posted by David Foster on 3rd April 2020 (All posts by )

    GE Healthcare, which is ramping up ventilator production, is using 3-D printing both to make parts directly and to make molds for injection molding.  However, the chief engineer for advanced manufacturing at Healthcare says that some of the 3D-printing companies he has been talking to are shut down due to government edicts that deemed their work nonessential.

    It sounds like they will get around this barrier…“We have a map of all the companies that have excess capacity, and so we’ll divert whatever print work we need to whatever company has got the ability right now, on top of the equipment we have at GE”…but I expect that there is going to be a lot of this sort of thing. There is no way that local or state officials can understand the supply chain dependencies that exist between a seemingly-minor local business and a major national priority somewhere up a level or two (or more) in the product structure. In some cases, all it might take is a letter from the top-tier manufacturer certifying the importance of the work the supplier is doing, but in many cases I suspect that the only rapid solutions will require Federal involvement.

    Posted in Big Government, Business, COVID-19, Current Events, Management, Tech, USA | 5 Comments »

    A Corona Virus Timeline.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 1st April 2020 (All posts by )

    It is now becoming a theme on the left that Trump was not quick enough to recognize the coming epidemic.

    For that reason, I think it valuable to keep a record of the time line.

    Here is the January 12, 2020 WHO report on the virus epidemic in China.

    The evidence is highly suggestive that the outbreak is associated with exposures in one seafood market in Wuhan. The market was closed on 1 January 2020. At this stage, there is no infection among healthcare workers, and no clear evidence of human to human transmission. The Chinese authorities continue their work of intensive surveillance and follow up measures, as well as further epidemiological investigations.

    Here is the January 30, 2020 report by WHO on the epidemic in China.

    The Committee believes that it is still possible to interrupt virus spread, provided that countries put in place strong measures to detect disease early, isolate and treat cases, trace contacts, and promote social distancing measures commensurate with the risk. It is important to note that as the situation continues to evolve, so will the strategic goals and measures to prevent and reduce spread of the infection. The Committee agreed that the outbreak now meets the criteria for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and proposed the following advice to be issued as Temporary Recommendations.

    The Committee emphasized that the declaration of a PHEIC should be seen in the spirit of support and appreciation for China, its people, and the actions China has taken on the frontlines of this outbreak, with transparency, and, it is to be hoped, with success.

    Trump stopped incoming flights from China on January 31, 2020.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Bioethics, China, Civil Liberties, Current Events, Health Care | 36 Comments »

    Madness and Maddow

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 31st March 2020 (All posts by )

    The Navy hospital ships promised by President Trump to deploy to New York and Los Angeles arrived on-station as ordered a few days ago. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, presumed for some obscure-to-me reason to be associated with the provision of news to the public, and most recently famed through peddling Russian conspiracy theories regarding Trump’s election for the past three years, had ridiculed the President’s proposed schedule as “nonsense. ” She, or whatever pronoun she goes by, had loudly and publicly claimed that it would be “weeks” before the hospital ships arrived. Instead, the hospital ships arrived more or less to schedule. A lesser news-person would have the decency to be embarrassed over how transparent a prediction-flop this was. Not this Maddow person, it appears. This is not a good thing, and not for the reason first assumed. PBS’ Yamiche “Rolie-Polie-Olie” Alcindor baldly admitted, and in nicer words, that the name of the game for the national establishment news media is “Get Trump!” and anything goes, fair or foul (mostly foul) will serve that end. Well, really – those of us who have been paying attention, especially for the last decade and a half (or longer) have known very well that the name of the game as far as the establishment national news media is concerned, is to enthusiastically smear Republicans and their conservative supporters (no matter how mild or harmless) the pretext, and to excuse Democrats and their supporters, no matter how vile the offense and actions. Nothing new here, move along. SSDD, as we used to say in my active duty days. (Same sh*t, Different Day.) Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Capitalism, Conservatism, COVID-19, Customer Service, Media, North America, The Press, Trump, USA | 21 Comments »

    The Far Limit

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 19th March 2020 (All posts by )

    With an effort, I wrench my attention from contemplating local fall-out from the Wuhan coronavirus, or as an unknown wit called it the ‘Kung Flu’. The grocery stores we favor are pretty well picked over by mid-day, in spite of closing from 8 PM to 8AM to restock, the gym has closed, gatherings of more than ten are strongly advised against, and just about every local market or book festival that we had considered participating in has been cancelled or postponed until summer or even later – when, presumably, either the medical wizards will have a handle on the Kung Flu, or people will stop panicking over it. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Conservatism, COVID-19, Current Events, Media, Politics, The Press, USA | 20 Comments »

    SARS-CoV2/COVID-10 Update 3-5-2020 — “As long as you remember to keep breathing and don’t fall asleep, it’s basically just like the flu.”

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 5th March 2020 (All posts by )

    Issues covered will be on COVID-19 spread, World Headlines, the 3-4-2020 Seattle Public Health Press conference, World Headlind Summary, Corruption at the WHO, Bad and good news COVID-19 medical developments. the Political/Demographic Implications of COVID-19 for the Gov’t Elites, and the social media and videos COVID-19 tracking source section.

    Top line, There are currently 97,138 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, including 3,351 fatalities as of the March 5, 2020, at he 4:48pm ET time hack on the BNO News corona virus tracking site (https://bnonews.com/index.php/2020/02/the-latest-coronavirus-cases/) There are 80(+) and growing umber of nations including China plus three “Chinese special administrative regions” (Macao, Hong Kong and Taiwan) that have reported COVID-19 infections. China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, Iran, Germany, R.O.K. and the USA all appear to have local, or endemic, spread of the disease. Russia, Egypt, and Columbia appear to have joined the endemic spread list as well due to airports in the UAE and elsewhere picking up air travelers originating from those nations as sick with COVID-19.

    WORLD HEADLINE SUMMARY (3/5/2020)

    o New Jersey confirms first presumptive case
    o NY state cases double to 22
    o Seattle closes 26 schools
    o Pentagon tracking 12 possible COVID-19 cases
    o Illinois reports 5 more cases
    o NYC reports 2 more cases, raising total to 4
    o Italy postpones referendum vote; death toll hits 148
    o WHO’s Tedros: “Now’s the time to pull out the stops”
    o Tennessee confirms case
    o Nevada confirms first case
    o New Delhi closes primary schools
    o EU officials weigh pushing retired health-care workers back into service to combat virus
    o Italy to ask EU for permission to raise budget deficit as lawmakers approve €7.5 billion euros
    o Beijing tells residents not to share food
    o 30-year-old Chinese man dies in Wuhan 5 days after hospital discharge
    o Cali authorities tell ‘Grand Princess’ cruise ship not to return to port until everyone is tested
    o Global case total passes 95k
    o Lebanon sees cases double to 31
    o France deaths climb to 7, cases up 138 to 423
    o EY sends 1,500 Madrid employees home after staffer catches virus
    o Trump says he has a “hunch” true virus mortality rate is closer to 1%
    o Switzerland reports 1st death
    o South Africa confirms 1st case
    o UK chief medical officer confirms ‘human-to-human’ infections are happening in UK
    o UK case total hits 115
    o Google, Apple, Netflix cancel events
    o HSBC sends research department and part of London trading floor home
    o Facebook contract infected in Seattle
    o Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Netflix cancel events and/or ask employees to work from home
    o Netherlands cases double to 82
    o Spain cases climb 40, 1 new death
    o Belgium reports 27 new cases bringing total to 50
    o Germany adds 87 cases bringing total to 349

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, China, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, COVID-19, Culture, Current Events, Dogs, Ebola, Economics & Finance, Iran, Medicine, Middle East, Miscellaneous, USA | 125 Comments »

    SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 Update 3 March 2020

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 3rd March 2020 (All posts by )

    This will be a short update. Issues covered will be on COVID-19 spread, World Headlines, COVID-19 medical developments regards PPE & the role of building contamination in spreading disease in Japan, and the social media and videos COVID-19 tracking source section.
     
    Top line, There are currently 92,138 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, including 3,134 fatalities as of the 3 March 2020 at 5:51 a.m. ET time hack on the BNO News corona virus traking site (https://bnonews.com/index.php/2020/02/the-latest-coronavirus-cases/) There are 70(+) and growing nations including China plus three “Chinese special administrative regions” (Macao, Hong Kong and Taiwan) that have reported COVID-19 infections. China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, Iran, Germany, R.O.K. and the USA all appear to have local, or endemic, spread of the disease.
    The reality of personal protective equipment shortages in the USA because we outsourced most such production to China.

    The reality of personal protective equipment shortages in the USA because we outsourced most such production to China and many regional medical systems sent a lot of our existing medical PPE to China in January 2020 per the request of the CDC.

     
    World Headline Summary (As of late evening 3/2/2020):
     
    o US death toll climbs to 6; all in WA, which has 18 cases
    o 2 new cases confirmed in Tampa Bay
    o 1st case reported in New Hampshire
    o Hubei reports 114 new cases, 31 new deaths
    o Santa Clara County confirms 2 more cases, bringing county total to 9
    o Gottlieb warns US cases likely in ‘low thousands’
    o Illinois announces 4th case
    o Boris Johnson: “A very significant expansion” of the virus is “clearly in the cards”
    o Italian death toll climbs 18 to 52 while total cases surpasses 2,000
    o BMW tells 150 to quarantine after Munich employee infected
    o Algeria total hits 5
    o Senegal becomes 2nd sub-Saharan country to confirm virus
    o WHO’s Tedros: Virus is “common enemy” of humanity so don’t focus on blame
    o Jordan reports first two cases
    o French death toll revised to 3, total cases climb to 191
    o Tunisia reports first case
    o UK total climbs to 40
    o OECD warns global growth could fall by half
    o Indonesia reports first cases
    o “Progress is being made” toward a vaccine
    o Cuomo says NY expects more cases
    o India confirms 2 more cases
    o ‘Official’ Iran death toll hits 66
    o EU confirms 38 deaths across 18 members
    o First cases confirmed in Fla.
    o 2 Amazon employees test positive in Milan
    o Virus now in 8 US states: Washington, California, Illinois, Rhode Island, New York, Florida, Oregon and New Hampshire
    o San Antonio virus patient re-hospitalized after testing positive
    o China warns it could face ‘locust invasion’
     
    COVID-19 MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS
     
    This article is very much worth reading in full, printing out a copy, highlighting and carrying around. I’ll excerpt a couple of sections from it below the title and link:
     
    Unmasked: Experts explain necessary respiratory protection for COVID-19
    by Stephanie Soucheray
    CIDRAP News, Feb 13, 2020
     
     

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, COVID-19, Current Events, Health Care, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous, USA | 41 Comments »

    SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 Evening Update 2-25-2020: The Pandemic Hide the Name & Blame Games

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 25th February 2020 (All posts by )

    The themes of this update will be on issues of COVID-19 spread, World Headlines, border closings, the CDC news conference, developments with fomite spread, how American Public Health institutions build a liablity law suit proof diagnostic test and how that limits tests for community spread and a new recommended COVID-19 sites, social media and videos section.
     
    Top line, There are currently 80,420 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, including 2,710 fatalities as of the 24 February 2020 at 5:24 p.m. ET time hack on the BNO News corona virus tracking site (https://bnonews.com/index.php/2020/02/the-latest-coronavirus-cases/) There are 39 nations including China plus three “Chinese special administrative regions” (Macao, Hong Kong and Taiwan) that have reported COVID-19 infections. China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, Iran and R.O.K. all appear to have local, or endemic, spread of the disease. Italy has spawned further spread in Spain proper, it’s Canary Islands possession, Austria, Germany, and possibly Croatia. And now Brazil in South America and Algeria reporting a case signals North West Africa have added two new regions to the Pandemic spread list. The virus has spread from Asia to Europe, North America, Australia and Africa.
     
    All of the above meets the pre-COVID-19 WHO standard for a “Pandemic” that requiring endemic spread in multiple nations in multiple WHO regions. However, the WHO just decided that it was time to retire the term “Pandemic” because…something…[insert reasons here]. The WHO statement for doing so was a master piece of unintelligible double talk that boils down to “Lets not scare the “Normies” and set off more “Run, Hide & Hoard” panics like seized Italy, ROK and Singapore in the last few days. Meanwhile the WHO is cheering-on China’s “Hospice-Prison system for the infected” Quarantine as a “Model” in aiding China’s restarting the World economy.
    ITALY COVID-19 Confirmed Cases and Deaths 25 Feb 2020

    ITALY COVID-19 Confirmed Cases and Deaths 25 Feb 2020

     
    World Headline Summary
    o WHO warns the rest of the world “is not ready for the virus to spread…”
    o CDC warns Americans “should prepare for possible community spread” of virus.
    o San Francisco Mayor declares state of emergency
    o Later, CDC says pandemic not a question of it, but when
    o Brazil may have South America’s first coronavirus case
    o Germany confirms 2nd case on Tuesday, brings total to 17
    o Italy cases spike to 322; deaths hit 10
    o Japan’s Shiseido tells 8k employees to work from home
    o Trump Economic Advisor Kudlow tries to jawbone stock markets higher
    o HHS Sec. Azar warns US lacks stockpiles of masks
    o Italy Hotel in Lockdown After First Coronavirus Case in Liguria
    o Algeria confirms 1st case
    o First case in Switzerland
    o Kuwait halts all flights to Singapore and Japan
    o Iran confirms 95 cases, 15 deaths
    o First case in Austria
    o Spain reports 7 cases in under 24 hours, including in Madrid, Canary Islands, Barcelona
    o Iran Deputy Health Minister infected with Covid-19
    Pandemic Border Closures
    Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Armenia, and UAE blocked border crossings by Iranians.
    Russia, North Korea and Vietnam are blocking border crossings from China
    Austria and Switzerlan are blocking border crossings from Italy.
    El Salvador on Tuesday announced it would prevent entry of people from Italy and South Korea.
     

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Bioethics, China, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, COVID-19, Current Events, Economics & Finance, Health Care, Iran, Medicine, Middle East, Miscellaneous, National Security, North America, Politics, USA | 28 Comments »

    COVID-19/SARS-CoV2 Update 2-23-2020 — When the “New Versailles Class” Meets Reality Without Privilege

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 23rd February 2020 (All posts by )

    The themes of this update will be on issues of COVID-19 spread, testing, public health institutional credibility, some e-mails evaluating the CDC and our elites, and my personal analysis of same after the top line infection numbers and headlines.

    The SARS-CoV2 virus and it’s COVID-19 virgin fields infection seems to have a top line R(0) of between three and 6.7 — that is one person infects near seven people on average — because there are repeated “super spreader” events where one person slimed an institution with a lot of close contact and then the fomite contamination of that institutional setting causes everyone present to get the disease. Examples thus far include the Diamond Princess Cruise ship, a pair of prisons in China, and multiple hospitals in China and now South Korea. The rate of growth of the COVID-19 pandemic is such that we will be fighting it on a very large scale in a few weeks (no more than 10) in every nation world wide with the public and private medical institutions, societal resources, and people we have right now, with all their flaws. And not what we wish they were, but will never have. There simply isn’t going to be time and energy for blame games when issues of daily survival break upon us all.

    Top line, there are currently 78,986 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, including 2,468 fatalities as of 23 February 2020 at 11:52 a.m. ET on the BNO News corona virus traking site (https://bnonews.com/index.php/2020/02/the-latest-coronavirus-cases/) China, Taiwan Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, and Iran all appear to have local, or endemic, spread of the disease. See multiple charts attached and headline summary

    Bar Chart of World COVID-19 Infections as of 23 Feb 2020

    Bar Chart of World COVID-19 Infections as of 23 Feb 2020

    Bar Chart of World Qide COVID-19 Infections Without China and the Diamond Princess Cruise Liner

    Bar Chart of World Wide COVID-19 Infections Without China and the Diamond Princess Cruise Liner

    World Headline Summary:

    o Italy confirms 3rd death and cancels last 2 days of carnivale in Venice as cases soar above 100
    o 4 more cases confirmed in UK
    o 200 Israelis quarantined
    o Japan confirms more cases
    o Japanese Emperor expresses hope for Tokyo Games (fat chance)
    o ROK Gov’t total cases above 600
    o Trump says US has everything ‘under control’ as he asks Congress for more money (I call B.S. below)
    o EU’s Gentiloni says he has ‘full confidence’ In Italian health officials
    o Turkey, Pakistan close borders with Iran as confirmed cases soar
    o Global Times (Chinese Gov’t news source) says virus may not have originated at Hunan seafood market
    o Axios reports shortages of 150 essential drugs likely. (Most source in China)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, COVID-19, Current Events, Health Care, Iran, Medicine, Middle East, Miscellaneous, National Security, Uncategorized, USA | 42 Comments »

    COVID-19 Update, Morning 2-21-2020 — Living & Dying from China’s Biological Chernobyl

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 21st February 2020 (All posts by )

    Wednesday the world got the worst possible news about COVID-19 from China, and it explained all the strange things China was hiding since this disease first appeared. We are in the midst of China’ Biological Chernobyl. But first, the numbers. As of 20 February 2020 at 7:04 p.m. ET there were 76,192 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, including 2,245 fatalities. China 74,988 cases, 2,234 fatalities and International 1,205 cases, 11 fatalities.  See the latest disease numbers here:

    https://bnonews.com/index.php/2020/02/the-latest-coronavirus-cases/

    A quiet Chinese announcement Wednesday has changed the world.
    It appears that COVID-19 is an airborne bug in some very common medical situations.  This was why China was keeping the CDC and WHO experts out of China.  It is also why they had such heavy casualties with medical workers.  You need a PPE-4 level independent oxygen supply to entubate a COVID-19 pneumonia sufferer.
    “Airborne transmission” has a very specific medical-technical definition.  See the figure below.
    This graphic explains the technical definition of airborne transmission.

    This graphic explains the technical definition of airborne transmission. (Peak Prosperity video screen capture)

    See this, the opening sentence of which is the technical description of “Airborne Transmission” —
    China admits aerosol infection possible in coronavirus outbreak

    KYODO NEWS – Feb 20, 2020 – 13:14

    .
    KYODO NEWS – Feb 20, 2020 – 13:14 | WorldAll

    China’s health authorities have admitted that people may contract the pneumonia-causing COVID-19 coronavirus by inhaling small virus-containing particles floating in the air, or so-called aerosol infection.

    .

    Updated diagnostic and treatment guidelines published Wednesday say a person can be infected if they are “exposed to a high concentration of aerosol in a relatively closed environment for a long time.

    .

    This is the sixth edition of the guidelines for treating patients of the new virus in China. The guidelines posit that the main routes of transmission are “droplets from the respiratory system” and “close contact.”

    .

    Previous versions of the guidelines said the possibility of aerosol infection had yet to be clearly established.

    .

    Aerosol infection is said to be prone to occur during medical procedures, such as when inserting a tube into the windpipe to ensure an open airway.

    And airborne transmission beyond the narrow medical procedures have been confirmed in South Korea. ROK public health officials tracked a single asymptomatic church lady to a Christian mega-church service of a 1,000 people.  Below is the result:

    Steve Lookner
    @lookner
    544 members of South Korea’s Shinchonji Daegu church have virus symptoms(This is the church with dozens of new cases in the past 2 days)https://twitter.com/lookner/status/1230698482207313920
    China also announced a prison had 200 prisoners and seven guards get COVID-19 last night. Essentially any institutional situation with poor/unfiltered circulation will see mass COVID-19 infection.
    And it gets worse.  How much worse?  This much worse:
    The Fight Plan of China's Biological Chernobyl

    The Fight Plan of China’s Biological Chernobyl — 60,000 airline flights with poor air circulation where up to 12 million souls (assuming 200 unique people per plane flight) were exposed to an airborne transmitted SARS-CoV2 virus.

    WELCOME TO THE WORSE CASE SCENARIO

    The heart of the issue for 2019-nCoV is that it is a virgin fields epidemic. Everyone who hasn’t got it, will get it, absent a genetic gift or  vaccine…and there will be no vaccine for a year, assuming this coronavirus is amenable to a vaccine.

    This is compounded by the issue that the COVID-19 coronavirus infection takes a very low SARS-Cov2 viral load for the initial infection…

    …and that low viral load initial infection takes a very, very, very, long time to manifest as either positive test result or as
    “symptoms.”

    Additionally, four of five people that test positive for COVID-19 have either no or very minor symptoms while being infection spreaders.
    Case in point is the South Korean church-lady who seems to have given COVID-19 infections to 544 people either by giving out communion or singing.

    The infection rate right now is over 20% for the souls aboard Diamond Princess and it will take at least 24 days from their last
    exposure to be detectable in new cases.  The chaos and ineffectivness of the Japanese quarantine was such that every passenger, crewman or Japanese health ministry body on the Diamond Princess were likely exposed to infection causing viral loads right up to and through the flights back to their home countries.

    There is now no chance stopping COVID-19, short of a vaccine, because China’s Communist Party allowed those 12 million exposed souls to travel the world.

    COVID-19 is not just a flu.  It is 20 times deadlier (2% death rate) with an intact medical system and 50 time deadlier (5% death rate) in a collapsed medical system.  And every medical system in the world will collapse under the weight of SARS-CoV2 infections.

    Buckle up.  This will be a rough ride.

    -End-

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, COVID-19, Current Events, Health Care, Miscellaneous | 26 Comments »

    COVID-19 Update, Morning 2-19-2020

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 19th February 2020 (All posts by )

    This update is going to be a horror show of numbers involving “super spreaders” and public health incompetence in and around the Diamond Princess cruise ship. As of this mornings’s writing time hack, there are currently 75,129 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, including 2,007 fatalities. China: TOTAL 74,130 2,002 12,017 serious 13,818 recovered 6,242 suspected. (No one believed these numbers except the Who and CDC) Everywhere else: 999 cases, 5 deaths, 39 serious/critical

    Next — the COVID-19 infection numbers from the Diamond Princess are horrific.

    See:

    Tracking coronavirus: Map, data and timeline

    “Japan: The 542 people from the “Diamond Princess” cruise ship are listed separately and they are not included in the Japanese government’s official count. Fourteen of them are Americans whose test results came in while they were being evacuated from the ship. 246 were _asymptomatic_.”

    Given 246 of 542 infected are asymptomatic…we are looking at a 45% of no-symptom super-spreader rate.

    Note: the following additional “Diamond Princess” information culled from four US newspapers over at the Free Republic forum’s “Corona Virus Live—mostly Thread. 2/18-2/19”

    https://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/3817559/posts?q=1&;page=151

    In one flight of the Diamond Princess returnees. “…the original 14 tested have become 19 due to inflight testing, or 18 pending and 1 CDC confirmed.

    .

    The flight to Travis, CA had 7, and picked up 3 inflight – all asymptomatic

    .

    The Flight to Lackland, TX had 7, and picked up 2 inflight – all but one asymptomatic

    .

    So that’s 14+3+2

    .

    It was reported that Texas sent 6 to Omaha; however Omaha said they received 13. One requiring hospitalization but stable, and the rest asymptomatic. All are awaiting final CDC confirmation.

    .

    Of the 7 in Calif, 2 were transferred to QotV – one asymptomatic received CDC confirmation of positive today; one with mild symptoms is still awaiting CDC.

    Third — More super spreader evidence of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Returning Travelers from Wuhan, China

    “In this effort to evacuate 126 people from Wuhan to Frankfurt, a symptom-based screening process was ineffective in detecting SARS-CoV-2 infection in 2 persons who later were found to have evidence of SARS-CoV-2 in a throat swab. We discovered that shedding of potentially infectious virus may occur in persons who have no fever and no signs or only minor signs of infection.”

    https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2001899

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, China, Civil Society, COVID-19, Current Events, Health Care, Japan, Miscellaneous, USA | 20 Comments »

    Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate the Origins of the 2008 Financial Crisis and Systemic Failure

    Posted by Kevin Villani on 18th February 2020 (All posts by )

    Are greedy racist “Wall Street” bank lenders responsible, or progressive politicians?

    The housing finance systems of some developed countries have failed, but only the U.S. federally dominated system failed systemically twice in two decades, the second time in 2008 with global repercussions. Then Republican Mayor of New York now 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg blamed politicians for pushing lenders to make loans to “poor people” in low income neighborhoods that they couldn’t afford. 2020 progressive Democratic presidential candidate Warren, apparently reflecting the views of the Party, responded to Bloomberg: “That crisis would not have been averted if the banks had been able to be bigger racists.” 

    The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed in 2010 creating Warren’s proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) to Monitor and Mitigate Systemic Risk made up of the various financial regulators reflects the Warren/Democratic narrative. This narrative is the foundation of not just housing and financial sector policy proposals, but the entire progressive agenda.

    I’m from the federal government and I’m here to help you.

    That’s the punch line to the joke about the three biggest lies Pres Martin used to tell about a half century ago as past Chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB) (hence Freddie Mac’s first Chairman) and Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve System.

    The first wave of “help” came after the repeated waves of bank failures with the creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1913. The second wave came during the Great Depression with deposit insurance and associated regulation of the banking and savings and loan industries. This was followed by the creation of FHA mortgage insurance: to stimulate FHA demand, Fannie Mae was created make a market for which there were few buyers or sellers. By the late 60’s, rather than end a failed experiment Fannie Mae was “privatized” and the public monopoly was subsequently expanded to a tri-poly with the addition of Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae, all funding fixed rate mortgages (FRMs) first introduced by FHA. As Milton Friedman famously said, “there is nothing so permanent as a temporary government program.”

    It didn’t help potential borrowers much. The resulting federally dominated U.S. Housing Finance System had been touted as the best in the world, a model to emulate for developed, developing and transitioning economies alike during the three decades prior to the 2004-2007 sub-prime mortgage lending debacle and globally systemic financial crisis of 2008. But the benefits are hard to identify: the U.S. homeownership rate is about the same as in the mid 1960’s under the prior savings and loan system in spite of a 50% increase in female labor force participation, a historically low real interest rate and a dramatic shift from detached single family to condo apartments.

    Civil rights legislation culminating in the Fair Housing Act of 1968 made racial discrimination in home sales a federal crime. The black homeownership rate which rose more than that for whites during the 2004-2007 sub-prime lending spree has returned to about where it was during the 1960’s.

    Market Discipline versus Public Regulation

    It didn’t help existing lenders much either. In the 1970’s federally sponsored agencies competed directly with federally chartered savings and loans whose investments were limited by regulators hamstrung by politicians to FRMs, forcing them to borrow short and lend long with callable insured deposits. Systemic failure was assured when interest rates rose as they did in the late 1970’s, with failures strung out over the 1980’s as regulators seized but often didn’t close zombie institutions, often run by academics.

    Systemic risk, the simultaneous failure of many or all firms (and households) in an industry or across industries, primarily afflicts mixed progressive financial systems, i.e., those with privately owned but publicly regulated financial institutions. Firms in an un-or-less regulated market economy may be fragile but “Wall Street” traders mitigate systemic risk by betting against weak firms and industries, either forcing corrective action or failure– hence the derogatory political reference to “speculators.” At the other extreme, state owned financial firms generally fail financially but face only a political bankruptcy constraint.

    Two types of progressive policies created systemic risk. First those intended to mitigate the failure of individual firms with public insurance and prudential regulation, making failure less frequent but more systemic. Regulators prevent commercial bank failures purportedly to protect public confidence in the payments mechanism. Second are those policies intended to universally favor borrowers and/or creditors – like requiring mortgages to have a fixed rate – making systemic failure more likely and more costly.

    Underwriting Mortgage Credit Risk: Discrimination and “Disparate Impact”

    With the exception of the Great Depression and 2008 financial crisis, home mortgage credit losses had been “Gaussian (normally distributed),” that is, they followed a predictable pattern that allowed them to be insured according to the law of large numbers, for all practical purposes eliminating uncertainty, hence risk.

    Loan data during the sub-prime lending debacle unambiguously supports Bloomberg as minority lending skyrocketed. Progressives imputed racist motives to excessive minority lending, arguing that “predatory” lenders “tricked” minorities into accepting loans they couldn’t afford so they could later foreclose. There is some truth to the first part, as banks solicited minority borrowers with loans they had to know were risky. But they had little incentive to foreclose, as that always resulted in a deep loss. What did motivate lenders?

    Homeownership was no more affordable for black households during the 2004-2007 sub-prime lending bubble than it was in the 1960’s for a variety of reasons. But current Democratic presidential candidate Deval Patrick argued in 1994 as Deputy Attorney General of the Department of Justice that any final lending distribution that contained racial disparities—disparate impact—relative to population was a violation of federal law unless the lender could prove otherwise. Such “proof” of non-discrimination would be difficult to produce at best, since the disparity itself was considered proof of racial prejudice, and the cost of a legal defense is generally crippling. This was called “confiscation by consent decree” at the time and later “extortion by consent decree” for which Gaussian credit risk models didn’t apply.

    Avoiding Black Swans

    Former trader –now internationally recognized risk expert – Nicholas Nassim Taleb describes in his 2007 book The Black Swan “how high impact but rare events dominate history, how we retrospectively give ourselves the illusion of understanding them thanks to narratives, how they are impossible to estimate scientifically, how this makes some areas – but not others – totally unpredictable and unforecastable, how confirmatory methods of knowledge don’t work, and how thanks to Black Swan-blind “faux experts” we are prone to building systems increasingly fragile to extreme events.”

    Was the 2008 systemic failure an unpredictable Black Swan event? Politicians and their regulators who push the “Wall Street greed” narrative argued that nobody could have foreseen it, but Taleb exempts only economist Nouriel Roubini Crisis Economics (2010) from that delusion, who (pg. 16) concludes “it was probable. It was even predictable…” based on the failure of prudential regulation. But how did that fail? Systemic failure had long been predicted (by me and others, including the Federal Reserve) based on the progressive policies that attributed illegal racial discrimination motives to traditional income and appraisal underwriting.

    No Skin in the Game

    The sub-prime lending bubble of 1995 through 1998 financed with opaque securities issued by independent finance companies that following SEC rules reported phantom profits burst with no systemic consequences. By 2000 many of these former sub-prime lenders and securitization practices had migrated to the federally insured commercial banks in part to finance Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) lending commitments. These increased 500 fold after the deregulation of interstate Banking in 1994 when discretionary regulatory permission for M&A activity was held hostage to a favorable public CRA Report. Pushed by regulators and pulled by the big potential M&A payoff, borrower down payment requirements were virtually eliminated and bank “regulatory arbitrage” minimized capital requirements, virtually eliminating any Skin in the Game (Taleb, 2018). This asymmetric “trade” was irresistible.

    The Perfect Storm

    The Big Short by Michael Lewis presents the progressive narrative of “greedy” speculators who were shorting the housing market but doesn’t explain why they failed to prevent the bubble from inflating to systemic proportions by bankrupting lenders. The reason is that the cheap Federal Reserve credit continued to be channeled to the housing bubble by Fannie and Freddie. Historically conservative, they were now led by politically anointed CEO’s who, facing no bankruptcy constraint, willingly followed the path to perdition. This path was paved by HUD’s “Mission Regulator” who not only ratcheted up the lending goals well beyond prudent limits but in 2005 imposed a new goal that they maintain a 50% market share with these private lenders. Propped up by the federal government, all the big players were going for broke simultaneously.

    This was guaranteed to fail. Financial institutions reported several trillion dollars (pgs. 157-158) of home mortgage credit losses after the bubble burst and 10 million homeowners lost their homes over the next six years in spite of massive government efforts to avoid or delay foreclosure. Like the lending bubble, the foreclosure bubble was much bigger for minorities. Yet The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Democrat Majority Report (2010) spun the narrative that the systemic “risk” was due mainly to traditional liquidity concerns.

    I’m from the federal government and I’m here to blame you.

    That’s no joke. During the Obama Administration Patrick, then Governor of Massachusetts led the multi-state suit against lenders alleging discrimination in foreclosures based on disparate impact. At the same time, current DNC Chairman Tom Perez was pursuing “disparate impact” cases against lenders under the Fair Housing Act as Attorney General Eric Holder’s Deputy.

    In a 2009 Financial Times editorial Taleb proposed ten principles to avoid a repeat of 2008:

    What is fragile should break early, while it’s still small.

    No socialization of losses and privatization of gains.

    People who were driving a school bus blindfolded (and crashed it) should never be given a new bus.

    Don’t let somebody making an incentive bonus manage a nuclear plant – or your financial risks.

    Compensate complexity with simplicity.

    Do not give children dynamite sticks, even if they come with a warning label.

    Only Ponzi schemes should depend on confidence. Governments should never need to “restore confidence.”

    Do not give an addict more drugs if he has withdrawal pains.

    Citizens should not depend on financial assets as a repository of value, and should not rely on fallible “expert” advice for their retirement.

    Make an omelet with the broken eggs.

    All good advice, all ignored by politicians and regulators who created the Rube Goldberg dystopia they rail against.

    —-

    Kevin Villani

    Kevin Villani was Chief Economist at Freddie Mac from 1982 to 1985 and HUD from 1979-1982. He has been affiliated with nine universities, and served as CFO and director of several companies. He recently published Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue on the political origins of the sub-prime lending bubble and aftermath.

    Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Economics & Finance, Public Finance | 11 Comments »

    COVID-19 Update 2-17-2020

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 17th February 2020 (All posts by )

    As of this morning’s time hack, world wide there are now 1,770 dead and 71,223 infected by COVID-19. Community spread is underway in Singapore (see chart), Taiwan and Japan. The USA thinks it might be on-going in the USA. Both Japan and the USA refuse to state this, but actions being taken argue otherwise.  Two horrid COVID-19 infection reports from Chinese news sources — the Taiwan News is reporting re-infection with COVID-19 is causing heart failure and South China Morning Post is reporting 34 and 94 day from exposure to infection super spreaders.  Recovered from COVID-19 infection Ontario couple are still testing positive for coronavirus. Finally,  COVID-19 fomit** contamination of Chinese money and survival of corona-virus in high heat & humidity are also in the update.

    31 Dec 2019 to 16 Feb 2020 COVID-19 Bar chart

    31 Dec 2019 to 16 Feb 2020 COVID-19 Infection Level Bar Chart

    Number of COVID-19 Infections outside China as of Feb 16, 2020

    Number of COVID-19 Infections outside China as of Feb 16, 2020

    Singapore COVID-19 Infection Status 15 Feb 2020

    Singapore COVID-19 Infection Status 15 Feb 2020

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, COVID-19, Culture, Current Events, Health Care, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Miscellaneous, National Security, Politics, USA | 23 Comments »

    It was about Flynn all along.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 13th February 2020 (All posts by )

    Last summer, I posted a column suggesting the Russia Hoax was aimed at Flynn.

    I am more and more coming around to the opinion of David Goldman and Michael Ledeen.

    The Russia hoax was aimed at Michael Flynn and his role as a Trump advisor.

    It was all about General Flynn. I think it began on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, when Flynn changed the way we did intelligence against the likes of Zarqawi, bin Laden, the Taliban, and their allies.

    General Flynn saw that our battlefield intelligence was too slow. We collected information from the Middle East and sent it back to Washington, where men with stars on their shoulders and others at the civilian intel agencies chewed it over, decided what to do, and sent instructions back to the war zone. By the time all that happened, the battlefield had changed. Flynn short-circuited this cumbersome bureaucratic procedure and moved the whole enterprise to the war itself. The new methods were light years faster. Intel went to local analysts, new actions were ordered from men on the battlefield (Flynn famously didn’t care about rank or status) and the war shifted in our favor.

    Now, there is more support for the idea that Flynn was the original target.

    It is, however, on a different theory and by Angelo Codevilla.

    Senior intelligence officials were the key element in the war on Donald Trump’s candidacy and presidency. CIA used meetings that it manufactured as factual bases for lies about campaign advisors seeking Russian information to smear Hillary Clinton. Intelligence began formal investigation and surveillance without probable cause. Agents gained authorization to electronically surveil Trump and his campaign and defended their bureaucratic interests, sidelining Lieutenant General Michael Flynn and denying or delaying Trump appointments and security clearances.

    They feared that Flynn was going to convince Trump that the CIA was a rogue agency and should be dismantled.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Politics | 4 Comments »

    The fake impeachment is almost over.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 1st February 2020 (All posts by )

    The hysteria that began when Donald Trump won the 2016 election has labored and brought forth a mouse that was dealt with today in the Senate. There are still a few blows to administer, as the State of the Union speech Tuesday before a humiliated Democrat Congress, and the final vote to end the farce Wednesday. The Mueller “Investigation” which ended the Russia Hoax, was anticlimax. Then came the Ukraine manufactured crisis.

    The level of corruption by the Biden family, is explored in Peter Schweizer’s book, Profiles in Corruption. All the Bidens, not just Hunter the coke addled son, but the brothers and even the sister, are riddled with corruption. The Ukraine matter is just one of the tales in the book.

    The Russia collusion was largely based on a “dossier” paid for by the Clinton campaign and probably the product of Russian disinformation. Thus, the political campaign that colluded with Russia was that of Hillary Clinton, not Trump.

    I had my doubts about Trump in the beginning.

    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.

    Ryan, after the election, was a disgrace.

    In spite of Democrat and some Republican hysteria, Trump has moved along, cancelling crippling regulation and negotiating trade reforms with Mexico, Canada and China. Meanwhile the hysteria grew.

    Then Mueller flamed out with no payoff for the millions spent.

    Mueller’s anti-Trump staffers knew they were never going to be able to drive Trump from office by indicting him. The only plausible way to drive him from office was to prioritize, over all else, making the report public. Then, perhaps Congress would use it to impeach. At the very least, the 448 pages of uncharged conduct would wound Trump politically, helping lead to his defeat in 2020 — an enticing thought for someone who had, say, attended the Hillary Clinton “victory” party and expressed adulatory “awe” for acting AG (and fellow Obama holdover) Sally Yates when she insubordinately refused to enforce Trump’s border security order.

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    Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Elections, Trump | 16 Comments »

    Will America Vote to Drink the Kool Aid, Committing Mass Suicide?

    Posted by Kevin Villani on 11th January 2020 (All posts by )

    Presidential candidates are talking about every issue except the one that matters most for America’s future: “American Exceptionalism.”

    President Obama, a former professor of constitutional law, rejected the notion of American exceptionalism. Conservative writer Jonah Goldberg in Suicide of the West (2018) argues that the political abandonment of American Exceptionalism is eroding liberty, society and prosperity. Parenthetically, Taleb, Skin in the Game (2018) concludes (pg. 86) ”the west is currently in the process of committing suicide” by tolerating the intolerant. The “mass suicide” metaphor became a reality when religious cult leader Jim Jones told his followers in 1975  “I love socialism, and I’m willing to die to bring it about, but if I did, I’d take a thousand with me” which he did in Jamestown, Guyana three years later. “He wanted the world to think this was some uniform decision, that they willingly killed themselves for socialism to protest the inhumanity of capitalism” but armed guards made sure the reluctant chose the Kool Aid and exited the Johnstown dystopia for the promised socialist utopia in the next life.

    Suicide of the West

    Goldberg’s history of politics and human nature begins with humans first walking upright, concluding in 2017 with U.S. domestic political choices. Ideas promoted by John Locke and bequeathed by the British that the state is the servant of the people, are the core of American exceptionalism as opposed to the opposite ideas of the Frenchman Rousseau that individuals are the servant of the state, the governing principle of authoritarian socialist economies and in practice social democracies as well. What’s exceptional in the U.S. political system bequeathed by the Founders are the strict limits on federal powers in the two written documents, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. This is the cornerstone that allowed the many secular and religious institutions of civil society to deepen as a pre-requisite for and complement to entrepreneurial market capitalism, the source of virtually all human economic progress.

    In the American version the state guarantees “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” whereas the French national motto “liberty, equality, and fraternity” is an oxymoron. Individual liberty erodes at each stage as decisions are elevated from the marketplace to private, local, state, federal and ultimately international governing bodies. Competitive market capitalism’s “creative destruction” and entrepreneurial innovation produces relative winners but benefits all, whereas political favoritism comes at the expense of the typically poorer less politically favored.

    The Deep State is Sovereign in a Democracy

    In a recent Wall Street Journal article, political theorist Francis Fukuyama argues that “American Democracy Depends on the ‘Deep State’” run by professionals protected from politicians. Progressive President Wilson used entry into the war as the means to create the “modern” sovereign state” to which Fukuyama refers under the motto to “make the world safe for democracy,” never mentioned in the Founding documents. What took a Revolution to produce was protected only by the willingness to adhere to paper documents that Wilson basically ignored.

    Individual dependence on the modern pater welfare state corrodes the institutions of civil society and inevitably leads to identity politics, tribalism and cronyism. With the state the master, many democracies evolve into one party rule, e.g., the communist “peoples’ democracy” of China, North Korea, East Germany or in capitalist countries the PRI in Mexico (in spite of a Constitution modeled after that in the U.S.) and Peronism in Argentina where the party is the master of the state. The rightist regime in Chile brought in the Chicago Boys to help implement free market reforms that produced a growth miracle, but that proved difficult to sustain as subsequent socialist governments burst that bubble.

    The 2016 Presidential Election

    In 2016 candidate Trump promised to drain the swamp and “end America’s endless wars” – both direct attacks on the deep state, particularly the military-industrial-congressional complex (Eisenhower’s original censored version) that manages the economy as well as foreign policy and military adventure. Reagan promised to roll back the deep state but failed. Clinton declared “the era of big government is over” but it barely paused. The Tea Party, composed of older more conservative voters tired of Republican false promises of limited government, launched a grass roots political campaign to limit government, which also failed. Once the state (or the Party of the state) is sovereign, the process has proven irreversible through political means.

    That leaves the Supreme Court. Candidate Trump committed to nominating conservative Supreme Court Justices who would stay within the original intent of constitutional limits, the primary issue cited by his supporters. The abortion issue is a ruse, a litmus test for progressive precedents to trump constitutional intent.

    The U.S. deep state is immune to accountability. A recent docudrama The Report tells the story of CIA torture after 911. The Agency lied to two Presidents, lied and stonewalled Congress over 8 years, violated the separation of powers and squashed the biggest seven thousand page Congressional oversight investigation in history. Only the stature of Senators Feinstein and McCain eventually got the Report released, but no one was held accountable, sending a clear signal that the deep state was immune. When President Trump alleged (later proven by the Mueller and Inspector General Reports – in spite of deep state resistance) that the intelligence community was involved in election rigging in 2016 and a subsequent coup attempt to remove him from office when that failed, Senator Schumer warned him: “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” Impeachment is (only) one way.

    The 2020 Presidential Election

    On domestic policy, progressives arguably fared better under the Trump Administration than they would have from any of the other Republican candidate (e.g., victories on the budget and trade protectionism) and better than conservatives during the Obama Administration. Many conservatives (including Goldberg) join progressives in abhorring Trump’s personality and attacking his character (questionable, as is that of his political antagonists, e.g., Congressman Schiff). His lies and exaggerations may stretch the limits of political discourse, but the main stream media has regressed to Infamous Scribblers. The biggest cause of Trump derangement syndrome – and his source of political support – is likely his politically incorrect speech.

    But Supreme Court appointments remain the existential issue for progressives and conservatives alike (as the Kavanaugh Hearings demonstrated), although limiting the power of federal government leaves progressives with free reign at the state and local level where they have had substantial success. Even “popular democracy” in big states like California is rigged by the state, forcing the oppressed to ‘vote with their feet’ leaving progressive states like California and New York with deficits, which then seek federal bailouts.

    The electorate is divided along generational lines, with democrats appealing to younger liberal voters and republicans to older conservative voters. Lowering the voting age to 18 dramatically increased this demographic (why Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi proposed lowering it to 16). Yet current Democratic candidates are divided among the ”electable”“moderate” 78 year old (by inauguration) Joe Biden campaigning as the former VP of a decidedly immoderate administration, authoritarian Michael Bloomberg who is almost a year older that Biden, socialist Bernie Sanders who is more than a year older than Biden, and Progressive Elizabeth Warren who would be 70 by inauguration. The young intolerant radical anti-capitalist progressives/socialists will undoubtedly be in control should victory be achieved by any of these elders following Taleb’s thesis (pg 69) that in a democracy the intolerant dominate.

    What explains the strong Democratic appeal of 18-29 year old voters? Goldberg (pg. 340) quotes theologian Eugene Peterson: “humans try to find transcendence-apart from God – through the ecstasy of alcohol and drugs, recreational sex, or … crowds (i.e., mobs or cults).” Millenials are less religious than older voters and sex has declined relative to past generations. Non-college graduates have turned to drugs – 70,000 deaths annually.

    Promises of debt forgiveness and free stuff by Socialist Sanders – and Warren – obviously appeal to the typically deeply indebted college educated. But so does their attack on business. Once taboo, socialism is now chic on college campuses as anti-business progressive ideas pervade college professorial ranks, particularly among historians and economists. This goes back to the early days of progressivism as socialist/communist historical myth makers accused business leaders of being “Robber Barons,” vastly over-stating the extent of American cronyism. Economists have generally under-appreciate the fragility and benefits of capitalism focusing instead on “market failures” real or imagined requiring government intervention, to be expected by a profession started by a German educated progressive to train Americans in the visible hand (fist) of state economic management

    So millenials may be lured to join the cult and drink the Kool Aid: as an aging baby boomer, I’ll cling to religion and, Inshallah, sex and alcohol (bourbon, of course).

    Kevin Villani

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    Kevin Villani was chief economist at Freddie Mac from 1982 to 1985. He has held senior government positions, has been affiliated with nine universities, and served as CFO and director of several companies. He recently published Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue on the political origins of the sub-prime lending bubble and aftermath.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Big Government, Book Notes, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Elections, Libertarianism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Society, Tea Party, Trump, USA | 17 Comments »