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  • Archive for the 'Elections' Category

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 23rd November 2020 (All posts by )

    J. E. Dyer:

    This is a profound crisis for America. In my view, it has reached the level of the question of slavery, which was too big an issue to be settled by conventional expectations for courts of law and social and political transactions.
     
    In 1861, there were many Americans, as there are many today, who didn’t see the question as being that much beyond the scope of ordinary remedy.
     
    But it was. For what it’s worth, I don’t foresee an armed battle erupting over the 2020 election, per se. That’s partly because there’s no obvious way to organize one. Unlike the situation of the Civil War, there’s no territorial division to make options plain.
     
    But the spiritual divide between Americans who don’t perceive a crisis (or whose intention is to provoke one and benefit from it), and Americans who do perceive one, could not be deeper. Either there must be a fight, to authenticate the 2020 vote and ensure that it produces a new president only if it was really honest and fraud-free, or there need not be a fight, but only a formulaic consultation which cannot possibly establish the meaningful absence of fraud.
     
    If the choice is supposed to be the latter, voting is meaningless anyway, and no one is under moral compulsion to agree to be governed by its “outcomes.”

    Worth reading in full.

    Posted in Current Events, Deep Thoughts, Elections, Political Philosophy, Politics, Trump | 37 Comments »

    Did the Computers Report or Structure Voting Results?

    Posted by Ginny on 17th November 2020 (All posts by )

    My brother sent this link to three engineers from three different party backgrounds who have examined the patterns in Michigan precincts. They seem quite sure that an algorithm has been applied to the precincts that were more heavily Republican; the pattern in these precincts are remarkably similar. They seem to have had some experience not only with computers but with voting machines (one is an election commissioner and another had run for office).

    I remember my awe years ago at Shannon Love’s analysis of arguments in the Lancet and how interesting and insightful his analysis was. I have learned nothing since then, so can’t judge these men’s methods but their graphs do appear to make their points – ones that fit my intuitions but perhaps it is merely my hopes.

    I would like to know what the many more knowledgeable people here think about their presentation; it is longish and could be smoother, but I’m thankful for their effort to reach people like me and found it absorbing.

    Posted in Elections, Human Behavior, Politics, Statistics | 47 Comments »

    Networks Calling Elections: How it Began

    Posted by David Foster on 11th November 2020 (All posts by )

    Surely the most famous case of morning-after newspaper reporting of an election was the Chicago Tribune’s Dewey Defeats Truman headline of November 3, 1948.  But the era of television was just beginning, and the tradition of televised and near-real-time election calls began with a corporate PR stunt.

    In 1952, the Eckert-Mauchly computer corporation, which had recently been acquired by Remington Rand, suggested to CBS News that their Univac computer might be used for election-night projections. Univac, the first computer to be ‘mass-produced’ (46 were eventually sold and installed) was already becoming famous.  It was an awesome machine, weighing 8 tons and incorporating 5000 vacuum tubes.  Its internal memory capacity was a then-impressive 1000 words, or about 12 KB.  Price was about $1 million, in 1952 money.

    Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson was considered the favorite to win, although the election was expected to be close.  But at 8:30 PM, with only 5% of the votes counted, Univac issued its initial prediction:  100-to-1 odds for Eisenhower, with 438 electoral votes to Stevenson’s 93.  The CBS news director thought the prediction was ridiculous, and it was not aired.

    Meanwhile, Eckert-Mauchly’s statistician (Max Woodbury) was entering data to reflect new returns as they came in….he may have also tuned the algorithm to give less-extreme results, though this is not clear.  At 9PM, Univac issued another prediction:  8-7 odds for Eisenhower…and this prediction was announced.

    But then, Woodbury  discovered that he had added an extra zero to the Stevenson numbers for New York state.  After this entry was corrected, the machine gave the same answer as before: 100-to-1 odds for Eisenhower, with 438 electoral votes to Stevenson’s 93.  I can’t determine whether or not this revised forecast was televised or not, but the final result was an Eisenhower victory, 442-89 electoral votes.

    Late at night, CBS correspondent Charles Collingwood made an embarrassing confession to millions of viewers: Univac had made an accurate prediction hours before, but CBS hadn’t aired it.

    This election-night affair certainly helped solidify the idea that Univac was the name in computers…a nice PR win, though it didn’t seem to help the company very much in the end…and made computers and algorithmic predictions a regular feature of election-night reporting.  Today, of course, such predictions are a commonplace from media of all types.  And some of these media organizations seem to have developed a rather…exalted…opinion of their role.  In a tweet sent out on election day, 2020…and soon withdrawn..the New York Times asserted that:

    The role of declaring the winner of a presidential election in the US falls to the news media.

    Such ‘declarations’, of course, have no legal standing: they are merely estimates, as much as the varying 1952 CBS estimates were, and the NYT’s tweet was an assertion of arrogance and privilege, surprising only in that it was so out in the open.

    Some links:

    https://www.vice.com/en/article/78x79z/the-election-night-debut-of-commercial-computing-almost-wasnt

    https://www.wired.com/2010/11/1104cbs-tv-univac-election/

    http://ds-wordpress.haverford.edu/bitbybit/bit-by-bit-contents/chapter-five/5-10-univac-part-ii-commercialization/

    Posted in Elections, Holidays, Media, Tech | 14 Comments »

    “THE 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IS A STORY OF LOVE VS. HATE”

    Posted by Jonathan on 6th November 2020 (All posts by )

    There is a lot of truth in this column:

    President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joseph Biden are not the stars or antagonists in this tale. Their supporters are.
     
    A blind unconditional love of their leader fuels the energy and action of Trump supporters. They risk their health (maskless rallies), reputation (accusations of racism and sexism) and safety (social media and Antifa harassment) to stand with their hero.
     
    A blind unconditional hatred of President Trump fuels the energy and action of Biden supporters. Their leader’s ideas, policies and resume are irrelevant. Biden is a tool to kill the Trump presidency. Nothing more.
     
    [. . .]
     
    A reliance on hate and an absence of love inevitably spark widespread corruption.
     
    This is my problem with The Resistance, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, the far Left and their pervasive anti-American sentiment. There’s no love. It’s all hate.
     
    Hate cannot sustain life, liberty, freedom and a pursuit of happiness.
     
    As much as President Trump’s public behavior and narcissism annoy me, I’ve never questioned his love of America.

    Worth reading in full.

    Posted in Current Events, Elections, Politics, Religion, Trump | 23 Comments »

    It Isn’t That Bad, Really

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 5th November 2020 (All posts by )

    Some unsolicited thoughts on this election. I’m not one that plays politics too much, just a guy running my business trying to do my best.

    Trump is probably going to lose is my gut at this point (but he could very well still pull this out). I’m not one that is all “bring in the feds” in most situations, but we need a federally standardized election system. This business of seeing the number, then back counting as many ballots as you need like in Michigan and Pennsylvania to fix the result is insane. Lets assume for a moment that there is exactly zero vote fraud. The current system where some states can count their ballots in five minutes and some take six days simply makes some people believe that their candidate got heisted, and they will never believe otherwise. Of course there can be fraud if this is moved federally, but I feel that if we just simply said “this is the machine, this is how you vote, if the vote isn’t here by 8pm on election day, too bad so sad”, well, how hard could this really be. I understand that these different states having different chaotic systems is a feature to some, not a bug.

    Outside of Trump maybe losing, the Republicans pretty much crushed it with everything else (making the obvious fraud above even more ridiculous). State houses were held/improved upon, the House had unexpected gains, and fancy pants Nancy is going to have her hands full with her cadre of idiots making all sorts of insane demands. The Democrats will 100% screw up whatever they do. The Senate will probably end up R, also good.

    The markets have shown over the past few days that a divided government is a good one for business.

    If anyone believes a political poll on anything, well, I don’t know what to tell them. Those businesses should all never be patronized again and should just close up shop. 100% worthless.

    Prediction: If he wins, Biden will either resign or be 25th amendmented by the midterm election. Is anyone going to really start asking him questions about foreign policy or…anything?

    Prediction 2: Republicans take the House in 2022, and will make (potentially) Harris’s life super fun if they keep the Senate.

    That’s about all I’ve got and all I have time for (see aforementioned business). OK, let me have it in the comments.

    Posted in Elections, Politics | 47 Comments »

    “Collecting Democrat votes one dead stiff at a time”

    Posted by Ginny on 31st October 2020 (All posts by )

    Yesterday at lunch a friend was circulating an e-mail her friend had taken as she’d run errands in Houston. Great video: hearse following Biden bus. Some overreaction (Can we stand four years with a humorless party in power? And how do they intend to use their power – to stop laughter and flags flying?)

    I’ve long thought that the Babylon Bee does more to keep up spirits about next Tuesday than the greatest stump speech or endorsement.

    Posted in Big Government, Elections, Humor, Texas, The Press | 9 Comments »

    The Politicization of Yelp

    Posted by Ginny on 14th October 2020 (All posts by )

    I noted recently the steps of twentieth century nations toward the abyss of totalitarianism; these were summed up in a Firing Line conversation with Richard Pipes.

    First, clear the stage for a one party state, then give omnipotent power within the state to the political police, and finally enforce that power with deadly terror and “re-education” camps.

    The last decades revealed the United States is not immune to the use of “political police” when the swamp – bureaucracy, media – is aligned with the executive, breeding a “one party state” (whether of city, state or country): governmental oppression of Tea Party and religious groups – using the great power of the IRS as well as EPA, OSHA, etc. – or arresting a hapless filmmaker after Benghazi, etc. Power changed, and the Russia hoax demonstrated swamp power alone could baffle and thwart executive and legislative power, leaving them at the mercy of institutions they theoretically led and funded.

    Then, in the petri dish of covid isolation and a presidential election summer, “woke” power grew. A friend e-mailed Yelp’s classification punishment for establishments bucking Portland’s politics. The service seemed useful if easily weighted, but some anarchists perceptively saw its potential as a map to bring the unwoke into line through violence. Clearly Rioters Trash Portland. . . But Black Owner Just Got the Last Word was the logical consequence. Of course, Yelp, as many grander and prouder institutions before it, lost credibility – but that was intended. Only the party, eventually, remains. Still, real men, real Americans, lead:

    But Jackson will have the last word. Not only are people of good will planning to eat at his restaurant as never before, but he told Fox News that the attack “solidified my Trump vote. I’m done with this weakness and we need some real strong leadership.”

    However the next paragraph is also telling; men like Jackson are fewer as the models and narratives that give us courage are destroyed as well:

    Day of Ragers also targeted the Oregon Historical Society, bashing windows and ripping out several historical items, leaving them trashed on the street.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Education, Elections, Human Behavior, Libertarianism, Political Philosophy, Politics, USA | 4 Comments »

    Worthwhile Watching

    Posted by David Foster on 14th October 2020 (All posts by )

    A thoughtful video in which a young woman (who first worked as a teacher and later as a nurse) explains her reasons for walking away from the Democratic Party. Long, but interesting.

    1.4 million views and 32,000 subscribers so far.

    Posted in Conservatism, Education, Elections, Health Care, Human Behavior, Leftism, Video | 4 Comments »

    Millions of 2020 Votes Will Be Stolen – How To Tell If Yours Is One

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

    The Democratic Party’s vote-by-mail scheme (which is NOT the same as absentee ballots) and, worse, its previous and expanded “vote-harvesting” scheme, will steal millions of votes to re-elect Trump, and for Republican candidates, in the 2020 election. This is NOT counting fraudulent votes. This is stealing Republican votes by changing them to Democratic votes. Here is how they do it, and how you can determine if your vote is stolen. If this clear signal that your vote has been stolen appears, do not walk away quietly. FIGHT BACK! How to do that is also explained.

    Absentee ballots and vote-by-mail differ in that individual voters request absentee ballots for their current address, while mail-in-ballots (or “applications” for them) are automatically sent by state voting officials to every possible voter at their last-known address, even if they are dead or have moved away. And absentee ballots must be received by Election Day, while mail-in ballots in most states allowing them can be received days or even a week after the election and, depending on the state, do not require post-marks or other evidence that they were posted by election day. Every state allows absentee ballots, while there is a wide variation on mail-in votes. Some states don’t allow them at all, some states do only for 2020 due to COVID-19, some states send “applications” for them which voters purportedly fill out and return, and some states send every possible voter a ballot to be filled out and returned.

    Vote-harvesting lets people other than the US Postal Service deliver ballots purportedly filled out by voters to polling places, even hundreds of ballots at once. Vote-harvesting as allowed in California in 2018, and now in other states such as North Carolina, has no controls whatever against fraud by the people delivering the harvested ballots. Vote-harvesting is voter fraud pure and simple. No state allowing it is a democracy any more.

    Mail-in ballots are so vulnerable to fraud that the United States seems to be the only country in the world which allows them. The most common way the Democrats commit fraud with mail-in votes is made possible by a rule or practice that the “first ballot processed” by election officials from a particular voter is deemed the only official one.

    So if a fraudulent mail-in ballot, purportedly from a registered voter, is processed by election officials before the real voter votes in person, only the fraudulent mail-in ballot is counted.

    Sometimes the real voter finds out about this in the polling place – “You’ve already voted so we won’t give you a ballot” – and, if the voter complains, is given a provisional ballot to fill out, only the provisional ballot is mostly ignored when the robbed voter leaves. Sometimes provisional ballots are counted too, but so is the fraudulent mail-in one, so the real voter’s ballot is at best cancelled out. Here is an example of how that works in progress from the email of a Colorado friend who alerted one of my e-mail lists to this practice.

    Hey, I know this. I watched polls. Let me tell you, by the way, that year – 2012 – 1/3 of the people in my precinct in Colorado Springs ran into that. Our counterparts in Denver said 2/3 did.
     
    Which means that I guess dementia is rampant in Colorado. Coff. Because there’s no voter fraud, right.  That was, btw, the election in which the left eeked enough of a majority to then go full time vote by fraud. I mean mail.
     
    What happened – I’ve had people tell me no, that’s not what happens, but hell I was there, and I know how it was explained – is that these people got to fill a “provisional vote”. Later, the records would be examined, and if it was shown they really hadn’t voted before those votes would be counted.
     
    In other words, people are fobbed off. Even should their votes be counted – as some people insist they are – then they would count for ½ because there’s no way to retrieve votes already cast.
     
    This is why I say the left has been winning by fraud for several cycles already and the only reason Trump won is that they were so sure it would be a Hillary landslide they failed to manufacture enough votes.”

    Mail-in vote fraud occurs when the perpetrators obtain mail-in ballots, before they are sent to voters, from election officials who are part of the fraudulent vote conspiracy, or when for the same election officials simply give the perpetrators all the information needed to print their own fraudulent mail-in ballots and return envelopes, fill those out and mail them to the election postal box numbers/addresses. It is also possible for fraudsters to obtain the necessary information about voters online, but that requires far, far more work than if election officials give it to them.

    However fraud with mail-in votes is done, it is so easy to do that no other nation seems to allow mail-in votes at all, let alone the way it is being done in America.

    Note also that it is easier, and therefore more likely, for mail-in vote fraud to be targeted at all voters than just Republicans and independent voters. A lot of Democratic voters who choose to vote in person on Election Day may have polling place workers refuse to give them ballots because they have allegedly already voted by mail.

    The simplest and best way to keep your vote from being stolen in this way is to have your vote be designated the first received from you. This requires that you vote as early as possible, preferably in person so there is no question about your identity, and so the US Postal Service doesn’t delay or lose your mailed ballot (which was a major problem earlier this year, and seems to be happening now). Don’t wait for Election Day – vote as early as possible. As an example, October 5 (Monday) is the earliest people can vote in person in California. Do so in your state.

    If you do wait until election day to vote in person, a sure tip-off that your vote has been stolen will be a polling place worker refusing to give you a ballot because you allegedly have already voted. Don’t just walk away. Insist that you haven’t voted and demand that you be given a ballot. Don’t let them fob you off with a “Provisional” ballot. Insist on a real one. Make a screaming stink about it, and insist on speaking to a Republican poll watcher who will hopefully follow up on your problem, and add you to a list of names of people who have been denied ballots.

    But it would be better if you also volunteer as a Republican poll watcher at a polling place on election day so you can protect other voters from having their votes stolen. They’ll be easy to spot – a polling place worker will refuse to give a ballot to a prospective voter. Your county Republican Party will love to have more volunteer poll watchers, and they’ll give you a little training on, including on what to do when voters are denied ballots. The Trump re-election campaign and Republican Party are prepared for massive nationwide Democratic voter fraud, and need help documenting it as it happens.

    Do something about it yourself. Vote Early! Become a poll watcher!

    But the problem will remain. This is the first national election involving massive nation-wide vote fraud by a major party. That means a nation-wide political conspiracy, and my Colorado friend’s experience indicates it has been building for years. How can America remain a democracy when a large portion of the country rejects the core American, and democratic, value of free and fair elections?

    Posted in America 3.0, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Culture, Current Events, Elections, Politics | 69 Comments »

    Another Point About Vote-by-Mail

    Posted by David Foster on 16th August 2020 (All posts by )

    There has been much discussion about the dangers of fraud, lost ballots, extreme delays, etc, which could be associated with a large-scale vote-by-mail policy.  There is another danger in vote-by-mail which I haven’t seen much discussed, and that’s the danger of voter intimidation.

    If someone is voting at home, then it’s not really always a secret ballot. Someone: an aggressive spouse, a ‘helpful’ minister or activist or neighbor…may exercise a subtle or not-so-subtle pressure. Particularly when one candidate (Trump) is considered socially unacceptable in many circles, I don’t think this is a trivial danger.

    In the election held in Germany after Hitler was already in power, closed voting booths were retained, but a large sign in front of them stated: “All patriotic Germans are proud to show how they vote.” There were people there to observe who went into the voting booth and who did not.  So almost everyone voted at a table in the open…and guess how almost all of them voted?

    Posted in Elections, Germany, Trump, USA | 39 Comments »

    Saving American Democracy for the Zombie Apocalypse

    Posted by Kevin Villani on 8th August 2020 (All posts by )

    Within weeks of the 2016 presidential election, the New York Times launched the campaign against President Elect Donald Trump as a racist autocratic Threat to Democracy, followed by the main stream media. Democratic candidate Joe Biden presented a ho hum globalist foreign policy as redressing President Trump’s threat to foreign democracies, conflated with his anti-capitalist domestic policy.

    What does “Democracy” Mean to the Democratic Party?

    European populations attracted to communism after the devastation of WW II were encouraged, sometimes with the subtle help of America’s CIA, to choose “social democracy,” i.e., a democratically elected central government that provided a welfare state financed by a market economy, over Soviet communism. America adopted social democracy in the 1960’s not out of desperation but capitalist material abundance.

    Today after almost six decades of Great Society welfare over three quarters of all democrats are now “democratic socialists, i.e., they prefer socialism to market capitalism. The young party leaders demand “racial and social justice,” a political Jacobin revolution. Democratic officials have actively supported the demonstrators and rioters in the streets celebrating the Meltdown of Capitalism orchestrated by the Marxist Black Lives Matter and ANTIFA groups demanding a majoritarian “peoples’ democracy” like that of prior communist totalitarian regimes.

    How Progressive Democrats Became Zombies

    Since the takeover of Cornell University and others at gunpoint, most universities implemented black studied programs that indoctrinated the Charlottesville premise that America was born to slavery and American racist oppression never ended, causing the current income and wealth gap with whites. Thomas Sowell, one of the greatest economists of the past 60 years, who is black and was present at Cornell at the time, has a lifetime of scholarship exposing the fallacy of this premise.

    The “Cold War” against Soviet communism lasted from 1945 to 1990. The Communist Party was outlawed in the United States in 1954 with progressive political support out of fear that voters could be too easily seduced by the meretricious promises of socialism – where income equality is achieved by impoverishing all but its leaders – without understanding the inherent totalitarianism that led to communist atrocities under Stalin and Mao, murders and deaths measured in the tens and hundreds of millions. The claim by democratic socialists of western democratic countries with a socialist economy, e.g., Sweden, is a myth. 

    A century of progressive mis-education explains the zombies’ attack on capitalism. Primary education peddles soft socialism while universities are populated by “effete intellectual snobs,” the label given by VP Spiro Agnew to “national masochists” i.e., intellectuals who would bring national ruin, written a half century ago by the New York Times writer William Safire. American historians have generally been biased against market capitalism. The term “Robber Baron, first used by the New York Times in 1859 to describe Cornelius Vanderbilt, was popularized during the Depression by a disciple of socialist/progressive writer Charles Beard. America’s dark history has been made hopeless to many millenials through the lens of socialist sympathizer Howard Zinn and racist through the lens of the New York Times 2019 revisionist 1619 Project, with the Democratic Party re-writing its’ own racist past. Economists have been the most easily seduced by the attraction of state power, finding “market failures” at both the macro and micro level to justify their intervention. The Austrian economists Schumpeter and Hayek recognized socialism’s masochistic appeal to “intellectuals” who felt that they could run the world better than those chosen to do so.

    After the Zombie Apocalypse: the Pigs Rule

    Accusations of autocratic behavior by Trump are mostly in response to micro-aggressions of politically incorrect tweets and comments. Coups that overthrow representative democracy from the right generally start with the armed military taking over the media, the bureaucracy, the universities, the unions and all the other sources of political power. The idea that President Donald Trump could direct any of those sources of political power is ridiculous: the deep state has been trying to take him down since he took office. (If the accusations against his AG had any merit, the Democrats would have conducted a real hearing instead of a five hour show trial – a bit long by Stalin’s standards).

    Democrats on the other hand are the Party of the deep state. It has been cultivating those sources of political power for a century, and now controls them with the “carrot and stick” method that was so successful for Mexico’s one party PRI for almost a century, suppressing free speech. It’s only a small additional step from social democrat to one-party democratic socialism.

    Winning this election (fairly or not) provides the Democratic Party the opportunity for one party rule if their agenda faces any serious opposition. They have already discussed many tools at their disposal, e.g., eliminating the Electoral College, further lowering the voting age to 16, packing the Supreme Court (again), mail in ballots, etc. But Barack Obama’s demand at John Lewis’s recent funeral to end the filibuster and announce four new (almost assuredly democratic) senators from the new states of Puerto Rico and the District of “Columbia” (to be renamed of course) in the name of racial and social justice would likely be more than sufficient, maybe even just the threat.

    What Good is the U.S. Constitution?

    The founding fathers didn’t anticipate political parties, so it isn’t an obstacle to one-party rule. Franklin’s Republic of limited powers was replaced by an all-powerful administrative state rather like Hemingway’s character went bankrupt: “gradually, then suddenly.”

    The first necessary condition was to amend the constitution. The end of the Civil War enabled the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments extending voting rights to blacks. The 16th Amendments in 1909 enabling a federal income tax and the creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1912 provided the funding for President Woodrow Wilson’s entry into the European war and “make the world safe for democracy” the rationale. The direct election of Senators in the 17th Amendment of 1912 limited potential state opposition. All these changes shifted power to the federal government.

    Second, the specific enumerated powers of the Constitution have been mooted through Supreme Court political nominations, legal manipulation and intimidation producing “creative” decisions subsequently protected by a convenient legal doctrine of stare desisis, i.e., protection of past progressive Court victories that enable meretricious populist promises. Supreme Court resistance to the New Deal withered in the wake of FDR’s failed attempt to pack the Supreme Court. The subsequent Great Society of the 1960’s, also designed by socialists and implemented by FDR’s protégé President LBJ, substituted federal government funding and decision making not only for states and localities, but for most of civic society and eventually the family.

    Four quotes from H.L. Menken of about a century ago sum it up:

    1. Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.
    2. Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses.
    3. Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.
    4. Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

    Kevin Villani

    —-

    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 how politicians and bureaucrats with no skin in the game caused the sub-prime lending bubble and systemic financial system failure.

    Posted in Elections, History, Political Philosophy, Politics | 25 Comments »

    Consulting My Magic 8-Ball

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 3rd August 2020 (All posts by )

    So, last week the Daughter Unit asked me when the new civil war would kick into high gear. Note she said ‘when’ not ‘if’ – for we’ve been in a cold civil war for some time now. I’d say this cold civil war became manifest with upsurge of Tea Party demonstrations in 2009, and has rumbled along all through the Obama administration, building up reservoirs of bitter anger and resentment ever since. My personal SWAG is that things will get interesting (and even more interesting for certain values of interesting) late in the evening of November 3, 2020, when the polls close and the first election results are reported.

    And no, it won’t make a particle of difference who wins; Trump or Biden, or whoever has replaced Biden as the Great Dem Party Hope. My sidebar prediction is that the higher echelons of the Democrat Party will realize, probably shortly following the party caucus to be held sometime this month, that Joe Biden has finally and definitively lost track of his single remaining marble, and that there is no possible and convincing way that he can be propped up as a viable candidate. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Elections, Leftism, Media, Politics, Predictions, Tea Party | 81 Comments »

    Is the Biden Economic Plan on the Right Track?

    Posted by Kevin Villani on 31st July 2020 (All posts by )

    It promises to improve economic well-being relative to current economic policy for average and particularly less well-off citizens now and in the future, and to do the same for citizens of other countries including all immigrants. Can it deliver?

    The Mock Democratic Platform was released in February, the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force a few weeks ago, and the draft 2020 Platform a few days ago. The economic plan is the most ambitious progressive anti-capitalist agenda at least since FDR’s New Deal and arguably in American history. It consistently proposes numerous government carrots and sticks to achieve its economic objectives, doubling down on the New Deal and Great Society methods.

    Causes and Consequences of Reducing Capital and Labor Productivity

    Potential national wealth is limited only by the amount of capital (national savings) and the incentive to maximize the productivity of capital (e.g., with new technology) and labor (through appropriate education and training). Politics often distorts individual incentives for the worse.

    Politically Re-directed Investment

    The US national savings rate hovered around 3% after turning negative in 2007-2009 and again now. The Biden economic plan for politically re-directing resources to, e.g., conservation, clean energy, transportation, manufacturing, infrastructure, affordable housing, etc. by subsidizing public and taxing private investment more has some merit. However, it may have problematic economic returns and the total cost is many multiples of total national savings.

    Education and School Choice

    Biden would limit the competition with public schools by restricting higher performing charter schools. Higher education would be made either affordable or free with reduced entrance requirements to compensate for a poor primary education, but higher education only contributes to individual and national wealth to the extent it improves productivity, e.g., with more STEM graduates.

    Labor Market Intervention

    By traditional measures, the country was fully employed prior to the Covid-19 epidemic, but the Biden plan calls for the “creation” of multiple millions of new high paying jobs, both in the nominally still private sector and the public sector. Pay would be raised by eliminating the right to work without being forced to join a union, something private sector unions have demanded since the passage of the Taft Hartley Act of 1947. But Biden plans to go beyond that, forcing all states to unionize public employees as well. For those that fall out of this broad union net, the federal minimum wage would start at $15/hour, superseding state laws. These are the tools that progressives historically used to keep blacks, other minorities and recent immigrants out of the labor force, and is is difficult to see how they would do otherwise this time around.

    Trade Protection

    As these politically inflated domestic labor costs will again be uncompetitive internationally the Biden plan opposes any trade deals, calling for manufactured goods to be sourced and stamped “made in America.” Consumer prices would have to rise commensurate with labor costs.

    Immigration

    Borders would be relatively open and immigrants incentivized to come both by the decline in export-related jobs and the benefits of the U.S. social welfare state. But they would be excluded from the formal job market by the union and minimum wage requirements once inside the U.S. border.

    Taxation, Debt and Money Printing: The Limits of Expropriation

    All senior mob leaders know two things well: 1. There is only so much extortion money to go around (gangster killings are usually over excessive greed), and 2, There are limits to how much you can extort without killing a business. At their peak in the 1980s the New York Mafia “owned” the labor unions that extorted from business, enabled by a symbiotic relationship of both with the Democratic Party. Sooner or later taxpayers and consumers always pay.

    Debt and Taxes

    State and local governments are in dire straits and blue states are technically insolvent, demanding a bailout. Federal funding has morphed the states into Soviet era oblasts with the federal government the funding source of first resort.

    Current federal debt is $27 trillion, exceeding that of WW II as a percent of the economy, with over $200 trillion in additional contingent liabilities.. The current federal deficit for this fiscal year is over $3 trillion, to which the Democrat-proposed Heroes Act would add an additional $3 trillion. Candidate Biden has offered tiny constituent groups, e.g., caregivers, almost $1 trillion, large constituent groups such as the environmentalists’ Green New Deal could cost upwards of $100 trillion, with lots of constituent promises falling in between.

    The Biden plan calls for reversing the Trump corporate tax cut that stimulated investment and exports. Taxing the “rich” will raise some revenue in the short run but reduce investment and growth in the longer run. Middle class taxes will follow, although he is committed to restoring the (blue) state and local income tax deduction for the relatively wealthy.

    The Federal Reserve and Modern Monetary Theory

    Having gone past the limit, a gangster may turn to counterfeiting as a last resort. The Federal Reserve is already “printing” enough money to be the primary buyer of Treasury debt and at the current pace would own it all in two years. Under the Modern Monetary Theory espoused by the Sanders campaign and now implicitly incorporated into the Biden economic plan, debts and deficits don’t matter so long as the Fed can print money to purchase them. The Biden plan adds “racial equity” to the Fed’s full employment and price stability goals to reduce differences in wages and unemployment.

    Biden’s Plan is an Extortion Racket on the Left-Behind Track

    Across time and space the evidence supports competitive market capitalism as the source of virtually all human economic progress. The Biden economic plan is essentially an extortion racket that fails to recognize its inherent limits, doubling down on the bad policies of the current Administration while eliminating the good, apparently because the Party’s octogenarian leaders either never learned the limits or have lost control to the young radical left. This plan so far exceeds the limits that even partial success could easily lead to hyper-inflation.

    There is a sense that America can always turns things around if it gets derailed but the progressive perspective dominates America’s intellectual elite and media. Argentina was once on the capitalist fast track parallel to the U.S., but progressive President Juan Peron switched tracks in 1946, and Argentina has been left behind ever since.

    Kevin Villani

    —-

    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 how politicians and bureaucrats with no skin in the game caused the sub-prime lending bubble and systemic financial system failure.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Elections, Politics | 34 Comments »

    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 »

    Sell Your Soul or Lose Your Livelihood (updated)

    Posted by David Foster on 18th June 2020 (All posts by )

    Every day, people are losing their jobs because of political opinions or assertions about reality which are considered unacceptable. David Shor, a political data analyst, lost his job after tweeting a summary of research indicating that nonviolent protest tactics tend to be more effective than violent tactics. At the Poetry Foundation, both the president and the chairman resigned after being heavily attacked because their statement on the current situation…which said that the members “stand in solidarity with the Black community, and denounce injustice and systemic racism”…was vague and lacked any commitment to concrete action. An Illinois high school principal finds her job under attack after advising students that, if they protest, they should refrain from violence and looting. The list could be expanded indefinitely and includes people in all industries and at all levels.

    This isn’t new. For the last two decades, the ‘progressive’ left has loudly insisted that dissenting voices (dissenting from the Prog worldview, that is) must be suppressed. But the trend has accelerated sharply.

    I am reminded, as I often am, of the memoirs of Sebastian Haffner, who grew up in Germany between the wars. One very affecting section of the book describes what happened to Haffner’s father–a civil servant under both Weimar and the Kaiser–following the Nazi takeover. The elder Haffner, long-since retired, had considerable accomplishments to his credit: There had been great pieces of legislation in his administrative area, on which he had worked closely. They were important, daring, thoughtful, intellectual achievements, the fruits of decades of experience and years of intense, meticulous analysis and dedicated refinement”–and it was extremely painful to him to see this work ruthlessly trashed by the new government. But worse was to come.

    One day Mr. Haffner received an official letter. It required him to list all of the political parties, organizations, and associations to which he had ever belonged in his life and to sign a declaration that he ‘stood behind the government of national uprising without reservations.’ Failure to sign would mean the loss of his pension, which he had earned through 45 years of devoted service.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Elections, Germany, History, Media, USA | 20 Comments »

    Protest or Insurrection?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 8th June 2020 (All posts by )

    The protests that quickly morphed into rioting and mass looting began with an arrest of a career felon for trying to pass a counterfeit bill. He had been convicted of felony home invasion and robbery in Texas and served 5 years in prison. According to several unreliable sites, he was”turning his life around” and was involved with a church. That argument is somewhat diminished by the fact that he had Methamphetamine and Fentanyl in toxic levels at autopsy. The reaction in Minneapolis was extreme and horrific.

    Some of the destruction can be seen here the next day.

    It got worse, much worse.

    The spineless leftist Mayor is now seeking $55 million form somebody to repair damage he might have prevented.

    Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey will seek state and federal aid to rebuild city structures following over a week of looting and rioting, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Friday.

    Some 220 buildings have been damaged and require at least $55 million in repairs, the city’s Community Planning & Economic Development department said earlier this week, noting that the city was “not yet ready to produce a credible estimate.” City Council members warned that the costs will likely be far higher, while Mayor Frey said damages could reach into the “hundreds of millions.”

    Typically, he tried to seek approval from black rioters and was expelled from the meeting.

    He was elected on a platform of fighting “global warming.”

    A pretty good explanation of what is behind all this.

    For white liberals, a black identity shaped by rage is not only to be condoned, but celebrated. All politics is identity politics to liberals, because the whole object of their existence is to invent one’s identity according to therapeutic needs. That is why the progressive movement took up the cause of transgender rights with such passion: To change one’s gender is the ultimate expression of self-invention in defiance of nature and tradition.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Elections | 25 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 »

    At What Point…

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 7th April 2020 (All posts by )

    I have small businesses in two counties here in flyover country. In one county the death rate from covid is .0000035 – thirty five ten thousandths of one percent. In the other, *much harder hit*, .000020 – twenty thousandths of one percent. And this is taking the death tallies at face value, as if the people died FROM covid, vs. they died WITH covid.

    In Illinois, Gov. Pritzker is talking about curfew, temp taking, and a number of other ridiculous lock-downy things.

    Eventually, they have to let everyone get back to work, or there won’t be any “work” left.

    I’m wondering at what point will the citizenry call “bs” on this and just do whatever they want.

    Sure, there are hot spots and sure, there are problems, but if we didn’t know about covid in these places mentioned above there would be no panic whatsoever as these aren’t even rounding errors. And the economy is trashed? It’s far more dangerous to drive your car to the store than, well, going inside the store.

    To make it all worse, I can’t have a birthday party for my daughter, but it’s ok for the State of Wisconsin to have an election, and for the mayor of Chicago to go get her hair done.

    Posted in COVID-19, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Elections, Illinois Politics | 29 Comments »

    Wages, Employment, and Productivity

    Posted by David Foster on 21st February 2020 (All posts by )

    I think President Trump is quite sincere about his oft-stated desire to drive up the wages of low-income workers…especially young and non-college workers…and he does seem to be having some success at this quest.  It has struck me for a while that while this is a very good thing from the standpoint of the overall society, it is also likely to pressure business profit margins, with possible consequences for the stock market as well as for Fed policy.

    Yesterday the WSJ noted that “wages for 20- to 24-year olds are increasing twice as fast as for other workers…Overall job satisfaction in 2018 was the highest since 1994.”  At the same time, “90% of blue-collar businesses report operating with unfilled positions, and 29% say this has made them reduce output or turn down business.  Rising wages together with sluggish productivity growth are crimping corporate profits.  Between the fourth quarter of 2014 and the second quarter of 2019, profits for nonfinancial corporations  declined 17% and 46% for manufacturers.   The article quotes the Conference Board:  “The US will not be able to maintain its current standard of living unless the US government acts to significantly increase immigration, improve labor force participation, and, together with employees, raise labor productivity growth.”  To which the WSJ writer adds:  “Maybe the only short-term fix is to increase legal immigration–unless Americans want to see their living standards decline and more jobs exported.”

    Higher wages do of course drive productivity improvement…the US has been a pioneer in the mechanization of work in large part because it has been a high-wage country, and that mechanization has helped to enable further wage increases.  This doesn’t always require any new inventions:  there are always productivity tools available that will make sense to a business that is paying $25/hour for labor but would not make sense to one paying $15/hour.  The process isn’t instantaneous, though.

    Concerning immigration as a solution to labor shortages: commentators sometimes lose sight of the fact that GDP per capita matters for broad-based prosperity, not just absolute GDP.  And the only way to increase GDP per capita is through productivity improvements and higher labor force participation rates.  Increasing the raw number of workers doesn’t do this.

    The Conference Board statement appears to put a lot of emphasis on things that the government should do, and the WSJ emphasizes more (legal) immigration.  Some increases in legal immigration may well be a good idea…as would increases in American fertility rates…but the main issues, I think, are productivity and the labor force participation rate.  The actual productivity numbers don’t reflect all the talk about (and even the realities of) robotics and AI.  Maybe this is largely just a matter of implementation lags, maybe it reflects increasing bureaucratization and ‘compliance’ costs throughout our economy.

    My concern is that margin pressure may lead (in conjunction with other factors, like already-high valuations) to a sharp stock-market decline, which could have electoral implications.  Such decline might also lead to many deferrals of productivity-improving investments.  Alternatively, Fed concerns about rising wage rates as a possible signal of incipient inflation could lead the central bank to increase interest rates excessively as a preventative.

    And any electoral result which substantially increases Democratic party power could lead to massive upsurges in legal and illegal immigration, with consequent wage pressures, demoralizing many workers who are now on an positive track and deferring the need for productivity investments.  Any attempt to deal with such wage pressures by establishing high Federal-level minimum wages would add much rigidity to the systems, creating problems of many kinds.

    Discuss, if you feel so inclined.

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, Elections, Tech, Trump, USA | 21 Comments »

    Meme Wars

    Posted by David Foster on 13th February 2020 (All posts by )

    Michael Bloomberg is apparently spending a bunch of money on the development and deployment of memes.

    A meme could, potentially, neatly encapsulate and summarize a real, meaningful argument.  Or it could have the appearance of offering a conclusive argument when no such argument has actually been made.  Or it could be so ridiculous that it has no effect–or an opposite effect from that intended–on its target audience.

    William “Boss” Tweed was very upset by the cartoon of Thomas Nast, because, as he famously said:  “I don’t care a straw for your newspaper articles; my constituents don’t know how to read, but they can’t help seeing them damned pictures.”  Perhaps in our own era, there are plenty of people who do know how to read–who may well be college graduates–but whose attention spans are so limited, and who have so little exposure to logical discussion, that memes are the most effective way to reach them.

    Discussion question:  What memes have you seen that (a) effectively make a valid argument, (b) look like they are making an effective argument, but are actually doing no such thing, or (c) are so silly that they could convince basically nobody at all?

    Posted in Advertising, Elections, Media, USA | 27 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.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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

    Presidential Ad Placement in Wisconsin

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 15th January 2020 (All posts by )

    I sort of wish Wisconsin wasn’t in play in the presidential election, but here we are. I work very hard and do enjoy my evenings at peace with Wheel of Fortune, and perhaps a sporting event on TV. Sadly, my peace at home has been trifled with for the past several months, and I fear it will be a nonstop blitz until November.

    As of now, we are getting crushed with a massive ad buy from Bloomberg. And that’s it. Bloomberg is everywhere. And no other candidates (including Trump) on the media I consume, at least. Upon questioning the spousal unit, who watches things on TV that are apparently called “shows”, of which I have never heard of, she reports that it is all Bloomberg all the time too. She also inquired as to who this guy is and I simply told her “nobody you need to be concerned with”.

    As of several months ago we had ads from some different candidates. I remember ads from Robert Francis O Rourke and a few others but none of the buys have been as massive as this salvo from Bloomberg.

    That’s all I got for now. More to come as the campaign develops.

    Posted in Elections, Politics | 20 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

    —-

    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 »

    Shovel That Code

    Posted by David Foster on 11th January 2020 (All posts by )

    …into that server!

    Joe Biden gave coal miners facing possible unemployment some advice:  learn to code.

    In reality, of course, programming/coding is a skill that can exist on multiple levels.  Someone writing a simple spreadsheet model for some kind of repetitive tracking problem is working at a different level from someone writing a well-defined module within a large system for a bank, who is in turn working at a different level from someone writing interrupt-level hardware drivers for an operating system, or for someone creating the idea and user interface, as well as the code, for a new consumer-facing product.  Some of these tasks will usually pay less than what a skilled coal miner is paid, some of them will pay considerably more.

    And also, programming is not an infinite reservoir of job demand. Much work that previously required considerable high-skill programming has now been largely automated by software tools and/or by complete application systems, and considerable programming work is being offshored–see my post telemigration.

    Biden also asserted that:  “Anybody who can throw coal into a furnace can learn how to program, for God’s sake!”

    Ignoring the inherent ridiculousness of this claim as a factual assertion…does Biden actually think that manual stoking of coal furnaces is a thing in today’s economy?  Does the Bureau of Labor Statistics show a large count of people employed as stokers?

    In reality, the mechanical stoker was invented well over a century ago.  They were common in high-horsepower steam locomotives by 1900, and were and are used in coal-fired power plants.  I doubt if there was much manual stoking going on by 1940, except on steamships…and coal as a fuel for ships was rapidly on its way out by that point, as it was being displaced by oil

    Plus, Biden was talking about coal miners.  Does he think that there are coal-fired furnaces in coal mines?  If there were, you would likely get a massive explosion from igniting of any gas in the mine.

    Biden clearly understands as little about the software industry as he does about the energy industry.

    This is the man who says he was Obama’s point man on a “jobs of the future” initiative.

    Can you imagine what these people would do to the economy if they ever achieved the degree of power that they so avidly seek?

     

     

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, Elections, Energy & Power Generation, Tech | 24 Comments »

    Interesting

    Posted by David Foster on 10th December 2019 (All posts by )

    An artist named Jayne Riew observed that “In the days after the election, people around me struggled to make sense of what had happened. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the female vote. Among women who cast ballots, 42% were with him, not with her. Most of the women and mothers I knew were shocked or angry that other women and mothers could choose Trump over Clinton.”  The common assumption was that Trump voters must be “people who haven’t seen the world,” “resentful of our success,” “unskilled and no-tech,” “old and behind the times,” “white people who are afraid,” etc etc.

    She notes that “to reach 42%, Trump had to have drawn in women who didn’t fit the stereotype,”  and set out to do some actual research.  The resulting website, She’s With Him, is a photo essay based on interviews with 7 female Trump voters.  Worth taking a look.

    Riew’s own website is here.

    Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Elections, Politics, Trump, USA | 19 Comments »