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  • Archive for December, 2015

    It’s All About Control

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 18th December 2015 (All posts by )

    The Manhattan Contrarian writes on Consensus Science And Orthodoxy Enforcement

    This is an old problem with the left, where everything – and I mean everything – is politicized and put into service to the Agenda of The Party. For those on the ground, they are almost unaware that there are serious alternatives to The Party Line. Every question or criticism is dismissed out of hand as propaganda from entrenched interests or misinformation or so obviously and laughably wrong only an idiot could believe it because everybody knows that’s not true! For those in the middle of The Party hierarchy, there are big payoffs to being a loyal Party Apparatchik. Marcia McNutt is advancing nicely along that road. She will be well rewarded for her willingness to crush all dissent while presenting her smiling and attractive to face to the public. For those at the top, the only purpose of anything is to advance the power and control of The Party with themselves at the helm. And everything can be sacrificed to that end. And will be.

    Posted in Academia, Environment, Medicine | 9 Comments »

    About That Omnibus Spending Bill…

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 18th December 2015 (All posts by )

    I guess we’ll need to keep replacing R’s and D’s with Tea Partiers until there’s too few of The Beholden to do this any longer. It’s gonna be a long fight.

    And after passing that bill yesterday, I received this email today:

    PaulRyanEmail

    It included a link to this video:

    The email also links to Speaker Ryan’s website, where the email and video are posted, and where the comments appear uniformly negative. There exists the very same disconnect and denial of reality between what’s written at the top of this email, and the Omnibus Bill, as can be found in any speech by Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

    It is a new day in the people’s House. ~Paul Ryan

    Posted in Miscellaneous, Politics, Tea Party | 23 Comments »

    Yes, Santa Claus is Real…

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 17th December 2015 (All posts by )

    … And in fact, he is a winter Texan, spending the cold months of the year in the Snowbird Nesting sites in the Rio Grande Valley.
    Breakfasting Santa

    He was eating breakfast at the table next to us at the Marriott Residence Inn, in Brownsville on Wednesday morning, and kindly allowed us to take a picture to prove it.

    Posted in Blogging, Diversions, Holidays, Humor, Photos | 13 Comments »

    USAF Band – Museum ‘Flash Mobs’

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 16th December 2015 (All posts by )

    Posted in Holidays, Music, Video | 14 Comments »

    Trouble in Worker’s Paradise – South American Edition

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 15th December 2015 (All posts by )

    Nicolas Maduro threatened Venezuelans before the recent elections. Asked how he would respond to an opposition victory in Parliament, he responded,

    “Venezuela would go through the most shady and poignant times of its political history, and we would defend the revolution, we wouldn’t surrender and the revolution would move into a new stage. Whoever has ears to hear, let them understand. Whoever has eyes to see, let them see the history clearly. The revolution will never surrender.”

    “You should start praying, oligarch from the right, because the revolution will win on Dec 6th. Start Praying from now. For peace and tranquility, so you have no responsibility. And if not, we will take to the streets, and in the streets we are very dangerous, ok? It’s better if we stay here governing for the people. Everybody happy.”

    The first thing that strikes me about all this is how much his rhetoric, albeit a little more plainly stated, resembles the rhetoric and riots of the American left. Give us what we want or there will be violence.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Liberties, Economics & Finance, Elections | 11 Comments »

    Hedging ETFs and Foreign Currency Impact

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 14th December 2015 (All posts by )

    I wrote an article at Trust Funds for Kids about using hedged vs. unhedged ETFs for investing. If you are interested it is below the fold. The impact of currencies on investing is very large and linked closely with interest rate and Central bank activities.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Investment Journal, Markets and Trading | 6 Comments »

    “How fracking has helped the US lead on climate”

    Posted by Jonathan on 14th December 2015 (All posts by )

    Unexpectedly:

    Without adopting stringent policies such as the Kyoto treaty or cap-and-trade, the United States, the largest economy in the world, has the distinction of being the only country in the world to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why, in his address to world leaders at COP21, President Obama was able to tout that the “advances we’ve made have helped drive our economic output to all-time highs, and drive our carbon pollution to its lowest levels in nearly two decades.”

    The free market, that Obama and his minions are working to destroy, again bails him out politically.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Environment, Obama | 18 Comments »

    “Deja Vu: The Fed’s Real ‘Policy Error’ Was To Encourage Years of Speculation”

    Posted by Jonathan on 14th December 2015 (All posts by )

    Nowadays, when I find myself feeling too good about things I read fund manager John Hussman’s weekly column and it brings me back to Earth. He may be off on the timing but it’s difficult to dispute his main argument that we’re in the late stages of a massive speculative bubble fueled by easy credit and other unwise govt policies.

    There’s fraying at the edges in junk bonds and much nervous volatility in stocks, where successive sectors have inflated and then deflated since early 2015. Everyone knows we are due for a market debacle but no one knows when. It could happen in two days or two years. Meanwhile everyone stays invested because what else can you do with your money (answer: keep it in cash, but that’s hard to do until it’s too late) and maybe you can make some profits before the bottom falls out…

    From his latest missive:

    Over the past several years, yield-seeking investors, starved for any “pickup” in yield over Treasury securities, have piled into the junk debt and leveraged loan markets. Just as equity valuations have been driven to the second most extreme point in history (and the single most extreme point in history for the median stock, where valuations are well-beyond 2000 levels), risk premiums on speculative debt were compressed to razor-thin levels. By 2014, the spread between junk bond yields and Treasury yields had fallen to less than 2.4%. Since then, years of expected “risk-premiums” have been erased by capital losses, and defaults haven’t even spiked yet (they do so with a lag).
     
    From an economic standpoint, the unfortunate fact is that the proceeds from aggressive issuance of junk debt and leveraged loans in the past few years were channeled into speculation. Excess capacity in energy production was expanded at the cyclical peak in oil prices, and heavy stock buybacks were executed at obscene equity valuations. The end result will be unintended wealth transfers and deadweight losses for the economy. Since the late-1990’s, the Federal Reserve has actively encouraged the channeling of trillions of dollars of savings into speculation. Recurring cycles of malinvestment and crisis have progressively weakened the resilience and long-term growth prospects of the U.S. economy.
     
    [. . .]
     
    Our outlook remains decidedly negative at present. I’ll emphasize again that market internals are the hinge that distinguishes a valuation bubble that expands from one that collapses, so an improvement in market internals would reduce the immediacy of our downside concerns, and would also tend to reduce our concerns about oncoming recession. In the absence of clear improvement in market internals – and last week was categorically opposite to that – I view the stock market as being in the late-phase of an extremely overvalued top formation that will likely be followed by profound losses over the completion of this market cycle, and the U.S. economy as being on the cusp of a new recession.

    Interesting times ahead.

    Posted in Current Events, Economics & Finance, Human Behavior, Markets and Trading | 12 Comments »

    This is How We Lose

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 12th December 2015 (All posts by )

    Stand and defend the line. Stop retreating.

    Posted in International Affairs, Islam, Morality and Philosphy, Terrorism, War and Peace | 33 Comments »

    7/8

    Posted by Jonathan on 12th December 2015 (All posts by )

    Hanukkah Candles

    Posted in Holidays, Judaism | Comments Off on 7/8

    Is Islam a Religion ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 12th December 2015 (All posts by )

    As usual, Richard Fernandez gets to the heart of the matter with the least number of detours.

    The important thing to remember about rebellions, even small ones, is that everyone who thinks they can control the forces unleashed — can’t. That goes for Obama and that goes for Trump. A friend who was a veteran of the Anbar Surge wrote that democracy was scary and to calm himself down he repeated to himself Winston Churchill’s soothing words: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

    Yes, I think we are on the threshold of a revolution. Whether it is a Revolution, with a capital R, is yet to be seen.

    Fernandez begins with the incident of Gessler’s Hat.

    in 1307 Gessler raised a pole in the market square of Altdorf, placed his hat atop it, and ordered all the townsfolk to bow before it. Tell, whose marksmanship and pride were legendary, publicly refused. Gessler’s cruel wrath was tempered by his curiosity to test Tell’s skill, so he gave Tell the option of either being executed or shooting an apple off his son’s head in one try. Tell succeeded in splitting the apple with his arrow, saving his own life. When Gessler asked why he had readied two arrows, he lied and replied that it was out of habit. After being assured that he wouldn’t be killed, Tell finally admitted that the second was intended for the tyrant if his son was harmed.

    Yes, it is best not to put all your cards on the table until they are needed.

    Gessler, enraged, had Tell arrested and taken by boat across Lake Lucerne to Küssnacht to spend the life he had saved in a dungeon. A sudden fierce storm made the crew terrified, and since William Tell was a better sailor, they handed the wheel to him. But instead of heading towards the dungeon, he escaped to shore. There he ambushed and killed Gessler with an arrow, launching the young Confederacy’s rebellion against Austrian rule.

    The result was freedom that still endures. What does this tell us ? Not much but Andrew McCarthy has some ideas.

    Donald Trump’s rhetorical excesses aside, he has a way of pushing us into important debates, particularly on immigration. He has done it again with his bracing proposal to force “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” I have no idea what Mr. Trump knows about either immigration law or Islam. But it should be obvious to any objective person that Muslim immigration to the West is a vexing challenge. Some Muslims come to the United States to practice their religion peacefully, and assimilate into the Western tradition of tolerance of other people’s liberties, including religious liberty — a tradition alien to the theocratic societies in which they grew up. Others come here to champion sharia, Islam’s authoritarian societal framework and legal code, resisting assimilation into our pluralistic society.

    Now what ?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Current Events, Europe, History, Human Behavior, Immigration, Islam, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Religion, Terrorism, Trump | 15 Comments »

    Worthwhile Reading

    Posted by David Foster on 11th December 2015 (All posts by )

    Thoughts on Church and State–in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam–at Grim’s Hall

    A professor argues that the epidemic of hysterical rage in the face of dissenting opinions, now sweeping America’s campuses, is a consequence of  cutting out the teaching of logic and rhetoric

    Related:  the age of mass delusion  (via Bookworm)

    Reputation culture and the cult of likeability

    Posted in Academia, Christianity, Human Behavior, Islam, Judaism, Leftism | 22 Comments »

    What Chicago Boyz Readers Are Reading (November 2015)

    Posted by Jonathan on 9th December 2015 (All posts by )

    Below is a list of the books, ebooks, music and videos that Chicago Boyz readers viewed and/or ordered in November 2015 via Amazon links on this blog. (A cumulative list of Chicago Boyz readers’ Amazon purchases is here.)

    Your book and non-book Amazon purchases help to support this blog via the Amazon Associates program. Chicago Boyz earns a percentage on all of your Amazon purchases as long as you get to the Amazon site by clicking on Amazon links on this blog (including the Amazon banner in the blog header, the link above the Amazon banner, and even Amazon links on Chicago Boyz for products other than the ones that you want to buy).

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes | 6 Comments »

    Trump’s Dumb Muslim Plan

    Posted by TM Lutas on 9th December 2015 (All posts by )

    To do a valid Christian baptism requires some water, a Christian to administer it, and about 15 seconds. Licitness so that all the proper paperwork is done and the newly baptized Christian is properly educated could take a year but if you don’t give a hoot for the niceties or it’s an emergency, 15 seconds will do. That’s all that is required to get around Trump’s Muslim ban. This makes his plan a stupid plan. It is worse than useless. It is an anti-screen. Honest Muslims who want medical treatment or just to go shopping will be stopped. For a terrorist, it’s hardly a speed bump.

    That isn’t to say that there is no room to change our immigration system to improve things. It’s just not this one. Trump has the money to hire the best help in formulating a real plan and he came out with a stupid stinker instead.

    The better solution, and one that would be perfectly understood by Trump’s base would be a straightforward declaration that private courts including religious courts that issue judgments that call for the injury or death of americans are enemies of America. To aid them as a U.S. citizen is treason, and any of their agents or bailiffs are in an immigration-excludable category that gets put on the DS-156 right next to the item asking are you a Nazi.

    We don’t need anything complicated. Nobody reasonable is going to get bent out of shape over the declaration of our enemy being people who seek to kill or hurt us. The ones who do protest it will be doing us all a service. Hardly any administrative procedures have to be changed, only one form.

    Trump wouldn’t have had to break a sweat selling this. But he didn’t. Why did he push his dumb plan instead?

    Posted in Islam, Miscellaneous, Politics, Religion, Terrorism | 44 Comments »

    The Sound of Music

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 9th December 2015 (All posts by )

    This year is the 50th anniversary of the theatrical release of The Sound of Music. This was one of last things to come out of the Old Hollywood studio system which was broken apart first by anti-trust laws and later by the advent of TV. The tattered remains of Hollywood were then occupied by the communists and nihilists of the late 1960’s who proceeded to destroy whatever artistic foundations remained. Hollywood is completely incapable of producing a movie of this artistic quality and beauty today. Everyone, I think, feels the loss.

    The Sound of Music became the highest grossing film of its time, bringing in $286,214,076 worldwide ($2.366 billion in 2014 dollars), finally displacing Gone With the Wind. The film was adapted from a Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical that opened in 1959 and starred Mary Martin. I’ve listened to the recordings of Mary, and I have to say Julie Andrews is much, much better. That’s probably because it was near the end of Mary’s career, which began in 1939, and Julie Andrews, age 30, was at the peak of her ability. She did a spectacular job in this film and I still get it out once in awhile to revel in its music and beauty.

    It was directed by Robert Wise: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), West Side Story (1961), The Sand Pebbles (1966) The Andromeda Strain (1971), and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). A young Robert Wise edited Citizen Kane.

    The critical reception, from Wikipedia…I had to laugh at the NYT getting it completely wrong, even back then:

    The film had its opening premiere on March 2, 1965 at the Rivoli Theater in New York City. Initial reviews were mixed. Bosley Crowther, in The New York Times, criticized the film’s “romantic nonsense and sentiment”, the children’s “artificial roles”, and Robert Wise’s “cosy-cum-corny” direction. Judith Crist, in a biting review in the New York Herald Tribune, dismissed the movie as “icky sticky” and designed for “the five to seven set and their mommies”. Wise later recalled, “The East Coast intellectual papers and magazines destroyed us, but the local papers and the trades gave us great reviews. “Indeed, reviewers such as Philip K. Scheuer of the Los Angeles Times described the film as “three hours of visual and vocal brilliance”, and Daily Variety called it “a warmly-pulsating, captivating drama set to the most imaginative use of the lilting R-H tunes, magnificently mounted and with a brilliant cast”.

    The movie is a celebration of love, of family, of the beauty of the world on a summer day, and the importance of family and friendship in the worst of times. That “The East Coast intellectuals” would completely miss that, well, it doesn’t surprise me in the least.

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Music | 20 Comments »

    Is Trump Right?

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 8th December 2015 (All posts by )

    Should the USA stop immigration of muslims into the country? I think yes. I would go further, and declare – through legislation – islam a seditious ideology and outlaw its practice. I would even close mosques.

    Let me be clear. This is not my being opposed to a strange religious practice, or a group of people because of their ethnicity, this is about recognizing islam as a violent, totalitarian ideology. In the same way we would not invite members of a violent cult to live in our homes with our family and children, we should not invite islam to live in our larger civilization. And recognizing its violent and totalitarian nature, we should outlaw its practice.

    I do not see this as a violation of religious freedom. If I declare an intent to kill everyone who does not join my cult, and propagate that idea through my offices, then declare my beliefs a religion, am I then free to go about carrying out my agenda and proselytizing others to kill and subdue as well? And is a society that wants to protect its citizens, its freedoms, and its way of life within its rights – within its responsibilities – to prohibit that cult from practicing?
    If not, why not?

    And if that violent cult wishes to bring more of its members from overseas to join them, are we morally obligated to admit them?
    If so, why?

    Posted in Islam, Politics, Religion, Terrorism | 47 Comments »

    What else are we not being told ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 7th December 2015 (All posts by )

    President-Obama-oval-office.sized-770x415xt

    I was reading one of my favorite blogs this morning and saw this comment.

    We just came from church service where we have San Bernardino police attending. We were told and I think it is important to share that the terrorists screamed “alahu akbar” several times while they were shooting; the FBI are preventing the police from going public with this information as well as the witnesses. BTW: My husband and I just got back from Washington, DC and were told by retired secret service that Obama has a Muslim prayer room in the White House. Not sure if this is well known. I had no idea.

    The news media and the FBI, of all people, seem to be suppressing information.

    Obama’s speech last night was weird. First, he was standing. Second, the only new information it contained was his statement.

    That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse. Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al Qaeda promote; to speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.

    This sounds like he is finally recognizing that Islam has problems.

    His proposed solutions are nonsense. One of them is delusional and no one will permit this to occur.

    To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security.

    The “No Fly List” is a list of people with no legal justification who are not permitted to fly on US airplanes. So far, we know that about half of them are there by mistake. We also know that 72 persons on that list work in the Department of Homeland Security. This is ridiculous. There is no incidence of a person on the no fly list who has committed a terrorist act or used a gun in a crime. The terrorists of San Bernardino were not on the list, or on any list of suspected persons.

    Belmont Club, as usual, has a better explanation of what is going on.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Immigration, Islam, Leftism, Middle East, Politics, Terrorism | 14 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 7th December 2015 (All posts by )

    JPMorgan trimmed GoPro’s target to 45 from 55. On Friday, Robert W. Baird downgraded GoPro to neutral from outperform and slashed its price target to 18 from 36. Shares were hit last week, when chip supplier Ambarella (NASDAQ:AMBA) gave weak guidance due in part to soft action camera sales

    (Source)
     
    Thanks, guys!
     

    GPRO_20151207

     
     
     
    Oh, BTW…
     
    SWHC_20151207

     
    (Charts courtesy StockCharts.com.)
     

    Posted in Markets and Trading, Quotations | 1 Comment »

    Marble Sculptures & Toys

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 6th December 2015 (All posts by )

    This is amazing…

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 2 Comments »

    Festival of Lights

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 6th December 2015 (All posts by )

    Happy Hanukkah!

    I’d like to wish all my friends here at Chicago Boyz a Happy Hanukkah.

    Posted in Holidays | 3 Comments »

    The Rituals of the Season

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 6th December 2015 (All posts by )

    My daughter was nearly ten years old, in that Christmastime of 1990. I was stationed at Zaragoza AB, in the Ebro River Valley of Spain, which was serving as one of the staging bases in Europe for the build-up to the First Gulf War … the effort to liberate Kuwait, which Saddam Hussein seemed to believe that he had a perfect right to occupy, loot and exterminate those opposing him in that small matter. But this is not about that war, particularly – only as it affected those of us located far along the haft of the military spear towards the sharp and pointy end.

    Zaragoza was a long-established US base in Spain by then – sufficiently long enough to have grown up a second generation of children born to American servicemen and their Spanish wives. It was sufficiently well-established to have a fairly modern on-base school, which housed the elementary classes in one wing, and the high school in the other. My daughter started there in kindergarten, the very week that we arrived, in 1985, to the day that we departed, six years later, when she started the sixth grade. It was a safe posting, especially considered after my previous assignment to Athens, Greece, where terrorism aimed at American personnel and at the base generally was accepted grimly as an ongoing part of life, like hurricanes along the southern coasts. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, History, Holidays, Islam, Military Affairs, Obama, Personal Narrative, USA | 10 Comments »

    The Phobia(s) That May Destroy America (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on 6th December 2015 (All posts by )

    (originally posted in 2012–a rerun seems appropriate under current circumstances)

    I am continually amazed by the level of fear, contempt, and anger that many educated/urban/upper-middle-class people demonstrate toward Christians and rural people (especially southerners.) This complex of negative emotions often greatly exceeds anything that these same people feel toward radical Islamists or dangerous rogue-state governments. I’m not a Christian myself, or really a religious person at all, but I’d think that one would be a lot more worried about people who want to cut your head off, blow you up, or at a bare minimum shut down your freedom of speech than about people who want to talk to you about Jesus (or Nascar!)

    It seems that there are quite a few people who vote Democratic, even when their domestic and foreign-policy views are not closely aligned with those of the Democratic Party, because they view the Republican Party and its candidates as being dominated by Christians and “rednecks.”

    What is the origin of this anti-Christian anti-“redneck” feeling? Some have suggested that it’s a matter of oikophobia…the aversion to the familiar, or “”the repudiation of inheritance and home,” as philosopher Roger Scruton uses the term. I think this is doubtless true in some cases: the kid who grew up in a rural Christian home and wants to make a clean break with his family heritage, or the individual who grew up in an oppressively-conformist Bible Belt community. But I think such cases represent a relatively small part of the category of people I’m talking about here. A fervently anti-Christian, anti-Southern individual who grew up in New York or Boston or San Francisco is unlikely to be motivated by oikophobia–indeed, far from being excessively familiar, Christians and Southern people are likely as exotic to him as the most remote tribes of New Guinea.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Christianity, Civil Society, Leftism, Society, USA | 33 Comments »

    Friday

    Posted by Jonathan on 4th December 2015 (All posts by )

    Wherever you are, Chicagoboyz wishes you fair sailing for the weekend.

    Biscayne Bay Sunset

    Posted in Photos | 7 Comments »

    Two New Posts from Seth Barrett Tillman

    Posted by Jonathan on 3rd December 2015 (All posts by )

    The Guardian and San Bernardino

    The Tale of the Swedish Prosecutor, the Citizen, and the Human Being

    These posts are brief and worth reading.

    Posted in Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Deep Thoughts, Law, Leftism, National Security, Political Philosophy, Terrorism | 6 Comments »

    Reusable Rockets

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 3rd December 2015 (All posts by )

    “If one can figure out how to effectively reuse rockets just like airplanes, the cost of access to space will be reduced by as much as a factor of a hundred. A fully reusable vehicle has never been done before. That really is the fundamental breakthrough needed to revolutionize access to space.” ~Elon Musk

    Update: SpaceX May Try Land-Based Rocket Landing This Month

    Here’s the SpaceX plan:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Space, Tech | 21 Comments »