December 31, 2015

Happy New Year 2016!

Warm wishes for a happy, wonderful 2016!

December 28, 2015

No year in review, no Top 10, no predictions this year

Normally I like to end the year with a review of the highlights of the year and/or some frivolous predictions about the coming year.  Not this year.  The predictions are usually wildly wrong because predicting specific events is very different from normally trying to have a macro perspective on things. Additionally, I expect 2016 to be especially unpredictable.

As for the year in review, while there was a lot of interesting stuff that happened, no particular person or event has been exciting enough to make me want to generate a Top 10 list this year.  Maybe that's a little lazy, but hey, I'm on vacation this week.

December 27, 2015

Sunday Verse

My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.
~Proverbs 3:1-2

December 26, 2015

December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone the blessings of a Merry Christmas and a joyous and peaceful new year.

Thursday Hillary Bash - Abuela

I must confess that until recently I did not know what an abuela was.  But I don't think Hillary Clinton did either.
After Mrs. Clinton shared news of her daughter’s second pregnancy, a “content strategist” for her campaign posted the list, an effort to appeal to young Hispanic voters by pointing out how she was just like their abuelas, or grandmothers: She cares for all children. She reads to her grandchild before bedtime. She doesn’t tolerate disrespect.

Her critics were not impressed. Soon, the hashtag #NotMyAbuela was circulating as a critique of what some saw as a tone-deaf move to pander to a powerful but marginalized bloc of voters. Her critics pointed out that Mrs. Clinton did not grow up poor like their relatives, and was not separated from loved ones by country borders. Others just made their points with the magic of memes.
Trying too hard to capture every voting bock.

December 23, 2015

10 year anemia

After 10 years of anemic GDP growth,  7 of which were on president Obama's watch, the Fed has finally decided to hike interest rates. It's curious that the Q3 GDP was downgraded only after the Fed made it's change. That strikes me as deliberate.

What is more striking is that the artificially low rates for so long has indeed created a bubble, and when the rates needed to be higher to clear the wheat from the chaff (say back in 2009) it didn't happen. The interest rate bubble hasn't popped yet, but I don't expect another rate hike any time soon.  Maybe they're aiming for a bubble equilibrium.

December 22, 2015

WaPo - Bush is not helping himself.

Um, what did I just say this morning at 3 a.m.? Jeb Bush is the jerk, not Trump.  As the Washington Post points out, Jeb Bush calling Trump a jerk is not helping Jeb Bush.
In the past week, Bush has called Trump a “jerk” who is “not serious” and is running a “chaos campaign.” The former Florida governor has also run ads calling Trump “unhinged” and also torn into the front-runner for praising the leadership qualities of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and for talking about deporting Latinos and barring Muslims.

...“I’ll continue to call Trump out for his outrageous comments & naive ‘foreign policy.’ Even if no one else will,” Bush tweeted Monday.
Keep it up Jeb. You keep alienating those within your party by violating Reagan's 11th Commandment. Your problem is not your last name, it's your attitude. You continue to win over no one with your attacks which come across as vindictive and petty. So why is it not that way for Trump when he counter-punches? Two reasons:

(1) he's been the front runner and is primarily perceived as responding in kind - at least in your case. So for him it's forgivable as a necessary response. And,
(2) Trump's always been a loudmouth boor. It's expected of him. You have not been, so you being negative and insulting comes across as revealing your true colors which you prefer to keep hidden, but are now letting slip out, because of your frustration.

Not helping. But feel free to keep it up.

Jeb Bush, not a team player, but he is a jerk.

Most of the current crop of Republican nominees at one time or another during this cycle have said something to the effect of "any one of the people on this stage would be much better qualified to be president than Hillary Clinton".  They may not have not said those exact words, but even Donald Trump finally ruled out a third party run at the last Republican debate.  They all want to win, and most of them are team players  - not Jeb Bush.
Bush spoke in an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation scheduled for broadcast on Sunday and taped in New Hampshire on the same day he told a town hall audience Trump was a “jerk”...

On Friday, through Twitter, Trump called Bush “dumb as a rock”. He returned to the offensive on Sunday morning.

“To a certain extent, it is a little liberating to be able to post up against a guy who is not qualified to be president,” Bush said in the CBS interview, which was excerpted by the website Politico.

“I’m trying to point out that he’s not a serious candidate.
And there you have it - if I can't win I'm going to torpedo the guy who looks like he might win the GOP nomination because I'd rather help the Democrats the the Republicans, if Republicans don't pick me. He can't pretend that those words won't hurt Trump if he winds up winning the nomination.

And while Trump is not the ideal candidate, he's doing well for a reason. Bush doesn't seem to get that, and it's alienating voters at a rate so quickly that his Super PAC money won't help him recover them. More importantly from a winning the White House perspective, if Bush is saying this about Trump, why wouldn't he say it about Cruz, Carson, Fiorina, Paul or even Rubio or Christie if they end up taking the lead?


Addendum: Yes, I realize that calling Jeb Bush a jerk is sort of doing the same thing as Bush is doing to Trump. Don't care.  I'm offending 3%-5% of Republican voters (less because my readership at best probably numbers in the hundreds most of the time), while Jeb Bush is offending 20%-40% of GOP voters depending on which poll you believe, and in fact more if every Hillary Clinton ad turns out to be quotes of Jeb Bush slagging the nominee Trump. Besides everyone on the right should feel free to slag Bush.  No one in that family is a true conservative, and there is no chance he'll end up the nominee.

December 21, 2015

Spending Christmas Eve in protest?

So, how effective is this supposed to be?  I've never been to Chicago, but won't the streets there be kinda quiet on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, like most other places?
The Coalition for a New Chicago is planning a Christmas Eve protest on Michigan Avenue. The group announced their plans as the U.S. Department of Justice was to meet with Chicago Police Department officials.

"We're going to pray for our city, pray for our leaders here. But we're also going to march down the street. We're going to be singing, chanting and everything else. But we are going to be a peaceful, disruptive force down on Michigan Avenue from about noon to 5 o'clock that evening," said Pastor Gregory Livingston, founder of a Coalition for a New Chicago.

The group will march on the Magnificent Mile on Christmas Eve in an attempt to engage with the public, Livingston said, under the social tag #BlackChristmas.

The Coalition for a New Chicago, which said they have appealed to President Barack Obama, wants Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign in the wake of the Laquan McDonald case. They hope the march on Christmas Eve will garner as many participants as the Black Friday march where demonstrators shut down a stretch of Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River to Oak Street.

Some business owners said sales were 25- to 50-percent below projections due to the Black Friday protest.
And why damage businesses' well-being in the process?  I guess their support of your cause doesn't matter.

An analysis of the recent U.S. interest rate hike

Via Stratfor, a discussion on what the U.S. interest rate hike might mean.

December 20, 2015

Fast and loose with the facts at the Democrat debate

I tried to do the hard work for you and watch the Democrats' debate the other night.  (Un)fortunately, no one else in my household had any desire to see it.  So I recorded it and have not watched it yet.  But clearly the facts were not invited.
WASHINGTON (AP) — In the latest Democratic presidential debate, oversimplification struck again...

CLINTON on rising premiums and out-of-pocket costs for the privately insured after enactment of Obama's health care law: "I would certainly build on the successes of the Affordable Care Act and work to fix some of the glitches."

THE FACTS: Obama's law was mainly about expanding coverage for the uninsured, and even former officials of his administration say major work still has to be done on cost control. In other words, rising costs are more than "glitches."

CLINTON: "Assad has killed 250,000 Syrians."

THE FACTS: Clinton appears to be blaming the entire estimated death toll of the Syrian civil war on just one side: the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Yet no matter how vicious his forces have been, deaths have come at the hands of all sides in the nearly 5-year-old multi-front civil war.
Given that this came from the AP, I'm sure it was kind to Clinton and Sanders alike. Once I've reviewed the tape, I'm sure there will be more to share.

Sunday Verse

Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
~Matthew 24:42

December 17, 2015

Thursday Hillary Bash - Horns of a dilemna

This really happened. If Hillary has to point this out, clearly there's a problem (emphasis added).
Mason City, Iowa (CNN) Hillary Clinton had a message for a supporter's father who is backing Donald Trump: 'I don't have horns."

Clinton had just wrapped up her town hall in Mason City when Kayla Helmers, a 22-year old volunteer who lives in Mason City, approached the former secretary of state on the rope line and asked her to tape a message for her father, Shawn Starry, who has decided to caucus for Donald Trump.

After shaking her head, closing her eyes and asking for her father's name, Clinton relented.

"Hi Shawn, I am here with your daughter," Clinton said like she was leaving a voicemail. "I hope you can see I don't have horns. And I really do hope that as this election goes on you will listen to your daughter. Thanks. Bye."
But in typical liberal smarter-than-thou smugness the wife and daughter state that the father makes claims that he cannot back up. Zero counter-point from the father included in the report. Fair and balanced?

Back to Hillary. She has never spoken of conservatives kindly. From her vast right wing conspiracy to calling them her political enemies (what would Gabby Giffords say?) she has a history of not being nice. So why believe her now. She may not have horns, but she doesn't need them when she always has her knives out.

CNN's GOP Debate Post Analysis

I meant to comment on the GOP debate yesterday, but I did not have the time to do so.  So here are my thoughts today, well after everyone else has weighed in on it.  Unlike the GOP under card debate, the participants in the main debate were not yawners.  The debate itself did not possess any wow factors, but there were definitely some things worth noting.

Firstly, credit where it's due,Wolf Blitzer was not bad.  He was fair, and stood out of the way as much as he could.  Dana Bash was predictably liberal but nothing over the top, and also deserves some credit for keeping her liberal partisanship reasonably in check. And of course while Hugh Hewitt may have had a horse in the race, being a conservative he did not ask dumb, irrelevant questions, like climate change or living wage issues during a foreign policy debate.

As for the participants, here's some top line thoughts.

Ted Cruz - his content was good, but he did not come across as likable every time he went long and flouted the debate rules.  Once or twice is fine in order to make a point but he left the impression that he just didn't care about the rules and had a sense of self-importance.  If that's the image that sticks, it's not good for him.  That would be a shame because his content was good.

Marco Rubio - he came across as solid and knowledgeable. He did nit dazzle, but he left the impression that he would be a solid president if he were the nominee.  Despite his back story however, he did not come across as someone who can easily connect.  Maybe it's just me.  Despite his weakness on immigration he's solid on a lot of issues.  I want to like him, and I'm sure he'd be a decent president.  But all I can muster so far is 'Meh'.

Donald Trump - what Trump has going for him is remarkably, his bellicosity, tempered with well-timed compliments. What he delivers is populism in the form of knowing that things are messed up.  That's something missing not only in Democrat circles but also in large swaths of the GOP.  What he lacks, in spades, is specificity.  He says he's going to hire the best people.  I believe he would. But the problem is, unless he is secretly studying with  debate gurus and will unload unexpectedly during debates with Hillary Clinton, she is going to argue circles around him.  That's a recipe for general election failure.  The debate last night did nothing to change any of Trump's positives or negatives.

Chris Christie - I'm not a Christie guy but I think he won the debate.  He was tough. He was solid, he was forceful but he also connected.  

Jeb Bush - In la la land CNN thinks this guy is the winner.  Yes, he went after Trump, and he needed to do so.  But every single time he came across as bitter, petty, and not nice.  It was clear his debate was about him and Trump and not about details on what he wants for America.  He was trying to score political points and it's exactly why he will not win the nomination.

Ben Carson - He's smart but he's just too laid back.  It's like every answer he's reading you a bedtime story.  That's just not inspiring and it's not a winning formula.  He also has not faced a truly hostile opponent or panel of questioners yet.  I think his moment may have already passed, and it was even before this past debate.  He needed a lightning bolt, he delivered a cloud.

Carly Fiorina - Smart, mature, informed and a smooth debater.  She unfortunately delivered a debate that seemed a little canned and pat.  But that was forgivable.  What may have done her in during this debate is dhe did not manage to stand out.  In a field this big, you cannot afford to not stand out.  She needs traction and she needs it quickly, even more so after not getting it at the debate.

John Kasich - go home. While he was better than his previous debates as far as pettiness goes (where he was clearly a champion of sniping other candidates unnecessarily and spitefully), he just struck me as being overly eager: "look at me", "Ohio is great now", "look at me".  He traded in pettiness for petulance. Go home.

Rand Paul - He was testy. I don't think he was effective in being able to expand his numbers.  I think he was spoiling for a fight and he didn't get one.

Overall, I think because he did no harm, you can say Trump won.  But I expect to see bumps in support for any combination of Cruz, Rubio and Christie.  If either of the other two surge enough, it might be the end of Bush.  We can only hope.

December 15, 2015

GOP Undercard debate - let it be the last one

Here's my impression of the last two hours:

George Pataki:

Mike Huckabee:

Rick Santorum:

Lindsey Graham:

Quick thoughts on tonight's GOP debate

I don't expect to see a lot of fireworks at tonight's GOP debate. Donald Trump may be tempted to take on his latest surging rival - Ted Cruz - but with two polls showing an updraft for Trump currently, he may not want to risk an attack any more robust than what he's gone with in previous debates.

However the same may not hold true for Ted Cruz.  He may have learned to take a page from Trump and could be equating feistiness with improving poll numbers.  The fight alone might bring him into prominence, and he may decide to provoke a confrontation with Trump instead of the media this time.  In fact with time running low, he may not have a choice.  If he goads Trump into a tit-for-tat war, all bets are off.  It will become a wild card situation.

Where does that leave others in the debate?  Many have already been left in the dust - they just don't know it yet. Bush, Kasich will be marginalized completely unless they step up at this debate.  Bush has shown he can't, and Kasich has shown he can't do it the right way.  

Fiorina has paled over the last two months and I don't see how she gets her mojo back.  She doesn't need to hit a home run, but she's getting closer to needing one.  She needs a really solid performance here or she also could become an afterthought.

Two contenders I think may still have a chance are Rubio, who can play on his polling head-to-head versus Clinton, and Ben Carson, who having faded, also needs a solid performance, particularly on foreign affairs and showing some fortitude and hunger to win.

That's just some quick thoughts.  The debates will be an interesting watch. I'd remind candidates that anything they say can and will be used by Democrats come the general election, so don't get too much blood on your hands.

A simple way to fight domestic terror

The latest news about an Egyptian man arrested for receiving $9000 from ISIS and claiming that he was just trying to scam ISIS out of money is a teachable moment to paraphrase the abstainer-in-chief.

Why not have the NSA or Homeland Security set up a bunch of fake domestic terrorists who have grand ideas and require cash from ISIS to carry out their attacks.  If it works, they get money from ISIS, and possible ways to trace terror donations.  In addition they take away funding from possible other radicalized domestic threats.  In the end, if ISIS finds it is sending money with no return time and again, they'll get wise and stop sending money.

If Chechen girls can trick ISIS, then why not the NSA?

Just a thought.  And who knows, maybe they are already doing that.  But if they are, maybe they should think about ramping it up.

December 14, 2015

Welcome to 2008, Blogger.

Google has finally allowed Blogger to join 2008 by creating a "featured post" widget.  You may have noticed that I've added one to the right hand side of my blog.  Unfortunately, it still allows only one as far as I can tell and as such remains bounds behind WordPress.  At least it's still not leaps and bounds, just bounds.

As far as welcome to 2008 goes, I keep reading that blogging has gone the way of the dodo, having been surpassed by micro-blogging, tweeting, Instagram, Vine and such.  So I'm outdated blogging here.  But it's hard to fit the principles of Supply and Demand, or Unintended Consequences for example, into a Vine video.  So as far as reaching millennials goes, I guess for conservative bloggers like me, it's a lost cause.

But for the rest of you, I've succumbed to the Google beast and added the featured post widget, and will continue blogging along for the foreseeable future, whatever that future might bring.

December 13, 2015

Sunday Verse

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
~Job 1:21

December 10, 2015

Thursday Hillary Bash - "Repugnant lie"

This needs no additional commentary:
Liar, liar, pantsuit on fire: Hillary Clinton still insists she didn’t tell the grieving families of the Benghazi victims that an anti-Islam video was to blame.

Yet family members say she said just that, three days after the attack, at the Sept. 14, 2012, ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base.

George Stephanopoulos asked her Sunday if she’d told the victims it was about the film. Clinton gave a flat “no.”

She added: “I said very clearly there had been a terrorist group, uh, that had taken responsibility on Facebook, um . . .”

At least four family members disagree.

Tyrone Woods’ father said he hugged Clinton and shook her hand. Then “she said we are going to have the filmmaker arrested who was responsible for the death of my son . . . She said ‘the filmmaker who was responsible for the death of your son.’ ”

December 9, 2015

Dictator Watch - Venezuela post-Chavez

Venezuela is in dire straits and in the wake of the death of socialist strongman Hugo Chavez, his successor socialist, facing electoral defeat may go even further than Chavez to retain power.  Where Chavez wanted to re-write the Venezuelan Constitution to remain in power, it sound like Nicolas "who, now?" Maduro sounds practically ready to roll out the troops.
A defiant President Nicolas Maduro said he would give no quarter to the Venezuelan opposition in spite of his own party’s crushing defeat in last weekend’s mid-term parliamentary elections.

Mr Maduro vowed to block “the counter-revolutionary right” from taking over the country. “We won’t let it,” he said.

The outburst came as electoral authorities gave final confirmation that the coalition of opposition parties had not only pushed the ruling party into the minority in the national assembly for the first time since 1999 but had, after final results came in, secured a two-thirds majority that, in theory, will allow it to pass laws without the President’s support, replace his ministers and potentially move to replace him.
 Tough talk, but right now he holds all the guns.

December 8, 2015

Trump's case on immigration, done more eloquently

Donald Trump is once again being vilified for his comments on immigration, both on the left and the establishment right.  Once again those comments are being misrepresented during that vilification.  At this point, one has to wonder if those who attack him for what they proclaim would be absurd policy are cementing his base of support, and not effectively

Certainly establishment conservatives appear to be willing to accept that they are creating fodder for Hillary Clinton if they cannot take down Trump.  That in itself is as much a red flag as the idea that Donald Trump might be a sleeper Democrat who will either lose to Hillary on purpose or enact liberal policies should he decide to win. Why? Because it would seem elite Republicans would rather have four more years of progressivism than any chance of populism gaining root in the GOP. That's both short-sighted and not conservative.

In any case, here's what Donald Trump said, followed by a more eloquent rendition by (conservative) blogger extraordinaire, John Hawkins.  To be clear Trump does not want to ban Muslim immigration.  He wants Congress to get it's act together and come up with a better method for handling immigration.  That includes halting operations for Muslims until a smarter approach is enacted. Racist? Even if it is, and that's specious at best, self-preservation must always come first.

This video headlines the negative, though in it's defense it does give the fuller context of Trump's comments:

Here's John Hawkin's view on a temporary halt to immigration.
Immigration is not good for America. At least, not anymore. Immigration has benefitted our nation a great deal and it certainly can do so again, but as long as our current rules are in place, immigration can only hurt our country.

Whether your ancestors came over on the Mayflower or you became a citizen yesterday, an American is an American is an American.

However, even though that’s true, the presumption of our immigration laws seems to be that any person, from any culture, of any educational status, from any country is just as likely to come to America, fit in and become a productive citizen.

That idea is ridiculous on its face.

The whole idea that it doesn’t matter whether we bring in large numbers of uneducated people from socialistic countries with backward cultures where they don’t speak English or large numbers of highly educated people from capitalistic countries with Western cultures that speak English makes no sense. Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule, but unquestionably members of one group are much more likely to fit in, assimilate and add to the tax base than the other group.
The article is worth the read, unlike so many commentaries that have set up a straw man Trump argument on Muslim immigration and then responded to and attacked that.

December 6, 2015

Sunday Verse

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
~Psalm 4:8

December 4, 2015

Friday Musical Interlude - Amrik

Cartas de Amor, by Amrik.   Some lovely Spanish guitar.

Friday Musical Interlude - Christmas Songs

All month the Friday Musical Interlude Feature will focus on Christmas songs.

December 3, 2015

Thursday Hillary Bash - Of concussions, Benghazi and a slap

Two recent articles in National Review bring up some of the recent releases of  Hillary's (unsecured) emails.  In one, there's clearly a concern that her concussion caused her some subsequent bouts of confusion.
New Hillary Clinton e-mails released by the State Department on Monday show that the secretary of state was often confused about and unfamiliar with State Department activity in the wake of a serious concussion, relying on her staff to explain department policy and even help her remember her own actions.

Clinton suffered a severe fall in early December 2012, which gave her a concussion and put her in the hospital for several weeks, postponing her planned congressional testimony on her response to the Benghazi attacks. She returned to work on January 7, 2013, when State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said she was “fully recovered.” But an e-mail released by Judicial Watch earlier this week showed top aide Huma Abedin admitting on January 26 that Clinton was “often confused.”
Yet another, shows her staff was worried about how she and the White House positioned Benghazi;
The latest trove of Hillary Clinton e-mails released by the State Department show concern among her staff over how she and the White House characterized the September 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi, with a top aide coaching the secretary of state on how to explain earlier statements that the attack was caused by a YouTube video.
Just two more reasons to heed this advice.

December 2, 2015

Against Trump as the GOP nominee? Chillax.

The latest challenger rising to challenge Donald Trump for the GOP presidential candidate polling lead appears to be Marco Rubio.  Remember last month when it was Ben Carson? Good times, good times. Or how about Carley Fiorina had her surge?  But if you are worried about Trump carrying the day, or rather election cycle, I have some words of wisdom for you. Well, one word:


If you're too old to know it, that's an amalgam of Chill (out) and Relax. It became almost popular during the 2000's.

Here's the reason I say that.  There has not been a single primary or caucus yet.  After they begin to occur, candidates with poor performance will drop out of the race and the field will quickly narrow from about 15 down to about 5.  Then 3, and then 2.  As that occurs support will coalesce around the remaining candidates and you'll see some real surges occur and probably stick.

That does not mean Trump can't win.  But it does mean that if you are in the anyone-but-Trump camp, there's no reason to panic - you've got a real shot at this.

Just please, don't throw your support behind Jeb Bush.  He might have made the best Bush president, but that's not a very high bar.

December 1, 2015

CO2 emissions reduction should be a non-starter. So says NASA.

World leaders are in Paris to discuss climate change, and global warming.  They're hell-bent on doing something about Carbon Dioxide emissions, because that's  what they believe (or would have you believe) is going to save the taxes.

Not so fast, says...NASA?Really?
(NaturalNews) As advanced as modern science professes to be, it has taken a new study to reiterate what practically every child learns in kindergarten -- that plant life uptakes carbon dioxide as food, releasing oxygen for animals and humans to breathe. And this process, known simply as photosynthesis, helps balance atmospheric ratios of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and other gases in order to maintain a livable planet.

In terms of climate change, this means that trees and other plant life thrive from the carbon released into the atmosphere, and that man-made "global warming" may not be as big of a threat as is often claimed. Rather than portend to undo life on this planet, atmospheric carbon is actually helping to restore areas of dense flora such as tropical rainforests, which absorb some 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, according to the Daily Mail.
This conference should just push pause for now. As Al Gore would say, the debate is over. "Science" has spoken.
Dr. David Schimel from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory found in a recent study that, contrary to popular ignorance, carbon dioxide isn't necessarily destroying the planet as we've all been told. Any carbon surpluses resulting from natural warming or cooling cycles are actually helping improve biodiversity in many of the world's most remote ecosystems, including in the great rainforests of South America.
Food for thought. 

C'est What?

In Paris, a mere three weeks after a terror attack in that city, president Obama says mass shootings just don't happen outside of the United States.  That level of out-of-touchness should immediately call into question every other statement this president has made. Ever.

That's not to say he's been wrong on everything, I'll let you come to that conclusion on your own.  But the mainstream media should simply be agog with incredulity at his lack of nuance, his lack of awareness and his simple inaccuracy on this and be saying to themselves "Hey, wait a minute..."

Alas, not going to happen.

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