January 31, 2016

Sunday Quote

“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
~ John Steinbeck (also attributed to Ronald Wright)

Sunday verse

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
~Psalm 27:4

January 30, 2016

Belated Thursday Hillary Bash - Toast

So Barack Obama doesn't like Hillary Clinton, and 2 days before the Iowa caucuses the FBI refuses to release some emails from her private server because they are too top secret to share with the world.  That's classified material (now).  It looks really bad for Clinton, at least politically.

I'm sure I'm not the first to speculate that the Obama White House would prefer a damaged Hillary and Joe Biden stepping in as the non-socialist stooge to do Obama's bidding afterwards or even a Sanders win rather than a Hillary presidency.

Timing is everything.  And it's suspicious.

Equally troublesome  - How could Hillary NOT have seen this coming?  Is she that politically clueless?

Saturday Learning Series - Geography (Afghanistan)

A geography lesson on Afghanistan.

January 29, 2016

Friday Musical Interlude - Go Your Own Way

I think I posted this one before, years ago, but a theme developed this month, and it fit. Completing a month of Friday Musical Interludes with songs directly or indirectly about Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac's Go Your Own Way from 1977, was a scathing attack on her, for which she had to sing the backing vocals.  Ouch.

January 28, 2016

For Trump, as goes Iowa, so may too go the nation

Donald Trump is polling well in Iowa, and as pointed out by Allahpundit at HotAir, new GOP registrations in Iowa are up quite a bit, and they don't appear to be typical Republican voters.  Conversely, Allahpundit points out that Trump's ground game in Iowa, is not looking so great.

That is the current GOP race in a microcosm. Donald Trump is winning the publicity war, and he's attracting non-traditional Republican voters, possibly faster than he's offending traditional ones.  He's also winning a non-traditional campaign battle and possibly losing, heavily in a traditional one.  GOTV (get out the vote) efforts are a super critical part of a winning strategy.  It's true in primaries but especially true in caucus states.  And Iowa being the opening one, merits special attention.

This speaks more to what a winning strategy might be than the merits of the individual candidates.  If Trump's strategy works in Iowa, he could be impossible to beat.  But if he comes in anywhere but first, even a strong second, leaves him particularly vulnerable.

If I'm Ted Cruz, or any other candidate, I can speak to Trump's lack of planning, lack of organization and lack of foresight to even tend to a ground game, as a strong indicator that Trump's leadership skills are not what he claims they are.  I would argue he's all sizzle and no steak.  His campaign is about his personality and not his actual ability to plan and organize - and that's because, apparently he can't.

So, as Iowa goes for Trump, so may too go the nation.

January 26, 2016

Trump, you're losing my interest

So far I've been willing to give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt. He doesn't know things, but he's going to hire the smartest people.  That's believable. He's not long on specifics - that's just campaigning.  He's rude - that's appealing to voters who are sick of Washington BAU (business as usual) and political correctness.  He says outrageous things that are not plausible - that's going to appeal to a lot of low information voters. He might not really turn out to be a conservative and at best deliver or push a moderate agenda.  That's a small price to pay for restoring fiscal sanity and using common sense in trade deals. No doubt budget and trade deals will play into his wheelhouse.  He might not appoint conservative justices. Hey, Neither Bush did a great job at that either.


I'm overlooking so many things, I'm starting to feel like a Hillary or an Obama supporter.  It's starting to become unpalatable.

Don't get me wrong - I was never actually a Trump supporter, I was just more open to having a conversation about his pros and cons, and waiting to see what he did and said, and how he handled himself than a lot of people who just jumped straight to 'NO'.  Quick to judge is not my style, I prefer to analyze - and the more data there is the better.  But the data coming in is pointing out two things - his growing popularity and his declining sense of invincibility.  Other candidates don't seem willing to take a proper run at him and whoever the Democrat nominee ends up being, they will not be so skittish. He has not been tested in any major way as far as political combat.  It's been like spring training.

In addition, the Trump persona is wearing thin.  It's getting harder and hard to overlook the negatives associated with it, in addition to all of the other justifications I listed above.  And they are becoming more and more justifications rather than counterpoints.

I'm not dismissing him entirely, but my tolerance is wearing thin.  What he needs to be doing is getting more serious, not more outlandish.  I'm not suggesting he ditch all the trappings, but he needs to seem more presidential now - not as he suggested recently, after he's elected.

He's not the worst candidate, but he's not the best.  He would not make the worst president (that'd be Hillary or Bernie) but he wouldn't be the best either.  A Chris Christie, or a Marco Rubio, both accused of being RINOs, merit a second look.  After all, a RINO is often a compromise specialist, and if the GOP hold the Congress and Senate, who would they have to compromise with? Republicans. That's not such a bad thing for conservatives.  Let's hope that's not what Jeb Bush is banking on to refill his sails. Of course a more conservative candidate would be nice, but we also have to consider electability, and as much as I like so many positions of Ted Cruz, I don't think he's ultimately electable. 

Ultimately not much is new, I was undecided before and I still am.  But as we get closer I'm using a much more critical lens for every candidate.  I'm sure I'm not alone on that. A Trump travelling roadshow/carnival is simply not enough.  Attacking rivals is not enough.  We need a platform.  If you want to win - hire those smartest people now.

January 25, 2016

Have we moved into We-Know-The-Nominees Territory yet?

Iowa has not caucused. New Hampshire hasn't had it's primary yet. Is Trump already unbeatable as the GOP nominee? He has a commanding lead in the polls in both states. Time is running short and Trump very well could win both states.  And that could prove a commanding lead, by consolidating the public's impression of a sure fire winner.

On the Democratic side, there's a rising sentiment that Hillary is bland.  Bernie Sanders is not pulling Obama 2008 numbers just yet, but he is clearly gaining momentum at Hillary's expense.  And beyond the right's absolute distaste for her,  every single hiccup, or cough from her campaign portends more trouble. She may toast; walking, talking, campaigning toast.

The Donald versus Socialist Bernie.  We're done except for the general election.  Then again...                    

There's not a single vote been cast yet. But it would not be hard to bet on that outcome, or for that matter Donald versus Hillary as the 1B scenario.  Still - no one has voted yet. A lot can happen between now and Super Tuesday. 

My suspicion is that it will.  Trump seems as unbeatable on the Republican side as Hillary did in 2008.  Something will happen to shake up the GOP race.  At this point I'd say it's only 25% likely Trump will be the nominee.  That's a better chance than I'd give anyone else.  But it also means there's a 75% chance it won't be Trump.  It's not just voter perception - ultimately it is - but there's GOP establishment rallying around anyone but Trump or Cruz, there's SuperPAC bombardments, there's candidate consolidation, more debates and a lot of other factors too.

It's not done, and Trump supporters and detractors would do well to remember that, because at the end of the day, the nominee that emerges will need a unified base against either Sanders or Clinton.  It won't be a cakewalk to the White House.  It's going to be a vicious fight against a rabidly liberal media establishment. In fighting is different than debate, and it will be problematic if it continues to escalate.  It may shake up the race but it also may fracture the party. The reward is not worth the risk.  Civility, is still critical.

January 24, 2016

Sunday Verse

28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
~Isaiah 40:28-31

January 22, 2016

January 20, 2016

Capitalism for the uninformed

This beautifully summarizes why capitalism is good and socialism is bad in ways that liberals can understand.  Even hipsters.

January 19, 2016

(Early) Thursday Hillary Bash - email scandal goes nuclear

[Cross Posted at Left Coast Rebel]

I know it's not Thursday, but this is too good to skip, or wait for nominal correctness.  Fox News is reporting the Inspector General has found that Hilary Clinton had Beyond Top Secret material on her private email server.
Hillary Clinton's emails on her unsecured, homebrew server contained intelligence from the U.S. government's most secretive and highly classified programs, according to an unclassified letter from a top inspector general to senior lawmakers.

Fox News exclusively obtained the unclassified letter, sent Jan. 14 from Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III. It laid out the findings of a recent comprehensive review by intelligence agencies that identified "several dozen" additional classified emails -- including specific intelligence known as "special access programs" (SAP).

That indicates a level of classification beyond even “top secret,” the label previously given to two emails found on her server, and brings even more scrutiny to the presidential candidate’s handling of the government’s closely held secrets.
General David Petraeus was prosecuted for this type of security breach, Hillary Clinton should face the same prosecution.  Of course, with Democrats holding power, maybe justice isn't exactly blind .

Bill Whittle versus the Lottery

I play the lottery on occasion, but I believe Bill Whittle is 100% correct on this.  The lottery is not just a 'regressive' tax on the poor, it's a set of cement shoes on your dreams.  Playing the lottery is like selling your dreams for false hope.

That said, spending 3 bucks a week while you continue to play, is not the end of the world.  It's when you replace determination and hard work with a ticket, that you have killed your dreams.

January 18, 2016

Get Ready for Stupid, UK style

The British parliament is set to vote tonight (ET), to ban Donald Trump from its soil.  I'm not sure they all realize that he might become president of the country's biggest ally.  But it isn't really about that is it?

As Allahpundit at HotAir points out;
Assuming that actually banning Trump is off the table, what’s the point of today’s debate? Those who follow British politics regularly would know better than I, but I assume that it’s mainly about making Cameron’s government uncomfortable — not only will they have to grudgingly defend admitting Trump to the UK so as not to create awkwardness with Americans but they’ll have to distinguish the decision not to ban Trump with previous decisions to ban other controversial speakers. One Muslim MP from Labour is eager for that discussion...
It's all about optics. Classic Left tactic. But pass or fail, this is stupid.  Should Trump become president, he doesn't seem like the type to forget this stuff.

While I'm not sure I want to see Trump as the GOP nominee,  anything the left and liberals do to alienate him, I'm good with.  The more they spend time attacking him, the harder he will attack back, and the less attacks there are focused on Rubio, Cruz, Carson, Christie et. al.  Trump is running cover for other Republicans both at home and abroad.  Should he not eventually win, think of all that ink, punditry SuperPAC attack money gone to waste while another winner emerges with months of liberal attacks wasted.

That makes me happy, because the stupid on the left will have paid dividends on the right.


There's no time like the present to mention that if you are a follower of this blog, and you know someone who might like to be, it's never a bad thing to refer someone to become a follower - on Google+, Twitter, Facebook,  Google Friend Connect, Networked Blogs or even Feedburner. I'm not picky, I'd just rather have a wider reach than I do right now.

And while I'm at it, if you happen to not be using an Ad Blocker, feel free to click on some of the ads on the right hand side of the site.  Every little bit helps, and it's clear I haven't won the Powerball billion dollars.


January 17, 2016

Sunday Verse

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
~Romans 15:13

January 16, 2016

Followers, Profiles, Google+, Google Takeout and frustration

A few days ago I was complaining about Blogger/Google and their foolish Google+ profile issue.  It went away but has returned intermittently.  But in trying to resolve the situation I came across an interesting finding.

I had also been asking for my followers to share my blog so that I could get up over 100 followers.  Sad for 7+ years into this blog.  But I had forgotten I had 2 Google+ profiles.  One for Nonsensible Shoes and one for Dean L.  My blog posts get published to Google+ under my Nonsensible Shoes profile.  It has 4 followers, and it stopped adding the posts in 2013 for some reason.

My Dean L profile has 237 followers and over 3 million views. Holy crap.  I publish nothing there from this blog.  Am I an idiot or what?!?

So I looked up how to merge the two profiles into one. Google has one. Needless to say, it's a Byzantine process and ridiculously more complex than it should be.  That's my way of saying I have not done so, successfully yet.  I'm embroiled in something called Google Takeout. Ugh.  I have a lot of technical experience but this is just confounding, draining, patience-trying and not fun.

Saturday Learning Series - Geography (Australia)

A geography lesson on Australia.

January 15, 2016

My second ever Rule 5 Friday post

I haven't succumbed to Rule 5 Friday normally, in fact only twice now I think.  Instead I would post Friday Musical Interludes.  I figured out a way to combine the two, at least one time.

Ziegfeld Girls from the 1920's and Parov Stelar's music from the 2010's.  A surprisingly good mix.

Friday Musical Interlude - Calexico's

Calexico's song Not Even Stevie Nicks, live in 2010.

January 14, 2016

Should conservatives worry about Bernie Sanders?


The reason Bernie Sanders is a preferable Democrat nominee to Hillary Clinton as for as conservative voters are concerned, is because he cannot win.  Of course people thought that about Barack Obama and he won anyway.  I remember thinking that about Bill Clinton and he won anyway.  

But Bernie's different.  Barack Obama pretended he wasn't a socialist, and Bill Clinton pretended to be whatever he thought voters wanted him to be.  Bernie Sanders is an avowed socialist.  If I were the Democrats, I'd be asking whether we really wanted him in the party.  That's how far left the Democrat party has slipped.  They are the radicals.

And that's my point.  Every single argument Bernie makes practically only need be countered with the word "socialist" and a big arrow pointing at him.  He offers Republicans a massive tactical advantage in that way.  America is a center right country. Still.  Yes the center has moved left.  But even if America is center left, the first word is center.  Other than a big chunk of the under 25 crowd, America is not ready for a socialist leader, or socialism.  It's a losing proposition as a candidate.

And if I'm wrong, the country is so far gone, it doesn't matter anymore.

So on that basis I say "Go Bernie". Can't wait to see you in the general election, no matter who the GOP candidate is.

Thursday Hillary Bash - faltering

Emailgate continues to grow as a thorn in Hillary's side, in fact it's not a thorn any more.  It's becoming a 2-x-4. but the real excitement this week, is that Hillary might lose the nomination to a socialist.  Again.

She's now losing in New Hampshire by 14 points.  And in Iowa. That's the first two states in the election cycle.  Back to back losses could cause perception problems for her nationally. Oh wait, she already has those.  She's already losing ground nationally too. And apparently also Democrat voter confidence in her is falling apart.

So sad. I mean, for somebody...right? Last one off the Hillary bandwagon, please turn out the lights.

January 13, 2016

America - asinine preponderance of regulation, and Powerball

I'd love to play the Powerball lottery and win over a billion dollars.  Being Canadian I can play, I just could not collect the prize if I won it.  Why? Stupid regulation in a country that's top heavy with regulation and lawyers (no offense to William A. Jacobson intended) prevent it.

Here's the problem.  The Powerball lottery, which I completely understand I have no chance of winning, is not restricted to Americans.  Anyone can buy a ticket, and anyone in fact, can win it.  The problem is that while you can buy a ticket, and you can return to Canada with the ticket (or any other country for that matter), you are not legally allowed to bring the ticket back into the United States to collect your winnings.  The ticket can be confiscated at the border.

An obscure law prevents you from bringing the ticket back in.  It's immoral. Lottery tickets are specifically mentioned.  It's quite ironic since the ticket originated in the United States.

At least one B.C. man has run into problems in the past for trying to take lottery tickets into the U.S.

Conda Reddy says he had nine B.C. lottery tickets confiscated while trying to cross the border in December. The agency has since returned the tickets, as well as his Nexus card, which was taken during the incident.

"...if (border crossing guards) want to be nitpicky, they could enforce that obscure law and take them," he said. "They have the right to."
Lottery officials are scrambling to  try and ensure Canadians can buy the tickets and not have to worry about confiscation if they return to collect winnings with the tickets.  Good on them.  They're seeing the bigger picture - free revenue from foreign suckers players.  They're also seeing more.

What some Americans don't realize is that the Powerball lottery is a big story outside of the United States too.  And the rules allowing foreigners to play but preventing them from winning - after having spent money in America to participate - makes America look petty and bureaucratic.  It's been allover the news up here. 

And it all comes down too to much overly intrusive regulation.  A rule that is overly specific and while perhaps even good intentioned, clearly unworkable identifies a gap.  A multi-state lottery that generates revenue for states at odds with border security which is with the idea of free commerce, and just being neighborly is a sign of over-regulation or at least poorly thought out regulation.

Fix it.  I want to give you a little bit of my money for a chance to dream, America.  It's free money for you.  True, the lotteries here are not taxed at all, but they don't ever get north of $60 million.  Plus, I can guarantee you that if I won a billion dollars (or more), I'd try my hardest to repatriate the money with America.  I'm sure with that kind of money your broken immigration system would let me in to become a citizen very quickly. I'd be totally happy with being an American. I bet I'm not alone in any of that thinking.

One other thought - if you want to sell more, particularly outside of America, consider making it possible to purchase tickets  online.  I get it, the buyers could be from ISIS, but all you have to do is add just one more law that lottery winners must be vetted by Homeland Security prior to collecting their winnings.... (see what I did there?)

Meanwhile - good luck to everyone with Powerball tickets for tonight, sincerely.

A different kind of plastic money

Yes, there's a hologram.
Counterfeiting in Canada was down in 2015.  Way down.  Here's why;
Canada's plastic money is stumping counterfeiters. The RCMP estimate the number of fake bills passed on to retailers in 2015 dropped by 74 per cent compared with the previous year.

That doesn't mean people have given up trying to copy Canada's banknotes — it's just that even their best attempts to make fake cash are falling well short.

Regina Police Const. Scott Wolfe hasn't seen much counterfeit currency since the Bank of Canada introduced polymer money four years ago, but he did have a case last fall.

"When we first touched the bill you could tell it wasn't the polymer feel. It was paper. We could see they had cut out the security window from a real $5 bill and pasted it to a $50 and $100 bill," said Wolfe.

The face in the hologram didn't match the face on the bill and the edges were uneven. Even so, the money was successfully passed on to retailers, perhaps in a dimly lit bar or sandwiched between two authentic notes.
I'm not sure if the same possibilities exist with American currency.  It's maddening enough that the $10 bill is going to be changed.  American money is institutional.  Even in Canada when I imagine money, I imagine American currency.  It's iconic.  Changing it is heresy.  Worse - it's idiotic, hyperbolic political correctness.  I'm not suggesting women should not be represented on currency, just not on existing currency. Having plastic money to prevent counterfeiting is preferable to change for the sake diversity for diversity's sake.

January 12, 2016

State of the Union - I'll pass. Iran, not so much.

I'm sticking with my earlier advice to Republicans and conservatives - the president is no longer relevant, ignore him.  Best case scenario, I watch his last State of the Union with glee that it's his last one and hope to see someone shout "LIAR!" at him. Ah, nostalgia. But even if I do that, I won't blog about it.

I'd rather blog about my prediction regarding the escalation of tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and Iran's attempt to drag America into the conflagration by taking American sailors hostage. President Obsequious won't bite on that though - he's too cool.  And by too cool, I mean too cowardly and too aloof to care about American servicemen (and women).

Smart move for Iran, getting some human shields in the face of a Saudi hard line on them.  Saudi hostages probably wouldn't make a difference.  The way Obama negotiated with Iran on their nuclear program, they'll probably be released in exchange for America agreeing to defend Iran against a Saudi invasion.

January 11, 2016

RIP David Bowie

The most powerful words in the English language

You may have been expecting a sentence or phrase with magical power to change your life. That's not what this is. Rather the following 5 words are a list of words that provide the greatest potential for us as human beings. In that sense, it's true for any language because the potential is there regardless of the language being spoken.

Keep in mind that I am looking at words individually, and not as part of a phrase.  You'll often see "I am" listed as the most powerful words simply because whatever you follow them with defines you as a person.  But "I am" consists of two words, not one.

With that in mind here's my Top 5 list.

5. Love.

What? It's not number one? No. It may be the number one most powerful emotional state, but not as a word. Yes saying 'I love you' is powerful, and it certainly plays a strong part in the propagation of the species. It also provides social glue in that saying it encourages bonding between family and often friends. These social structures are necessary for society to function. That all said, you cannot convey the feeling by the word alone. Not to get all semantic, but you require a phrase or sentence to tell someone you love them. Other words on this list accomplish results without requiring the assistance of other words.

But tell people you love, that you love them anyway.

4. No.

No is more powerful that yes. All the hippie notions about 'yes' being affirming and 'no' being spirit-crushing. No is more necessary than yes. No puts societal constraints on an otherwise unconstrained populace. It sets boundaries. No murder. No theft. No helps keep society from descending into anarchy. From that perspective No is absolutely critical.

On a personal level, no is never fun to hear. But every choice you make you are saying yes to one option but you are saying no to an equal or greater number of options. You say no far more than you say yes. No, is part of free will.

You can always say no to something.

3. How.

How can...How does... How does something work? How does something happen? How can something be done better? From the elemental building blocks of the universe to the inner workings of a clock, our understanding of 'How' is what gives us the ability to do more. It is one of the core components of human learning, and it is certainly at the crux of human creativity and invention.

Without how, we might not have mastered fire, or the wheel, or irrigation. We would not know how to sail, or to fly.

How drives innovation.

2. Please.

Society at it's core hinges on, or holds together because of the cultural norms it engenders. Take away those norms and society becomes less polite, coarser, and more prone to decay or dissolution.

Please, is the prime nicety in the lexicon. Arguably Thank You rates as well, because the expression of gratitude is the reward for helping someone in need, but Please does more than that. It imparts respect to the listener. It promotes cooperation and it posits a peaceful resolution to a situation that sidesteps the notion of taking for yourself what is needed, by force. By asking please you are foregoing the violent alternative.

Please also provides hope. In times of difficulty or despair, the hope that some help can be granted, if it is only asked, imbues us with an important ingredient that at times is all that is available to keep us going.

Asking please is always advisable.

1. Why.

Why is a more powerful word than How because How seeks to understand the mechanics of something, but why seeks to understand why the mechanics work, or why something else can't work better. Alternately why seeks to find the reason something has happened or will happen or won't. Why is about the underlying reality of anything.

Asking why spurs innovation. Asking why spurs imagination, it is at the root of discovery, it is more than the mechanics of science it is about why science even exists.

Asking why is never a bad idea.

There you go, that's my list. Did I miss any words or exclude more deserving ones? Let me know.

January 10, 2016

Sunday Verse

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
~Jeremiah 29:11

January 9, 2016

More Google Crap

I'm not sure about the whole Google/Blogger connection.  I mean, I thought I was, but today I went into Blogger to try to write a post.  I was confronted with an interception saying I had an inappropriate or incomplete Google+ profile.   The same profile I have had for years.

I followed the link to Google+ to see what the issue was.  There was some Marketing post on my Google+ page on December 17th that I do not remember re-posting or +1ing or linking to on my profile. I certainly did not post it myself. So I deleted it to be safe.  I checked all of my profile settings - they seemed okay, but I made a couple of minor changes.

I still could not get into my Blogger account.  

I did notice a couple of things - my Google+ profile has had over 3 million views. That shocked me.  What's worse is that those were wasted views in large part no doubt because my Blogger posts, my primary outlet for my thoughts/ideas hasn't posted anything to Google+ since 2013. And what's worse, is that it was posting only from my secondary, less frequently used blog.

Suddenly after of dozens of identical repeated attempts (trying to prove my insanity I suppose), I achieved a different result.  I got in (as you can see,  because I'm posting this).

Now I'm left wondering - did I fix the problem?  Did I do something wrong?  If so, what? There was ZERO indication of what change/update was required.  And if there was something wrong, was it because of a complaint?

One thing I am not wondering - whether I like Google+ and Blogger.  I don't.  Irritants like this have popped up before. While I'm kind of locked in on using the Blogger platform, I'm frequently unhappy, unimpressed, and uninspired.

Way to go Google.

P.S. If anyone knows how to adjust Google+ feeds, please leave an explanation in the comments. I'd really appreciate a basic understanding.

Saturday Learning Series - Geography (Canada)

Recently I found a cool series of geography videos by Geography Now.  Since geography is one of my favorite academic topics (along with history, politics, and science), I thought I'd share some of these videos. starting with my native country, Canada.   Enjoy.

January 8, 2016

Friday Musical Interlude - Tigercats

From 2012, Tigercats with their song entitled Stevie Nicks.

Steven Crowder's 2nd Amendment Rebuttal of a Young Turk

This stands on it's own, so I thought I'd share it.

January 7, 2016

Thursday Hillary Bash - She can't win

This weekend, the Washington Times had a story on Democrats being worried that she might not be able to beat Donald Trump.

“We’re going to start to have to look at how the [Democratic] candidates play against Donald Trump, because he’s certainly holding onto his lead in the Republican Party, and he has certainly played the Republican candidates in a way that has hurt some of his opposition, and I think people are going to start asking, ‘All right, who’s going to stand up under his type of campaigning?’” Mr. Allen said. “If Bernie [Sanders] is the candidate, Trump will play up how un-American socialism is, and if Hillary gets it, he will dig up everything in the past 40 years and use it — and won’t mince words in using it.”
This was just one set of concerns, that included leveraging Bill as a target, and also Hillary's own inability to generate real enthusiasm.

It's reasonable to think that Hillary's lead will hold up and that she can make it to the nomination relatively unscathed. But really, that means she'd make it un-tested in adversity. Remember what happened in 2008 when she faced a real obstacle in Obama? This.

Or during Benghazi, this.

Or is she just cynically doing it on queue? That would be even worse than not being able to handle the heat of a real debate with Trump, or in negotiations with Putin.

Let me be clear, I'm not suggesting that the issue arises because she's a women. Heck, John Boehner often wept like a three year old. What I'm merely pointing out, is that she's not ready for prime time, and she shows it.  Those Democrats referenced in the Washington Times story have a real reason to be worried about her nomination.

An example-based reason the U.S. must unfetter it's economy

Oil prices continue to falter. In Canada it has contributed to the changes from a Net Exporter to a Net Importer and a trade deficit, despite favorable trade for those seeking Canadian goods. Unfortunately, too large a percentage of those goods, appear to be oil.

It points out a national need to compete in other areas such as manufacturing, or service based industries. Sadly, Canada has not seen the productivity gains over the last decade required to compete in those areas. That means that Canada's economy will continue to be soft until the productivity situation is rectified or oil prices rebound.

The lesson is that over-reliance on one particular industry or commodity is dangerous. Basic economics would indicate that nations should specialize in whatever area(s) they excel and rely on trade with other nations for other items. This specialization provides the most benefit to the most people. But diversification, as in a stock portfolio is prudent to stave off shocks. What if your nation was the best in the world at manufacturing buggy whips? Those became obsolete a long time ago. If you did not have other industries to rely on, your economy might be in terrible shape. The point is, specialization is important but it should not be in any single industry.

For example, OPEC countries will eventually feel the shock when oil becomes a less valuable commodity. The United States has benefitted from it's heyday in the mid 20th century as the world's manufacturer in that it had a very diverse manufacturing base. While the percentage of the world's manufacturing has declined, the basis for it is still there - the challenge is entirely on the cost of manufacturing side (a productivity/labor issue). The United States is also blessed with resources, some of which they appear loathe to use or produce (e.g. coal, shale oil). Nevertheless they are blessed with geography, population, resources and infrastructure to remain a diverse economic producer.

What they face instead are self-imposed constraints on what they will produce, and how they will produce it. Energy is not encouraged to come from the most efficient methods (oil, coal, nuclear power). Production is often hampered by higher labor costs than in other nations and results in a constant disequilibrium of net imports, and the offshoring of jobs and the net loss of domestic spending power and ultimately demand. There is also a perception that a service based economy, a post-industrial economy is not only inevitable but also sustainable. But at a micro-economic level people will always require food, shelter, heat, clothing, and transportation. Those all involve manufacturing or construction. Medical services and financial services would be the biggest service based industries. Those do not translate internationally for trade as easily as the manufacturing-based industries. It's not impossible for a bank to go international. It's not impossible for drug companies and other medical innovations (e.g. artificial hearts) to be made available for export.

There is no magic formula on what is the right mix of economic activity. But the simple notion that an economy should be diverse (i.e. specialize in more than one single area) just seems like common sense.

January 6, 2016

North Korean Nuclear Test

North Korea has apparently conducted an underground nuclear test earlier today. The incident registered as a 5.1 magnitude earthquake. North Korea claims the test was of a Hydrogen Bomb, as opposed to a lower yield Atomic Bomb. South Korean spies claim it was of the latter type.

Regardless, the test drew international condemnation, including from that of their benefactor/protector, China. The U.S. joined in the condemnation.

I would expect no further action from the United States. The president is focused far too keenly on his next domestic agenda item, gun control. He also has a history of excessive softness on foreign policy; with Russia, with China, with Syria, multiple instances with Iran, with Venezuela and previously with North Korea. He's soft and the international perception is that he is ineffectual in projecting American influence.

In other words, he's not going to do anything, and the world is currently an unpoliced Wild West where you can do anything you want without consequences. For example, you can conduct a test of an underground nuclear detonation and get not even a slap on the wrist but rather the geopolitical equivalent of rolling eyes.

January 5, 2016

Google/Blogger changes coming next week

An FYI post.

Do you follow my blog?  You should be aware of the coming changes to how Google allows people to follow blogs;
In 2011, we announced the retirement of Google Friend Connect for all non-Blogger sites. We made an exception for Blogger to give readers an easy way to follow blogs using a variety of accounts. Yet over time, we’ve seen that most people sign into Friend Connect with a Google Account. So, in an effort to streamline, in the next few weeks we’ll be making some changes that will eventually require readers to have a Google Account to sign into Friend Connect and follow blogs.

As part of this plan, starting the week of January 11, we’ll remove the ability for people with Twitter, Yahoo, Orkut or other OpenId providers to sign in to Google Friend Connect and follow blogs. At the same time, we’ll remove non-Google Account profiles so you may see a decrease in your blog follower count.
I'm not sure if it affects a lot of my followers, but there you go.

January 4, 2016

Conservative strategy for 2016 - ignore Obama

President Obama is back from vacation, and reportedly fired up. He's going to do something about gun violence using Executive Orders. I thought he was supposed be a lame duck.  His job approval ratings have leveled out in the low 40's, and he's not going to get a lot of support on much from voters and perhaps from fellow Democrats.  So why isn't he acting like a lame duck?  Or is all of his bluster just for show?

Actually, none of that matters.  What Obama is really doing is looking for a way to get a bump in his approval ratings, but not for him.  He's trying to ensure that Hillary Clinton (or less likely, but preferably for him, Bernie Sanders) wins the presidential election in November this year.  He wants a Democrat to win in order to cement his legacy on things like Obamacare, on the Iran deal, and on Cuba normalization, among other things).  Should a Republican win, and the GOP manage to retain both the Congress and Senate, the next president is likely to oversee a significant dismantling of the Obama agenda items.

And that's why what Obama does (trying to glom onto gun control or any other issue that he might think will stick in order to improve his own approval ratings and thus help his possible successor), should not matter to conservatives.  The rationale - the way Obama will operate is not be conciliatory but to be confrontational in the steadfast belief that he's still the smartest man in the Capitol.  As a result, he will continue to win no friends and there is no reason to believe he can move his approval ratings in a positive direction in any significant way.  Everything he has done prior to this has followed the pattern and all it does is cement things where they are - supporters support it, detractors don't like it.

His efforts will have no impact. He's made himself a lame duck by continuing to operate in a predictable fashion.  He has learned nothing as leader.  He has personified the the difference between intelligence and wisdom.  He may have a decent IQ, but he does not learn from his own mistakes and continues to make them.  So he may be intelligent (I'd argue not really even that), but he's not wise.

What Obama does now is totally irrelevant.  Conservative pundits would be wise to ignore the president entirely this year (barring of course, new scandals) and focus on the problems with Hillary and with Bernie, as well as seasoning that with the positives of the GOP candidates.  It'll be a winning formula, helped in part by Obama's insistence on being a stubborn tactician. Who knows, his increasingly irrelevant status may push him into doing something foolish that actually hurts his own party.

January 3, 2016

Coming soon to a battlefield near you, Saudi Arabia vs. Iran.

Saudi Arabia recently executed a high profile Shiite cleric.  In response, Iranians stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran. In response to that, Saudi Arabia has cut relations with Iran.  That's what's known in strategic circles as escalating tension.  But could this all actually be about oil?

If Saudi Arabia even suspected that this would cause problems for them, why proceed with the execution?  Why not drag out the proceedings for as long as possible to avoid an escalation?  Maybe Saudi Arabia wanted an escalation of tensions with Iran.


  • Oil prices have plummeted over the last year or so, in large part due to Saudi Arabia's refusal to implement production quotas in order to lower supply and artificially bolster the market price.
  • Iranian oil thanks to president Obama's weak-tea deal with Iran, will soon be coming on line and into the marketplace, thus creating an even greater production glut, and putting further downward pressure on the commodity's price.  That's not good for any oil producing nation, including Saudi Arabia.
  • Iran poses a growing threat to Saudi Arabia as the regional power player
If I'm the Saudi King, I'm looking for ways to weaken Iran.  Clearly holding no clout with Obama on the Iran deal I have to think of another way to manage Iran.  Escalating tensions is a way to do that.  Iran may be weaker now than they will be in five years because as the oil money flows into Iran, rebuilding an effective fighting force becomes possible.  So for Saudi Arabia time is also of the essence.

Given those factors, forcing an all out shooting war with Iran allows Saudi Arabia a couple of advantages.
  • They may be able to take the opportunity to take out Iran's oil production capabilities before they come on line.
  • They may be able to force America's hand into participating in a war in defense of a nominal regional ally.
  • They may garner Israeli support and action against Iran as well, since they can be seen as a common enemy.
  • With Russia focused on Syria, and Crimea, risk of Russian involvement is decreased.
  • With Iraq in turmoil due to ISIS activities, and the nation the middle ground between Iran and Saudi Arabia, it provides an opportunity to take action against ISIS (again, potentially forcing America's hand).
  • Would a war inflate oil prices? Undoubtedly.  The only questions are: by how much and for how long, and will it benefit Saudi Arabia in the short and/or long run?
Was that execution in Saudi Arabia done deliberately to provoke a hot war with Iran?  There's a good case for YES. And if indeed that's the thinking, it may be inevitable.

Sunday Verse

Psalm 23.

January 1, 2016

Friday Musical Interlude - Stevie Nicks

Gold and Braid, live in 1981. A beautiful way to start 2016.

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