February 28, 2018

Manafort pleads not guilty to latest charges

The Mueller probe into the Russia collusion on the election, already reaching well beyond the scope of it's mandate, leveled new charges against Paul Manafort in an effort to to squeeze him on the Trump campaign.  In addition to the charges laid by the Mueller team so far being predominantly against Russians, it's another sign that the prosecutor, really has nothing and is on a fishing expedition.

That's because Manafort is pleading not guilty, and apparently is not succumbing to the pressure to make a deal:
Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman accused of laundering $30 million to support a lavish lifestyle, pleaded not guilty in his first court appearance since Special CounselRobert Mueller unveiled two new indictments against him last week.

Manafort, 68, entered his plea in federal court in Washington, where he was initially indicted in October withRick Gates, his longtime business associate and deputy on the Trump campaign. Manafort previously denied those charges. Now Mueller has intensified the pressure on Manafort by winning a guilty plea and cooperation deal with Gates and filing the new charges against Manafort.
It also proves that the investigation is succumbing to the rules of bureaucracy, which is to say, it's driven by self-preservation: it has to justify it's existence by delivering something...anything. The probe is now interested in primarily one thing: it's own survival. That manifests itself in a relentless pursuit of president Trump, regardless of how far afield they have to go from their original mandate.  They are looking at things that go well beyond the scope of the Russia collusion investigation.  Things that happened longer before there was a Trump campaign. Why would they do that?  In order to find things on the people in the administration, or associated with the campaign so that they have leverage to coerce people into divulging what they think they will find about the Trump campaign.

More charges against Manafort means Mueller has not gotten what he wants out of the investigation or what he thinks Manafort has the ability to divulge.  That Manafort is pleading not guilty, means that Manafort is not intimidated by the Mueller team. All of that adds up to the likely conclusion that this is nowhere near finished.  That isn't what president Trump wants (sure the not guilty makes sense but the ongoing unrelated charges being laid just drags out the probe and delays an exoneration).  It's not what the Democrats want (they'd like an October conclusion that indicts the president to help them win in the midterms).  Bur for the Mueller team, it's exactly what they want as it ensures a longer window, and continued existence.  


February 27, 2018

Liberal professor gets lumped in with Alt-Right

I'd like to say hilarity ensues, but not really. Joe Rogan discusses the situation with Steven Pinker.  All he really did was indicate that they aren't all stupid - apparently heads exploded.

For those confused by the media, Trump supporters are not a cult

I was reading s Drudge link today, to the woefully liberal New Republic about how Trump can win re-election in 2020.  This as he's announced he will run for re-election.  Well into the article, political polling analyst Larry Sabato had this to offer:
“I would say the most distinctive thing about him other than his obnoxiousness is that his followers aren’t a base,” Sabato said. “They’re a cult. This is a cult. They’ve ceded their independent thinking to this man. This is the most intense cult that I can remember in American politics.”
After the visceral reaction of  - "screw you Larry"; you either have drunk the liberal Kool-Aid or else are speaking for a liberal audience and being deliberately condescending and vitriolic in your analysis of Trump supporters - there's actually a reasonable retort to it.

Firstly, like probably every.single.Trump.supporter, I do not agree with the president on everything.  There are things he's pushed for that I think are bad ideas.  However, on the whole I support him.  The same cannot be said for a lot of Democrat supporters on the left;



At least let's call it a saw-off (a tie).  But here's the real problem with Sabato's analysis - he's looking at it from the wrong lens.  The liberal media has pushed SO HARD at president Trump on everything that they have created a reflexive reaction among his supporters - they have solidified the support of Trump supporters as a reaction to their over-the-top negativity.  It's never been a cult of personality - it's a reaction to bias, and even deeper than that, it's a reaction to the liberal cultural elite.  It's not even about Trump, it's about an equal and opposite reaction to the liberal hammering of conservatives.

I used to read Sabato's blog regularly, but he's proven on more than one occasion to be less than factually based.  Maybe it's time to move on.  As far as the whole cult of personality thing, it's way off base.

February 24, 2018

Saturday Learning Series - Geography (Guatemala)

More geography for you, this time the Central American nation of Guatemala.


February 23, 2018

Friday Musical Interlude - Planet Claire

The B52s, in all their 50's/60's kitsch wonderful weirdness.

February 22, 2018

Conservative Insurgent Thursday - Episode #3

Insurgent: noun a rebel or revolutionary.
      "an attack by armed insurgents"
synonyms: rebel, revolutionary, revolutionist, mutineer, insurrectionist, agitator, subversive, renegade, incendiary

Conservative Insurgent Thursdays continues with Lauren Southern, whom Wikipedia refers to as a "far right" activist (which apparently encompasses anyone who isn't far left).  They also claim she is associated with the alt-right, a claim which is patently ridiculous.

Lauren is the first woman featured on this young series, but she's first for good reason. Lauren is not afraid to stand up for classical liberalism/conservatism/libertarianism no matter the situation. She's fearless. She's feisty. She's intelligent.  She's internet savvy.  And she's not what the left claim she is.  She's fighting an uphill battle but it never appears that she's bitter or negative because of it.  All of that make her a logical choice as the next conservative insurgent profile.

Who is Lauren Southern?

Born in Canada in 1995, to a father of Danish descent, her birth name was actually Lauren Simonsen. She studied political science at the University of the Fraser Valley but decided not finish her degree. In 2015, at the age of 20, she ran for parliament in British Columbia, Canada as a Libertarian candidate. She did not win. When in Canada, and only in Canada, Lauren identifies as a man - more on that later.

Background: 

At the age of 22, Lauren has a surprising list of accomplishments in support of the conservative/libertarian cause.  She has been banned by Patreon and Facebook (mistakenly, and then re-instated in the case of the latter).  She has worked for Rebel Media (a Canadian conservative Youtube channel run by Ezra Levant that has helped launch other conservative insurgents into the limelight). In 2017 she departed to start working independently.

Not a great deal of personal information about Lauren is available.  It's not surprising given her youth, but it's also refreshing that she does not put herself out there completely, in contrast to so many of her generation.

Notable achievements:

In addition to working at Rebel Media, and bravely going out on her own, Lauren wrote and self-published in 2016 "Barbarians: How Baby Boomers, Immigrants, and Islam Screwed My Generation".

Did I mention she is fearless?  In 2017, Southern was part of an attempt organized by Génération identitare to block the passage of an NGO ship that was leaving Sicily to start a "search-and-rescue" mission for ship-wrecked migrants off the shores of Northern Africa. The reason: the group claimed that the goal was to stop an empty boat from going to Libya and filling up with illegal migrants.  The result: Southern was briefly detained by the Italian Coast Guard.

Most recently Southern has traveled to South Africa to do a series of videos on white farmers being harassed, assaulted and even killed by black citizens.

Why we need her:

Lauren is simply fearless.  She is not afraid to walk into the belly of the liberal beast during protests to challenge people's fallacious beliefs, armed with quick-witted facts. In doing so she has been verbally maligned and even assaulted. She never backed down.  In 2015 her cameraman was shoved and later in 2016, in Vancouver a protester poured urine on her head as she was engaging another protester. Her bravado, poise under fire and knowledge far exceed her years, indicating she will have a lengthy future in conservative activism.  It is highly probable that her greatest accomplishments still lie ahead.

Her youth is not at all a detriment but rather an asset - talking to millennials is more likely to have an impact if the facts and debate are coming from another millennial and not some 'old person'.  It also matters that despite having left her political science course, Southern approaches her discussions and journalism well-armed with knowledge pertinent to the topic.

Highlight Reel:




Social Media:

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Instagram

Others:
-Her own website
-Interviewed by David Rubin

Bonus Content: 

Yes, in Canada, she is officially a man:

CNN Fake News exposed, again

How can anyone take CNN seriously when we keep seeing evidence that they are broadcasting a narrative. A Florida shooting survivor was excluded from the discussion for obvious reasons:




CNN has denied the claims and offered their own version of events. Even if that is true, the student had an excellent suggestion that they refused to consider since it does not fit their narrative. At a minimum, CNN is predisposed to limited inclusivity in their "discussions" and panels.

February 21, 2018

How to stop the Dems on background checks.


As an adult you can vote, join the military and buy guns and alcohol in America.  Isn't interesting that people who want stricter control on background checks for gun purchases do not want the same checks on voter IDs?


"Only a fool thinks background checks should not be improved. "  You want to stop the Democrats in their tracks or at least level the playing field? Offer to improve background checks as strictly as necessary, but tie the standards to be applied to voter ID in the exact same way. Bam!! Suddenly it hurts Democrats' chances to win elections. It's an instant end of the effort to change gun control laws.

February 20, 2018

Remember this?

An amusing flashback that the media appear to have forgotten: president Obama in 2016 saying that the elections cannot be hacked or rigged:



And here's the inevitable self-contradiction:

February 19, 2018

The Schadenfreude What-If Scenario on Collusion

Robert Barnes @ Law & Crime asks if the Mueller indictment now means that the Hillary Clinton campaign could be indicted for their involvement with Chris Steele.  Don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen, but could you imagine the apoplexy on the left if Mueller followed the indictments to their logical conclusion, i.e. collusion by the Clinton campaign?

Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted foreign citizens for trying to influence the American public about an election because those citizens did not register as a foreign agent nor record their financial expenditures to the Federal Elections Commission. By that theory, when will Mueller indict Christopher Steele, FusionGPS, PerkinsCoie, the DNC and the Clinton Campaign? Mueller’s indictment against 13 Russian trolls claimed their social media political activity was criminal because: they were foreign citizens; they tried to influence an election; and they neither registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act nor reported their funding to the Federal Elections Commission.
First, if Mueller’s theory is correct, three things make Steele a criminal...
Second, if Mueller’s theory is correct, three things make FusionGPS a criminal co-conspirator...
Third, if Mueller’s theory is correct, then three things make PerkinsCoie a potential target... 
Fourth, if Mueller’s theory is correct, then three things make the DNC a potential target...
Fifth, if Mueller’s theory is correct, three things make the Clinton Campaign a potential target: it knew Steele was a foreign citizen; it knew, and paid, Steele to influence an election; and it knew, and facilitated, Steele neither registering as a foreign agent nor reporting his funding from the Clinton campaign to the Federal Election Commission, by disguising its funding of payments to Steele laundered through a law firm as a “legal expense.”
This is the logical extension of the investigation.  Don't expect it to happen but WOW, if it did. 

Mitch, let's hope it's your seat we lose

This is absolutely disgusting and reprehensible. What a defeatist attitude on display by Mitch McConnell:
A new interview with Mitch McConnell this week showed the first cracks in the wall of his optimism about the midterms. While not going down a path of gloom and doom, he no longer sounds positive of breaking a long-standing trend of the party in power losing ground in such scenarios. He’s not coming out and saying the GOP’s majorities in both chambers are toast, but he seems to think they’ll be losing seats.
There is no reason to think that, but if you do think that, (1) you plan to counter it, forcefully and (2) you do not say it out loud - not to your caucus let alone the media. Stupid, stupid, stupid.  And weak.  Weakness is a bad thing in case you're not sure.

This idea that Mitch McConnell is some kind of a parliamentary genius is idiotic. Michael Goodwin had an article last month about how president Trump is teaching Republicans how to fight. Let's just say his approach does not include retreat, surrender, capitulation or showing signs of weakness (it's worth reading in it's entirety, here).  Mitch McConnell clearly has not read this article, and if it wasn't too late, I'd suggest he read it.  Mitch McConnell looks weak - now more than ever. Really weak. Jeff Sessions weak. Say what you will about Nancy Pelosi (let me help you with some ideas on that - she's an idiot, she's out of touch), but at least she does not retreat - even from stupid, untenable positions. McConnell could learn from her if he's still afraid of learning from president Trump.

Here's a Good Question

How is it that the Russians supposedly knew to focus on Wisconsin in the 2016 election and the Hillary Clinton campaign didn't?   Watch John Podesta get asked that question on Face The Nation, and get flumoxed.


He has an answer as part of the broader context; "Russia mattered".  What mattered more is that the Hillary campaign was moribund, ill-managed and clueless.  In the Mueller indictment they also indicate that there was no impact on the election that resulted from these activities.

Podesta pointed out that the this focused only on the social media aspect of Russian interference (which incidentally after the election was directed full force at president Trump).  That's an interesting take given that if there was something much more palpable, like collusion, it would have come first, or at a minimum been mentioned as a pending part of the investigation. So, nope.

The liberal/media/liberal-media narrative has fallen apart.  They are scrambling to find another reason to discredit the Trump presidency.

February 17, 2018

Saturday Learning Series - Geography (Grenada)

One of my friends who was a part of my reason for starting this blog discussing politics back in 2008 is originally from Grenada.  I found this one of particular interest.


The flag:

February 16, 2018

Friday Musical Interlude - Green Day done cute style.

An acoustic cover of Green Day's Boulevard of Broken Dreams, along with a bonus of cute dog.

February 15, 2018

Conservative Insurgent Thursday - Episode #2

Insurgentnoun a rebel or revolutionary.
      "an attack by armed insurgents"
synonymsrebel, revolutionary, revolutionist, mutineer, insurrectionist, agitator, subversive, renegade, incendiary

Last week the inaugural episode of Conservative Insurgent Thursday I profiled Milo Yiannopolous.  As I mentioned, he has not only alienated most of the Left, he has also managed to alienate some on the right.  Most notable among them is Ben Shapiro.  Ben Shapiro's acutely incisive ability to talk intelligently, backed by an armada of factual information (which he seems to so easily pull from his memory with amazing accuracy) enables him to debate and engage with others with the forceful ability to convince or halt opposing viewpoint in their tracks.

Ben thinks and talks with such rapid fire precision that you have to imagine his thought process must run at about Mach 6.

Who is Ben Shapiro?

Ben Shapiro is not only an author, journalist, radio talk show host and frequent guest on mainstream media, he's also a lawyer.  He's just 34 years old, and recently at that.  Ben was born in Los Angeles in 1984 to Jewish parents who immigrated from Russia.  He graduated UCLA at age 20 (where at age 17 he was the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in America).  By 2007 he had graduated Harvard Law School.

Background: 

Ben is quite young and as a result a lot of his background involves things that are still active, and in many cases he is still actively involved in them.  Ben published his first book in 2004. His fifth book was published in 2013. From 2012 through 2016 he worked for Breitbart.  He founded the conservative website The Daily Wire in 2015.  He also co-founded Truth Revolt, a conservative version of the liberal Media Matters.  Ben is Jewish.

Notable achievements:

In addition to all of the items listed in his background, Ben has frequented the university campus speech tour which has highlighted the duplicitous nature of the vocal left.  Despite Ben's unoffensive, factual approach to discussion, his speeches and Q&A sessions have required him to hire security and caused riots when he tried to speak at U.C. Berkeley, not because of any sort of insensitivity or racially insensitive remarks, but just because he was espousing, and making the case for conservative ideas.  That's all.  Ben, unlike Milo is no bomb thrower, he is a fact thrower.

Why we need him:

In contrast to the bombastic and sarcastic approach taken by Milo, Ben's fact-based, logic-driven approach to advocating for conservatism makes his points almost impossible to dispute.  In some cases, completely impossible.  Ben provides a roadmap for conservatives with respect to how to approach a debate; preparation, keen observation, consistency of approach and logical rigor with respect to issues.  We can all learn from him, and we should.

Ben advocates for a conservative approach to problems, and his ideological purity often puts him at odds with the likes of Breitbart, president Trump and of course his arch-rival/nemesis Milo.  That's not a bad thing; there is still plenty of common ground between them, and the president while assuming the current mantle of conservatism, is not always right, nor always it's best face.  The right is supposed to be a big tent party and a party of ideas.  Keeping everyone in lockstep as the Democrats do, is ultimately unhealthy.  Currently Ben serves as a reality check for conservatives who blindly follow the president regardless of his positions or approach. If we are to really self assess, we would not always blindly advocate for the president's positions or actions.  We should not do that, or at a minimum we should assess the rationale for doing so, as well as the cost/benefits of taking such positions.

Additionally Ben touches on varied topics like metaphysics and in such forays, gets us to think about them and to think about political and social issues in those contexts as well.

Highlight Reel:

I've included a couple here, because no single 'highlight reel' does Shapiro justice.






Social Media:

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube

Others:
-His own website (The Daily Wire)

Thoughts on the Florida school shooting and gun issue

Yesterday there was a mass shooting in a Florida High School.  Of course there is going to be an angry uproar about gun control.   Today Rush Limbaugh is talking about different states trying different solutions, which is a position I have always taken -- from anything from taxation, to schools to any other issue or problem.  50 different attempts to solve a problem are more likely to find a single solution than imposing a federal solution on all 50 states.  Why wouldn't you want 50 different chances to solve a problem instead of 1.  With 1 you need 100% success, with 50 attempts by 50 states you only need a 2% success rate which can then be replicated in other states.

BUT,

These tragedies continue to happen, and if the Republicans are to not look like knee-jerk second amendment reactionaries, they need to propose a solution as an alternative to gun control.  Just leaving it to the states appears to be an endorsement of the status quo, which is unacceptable on both a political and moral level.  Americans rightly do not want children to continue being killed by mindless violence.  States' rights is not the entire answer.  Even if it does work, it does not work right away, and in this day and age, the expectation for everything is NOW. Do it now, take my order now, deliver my package now.  That's reality.

I have not thought about this long enough to propose a solution, but I will, every other conservative should do so too.  That's part of the 50 state solution scaled up to millions of thinkers.  If that doesn't work in this instance, we maybe don't deserve a nation endowed with states' rights.

February 10, 2018

Saturday Learning Series - Geography (Greece)

This week a look at a classical era country, Greece.


The Greek flag:

February 9, 2018

February 8, 2018

Prager U vs. Google and YouTube

Sharing this because it really matters, not just to Prager U, but to everyone in America. Please share this, because it's not just Google, it's Facebook, it's Twitter.  If you can't share your voice you can't make a difference and the country isn't safe.



There's more.  Yesterday I watched this recent David Rubin video that was demonitzed for absolutely no valid reason:



By the way, it's a brilliant conversation it's worth a watch in its entirety.

Why the stock market is fine: jobs and taxes

More growth lies underneath.
Via Yahoo:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, dropping to its lowest level in nearly 45 years as the labor market tightened further, bolstering expectations of faster wage growth this year.

...The labor market is near full employment, with the jobless rate at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent. The tighter labor market is starting to exert upward pressure on wage growth.
In another article on Yahoo:
President Donald Trump's $1.5 trillion tax overhaul, touted as major tax relief for individuals and corporations, is showing up in bigger paychecks and bonuses awarded to workers by companies whose tax bills are being slashed.
Despite the Yahoo spin, interviewing people who appreciate the cuts but still do not like president Trump, the underlying fundamentals are this: the job market is historically strong, wages are growing, companies are doing well and the tax cuts are making a difference.

The stock market correction is not unexpected, but the boom is just starting and therefore the stock market will be fine. I said it before and nothing has changed since; this is going to be a strong economic year, even as the bond market and hence investors adjust to the potential for inflation, the market will continue to grow.

Conservative Insurgent Thursday - Episode #1

Insurgent: noun a rebel or revolutionary.
      "an attack by armed insurgents"
synonyms: rebel, revolutionary, revolutionist, mutineer, insurrectionist, agitator, subversive, renegade, incendiary

Given that definition, what better place to start with Conservative Insurgent Thursday than with a true icon of (pardon the political connotations of the term) the young turks of the conservative movement? Milo Yiannopoulus is the perfect starting point.  There is a new vanguard that has arisen among conservatives who are younger, but often more in tune with the roots of classical liberalism, conservatism, and their adjunct components than a lot of establishment so-called conservatives.  There is a surprising diversity of conservative opinion as will become obvious throughout this series.  This stands in stark contrast to progressivism which, by it's very collectivist nature, seeks to mitigate the difference between people that should rather be celebrated.

Given the purpose of this weekly feature, I have no intention of dwelling on any negatives or controversies associated with any of these conservative insurgents.  If you want that, you can find plenty of negativity on any of these people in plenty of liberal places. The purpose here is to make you aware of who these people are, fighting for our conservative values and provide reasons why they might deserve your attention or support.

Who is Milo Yiannopolous? 

Milo is certainly a bomb thrower.  He comes to debates backed with facts, but he has no reservations about using sarcasm, foul language or ad hominem attacks as he sees fit.  It certainly garners attention generates enemies (on both the left and right). But when it is followed cogent, solid and mostly irrefutable factual arguments, attention is an asset. Many on the conservative side of the spectrum are afraid to say what they really think.  It's hard to win an argument that way and Milo's biggest asset is that he understands that point.  And like president Trump, he punches back whenever he needs to do so.

Background:

Milo was born and raised in England in 1984 to a Greek-Irish father and a Jewish mother.  He describes himself as Catholic. Milo is also openly gay and has been married to an African-American man, since 2017. He is often described as a member of the alt-right, which he rejects, given the now-accepted definition of that term.  [The term alt-right was initially defined differently than it's current definition as neo-Nazi/white supremacist]. He is a resident alien in the United States. Milo was an early journalist covering the Gamergate issue, however he did so from the perspective that it was a feminist incursion into a space that there was no need to foist feminism upon an unsuspecting public group.

Notable achievements:

Milo came to prominence in America during his time as a tech writer at Breitbart.  After a specious scandal, which Milo vehemently denies the mainstream take on, Milo left Breitbart and has since published a bestselling book and toured in support of it, but more generally, in support of conservative principles at colleges, for which he has been persecuted, censored, and even threatened with death.  

Milo developed a massive following on Facebook, and Twitter and has his own Youtube channel.  Milo was removed and permanently banned from Twitter after a scathing review of the Ghostbusters reboot, following which some of his followers tweeted some truly offensive comments, even though Milo himself did not.  Ironically, the banning elevated Milo's audience as Twitter has developed a reputation for banning conservative voices and his was a very notable case.

Why we need him:

Milo has offended and is at odds with a lot of the mainstream media, establishment conservatives and even other insurgents as well (Ben Shapiro comes to mind).  Nevertheless the Republican party, which is supposed to be the home of conservatism, is supposed to be a big tent.  There are a large number of conservatives who have not felt that they have had a voice, or a voice that is strong enough or eloquent enough to push back against the cacophony of socialist voices, social justice warrior voices, and  progressivist voices.  Milo provides such a voice. He is quick-witted, intelligent and does not back down.  He is a natural consequence of the same oppressive culture in America (and the West in general) that gave rise to president Trump, and Brexit.

More importantly, there are a lot of  potential conservatives, whom Milo has the potential to reach, or awaken because of his unique and sharp take on issues as well as his fearless desire to reach younger audiences who may have not yet been fully indoctrinated by the political left or at least may still be reachable.  Not only is he able to debate he is also a very effective promoter and can garner the attention needed to at least start those conversations or point out the censorship efforts of the left if they force him to not make an appearance.

Highlight Reel:



Social Media:

Facebook
Youtube
Twitter: Nope - BANNED!
Others:

February 6, 2018

Schiff memo a trap? No problem.


According to a Hot Air report, the Democrats' own memo on the FBI investigation is not intended for release, rather it's purpose is as a trap for the president:
Democrats warned that releasing the Nunes memo would damage national security. Some who looked at the memo after its release didn’t really see how that would be the case. But it turns out Democrats could have been describing their own memo. According to a report at Fox News, the Democratic rebuttal memo is loaded with information on sources and methods in an effort to put the White House in a bind.
If it's a trap, it's an easy fix:  give the memo to the FBI and have them determine what needs to be redacted. It would show that the president is trying to work with the FBI to protect sources.  That diffuses the Schiff memo trap and might even come off as conciliatory. Problem?  No problem.

Why the libertarian view on drugs has issues (for me)

A while back I proposed an alternate way to stop the flow of drugs into America. It's not a solution to the scourge of drugs in the country, it's part of the solution.  The drug problem is complex and includes prescription opioids, domestically produced drugs, and the underlying problem is actually demand, not production.  I promised at that time I would get back to my non-libertarian rationale for opposing illicit drug consumption.  First, let me outline the logic of the libertarian view of drugs as I understand it.

Is this the future you want for your country?
Government allows the consumption of alcohol and cigarettes.  In a truly free and liberated society government should not prevent people from making choices, even if those choices are self-destructive.  Cigarettes and alcohol can be self destructive, and in the case of cigarettes it's pretty much inarguable that they are.  So why should illicit drugs be any different?  The caveat that libertarians allow for, is that as long as those choices do not harm anyone else then and only then should it permissible.  For example, murdering someone is not allowable because even though it is a free choice, it harms someone else.  Parking in such a way that it blocks someone else in is an individual freedom too, but it interferes with someone else's freedom to leave their parking spot.  In other words the government should only protect it's citizens from external threats or from each other, but not from themselves. That is up to and including the option for suicide I suppose.

There are problems with this logic as it applies to drugs, not the least of which is that switching to an unfettered allowance is to let the genie out of the bottle in such a way that it cannot be put back in.  Should there be dire societal consequences, they cannot be undone, or at least without a herculean effort.  When prohibition was implemented it was not long before it was reversed (13 years, which sounds like a long time but to reverse a Constitutional Amendment with another Amendment that is startlingly quick).  The point is the attempt to undo a freedom, once available, is a futile effort.  Yes alcohol was always available, but it provides a suitable analog.  Cigarettes, as damaging as they are will not be made illegal in our lifetime.  Similarly drugs, once legalized will not simply be made illegal again if they prove to be too detrimental to society as a whole.

More likely is the slippery slope argument - once a milder illegal drug is legalized there will be pressure to expand it to more, and harder drugs.  While there is plenty of evidence in our slide towards liberalism or even more aptly, political correctness, that there is indeed a slippery slope, I won't resort to that argument.  I have others.

The one argument that people make is that because drugs are illegal it contributes to crimes - murder and theft, for example.  The argument is that legalizing drugs will remove these problems.  The reverse is actually true.   Alcohol is legal and we still have alcohol-related deaths that are not just those who were drinking.  Cigarettes are legal and while second-hand smoke may or may not have killed anyone, it certainly, until recently, affected non-smokers.  I can attest to that personally.  Guns are legal and innocent people get shot and killed all the time.  And people still use illegal guns.  Why would some people not continue to use illegal drugs?  They might be cheaper.  Some people might not be able to get the legal drugs because they cannot afford their addiction and will still resort to crime to get what they need.

Simply legalizing drugs does not make these things go away.  And indeed, they may increase the instances of addiction and that could easily in turn increase these secondary effects of crime as more people become addicted, escalate and soon cannot afford their addictions.

The other effect that legalizing drugs has on society is the medical need to cope with the addicted. There are costs in ameliorating an addicted subset of the population. Not just the direct costs of rehabilitation, but also the opportunity costs.  If we have to divert medical expertise from cancer research to address the problem of burgeoning addiction, we could delay or miss the chance to cure cancer (for example). Doctors are not an unlimited resource - that was part of my argument on Obamacare.  Medical advances and treatment of the non-addicted are just another way that legalized drugs harm those who are not directly affected by the change in the law.

All of those issues are enough without even discussing the societal and familial impacts of decaying moral standards and families imploding because one drug user has upended the fabric of the family.

All for what?  So some people who want to do so can get high?  It's wasted potential, and morally its something we should guard against, not embrace. To embrace legalization of drugs, any drug, is nothing more than deluded Utopian thinking.

The stock market is fine

Rush Limbaugh today said that the reason for the market volatility (yesterday the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) plunged over 1000 points) is a fear that they are trying to topple the Trump presidency.  I disagree.  While the Democrats may still be invested in ending the Trump presidency, the market is suffering a setback in that it has become, to a small extent, a victim of its own success.

The Trump presidency has seen a meteoric rise in the stock markets over the past year, and it's been accelerated by the passing of the Trump tax cuts.  When something changes so rapidly there is always a reverberation effect.  The stock market was due for a correction, but not a change of course.  True, the DJIA rise and the tax changes are likely going to have an inflationary effect, on wages, on interest rates as a result and then of course bond rates as a result of that.  That means money will shift towards the 10 year bonds (and others) with a better rate for those more interested in a secure long term investment.  That money has to come out of the stock market, therefore there's going to be a sell-off.  This is a temporary market correction, not a collapse.  Paul Krugman might try to convince his readers that the sky is falling like he did on election night in 2016.  It's not.

As the reverberation works it's way into the market, the buying will return, slowly at first but eventually once again apace.  The market cannot continue to rise at the rate it currently has been, corrections are necessary as is an eventual slowing of the torrid pace.  What is not necessary for investors is panic.

February 3, 2018

Late evening Saturday Learning Series - Geography (Ghana)

Via Geography Now, and its alphabetical tour of the world, today we look at the African nation of Ghana.


And the flag:

February 2, 2018

Friday Musical Interlude for #ReleaseTheMemo Day (2)

Take A Letter To Maria by R.B. Greaves from 1969 is the closest song to a memo meme I could find. But it's a good song.

February 1, 2018

Unintended Consequences: Pot > Organic vegetables

If you are a fan of organic vegetables and also pro-marijuana legalization, you may have to choose between the two, as to which you want to support.  In Canada, recreational marijuana is being legalized federally by the ultra-liberal government.  There are of course, unintended consequences.  In this case, you could have seen it coming:
...Greenhouse growers -- already coping with long-standing challenges such as foreign competition and thinning margins -- are facing added pressure from the rise of marijuana as a legal, commercial crop because it creates more competition for horticultural talent and higher profitability expectations for financing.

That leaves indoor farmers increasingly eyeing the more lucrative source of green.

"They're doing the math and saying: 'Hey, if I'm unable to get my prices up on my vegetables, then this marijuana thing and what they're paying for it... might help me average out'," said Joseph Sbrocchi, the general manager of the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers.
Organic vegetables will increase in price, probably sharply as a result. It's basic supply and demand and that should have been a known consequence, not an unintended one.

How to stop the flow of drugs into America

Allow me to be non-libertarian for a moment (it happens frequently) and I'll try to remember to  justify my position on drugs in another post. 

I was watching the new Netflix documentary Dirty Money.  In one of the episodes dealing with money laundering they pointed out an interesting wrinkle in the flow of drugs from Mexico into America and it gave me an idea of how to stop the flow of drugs into America.

Early on in the episode they point out that there is a vast effort to check vehicles coming into the United States; drug sniffing dogs, vehicle checks, big line ups of traffic. Going into Mexico it's so different you could almost classify the border as a rolling stop - slow down, wave and drive through.  There's little traffic, little spot checking and certainly no dogs.  But but that's how the people who smuggled drugs into America bring back the money from the sale of those drugs.

It occurred to me, why bother trying to stop the flow of drugs in, when it would be just as easy to stop the flow of money out of the country.  If the drug suppliers in Mexico and other countries don't get their payments back, they certainly are not going to continue to sell drugs into America.  If you let the drugs in but not the money back out you have created a disruption in the suppliers' profit and their operations.  

Granted the cartels would develop workarounds for that approach, but 3 kilos of marijuana apparently correlates to hundreds of pounds of bills in what was termed "street money" (i.e. $10s, $20s, $5s).  Even if the money is in $100 bills, and they can solve for the new approach quickly, the point is the disruption itself causes a change.

In addition, figuring out an effective way to detect money instead of drugs may not be so simple.  And proving that the money is dirty presents other challenges.  But these issues can be solved. Simply doing things the way they are being done now, is clearly not working well enough.  It's as though drug cartels have evolved to work around the current counter-measures and despite losses they are clearly making enough money to continue sending product into America.  So you have to change the approach.  And when they adapt to that, you change it again to something else.  It's like a football team only running one play the entire game and not expecting their opponents to figure it out and adjust to stop it.  By constantly changing what you are doing, you keep them off balance and dramatically improve your chances of winning.  

Stopping the money seems like a no-brainer. The money is what matters: no money, no selling.  No selling, no drugs.  The DEA should have more than one play in their playbook and every time they start to slow down on arrests and switch to a focus on one of the other approaches.  

Just saying.

Conservative Insurgent Thursday delayed 1 week because THE MEMO

I had planned on starting my Conservative Insurgent Thursdays segment today, but the THE MEMO is supposed to be coming out today and it's going to overshadow everything, so  - bad timing.  Instead Conservative Insurgent Thursdays will start next week.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for memo news.
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