Saturday, March 18, 2017

Unexpected! The Economist Flabbergasted by "The World Economy's Surprising Rise"

"On the up" writes The Economist of the world economy, the weekly's front page devoted to its "surprising rise."
“IF WINTER comes,” the poet Shelley asked, “can Spring be far behind?” For the best part of a decade the answer as far as the world economy has been concerned has been an increasingly weary “Yes it can”. Now, though, after testing the faith of the most patient souls with glimmers that came to nothing, things seem to be warming up. It looks likely that this year, for the first time since 2010, rich-world and developing economies will put on synchronised growth spurts.

 … American employers, excluding farms, added 235,000 workers to their payrolls in February, well above the recent average.
Needless to say, all articles must address various caveats, but who do you think appears front and center in the negatives of an MSM outlet such as The Economist?
There are still plenty of reasons to fret: China’s debt mountain; the flaws in the foundations of the euro; Donald Trump’s protectionist tendencies; and so on. 
Plenty o' caveats, as we said. But of these, The Donald's name appears more and more often as we read through this issue's main article, notably towards the end, when the London weekly newspaper surmises about the "things that might yet derail the recovery."
Mr Trump might make good on the repeated threats he made in his campaign to raise import tariffs on countries he considers guilty of unfair trade, thus taking a decisive step away from globalisation just as the world’s main economic blocs are at last starting to get into sync.
In a separate editorial, the London weekly newspaper warns that
The tussle over who created the recovery is about more than bragging rights. An endorsement for populist economics … would also favour the wrong policies. Mr Trump’s proposed tax cuts would pump up the economy that now least needs support—and complicate the Fed’s task. Fortified by misplaced belief in their own world view, the administration’s protectionists might urge Mr Trump to rip up the infrastructure of globalisation (bypassing the World Trade Organisation in pursuing grievances against China, say), risking a trade war.
Indeed, The Economist, another bastion of the Western world (i.e., the free market) that shows signs of having been taken over by leftists, can not seem to figure out the puzzling question of why "In America imports of both consumer goods and capital goods are up" while the rest of the world is happily following along.

Why such good luck?

Why such unexpected good luck?

One thing that the London luminaries are 100% sure about, as the editorial states unequivocally, is that "Most important,"
the upswing has nothing to do with Mr Trump’s “America First” economic nationalism.
That is good to know, since The Economist is forced to admit that there is some amount of "speculation" — promptly mocked through the use of a Keynesian term (showing who is now lionized at a magazine once dedicated to economic liberalism) — running about:
There has been speculation that the “animal spirits” of business folk have been lifted by Mr Trump’s election in November, and that cuts in tax and regulations, and a subsequent return of the estimated $1trn of untaxed cash held abroad by companies based in America, will fuel a big boom in business investment.
Who'd thunk?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Is "Russkies, Russkies everywhere!" the beginning of a leftist McCarthyism with justification for domestic espionage and for pressure on domestic reporting?

According to [Stephen F.] Cohen, "Russkies, russkies everywhere!" is the beginning of a leftist McCarthyism where they justify domeatic espionage and pressuring domestic reporting.  
Thus writes N-Jo about the "New Cold War Eve of the New HUAC" on the (highly-recommended) John Batchelor show (Stitcher audio).
Schiff and Nunes had already agreed to the scope of their investigation when, on March 4th, Trump wrote, in an early-morning series of tweets,
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” He added, “How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
Talking to reporters a few days later, Nunes mounted a defense of Trump’s reckless allegation.
“The President is a neophyte to politics,” Nunes said. “He’s been doing this a little over a year. And I think a lot of the things that he says you guys sometimes take literally. Sometimes he doesn’t have twenty-seven lawyers and staff looking at what he does, which is, I think, at times refreshing.” 
He added, “I don’t think we should attack the President for tweeting.” The White House, struggling to defend Trump’s allegation, deflected requests for proof by calling on Congress to investigate. Schiff gladly accepted the challenge—on Monday, most of the attention will be on Trump and his claim that Obama ordered surveillance against him….”

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Liberal pundit admits that the aim of liberal social policy since FDR has not been to lift people up but to buy their votes

Might liberals be warming up to federalism?
asks Benny Huang.
If a recent article from The New Republic is any indicator, the answer is yes.

In his piece “Bluexit: A Modern Proposal for Separating Blue States From Red,” self-described “Blue State Patriot” Kevin Baker lays out his case for states doing their own thing within the structure of a pared-down Union. “We’ll turn Blue America into a world-class incubator for progressive programs and policies, a laboratory for a guaranteed income and a high-speed public rail system and free public universities,” writes Baker. “We’ll focus on getting our own house in order, while [the red states’ house] falls into disrepair and ruin.”

Though his piece drips with coastal elitism, it does offer a glimmer of hope that liberals might someday be persuaded to return to the system that our Founders intended—federalism. They’ll do it for their own selfish reasons, of course, but I won’t look this gift horse in the mouth.

I suspect that Baker’s change of heart might have something to do with last November’s election or with the elections of 1994, 2010, and 2014 which he mentions explicitly as “staggering defeats.” Clearly, his embrace of federalism is self-serving. The leviathan federal government suited him just fine until he lost control of it. Now it’s a menace.

Yet my heart sings with joy to hear an elitist New Republic writer say,
“So: What are we in Blue America going to do about it?…For starters, we now endorse cutting the federal income tax to the bone—maybe even…abolishing it altogether. We will raise our state and local taxes accordingly to pay for anything we might need or want. We ask nothing more from you and your federal government. Nothing for infrastructure, or housing, or the care of the poor and sick—not that you gave us much, anyway. All we want is our money, and you can keep yours, dollar for dollar.”
That sounds fantastic! It’s how America was supposed to work and how it largely did work until the Progressive Era.

Kevin Baker argues that the federal compact has been a raw deal for most blue states because they’re wealthier and pay more into the system than they get out. He prattles on with invective, bashing Mississippians for example, and their “sucking at the federal teet.” The picture he paints of red state America is one of despair, a place that needs the coasts a lot more than the coasts need them.

The argument is not entirely unconvincing. The South has more than its fair share of social problems and a small class of big earners, focused mostly in New York and LA, shoulder an enormous portion of the tax burden. Still, there are both charming places and hellholes in red states and blue states alike.

I don’t want to put words in Baker’s mouth but he seems to be saying that liberals have been “voting against their own economic interests” for a very long time. That phrase has been en vogue among liberals since Thomas Frank’s book “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” was published in 2004, though liberals more often apply it to their opponents than to themselves. Baker uses that exact phrase in a remark directed at conservative America:
“Go ahead, keep on voting against your own economic interests to satisfy your need to control other people’s bodies, sex lives, and recreational habits. We’ll be creating cities and states that will defend gay marriage, a woman’s right to choose, and sensible gun control against your intrusive federal judiciary.”
In a previous column I argued that voting for one’s quote-unquote “economic interests” has become Democrat code for voting for handouts. Voting for one’s real economic interests means voting for jobs, which the Democrats seem intent on destroying.

A telling example can be found in rural Owsley County, Kentucky, which happens to be very Republican and very white. Precisely because of its demographics liberals love to point out (correctly) that Owsley is America’s most welfare-addicted county. The jobs are gone and its dwindling population is hanging on by their fingernails. But what happened to those jobs? According to one article, “The decline in the profits from coal, tobacco and lumber industries led to a harsh toll being taken on the community.”

It’s hard to think of three industries that liberals have tried harder to strangle. Hillary Clinton even promised on the campaign trail that she would “put a lot of…coal miners out of business.” President Obama didn’t just talk about it, he did it. With Owsley County’s three most vital industries effectively banished, welfare became the people’s consolation prize. Now liberal politicians wonder why the victims of their policies don’t vote for their “economic interests.” Answer: they do. They’re still smarting over the purposeful annihilation of their livelihoods and I don’t blame them.

… What strikes me about Baker’s “Bluexit” proposal is its unguardedness. The author comes perilously close to admitting that the aim of liberal social policy since FDR has not been to lift people up but to buy their votes. Rarely do liberals speak with such candor. More often they try to disguise their agenda as altruism. Under no circumstances should we allow them to get away with this. Liberals don’t have big hearts; they have an insidious agenda and they never stop pushing it.

The reason the federal government has its fingers in everything from home mortgages to school lunches has nothing to do with compassion. The liberals who dreamed up these schemes couldn’t care less if you have a home or if your kids get to eat; what they want is to be able to control the states and the people by threatening to withhold funds.

And they want these people to show some gratitude as well, preferably in the form of ballots cast for the Democratic Party, each one a little thank you note. Kevin Baker basically admits this …

Baker is merely venting the hurt feelings of a coastal elitist who thought he had a deal with the red states until they failed to uphold up their end of it. The deal was simple: the South, the Midwest, and the Rocky Mountain states would accept money from the federal government and in turn its people would become reliable liberal Democrats. These people would be expected to prostitute their sacred votes, and to abandon their values, their way of life, and their integrity in exchange for infrastructure investment and direct handouts. This is essentially the approach the Democrats took with poor urban blacks and they’re upset that it hasn’t worked as well with poor rural whites.

It’s easy to see why the coastal elitists would be upset that they have nothing to show for all the wealth they plowed into places they diligently avoid visiting. It wasn’t charity, after all. It was a political investment and apparently not a wise one. The deal obviously should have been articulated more explicitly because those on the receiving end of all that money didn’t realize it was tit-for-tat. It’s not that they didn’t understand the terms of the bargain—it’s that they didn’t realize they’d entered into a bargain at all. They thought it was free money!

Which leaves people like Kevin Baker fuming. He’s been paying taxes for a long time to support people he doesn’t particularly like in hopes that someday they’ll become good liberals. It hasn’t worked and Baker is sick of trying. He writes: “In short, we’ll take our arrogant, cosmopolitan, liberal-elite football—wait, make that soccer ball—and go home.”

Great! Where do I sign?

Federal aid has always been a vote-buying scheme, which would be immoral even if it worked. Thank goodness it hasn’t worked—or at least not consistently—because it’s given the vote buyers reason to question the wisdom of the practice.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The New York Times can’t possibly rededicate itself to the truth because they never cared about it in the first place

Rather than broadening its appeal, the Times seems to be pursuing more of the same old crowd that already buys The Old Gray Lady—snobby liberals
writes Benny Huang.
It isn’t difficult to guess which target audience the New York Times was aiming for with its new advertising campaign launched during the ultra-politicized (and ultra-liberal) Academy Awards. Rather than broadening its appeal, the Times seems to be pursuing more of the same old crowd that already buys The Old Gray Lady—snobby liberals.

The ad features black letters across a white screen blaring “The truth is our nation is more divided than ever” followed by a series of claims all beginning with “The truth is…” Some of these assertions might originate in the mouth of a liberal (“The truth is women’s rights are human rights”), while others might be uttered by a conservative (“The truth is we have to protect our borders.”) The ad’s message, if I understand it correctly, is that the New York Times stands ready to help its readers navigate a churning sea of competing truth claims. The ad concludes: “The truth is more important now than ever.”

Lurking within the Times’s slick new sales pitch is the insidious implication that the value of truth fluctuates over time in the same manner as cattle futures or precious metals. Right now that value is at an all-time high. I can only conclude that the New York Times didn’t value truth as much in days gone by.

Naturally I would expect the Times to defend its sacred honor. They might say that they cared about the truth in the past—but they care even more now. In true Spinal Tap fashion, the Times has cranked up the truthiness from ten…to eleven! And I’m sure that’s how their new slogan was intended to be understood.

But that’s not how comparatives work. If truth is “more important now than ever,” it must have been somewhat less important in the past. When might that have been? Perhaps it was when the New York Times’s very own Walter Duranty was concealing the horrors of Stalin’s Soviet Union from its readership—and won the Pultizer Prize for it? No, I don’t think that’s what they meant. Or was it when their affirmative action baby Jayson Blair was caught making up whole stories? That can’t be it either.

So what did they mean? The ad’s subtext isn’t difficult to interpret: Barely more than a month into Donald Trump’s presidency, the most circulated newspaper in the country suddenly promised its readers even more “truth.” The New York Times was clearly promoting itself as a Trump Administration Survival Guide of sorts. It’s going to be a long four years, so curl up with the newspaper of record and let their crack team of reporters get you through till 2021!

Will the New York Times concern itself as much with truth (or “truth”) four years from now? Well, that all depends. If Donald Trump wins reelection the New York Times will only increase its already considerable regard for the truth. But if his Democratic challenger wins, the Times’s passion for truth won’t burn so hot anymore. Has there ever been a better definition of journalistic bias? When the value that journalists place on truth rises and falls with elections, that’s prima facie evidence that the news is slanted.

Even if the Times doesn’t realize it, their “now more than ever” mantra is an admission of guilt. Deep down they know that they let the last guy off easy—but now things will be different! To be sure, the Times and the larger media establishment fought a few battles with the Obama Administration. Former editor Jill Abramson called the previous administration “the most secretive” she had ever dealt with. In the twilight of the Obama Administration the paper ran a scathing editorial entitled “If Donald Trump Targets Journalists, Thank Obama.”

But the New York Times never advertised itself as an Obama Survival Guide, either overtly or by innuendo. They spun the news his way most of the time because they largely shared his agenda. President Obama, however, was not satisfied with only 98% positive coverage. He wanted the newspaper to read like a White House press release every morning without exception. Obama picked a fight with the press but the press picked a fight with Trump.

I should mention that I totally support a vigorous free press. It wouldn’t bother me at all if the Times started caring about all those things they didn’t care about when Obama reigned supreme—enumerated powers, checks and balances, and federalism, for example. As long as the truth is their only agenda, I believe some robust journalistic oversight of this administration is in order. Unfortunately, I don’t think truth will be their agenda because it never has been.

The Times lies. A lot. There are many considerations it elevates above the truth but none more than their own deranged sense of “justice.” A telling example can be found in its coverage of the transgender bathroom wars. That story heated up again in recent weeks when a gender-dysphoric Virginia teenager, Gavin Grimm, seemed on the verge of taking her case to the Supreme Court. The court recently decided that it will not hear her case.

In story after story the Times has referred to Grimm with male pronouns and as “Mr.” They seemed to go out of their way to tell their readership that this confused 17 year-old girl is actually a boy. A naïve reader might think that the whole story is about a boy who isn’t allowed to use the boy’s bathroom, which is the exact deception that the propagandists want people to internalize. This story is about the freedom to pee, don’t you know? Except it isn’t. It’s about the freedom to speak the truth when powerful forces demand that you believe a lie.

Gavin Grimm’s femaleness is a fact—not an opinion, viewpoint, prejudice or conceptualization. It is not a social construct and it wasn’t “assigned” to her by the obstetrician who stamped her birth certificate. When people use male pronouns to refer to her they are consenting to a lie—which is itself a form of lying. If the New York Times wants to demonstrate its new and improved truth focus, it could start by not lying to its readers about Grimm and her story. That might hurt Grimm’s feelings, but so what? The New York Times is, or claims to be, concerned with truth first and foremost.

One of the Times’s premiere liars is its chief White House correspondent, Glenn Thrush. Thrush only began working for the Times in 2017 and he was hired for the prestigious position despite (or because of) the fact that he was caught submitting portions of an article he was working on to Clinton surrogate John Podesta for his approval. (In the email, Thrush even called himself a “hack” which is probably the most truthful thing he’s said in a while.) He recently penned what was supposed to be a factual news item about Trump’s second attempt at a temporary travel ban from terrorist hot spots, though it wasn’t subtle in its attempt to downplay the threat of Islamic terrorism.

According to Thrush, “Muslim extremists have accounted for 16 out of 240,000 murders in the United States since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.” Wow! There’s wrong and then there’s crazy wrong. Even if we assume Thrush’s self-serving baseline (since 9/11), which necessarily excludes the largest terror attack in American history by design and by default, Thrush’s nifty factoid isn’t even close to the truth.

Omar Mateen, the infamous Pulse nightclub shooter, killed more than three times that many people (49 in total) all by himself. A Muslim married couple in San Bernardino killed 14. And that doesn’t include the Chattanooga and Little Rock recruiting station shootings, the Boston marathon bombing, the Fort Hood shooting, the St. Cloud mall stabbing, and the Ohio State rampage. Even the Beltway Sniper case had an Islamist (and racist anti-white) angle and could be counted as Islamic terror.

How could Thrush have gotten the number so wrong? Was it just an honest mistake? I doubt it. Whenever bias rears its ugly head, claims of mere error can usually be laid to rest by asking one simple question—what are the odds that this writer would have made a proportional mistake in the other direction? It stretches credulity to think that Thrush might have overblown his number by a factor of five or six instead of minimizing it by the same factor.

Glenn Trush lied to advnce his agenda. The Times’s factcheckers must have been on vacation or something because they also failed to catch this obvious falsehood. Or are they similarly unconcerned with the truth?

The New York Times can’t possibly rededicate itself to the truth because they never cared about it in the first place. It’s a newspaper written by liars for audience that likes being lied to. It’s Fake News™ of the worst variety and should be treated as such.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Why Are Rats Proliferating in Paris? Could it be the European Union and its faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats?

Rat invasion is an old problem in Paris 
writes Alissa J Rubin
— and a new one — and it is hard to get a grip on.

In 2014, the city promised a 100 percent “de-ratization.”

In the 19th century, rats terrified and disgusted Parisians who knew that five centuries earlier, the creatures had brought the bubonic plague across the Mediterranean.

The plague ravaged the city, as it did much of Europe, killing an estimated 100,000 Parisians, between a third and half the population at the time. It recurred periodically for four more centuries. Not surprisingly, the experience left Paris with a millennium-long aversion to rodents.

Today, no one talks about a 100 percent rat-free Paris. But why is the problem worse now than in the past?

“We don’t know exactly why,” Mr. Demodice said. “I think it might be because there is an overpopulation underground because the usual habitat for this animal are the sewers, underground, not above ground.”

“Our work is to push them back down,” he said.

But why are they proliferating? Could it be everybody’s favorite scapegoat — the European Union and its faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats?
Yes, it could.

New regulations from Brussels, the European Union’s headquarters, have forced countries to change how they use rat poison, said Dr. Jean-Michel Michaux, a veterinarian and head of the Urban Animals Scientific and Technical Institute in Paris.

The old way of poisoning rodents involved a sort of deadly snack service in which park employees put lethal pellets directly into the burrows where the rats lived or sprinkled a poison powder along the underground byways used by the rats.
 … Now the European Union requires that the poison be secured in small black plastic boxes, known as bait stations, and the rats have to actively seek it out. The United States has similar restrictions.
In Paris, however, the rats can easily find a three-course meal much of the year within a stone’s throw of their burrows — at least around the Tour St. Jacques. And they appear to prefer a half-eaten baguette with butter and ham, a piece of apple and an unfinished container of pasta, prosciutto and peas.
Three park workers tasked with checking the poison boxes scattered every 25 feet among the shrubbery at the Tour St. Jacques did not find even one breached by a rat last Friday.