Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Bernie Sanders' most foolish idea (1)
"We" at Unforeseen Contingencies find ourselves enjoying the primaries for a change. For one thing, there are multiple candidates we actually like, and at least one of them is doing well. For another, what entertainment! What a show! Consider New Hampshire. For example, there was Jeb! Bush gloating about having beaten the two freshman senators... shortly before the updated vote count revealed that Ted Cruz surpassed him pushing Bush into fourth. The Bush campaign spent over $36 million to achieve this remarkable finish ($1,150 per vote compared to Cruz' spending of $18 per vote.) That's quite a message you've got there, Jeb!
There was also the bizarre spectacle of Marco Rubio repeating the same strange line about Barack Obama during the debate. The first time was simple obfuscation and use of a standard politician's technique -- don't answer questions you don't like, just say what you want -- in this case, delivering a canned campaign speech line. The second time, after Christie called him on it, was funny. The third time I found it creepy. The Rubio-unit really did suddenly sound like a computer programmed with standardized responses and unable even to recognize that the script had gone awry.
But these Republican hijinx are nothing compared to the shenanigans of the Democrats. Bernie Sanders effectively tied Hillary Clinton in Iowa (he very well may have beaten her, but the non-transparent rules of the Democrats' caucuses make it impossible to check anything) and he clobbered her in New Hampshire. So here are the current standings in delegates: Sanders 42, Clinton 394. Yes, Bernie Sanders has either won or tied the primaries so far, and he has won 9.6% of the delegates so far. Hillary even won more delegates in New Hampshire than Bernie. You have to love the way the Democrats do democracy! Feel the Hill, Bern! Hahahahaha!
But enough of these amusements, on to our first candidate for Bernie Sanders' most foolish idea: Sanders tells us that his version of socialism would be nothing like Soviet socialism. You see, it's democratic! The people get to vote on it. The people decide.
Is this a joke? We the people already get to vote on our government, and if there is anything that practically everyone across the political spectrum agrees on, it's that we have essentially no control at all over what the federal government does. One would have to be entirely ignorant of the last 20 or 30 years of American politics not to understand this. THAT'S why non-establishment candidates in both parties are battering the establishment candidates so badly. Being able to vote on something gives you no control at all. Sanders really strikes me as an idiot, and people who buy his argument simply are not thinking.
All of this doubles my amusement that the Democrat Party rules are rigging the game against Sanders. His idealistic and rather gullible followers (I think many really are idealistic, and not simply opportunists hoping to get free stuff under a Sanders regime) will be in for a rude shock if this continues. And if the candidate on whose behalf the game is being rigged ends up being indicted, well... For all the fractures in the Republican Party, I think the Democrats are in for a far worse internecine bloodletting.
Tuesday, February 02, 2016
Quick thoughts on the Iowa Caucus
2. He won while vowing to eliminate ethanol subsidies. This should be the most important story of the caucuses, but it is largely ignored. The Republican governor of Iowa specifically condemned Cruz and called for his defeat. Cruz won.
3. Jeb Bush outspent everyone else. He spent more than Cruz and Trump combined, yet scored worse (2.8% of votes) than Ben Carson (9.3%) and Rand Paul (4.5%). So much for money determining everything.
4. Trump failed miserably. If either Cruz or Rubio weren't in the race, I suspect most of their voters would not go to Trump. That's likely true of Carson and certainly Paul supporters. I don't believe any or them systematically "steal" votes from Trump, but I think they steal votes from each other. If the pack thins out, a non-Trump bloc will grow.
5. Hillary Clinton barely won. This is a catastrophe for Clinton, since she had a 30% lead in the polls at one point. This isn't her collapse, but she's in a mess. She'll get a drubbing in New Hampshire.
6. Of course, the Iowa Democrats' caucus methods are obscure and non-transparent, so Bernard Sanders is expressing a bit of skepticism over the results.
7. I can hardly wait for Bush to leave the race. I hope he takes Kasich and Christie with him.
8. Sanders supporters are in a tizzy because some ties were broken with a coin toss, and Clinton allegedly won 6 of 6. But even "worse," one of Bernie Sanders' precinct captains was an illegal alien, and he and his illegal alien roommate could have broken the tie had they been allowed to caucus. Unfair, he says. On the other hand, "we" at Unforeseen Contingencies think this bastard should be arrested, jailed, and then unceremoniously deported. Hector, go home, you socialist idiot.
Friday, January 29, 2016
Wisdom on Trump: Bill Whittle
Friday, January 22, 2016
Bernie Sanders' New Ad
Thursday, January 21, 2016
Donald Trump: Stupidity, Statism, and the End of America?
From a libertarian, free market, individual liberty, limited government position, there are a number of very good Republican candidates for President in 2016: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Carly Fiorina...pretty good, but not as good: Ben Carson and Marco Rubio...bad: John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie...awful: Hillary Clinton, Bernard Sanders, Martin O'Malley. I will address all of these later, in other posts, if they seem sufficiently important to warrant it. But none of them are mysteries. There is, however, one opaque figure in all of this, Donald Trump, and he has finally revealed his true colors. He would be an awful president. I'll show this, using his own words.
Trump is a big government man who would expand government. He's an opponent of the Constitution, a dictator wannabe similar to Obama, and a liar. He also seems to be an ignoramous, although "seems" is important since one can't be sure how serious he is about some of things he says. Let's not monkey around... on to the budget.
Trump will raise taxes.
Tea Party Patriots (TPP), a Tea Party organization, sent a survey to candidates they are considering endorsing: Carson, Cruz, Paul, and Trump. Yesterday they released the results. One question was whether the candidate would commit to the Penny Plan, which calls for an across-the-board $0.01 cut per year to each dollar of Federal spending, unless and until Congress balances the budget. This is actually a rather drastic cut to spending, given our history. Carson and Paul said yes. Cruz said no, because instead he would propose targeted cuts in spending, including abolishing some government agencies (i.e. 100% cuts). I think both are acceptable positions. But Trump also disagreed. He said:
"I will not support the Penny Plan but will propose strict budget discipline. I will propose budgets that freeze overall spending levels until such time as the budget comes into balance. This approach eliminates the criticisms associated with constantly increasing spending and allows the Executive branch to find the funds necessary within existing resources to reshape spending priorities. Congress, knowing that I will not sign a budget that increases spending until the budget is balance, will work with the Executive branch and the American people to do what is best for the country."
Trump will freeze, not reduce, overall spending until the budget is balanced. Necessarily, the only way that the budget can balance then is by increasing tax revenues by more than half a trillion dollars annually. That will happen only by raising taxes. There's no other way.
Trumps' revenue proposals are incoherent and would lead to national bankruptcy.
Even worse, Trump has defended Medicare as being one government program that has worked. Yet CBO projections show that Medicare is a financial catastrophe. Medicare, along with Social Security and Medicaid (all three of which Trump has vowed not to cut) and interest payments on debt (which can't be cut without effectively declaring national bankruptcy) by themselves will, on the current course, lead to catastrophic increases in the national debt. The CBO projections in the previous link assume that discretionary spending will fall as a share of GDP. Trump won't cut the budget. Trump won't cut entitlements. None of what Trump says on this issue makes any sense... unless he drastically raises taxes. Yet two independent analyses of Trump's tax proposals find they would reduce Federal revenues. Debt explodes under Trump. This is national suicide. (That's the "end of America" part.)
Trump will expand government.
In his response to TPP, Trump expresses willingness to expand the size of government if the budget is balanced. What might he spend it on? How about mandatory ethanol fuel programs and subsidies, for a start. Trump has declared he will expand ethanol subsidies. I've sat in on numerous presentations of economic analyses of the federal ethanol programs. Every single one has concluded that ethanol is a terrible government boondoggle, a complete waste of citizens' funds that is economically and environmentally destructive. Yet Donald Trump endorsed these ethanol programs, and accused Ted Cruz of having been purchased by "Big Oil" for opposing these insane and corrupt subsidies. Trump offers no evidence that Cruz was paid by oil companies for opposing ethanol -- Trump is thus a liar -- but also, it does not make sense that ethanol would be any sort of threat to "Big Oil." (There's no such thing as "Big Oil," by the way, unless one means Saudi Arabia and OPEC. That's a long story, but it is pretty easy to show that the alleged powers of the so-called "majors," the big oil companies such as Exxon, Shell, and BP, are a myth.)
Ethanol is extremely expensive and would never survive as a vehicle fuel if left to the free market. Gasoline is cost effective and less environmentally destructive. The only use of ethanol programs is enriching mercantilists (a.k.a. crony capitalists) and gaining political power. Trump insists on expanding this. He's anti-free market and in favor of the political establishment; mercantilism, crony capitalism, is the fundamental establishment enterprise. Trump is "all in."
Am I exaggerating?
Trump loves Kelo.
In Kelo, SCOTUS voted that private developers can use government to seize other peoples' private property if they think they can profit thereby. Trump loves it.
Trump is actually opposed to the free market and support mercantilism, systematic rent-seeking, crony capitalism.
Trump is a liar, and possibly an ignoramous.
Tea Party Patriots again: WHAT WILL YOU DO ON DAY 1 OF YOUR PRESIDENCY AFTER BEING SWORN INTO OFFICE?
"Sign a repeal of Obamacare."
No, that's impossible. He's a liar. Never mind his slander of Ted Cruz. The PPACA, Obamacare, is a law passed by Congress. The President is not a dictator who can eliminate legislation. If Trump believes he can, he is also a stupid, ignorant man. It's hard to believe Trump is that stupid, but who knows.
Trump's answer goes on to state other things he would do, and he makes it very clear he really means the first day. It's number 8, read it. Trump is a liar, placing his faith in what PPACA designer Jonathan Gruber called "the stupidity of the American voter."
Trump really is an ignoramous. He doesn't understand Obama's Iran deal.
In the second Republican debate, when a number of candidates were trashing Obama's horrible nuclear agreement with Iran and saying the would "rip it up" on entering office (Ted Cruz' words), Trump agreed it was bad, but then observed that it is a contract and we have to abide by it, but that he would renegotiate harder terms. Good grief!
No, it is not a contract. It is not a treaty, it was never ratified in Congress. It is not binding and has no enforcement mechanism. Congress did indeed allow some legislation -- sanctions -- to elapse based on signing of the agreement, and those can't be reimposed by tearing up the agreement. But everyone paying attention knows that this is a "gentlemen's agreement (sans gentlemen) between Obama and Khamanei. Cruz, Paul, Fiorina, and the others who said they would trash the agreement were correct, and on on completely solid ground from a moral, Constitutional, and strategic respect. Trump really does not understand this, I think. He's a boob who has no understanding at all of the Constitution. Maybe he really does think he can single-handedly repeal Obamacare. And no, he's not going to renegotiate anything. Does he imagine he can simply fly into Iran and start haggling with the mullahs? One can certainly do this in the private sector... good luck with doing this in international diplomacy.
Trump is a demagogue, without principles.
The above are not small points. They are fundamental. Everyone can be taken down on petty points. But Trump's flaws are not petty errors, they are major flaws. And on top of them,Trump's blathering is incoherent. He tends to speak without framing complete sentences. He almost never makes clear statements. He throws labels around -- good, bad, fantastic... he makes judgments such as "no one likes him, he's not liked," he says he'll do things that are "great..." none of this makes any sense. No specifics, no facts, no details, no substance, no meat... no principles. It's all image. Because Trump cannot be intimidated (an admirable trait) he can get away with it. And it is very dangerous.
As late as 2012 Trump said about Hillary Clinton:
"Hillary Clinton I think is a terrific woman. I am biased because I have known her for years. I live in New York. She lives in New York. I really like her and her husband both a lot. I think she really works hard...I think she really works hard and I think she does a good job. I like her.”
Or on gun control: "...I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun." There is no federal waiting period for buying a gun, and I believe none anywhere for buying a long gun. That one ever supported confiscation of firearms, including so-called "assault weapons, is enough to disqualify one for the Presidency. Of course, his new position on guns is entirely different, it's one I endorse wholeheartedly. But does Trump really endorse it? Why did he change his mind? He never talks about pis principles. I think he has none.
Trump's donation to political campaigns have overwhelmingly been to Democrats. This is not something way back in the past; he donated $50,000 to Rahm Emanuel in Chicago. He donated large amounts to Harry Reid. He donated to Hillary Clinton. Good grief. He's a big government Democrat, by all evidence.
Conclusion: Unprincipled and Dangerous Opportunist
So who is Donald Trump? I still can't figure out exactly what he would do as President, but he is not a libertarian, not a conservative, not a Constitutionalist. He never makes arguments for any of these positions. He never makes logical arguments, for that matter. But in "Art of the Deal" he lays out a strategy for negotiating that advocates staking out an extreme starting position, and then negotiating to a different deal. That's what he's doing now. Trump's bombastic and admittedly intoxicating pronouncements stake out a position that many find extreme. Some love it, some hate it. But it is incoherent and by all evidence it is insincere. Trump is a dangerous demagogue.
Postscript: what if the election comes down to Trump vs. Clinton, Trump vs. Sanders (i.e. Juan Peron vs. Hugo Chavez), or Trump vs. Warren or some other last minute entrant? Well, Trump's politics appear to be a throwback to 1960s Hubert Humphrey-LBJ Democrat party. If I am right about that, Trump stinks, but is certainly preferable to today's neo-Marxists. At least he doesn't seem to want to destroy the United States. But if these are our choices, Trump vs. some Marxist, terrible things await us.
Friday, January 15, 2016
The Market Speaks
On the day of the terror attacks by Muslims in San Bernadino, I went with Julie R. on a shopping trip to a nearby gun store -- a trip we'd been planning anyway, and given the events of the day and the propensity of the dictator-wannabe in the Whitehouse to issue decrees, we supposed the time was auspicious. What we encountered was quite interesting. The small (but well stocked) store was surprisingly crowded, more than the usual number of patrons, for sure... and almost all of the customers were women, ranging from middle age to one whom I guessed was in her mid 70's, although Julie thought I was underestimating her age by 15 years. Most of them were purchasing handguns and asking about shooting classes, although one walked out with a lovely new blackpowder hunting rifle. In addition to me, I believe there were only two male customers (one of them accompanying the gal who bought the rifle) and at least half a dozen women in addition to Julie.
Evidence suggests that in the U.S. firearm sales are easily at record highs. Already record level rates of buying jumped with the San Bernadino terror attacks. And according to the FBI, December 2015 set a record of 3.3 million NICS checks (National Instant Criminal Check System, background checks for purchases of new firearms) and over 23 million checks for the year. Compare that to the 8.5 million checks of 2000, or the 12.7 million in 2008 at the end of Bush 43's tenure. Firearm sales have effectively doubled under Obama.
Of course, NICS checks probably underestimate sales. Those of us who are concealed carry permit holders are not subject to NICS checks (in obtaining a permit one goes through a more rigorous check than the NICS). The number of such permit holders has more than tripled since 2000, with most of the increase coming since Obama was elected to his first term.
Yes, the market is speaking.
Photo: Glock 26, arguably the finest small defensive weapon in the world. That's not what we were buying, though.
"As Germany Welcomes Migrants, Sexual Attacks in Cologne Point to a New Reality"
Hahahahaha! ("die Schadenfreude," what a wonderful German word.) The above is a New York Times headline from yesterday; I find it hilarious. After all the moralistic lecturing we opponents of unrestricted immigration by Mohammedans have been getting from idiots like Angela Merkel, Barack Obama,The New York Times, Mssrs. Bier, Nowrasteh, et al. at FEE, etc., it's gratifying to see this demonstration that reality is not optional. The fantasy of multiculturalism is being destroyed before our very eyes, and it's a beautiful thing. (For the logic-challenged, "we" at Unforeseen Contingencies should point out that the brutal and awful assaults on women and men are not beautiful, they are terrible. The beautiful thing is seeing the idiots who promote multiculturalism being refuted and publicly humiliated.)
For those who missed it, on New Years eve, across Germany there were waves of sexual assaults and other violence, committed by muslim immigrants. The most attacks seem to have been in Köln (Cologne) although rapes and other violence occurred elsewhere. Perpetrators were muslims, and a high percentage seem to have been recent immigrants. Police responding to the attacks were so overwhelmed by the numbers that they were powerless (or so they claimed -- I believe German police carry firearms so I think "impotent" would be a better term).
On his "I Want a New Left" Dr. John Pepple wonders if this might lead to an awakening among feminists that the left is not their friend. I suspect so, at least for those who are serious about the rights of women. And certainly the progressive left seems to be self-destructing rapidly. They've taken on too many things that are completely incompatible with an "open society" (George Soros' term for the progressive ideal). I predict a backlash on this and other issues that will shock the left.
Photo: German girls. Would they be willing to do this at Cologne train station next New Years?
Thursday, January 07, 2016
Happy Christmas (Julian) and Happy New Year!
I'm still in Montana with no internet access, save for a trip to Starbucks every three days or so. Hence no blogging on mass sexual molestations by gangs of "Syrian refugees" in Germany, nor Obama's attempt to dictatorially impose gun controls, nor North Korea's nuclear test, nor Iran's attack on the Saudi Embassy in Teheran and the well-deserved bombing of the Iranian embassy in Yemen in apparent response... not even on the growing Obamacare debacle (which, true to form, the administration is heralding as another "triumph." Not even time to comment in detail on the growing evidence of Hillary Clinton's felonious behavior, nor the reconsideration of the charges of rape against Bill Clinton.
But once I'm back in action, expect some fun posts...
Meanwhile, Happy New Year!