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In Defense of Robots

In Defense of Robots

There was a time in America, not too long ago, when most people, including journalists, business leaders, politicians, and scholars, were full-throated advocates of technologically powered productivity growth. They understood that through mechanization, automation, and other forms of innovation, we can produce more, better, and cheaper goods and services, and have higher incomes. It was understood that some workers might lose their jobs after we figured out how to do them more efficiently, but most Americans believed, to quote Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

Those days are gone, though. Current opinion now routinely echoes the mythical 19th-century machine destroyer Ned Ludd, warning in a growing avalanche of books, academic theses, market forecasts, and op-eds that technology is leading us to a world of mass unemployment, that it is creating a newly idle lumpenproletariat, and that we had better put in place a universal basic income (UBI), under which the state cuts a check to everyone, regardless of their income or work status, if we are to have any hope of avoiding mass unrest.

This kind of worry, verging on “robophobia,” represents a remarkable reversal from a long period in American history — stretching from the 1890s to the early 1970s — when most Americans sang the praises of technology as an engine of progress that not only raised our living standards but also made America great. Exultantly titled books such as Triumphs and Wonders of the 19th Century, The Marvels of Modern Mechanism, Our Wonderful Progress, and Modern Wonder Workers were common. When Henry Adams viewed the huge dynamo for producing electricity at the 1900 Great Exhibition in Paris, he wrote (in the third person) of his reaction:

As he grew accustomed to the great gallery of machines, he began to feel the forty-foot dynamos as a moral force, much as the early Christians felt the Cross. The planet itself seemed less impressive, in its old-fashioned, deliberate, annual or daily revolution, than this huge wheel, revolving within arm’s length at some vertiginous speed, and barely murmuring.

Harvard economist Benjamin Anderson spoke for many when he wrote 40 years later that “on no account, must we retard or interfere with the most rapid utilization of new inventions.” And it wasn’t just defenders of capitalism who saw technology as a progressive force. Socialists did too, as when Jack London praised automation, proclaiming, “Let us not destroy these wonderful machines that produce efficiently and cheaply. Let us control them. Let us profit by their efficiency and cheapness. Let us run them by ourselves. That, gentlemen, is socialism.”

These days, Harvard economists are as likely as not to worry that automation is hurting too many people. Larry Summers wrote in the Financial Times that “it is widely feared that half the jobs in the economy might be eliminated by innovations such as self-driving vehicles, automatic checkout machines and expert systems that trade securities more effectively than humans can.” Summers, a macroeconomist who has in the past expressed faith in the Fed’s ability to achieve near-full employment, now believes that one-third of men between the ages of 25 and 54 could be unemployed because of technology by midcentury.

Such voices have been growing louder in recent decades. Artificial-intelligence scientist Nils Nilsson was in the advance guard when he warned in 1984 that “we must convince our leaders that they should give up the notion of ‘full employment.’ . . . The pace of technological change is accelerating.” But what’s different today is that such thinking has become a common, widely repeated narrative, greatly amplified by a supercharged media landscape and a packed calendar of “thought leader” events. You cannot attend Davos, a G20 summit, or a TED talk without being told that the pace of technological change is accelerating and the days of “work” as we know it are numbered. Continue…

there’s been sooooo much stuff posted lately about AI, autonomous driving cars, and robotics in general of late that it’s like an invisible drum beating away somewhere in the background… not to mention all the stuff from F8 this past week… anywho good read, especially over some delicious coffee on this fine friday morning.

emmmm, coffee….

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Op/Ed Political

Single-Payer Health Care?

The Road to Single-Payer Health Care

Washington – Repeal-and-replace (for Obamacare) is not quite dead. It has been declared so, but what that means is that, for now, the president has (apparently) washed his hands of it and the House Republicans appear unable to reconcile their differences.

Neither condition needs to be permanent. There are ideological differences between the various GOP factions, but what’s overlooked is the role that procedure played in producing the deadlock. And procedure can easily be changed.

The House leadership crafted a bill that would meet the delicate requirements of “reconciliation” in order to create a (more achievable) threshold of 51 rather than 60 votes in the Senate. But this meant that some of the more attractive, market-oriented reforms had to be left out, relegated to a future measure (a so-called phase-three bill) that might never actually arrive.

Yet the more stripped-down proposal died anyway. So why not go for the gold next time? Pass a bill that incorporates phase-three reforms and send it on to the Senate.

September might be the time for resurrecting repeal-and-replace. That’s when insurers recalibrate premiums for the coming year, precipitating our annual bout of Obamacare sticker shock. By then, even more insurers will be dropping out of the exchanges, further reducing choice and service. These should help dissipate the pre-emptive nostalgia for Obamacare that emerged during the current debate.

At which point, the House leadership should present a repeal-and-replace that includes such phase-three provisions as tort reform and permitting the buying of insurance across state lines, both of which would significantly lower costs.

Even more significant would be stripping out the heavy-handed Obamacare coverage mandate that dictates what specific medical benefits must be included in every insurance policy in the country, regardless of the purchaser’s desires or needs.

Best to mandate nothing. Let the customer decide. A 60-year-old couple doesn’t need maternity coverage. Why should they be forced to pay for it? And I don’t know about you, but I don’t need lactation services. Continue…

totally agree… after the clusterfuck mess that we just watched play out over the past few weeks or more, i’d say “fuck it” and put forth the full repeal-and-replace bill that they want — not this 3-phase multibill approach — and see if the senate can step up and get it done… probably with Trump in the background making calls and twisting a few proverbial arms, if needed.

PS. what a fucking mess.

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GOP: Fix The Health Care Bill

The House Should Slow Down and Fix the GOP Health-Care Bill

The American Health Care Act, the House Republicans’ proposal for repealing and replacing large parts of Obamacare, has had a rough start in life. It was introduced by House leaders on March 6 to a chorus of groans from all ends of the party. Freedom Caucus members and some other conservatives opposed its refundable tax credit and thought its Medicaid reforms took too long to get going. Many of the conservatives most engaged in the details of health care in recent years, meanwhile, thought its credit was not well designed to allow most people to obtain at least catastrophic coverage, and they worried about some peculiar features that seemed counterproductive. The hope of Republican leaders to rush the bill through the House and then the Senate in record time seemed implausible.

And then on March 13, the Congressional Budget Office made things even worse. The agency’s modelers projected that, while the bill would significantly reduce the deficit and ultimately reduce premium costs in the individual market, it would leave about 24 million more people without insurance in ten years than would have been the case under Obamacare.

To see how harsh an assessment that is, consider that in January the CBO projected that a bill that simply repealed all of Obamacare — its taxes, mandates, subsidies, and regulations of insurance — would leave 23 million more people without coverage in ten years. So a full repeal alone would actually leave more people covered than does the Republicans’ repeal and replacement, in the agency’s judgment. But things are not nearly so simple, of course, and the CBO’s assessment might actually point toward improvements that could strengthen the Republican approach.

Defenders of the Republican bill have responded to CBO’s score of it by questioning the agency’s health-care modeling and its past performance. Critics of the bill have responded by pointing to the proposal’s numerous peculiar flaws. Both sides are right.

Without question, CBO’s health-care model has enormous problems. The congressional scorekeeper has always exaggerated the effectiveness of blunt rules like Obamacare’s individual mandate. Its baseline Medicaid projections have long overestimated growth rates in ways that make conservative reforms look like bigger cuts than they turn out to be. And its insistence that competition does not lead to business-model innovation in insurance has led it astray before too — as in its vast exaggeration of the cost of the Bush administration’s Medicare prescription-drug benefit in 2003. Continue…

seriously, what a fucking mess… feel like i’ve been hearing about healthcare in one way or another for the past decade now, and they still can’t seem to get together and figure it out… but i guess that’s simply asking too much.

Obamacare Was the Wrong Road to Go Down, but Backtracking Is Hard


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Op/Ed Political

Repeal Obamacare

i’m still not sure what the hell happened to victor hanson, but i figured i’d drop by NRO and see if anything caught my eye… and this one about repealing Obamacare is the first one i clicked on.

As Washington people go around doing Washington things and talking to other Washington people about Washington-focused health-care reform, we would do well to take a step back to simplify the debate in front of us.

We are the most prosperous country in the history of the world. As such, we have many of the best hospitals, doctors, nurses, and medicines available. We have hundreds of insurers that take risk — for profit — to insure us. We have fairly broad, but expensive and not always effective, social safety nets in which we pool our resources through taxation in an effort to help those who need it.

But the truth is, we have a very badly broken health-care system. We are losing doctors by the thousands. Health-care costs have been skyrocketing and insurance premiums are increasingly flat-out unaffordable. Insurance companies are no longer serving vast swaths of our country — leaving people with no choices and reduced access to care. Americans, in short, are no longer able to get the health care of their choosing from the doctor of their choosing at an affordable cost.

Very few people dispute these facts or the need to reform health care. So we now confront a choice between two paths – and when we make this choice, it is highly unlikely we will reach a similar fork in the road.

Path One is to do something different – to acknowledge the failures of Obamacare, which are massive, and then do a very un-Washington thing and honor commitments made to fully repeal it (which have been numerous), and actually roll back a federal mistake. Then, make a fresh start, with two simple steps. First, freeze Medicaid enrollment immediately and send Medicaid dollars to states with zero strings attached to allow them to innovate and be more effective. Second, increase portability and decrease costs through increased competition, by equalizing the tax treatment between employers and individuals.

If we choose this path, we will, in essence, be saying: Let competitive markets and the states clean up the mess Washington created. Drive down costs through unfettered competition, and increase the number of doctors competing for our business. Cost is the problem. Coverage will naturally increase if costs are lowered and will provide far better health-care options for far more Americans.

Furthermore, we should give states maximum flexibility to create programs for the poor and those lacking access to care as well as to create innovations such as high-risk pools and targeted health-savings accounts for those without insurance. The benefit would extend beyond health care, to creating more unity in our country through federalism – allowing us to accommodate our differences. Continue…

after all this time, i still fail to truly understand why this is so g’damn complicated… it was a mess before, it’s a mess now with obamacare, and they still can’t seem to just sit down and figure this shit out — seriously, what the fuck?

The GOP Repeal Plan Is Pretty Bad


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News Op/Ed

The Press Is Not the Enemy

The press is not the enemy… but it’s not objective, either.

Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, had an unfortunate turn of phrase the other day. She said it’s the mission of the press to “control exactly what people think.”

My suspicion is that this was less a Freudian slip than a simple slip-up. Brzezinski was referring to her fear that President Trump may be trying to control the way people think by discrediting the media — whom he calls “enemies of the American people” — and she lost her rhetorical footing, stumbling into saying that mind control is “our job.”

But the misstatement resonated with a lot of people, as did Trump’s claim that the press is an enemy of the people.

The first thing that needs to be said is that whenever you hear a politician talk about “the American people,” either they’re over-generalizing to the point of banality, or they’re referring to only one segment of the American public. “The American people love an underdog” is an example of banality. The press “is the enemy of the American people” is a highly subjective declaration.

I don’t blame journalists for taking offense. It was a grossly irresponsible thing for the chief constitutional officer of our government to say. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a point or that people are crazy for seeing it. Continue…

i’m not sure what happened to victor hanson, since he hasn’t posted anything new on NRO since december 16th… but i still hope he’ll be back at some point, because i really do enjoy looking up his latest op/ed’s on friday’s and seeing what he has to say… damnit… but oh well, guess for the time being i’ll just have to snag whatever article grabs my attention.

PS. emmmm… starbucks double-shot.

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Op/Ed Political

Obama Shows His True Colors

Obama Shows His True Colors as He Leaves Office

Barack Obama did not go out quietly. His unquiet final acts were overshadowed, in part by a successor who refused to come in quietly, and in part by Obama’s own endless, sentimental farewell tour. But there was nothing nostalgic or sentimental about Obama’s last acts. Two of them were simply shocking.

Perhaps we should have known. At the 2015 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, he joked about whether he had a bucket list: “Well, I have something that rhymes with bucket list.”

Turns out, he wasn’t kidding. Commuting the sentence of Chelsea Manning, one of the great traitors of our time, is finger-in-the-eye willfulness. Obama took 28 years off the sentence of a soldier who stole and then released through WikiLeaks almost half a million military reports plus another quarter-million State Department documents.

The cables were embarrassing; the military secrets were almost certainly deadly. They jeopardized the lives not just of American soldiers on two active fronts — Iraq and Afghanistan — but of locals who were, at great peril, secretly aiding and abetting us. After Manning’s documents release, the Taliban “went on a killing spree” (according to intelligence sources quoted by Fox News) of those who fit the description of individuals working with the United States.

Moreover, we will be involved in many shadowy conflicts throughout the world. Locals will have to choose between us and our enemies. Would you choose a side that is so forgiving of a leaker who betrays her country — and you? Continue…

i usually head over to NRO to see what victor hanson is writing about this week, but i guess he’s on vacation… krauthammer is always a good backup, though ;)

on a slightly related note, today should be pretty damn… ummmm, interesting… what with the Trump inauguration going on up in DC — sooooo happy i’m working from home today, because traffic is probably gonna be a nightmare.

Obama dog Sunny bites white house guest…

p.s. yup, i definitely need more coffee.

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American Farm Animal

America as Animal Farm — Again

he socialist essayist and novelist George Orwell by 1944 grew depressed that as a cost for the defeat of the Axis Powers the Allies had empowered an equally nightmarish monster in the Soviet Union.

Since his days fighting for the loyalists during the Spanish Civil War, the left-wing Orwell had become an increasingly outspoken enemy of Communism. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, when Stalin renounced all his wartime assurances and steamrolled Eastern Europe, Orwell came to see state socialism under authoritarian auspices as the greatest threat to human freedom. It was not as if right-wing dictators were not equally lethal, but the inclusion of the words “socialist” and “republic” in a left-wing tyrant’s official lexicon tended to fool millions.

Indeed, it was precisely the leftist totalitarians’ habit of embroidering their murderous pursuit of power with professions of “equality,” “fairness,” and “egalitarianism” that so often allowed them to employ any means necessary to achieve their supposedly exalted ends. In sum, in Orwell’s eyes, the radical Left’s erasure of historical memory and its distortion of reality through the manipulation of language were the chief threat of the 20th century.

His 1945 novella Animal Farm — initially difficult for Orwell to publish and deeply hated by Western leftists — was an allegorical warning to liberals of the dangers of left-wing propaganda. Words and phrases changed their meanings — again and again — to serve a tyrannical agenda. The assorted creatures of Orwell’s fictional barnyard frequently wake up to new commandments posted on the barn wall by their Stalinesque pig leaders, with yesterday’s edicts crossed out or modified — and soon to be forgotten.

His 1945 novella Animal Farm — initially difficult for Orwell to publish and deeply hated by Western leftists — was an allegorical warning to liberals of the dangers of left-wing propaganda. Words and phrases changed their meanings — again and again — to serve a tyrannical agenda. The assorted creatures of Orwell’s fictional barnyard frequently wake up to new commandments posted on the barn wall by their Stalinesque pig leaders, with yesterday’s edicts crossed out or modified — and soon to be forgotten.

Rich people were suddenly not all bad blue-stocking Republicans, but also hip, valuable Silicon Valley progressives in flip-flops who, with some reluctance, outsourced and off-shored.

In our past eight years of historical revisionism, huge political contributions — like the hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies given by multi-billionaire financial speculator George Soros — were now helpful for democracy if only they were given to left-wing causes.

Once-liberal public campaign-financing laws and limits on fund-raising applied to all candidates except Barack Obama, who became the largest recipient of campaign cash in election history.

Drone assassinations were suddenly, in 2009, no longer proof of Bush’s efforts to kill the innocent abroad, but sophisticated tools in the Obama’s sober anti-terrorism tool kit. Radical Islamic terrorism simply vanished from our collective minds.

Terrorist killing was reinvented as vague “man-caused disasters” and “workplace violence” that occasionally called for American “overseas contingency operations.” If we did not have the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” then there would be no radical Islamic terrorism — apparently on the theory that if we ban “gravity” from our vocabulary, we will all instantly float upwards.

More recently, “fake news” did not mean promulgating the lie “Hands up, don’t shoot,” doctoring George Zimmerman’s 911 call, or insisting on national TV that the Benghazi attacks were spontaneous riots sparked by a right-wing American-based video maker, who, for his provocations, was perp-walked and jailed on trumped-up charges of parole violations. Continue…

oh man, another really good one from victor hanson worth the read… really does make some damn good points, and it’s almost hard not to sit back… think on it for a few… and not find it all rather freaky.


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Assessing the Obama Legacy

Assessing the Obama Legacy—Against His Own Mileposts

In his 2016 State of the Union address, President Obama summarized his achievements. That same night, the White House issued a press release touting Obama’s accomplishments.

Now that he will be leaving, how well did these initiatives listed in the press release actually work out?

“Securing the historic Paris climate agreement.”

The accord was never submitted to Congress as a treaty. It will be ignored by President-elect Trump.

“Achieving the Iran nuclear deal.”

That “deal” was another effort to circumvent the treaty-ratifying authority of Congress. It has green-lighted Iranian aggression, and it probably ensured nuclear proliferation. Iran’s violations will cause the new Trump administration to either scrap the accord or send it to Congress for certain rejection.

“Securing the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

Even Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton came out against this failed initiative. It has little support in Congress or among the public. Opposition to the TTP helped fuel the Trump victory.

“Reopening Cuba.”

The recent Miami celebration of the death of Fidel Castro, and Trump’s victory in Florida, are testimonies to the one-sided deal’s unpopularity. The United States got little in return for the Castro brothers’ propaganda coup.

“Destroying ISIL” and “dismantling al Qaeda.”

We are at last making some progress against some of these “jayvee” teams, as Obama once described the Islamic State. Neither group has been dismantled or destroyed. Despite the death of Osama bin Laden, the widespread reach of radical Islam into Europe and the United States remains largely unchecked.

“Ending combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

The Afghan war rages on. The precipitous withdrawal of all U.S. peacekeepers in 2011 from a quiet Iraq helped sow chaos in the rest of the Middle East. We are now sending more troops back into Iraq.

“Closing Guantanamo Bay.”

This was an eight-year broken promise. The detention center still houses dangerous terrorists.

“Rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region.”

The anemic “Asia Pivot” failed. The Philippines is now openly pro-Russian and pro-Chinese. Traditional allies such Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea are terrified that the U.S is no longer a reliable guarantor of their autonomy.

“Supporting Central American development.”

The once-achievable promise of a free-market, democratic Latin America is moribund. Dictatorships in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua remain impoverished bullies. All have been appeased by the U.S.

“Strengthening cybersecurity.”

Democrats claimed Russian interference in the recent election. If true, it is proof that there is no such thing as “cybersecurity.” The WikiLeaks releases, the hacked Clinton e-mails and the Edward Snowden disclosures confirm that the Obama administration was the least cybersecure presidency in history.

feels like it’s been awhile since i dropped some victor hanson around here, but this is a pretty good rundown on looking back at all the promises Obama made and how well he stacked up on accomplishing it… funny, but some of my more liberal friends have said much the same thing to me over the years — where i might feel that he’s failed and made some truly horrible “deals” in his tenure (obamacare, the iran deal), they think he didn’t go far enough and flat out didn’t do what he promised.

good times, good times… still can’t believe that the Trump inauguration will be coming up here in DC pretty soon… oh man, it’s gonna be a crazy mess around here! i’m definitely working from home that day, i think.

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A Party of Teeth-Gnashers

The broken record of racism/sexism/homophobia plays on and on and on… A Party of Teeth-Gnashers

After the Democratic equality-of-opportunity agenda was largely realized (Social Security, Medicare, overtime, a 40-hour work week, disability insurance, civil rights, etc.), the next-generation equality-of-result effort has largely failed.

What is left of Democratic ideology is identity politics and assorted dead-end green movements as conservation has become radical environmentalism and fairness under the law is now unapologetic redistributionism. The 2016 campaign and the frenzied reaction to the result are reminders that the Left is no longer serious about formulating and advancing a practical agenda. In sum, for now it is reduced to a party of teeth-gnashers.

The Podesta archive, when coupled with the pay-for-play Clinton Foundation, summed up the liberal ideology: progressive platitudes as cover for an elite’s pursuit of power and influence. Examine a coastal Democratic establishmentarian, and there is little discernable difference in his lifestyle, income, or material tastes from those conservatives (usually poorer) whom he accuses of all sorts of politically incorrect behaviors. Self-righteous outrage is a Democratic selling point and a wise career move for journalists, academics, bureaucrats, and politicians.

Without an ideology that even remotely matched the life she led, Hillary Clinton could only run a campaign without consistent positions. She flipped on the Keystone pipeline and trade agreements. She refuted the entire 1990s Clinton economic and social agenda. Indeed, her positions of 2008 — anti–gay marriage, border enforcement, and rural populism — were the very positions that she smeared others for embracing in 2016. In 2008, Clinton damned Obama for his “clingers” speech; in 2016, she trumped him with her deplorables and irredeemables.

She both derided Wall Street and was enriched by it. Her 2008 brief flirtation with the white working classes as a modern Annie Oakley came full circle in 2016, with exultant promises to put coal miners out of work. In the end, Hillary had no ideology other than getting even richer by leveraging the office of secretary of state and pandering to identity politics in hopes that record numbers of women and minorities would vote for a 68-year-old white multimillionaire, much as they had voted for Barack Obama. The more she talked of the LGBT or Latino communities, apparently the more we were to think that the Clintons had subverted their offices and reputations to grift a $150 million personal fortune for the underprivileged.

One of the reasons Trump won without commensurate money, organization, ground game, big-name endorsements, establishment unity, conservative media encouragement, and despite a campaign of gaffes and opposition-planted IEDS, was that half the country felt it would not have survived four more years of the cynicism of left-wing politics. In other words, voters got tired of being accused of thought crimes from a party led by wealthy people who made them poorer while adding insult to injury. Continue…

a little on the heavy side for first thing in the morning, i know… but i just got into the habit somewhere along the way, and i usually enjoy sitting down with a cup of coffee and reading whatever victor is writing about this week.

emmmm, coffee…

For Democrats, the Road Back…

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The Appointment Game

The Appointment Game

Everyone is playing the “what if” recommendation game. For what little they would be worth in an ideal world, here would be four of my slightly unorthodox recommendations:

First, Larry Arnn, Hillsdale College president, for secretary of education. No one, for obvious reasons, understands better how that department works or does not work, or is more familiar with ways of saving kindergarten through graduate education, or is a greater protector of constitutional principles.

Marine general James Mattis would be a unique secretary of defense. He is apolitical, a widely read Jacksonian, blunt, and combative; he has a wealth of experience, especially in the Middle East, and is highly respected abroad and at home. It is no exaggeration that he is acknowledged as America’s most admired retired soldier.

There could not be a better director of the National Endowment for the Humanities (or Arts—or both!) than Roger Hertog, New York philanthropist and patron of the arts, National Humanities Medal winner, classical conservative, student of literature and history, and a gentleman with strong constitutional views and fearlessness in expressing them. Continue…

seems like all the news is freaking out because Trump hasn’t selected his entire cabinet within days of winning the election… forget the fact that nobody does that… hell, Obama took a good 3-4 weeks before announcing any of his cabinet members, so i think people need to chill.

Sen. Sessions, Rep. Pompeo picked by Trump to run Justice Department, CIA

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A Braver New World

Braver New World — for Now

Given the status of the post-election state legislatures and executive offices, the Republican-controlled House and Senate, a Republican president, and a Supreme Court that will not go leftward for a generation, it is hard to see how conservatives could be anything other than relieved by Tuesday’s result. Even Trump’s critics must concede, one, that he incurred the right enemies, whose post-election teeth-gnashing was not unwelcome to them; two, that Phoenix-like (or to his enemies vampire-like) he was insidiously resilient, overcoming enormous odds and electioneering disasters, some self-inflicted, that would have sent most other candidates with lesser energy or purpose into therapy; and, three, that his cabinet and Supreme Court picks will likely slow the leftist trajectory of the country.

Donald Trump also did what neither Barack Obama, the Bushes, nor Mitt Romney could accomplish: He at last put the Clintons into permanent political retirement. He showed that identity politics and tribalism do not doom Republicans, that there really were “missing Romney voters,” that being politically incorrect was still a lesser sin than the censorship and restricted speech of political correctness — a fact which will have a liberating ripple effect on free expression throughout the country.

He eroded the idea of a blue wall, restored the electoral importance of fly-over America, and left the mainstream media discredited and, for a while, impotent. And odder still, he reminded us that billion-dollar campaigns that demand huge investments in ground games, polling, costly consultants, opposition research, cash bundlers, official endorsements, and celebrity entertainers — the stuff now of the Podesta WikiLeaks archive and elite liberalism — can still fail if opposed by an enthused candidate and a committed movement.

If one collates Trump’s positions on military spending, illegal immigration, taxes, regulations, the Second Amendment, the debt, abortion, fossil fuels, or Obamacare and compares them with his spats with Republicans over entitlements, trade, and foreign policy, the bridge is far greater than the abyss.

The “divider” Trump for now also leads a far more united Republican party (if indeed 90 percent of Republicans “came home” in the final days) than does the “uniter” Obama who leaves as his legacy a vastly reduced, out-of-power and soon to be strife-ridden Democratic party reduced to the municipal level that could duplicate only Obama policy failures but never his personal electoral successes. And whereas the Bushes, McCain, and Romney soberly and judiciously fended off left-wing hits, Trump, for better or worse, has created a sort of deterrence, in the sense that although he may be baited, he may also reply with megatonnage inordinate to the provocation. And that is a not necessarily a bad thing.

good stuff on this fine friday morning… crazy fucking week, wasn’t it?! feel like i kind of need to sit back for a moment, enjoy and process it all… a nice pair of titties and a hot cup of morning coffee is a great way to start it off, though.

RIP Clinton, Inc.

#relax  #sigh  #coffee

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Has Clinton Topped Nixon?

Has Clinton Topped Nixon?

The former secretary of state has been exposed as a ruthless politician following a playbook similar to Tricky Dick’s.

Another day, another Hillary Clinton bombshell disclosure.

This time the scandal comes from disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner’s laptop computer, bringing more suggestions of Clinton’s sloppy attitude about U.S. intelligence law. Meanwhile, seemingly every day WikiLeaks produces more evidence of the Clinton Foundation leveraging the Clinton State Department for pay-for-play profiteering.

At this point, Clinton has trumped former president Richard Nixon’s skullduggery — but without the offset of Nixon’s foreign-policy accomplishments.

Even before the most recent scandals, Clinton’s campaign had an eerie resemblance to the Nixon playbook.

Compare the election of 2016 to the election of 1972. The favored Nixon re-election juggernaut (dubbed CREEP, or the “The Committee for the Re-election of the President”) squeezed corporations and wealthy individuals for millions in donations, in much the same way that Clinton’s multi-million-dollar cash machine has vastly outspent her opponent, Donald Trump.

The Watergate tapes later revealed an entirely cynical Nixon campaign team and a hard-nosed White House cadre led by H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman — plus a host of lesser toadies, such as the conniving John Dean. They all took for granted that Washington functioned on a quid pro quo and pay-for-play basis.

In that regard, the Clinton campaign under chairman John Podesta (the new Haldeman) has become Nixonian to the core, thanks to Podesta’s ruthlessness.

The WikiLeaks/Podesta e-mail trove reveals that Hillary’s consultants have no moral compass. They lampoon Latinos as “needy.” Catholics are written off as being stuck in medieval times. Aides bartered with plutocrats for Secretary of State Clinton’s face time on the basis of cash donations. A primary debate question was tipped off by CNN contributor and Democratic operative Donna Brazile. Continue…

to be honest, Watergate seems pretty tame compared to all the crap that’s been revealed about Hillary Clinton — or “Clinton Inc.” as her own operatives refer to it… i found it interesting that several seasoned FBI agents investigating her got so fed up with all the political / corruption bullshit going on, that they’d rather retire from the agency that they love than continue under this farce… dunno, thought that was pretty telling.

anywho, TGIF mang.

p.s. emmmm, coffee… definitely need more of it today.

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The Highway of Death

Lessons from the Highway of Death

Elites’ impossible dreams often become dangerous realities for more vulnerable and distant ‘others.’

California State Route 99 is the north-south highway that cuts through the great Central Valley. And it has changed little since the mid-1960s.

A half-century ago, when the state population was about 18 million — not nearly 40 million as it is today — the 99 used to be a high-speed, four-lane marvel. It was a crown jewel in California’s cutting-edge freeway system.

Not now.

The 99 was recently ranked by ValuePenguin (a private consumer research organization) as the deadliest major highway in the nation. Locals who live along its 400-plus miles often go to bed after seeing lurid TV news reports of nocturnal multi-car accidents. Then they wake up to Central Valley radio accounts of morning carnage on the 99.

The 99 is undergoing a $1 billion, multi-decade upgrade to increase its four lanes to six. Promises have been made to build off- and on-ramps in place of haphazard exits and entries from the old days of cross traffic.

In many of the most dangerous southern portions of the 99, huge semi trucks hog two lanes. Speeders weave in and out of traffic. They still try to drive 70 mph in the manner you could 50 years ago when traffic was less clogged. Text-messaging drivers are now even more dangerous than the intoxicated.

The 99 is emblematic of a state in psychological and material decline. Continue…

california is a mess, there’s really no doubt about that… but i have to say, being that i’ve been driving up and down I-95 here in virginia for the past 15 years or more, i can fully sympathize — they’ve spent the past couple years working on putting in a two-lane HOV highway between the north and south bound 3-lane I-95 highway, and has it really helped traffic? nope… why the hell they didn’t put that time and money towards expanding i_95 from three to 5 or 6 lanes is beyond me.

sometimes feels like we’re surrounded by idiots, i swear.

#ugh  #sigh

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Op/Ed Political

My Vote, Explained

Because she’s a dishonest, soulless, big-state progressive… My Vote, Explained

The case against Hillary Clinton could have been written before the recent WikiLeaks and FBI disclosures. But these documents do provide hard textual backup.

The most sensational disclosure was the proposed deal between the State Department and the FBI in which the FBI would declassify a Hillary Clinton e-mail and State would give the FBI more slots in overseas stations. What made it sensational was the rare appearance in an official account of the phrase “quid pro quo,” which is the currently agreed-upon dividing line between acceptable and unacceptable corruption.

This is nonetheless an odd choice for most egregious offense. First, it occurred several layers removed from the campaign and from Clinton. It involved a career State Department official (he occupied the same position under Condoleezza Rice), covering not just for Clinton but for his own department.

Second, it’s not clear which side originally offered the bargain. Third, nothing tangible was supposed to exchange hands. There was no proposed personal enrichment — a Rolex in return for your soul — which tends to be our standard for punishable misconduct.

And finally, it never actually happened. The FBI turned down the declassification request.

In sum, a warm gun but non-smoking. Indeed, if the phrase “quid pro quo” hadn’t appeared, it would have received little attention. Moreover, it obscures the real scandal — the bottomless cynicism of the campaign and of the candidate.

Among dozens of examples, the Qatari gambit. Qatar, one of the worst actors in the Middle East (having financially supported the Islamic State, for example), offered $1 million as a “birthday” gift to Bill Clinton in return for five minutes of his time. Who offers — who takes — $200,000 a minute? We don’t know the “quid” here, but it’s got to be big.

In the final debate, Clinton ran and hid when asked about pay-for-play at the Clinton Foundation. And for good reason. The e-mails reveal how foundation donors were first in line for favors and contracts. Continue…

i usually go with victor on friday mornings, but today i thought i’d roll with krauthammer since he really does a nice job outlining why so many people have a serious problem with voting for Hillary — even though they don’t really like Trump all that much either… myself included.

The Election Year Features More Than One Presidential Race


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Medieval America

per the usual friday morning ritual, here’s the lastest op/ed from victor hanson… let’s see what he’s talking about this week — Medieval America

Pessimists often compare today’s troubled America to a tottering late Rome or an insolvent and descending British Empire. But medieval Europe (roughly A.D. 500 to 1450) is the more apt comparison.

The medieval world was a nearly 1,000-year period of spectacular, if haphazard, human achievement — along with endemic insecurity, superstition, and two, rather than three, classes.

The great medieval universities — at Bologna, Paris, and Oxford — continued to make strides in science. They were not unlike the medical and engineering schools at Harvard and Stanford. But they were not centers of free thinking.

Instead, medieval speech codes were designed to ensure that no one questioned the authority of church doctrine. Culturally or politically incorrect literature of the classical past, from Aristophanes to Petronius, was censored as either subversive or hurtful.

Career-wise, it was suicidal for, say, a medieval professor of science at the University of Padua to doubt the orthodoxy that the sun revolved around the earth.

Similarly, at Berkeley or Princeton, few now dare to commit the heresy of expressing uncertainty about whether man-caused global warming poses an immediate, existential threat to human civilization.

Today, a fifth of American households have zero or negative net worth. The shrinking middle classes struggle to service trillions of dollars in consumer and student debt to big banks — in the manner of medieval peasants. Continue…

kinda scary when you put it like that… reading through his article, it’s downright depressing to think of it that way.

hell, i remember reading the other day that nearly 7 in 10 americans have less than $1,000 in savings… and remember thinking that was pretty crazy… g’damn.

p.s. after almost 8 years of Obama, what did you expect?


From Greek Tragedy to American Therapy

From Greek Tragedy to American Therapy

The Greeks gave us tragedy — the idea that life is never fair. Terrible stuff for no reason tragically falls on good people. Life’s choices are sometimes only between the bad and the far worse.

In the plays of the ancient dramatists Aeschylus and Sophocles, heroism and nobility only arise out of tragedies.

The tragic hero refuses to blame the gods for his terrible fate. Instead, a Prometheus, Ajax, or Oedipus prefers to fight against the odds. He thereby establishes a code of honor, even as defeat looms.

In contrast, modern Americans gave the world therapy.

Life must always be fair. If not, something or someone must be blamed. All good people deserve only a good life — or else.

A nation of victims soon becomes collectively paralyzed in fear of offending someone. Pay down the $20 trillion debt? Reform the unsustainable Social Security system? Ask the 47 percent of the population that pays no income tax to at least pay some?

Nope. Victims would allege that such belt-tightening is unfair and impossible — and hurtful to boot. So we do nothing as the rendezvous with financial collapse gets ever closer.

Does anyone think a culture of whiners can really build high-speed rail in California? Even its supporters want the noisy tracks built somewhere away from their homes. Even animals get in on the new victimhood. To build a reservoir in drought-stricken California means oppressing the valley elderberry longhorn beetle or ignoring the feelings of the foothill yellow-legged frog. America’s impoverished ancestors at 15 years of age may have rounded Cape Horn on a schooner or ridden bareback over the Rockies.

Not today’s therapeutic college youth. They have been so victimized by racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and other -isms and -phobias that colleges often provide them “safe spaces,” outlaw “microaggressions” and demand “trigger warnings” to avoid the un-nice.

What would our grandfathers think? Continue…

another grey and gloomy friday morning, another good op/ed from victor hanson to sit down and read over some fresh hot coffee… emmmm, loving these columbian coffee beans i picked up the other day — soooooo fucking good.

In 2016, Facts, Logic, and History Have Ceased to Matter

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Those Stupid White Working-Class Zombies

The Construct of the White Working-Class Zombies

One of the strangest transformations in the era of Obama has been the overt and often gratuitous stereotyping of so-called white people — most often the white working classes who have become constructed into veritable unthinking and unrecognizable zombies. For progressives especially these were not the sympathetic old foundation of the Democratic party, who were once romanticized as the “people” pitted against the industrialists and the bluestockings, but rather have become monstrous caricatures of all sorts of incorrect race/class/and gender behavior and speech.

Stranger still, this disparagement was concurrent to the release of a variety of recent studies that have shown that the white working class has been “losing ground” in far more dramatic terms than have other ethnic groups, especially in key areas such as health and life expectancy. Such news might once have earned liberal sympathies rather than derision. Odder still, the so-called one percenters — that includes high percentages of whites, who have benefited from globalization and changes in the U.S. economy — are often precisely those who damn the less fortunate for supposedly enjoying racially based privileges that are largely confined to themselves.


Obama himself had long ago made popular the idea that there are not individual white people, good and bad, lazy and industrious, but more generally a collective Borg of racist and culpable “white people.” Or, as he characterized his own “effective” tricks over clueless whites in his admittedly fictional memoir Dreams from My Father, “it was usually an effective tactic, another one of those tricks I had learned: [White] People were satisfied so long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves.” Continue…

always fun to sit down with my cup of coffee and see what victor hanson has to say this week, as i usually do most friday mornings… and man, this was a good one worth the read if you have the time — a little deep for the first thing in the morning, i know… but that’s part of it’s charm i guess.

Another Obamacare Bailout Is Declared Illegal

#stretch  #yawn

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A Hard Rain Is Going to Fall

A Hard Rain Is Going to Fall

World events seem relatively calm, but repeated appeasement has built up pressure across the globe, and someone has to be there when crisis erupts.

This summer, President Obama was often golfing. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were promising to let the world be. The end of summer seemed sleepy, the world relatively calm.

The summer of 1914 in Europe also seemed quiet. But on July 28, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip with help from his accomplices, fellow Serbian separatists. That isolated act sparked World War I.

In the summer of 1939, most observers thought Adolf Hitler was finally through with his serial bullying. Appeasement supposedly had satiated his once enormous territorial appetites. But on September 1, Nazi Germany unexpectedly invaded Poland and touched off World War II, which consumed some 60 million lives.

Wars often seem to come out of nowhere, as unlikely events ignite long-simmering disputes into global conflagrations.

The instigators often are weaker attackers who foolishly assume that more powerful nations wish peace at any cost, and so will not react to opportunistic aggression.

Unfortunately, our late-summer calm of 2016 has masked a lot of festering tensions that are now coming to a head — largely due to disengagement by a supposedly tired United States.

In contrast, war, unlike individual states, does not sleep.

Russia has been massing troops on its border with Ukraine. Russian president Vladimir Putin apparently believes that Europe is in utter disarray and assumes that President Obama remains most interested in apologizing to foreigners for the past evils of the United States. Putin is wagering that no tired Western power could or would stop his reabsorption of Ukraine — or the Baltic states next. Who in hip Amsterdam cares what happens to faraway Kiev?

Iran swapped American hostages for cash. An Iranian missile narrowly missed a U.S. aircraft carrier not long ago. Iranians hijacked an American boat and buzzed our warships in the Persian Gulf. There are frequent promises from Tehran to destroy either Israel, America, or both. So much for the peace dividend of the “Iran deal.”

North Korea is more than just delusional. Recent nuclear tests and missile launches toward Japan suggest that North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un actually believes that he could win a war — and thereby gain even larger concessions from the West and from his Asian neighbors.

Radical Islamists likewise seem emboldened to try more attacks on the premise that Western nations will hardly respond with overwhelming power. The past weekend brought pipe bombings in Manhattan and New Jersey as well as a mass stabbing in a Minnesota mall — and American frustration.

Europe and the United States have been bewildered by huge numbers of largely young male migrants from the war-torn Middle East. Political correctness has paralyzed Western leaders from even articulating the threat, much less replying to it.

Instead, the American government appears more concerned with shutting down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, ensuring that no administration official utters the words “Islamic terror,” and issuing warnings to Americans not to lash out due to their supposedly innate prejudices. Continue…

good stuff on a beautifoo friday morning, as usual… couldn’t sleep for shit last night for some reason, so i might have to take a nice afternoon nap like a little kid, i think.

#stretch  #yawns

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Op/Ed Political

The Legacies of Barack Obama

The Legacies of Barack Obama

On his recent Asian tour, President Obama characterized his fellow Americans (the most productive workers in the world) as “lazy.”

In fact, he went on to deride Americans for a list of supposed transgressions ranging from the Vietnam War to environmental desecration to the 19th century treatment of Native Americans.

“If you’re in the United States,” the president said, “sometimes you can feel lazy and think we’re so big we don’t have to really know anything about other people.”

The attack on supposedly insular Americans was somewhat bizarre, given that Obama himself knows no foreign languages. He often seems confused about even basic world geography. (His birthplace of Hawaii is not “Asia,” Austrians do not speak “Austrian,” and the Falkland Islands are not the Maldives).

Obama’s sense of history is equally weak. Contrary to his past remarks, the Islamic world did not spark either the Western Renaissance or the Enlightenment. Cordoba was not, as he once suggested, an Islamic center of “tolerance” during the Spanish Inquisition; in fact, its Muslim population had been expelled during the early Reconquista over two centuries earlier.

In another eerie ditto of his infamous 2008 attack on the supposedly intolerant Pennsylvania “clingers,” Obama returned to his theme that ignorant Americans “typically” become xenophobic and racist: “Typically, when people feel stressed, they turn on others who don’t look like them.” (“Typically” is not a good Obama word to use in the context of racial relations, since he once dubbed his own grandmother a “typical white person.”)

Too often Obama has gratuitously aroused racial animosities with inflammatory rhetoric such as “punish our enemies,” or injected himself into the middle of hot-button controversies like the Trayvon Martin case, the Henry Louis Gates melodrama, and the “hands up, don’t shoot” Ferguson mayhem.

Most recently, Obama seemed to praise backup 49ers quarterback and multimillionaire Colin Kaepernick for his refusal to stand during the National Anthem, empathizing with Kaepernick’s claims of endemic American racism.

What is going on in Obama’s home stretch? Continue…

another friday morning, another trip over to NRO to see what my man victor hanson has to say this week… good stuff as always.


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Op/Ed Political

Trump Up, Hillary Down, Obama Out

Trump Up, Hillary Down, Obama Out

In most presidential elections, the two candidates spar over issues. The president campaigns for his party’s nominee in hopes of continuing his legacy. Democrats champion liberalism, Republicans conservatism. In numerous press conferences, journalists try to force newsworthy and embarrassing admissions from the two candidates.

Not this year.

Barack Obama, who less than two years ago dipped to 40 percent in approval rating, is nowhere to be seen. He seems to know that the more he is absent and quiet, the more the public likes the idea rather than the reality of him as president — and his approval rating has risen to 51 percent.

In his self-imposed retreat, Obama makes no effort to defend the Affordable Care Act, which is all but disintegrating, as major insurers pull out and costs skyrocket.

Ditto the Iran deal. Obama is learning that it is better to be quiet about Iranian violations, ransom for hostages, and provocations than to explain them away.

Obama months ago gave up mentioning how the crushing national debt has almost doubled to nearly $20 trillion under his watch. No one seems to be defending the Obama administration’s lax immigration and border-enforcement policies.

He is also silent on his foreign policy — “reset” with Russia, the abrupt pullout from Iraq, the intervention in Libya, the growth of the Islamic State, the disintegration of Syria, and the decision not to associate global terrorism with radical Islamism.

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has kept a relatively low profile for someone who’s running for president. She has not held a press conference in more than nine months, counting on a compliant press to keep giving her a pass on her e-mail scandals.

Her campaign strategy is to agree to occasional one-on-one interviews with pre-selected friendly journalists, and to engage in chitchat on frivolous morning and late-evening TV talk shows. Clinton avoids large rallies, where she often grates rather than enthuses.

Her campaign strategy is to agree to occasional one-on-one interviews with pre-selected friendly journalists, and to engage in chitchat on frivolous morning and late-evening TV talk shows. Clinton avoids large rallies, where she often grates rather than enthuses.

Clinton doesn’t talk much about the Obama record. Voters do not have any idea how — or indeed if — she would fix Obamacare.

Clinton talks tough about her future foreign policy. Does that mean she thinks Obama has been too complacent abroad? Continue…

good stuff as usual on this fine, sunny friday morning.

need more coffee though.


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