Another episode of Bright Cottage Cheese

January 29th, 2020

Here’s one from a few years ago. How many conservative profs at our alma mater? 0-1% ain’t bad. And here’s a piece on one of our favorite professors, Vincent Scully. Finally, we note we studied Blake with Harold Bloom, which was pretty cool. But what’s going on today? – climate change of course, duh.

Miscellany

January 28th, 2020

(1) China virus, ewww. (2) This is CNN. (3) Auschwitz letter, wow. (4) We won’t mention the nonsense, so that’s enough for now.

Another Gomer Pyle moment

January 27th, 2020

Go Gomer. Entertaining piece over at AG on this latest 11:59 nonsense. And guess who’s doing the NSC review of the Bolton book. Yup.

More comic relief

January 26th, 2020

If right doesn’t matter – if right doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter how good the Constitution is. It doesn’t matter how brilliant the Framers were; Doesn’t matter how good or bad our advocacy in this trial is. Doesn’t matter how well written the oath of impartiality is. If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost. If the truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost.

You gotta admit, the guy looks perfect for his part in this awful play. More here.

Comic relief?

January 25th, 2020

Or maybe the worst comic relief ever. We can’t take any more of this nonsense.

“news”

January 24th, 2020

if this is news, then so is this; help!

Maybe it’s the last Kubrick movie

January 23rd, 2020

VDH delivers another sober bummer today on the government’s deep corruption, as does Thomas Lifson. Scott Johnson takes on FISA. Suddenly the thought occurs: maybe this is just a movie. Hey, Adam Schiff would fit in as a character in Dr. Strangelove or Clockwork Orange, right? Alas, we put our hand on the stove and it turns out we were awake – ow, that hurt!

Bonus unfun: guess who is even worse than the politicians.

What do these things have in common?

January 22nd, 2020

There’s a holdup in the Bronx,
Brooklyn’s broken out in fights;
There’s a traffic jam in Harlem
That’s backed up to Jackson Heights;
There’s a Scout troop short a child,
Khrushchev’s due at Idlewild
Car 54, Where Are You??

A horse is a horse of course of course
And no one can talk to a horse of course.
That is of course unless the horse
Is the famous Mister Ed
Go right to the source and ask the horse
He’ll give you the answer that you’ll endorse
He’s always on a steady course
Talk to Mister Ed
People yakkity-yak the streets
And waste your time of day,
but Mister Ed will never speak
Unless he has something to say

Answer: reading them was less of a waste of time than listening to Shifty Schiff for ten seconds.

Sense and nonsense

January 21st, 2020

Sense: to embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse. They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune-tellers — and I have them and you have them, and we all have them, and they want to see us do badly, but we don’t let that happen. They predicted an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, mass starvation in the ’70s, and an end of oil in the 1990s. These alarmists always demand the same thing: absolute power to dominate, transform, and control every aspect of our lives.

And here’s the news from NBC.

Weirdness on steroids

January 20th, 2020

(1) Begin with the least weird, the calm VDH. (2) Old versus young preferences. (3) Get lost, you 63 million voters. (4) we thought Q was the guy telling James Bond not to use the ejector seat, but it’s a weird organism that’s making war on American Thinker (here and here). (5) Weirdness with a capital W. That’s enough for now.

News from the other universe

January 19th, 2020

NYT guy: “when we saw the phone call transcript of day one on this whole deal, to me, he was 99 percent guilty at that moment. And now he’s risen to 99.9 percent guilty. Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr. Schiff will just — he will just walk all over them because he has the evidence on his side. So, it’s not a debate you want to have when you’re on a losing side. And this is basically a political game to get through it.” Huh? It’s a different universe alright. But if you’re going to invent a universe, why not create one that has a little fun in it.

Interesting reading

January 18th, 2020

WSJ:

A Quinnipiac poll out this week shows Mr. Sanders with 39% support among Democrats under 34 and only 7% of those 65 and older. Gaps between the old and young have shaped American life at least since the 1950s, and it was the boomers themselves who made rebellion synonymous with youth. But this axis of today’s struggle could change politics for generations to come, as millennials reject the country’s capitalist consensus and embrace socialism in record numbers. Fifty percent of adults under 38 told the Harris Poll last year that they would “prefer living in a socialist country.” That outlook recurs in many more surveys and far surpasses figures from even the radical heydays of the ’60s and ’70s. In 1974, pollster Daniel Yankelovich found that three-quarters of Americans 25 to 34 felt the country had “moved dangerously close to socialism.”

Critics often blame today’s socialist surge on millennials’ laziness. More charitably, some note that left-wing professors dominate college campuses. One free-market economist has a different explanation. Edward Glaeser, a Harvard professor and Manhattan Institute senior fellow, believes the problem lies more in economics than culture or education.

Mr. Glaeser, 52, argues that young people have radicalized politically because “there are a number of ways in which the modern American economy isn’t working all that well for them.” Many public policies make it harder to get a job, save money or find an affordable home, leaving young idealists thinking, “Why not try socialism?” But that cure would merely worsen the disease.

Mr. Glaeser decries policies that constrain the job market and increase the cost of living compared with what the economy would produce if left alone. “In many cases,” he says, “there seems to be a sense in which insiders have managed to stack the deck against outsiders.” People who have secured a foothold in one way or another—homeowners, union laborers, retirees—have advocated policies that make it harder for “newcomers,” including immigrants and young people, to advance.

Consider the housing market. “In the 1960s and earlier,” Mr. Glaeser says, “America basically had a property-rights regime that meant that anyone who had a plot of land could pretty much put up anything reasonable on that plot of land.” Since then, cities and towns have circumscribed the areas where homes can be built, capped numbers of units, and imposed strict requirements on developers—all of which raise prices. “So there’s this intergenerational redistribution that’s occurred by restricting housing supply.”

People who bought homes while the rules were lenient, or who are wealthy enough to have bought lately, have seen their values soar. Meanwhile, “younger people just don’t have housing wealth.” By 2013, a 35- to 44-year-old person at the 75th percentile had less than half as much home equity (adjusted for inflation) as his counterpart did 30 years earlier.

Prices are especially inflated in high-income metropolises such as New York and the San Francisco Bay Area. As a result, many highly educated millennials forgo future earnings and settle in less expensive places like Salt Lake City, Boise, Idaho, and Nashville, Tenn. “We have people who are moving to areas primarily because of housing being inexpensive rather than because it’s particularly productive,” Mr. Glaeser says. Those who lack college degrees can’t afford to live close to the well-paid service jobs in major cities. “Prior to 1980, poor people moved to high-wage areas,” he says. Today, “we have a trickle.”

The shift of income toward those Mr. Glaeser calls the “entrenched” is most explicit in entitlement programs. “The original Medicare design is relatively mild,” he says. A comparatively young age distribution and a limited range of treatments made the plan feasible when it began in 1966. “But basically the system is set up so that no matter what medical treatment can be created, they pretty much all get to be paid for.” The program now exceeds 3% of gross domestic product. Young people “see many of these benefits, including Social Security” as “going to older rich people.” They’re funded by payroll taxes, which snag a disproportionate share of low-earners’ paychecks.

Taxpayers also pony up ever more to fund the retirements of government employees. “Some of the most egregious things at the urban level are the public pension plans,” Mr. Glaeser says. “This is a system that stacks compensation very strongly toward the end of life with very long, very generous pensions.” Public liabilities have swelled since 1960 as government hiring outpaced population growth, and state and local pensions now claim about 1.5% of GDP each year. Each payment to a former bus driver or teacher might come at the expense of a young family’s savings or a small-business owner’s investment in new jobs.

How did the land of opportunity become overgrown with policies that keep newcomers from moving up? Mr. Glaeser cites a theory developed by the economist Mancur Olson, author of “The Rise and Decline of Nations” (1982). “Olson had this vision of how economies rise and fall,” Mr. Glaeser says. “A successful, stable economy acquires these interest groups, which essentially block change, which protect their interests, and which make it impossible to do anything new.”

Thus the Uber scam in CA, which is about protecting a donation group. And then there’s His Royal Majesty, the King of The Skim is the Scam.

ALSO: government stupidity update via the GAO.

A few more Iran comparisons

January 17th, 2020

So Iran is around number 95 in the list of countries in GDP per capita today, right around Jamaica, if we recall correctly. We don’t know where it was on the list in 1979, but this is not a story of Iran’s progress, rather the opposite.

40 years ago Iran’s GDP per capita was 1.4x that of Korea, and now Korea’s is 6.8x that of Iran. Wow! Not good for a country with the 4th largest oil reserves in the world.

As we said the other day, no wonder the people are fuming and rioting.

Angry numbers produce angry people in Iran

January 16th, 2020

Iran’s GDP per capita in 1979 was $2400, and in 2018 was around $5300. The US numbers are $11,700 and around $63,000. Iranians were promised a lot at the beginning of this story 40 years ago:

Iranians “were promised free electricity and a share of the country’s oil revenues every month. They expected to sleep snug in their warm beds at home in the winter, to stay cool in the sultry summers and to do nothing except spend their oil revenues and eat “chelo kebab”! So, they joined the fray and chanted, “Death to the Shah!” and “Death to America!” Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had indeed promised his followers free electricity and cash from oil revenues.”

Instead, what they got, via the numbers above, was a decline in Iranian GDP per capita vs. US from 21% to 8% in forty years (with lots of money going to nasty warmaking). Lots of lessons in all this, and here is one from Angelo Codevilla: “Human beings can tolerate almost anything from rulers except demonstrations of incompetence.”

Takeaways: (1) a two thirds decline in relative GDP per capita over 40 years is nothing to write home about; indeed, it is something to riot about. (2) Finally, this story is utterly obvious, based on the dramatic numbers. Where is it being reported?

A little enjoyment

January 15th, 2020

We couldn’t watch the debate for two seconds, for the obvious reasons. Ugh. But this commentary is ok. As a bonus, we learned that someone from the UN once made sense. We’ll not say much about a former colleague who made most of his money from coal etc. and now says he’s going to “save the world.” Van Jones is right about these characters. Jeesh.

OTOH

January 15th, 2020

Some days you don’t learn anything: “Well, the regime — the protesters are — are protesting, as I understand it, this brand of protesters, about the fact that that plane went down. And many students were on that plane. And these are largely students in the street.” Aha!

OTOH again, Austin Bay

You learn something new every day

January 14th, 2020

It turns out that Gulags are Good! Gosh. However, we can think of 1,053,829 people who might disagree with that.

More numbers, some falling 50%

January 13th, 2020

WSJ:

Beginning around 1990, China’s auto market grew continuously from virtually nothing into a behemoth, eclipsing the U.S. by 2009 and posting many years of double-digit-percentage growth along the way. An expanding middle class fueled demand for new vehicles, prompting foreign auto makers to create joint ventures with locals and invest heavily in building new plants. The total number of cars owned by China’s 1.4 billion citizens reached 260 million last year.

Foreign and domestic auto makers, habituated to growth in a market where their biggest challenge was building factories quickly enough to meet demand, are hurting. General Motors Co. posted its biggest-ever China sales drop last year and warned of a tough 2020. Ford Motor Co’s annual sales fell for the third year in a row, by 26% to 570,000 vehicles — less than half the nearly 1.3 million vehicles it sold at its peak in 2016.

Must be the Orange Man wreaking international havoc. Have to check CNN to find out…

444 days too many

January 12th, 2020

The 1979 hostage crisis was one of the worst things ever handled, er, mishandled. Despite the family being lifelong D’s, just couldn’t pull the lever in 1980 for the guy who screwed things up. Roger Kimball has a good piece on the current insanity: “the oblivion that wraps historical and political stupidity in blinking impunity will also extract any toll of responsibility from those future cheerleaders who denounce Donald Trump today. It is all part of the human comedy, distracting, amusing even, when approached with sufficient cynicism. It is not, however, agreeable or edifying.” Even worse than 1979, take a look at the front-runners today – they’re even worse than Carter. Even after the two generation breakdown of the US education system, the nuttiness makes no sense at all. (Yes it does: it’s all the result of global warming.)

Another day

January 11th, 2020

PJ:

On Saturday, protesters with Iran’s MEK Freedom Movement took to the streets in Tehran to protest after Iran’s government admitted having shot down a Ukrainian plane by mistake, killing 176 people on board. Iran’s government claimed that the U.S. airstrike killing Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani had united the country, but the protests disproved that narrative.

“Protests erupt against the Revolutionary Guards at Amir-Kabir University in Tehran due to authorities’ incompetence and negligence after the recent plane crash that killed more than 176 people,” Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad reported on Twitter. “Some people had claimed Iranians were united after [Soleimani]’s death. Think again.”

“‘IRGC, shame on you. Let go of our country’ – chants at [Iran protests] today in Tehran’s Amirkabir University after the Revolutionary Guards admit to shooting down a [Ukrainian plane],” M. Hanif Jazayeri, an Iranian journalist based in Britain, tweeted. He summarized remarks from National Council of Resistance of Iran leader Maryam Rajavi, who called the plane crash “a great crime that Iran’s people will neither forgive nor forget.”

WaPo: Targeting civilians and cultural sites is what terrorists do. It’s a war crime,” tweeted Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate. Apparently some folks like Orange Man’s ideas better than the US media and politicians.