From “Fat Man and Little Boy” to “Fat Boy and Little Man”

July 31st, 2017

Here’s Fat Man. Here’s Fat Boy. Problem is, Fat Boy is crazy, e.g., murdering his half-brother in the most bizarre way at an airport in Malaysia. So he has to be gotten rid of before he tries to nuke LAX, as AT and WSJ and many others agree. Xi Jinping is a tough guy but he doesn’t need this aggravation. It’s no fun getting on the wrong side of Xi Jinping. Stay tuned.

Bonus fun: picture number two.

Always try to combat fatigue

July 30th, 2017

WSJ

State television showed at least 16 DF-31AG missiles in Sunday’s parade at the Zhurihe combat-training base in northern China, marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the force that is now known as the People’s Liberation Army. The DF-31AG is mounted on an all-terrain vehicle so it is harder to track and can be fired from multiple locations, and it could have a longer range than the older DF-31A, which was also displayed and is carried by a vehicle designed mainly for roads, military experts say. Mr. Xi, wearing combat fatigues and a peaked cap, inspected the troops from an open-top military vehicle before the parade, which featured tanks, helicopters, stealth jet fighters and some 12,000 personnel. “The world is not peaceful,” Mr. Xi in a speech afterward that invoked his signature political idea of a “China Dream” to build the country into a global economic and military power. “Today we are closer than any other period in history to the goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and we need more than any period in history to build a strong people’s military.”

MCGA! Imagine today’s media if the next SOTU address featured something like this.

Today’s reading

July 30th, 2017

Pieces by Roger Simon and Clarice. It really is a sewer, not a swamp. Bonus: Portlandia!

Direct Marketing Association Hall of Fame

July 29th, 2017

SPLC. So many scams, so little time.

Vacation!

July 29th, 2017

WSJ:

An internal company memo seen by The Wall Street Journal said Avianca faced chronic problems with power outages that limit the use of Simón Bolívar International Airport’s runway as well as “poor-quality fuel” and inadequate jet refueling equipment. The company several months ago had stopped refueling in Venezuela or leaving aircraft there overnight, a person familiar with the company’s operations said, citing security risks. The memo also noted concerns over airport technicians with expired licenses that are needed to handle plane equipment. Flights, it said, are often delayed for hours due to arbitrary inspections by the Venezuelan National Guard, which maintains security there. “This is reflected in the highest level of theft and irregular intervention into travelers’ luggage,” the memo said, adding that Avianca’s crew has also been subjected to robbery and assault on a number of occasions in the crime-ridden capital.

In other news, the State Department will be limiting movement of the employees who remain in Caracas and advises all Americans against traveling to the country due to “social unrest, violent crime and pervasive food and medicine shortages.” Things are so bad that even the Guardian has figured it out.

Like Crabby Appleton

July 29th, 2017

From Andy McCarthy: rotten to the core. Also, another Comey confidant, this one a Mr. Baker. Just imagine how bad are the things we don’t know about. Update: more rot.

A character out of Punch and Judy

July 28th, 2017

This is just nuts. Ah, now it all makes sense.

Our 2 cents

July 27th, 2017

We just watched Tucker Carlson in a minute long interview of Jeff Sessions, and it led us to the conclusion that this is probably correct. If we had to guess, it could well be about leaks, with different people getting slightly different stories about the Sessions tweets in order to identify leakers through their media allies’ reports. Just a guess.

Stupid with a capital S

July 26th, 2017

WSJ:

Today, with gasoline or diesel powertrains still powering nearly every one of the 90 million vehicles sold annually across the globe, auto makers are spending heavily to make those engines more efficient even as they slowly introduce electric cars. Rule makers want them to shift focus. “We can’t carry on with diesel and petrol cars, not just because of the health problems, but also because the emissions they cause will accelerate climate change,” said U.K. Environmental Secretary Michael Gove

Hollywood Reporter: “Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown and his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, stood side by side Tuesday to cheer the extension of one of the most ambitious programs in the U.S. to reduce fossil fuel pollution, while condemning President Donald Trump’s failure to see climate change as a deadly threat.” Yup: CO2 is zero percent of the air but politicians are all over it, and politicians want zero percent of the population to make military policy. Help!!!

Stay tuned

July 25th, 2017

WSJ:

A record 328,547 Chinese students were enrolled in the U.S. in the 2015-2016 academic year, up 160% from six years prior, drawn to the quality of the higher education system and eager to bypass China’s grueling college-entrance exams. In the past, most would stay on after graduating. Now around 80% choose to return home, where, many say, better job prospects await.

In seven out of 10 European countries surveyed by the Pew Research Center, including the U.K. and Germany, China is now considered the world’s leading economic power, according to data released in July.

Re paragraph 1: one of our classmates has been in the business of getting Chinese students admitted to colleges and grad schools by, in some cases, having families move from China to places like Bolivia so they can work around quotas. Re paragraph 2: stay tuned — it just might be 1928.

Flashback, and maybe forward

July 24th, 2017

NYT 8/16:

Over the last five years, Chinese investors have plowed at least $2.8 trillion into buying such funds from banks alone. After quintupling since 2011, these investments, known as wealth management products, now total an amount roughly equal to more than one-third of the country’s annual economic output.

Among the biggest issuers of wealth management products are hundreds of banks and other financial institutions in poor, inland provinces. These banks are under intense pressure from provincial political bosses to keep lending and help sustain big employers like state-owned enterprises, at a time when the entire country’s economy is slowing.

To raise money for large-scale lending, banks have ramped up issuance. They sold 187,000 separate wealth management products by the end of last year, up 56 percent from a year earlier, according to official statistics. Technology has made it easier for firms other than banks, like State Gold Treasure, to sell the products online and through smartphone apps. “In the past, you’d need to go to the bank to open an account or open an account at a certain fund company,” said He Zhirui, a finance company worker in Beijing who also invests in wealth management products. “Now, with the apps, you can simply upload your personal ID and purchase wealth management products right away online.”

State Gold Treasure, known as Guojinbao in Chinese, has its wood-paneled offices on the 71st floor of the gleaming Shanghai World Financial Center, which has a large statue of a Chinese god of wealth in the lobby. On its website, the company says investors are protected by a “seven-layer guarantee mechanism” and promises that all investments will be repaid in full. But the fund does not say who is guaranteeing the funds.

7/17:

Wanda, Anbang, HNA Group and Fosun have made at least $41 billion of overseas acquisitions, according to Dealogic, a research firm. The country’s debt levels soared. In 2011, total credit extended to private, nonfinancial companies was about 120 percent of economic output in China. It is now 166 percent. Last year, the chairman of Anbang, a fast-growing insurer that paid $2 billion for the Waldorf Astoria in New York, held court at the luxurious hotel, wining and dining American business leaders. Last month, the chairman, Wu Xiaohui, was detained by the Chinese police, for undisclosed reasons.

As we observed last year, China has 8x the steel making capacity of the US, and apparently used more cement in 3 recent years than the US did in the 20th century. Someday the chickens will come home to roost. However, we’ve been saying that for over a decade now, and it hasn’t happened yet.

History repeats itself — with a little difference

July 23rd, 2017

WSJ:

In 2001 the quantity of first-class mail in the U.S. began to decline thanks to the internet. Today it is down 40% from its peak levels, according to Postal Service data. But though there are fewer letters to put into each mailbox, the Postal Service still visits 150 million residences and businesses daily. With less traditional mail to deliver, the service has filled its spare capacity by delivering more boxes.

In 2007 the Postal Service and its regulator determined that, at a minimum, 5.5% of the agency’s fixed costs must be allocated to packages and similar products. A decade later, around 25% of its revenue comes from packages, but their share of fixed costs has not kept pace. First-class mail effectively subsidizes the national network, and the packages get a free ride. An April analysis from Citigroup estimates that if costs were fairly allocated, on average parcels would cost $1.46 more to deliver. It is as if every Amazon box comes with a dollar or two stapled to the packing slip — a gift card from Uncle Sam.

Amazon is big enough to take full advantage of “postal injection,” and that has tipped the scales in the internet giant’s favor. Select high-volume shippers are able to drop off presorted packages at the local Postal Service depot for “last mile” delivery at cut-rate prices. With high volumes and warehouses near the local depots, Amazon enjoys low rates unavailable to its competitors. My analysis of available data suggests that around two-thirds of Amazon’s domestic deliveries are made by the Postal Service. It’s as if Amazon gets a subsidized space on every mail truck.

History: By 1890, Standard Oil controlled 88 percent of the refined oil flows in the United States. “beyond question the dominant position of the Standard Oil Co. in the refining industry was due to unfair practices — to abuse of the control of pipelines.”

Standard Oil controlled the pipelines back then, and Amazon controls them now. But Mr. Rockefeller wasn’t smart enough to buy the WaPo and subsidize its self-congratulatory flatulence. HT: Michael Walsh

Zero, Zero, Zero, Zero

July 22nd, 2017

(a) To the nearest percent, what percent of air is CO2? (b) To the nearest percent, what percent of people are T, i.e., have gender dysphoria? (c) To the nearest percent, what is the probability that a detailed 2200 word WaPo story on a shooting, which names over a dozen people, contains the name of the shooter? (d) To the nearest percent, what is the probability that a WaPo story that also contains the word “backlash” does not name the shooter over a dozen times?

Hey, 5% is pretty good

July 21st, 2017

Reuters:

North Korea’s economy grew at its fastest pace in 17 years in 2016, South Korea’s central bank said on Friday, despite the isolated country facing international sanctions aimed at curbing its defiant pursuit of nuclear weapons. Gross domestic product (GDP) in North Korea last year rose 3.9 percent from the previous year when the economy contracted due to a drought and low commodity prices, the Bank of Korea said. The expansion, driven by mining and energy, marked the biggest rise since a 6.1 percent gain in 1999. North Korea, which counts China as its biggest trading partner, also boosted exports by 4.6 percent, the most since an 11.8 percent jump in 2013. Still, the isolated state’s per capita gross national income in 2016 was just 1.5 million won ($1,342), less than 5% of the comparable number in South Korea. North Korea does not publish economic data.

These guys need to be put out of business, and soon. Writing about NK triggered a memory. Years ago we met OJ and his wife who were hosting at their Rockingham home a fundraiser for a school our kids attended. They seemed nice enough. A while later the Dinomom was visiting and asked to see 875 South Bundy. It was a mess and the blood from days before was still everywhere. Kim and OJ; hmmmm, wonder what prompted them to be in our thoughts at the same time.

Cash and no carryback

July 20th, 2017

WSJ:

Cash held by U.S. non-financial companies notched its largest increase, 9.2%, to set a fresh record of $1.84 trillion at the end of 2016, according to a report from Moody’s Investors Service. Moody’s estimates that roughly 70% of total corporate cash, or a record $1.3 trillion, is held overseas. “The cash held offshore continues to grow because of U.S. tax policy,” said Richard Lane, senior vice president at Moody’s and an author of the report. Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Cisco Systems Inc. and Oracle Corp. — all part of the technology sector — were the top five cash hoarders, unchanged from a year earlier. As a group they held $594 billion, or 32% of the total cash balance. Apple Inc. continued its reign as the cash king into the eighth straight year. The technology company’s $246 billion cash balance accounted for 13% of the total cash held by non-financial companies. The majority of Apple’s cash, about 94%, is held overseas.

Somebody please explain how this makes any sense.

FDR, then and now

July 19th, 2017

So you didn’t know that FDR was a right wing nut? Apparently he was. (HT:PL) Here’s a little more of the same, and we also note with interest the observations on his administrative style — that’d also send the media skyward today. Super fun bonus: another right wing conspiracy. Enjoy!

Map of the day

July 18th, 2017

How about this. Michael Barone has commentary. Bonus fun here.

Fiddling

July 17th, 2017

It’s fun to catch a wave and surf for a bit. Of course it will probably end inelegantly but not so badly. Worse of course if that’s a concrete block up ahead and there doesn’t seems to be any way around it. So maybe the psychological way out (delay and denial) is to pretend that the nasty block is something not so bad, or at least distant. And conquerable. So in Hollywood, they yell at an author about “intersectionality, identity politics, PC virtue signaling,” etc, whatever those things are. Some people worry about DOOM in 100 years caused by a gas that is 0% of the atmosphere. Hey, they want to keep fiddling. The problem comes when some damn guy comes along and keeps saying what none of these people want to hear, as we’ve discussed wrt to Thomas Kuhn here and elsewhere. Spengler sees a guy yelling Islam that’s causing the trouble. Wretchard sees oil as one of the paradigm-threatening issues driving the uncomfortable surfers nuts. Sometimes it’s just fun to watch the hysteria and not think too much about what’s going on in the hysteric’s head. One thing is clear: the hysterics aren’t going to stop until they can use the Martha Stewart ploy for some leverage and / or blackmail. But that won’t be the end either.

Short takes

July 16th, 2017

Clarice and Wretchard make sense. One pretty interesting story that we probably won’t see reported is how many in the media / lobbying / non-profit circles in NY and DC get spiffs for their family trusts or modest retainers from oil producing countries so they can preen about their objectively anti-US policy positions. Wonder what Mann gets BTW.

The Martha Stewart ploy vs. reality like the stock market

July 15th, 2017

Every day is stupidity and more stupidity. In our view it will go on until the FBI guys (who should themselves be in jail for turning non-crime into crime) get some statement so they can pull a Martha Stewart / Frank Quattrone / Scooter Libby stunt on some relative of Agent Orange to force him out. Meanwhile: “The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 closed at records, as investors anticipated low interest rates for the foreseeable future. The S&P 500 rose 11.44 points, or 0.5%, to 2459.27, notching a weekly gain of 1.4%. The Dow industrials added 84.65 points, or 0.4%, to 21637.74 and rose 1% for the week. It was the biggest weekly gain for both indexes since late May.” Which is the real news and which is worth commenting upon?