Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Mittwoch once again!

This in yesterday from the Wall Street Journal’s inestimable James Taranto:  Who Here’s a Horton?  Excerpt:

The news that the Obama administration was releasing five top Taliban in exchange for missing American soldier Bowe Bergdahl would not have come as a surprise to anyone who read the late Michael Hastings‘s prolonged profile of Bergdahl, published two years ago in Rolling Stone. Hastings reported that the administration was pushing for just such a deal.

Hastings also observed that “the president’s political enemies were prepared to use the release of violent prisoners to paint [President] Obama as a Dukakis-like appeaser, just as Republicans did to the former Massachusetts governor during the 1988 campaign.” He quoted Marc Grossman, then special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, as saying congressional Republicans “keep telling me it’s going to be Obama’s Willie Horton moment.”

Willie Horton, of course, being the murderous thug who indirectly torpedoed Michael Dukakis’ 1988 Presidential campaign.  Why?  A convicted first-degree murderer, Horton was given a weekend “furlough” from prison on a program put in place by Dukakis, during which furlough he disappeared, to reappear a year later in Maryland where he brutally attacked a man during a home invasion, following which he raped the man’s fiancee.

Why the connection?

Because the Obama Administration has not not only negotiated with terrorists, they have – possibly unlawfully – released five major players in the Islamist terror world in return for one American deserter.  Like Horton, these five will absolutely commit more acts of terror.  No doubt triple-facepalmabout that – none at all.

What the hell were they thinking?

The answer is painfully obvious – they weren’t.  This is an Administration whose foreign policy has been marked with incompetence, nitwittery and blunder after blunder after blunder.  We know this, and what’s worse, our enemies know it.

Nothing good will come of this incident.

Animal’s Daily News

Smiling BearThanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

This in from the folks at Reason.com:  Anti-Pot Prejudice vs. Federalism.  Excerpt:

Last week, by a vote of 219 to 189, the House of Representatives approved an amendment aimed at stopping federal interference with state laws that “authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.” If it is included in the appropriations bill passed by the Senate and signed by the president, the amendment would prohibit the Justice Department, which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from spending taxpayers’ money on dispensary raids or other attempts to stop medical use of marijuana in the 22 states that allow it.

So, why stop at medical marijuana?

Granted, politics is the art of the possible.  While we might want half a loaf today, we may have to settle for a few slices today, and a few more tomorrow.  The sad part is this:  Those slices are almost always incrementally decreasing, not increasing, our personal liberties.

That would not appear to be the case here, and it’s true enough that there are a few cases where the inverse to the above is true – marijuana, concealed-carry, a few other cases.  But it is in the nature of government to expand, to become more intrusive – which makes one wonder how serious the Senate will be about taking up this legislation.

Speaking of Reason, here’s another bit that’s hard to disagree with:  Stop Blaming Society, Start Blaming the Individual Responsible.

Hear, hear.

Goodbye Blue Monday!

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

I find myself in northern Indiana once more, for what may be my last stint in this particular gig – unless they extend the contract, which they have the option to do.

Honestly, there are worse places – although having gone through a winter here and facing a summer, I’m reminded of the two reasons I left the upper Midwest where I grew up:

  1. The summers.
  2. The winters.

But enough of Midwestern weather for now.

This tidbit in yesterday from Investor’s Business Daily:  The Dead Hand of Crony Capitalism.  Excerpt:

Earlier this year, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a bill that more than doubled the tax credits available to film producers who come to the state. McAuliffe called it a big win for Virginia, since so many other states compete for Hollywood productions with special tax favors.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart has secured a total of $1.2 billion in at least 260 special benefits over the years. Nike, Boeing, Alcoa and Intel got more than $2 billion each.

North Carolina promised Apple up to $370 million in benefits and an additional $255 million to Google to build data centers in the state.

Washington offered Boeing $8.7 billion in benefits to build the wings of its new jetliner in the state.

Ayn Rand called this “the Aristocracy of Pull:”

Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion—when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing—when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors—when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but Sad-Bearprotect them against you—when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice—you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that it does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality.

Have we come to this point?  Has Ayn Rand been proved more prescient than we ever imagined?

I’m afraid that this might be precisely the case.

 

Rule Five Friday

2014_05_30_Rule Five Friday (1)It seems recession has returned.  Two items on that tidbit:

From CNBC:  Frigid winter takes toll as US GDP contracts for first time in 3 years.

Bloomberg is a tad more optimistic, but not much:  U.S. Economy Shrinks for First Time Since 2011; Pent Demand Suggests Temporary Setback.

Key excerpt from CNBC:

The U.S. economy contracted in the first quarter for the first time in three years as it buckled under the weight of a severe winter, but there are signs activity has since rebounded.

2014_05_30_Rule Five Friday (4)The Commerce Department on Thursday revised down its growth estimate to show gross domestic product shrinking at a 1.0 annual rate.

It was the worst performance since the first quarter of 2011 and reflected a far slower pace of inventory accumulation and a bigger than previously estimated trade deficit.

Bloomberg agrees:

A pickup in receipts at retailers, stronger manufacturing and faster job growth indicate the first-quarter setback will prove temporary as pent-up demand is unleashed. Federal Reserve policy makers said at their April meeting that the economy has strengthened after adverse weather took its toll.

2014_05_30_Rule Five Friday (5)“The good news is that the first quarter is over, it was a difficult one for the U.S. economy,” said Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “I wouldn’t worry too much about the decline, it’s mostly driven by less construction spending and less inventory accumulation. This quarter should be a good one.”

Oddly enough, in 2012 I remember being told that if I voted for Mitt Romney, that unemployment would stay above 5% and economic growth would go in the crapper.  And look – they were right!

I think both articles may have one good point; the bad winter did hurt retail movement, and there may be some rebound now that spring has well and truly sprung and people are moving about more.  But that’s not a major move, and the economy remains in an anemic growth cycle; really anemic if you remember the Roaring Eighties.

2014_05_30_Rule Five Friday (3)And we may be in for a major market move, too.  Excerpt:

Of these (indicators), the most important will likely be the first-quarter GDP due on Thursday. The last estimate was for growth of 0.1%, while expectations for the revision are a -0.6% decline in growth for the first quarter. A decline here would be an unwelcome development, as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP is the official definition of recession. While this will probably be blamed on bad winter weather, a slip into recession could easily trigger the next “Minksy moment” and escalate market volatility. I remain cautious as we enter the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

Could that presage a crash?  It’s hard to tell, but the Fed can’t keep pumping cheap money in to the economy forever – and when they stop, a major adjustment is inevitable.  See Stein’s Law.

2014_05_30_Rule Five Friday (2)

Animal’s Daily News

Girls with GunsSo what’s the best state to live in if you’re a gun owner?  Guns & Ammo has the answer.  Seems the top five are:

  1. Arizona
  2. Alaska
  3. Georgia
  4. Utah
  5. Kentucky

No real surprises there.  This isn’t really what you’d call a scientific survey, but it is based on several factors including right-to-carry, Castle Doctrine laws, ease of obtaining a Class III weapon, magazine bans and other miscellaneous items.

Sadly our own Colorado comes in well down the list at #40, certainly in large part because of the legislative idiocy forced on our state only last year.  Alaska, where Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. plan to retire, fares much better – again, no surprise in a state with a long-standing outdoor tradition, not to mention plenty of toothy and dangerous wildlife.

gun control theoryThis is an election year here in Colorado though, and plenty of folks are unhappy with the current powers-that-be – Governor Hickenlooper, I suspect, will squeak by in a re-election but the mood of the country and the state are moving against the party that currently controls our legislature.

Then, True Believers, we’ll see what we’ll see.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

This just in from the always-worth-reading Dr. Victor Davis Hanson:  Lord Obama.  Excerpt:

Think of the following: the Fast and Furious scandal, the VA mess, the tapping of the communications of the Associated Press reporters, the NSA monitoring, Benghazi in all of its manifestations, the serial lies about Obamacare, the failed stimuli, the chronic zero interest/print money policies, the serial high unemployment, the borrowing of $7 trillion to no stimulatory effect, the spiraling national debt, the customary violations of the Hatch Act by Obama cabinet officials, the alter ego/fake identity of EPA head Lisa Jackson, the sudden departure of Hilda Solis after receiving union freebies, the mendacity of Kathleen Sebelius, the strange atmospherics surrounding the Petraeus resignation, the customary presidential neglect of enforcing the laws from immigration statutes to his own health care rules, the presidential divisiveness (“punish our enemies,” “you didn’t build that,” Trayvon as the son that Obama never had, etc.), and on and on.

So why is there not much public reaction or media investigatory outrage?

There are two possible reasons.

  1. The public is just plain disinterested.
  2. The media is overwhelmingly in the Obama camp.

Cry Moar PlzOf the two, I honestly think the first is a greater part of it – and more depressing.  We have produced a society where more registered voters are intimately familiar with which of the Kardashians are getting married/divorced/pregnant than with incidents in another country, including such things as a U.S. Ambassador being beaten to death and dragged through the streets.

To be sure media bias is there and real; Dr. Hanson gives several examples of the beating the more recent President Bush took in the media, and how they are looking the other way at the various hushups and incompetencies of the Obama administration.  But this isn’t the 1970s; there are plenty of alternate media sources for those of us who want a variety of viewpoints.

The problem is that most people just don’t seek them out.  Most people aren’t interested in challenging their own opinions, their own preconceptions, their own biases.  (To be fair this is true of people of every political bent.)

And many of these people vote.

 

Goodbye Blue… Tuesday.

Goodbye Blue Tuesday!
Goodbye Blue Tuesday!

Thanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five linkery!

Iran’s Supreme Leader: Jihad Will Continue Until America is No More.   Excerpt:

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, all but said on Sunday that negotiations over the country’s illicit nuclear program are over and that the Islamic Republic’s ideals include destroying America.

“Those [Iranians] who want to promote negotiation and surrender to the oppressors and blame the Islamic Republic as a warmonger in reality commit treason,” Khamenei told a meeting of members of parliament, according to the regime’s Fars News Agency.

Khamenei emphasized that without a combative mindset, the regime cannot reach its higher Islamic role against the “oppressors’ front.”

Yeah, you might want to look up Adolf Hitler and ask him how that worked out for Nazi Germany.

Sad-BearAnd yes, that is precisely the historic precedent that applies here.  At the risk of having someone invoke Godwin’s Law, the parallels here are too obvious; a rogue nation, arming themselves for war, loudly voicing martial ambitions and seeking regional hegemony, led by a cabal of complete nutbars with delusions of sanity – and let’s not forget, they are building nuclear weapons.  Meanwhile, the United States and Europe dither.

I’m hoping this won’t end with a mushroom cloud over a Western city, but that is increasingly looking like Iran’s goal.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.