Category Archives: Politics

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Daley Gator, Pirate’s Cove, The Other McCain, Flappr and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!  As always, if I’ve missed your link, let me know in the comments and I’ll add you to the Monday acknowledgment.

It’s a long way until the 2024 election, but damned if things aren’t starting to get interesting.  President Biden(‘s handlers) prospects are looking pretty bleak.

President Joe Biden’s job approval rating is 19 points underwater, his ratings for handling the economy and immigration are at career lows. A record number of Americans say they’ve become worse off under his presidency, three-quarters say he’s too old for another term and Donald Trump is looking better in retrospect — all severe challenges for Biden in his reelection campaign ahead.

Forty-four percent of Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say they’ve gotten worse off financially under Biden’s presidency, the most for any president in ABC/Post polls since 1986. Just 37% approve of his job performance, while 56% disapprove. Still fewer approve of Biden’s performance on the economy, 30%.

President Trump, currently in the middle of trying to pull off a Grover Cleveland and become the second President to serve two non-consecutive terms, is looking better – at least by comparison.

Trump, for his part, has improved in retrospect. When he reluctantly left office in January 2021, 38% approved of his work as president, essentially the same as Biden’s rating now. But currently, looking back, 48% say they approve of Trump’s performance when he was in office — matching his peak as president. Essentially as many — 49% — now disapprove, down from 60% when he left the White House.

Comparison with Biden may be a factor. Among the 56% of Americans who disapprove of Biden’s work in office, a wide 75% say that, looking back, they approve of Trump.

As for the 2024 election, still over a year out:

Head-to-head in a hypothetical November 2024 matchup, Trump has 51% support while Biden has 42% — numerically up 3 points for Trump and down 2 points for Biden from an ABC/Post poll in February, shifts that are not statistically significant.

There’s even less change from the most recent ABC/Post poll in May, which had the race at 49-42% (again with a different, but comparable, question wording). Still, with Trump inching over 50% — and other polls showing a closer contest — a close look is warranted.

Before anyone gets too worked up over this one set of poll data, keep a couple of things in mind: 1) President Biden is likely to not be the Democrat’s candidate.  His physical and mental deterioration seems to be accelerating there are a number of prominent Democrats who have expressed doubts about his ability; also, he is facing an increasingly-serious primary challenge from Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

As for the Republican side, there’s a big primary field, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been hitting the trail hard, and not one primary election vote has yet been cast.

Still – if national Democrats aren’t worried, they should be.

Rule Five Looming Recession Friday

The other day, The Messenger Business page gave us ten signs that we may be looking at a recession in the near future.  (Wait, aren’t we already in one?)  Here are their ten points, with a few words of each, with my comments; please go read the whole thing, of course.

1. An “uncertain outlook” from leading indicators

Many mainstay economic indicators measure the past. So-called leading indicators reflect what likely lies ahead. The Conference Board’s U.S. Leading Economic Index for July marked its 16th consecutive drop and its longest losing streak since the run-up to the Great Recession in 2007 and 2008.

This is a tad on the arcane side, but it sure doesn’t look good.

2. Consumer confidence is just a hair above recessionary levels

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index came in at 80.2 in August, hovering just above 80, the level that often signals the U.S. economy is headed for a recession in the coming year.

This I can confirm.  Most everyone I talk to hereabouts is expressing doubt; they are postponing purchases and projects, lots of discretionary spending is on hold.

3. Consumers are foregoing big-ticket purchases

Retailers report that their customers have shifted their purchasing habits, spending less on furniture and other big ticket items in favor of necessities.  They have also been trading down on grocery items, ditching pricier cuts of beef and buying chicken.

Of course! Everything is more expensive, and wages aren’t keeping up with prices, as they never do in inflationary cycles.

4. Credit cards are getting maxed out

U.S. consumers ran up their credit card debt past the $1 trillion mark for the first time last month, according to a report on household debt from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Not ours; we’re paranoid about debt. But household debt is untenable, and has been for some time.

5. Banks are increasingly reluctant to lend

The latest Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey by the Federal Reserve reports tightening credit conditions across the board, from business loans to home mortgages and consumer credit.

Considering that loose, easy credit led in part to the 2008 housing bubble crash, that may not necessarily be a bad thing.

6. Corporate bonds are maturing and refinancing them will be costly

Goldman Sachs estimates that $1.8 trillion in corporate debt is coming due over the next two years and it will have to be refinanced at higher interest rates.

This seems tied to rising interest rates, and the overall reliance on debt.  Whether this lesson sinks in or not remains to be seen.

7. Manufacturing remains in a prolonged post-pandemic slump

Manufacturing has been in decline for 10 consecutive months, as measured by the ISM Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index. Respondents to the ISM survey reported weaker customer demand because of higher prices and interest rates.

This I can confirm, sort of, by anecdote; my son-in-law works for an OEM parts manufacturer that I won’t name, and he informs me orders have been declining for a while now.

8. ‘Cascading crises’ could tip the balance of a slowing global economy

China, a growth engine for the past 40 years, is still struggling to recover from the pandemic, global economic growth has fallen below long-term average, and the ailing world could pull the U.S. economy down with it. 

China’s big problem is demographic, and that’s going to be much harder to recover from; in fact, they are probably past the point of no return.  China as a nation may not exist fifty years from now.

9. The yield curve, a classic recessionary signal, is still inverted

Investors should be paid more for taking a long-term risk than they should for a short-term risk. That’s why the yield on a 10-year Treasury is supposed to pay a higher yield than a 2-year Treasury.

I don’t have much to say about this except “oh, shit.”

This is the big one:

10. Inflation is sticky, and the Fed isn’t done

The soft landing scenario that is  so widely embraced is based on observations that inflation has dropped precipitously as the economy continues to grow at a healthy pace and the labor market is still  holding strong with the unemployment rate at 3.8%

These folks and the Biden(‘s handlers) Administration insist inflation is coming to a halt, but I’m not buying it.  Gasoline prices here in the Great Land have gone up in the last month or so, when at this time of year they are usually dropping off as the tourist season is coming to a close.  Grocery and home improvement costs are still rising.

We’ll see.  The next election has the possibility of making the biggest difference in economic policy since the 1980 election, but I’m not sanguine about how it will all play out.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Just overnight, our juncos are gone, headed south for the winter.

Dark-Eyed Junco

One day there were a lot of them about, gleaning seed from under the feeders; the next day they were gone.  Juncos are one of our last summer birds to leave in the fall.  Friday is the first official day of autumn,  but our brief Great Land summer has already given way; we had our first hard frost Monday night, it’s raining more, the leaves on the birches are turning, and the fireweed is all come up in red.

Winter is coming!  Next month we’ll start getting snow, if things go as usual, and that’s fine.  Our winters are every bit as beautiful as our summers.  We have a full heating oil tank and two and a half cords of firewood put away.  We’re ready.

And so…

Continue reading Animal’s Hump Day News

Animal’s Daily Religion and Politics News

Before we start, check out the next episode of License to Kill over at Glibertarians!

Now then: Sure, many Republicans and libertarians are also Christians.  That’s fine; most of both also believe the First Amendment codifies freedom of conscience for a reason.  But, some folks occasionally forget that some of us aren’t Christians.  Townhall’s Jeff Davidson has some thoughts.  So do I.

It happens so often that I am amazed when the contrary occurs. I am at a gathering of Republicans/Conservatives, and someone gives the benediction. This could happen at a luncheon, certainly at a dinner, and other types of gatherings. Usually, these prayers are only a couple of minutes in length. Then, after all has been said, the speaker adds a final sentence, “In Jesus’ name do we pray.”

Messaging Matters

I’m not the first to observe that Republicans and Conservatives have better programs and policies and a firm grasp of what actually helps the nation, but they have lousy messaging. The Democrats have harmful programs and policies but better messaging. They know how to twist and turn a phrase. Consider the difference between the terms “pro-abortion” and “pro-choice.”

When it comes to benedictions, conservatives can enhance their phrasing. Rebel is all you want, but citing the name of Jesus in the benediction is unnecessary. Once you say, “Heavenly Father,” or “God,” or “the Lord,” that is more than enough for a benediction in front of a group. 

I have no idea what Jeff Davidson’s religious convictions are; he doesn’t mention them, and in any case it’s none of my damn business, and sort of irrelevant to the point he’s making.

But my own convictions are well-known.  I’m an atheist, and very upfront about it.  Bear in mind that I’m not a militant atheist; that seems to be the province of leftist atheists, to want to belittle believers or force them to silence.  There is an old saw that says “If a conservative is an atheist, he doesn’t go to church.  If a liberal is an atheist, he tries to get all mention of religion removed from public life.”  My observation is that this is generally accurate.  Furthermore, I’ve never harbored any notions that I was smart enough to tell anyone what to do or think.  Robert Heinlein once wrote that his father had taught him to “…mind my own business, and always cut the cards,” and I think that’s a good general operating principle.

Mr. Davidson is not talking about religion so much as messaging, and making sure to consider the increasing numbers of Hindus, and Buddhists, and other religious groups entering the conservative movement.  It’s not a bad thing to remember, the concept of the non-denominational prayer; military chaplains have been doing it for many years.

Food for thought, certainly.

Rule Five WaPo Gets Real Friday

Remember what they always say about blind hogs and acorns?  The liberal Washington Post recently found a big old whopper of an acorn, as Issues & Insights reports.

Over the weekend, the Washington Post let it slip that all is not well in Bidenomicsville. The deficit, it reports, could end up hitting $2 trillion when the current fiscal year ends in three weeks, which it describes as an “unexpected deficit surge.”

In other words, the deficit will nearly double this year, calling the lie on one of President Joe Biden’s favorite boasts about how he cut the deficit more than any president in history.

But while this apparently comes as a shock to the Post, as well as other liberal news sites that picked up on the Post report, anyone paying attention knew this was happening.

I should say so.  Plenty of folks have seen this coming for a while now; the bill, as the old saying goes, always comes due.

Back in February, for example, we pointed out that Biden’s reckless economic policies had added more than $5 trillion to projected deficits, even as he claimed he’d done more to cut the deficit than “any president in history.”

In early June, we noted that revenues had been plunging this year, despite all the boasts about a strong economy, and that “the projected deficit for the entire year is now close to $1.6 trillion, which is almost $300 billion higher than Treasury projected at the start of this fiscal year.”

In July, we pointed out that Bidenflation was pushing up the cost of federal entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and had resulted in a 37% increase in interest payments on the national debt in the first nine months of this fiscal year. That was the result of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes, which were also a result of Bidenflation.

By August, Treasury had upped its projected deficit for this fiscal year to $1.9 trillion. (Treasury will release its updated projection for the year later this month. Don’t be surprised if the new projection for the 2023 deficit is higher still.)

We are, in my not-so-humble opinion, already past the point of no return here.

I’m not sure what the answer here is, other than some kind of major economic collapse.  (We could talk about just repudiating the debt, but that would likely lead to a global economic collapse, so there’s little comfort there.)  A few years back I would have said – and did say – that with strong pro-growth policies it would be possible to grow our way out of the debt, but I’m skeptical of that idea now.

I know I keep repeating this, but there’s only one answer  now:  Cut.  Spending.

There are a whole nest of Imperial alphabet-soup agencies that were not mentioned in the Constitution and therefore prohibited by the Tenth Amendment.  Get rid of them.  Shut them down.  If the individual states want an Environmental Protection Agency, let them set it up and fund it, within their own borders, within their own budgets.  We’ll see then which states rise and fall, and one would hope, adjust accordingly.

Something along these lines has to happen, because we’re on the road to ruin right not.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Housekeeping note:  Since my Wednesday links posts have always been long, and are getting longer, I’m going to try sticking the actual links below a “Click to Read More” tag.  This will help me to keep my already crowded front page a tad less cluttered while I consider how to go about a more involved revamp of the site. I’m still using the 2014 theme for WordPress, and while I like the looks of it, it may be time to update.  It’s been almost ten years since the last major site revamp, so we’ll see.  And, of course, please do let me know in the comments if you like/dislike and changes or have any other comments.

And so…

Continue reading Animal’s Hump Day News

Impeachment Additional

Well, this is a big f***in’ deal.

Whether it proceeds into an actual impeachment remains to be seen, but at least things are progressing.

Animal’s Daily Stupid Idea News

Before I get into today’s topic, check out the first episode of my new series, License to Kill, over at Glibertarians.  And if you like my fiction work, you can find a whole bunch of it here (publisher) or here (Amazon).

I have discussed, from time to time, how stupid the whole idea of “muh reparations” is.  It’s pleasing to see that California voters agree, returning some stunning poll results in reply to the once and former-Golden State’s  idiotic California Reparations Task Force Report.

The majority of California voters oppose offering cash reparations to the descendants of African American slaves, a new poll has found.

Fifty-nine percent of California voters oppose cash payments, while 29% of voters support the idea, according to a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll that was cosponsored by the Los Angeles Times. A total of four-in-ten respondents reported they “strongly” oppose cash reparations.

The poll comes after Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill in 2020 that established the California Reparations Task Force, which was launched to explore how the state could lead the nation on a potential reparations program.

Do I really need to point out that slavery was never legal in California?  Not to worry; America’s own walking “hair products for men” spokesman, Gavin Newsom, has an explanation:

“As a nation, we can only truly thrive when every one of us has the opportunity to thrive. Our painful history of slavery has evolved into structural racism and bias built into and permeating throughout our democratic and economic institutions,” Newsom said at the time. “California’s rich diversity is our greatest asset, and we won’t turn away from this moment to make right the discrimination and disadvantages that Black Californians and people of color still face.”

What an utter and steaming load of absolute codswallop, balderdash, flapdoodle and poppycock.

There is no justification – none – for paying reparations for slavery to people who have never been slaves, after taking the money away from people who have never owned slaves.

Have there been injustices in the past?  Yes.  If not, there’s a good chance I’d be living now in the Scottish Highlands, given that several of my Jacobite ancestors wouldn’t have found it necessary to flee to the New World to keep the English from removing their heads.  Examples abound, but for some reason no one talks seriously about reparations for the Irish for all the years that the English literally treated them as second- or third-class citizens.

Let’s be honest:  California Democrats are, as politicians in general always do, pandering to a certain demographic (which one is left as an exercise to the reader) to implement one of the most transparent and egregious vote-buying schemes in modern history.  Rightly, it seems, California voters are seeing through the scam.

Whether this overstep will result in California voters spewing the Democrat Party out of their mouths is another issue; frankly I’m not too sanguine about that prospect.

Rule Five Postal Service Friday

Article 1, Section 8, clause 7 of the U.S. Constitution contains only these words:

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

This gives Congress (Article 1) the power to establish a postal service, one of the few actual enumerated powers of the Imperial government.  But the question is this:  Does this clause actually require that the government set up and run the postal service?  Or can that clause’s requirement be fulfilled by a third party?

I found this interesting; at American Thinker, David D. Schein (who clearly doesn’t think much of the postal service) thinks we can do away with the Imperial post offices altogether.  He makes some good points.

The USPS has been an ocean of red ink. A 2021 Forbes article headline pretty much sums up the status quo: “Why The U.S. Post Office Is In Trouble – 678,539 Employees And A $9.2 Billion Loss In 2020.”

There is a saying that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Maybe it is time for real changes at the good old post office. Because Americans are sending dramatically less first-class mail, the USPS is taking in less money. In the private sector, that means time to cut staff, cut services, or increase the cost of the services that make up the volume of services the public is requesting. Increasing the cost of a first-class stamp is sort of like the saying about “rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic.”

Proof that the current USPS mess is still controlled by politics is the 2022 Postal Service Reform Act. This is a bipartisan bill that essentially doubled down on what the USPS is still doing wrong today.

For starters, it requires continuation of six-day delivery. Proponents cite appealing, but out-of-date phrases, like “serving rural communities.” But the Internet is available virtually everywhere in America. Given that most mail today is junk mail, regardless of location in America, it’s doubtful anyone is sitting waiting for their mail delivery these days.

Speaking as someone who lives in one of those rural communities, it’s true that we’re not as dependent on the postal service as we would have been in, say, 1775, when the first postal service was established.  While our local post office is something of a community center, as most folks hereabouts aren’t on a route and so have to go into the actual post office to get our mail, there are other outlets for posting bulletin boards, and while we often catch up on local gossip while waiting in line to pick up parcels, there are other outlets for that, too.

But here’s where Mr. Schein and I part ways:  On what needs done.  His plan (abridged for post length; please do go read all of it.)

  1. Bulk rate mail and packages must increase in cost to match the USPS overhead.
  2. Cut delivery to four days a week.
  3. Does the USPS really need to compete with FedEX and UPS? Many do not trust the USPS actually to deliver things overnight.
  4. Stop kowtowing to the postal unions.
  5. Privatizing the USPS is not a likely approach. However, the idea over 50 years ago was to get the politics out of the USPS operation. It’s time to really do that.

My thoughts, on each piece:

  1. This makes a certain amount of sense. There are now alternatives, after all, to the postal service for bulk mail and packages; let the market decide.
  2. Not too sure about this. FedEx and UPS provide six day a week service, and in some locations, seven; why can’t our post offices manage five and a half?
  3. Yes, they should absolutely compete with FedEx and UPS.  Furthermore, make that competition have some teeth; Congress can authorize FedEx and UPS to carry first-class mail, something they are not now allowed to do.
  4. All government unions, everywhere, should be proscribed by law. There is a deep and abiding conflict of interest here, where government unions negotiate their contracts with the very pols whose campaigns they help underwrite.
  5. This is not only a likely approach, but the most efficient one.

Honestly, the post office is a branch of government that, while it is actually described in the Constitution, has outlived its usefulness.  Authorize FedEx, UPS and other third-party companies to carry first-class mail, surround it with (minimal) requirements for said service, and Congress will have met its obligations under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7.  We will have more efficient delivery of mail and packages, and the Imperial government will be shed of an inefficient, bloated, money-losing leviathan.

Seems like a win-win to me.

Animal’s Daily Impeachment News

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – er, it’s beginning to look a lot like Speaker McCarthy is taking the idea of an impeachment inquiry into President Biden a little more seriously, which would be an early Christmas present for many Republicans.

The signals coming from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are that his Republican majority will soon launch a formal impeachment investigation. The final decision hasn’t been announced — and an investigation is still a far cry from a full House vote. But setting up an impeachment committee is an essential first step. Most of his caucus wants to take it.

Most, but not all. The reservations of some Republicans and the calculations behind them are why McCarthy has moved slowly. The speaker’s problem is more than rounding up votes. The other problem is the investigation carries real risks as well as benefits.

An investigation, of course, involves the use of some tools that the House GOP currently doesn’t have at their disposal:

The biggest benefit is a technical, legal one. It gives House investigators the power to compel testimony and documents from all Executive Branch agencies, even the most reluctant, as well as private parties. According to the Office of Legal Counsel, the Department of Justice’s in-house legal advisor, “The House of Representatives must expressly authorize a committee to conduct an impeachment investigation and to use compulsory process in that investigation” in order to compel testimony and document production. With that committee, they can go to court directly to demand compliance. 

As somebody once said, this is a big fuckin’ deal.

Assuming that the investigation reveals what we all think it will, and assuming that the House does go ahead with impeachment proceedings and succeeds, the entire thing will come to a screeching halt once it reaches Chuck Schumer’s sweaty hands over in the Senate.  Unless the impeachment uncovers something horribly egregious (likely) and the Democrats find some last, shrinking vestiges of their integrity and call off one of their members to be Goldwater to Biden’s Nixon and implore him to resign (unlikely), nothing more will happen.

It’s not about propriety any more. It’s not about honesty.  It’s not even about not tolerating overt corruption.  It’s all about The Side, True Believers, and until we somehow deal with that mind-set, everything else matters not a jot.