Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

“One neat trick to stop Social Security ‘Reform'”

Republicans constantly try to bring Social Security into ongoing debates about ‘Balanced Budgets’. But they face a fundamental problem with their math. For a variety of reasons, some quite reasonable and others nakedly political (seniors vote) nearly every ‘Reform’ proposal out there promises to hold 55 and older harmless. Meaning you can’t have any more than miniscule effects on Cost projections until today’s 54’s and younger start retiring. Except for a handful of early retirees that event happens 11+ years in the future, which is to say outside the 10 year Budget Scoring window.

You can’t have a fix to a problem scored over 10 years with a solution starting Year 11. Sure the ‘Reformers’ will blather about “Infinite Future Horizons”. But any proposal that spares current seniors from cuts will score close to zero by CBO and JCT. You just have to count years on your fingers.

2nd Amendment/Open Carry vs Police “I feared for my life”

Supporters of Open Carry and ‘Must Issue’ Concealed Carry insist that no one should be afraid of someone exercising his or her 2nd Amendment Rights whether that be in some public park or the aisles of your local Wal-Mart. Yet right along side that we have a doctrine that everyone should comply with every request made by a Peace Officer without question and without hesitation and if refusal to comply ends up with the application of force up to and including deadly force then a sufficient defense is “I feared for my life”.

Rarely have those two doctrines collided so openly as in North Carolina this week. North Carolina is an Open Carry State. Anyone has the right to carry a handgun in or out of a holster as long as they are not actively threatening someone. Which you think at a minimum would mean pointing the weapon at someone with some apparent hostile intent. But instead a man who was NOT the subject of the particular police search action stepped out of his car while visibly armed and after a disputed set of events was gunned down. Because police “feared for their lives”.

In another incident a man was gunned down in disputed circumstances by a woman police officer, also in fear for her life. But somewhat disturbingly a police officer in a helicopter, who oddly enough was the spouse of that shooting officer, described the shooting victim as “looks like a big bad dude”. From 500 feet in the air. Was he also “in fear for his life” and if so on what grounds? This man was not even visibly armed.

On balance I am a 2nd Amendment supporter, mostly because I am from a gun family and everyone but me owns at least one (well maybe not my 87 year old Mom). But if you are going to support Open Carry it has to apply equally to the guy wearing camo and carrying an assault rifle in a Luby’s in Texas and wearing a Gadsden flag on his hat and a Confederate flag on his vest and to some guy wearing a Black Lives Matter T-Shirt and carrying a pistol in a Church’s Chicken in North Carolina. We just can’t have a society be one where a cop just decides he is more scared of “big bad dude” than “good ol’ boy”.

Pick a side.

“Kremlin: Obama’s Trump criticism anti-Russian, won’t foster better ties”

Wow, I don’t know quite what to say here but this is an honest to God headline from Reuter’s Kremlin: Obama’s Trump criticism anti-Russian, won’t foster better ties
Now we can take it as given that none of Obama, Trump or even the Russians are responsible for writing Reuter’s headlines. So I leave it to AB commenters to see if THAT is a fair representation of THIS:

The Kremlin said on Wednesday it viewed U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent statements on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as anti-Russian and said they were unlikely to improve fragile relations between Russia and the United States.

Obama on Tuesday strongly criticized Trump for praising Russian President Vladimir Putin and for appearing on a TV channel, RT, funded by the Russian government.

“Unfortunately, we see continued displays of often hard-core Russophobia,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, commenting on Obama’s intervention, told a conference call with reporters. “We can only express regret in this regard.

“This rhetoric, which is being formulated in electoral campaign style … is unlikely to help fledgling fragile attempts to build at least some sort of mutual trust.”

Seems to me that Donnie’s surrogates have, in the immortal words of Desi to Lucy on “I Love Lucy” : “You got some ‘splaining to do!” Because if we trust the translation we have the Kremlin warning Obama off their boy poodle The Donald. As the kids say: WTF?

Kevin Durant’s New Oaktown Crib

OK actually about half a mile from the Oakland border. But as a Bay Area ex-pat I am kind of drooling over the Warriors up-side (and they are already pretty up). Suck it Lakers.

Claremont Hotel Berkeley

Claremont Hotel Berkeley

You DID hear it here first. I picked Becerra for VP 15 months ago.

Clinton-Becerra 2016

Back then and even now it was and is ‘Xavier Who?’ But equally nobody thought Trump would even be running, still less making his campaign largely center on the Yuuuge Wall. And a lot of progressives are little leery of Julian Castro based on his mixed record as HUD Secretary. I think Congressman Becerra could have big effects on Nevada, Arizona and Colorado.

And sooth feelings in California over what is looking to be a bruising Senate battle between Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez. Because the Dem establishment will be lining up behind Harris in what will seem like an embarrassing pile on way. Picking Becerra can smooth that right out.

We will see of course. Just wanted to double down when and if.

Quick update: this from the NY Times on May 5 of this year: As Xavier Becerra Stirs Crowds, Hispanic Democrats See a Running Mate

Major Foreign Holders of U.S. Treasuries: now with greater country breakouts


Don’t have a lot to say except to note that previous versions of this table lumped together “Oil Producers” and “Caribbean Banking Centers” while this disaggregates them. This leaves the Cayman Islands in third place at $265 bn while putting Saudi Arabia down to 13th with $116 bn.

Also of interest is how many of the top twelve are known banking centers and tax havens. Ireland (#4) isn’t holding $266 bn on its own account, Great Britain (#7) includes Crown Dependencies like the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man and we have our old friends Switzerland (#5) and the BeNeLux countries: Belgium (#11), Netherlands (#25), Luxembourg(#8). This is important because an unknown percentage of those ‘foreign’ holdings are actually the accounts of U.S. citizens and corporations.


How Trump Can Drive the Republican Establishment/1%ers to the Libertarian Party

Lot of angst out there among the Republican Establishment facing the Era of Trump. They are facing a candidate who combines a fatal toxic brew of nativism/racism with economic and foreign policy stances that (to the extent they are even coherent) go against every tenet of Conservative orthodoxy on both sides of the Reagan/Elder Bush divide: American leadership of international coalitions, hostility to taxes and the welfare state, willing submission to the power of free markets and free movement of (untaxed) capital. And so some in the #NeverTrump camp are floating the idea of an independent or third party candidate. But are faced with a fatal flaw: for practical purposes they can’t get on the ballot in enough States to be anything but a spoiler.

On the other hand there is an existing Party that has that ballot access and one that is in accord with the Republican establishment on most of the latter’s basic agenda. The Libertarian Party. And what are the main obstacle to a merger? Pot and gay marriage. And why does the Republican Establishment give a crap about either? Because they have been pandering to the Base dominated by white evangelicals. But those people have turned on the Establishment anyway and truth be told most of the 1% know plenty of gay people in New York or Silicon Valley and if they didn’t toke a little in college have kids and trusted subordinates that did.

So if they just give way on those two issues there is every prospect of forming a three way coalition of Establishment Republicans, Libertarians, and even Third Way/No Labelers. Maybe they can call it the Freedom and Property Party. Or if they have a sense of humor the Milton Friedman Property Party. Because as I have argued before classical Conservatism and classical Liberalism/Libertarianism share a common philosophical principle: that the only (or main) legitimate function of government is the protection of private property. With the main difference being that Conservatives define ‘property’ in a way that assumes patriarchal authority over the family/household.

Feel free to treat this post as a joke or snark. That is at least half of how I started it out. But I am talking myself into it.

Oh FSM! Let your Noodly Appendages Bless Trump-Ernst 2016

Raw Story: Who will be Donald Trump’s running mate? Here are five options

Joni Ernst

The gun-totin’, Harley-ridin’, pig castratin’ Iowa farm girl burst onto the scene when she won the Iowa senate race in 2014. Ernst has shown no willingness to embrace Trump, but the 45-year-old first-term female senator would be an ideal running mate for any Republican. Ernst is an Iraq veteran who won in a swing state. And as her notorious campaign ad proved, she already has the Trumpian flair.

Militay experience to balance out Trump’s draft dodging. Plus that all important de-nutting experience for taking on The Donald’s rivals.

We have already reached the Mosh Pit of the Theatre of the Absurd, lets really let some Head Banging fly!