#TooBigToJail and #TooCarelessToBePresident

It was a week after Director Comey blasted Ms. Clinton for her carelessness I found myself chuckling at the documentary, Apocalypse: Stalin. In the late 1930s with over 5 million people and most of the Politburo dead, the narrator says that Stalin’s closest friends had begun to think that they were careless in the way they handled Stalin’s rise to power. I could not help but wonder whether there was something that Stalin’s closest friends could have been done differently? That is when I started to wonder whether someday Ms. Clinton’s closest friends will feel the same remorse. Did Ms. Clinton and her advisers learn anything from Director Comey’s tongue lashing?

I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt until she opened her mouth and removed all doubt. In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday she said:

WALLACE:  After a long investigation, FBI Director James Comey said none of those things that you told the American public were true.

CLINTON:  Chris, that’s not what I heard Director Comey say, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity, in my view, clarify.

Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails.

I was communicating with over 300 people in my e-mailing.  They certainly did not believe and had no reason to believe that what they were sending was classified.

Now, in retrospect, different agencies come in and say, well, it should have been, but that’s not what was happening in real time.

It came as no surprise that this claim received four Pinocchios from the Washington Post. She had to know every journalist wanted to ask her this question so there is no excuse for her not being prepared. This would have been the perfect time for her to explain that she made a mistake and assure the American people that this will never happen again. This was the time for her to hit this issue out of the ball park. Instead she reinforced the commonly held perception that as one Clinton supporter said recently, she is a stone cold liar. At some point you have to wonder whether her friends and allies who were careless in letting her use a private email server for confidential emails have learned anything. Ms. Clinton acts like national security policies are a farce so how would she improve them? If the only thing Ms. Clinton and her advisers have learned from the email server debacle is that they got away with it, what does that say about her qualifications to be President? Is she too careless to be President?

The GOP’s White Identity Politics Problem

In response to Avik Roy’s article, The GOP’s White Identity Politics Problem Goes Way Beyond Donald Trump, I wrote:

In the last seven year phrases like identity politics, white privilege, racism, and comparisons to Hitler have become stop words to me. I assume that intelligent conversation is over and without even thinking about it my mind translates everything into blah, blah, blah. This time I will overlook my natural instincts so that I can remind you that the primary focus of these political attacks is the middle class and their idea that every person should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative. White identity politics is just another attempt to dumb down the American Dream. The American Dream is color blind but you have to work hard for it.

On the other hand the primary threat to the political class is that as more people of color embrace common sense, personal responsibility, and meritocracy in pursuit of the American Dream, the more likely they will become politically independent. The biggest threat to the Democratic party is that Blacks and Hispanics might start asking Democratic Party leaders what have you done for me recently so that I may achieve the American Dream, too? To maintain party loyalty the Democratic Party is more than willing to whitewash the American Dream to avoid talking about policy failures.

The biggest problem I have with white identity politics is that it diverts your attention from more important issues affecting people of color. It may come as a surprise to some readers but blacks have a bigger problem than other ethnic groups with social class struggles. In his book, Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed, Mr. Riley makes the point that even some black middle class families have kids who are under performing in school because they do not want to accused of being  “white”.  Despite their parents success these kids would rather fail than be seen as “white” or middle class. This is one of many places where black fathers can make a big difference. Then we have the ongoing debate over charter schools versus public schools. Mr. Riley points out that charter schools have been dramatically more successful than public schools at educating black students. Part of their success has to be attributed to their embrace of hard work and meritocracy versus the identity politics plaguing public schools. Ironically identity politics can work against ethnic groups, too.

The second biggest problem I have with white identity politics is that it allows both the Democratic and Republican parties to divert attention away from failed policies and necessary remedies. Whether we see ourselves as Democratic, Republican, or Independent we should be focused on the policies and the political wrangling necessary to build the compromise. Instead the various forms of identity politics divides us and makes the political wrangling much more difficult. It has become passé to say that nothing gets done in Congress nowadays. Identity politics is a pox on both parties and the political process.

My advice to the GOP is to focus their attention on passing policies that reinforce the common sense, personal responsibility, and meritocracy of the American Dream. The American Dream and the economy are issues all ethnic groups support. Never lose sight of the fact that the middle class is the only group who has a vested interest in a well functioning government and economy. Regardless of our ethnic background we all agree, we want our money to be spent wisely. Learn from Mr. Gruber and Ms. Clinton’s failures, do the right thing. If you have to lie to justify your action, you probably do not need to do it.

Bull Market Blues Revisited

When I read Paul Krugman’s op-ed, Bull Market Blues, I realized I had at least three ideas that explained the bull market blues better than his idea that “stock prices reflect profits, not overall incomes”. Here are my top three ideas.

Federal Reserve’s Co-dependent Relationship With The Stock Market

By Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net)., CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35730488

New York Stock Exchange Photograph
by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net)., CC BY-SA 4.0, and courtesy of Wikimedia

By far the biggest impact on stock prices has been the question of when will the Federal Reserve stop its zero interest rate policy. To buyers and sellers in the stock market the latest speculation about the Federal Reserve decision is far more important than either actual profits or profit guidance. Almost every week there is a financial reporter saying the market has gone up or down based on speculations about Federal Reserve actions. This link is stronger now than at any time in the history of the Federal Reserve. After seven years a large group of buyers and sellers have cynically embraced the thought that the zero interest rate policy has created a stock market bubble and is the only thing holding up higher stock prices. Although the Federal Reserve loathes to admit it, it is their fear of declining stock prices that caused their policies to devolve into this co-dependency relationship.  Now they are stuck with a policy that can written off as “trickle down economics” for banks but is increasingly necessary to keep the stock market bubble intact. It reminds me of the Federal Reserve easy money policies during the 1920s and we know how that stock market bubble ended. There is nothing that gives me the blues more than to see how quickly the Federal Reserve backs off of a rate increase when the stock market tumbles for a couple of days. It is as if the Federal Reserve cares more about the stock market than the economy.  At some point the Federal Reserve will regain its focus on the economy and all of us will have to endure the stock market blues until we can purge the market of its excesses.

The FANG Portfolio

In 2015 the S&P 500 would have declined if not for the FANG portfolio, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. Despite Mr. Krugman’s belief that stock prices reflect profits these companies are prime examples of growth stocks that are richly valued by their expected profit growth and not their minuscule profits. They also represent the leading edge of the Unicorn Companies who have rich valuations and almost no earnings. To paraphrase former Federal Reserve chairman, Allan Greenspan, there seems to be an irrational exuberance for these unicorn companies. As an example of this irrational exuberance, Salesforce.com has almost never had a profitable quarter and presently sports a price to earnings ratio of -4,213. How does this company deserve a market capitalization of $54 billion and get its name on the tallest building west of the Mississippi?

Financial Engineering

One of the interesting trends since the last economic expansion that was based on productivity gains has been the growth in financial engineering tricks. Since financial engineering was one of the technologies that enabled the sub-prime mortgage bubble and the 2008 stock market crash, it is foolish to overlook its importance. Despite reforms from the 2008 crash financial engineering remains largely intact, profitable, and does not require many people to implement. To many companies it is more attractive than investing in productivity improving ideas such as direct capital expenses and employees. It is also one of the main reasons middle class wage increases have stagnated since 2000. In its most recent incarnation many companies have taken advantage of low interest rates to buy back their own stock in an effort to raise their stock price. The executives and stock holders of these companies realize they will be rewarded with higher stock prices despite the fact the sales for the company are unchanged. If the best investment idea for these companies is to buy back their own stock, it is also a condemnation of these executives whose primary job is to grow sales and reduce costs via new products, greater innovation, and productivity. The worst case scenario is that one of these days the Federal Reserve will be successful at creating higher interest rates and inflation and these companies will have too much debt to invest in new products and productivity improving ideas.

My Favorite Pocket Constitution

Pocket Constitution From Cato.org

Pocket Constitution From Cato.org

Mr. Kahn’s emotional plea at the Democratic Convention caused a run on pocket constitutions at Amazon. The best seller, Pocket Constitution (Text from the U.S. Bicentennial Commission Edition), is the lowest cost version on Amazon but it comes with something extra. In addition to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution it contains notes allegedly from “American conservative author and faith-based political theorist”, W. Cleon Skouson, who some people think is a conspiracy theorist. I guess you get what you pay for. I am kind of surprised by the sales since free and almost free pocket Constitutions are readily available from various organizations.

Of the various pocket Constitutions I  own, my favorite is the one from Cato. Cato gives me a “free” copy every year I give them money and I give them away to interested people. I think it is the same pocket Constitution the late Senator Byrd from West Virginia carried around in his shirt pocket. When he would get into an argument with fellow legislators about the Constitution, he would yank his out his pocket Constitution and challenge them to show him where the Constitution said that. Since the Constitution says very little about immigration laws, I doubt that Mr. Kahn can use that trick.

Strong Concealed Carry Growth For Ohio

Ohio showed strong concealed carry growth with 36,118 new licences in the first quarter of 2016 . The number of new licenses is is 77% higher than the fourth quarter of 2015. By my calculations the renewal rate dropped to 70% while the year over year growth of total licenses increased to 16%. Here is my updated table and graph. To see my last report and the explanation of how I calculate the total number of licenses, click here.

Date Licenses Issued Licenses Renewed Total Licenses Renewal Rate License YoY Growth Rate
1/1/2014 16,205 15,832 429,393 75% 17%
4/1/2014 16,004 15,058 437,709 66% 12%
7/1/2014 11,945 11,159 445,453 73% 9%
10/1/2014 13,912 10,097 455,663 73% 9%
1/1/2015 15,593 12,071 467,167 75% 9%
4/1/2015 19,608 12,042 480,297 65% 10%
7/1/2015 16,000 10,129 493,924 81% 11%
10/1/2015 20,388 10,309 510,850 75% 12%
1/1/2016 36,118 11,242 542,082 70% 16%

Concealed Carry Statistics For Ohio

Most Gun Control Advocates Sound Like Idiots

I am surprised that gun control advocates are not doing a better job convincing people like me to stop carrying a concealed weapon. The key for me is a common sense terrorism plan that prevents terrorist attacks like we saw in Orlando. Obviously Orlando is another botched terrorism prevention effort like we saw in Paris, San Bernadino, and Brussels. Even to a new concealed carry person like me when President Obama and Ms. Clinton talk about more gun controls as their way to fight terrorism, they sound like idiots. It sounds like the only tools they have to prevent “he who shall not be named” terrorism is gun controls. As I said back in January the President had a chance to make my wife and me feel safe and now we have moved on. Now it looks like the gays have moved on, too. It looks like the only common sense terrorist prevention plan is to #ShootBack.

West Hollywood ShootBack Photo from BearingArms

West Hollywood ShootBack Photo from BearingArms.com

 

My View Of The Wyoming High School Graduation Ceremony

My View Of The Wyoming High School Graduation Ceremony


Yesterday I went to my first graduation in the rain. If I was aware that Wyoming High School has a tradition of outdoor graduations come rain or shine, I would have brought an umbrella. As one of the top public schools in Ohio I guess if you are tough enough to graduate from Wyoming you are not going to let a little rain get in the way of the celebration. For a lot of us there was not much of a view. Here is my view of the graduation.

 

 

 

 

My congratulations go out to all of the graduates. Here is what a newly minted Wyoming High School graduate looks like. 

My Rain Soaked Niece Graduates From High School

Backlash Over Virginia Techs Disinvitation Of Jason Riley

There is a saying that it is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. When Virginia Tech’s administration dis-invited Mr. Riley it made them look like fools and set themselves up for alumni backlash. This unforced political correctness error affected me in several ways. The first thing I did was stop wearing clothes with Virginia Tech logos on it. I really did not want to defend Virginia Tech’s actions to strangers. The second thing was I started to worry about what I would say to prospective students. Twice a year I am a Virginia Tech volunteer at the local College Fair. I want to talk to the prospective students about our great engineering programs and possibly the best college food, not political correctness gone wild. If we talk about diversity I want to talk about how Virginia Tech’s Principles of Community applies to all people including a black journalist from the Wall Street Journal who has a different solution to our race problems. If you are a student or professor who has problems with Mr. Riley’s conclusions in his book, Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed, you can either ignore him or you can go to his talk and see if he can persuade you to change your mind. People who are truly open minded view this challenge as an educational opportunity.

Backlash at Virginia Tech

 

Political Correct Terrorist Journalism

The downing of EgyptAir flight 804 is interesting but where are the investigative journalists? It has been four days since the incident and both ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos and Fox News Sunday seem to be comfortable with two scenarios, a bomb planted by a terrorist and a catastrophic failure on the plane. Neither of these politically correct scenarios are good fits with the facts. An investigative reporter might ask what if the facts are pointing to a different scenario? If we allow ourselves to think outside of the box like an investigative reporter for a moment, we might want to investigate this possibility I read on the Bizzy blog Sunday morning, Muslim Pilot Of EgyptAir Flight 804 Converted The Plane Into A Portable Mosque And Said Farewell Before the Crash.

More evidence is arising to show that the pilot of Flight 804 went suicide. He did some bizarre things. He converted the plane into a makeshift mosque, used the equipment to tell passengers the direction of Mecca. Had a last supper and said “farewell” as if ‘we who are about to die salute you’. He called his brother before take-off telling him to ‘pray for him’ as he was going for martyrdom. He had connections with one of the most radical preachers and terror supporters in Egypt.

We start off with testimony of Osama Abdel Basset, the captain in charge of the air hospitality in Egyptian Air says it all“The Captain Mohammed Shakeer, the pilot of that fateful flight” had organized a “last supper” knowing he is “about to die”

What if the crazy pilot on Germanwings Flight 9525 crash is the best explanation to means, motive, and opportunity?

Eight More Reasons Why The Democrats Are Having Problems With Middle Class Voters

After eight years of benign neglect I was hopeful that this would be the election cycle that the Democratic party would get a clue about middle class problems. When you go over to the Hillary Clinton For President site you see  her “eight ways we can give American families a raise“.

  1. Cut middle-class taxes.
  2. Make college affordable.
  3. Raise the minimum wage.
  4. Support unions.
  5. Rebuild our infrastructure.
  6. Boost manufacturing jobs.
  7. Invest in clean energy.
  8. Lower child care costs.

Most of these suggestions will not help me at all. Two of these suggestions, rebuilding our infrastructure and boosting manufacturing jobs,  might help me indirectly. This is such a meh group of ideas you have to wonder what drove them away from bread and butter issues for the middle class like the economy, government corruption, jobs, immigration, and the rising cost of health care.  It just not me saying this. The most recent Gallup poll asked,  What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today? The top four issues listed were the economy in general, dissatisfaction with government, unemployment/jobs, and immigration. I hate to say it but the non-politician, Mr. Trump, seems to know the issues bothering the country and the professional politician, Ms. Clinton, does not!

Her next suggestion was to put Bill Clinton “in charge of revitalizing the economy“. The problem I have with Mr. Clinton’s economic record is that his success depended largely on the on the productivity gains from expanding the use of personal computers in the work place. By the time he left office there were no more places left where productivity would improve from using personal computers. If you look at recent year to year productivity gains, you can see that the decline in the personal computer business from 2000 to 2010 matches the decline in productivity gains. If you believe that productivity growth results in real economic growth for the middle class then you can understand why the lack of productivity gains coupled with a financialization bubble has made life miserable for the middle class. If we assume that the financialization bubble over the last 8 years is over then we are left with searching for productivity gains in an increasingly socialist economy. Something has got to give and sadly Ms. Clinton is clueless!