21 thoughts on “News/Politics 11-21-16

  1. Meanwhile, here in LA:


    Thanks to pension funds, Los Angeles is close to becoming a microcosm of Greece

    … It’s only the fact that Hollywood and a few other big dollar enterprises keep their revenues far above average that’s stopping L.A. from sinking into fiscal dysfunction. Having 20% of your budget going to pension payments isn’t just massive… it’s unsustainable in the long run. …

    … Pensions basically bankrupted Detroit. Chris Christie has spent a huge amount of his term fighting the bloated pension system in New Jersey. Cities from Cincinnati to Billings, Montana, Charleston, Portland and Chicago (which is at the top of the list) comprise the dozens of municipalities with the most massive unfunded pension debts hanging over their heads. Have we learned nothing?

    If we’re to be brutally honest about how we got to this point (as well as what to do going forward), failure was baked into the cake from the beginning. The real issue is found in the fact that government employee unions were the ones negotiating with the municipal and state governments for the best, most expensive benefits they could manage. …

    … Los Angeles isn’t going under yet because of their fat budget, but looking at the bottom line on their ledgers it’s easy to see that it would only take one bad economic turn in their fortunes for the bottom to fall out of it. The public workers unions have feathered their beds quite nicely at the expense of everyone else, but you always wind up killing the goose that’s laying the golden eggs eventually.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Law and order is making a comeback. 🙂


    “Sen. Jeff Sessions is on record saying so-called “sanctuary cities” that protect illegal immigrants should be prosecuted. He himself may get that chance next year.
    Mr. Sessions is president-elect Donald Trump’s pick to be the next attorney general, and if he’s confirmed, he will mark a 180-degree turn from the Obama administration on a host of issues, but nowhere more so than on immigration, where he’s been the Senate’s leading crackdown proponent.
    From his first day in office, Mr. Sessions will have the power to strip some federal funding from sanctuary cities, thanks to rulings this year by the Justice Department’s inspector general, who said federal law requires localities to cooperate with immigration agents — and who provided an initial list of a handful of the worst offenders.”


  3. Fake news is everywhere, even in the so-called “real” news sources. While many have different perspectives as to what is and isn’t, some of the ones whining the loudest about it are the biggest offenders. Facebook is whining about it now, but they have no problem with it when it benefits their preferred candidate.


    “Barack Obama was off in Lima complaining that “fake news” was responsible for the defeat of Hillary Clinton. I guess that depends on what your definition of “fake” is.

    Meanwhile, cranky libertarian Ron Paul has given us a handy list of the forty-eight mainstream media “journalists” (scare quotes Ron’s, but how could you argue?) who were caught, largely through WikiLeaks, colluding with the Hillary Clinton campaign during the election.

    Which company was the worst? Three worked for Politico and The Guardian, five for ABC, six each for MSNBC and the New York Times, and nine for CNN. (We have a winner!)

    “Fake news,” anyone? Or is that restricted to Breitbart.com and InfoWars?

    But far more important than the increasingly unpopular MSM or a president nine-tenths out the door is a purveyor of news with exponentially more power and reach than all of them put together, squared — Facebook. That company’s founder and maximum leader Mark Zuckerberg has been taking heat about “fake news” as well and is making his special attempt to solve it.”

    “And who will they report the “fake” stories to? Who will then determine if they are fake or not?

    Facebook is turning to outside groups for help in fact-checking, Mr. Zuckerberg wrote.
    Groups chosen by Facebook, of course. (Conservatives picked by Facebook will be self-promotional goofballs like Glenn Beck — at least they were in the past.)

    It is also exploring a product that would label stories as false if they have been flagged as such by third-parties or users, and then show warnings to users who read or share the articles.
    Just what we need — trigger warnings. They work so well on campus.

    Facebook earlier this week announced it would bar fake-news sites from using the company’s ad-selling tools. Mr. Zuckerberg said he is looking into “disrupting the economics” of sites that traffic in fake information.
    I wonder who those “fake-news sites” are. Not the New York Times, of course, for whom Jayson Blair fabricated umpteen front page stories and Walter Duranty flat-out lied about Stalin’s mass starvation of the Ukrainians.”


  4. And that pension fund debt isn’t just affecting cities and states. Colleges are getting in on it too.


    “Unfunded pension liabilities are higher than capital-related debt at the country’s public universities, according to a report Moody’s Investors Service issued Friday.
    Moody’s said adjusted net pension liabilities will represent more than 60 percent of total adjusted debt by the end of the 2017 fiscal year. Unfunded pension liabilities totaled more than $183 billion across the sector after two straight years of investment returns below actuarial assumptions and after contributions to funds have remained weak.
    Currently, pension expenses are just 3 percent of universities’ reported expenses, Moody’s said. But it anticipated pension expenses rising along with liabilities, putting more pressure on university finances. Moody’s also predicted that some states will shift pension burdens onto universities by lowering allocations to pay for other operating expenses. Certain states that currently make some or all employer pension contributions on behalf of universities are at risk. Moody’s pointed to Illinois and New Jersey as having substantial unfunded pension liabilities and budget imbalances, while Oklahoma and West Virginia are under budget pressure because of low energy prices.”


  5. And who is responsible for the popularity of alternate news sites in the first place?

    The people crying the loudest about it now. Were their product not so biased, and if they weren’t in the pocket of Democrats, people would have no need to look elsewhere.

    They built this.


    “As Election Day demonstrated, the contentious 2016 presidential campaign witnessed a stunning uprising of the people against the Washington establishment and political elite. This was not the only revolt that transpired Nov. 8, however. Election Day also represented a victory of the American people over the establishment news media, as they repudiated its liberal bias and attempt at influencing the election.

    Throughout the election cycle, Donald Trump and his supporters were derided for claiming that the mainstream media was “rigged” against the Republican candidate in favor of his opponent. But given the way Election Day unfolded, with Trump pulling off an upset victory despite being written off by much of the media, the allegations of media bias may not have been so far-fetched.

    Even before Election Day, many asserted that Trump faced an unfair amount of negative press, as the media published story after story painting him as a racist, xenophobe and just about every other horrible name in the book. Case in point, throughout the campaign, the Huffington Post published the following editor’s note at the end of stories about Mr. Trump:

    Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

    Further, following Hillary Clinton’s health incident at a 9/11 commemoration ceremony, the venerable Washington Post published an article, entitled “The man who discovered CTE thinks Hillary Clinton may have been poisoned,” which centered around a theory that Clinton may have been poisoned by Trump or Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The claim was made by Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist who had found that a number of NFL football players suffered from brain damage due to repeated blows to the head. Instead of dismissing the poisoning claim as a conspiracy theory, the author appears to defend Omalu, as she wishes to remind readers that his “credentials and tenacity are well known.” She also wants us to know that Putin was “implicated by a British inquiry” over the death of a former KGB operative, and that Trump “has expressed admiration for Putin.”

    Also, back in October, Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly reported that at least three media organizations had “ordered their employees to destroy Donald Trump.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s amazing to me that all those brilliant Noble-prize winning economics professors haven’t figured out the University of California hasn’t been funding their pensions. Craziness–why trust them?

    What happens when the whole system collapses? Or perhaps they’ve been salting away their savings as everyone should?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. World economic leadership (with political leadership to follow) is passing from the US to China as we speak.


    The election of a protectionist could not have come at a worse time. Australia and Peru are already looking to China as the world leader on trade. Other nations around the Pacific Rim will follow.

    Trump may be right about Americans. We may only have a two to three week attention span. Leaders of other nations are not so flighty. I guess Trump could tell the rest of the world that he really didn’t mean anything he said, that his protectionist rhetoric was just a ploy to win the votes of gullible Americans, but I think it is too late for that.

    The great irony is that Obama (who constantly expressed doubts about the benefits of the US as leader of the free world) will wind up being the last American to be regarded as the leader of the free world.


  8. The Trump transition team is reaching across party lines. In this case, waaaaay across to the former DNC vice-chair. I don’t know if they will offer her anything, but I do like her stance on Syria.

    ….Like Trump, Gabbard also has a non-interventionist streak: She opposes regime change and an escalation of U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war.

    From a conservative viewpoint, it’s also probably just plain fun to see a liberal Democrat (and rising star of her party) so publicly disagree with her party’s leaders…..



  9. The crown title “Leader of the Free World” has come at the expense of our manufacturing base which WAS second to none. Americans need those jobs. America needs the manufacturing capacity.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think Pat Buchanan has the right idea on this one.

    However Donald Trump came upon the foreign policy views he espoused, they were as crucial to his election as his views on trade and the border.

    Yet those views are hemlock to the GOP foreign policy elite and the liberal Democratic interventionists of the Acela Corridor.

    Trump promised an “America First” foreign policy rooted in the national interest, not in nostalgia. The neocons insist that every Cold War and post-Cold War commitment be maintained, in perpetuity.

    On Sunday’s “60 Minutes,” Trump said: “You know, we’ve been fighting this war for 15 years. … We’ve spent $6 trillion in the Middle East, $6 trillion — we could have rebuilt our country twice. And you look at our roads and our bridges and our tunnels … and our airports are … obsolete.”

    Yet the War Party has not had enough of war, not nearly.

    They want to confront Vladimir Putin, somewhere, anywhere. They want to send U.S. troops to the eastern Baltic. They want to send weapons to Kiev to fight Russia in Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea.

    They want to establish a no-fly zone and shoot down Syrian and Russian planes that violate it, acts of war Congress never authorized.

    They want to trash the Iran nuclear deal, though all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies told us, with high confidence, in 2007 and 2011, Iran did not even have a nuclear weapons program.

    Other hardliners want to face down Beijing over its claims to the reefs and rocks of the South China Sea, though our Manila ally is talking of tightening ties to China and kicking us out of Subic Bay.

    In none of these places is there a U.S. vital interest so imperiled as to justify the kind of war the War Party would risk.

    Trump has the opportunity to be the president who, like Harry Truman, redirected U.S. foreign policy for a generation.

    After World War II, we awoke to find our wartime ally, Stalin, had emerged as a greater enemy than Germany or Japan. Stalin’s empire stretched from the Elbe to the Pacific.

    In 1949, suddenly, he had the atom bomb, and China, the most populous nation on earth, had fallen to the armies of Mao Zedong.

    As our situation was new, Truman acted anew. He adopted a George Kennan policy of containment of the world Communist empire, the Truman Doctrine, and sent an army to prevent South Korea from being overrun.

    At the end of the Cold War, however, with the Soviet Empire history and the Soviet Union having disintegrated, George H.W. Bush launched his New World Order. His son, George W., invaded Iraq and preached a global crusade for democracy “to end tyranny in our world.”

    A policy born of hubris……….


    Liked by 1 person

  11. The old unionized manufacturing base is gone and it isn’t coming back. Trump’s promises to those people in Michigan and Pennsylvania are as worthless as his wedding vows to Ivana and wife #2.

    Americans can still make cars competitively in non-union plants in the South. The biggest threat to US competitiveness is the cost of healthcare. The second biggest problem is that the poorest 50-60% of Americans have few skills and a marginal work ethic.


  12. Debra, I agree with you and Buchanan on Little Bush. I don’t think he intended to have an aggressive foreign policy. I can remember in a debate with Gore, he advocated a ‘humble’ foreign policy. 9/11 changed everything. Early success in Afghanistan led to the hubris which then produced the horrible mistake in Iraq. Obama followed in Little Bush’s steps by promoting democracy with disastrous consequences in Egypt, Libya and Syria.

    In the end it will be both the overreach of Little Bush and Obama combined with the protectionist impulses of Trump that will lead to Chinese political and economic supremacy. China will have done very little to overtake or supplant the US. The US will have proven to be unreliable and foolish on military, political and economic issues.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Yes, incentivizing companies to take their production overseas certainly qualifies as foolish. But continuing down that path is more than foolish or negligent; it’s indicative of corruption in high places.


  14. Pensions are deferred wages and should be treated as such. Smart forward thinking employers will set aside money each year equivalent to the cost of pension commitments. However, most CEOs want good quarter reports not quarter century reports so they fail to plan ahead. And yet CEOs etc are quick to blame unions etc for these pension commitments. The corporations (or gov’t) agreed to the commitments and then didn’t plan ahead. You can’t blame the workers.

    Fake news vs biased news. There’s no doubt cable news is biased and may even work with a political party, however, its not fake news. When Facebook talks about fake news, they are talking about websites which publish entirely fake news yet portray themselves as real news organizations. Most of these originated from Macedonia and were written by 18 year olds who made over $2000 a month over the last year creating fake mostly conservative news sites. Some look legitimate ( e.g. abcnews.com.co) but aren’t. The kids published liberal fake news but quit when liberals didn’t click in with the same enthusiasm. Apparently, conservatives surfing the web are more gullible.

    Health care costs are the biggest deterrent to US manufacturing not wages, pensions, health and safety regs, etc. About 10 year ago GM made a massive investment in its Ontario plants even though Canadian workers generally have higher wages — health care is cheaper and less bureaucratic.

    Both the left and right in America have isolationist wings. I’m not surprised a Sanders-style democrat is willing to work across the aisle to bring the troops home. They both view an aggressive foreign policy as money that can be better spent here. Its the centrist/corporatist in both parties — i.e. Clinton/Bush — who are war hawks and have a more international agenda.

    Speaking of corruption in high places. Leftist sites are a buzz over a rumour that Trump was promoting his business interests while on the phone with the Argentine president. It was quickly denied by both parties, however, his failure to place his business in blind trust (and his children don’t qualify) raises the spectre of corruption.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Trump’s children can run the businesses while he’s president. However, I think he is accustomed to being very hands-on. I hope he gets better at segmenting his life regarding the businesses, but I think it may be very difficult for him at first.


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