So much for “Smart Power” The Obama Administration's foreign policy suffers a huge loss

With all of the stories about last nights debate, getting far too little attention is this huge story:”

Duterte aligns Philippines with China, says U.S. has lost

BEIJING, October 20, 2016 (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced his “separation” from the United States on Thursday, declaring he had realigned with China as the two agreed to resolve their South China Sea dispute through talks.

Duterte made his comments in Beijing, where he is visiting with at least 200 business people to pave the way for what he calls a new commercial alliance as relations with longtime ally Washington deteriorate.

“In this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States,” Duterte told Chinese and Philippine business people, to applause, at a forum in the Great Hall of the People attended by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.

“Both in military, not maybe social, but economics also. America has lost.”

Duterte’s efforts to engage China, months after a tribunal in the Hague ruled that Beijing did not have historic rights to the South China Sea in a case brought by the previous administration in Manila, marks a reversal in foreign policy since the 71-year-old former mayor took office on June 30.

There’s more at the link, but the United States has been closely tied with the Philippines for a century, and earlier this year, the Philippines offered to allow the United States the use of eight military facilities, including the old Subic Bay Naval Station and Clark Air Base. These were to be used as counters for China’s increasing activity in the South China Sea and its expanding military power.

Somehow, the “smart power” that the Obama Administration said it would be using to help the United States in foreign affairs has led to a very not smart result. How on God’s earth did the Obama Administration manage to foul up a century-old close friendship?

My vote won’t count . . . but it could

As our too-few regular readers know, the Editor lives in Pennsylvania. I have already noted that my vote won’t count, because Hillary Clinton will carry the Keystone State easily, and thus take all twenty of the state’s twenty electoral votes. The votes of everyone who casts a ballot for someone other than Mrs Clinton will mean exactly nothing, zero, zilch, zip, nada.

But that is because Pennsylvania is, like 47 other states, a winner-take-all state when it comes to the electoral college. Two states, Maine and Nebraska, do things differently. The statewide winner takes the two electoral votes which correspond to the two Senate seats, and beyond that, the electoral votes are awarded to the winners of each of the state’s congressional districts. Until 2008, the statewide winner also carried all of the congressional districts, but Barack Obama carried Nebraska’s second congressional district, and thus took one of the state’s five electoral votes.

Were all of the states to adopt that system, it would come close to eliminating the “red state” vs “blue state” concept, as the candidates would have to fight it out by district, rather than campaigning so heavily in the major urban areas. Mrs Clinton will carry Pennsylvania easily, but Donald Trump might well have a chance to carry the 17th congressional district, in which I reside.

But this is about more than Mr Trump; I am not voting for him anyway. Third party candidates have virtually no chance to ever carry a state, but by concentrating their campaigns, could win in several congressional districts; Evan McMullin has a good chance to win some districts in Utah this year, and Gary Johnson, who believe that he can actually carry Alaska1, and could carry a couple of districts in the Western states.

There is also a down side for third party candidates. I can safely vote for Mr Johnson, knowing that it won’t make a bit of difference in Pennsylvania. However, if we used the Maine-Nebraska system here, it’s possible that Mr Trump could win my congressional district, which means I would have to put a lot more consideration into voting for Mr Trump, to try to stop Mrs Clinton from winning the election.

Of course, it isn’t all a help to the Republican candidate. My real home state of Kentucky will be carried easily by Mr Trump, but Mrs Clinton could easily win the third congressional district, which contains Louisville. Mrs Clinton will carry a congressional district or two in that reddest of red states, Texas. This system would force the candidates to really address the issues of all of the states, and not just the supposed “battleground” states.

Best of all, this could be accomplished without the need for a constitutional amendment; the state legislatures set the systems by which their electoral votes are distributed.

This is not quite a direct popular vote, but it is actually better. Any very close districts might have to be recounted, without the need to recount districts won by significant margins, without the need to repeat Florida in 2000. The electoral college has one very important feature: it takes plurality winners and converts them into majority winners, which does depress the impact of third party candidates, and establishes true legitimacy for the person elected President, but the Maine-Nebraska system could make it better.

It would be nice if my vote actually counted. Realistically, the last time my vote counted was 1996, when my vote for Bob Dole helped him carry Virginia, where I lived at the time. Since then, my votes for George Bush — twice — John McCain and Mitt Romney didn’t count, because the Democratic candidate carried the states in which I lived.

Maybe your vote should count, too?

  1. Alaska has only one congressional district, so even under the Maine-Nebraska system, it would be winner-take-all.

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton want to pile on more and more debt

For those of us who have been thoroughly critical of President Obama’s profligate spending and piling on of debt, intellectual consistency requires that we be concerned about both Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s plans to pile on even more. Sadly, the Republican candidate is even worse than the Democrat on this:

GOP think tank: Trump’s plans would just run up debt

by Heather Long @byHeatherLong October 19, 2016: 5:28 PM ET

The size of America’s debt currently tops $19 trillion.

“Our country has tremendous problems. We’re a debtor nation. We’re a serious debtor nation,” Donald Trump said in the first debate.

But if Trump becomes president, America’s debt is expected to skyrocket even further.

His tax and spending plans would add nearly $6.8 trillion to the U.S. debt over the next decade, according to a new analysis by the American Action Forum, a right-leaning think tank, which shared the report first with CNNMoney.

“Donald Trump’s policy proposals as a candidate for president would have a deleterious effect on the federal budget,” says Gordon Gray, director of fiscal policy at the American Action Forum and a former staffer for Republican Senator Rob Portman.

Hillary Clinton would also add to the debt, but not by nearly as much. The think tank calculates her plans would pack an additional $1.5 trillion to the U.S. debt over the next decade.

So why is Trump adding so much more to the debt? Three words: Big tax cuts. He wants to slash taxes for both business and individuals. That leads to a substantial reduction in revenue coming into government coffers.

There’s more at the link, but the real problem is not revenue, but government spending. Hillary Clinton wants to increase it, and Donald Trump wants to increase it as well. Only Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee, has promised to actually cut spending:

No excuses. No games. A REAL balanced budget.

By 2017, the national debt will be $20 TRILLION. That is not just obscene, it is unsustainable — and arguably the single greatest threat to our national security.

Responsibility for the years of deficit spending that has created our debt crisis rests squarely with BOTH the Republicans and the Democrats. The debt doubled under President George W. Bush — and doubled again under President Obama. During that time, both parties enjoyed control of Congress, and the deficit spending just kept piling up.

It doesn’t have to be that way, despite what the politicians say. But the idea that we can somehow balance the federal budget without cutting military spending and reforming entitlements is fantasy. What is required is leadership and political courage. As Governor of a state with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature, Gary Johnson stood up to excess spending, vetoed 750 bills and literally thousands of budget line items … and balanced the state’s budget.

Governor Johnson has pledged that his first major act as President will be to submit to Congress a truly balanced budget. No gimmicks, no imaginary cuts in the distant future. Real reductions to bring spending in line with revenues, without tax increases. No line in the budget will be immune from scrutiny and reduction. And he pledges to veto any legislation that will result in deficit spending, forcing Congress to override his veto in order to spend money we don’t have.

Alas! Governor Johnson has provided few specifics on just how he would cut spending, but at least he doesn’t want to increase it. He would like to move to a consumption-based taxation system, though he doesn’t tell us how he would get from here to there1. He would cut military spending by stepping back from our role as the world’s policeman, which is traditional Libertarian policy, but isn’t particularly realistic. Still, despite all of his flaws, he is the only candidate who wouldn’t be taking us in the wrong direction on the deficit and the national debt.

The only sensible candidate was not on the debate stage.

  1. I have written previously on Governor Johnson’s tax proposals.

Obama Administration Expects Robust Open Enrollment Under Affordable Care Act They have established the benchmark by which to judge them

From The Wall Street Journal:

Obama Administration Expects Robust Open Enrollment Under ACA

Health and Human Services expects 13.8 million to select plan on Affordable Care Act exchanges

By Stephanie Armour | Updated Oct. 19, 2016 12:22 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration said Wednesday it expects 13.8 million people to select a health plan on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges by the end of the coming open enrollment for 2017 coverage, an optimistic goal in light of higher premiums and waning insurer participation in the program.

The fourth sign-up period for plans under the law starts Nov. 1 and ends Jan. 31, 2017. The administration is under pressure to bolster enrollment to help staunch insurers’ financial losses, which have led to some major carriers to pull out or scale back from the exchanges.

Officials from the Department of Health and Human Services said the expected 13.8 million people selecting plans would be an increase of 1.1 million, or about 9%, over the 12.7 million plan selections at the end of 2016’s open enrollment. This represents roughly the same percentage growth in plan selections as last year.

Unlike for 2016, HHS isn’t setting a projection estimate for enrollment at the end of next year.

There’s more at the link, but the story continues to tell us that 9.2 million are anticipated to be re-enrollments.  At least the Obama Administration has been kind enough to give us the the marking point at which we can judge the accuracy of their predictions.

Conservatives have already noted the large premium increases being put in place by insurance companies — the ones which didn’t just drop out of the ACA plan business altogether anyway — which still participate in the laughably-named Affordable Care Act; many others have simply withdrawn from the program, because they kept losing money.

And that is the untold tale here. Private health care insurers lost almost $2 billion on ACA plans so far this year, which has been, in effect, a subsidy by the insurance to the whole ACA in the first place. As they get the premium increases they need to stay in the program, that de facto subsidy will vanish, and the extra costs will be borne by consumers and the taxpayers.

In the end, the Affordable Care Act will fail, because it could never really succeed, and it will be replaced — unfortunately — with some sort of single-payer system.

In January of 2010, Sachi ab Hugh wrote about her father’s experience in single-payer Japan:

“VIP” Treatment Under Nationalized Health Care

by Sachi ab Hugh | January 1, 2010

A few days ago, my 77 year old father, who lives in Japan, fell and couldn’t get up for more than an hour. He was taken to a hospital, where he still rests.

Last night my mother called to update me with a summary of his condition: He has a compressed disk, it seems (it’s hard to translate from Japanese to English and from Mom-speak to ordinary human language). The condition is somewhat serious but not life threatening; he’ll have to spend a few weeks in hospital. Too bad; New Year’s is the biggest holiday season in Japan.

I’m sure everyone reading this post knows that Japan has socialized medicine (national health care, single-payer, however you want to call it). It’s not as draconian as the NHS in the United Kingdom or the Canadian national and provincial health-care system; but it is universal — everyone must pay for government insurance. Fortunately, those who are well off can also buy private insurance in addition… and they can use that instead of the government system (unlike in the UK or Canada).

In other words, Japan already has the system that proponents of ObamaCare eventually want to install here in America. So let’s take a look at how it works in the real world.

After Mom reassured me about my father’s condition, she started talking about last year around this time, when she had to have stomach surgery.

“Oh Sachi, the care I received was wonderful!” she said; “I stayed in a private room which was like in a nice hotel. It had a private bathroom. The nurses were nice. The doctors were wonderful. I spent nine days in the hospital and only paid ¥80,000!” [About 800 dollars]

“Really?” I asked; “government insurance actually covered all that?”

“Oh, of course not; I have three insurance policies,” she proudly announced.

Before retirement, my father was a patent attorney. As a private business owner, he had to pay an exorbitant government insurance premium, both for himself and his three employees. But he always knew that would never be enough coverage, so he purchased two more private insurance policies. In other words, he spent more than twice as much on health insurance as a typical American spends now, pre-ObamaCare.

But even those extra policies wouldn’t cover the VIP treatment my Mom got. I asked a few more questions, and she finally spilled the beans:

“I was supposed to be in a 4-person room. But I had a private room all to myself, thanks to your uncle.”

Ah, my uncle the hospital administrator. I’d forgotten about him!

There’s more, of course, as Mrs ab Hugh documented the system of bribery, nepotism and payola that is needed to get decent care in single-payer Japan. Further down, she related:

My sister and mother take turns visiting Dad everyday. They have to pick up his dirty laundry, wash it and bring it back, because the hospital doesn’t do that. But Dad’s quite lucky that he stays in a nice hospital with three different insurance policies, under the auspices of his brother in law. My girlfriend’s father only had government insurance when he was hospitalized, and the hospital did not even turn on an air conditioner in the middle of August, with temperatures over a hundred degrees and humidity close to 100%.

My girlfriend visited her father as often as she could; she had to: Half the time, they didn’t even empty his bedpan.

You see? National health care works great… so long as you’re rich enough to afford the premium level of government insurance and to buy multiple additional private policies; so long as you have influential relatives; and so long as you’re willing and able to brazenly bribe the doctors and bureaucrats who run the system.

“I am so glad we live in Japan,” Mom said. “I worry about you in America, with no national health care!” Thanks, Mom, but I’m afraid “help” is on the way from President Barack H. Obama.

This is what awaits is. The terrible Veterans’ Administration Hospital scandal, where, to save money, the VA was stretching out appointments? Well, that’s simply routine procedure in the United Kingdom and Canada; when government is paying the bills, government must try to cut costs, and that’s one of the ways that they do it. The VA scandal was no surprise to the Editor, because we’ve seen how other countries deal with expenses. That’s why Danny Williams, then the Premier of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, skipped the Canadian single-payer health care system to travel to Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami for a heart valve procedure.

In the United States, we receive very good health care, but it is expensive. As I noted previously, I had the extreme pleasure of spending some quality time in Lehigh Valley Hospital recently, for a flare-up of my Crohn’s Disease, and while I was pretty much a low-maintenance patient, I had a private room, and every bit as much attention from the nurses and doctors as I needed. There was no skimping on care or linens left dirty, because I was part of the American private health insurance payment system. All of that will vanish when1 we go to a single-payer system, because the government will have to act to cut costs.

I do not know when the Affordable Care Act system will finally collapse; I just know that it will. About the only pleasure that I’ll find in that will be the right to say, “I told you so.”

  1. Note that I wrote ‘when’ and not ‘if.’

Economics 101: You can’t add millions of people who could not afford health insurance to the insurance rolls and not increase costs dramatically We told you that this would happen

Somehow, I am not at all surprised.

Pennsylvania approves sharp increases for Obamacare plans

By Wes Venteicher | Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, 3:21 p.m.

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department on Monday approved monthly premium increases of up to 55 percent for health insurance plans sold on the Affordable Care Act’s online marketplace in the state.

Calling the increases “significantly higher than (she) would have liked,” Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller said in a conference call with reporters that the rate hikes were needed to keep insurers from abandoning the market completely.

Translation: the Insurance Commission had no choice but to approve the increases, or there would be no offered ACA plan policies to approve.

Conservatives were saying this all along! You can’t add millions of people who couldn’t afford health insurance to the insurance rolls and not have costs increase dramatically; that’s just simple math. Further down:

Miller said the final rates followed a back-and-forth in which insurers threatened to abandon the market, which could have left some counties with no insurers selling the plans.

Aetna abandoned the market in Pennsylvania and most other states earlier this year, saying losses resulting from high claims from new members made their participation in the markets unsustainable. UnitedHealthcare abandoned the market in all states including Pennsylvania.

Highmark has sued the federal government in the Court of Federal Claims over a risk program meant to protect insurers from runaway losses, saying the government owes the insurer $223 million for 2014 and more for subsequent years. Miller said Monday that her department has requested the Court’s permission to file an amicus brief supporting Highmark in the lawsuit.

We have said this many times in the past: the Affordable Care Act was never meant to actually work; it was only meant to be something, anything, that could pass, to establish the principle that the federal government would ultimately guarantee everyone access to health care. Then, when the ACA failed, as conservatives warned time and time again that it would, the Democrats would throw up their hands and say, “See? We tried it the ‘conservative’ way, using the existing, for-profit health insurance system, and it didn’t work, so all that’s left is to try single-payer.” If the ACA has been in place long enough — and it probably already has by now — the option of simply repealing it and replacing it with nothing, with having the government not guarantee access to health care, is off the table.

There are two, and only two, options:

  1. Either we will have the government guarantee access to health care to everybody, in which case we are only debating the best way to do that; or
  2. The government will not guarantee access to health care for everybody, in which case those who cannot or will not buy health insurance will and should be denied health care when they need it, even if the consequence of that is death.

I have said before that I prefer the latter option, and I am fine with that consequence. The ACA is just another welfare program, taking money out of the pockets of people who earn it to give to those who do not. My position on that is very clearly stated in 2 Thessalonians 3:10. “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.'”

The Success of Socialism Will the Western left ever learn?

From CNNMoney:

Venezuela’s oil giant warns of default next week

by Patrick Gillespie | October 18, 2016: 11:42 AM ET

Venezuela’s government-run oil giant — the country’s largest source of cash — is warning that it could default on its bonds as early as next week.

Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., or PDVSA, failed to get investors to agree on a deal to push back debt payments by three years. The company said it is extending its deadline for a third time so investors can accept a deal by Friday night. This time, it warned that things could get messy.

“If the exchange offers are not successful, it could be difficult for the company to make scheduled payments on its existing debt,” PDVSA said in a statement Monday night.

PDVSA owes $1.6 billion in principal and interest on October 28 and another payment of $2.9 billion is due on November 2 for a separate bond.

There’s more at the link. PDVSA wants investors to exchange $5.3 billion in bonds due in 2017 for bonds due three years later, to, in effect, simply push off payment dates for three years. If oil prices rise, not only does PDVSA get the time it needs, but will have more ‘profit’ with which to pay off those bonds.

Venezuela has plenty of oil to sell, but is suffering from huge economic crises, in medical care and even food, with the Socialist government having finally backed away from price controls on food, because there was little food available with them. We have the amazing specter of an oil-wealthy nation that is so dead broke that it can’t buy food.

It ought to be a lesson for the left: socialism simply does not work.1 Venezuela ought to be able to, in effect, import the fruits of the labor of other countries due to its oil sales, ought to be able to have it’s people live better than their own production justifies, but is suffering from an economy rapidly shrinking, with an out-of-control crime rate, and what may be the world’s highest murder rate.

Philosophically, Karl Marx claimed that, in the age of socialism, people would act for the common good, people would simply share and share alike, with the proletariat all thinking alike. In what has passed for socialist nations in our history, experience has shown that Herr Marx was simply wrong, just plainly did not understand human nature and how that controlled economics. By now the Western left ought to be able to see that; sadly, they never will.

  1. In June, Gabriel Hetland of the left-wing journal The Nation, claimed that the media have exaggerated the problem, that things aren’t really as bad as have been reported. One would think that food riots might persuade him that he was wrong, but probably not.

The Patricians and the Plebeians in today’s economy The elites aren't feeling today's economy in their bones, the way that the commoners do

We have previously noted the career of Yahoo! Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer, and things have not gotten better since the buyout deal with Verizon. From The Wall Street Journal:

Yahoo Core Revenue Drops Again

Internet firm, looking to close its deal with Verizon, also posts earnings that top analysts’ expectations

By Deepa Seetharaman | Updated October 18, 2016 4:58 p.m. ET

Yahoo! Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer

Yahoo! Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer

Yahoo Inc. on Tuesday posted a 14% drop in its core revenue, reflecting the continued deterioration of its advertising business and raising more questions about the future of Verizon Communications Inc. ’s deal to buy Yahoo.The revenue decline to $857.7 million, which excludes commissions paid to partners for web traffic, marks the seventh decline in the past eight periods for this key metric. Revenue from “Mavens” — a grouping Yahoo introduced to track mobile, video, native and social ads — rose 24% to $524 million.

Yahoo reported quarterly earnings of $162.8 million, or 17 cents a share, and 20 cents a share excluding certain expenses. Analysts, on average, expected the company to post adjusted earnings per share of 14 cents, according to Thomson Reuters. A year ago, the company posted adjusted earnings of 15 cents a share.

I have perhaps more respect than some for Mrs Mayer: in choosing to leave a very secure executive position with Google for the top job at Yahoo!, she took on what Greg Sterling, a contributing editor at Search Engine Land, called a suicide mission, trying to right an already sinking ship, a mission that five previous CEOs over the previous five years could not accomplish.1

But having the courage to take on that suicide mission does not, in the end, outweigh the fact that she failed in that mission. The sale to Verizon, with Verizon already looking for a price cut due to the huge data breach Yahoo! suffered, hasn’t fallen apart — yet — but Verizon is going to be pressing for an even lower price now. If Mrs Mayer can keep the sale on track, it will be about as much success as she has had there, but it certainly isn’t the legacy she had hoped to build.

But, that blow to her legacy might be softened somewhat, with the $44 million to $55 million severance package she could receive if Verizon fires her. In business, success is the only thing that matters, but for some in business, failure isn’t all that bad an outcome.

However, this raises a subject that I don’t think the good people at The Wall Street Journal really understand, the price of failure for small businesses. Mrs Mayer, who just happened to be a “bundler” for Barack Obama, will walk away a multi-millionaire, regardless of what happens at Yahoo! For Cendi Jean Newberry, things are a little bit different. From my favorite CNNMoney reporter:

Meet ‘Joe the Plumber’ of 2016

by Heather Long | @byHeatherLong | October 18, 2016: 12:48 PM ET

Cendi Jean Newberry is voting for Donald Trump.

She didn’t vote for President Obama because she thought he was a Muslim (he’s not). Now she worries Hillary Clinton will take away her ability to own a gun.

“His background was Muslim,” she told CNNMoney over lunch at Diner 23 in Waverly, Ohio, a small town in southern Ohio that is divided almost 50/50 between Republicans and Democrats. When pressed, Newberry admits it could have been information that wasn’t true, “but it set in my mind.”

“Cendi the chef” is arguably the new “Joe the Plumber.” In the 2008 election, Joe the Plumber (aka Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, also from Ohio) became the face of the struggling middle class. He challenged Obama over what he would do for small businesses and taxes.

In 2016, “Cendi the chef” is worried about jobs, guns and morals.

It’s would be easy to dismiss her as uninformed. But her life is a complex tale that gets to the heart of what America’s lower middle class is dealing with — and why she’s voting “anti-Hillary” this year.

There’s more at the original, but it boils down to one thing: failure in small businesses means poverty, bankruptcy, and living on the edge, and public assistance. And it is in the small business sector where the public are favoring Donald Trump, because conditions for small business are really, really tight, and most small businesses will fail. Mr Trump has promised to increase our real growth rate to 3.5%, and while I don’t believe that he can keep that promise, it sure sounds good to people who are hearing that 2%, or even lower, is the “new normal” for the US economy.

Opening a small business is tough enough, with expenses eating away at income, seriously enough that it doesn’t take much of a hiccup to push the business into the red. The requirements of the Affordable Care Act then hit small businesses just as they start to become successful enough to reach the fifty-employee threshold, piling on a huge, additional expense just as small businesses reach a growth milestone, souring the dreams of the small businessmen to profit and grow. Hillary Clinton famously said, back in 1993, when President Clinton put the First Lady in charge of devising a universal health care coverage plan, and was old that her plan would devastate small businesses, “I can’t be responsible for every undercapitalized small business in America.”

But small business is by far the major employer of Americans:

In 2012, according to U.S. Census Bureau data, there were 5.73 million employer firms in the U.S. Firms with fewer than 500 workers accounted for 99.7 percent of those businesses, and businesses with less than 20 workers made up 89.6 percent. Add in the number of nonemployer businesses – there were 23.0 million in 2013 – then the share of U.S. businesses with less than 20 workers increases to 97.9 percent.

Among employer C Corporations in 2012, 99.2 percent had less than 500 workers, and 86.2 percent had fewer than 20 employees.

Heather Long noted that 60% of active investors prefer Mrs Clinton for President, while only 40% support Mr Trump. I don’t find that at all surprising, in that the same survey found that 45% of active investors in the E*Trade survey gave the economy an A or a B grade. Mr Trump’s support comes from the fact that most Americans are not active investors, and across wide swaths of the United States, the supposedly rosy economic numbers — the official, U-3, unemployment number is down to 5.0%,2 but the U-6 number is almost twice that, at 9.7% — don’t reflect their reality. From Investor’s Business Daily:

A Census Bureau report published in May 2015 shows that the share of Americans receiving government assistance of one form or another went from 18.6% in 2009 to 21.3% in 2012, the last year for which they had data. Also, the number of people getting food stamps jumped from 33.5 million in 2009 to 45.8 million last year.

More and more people needing some form of government assistance is not the kind of statistic we would expect from an economy that grades an A or a B, as the active investors believed, but an economy in the doldrums, one that the Federal Reserve Board of Governors recently estimated would grow only 1.8% in real terms this year.3 Despite the banks having plenty of money to lend, the rate of new business creation has fallen by 30%. Why? Because confidence in the economy, in the ability of entrepreneurs to actually make money in this economy, has fallen. This is something that the patricians cannot see, but the plebeians can feel in their hearts, in their bones, and in their wallets.

Marissa Mayer will land on her very fashionably-shod feet,4 regardless of how Yahoo! goes in the future; Cendi Newberry will still worry about how to catch up on her mortgage.

  1. Mr Sterling actually gives Mrs Mayer’s performance a “B,” with the qualification that her final grade will depend on the Verizon sale.
  2. The U-3 number is actually up a tick, from 4.9% in August.
  3. We took those estimates by the professional economists to task here.
  4. That might sound a bit sexist, but given Mrs Mayer’s self-promotion and penchant for glamour shots, I don’t find it too inappropriate.

More pearl-clutching hypocrisy from the left What's sauce for the gander is apparently not an acceptable sauce for the goose!

From The Wall Street Journal:

Big Labor Unions Step Up Presidential-Election Spending

Funding to outside political groups increases 38% as part of an effort to boost Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton

By Brody Mullins, Rebecca Ballhaus and Michelle Hackman |
Updated Oct. 18, 2016 9:25 a.m. ET

PHILADELPHIA—U.S. labor unions are plowing money into the 2016 elections at an unprecedented rate in a frenzied effort to help elect Hillary Clinton and give Democrats a majority in the Senate.

According to the most recent campaign-finance filings, unions spent nearly $110 million on the elections from January 2015 through the end of August, a 38% jump from $78 million at the same point in the 2012 election, and nearly double their 2008 total during the same period.

Almost every large union is spending more than ever before seen in modern elections. The AFL-CIO has spent $11.4 million funding outside political groups thus far, up from $5 million at this point in the 2012 election, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The National Education Association has spent $14 million, up from $7.7 million.

How amazing it is that the left have no problem at all with unions — which make donations from dues from workers who might not support Mrs Clinton — giving money to Hillary Clinton, but are up in arms about Peter Thiel giving $1.25 million of his own money to Donald Trump:

Thiel’s Trump donation stirs controversy, ire in tech

Marco della Cava, USA TODAY 7:26 a.m. EDT October 18, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO – The candidacy of Donald Trump continues to create rifts in Silicon Valley.

The catalyst this time was word that libertarian tech investor Peter Thiel had funneled $1.25 million to the Republican presidential candidate’s campaign.

That move drew a mixed reaction from Thiel’s friend Sam Altman who is president of influential tech incubator Y Combinator — Thiel is a partner in Y Combinator — which in turn drew a rebuke from tech employment advocate Ellen Pao.

“Thiel is a high profile supporter of Trump, I disagree with this,” Altman tweeted Sunday, after The New York Times reported on Thiel’s Trump donation. In other tweets, Altman called Trump “an acceptable threat to America.”1

That said, Altman made it clear was not not going to distance himself personally or professionally from Thiel: “YC is not going to fire someone for supporting a major party nominee.”

Why don’t the media report on union members who support Mr Trump having their dues used to support Mrs Clinton? Mr Trump’s main support comes from working class white men, who make up the bulk of union membership.

  1. This was a typographic a error, which should have said “unacceptable threat to America.

Erick Erickson wants you to vote for Evan McMullin for President

From Erick Erickson:

For Character

By Erick Erickson | October 17, 2016, 08:00am

The race for President is over. It is unfortunate. We will be stuck with Hillary Clinton barring a miracle. Republicans need to focus on saving the House and Senate. But Republican voters also need to send a message to their party that character still counts and is not tied to partisan politics.

The best way to do that is to vote for Evan McMullin. You may have to write him in in your state, but you should.

Republicans have decided that they must stoop to the lows of the left to win. They have decided that they should get in people’s faces and yell. They have decided that they should defend a man accused of sexual assault, going so far as to attack the appearance of the women who have come forward. They have decided that, like the Underminer from The Incredibles, they will be beneath everyone, but nothing and no one will be beneath them.

This is the path of further loss. This is the path of permanent rejection. The voters need to stage an intervention for the GOP.

Writing in Evan McMullin may, if we believe in miracles, throw this race to the House of Representatives and deny both Clinton and Trump victory. But, barring miracle, voting for Evan McMullin sends a powerful signal that character matters in Presidential candidates and character is not partisan.

Who is Evan McMullin? From his biography page:

Evan McMullin was born in Provo, Utah on April 2, 1976 to David McMullin, a computer scientist, and Lanie (Bullard) McMullin.

He graduated from Auburn High School in Auburn, Washington, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy from Brigham Young University (BYU) and a Master’s of Business Administration from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Evan served as a Mormon missionary in Brazil and Volunteer Refugee Resettlement Officer in Amman, Jordan on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

On September 11th, 2001 Evan was in training at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. He completed his training and repeatedly volunteered for overseas service in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, spearheading counterterrorism and intelligence operations in some of the most dangerous places on earth.

Having completed his CIA service, in 2011, McMullin transitioned to the Investment Banking Division at Goldman Sachs in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he worked with companies in several industries, including technology, energy, consumer goods, biotech, industrials and real estate on capital raising projects and mergers and acquisitions.

In 2013, McMullin joined the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as a senior advisor and later became the chief policy director of the House Republican Conference.

He declared his candidacy for President of the United States on August 8, 2016, saying “In a year where Americans have lost faith in the candidates of both major parties, it’s time for a generation of new leadership to step up. It’s never too late to do the right thing, and America deserves much better than either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton can offer us. I humbly offer myself as a leader who can give millions of disaffected Americans a better choice for President.”

There’s a strange scenario in which Mr McMullin carries his home state of Utah, and throws the election into the House of Representatives. The slight chance that Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson could carry Alaska only helps that scenario, but it still seems as probable as the sun rising in the west to me.

Mr McMullin seems like a fine man to me, but, of course, I’ve never met him and read only a few articles about him. That Mr Erickson likes him is certainly a point in his favor. But when it comes to a third party candidate, we all know that a vote for him is a protest vote, a message vote, and in that regard, it seems to me that the only way to send that message is to cast that vote for Governor Johnson; he will be the only third party candidate to win a noticeable number of votes, and sending a message requires getting that message noticed.

I do not agree with Governor Johnson on some issues; on others, I’m perfectly happy with his positions. But I don’t agree completely with anyone; it will always be a compromise when voting for a candidate, and I have to compromise less with Mr Johnson than with anyone else who would get noticed.