He must have a different definition of boom times than I do!

Heck, Bob Beckel for Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors! He can’t be any worse.

I guess that we’ll see

From The Wall Street Journal:

Socialist Leads in Chilean Presidential Race
Chileans voted Sunday in presidential elections that polls show are likely to install Socialist Michelle Bachelet for a second term.
By Sara Schaefer Muñoz | Dec. 15, 2013 1:19 p.m. ET

Michelle Bachelet is seen here after casting her vote in Santiago (AP photo)

SANTIAGO, Chile—Chileans voted Sunday in presidential elections that polls show are likely to install Socialist Michelle Bachelet for a second term, bringing a bigger government role in one of South America’s most prosperous countries.

Ms. Bachelet, who served a first term as Chile’s first female president from 2006 to 2010, is well ahead of rival Evelyn Matthei, a center-right economist whose family ties to the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet has hurt her campaign.

The 62-year-old Ms. Bachelet, who pursued moderate polices during her first term, has signaled she will push for greater state intervention if elected again. She has promised to support free college education, plug tax loopholes for businesses and address the country’s income gap. She appeals to voters who feel left behind amid Chile’s roaring growth, which has brought skyscrapers and shopping centers to the country’s capital but has left pockets of deep poverty.

Ms. Matthei, 60, who was labor minister under the current government of right-leaning President Sebastián Piñera, says she will keep the country’s economy chugging along and won’t meddle with the tax code or education system. She has promised to generate 600,000 new jobs, many for women.

More at the link. The BBC is reporting that Mrs Bachelet has won the run-off election by a wide margin, and that Mrs Matthei has conceded.

So, following the center-right presidency of Mr Piñera, under which Chile’s economy has prospered, the voters have decided to change things. The lure of socialism has always been strong amongst poorer people, who se socialism as a way in which their station in life can be improved. Of course, the promises of socialism as far as economic development and raising the lifestyles of the lower classes have never been kept. Income inequality has often been addressed, but rather than leading to a wider sharing of prosperity, such normally makes the wealthier people — except for the connected class — poorer, but doesn’t make the poor concomitantly richer. The rewards of socialism are best exemplified by Venezuela, an oil-rich nation which is nevertheless an economic basket case.

So, I guess that we’ll see. Yet another prosperous country has voted for socialism, of its own free will. Will Chile continue to prosper, or will her economy be dragged down into the same swamps as all of the other failed socialist systems?

The obvious, unmentioned problem

I spotted the tweet:

 

Which led to this story:

Considering the Humanity of Nonhumans
By James Gorman | Published: December 9, 2013 | A version of this news analysis appears in print on December 10, 2013, on page D1 of the New York edition with the headline: The Humanity of Nonhumans.

What is a person?

“Beings who recognize themselves as ‘I’s.’ Those are persons.” That was the view of Immanuel Kant, said Lori Gruen, a philosophy professor at Wesleyan University who thinks and writes often about nonhuman animals and the moral and philosophical issues involved in how we treat them.

She was responding to questions in an interview last week after advocates used a new legal strategy to have chimpanzees recognized as legal persons, with a right to liberty, albeit a liberty with considerable limits.

The Nonhuman Rights Project, an advocacy group led by Steven M. Wise, filed writs of habeas corpus in New York last week on behalf of four captive chimpanzees: Tommy, owned by a Gloversville couple; two at Stony Brook University; and one at the Primate Sanctuary in Niagara Falls. The lawsuits were dismissed, but Mr. Wise said he planned to appeal.

He believes that the historical use of habeas corpus lawsuits as a tool against human slavery offers a model for how to fight for legal rights for nonhumans.

There’s a lot more at the link. The story continues to note the efforts, and arguments, of some interested people, many of them scientists, to confer a form of legal personhood on animals deemed to have some particular aspects of behavior which would commonly be associated with a self-aware intelligence: tool use, self-recognition and the ability to plan for the future. But even though the article, at least in the web edition, has an illustration of three elephants, the article completely ignored the elephant in the room, that being the legal non-personhood of human beings prior to birth.

The New York Times has been quite liberal about publishing articles which advocate personhood for some non-humans, including, two months ago Dogs Are People Too.  But, when it comes to recognizing actual human beings who have yet to make their way through the birth canal, the Times is a bit more reticent.  In November of 201, the Times published an article by Gary Gutting, a professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, telling readers about all of the problems with declaring an unborn child to be a legal person, giving us arguments against doing so based solely on the fact that an unborn child possesses unquestionably human DNA:

Accordingly, the case against the morality of all abortions, no matter how early, needs to appeal to features of the newborn that are present at every stage of development beyond the fertilization of the egg.  Here the only plausible feature seems to be having the DNA characteristic of the human species (the structure that, in the natural course of things, will lead to the newborn baby).

The problem, however, is that a fertilized egg itself has this DNA.  Therefore, if we grant that killing a fertilized egg is not murder, we must also agree that the mere fact that a fetus or embryo possesses human DNA does not show that killing it is murder.  It also seems to follows that at least some early-term abortions are not murder, since it’s hard to see any moral difference between a fertilized egg and, say, an embryo of two or three weeks.

A possible response is to claim that there is a person with full moral standing only once the fertilized egg has been implanted in the uterus (about five days after fertilization).  But why think that implantation confers personhood?  The only plausible reason seems to be that an implanted egg is on a natural path that will, if all goes well, lead to a full-term birth.  But the same is true of a fertilized egg.  So it’s hard to see that the potential to develop into a newborn morally differentiates a fertilized egg before and a fertilized egg after implantation.

The basic problem is that, once we give up the claim that a fertilized egg is a human person (has full moral standing), there is no plausible basis for claiming that all further stages of development are human persons.  The DNA criterion seems to be the only criterion of being human that applies at every stage from conception to birth.  If we agree that it does not apply at the earliest stages of gestation, there is no basis for claiming that every abortion is the killing of an innocent human person.

More (both above and below) in the original.  I find it odd, however, that a professor of philosophy at such a prestigious Catholic university would be pushing the edge examples to argue against the very Catholic position that live begins at conception.  Dr Gutting tries to push the difference between fertilization — the point the Church defines as conception — and implantation, a distinction the Church does not take, because he wishes to legitimize the use of the so-called “Plan B” contraceptives, the “morning after” pills which impede the implantation of a human embryo in the uterine wall. The Times is, of course, a strong supporter of abortion.

Your Editor finds it rather odd: our friends on the left are just so eager to protect the lives and health of animals, yet so willing to allow a living human being to be just thrown away if the wrong person — his mother — does not want him.

Rule 5 Blogging: The IDF again

It’s the weekend and time, once again, for THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL’S version of Rule 5 Blogging. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain described Rule 5 as posting photos of pretty women somewhat déshabillé, but, on this site, our Rule 5 Blogging doesn’t put up pictures of Kate Upton in her summer clothes, but women, in full military gear, serving their countries in the armed forces. The terribly sexist authors on this site celebrate strong women, women who can take care of themselves and take care of others, women who have been willing to put their lives on the line in some not-so-friendly places, women who truly do have the “We can do it!” attitude.

This week, we return to the Israeli Defense Force, because:

  1. There are a lot of available photographs of female Israeli soldiers; and
  2. They are just so darned good looking!

military_woman_israel_army_000979

Continue reading ‘Rule 5 Blogging: The IDF again’ »

From Around the Blogroll

Robert Stacey Stacy McCain spotted the the hypocrisy:

Ed Schultz Goes Way Off-Message

Ed Schultz, The Angriest Man on Television™

Posted on | December 13, 2013

The Angriest Man on TV™ gets paid big bucks for his act as a left-wing populist who hates Republicans like God hates sin. Alas, when it comes to the lowly wage slaves who haul the freight at his network, Ed Schultz sounds like more like Ebenezer Scrooge:

Ed Schultz decided to take a break from his normal act of ranting against Republicans today by raging against some fellow liberals who had the temerity to criticize him and other MSNBC hosts for declining to publicly take the side of union members in a dispute they’re having with the cable channel’s parent company, NBC Universal.

Schultz . . . lashed out at a report from Salon.com which mentioned him: “I become the target because I’m living good. I become the target because I have a platform. . . . They’re just out to take somebody down who’s got something they don’t have.” . . .

“I’m not going to lower myself to people who just have got employment envy, income envy, exposure envy, platform envy,” Schultz said, according to a Salon transcription of the show. . . .

Schultz also attacked an internet columnist named David Sirota in a way that could not be construed as anything but “punching down.”

“It’s interesting that you have had class envy on me for years, that you’re never going to be as big as I am. That’s what you’re all about, Sirota.” He reiterated his opinion moments later, calling Sirota a “loser.”

Wow, that’s weird. I actually agree with Ed Schultz: His critics are envious, and David Sirota is certainly a loser. But that message is not in sync with the egalitarian ethos of the Left, and Ed Schultz just exposed himself as a loud, phony, hypocritical plutocrat.

More at the link. We are, of course, not surprised in the slightest that the Heroes of the Working Man are strong union supporters, right up until the moment that the union has a dispute with their companies. From the Kennedy family’s opposition to the Cape Wind project because it could “be seen from Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Hundreds of flashing lights to warn airplanes away from the turbines will steal the stars and nighttime views,” meaning the views from the Kennedy estates, to Senatrix Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a strong advocate for higher taxes on wealthier people to pay for more social spending, who chose not to pay a voluntarily higher state income tax rate in Massachusetts on her own income of $716,000, to 2004 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee John Edwards’ use of a subchapter S Corporation to save himself $591,000 in federal taxes, to Nobel Peace Prize laureate and über-environmentalist Al Gore selling his failing Current TV network to Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, whose county earns its billions of dollars by producing and selling the very fossil fuels Mr Gore loudly complains are destroying our climate, our wealthier American liberals have managed to be quite conservative when it comes to their individual interests, when it comes to Their Money rather than Other People’s Money. At The First Street Journal, we call that Democrisy, and in the cases of the Kennedys and Mr Gore, we can add the Ecopocrisy label as well.

Karen, the Lonely Conservative, noted more Democrisy:

War On Women: Dems Attack And Belittle Female Physician For Testifying About Obamacare
by Lonely Conservative • December 14, 2013

Democrats would like us all to think that when it comes to women they’re our knights in shining armor, riding in to protect us from icky Republicans and conservatives. But if a woman dares to speak the truth about their dreadful policies they whip out their pitchforks faster than you can say “war on women.”

Dr Patricia McCaughlin, testifying before Congress

Dr. Patricia McLaughlin, whose ObamaCare woes were first highlighted in The Post, gave a House committee a simple prescription for the defective health care law: “Fix it!”But Democratic lawmakers pounced on her for relating how she got hit with an ObamaCare “double whammy.”

McLaughlin told the House Oversight Committee, which invited her to testify after reading The Post article, how she had lost the group health plan for her four-person office.

Then, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield dropped her from its provider network, forcing her patients using that insurance to go elsewhere or pay out of pocket, she said.

Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) questioned whether McLaughlin was dumped from the network because her “credentials” weren’t as good as other doctors’.

More at the link. Dr McLaughlin found out that our good Democratic friends, those oh-so-noble supporters of women’s rights who castigate any Republican proposal they possibly can as a #WarOnWomen, will turn tooth-and-nail on any woman who dares to deviate from the Democratic Party line: note Martin Bashir’s suggestion that someone should defecate in Sarah Palin’s mouth, for which he was subsequently resigned,1 or any mention at all of Christine O’Donnell on the Delaware Liberal.

Sister Toldjah noted that Mitt Romney turned out to have been right in what he said.

Hube pointed out the Denver Post’s selective editing out of a school shooter’s political views. Donald Douglas wrote about the same issue.

L D Jackson wrote that the President’s minions are denying that his immigration policy is actually his.

William Teach noted the impact of anthropogenic global warming on Santa Claus. So, if you can’t get your kids much for Christmas this year, you can blame global warming, and, of course, George Bush.

And finally, John Hitchcock takes a brief time out from his time on the road with an article on Truth Before Dishonor.
________________________________

  1. That may look like a tortured grammatical construction, but it isn’t: “he was resigned” is The First Street Journal’s way of saying that he resigned his position, but that he had no choice in the matter. In the Army, the word is “voluntold.”

Round Three This Week

IMG_9610

Maybe this is why. Eat your heart out WARMISTS

Sun’s Current Solar Activity Cycle Is Weakest in a Century
By Mike Wall, Senior Writer | December 11, 2013 06:50pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO — The sun’s current space-weather cycle is the most anemic in 100 years, scientists say.
Our star is now at “solar maximum,” the peak phase of its 11-year activity cycle. But this solar max is weak, and the overall current cycle, known as Solar Cycle 24, conjures up comparisons to the famously feeble Solar Cycle 14 in the early 1900s, researchers said.

“None of us alive have ever seen such a weak cycle. So we will learn something,” Leif Svalgaard of Stanford University told reporters here today (Dec. 11) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. [Solar Max: Amazing Sun Storm Photos of 2013]

Read More Here:
http://www.space.com/23934-weak-solar-cycle-space-weather.html

This Begs The Question of the Year – Obama, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO US?

Obama Personally Apologizes to Americans Losing Health Plans

NEWSMAX
President Barack Obama on Thursday told Americans that he was sorry that they were losing their health insurance under Obamacare, despite his repeated assurances for more than three years that they could keep their coverage if they were pleased with it.

“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” Obama told NBC News in an interview at the White House.

“We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them — and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/obama-apologizes-obamacare-health/2013/11/07/id/535499?ns_mail_uid=42200418&ns_mail_job=1550139_12142013&promo_code=15F1F-1#ixzz2nUI92iul

Not a terribly persuasive article

Your Editor is in some disagreement with this article from The Victory Girls:

The Cowardice of Conservatives
Kit+Lange+kitlangeby KIT LANGE on DECEMBER 14, 2013

I know a lot of passionate conservatives, and this article is going to anger most of you. I’m okay with that. George Orwell wrote that “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

We all have what I call “pet issues.”  Some of you are anti-abortion to the point that it’s all you talk about politically. Every political issue in the nation is abortion related.  Every blog post you write is about abortion.  All your resources, all your energy, all your passion goes into fighting abortion.   I have other friends who want to abolish the Federal Reserve.  You can (and do) rail all day about taxes and representation and economics.  You talk fair tax, flat tax, no tax.  To you, the greatest evil in this country is the government taking your hard earned money.  Others hate Obamacare.  You guys can spout any statistic you want about what it is and how it will change the country forever.  I know someone who claims that the War on Drugs(tm) is the source of all problems in America, and that if all states just legalized everything it would help so much stuff.   I even have a few friends who would technically fall into the “truther” category, where every single thing is a government conspiracy, perpetrated by the New World Order.  All of you are absolutely hardcore about what you believe, and almost all of you have one major thing in common.

You don’t really give a flying rip about the Second Amendment.

Some of you like guns.  Some of you own a few, and even shoot them.  A few of you even have your concealed carry permit.  But I know very few of you who are as passionate about the Second Amendment as you are about abortion or taxes or pot or “statism” or anything else.  It’s just not that important to you.  If someone asked you, you’d say you were pro-Second Amendment, but you’d never loudly tout the constitutionality of open, legal carry for all. You believe that people “have the right to have a gun but don’t really need an ‘assault rifle.’” You waffle on the whole “mentally ill” thing.  “Well, maybe the government SHOULD limit guns for mentally ill people.  Maybe unstable people shouldn’t have guns.  Maybe the government needs common sense regulations to limit gun violence and keep them out of the hands of criminals.”  Sadly, a lot of you, who I’ve heard go on and on about the things I just mentioned, don’t even own a gun—or you haven’t fired it in so long that you’re probably a worthless shot. Every single time I hear someone who calls themselves a limited government, America-loving conservative talking about their pet issue when I know for a fact they don’t give a rat’s rear end about gun rights, I want to kick them in the shins with my size 9½ boot.

Here’s a basic, unalienable truth for you:  If you do not have a gun, you cannot fight for anything.

A lot more at the link. Miss Lange continues to tell us that we are, in effect, helpless without owning firearms personally, and that we are depending upon other, apparently braver, people to defend our rights.

Long time readers know that your Editor is an absolutist when it comes to the Second Amendment. When the Second Amendment says that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, he believes that it means exactly that, shall not be infringed.1 But, just as the freedom of speech in the First Amendment does not compel people to speak, the right to keep and bear arms in the Second does not obligate individuals to own firearms; such is a matter of liberty and choice.

M1911 Colt .45

Your Editor has noted, more than once, that while he is in complete support of the right of the individual2 to own guns if he chooses, he has chosen himself not to own firearms. I have owned a rifle and a shotgun in the past, and when I was a teenager I did a (very little bit) of hunting, but I found it a sport that simply did not interest me very much. I sold those weapons long ago. And although Miss Lange thinks that some people might be a “worthless shot,” I did OK with my best friend Ken’s 1911 model Colt .45 in target shooting. But, Miss Lange’s scorn aside, I still choose not to own a firearm.

Why? Because I simply have no real use for one. I do not hunt,3 and I live in a very safe community; we’ve had only three murders in my county so far this century! To me, the probabilities of needing a firearm for self-defense are lower than the chances of an accident occurring with the weapon. Miss Lange might disagree with such a calculation, but she is at liberty to make such calculations about herself and her family, and I about myself and my family.

However, for Miss Lange, the affirmative exercise of our Second Amendment rights is not about hunting and it is not about being able to defend yourself from an armed burglar4:

Until you are willing to fight and die—today, if it came to that—for the things that you say you believe, then it is nothing but lipservice. Unless you are willing to take up the Second Amendment for the purpose it was designed for, do not go around talking about how “We” are going to take back Congress. We are going to abolish abortion. We are going to end the Fed. We are going to impeach Obama. We are going to end Obamacare. You know what you sound like, with all your big words and lofty aspirations? A bunch of loud old Code Pink activists, standing around in a group banging on drums and talking about how they’re going to bring peace to the world. No one takes them seriously, and no American patriot who actually owns a firearm and is willing to die with it in their hand takes you seriously either.

Now, how am I supposed to take this? “Impeach(ing) Obama,” even if it is ever done — something about as probable as an asteroid strike within the next 3 years — is an act of law, specified under the Constitution, and not a matter of armed rebellion. The same is true about making abolishing the Federal Reserve System or ending legal abortion; I believe that all abortions except to save the life of the mother from imminent danger5 should be made illegal, but in Miss Lange’s connection of such to the Second Amendment, one could infer that she is referring to an armed rebellion to change those laws, or, at the very least, commando missions to eliminate known abortionists. Whether that was what she meant to imply is a question I shall leave to her to answer.

Freemen use their liberty. They exercise it, they train in it, they live it. They teach their children its importance. And above all they protect the means by which it is defended.  Liberty is not a big, comfy pillow that you can pick up at Walmart. It is a calling; it is a lifestyle, a belief system. It is bigger than abortion, bigger than taxes. It is the absolute foundation of everything that you should be if you reside in this nation as a citizen and partake of its freedoms.  It is what sets apart a free man from a slave.  I know a great number of free men, and I rest assured knowing that if and when the day comes, my foxhole will be far from empty.  I also know a lot of cowards who are all talk, who ‘defend liberty’ but think the Second Amendment can be someone else’s pet issue. Which group are you in?

This isn’t a call for you to start shooting people over your pet issue.  But it IS a call for you to examine your own heart and soul.  If you do not own a gun, or if you are not willing to use it if necessary for its intended purpose under the Second Amendment, then you are every bit as much a freeloader as those who live off the welfare state, for you are partaking of the benefits of freedom without any contribution.  You are allowing those who carry, those who fight for gun rights, to protect your right to do what you do.  All of your posturing, all of your picketing and marching and letterwriting means nothing.  Without a gun, you’re just walking around waiting for the noose to tighten around your neck.   Without a gun, nothing else you believe matters.

And with that, Miss Lange has completed the insult. Given that I have chosen — and, after reading her attempt at persuasive writing, still continue to choose — not to own a firearm, I am, according to Miss Lange, a slave, a freeloader and a coward. So be it; I doubt that there is anything I could write which would change her opinion on that matter, and so I shall not waste the bandwidth.6

Miss Lange has, of course, an absolute First Amendment right to say and publish whatever she wishes, whether I happen to agree with it or not. But I would suggest that if her intention was to persuade people who support the things in which she believes but do not currently own weapons to go out and purchase one, she might not have done a particularly good job of it.
_________________________________

  1. The Fourteenth Amendment allows the states to restrict the rights of individuals who have committed crimes as long as due process of law has been observed. This provision allows the states and federal government to abridge the right to keep and bear arms of convicted felons.
  2. In McDonald v Chicago and District of Columbia v Heller, the Supreme Court held that the “Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.” (Quote from syllabus of Heller.)
  3. And, considering a couple of the ready, fire, aim! types I have known, would never, ever, go into the woods this time of year, during deer season!
  4. Though she in no way derides or minimizes such uses.
  5. This is a matter of practicality; if the pregnancy kills the mother, her unborn child will die with her.
  6. And long time readers know that I have never been afraid to waste bandwidth. :)

Economics 101: Detroit is failing because it had to fail

From The Wall Street Journal:

Detroit Launches New Program to Repair Streetlights
Nearly Half City’s 88,000 Lights Are Broken; New Authority Plans to Borrow Funds to Revamp System
By Matthew Dolan | Dec. 8, 2013 6:50 p.m. ET

DETROIT—On Harper Avenue, along a busy but dimly lighted commercial strip of shops and corner bars, James Jennings checked one street lamp after another, searching for one he could fix.

“If I can get it burning, I’ll get it burning,” Mr. Jennings said. But the night-shift worker for the Detroit Public Lighting Department wasn’t having much luck. Most of the poles here are stripped of copper or the underground wiring is fried—trouble that no new bulb will correct.

Problems in this bankrupt city run deep. Police on average take nearly an hour to respond to some of the most serious calls. Firefighters must contend with blazes that erupt among the roughly 78,000 abandoned and vacant structures. The population has shrunk to 700,000 from a high of 1.8 million decades ago.

But when federal bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes last week affirmed the city’s eligibility for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, he cited streetlights as a prime example of Detroit’s decline. Nearly half of the city’s 88,000 street lamps are dark, according to city estimates.

“The city does not have enough money to take care of its residents, let alone pay its debts,” the judge said in the Dec. 3 ruling that cleared the way for Detroit to cut future payments to unsecured creditors, including pension funds.

More at the link.

Most of the stories that we see concerning the bankruptcy of Detroit concern the pension worries of retired and soon-to-retire Detroit municipal workers.  How bad is the problem? From The Detroit News:

Firefighters, along with police officers, don’t qualify for Social Security while other city workers do. The city has about 23,000 former employees collecting pensions. On average, general workers collect about $18,700 a year and police and firefighters average around $30,700.

The Detroit News article referenced Bonnie Walls, the 87-year-old widow of a former Detroit treasury worker, who now lives in Leesburg, Florida, — about a thousand of the city’s pensioners have moved to the Sunshine State, and are thus paying their taxes to Florida cities, and not to Detroit — who receives $688 per month from her late husband’s pension, along with $1,432 in Social Security. Mrs Walls never worked for the city, but the city is paying her anyway. And if she is 87 years old, it has to be asked: has the city been paying a pension to a (now deceased) worker and his wife for longer than he worked for the city?

From the Detroit News. Click image to enlarge.

Part of the problem is obvious: Detroit has 23,000 city pensioners, and only 12,900 city workers, and even those 12,900 municipal employees constitute a city workforce out of proportion to the city’s size:

Detroit overstaffed compared to other cities
APRIL 25, 2011 AT 3:12 PM

Detroit —Detroit’s work force hasn’t shrunk with its population, leaving the cash-strapped city with far more employees than most comparably sized cities.

The 12,900 workers in the Bing budget proposed this month is much more than similar size Midwestern cities including Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio, and double much more populous cities including San Jose, Calif.

Bing has resisted calls for mass layoffs, saying Detroit’s population exodus in the past 10 years was fueled in part by shrinking services.

The mayor said he owes it to residents to focus on the city’s long-term viability and fix structural changes like pension and medical costs that threaten to consume half the budget by 2015.

More at the link. But the situation is obvious: you have a city which is too large for its current population — 78,000 abandoned buildings tells that story! — and a municipal workforce which is too large for its existing residents to support, on top of which is a pensioner population which was based on providing municipal services for a population more than twice its current size. It isn’t surprising that Detroit has had to declare bankruptcy; the only surprise is that it took so long. That the retirees want to be exempt from action to get the city back on its financial problem is only natural, but it doesn’t matter: pension costs are so much of the problem that they cannot not be part of the solution.1

But, there are some people who seem to think that Detroit is a good investment, though they aren’t investing all that much:

China’s Newest City: We Call It ‘Detroit’

Gordon G. Chang, Contributor. “I write primarily on China, Asia, and nuclear proliferation.”

Detroit, broke with almost no prospects for recovery, is the fourth most popular U.S. destination for Chinese real estate investors.  In fact, it was bad news—the city’s July 18 bankruptcy filing—that triggered renewed interest.  “While the bankruptcy is viewed as a bad thing elsewhere, it raised the exposure level of Detroit’s real estate market in China,” says Evonne Xu, a Michigan attorney catering to Chinese purchasers.  Middle Kingdom, meet Motown.

Chinese shoppers can’t resist a bargain.  Where else can you buy a two-story home in the U.S. for $39?  China Central Television, the state broadcaster, in March reported that two houses in Detroit cost the same as a pair of leather shoes.  No wonder a poster on Sina Weibo, the Twitter-like service, asked, “Seven-hundred thousand people, quiet, clean air, no pollution, democracy—what are you waiting for?”

Who says the Chinese are waiting?  Dongdu International Group of Shanghai bought, sight unseen, two downtown icons, the David Stott building for $4.2 million and the Detroit Free Press building for $9.4 million, both at auction this September.

Moreover, Chinese purchasers are making bulk purchases of “inexpensive properties”—those selling for $25,000 or less—in the rings surrounding the city center.  “They’re banking on the downtown resurgence spiraling out into those rings,” explains Kelly Sweeney of Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel.  Mainland parties often buy at tax and foreclosure sales, hold their property, and patiently wait for appreciation.

The Chinese certainly have made an impact on the locals in Detroit.  “I have people calling and saying, ‘I’m serious—I wanna buy 100, 200 properties,’ ” said Caroline Chen, a real estate broker in nearby Troy, Michigan, to Quartz.com.  “They say ‘We don’t need to see them.  Just pick the good ones.’ ”  Chen reports that one of her colleagues sold 30 properties to a Chinese investor.

More at the link. Nicole Curtis, the Rehab Addict, restored a condemned house she bought for $1.00 in Minneapolis, but she’s originally from the suburbs of Detroit, frequently wears t-shirts proclaiming her Motor City origins, and her new episode tonight is the first in a series on a home she restored in Detroit. It sounds like she could pick up a bunch of houses in her home town; the Chinese sure are. The same deals exist in Philadelphia.

Of course, the obvious problem is: if the Motor City can’t even keep the street lights on, you may not be able to rehabilitate that inexpensive a house and have it worth as much as you need to put into it.

For the left, it’s more important to be anti-Israel than liberal

 

From Le*gal In*sur*rec*tion:

Tenured radicals cannot be trusted with our academic freedom
Posted by    Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 11:00am

The anti-Israel Boycott Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement is a frequent focus here because it embodies so much of the pathology of the Leftist-Islamist anti-Israel coalition.

While disavowing anti-Semitism, BDS singles out and holds only Israel to standards not applied much less met by any other country in the Middle East or Muslim world.  Israel, and Israel alone, is put under a microscope and each defect found turned into grossly exaggerated and often outright false claims of racism, Apartheid, colonialism and so on.  Only Israeli academics and institutions are subjected to boycott even though by any objective standard non-Jews are far more free academically and otherwise in Israel than non-Muslims are in the Muslim world.

We also witness the bizarre self-parody of LGBT and Women’s rights groups siding with Islamists who hate LGBT and women’s rights, all in the cause of BDS.  There is a sickness beyond reason behind BDS, as witnessed by the BDS claim that Israeli soldiers failing to rape Arab women is racist and open support for Hezbollah as part of the BDS campaign.

BDS and anti-Semitism go hand-in-hand, particularly in Europe. There is a thin line between organizing abusive disruptions of speeches, concerts and lectures by Israelis and throwing the punch or thrusting the knife.  That thin line has been breached in Europe, as harsh demonization of everything Israeli stokes and promotes anti-Semitic violence by Muslims to the silence or tacit endorsement of the European Left.

The rhetoric emanating from BDS supporters in the U.S. also is so extreme that even some harsh left-wing critics of Israeli policies have dared call it was it is.  It is no surprise that strong BDS supporters like Roger Waters of Pink Floyd conflate criticism of Israel and Jews, and BDS campus activists in South Africa sang “shoot the Jew.”

BDS, because of the façade of supporting Palestinian “civil society,” is in vogue in many corners of American academia. Those academics stand apart from the U.S. population, where support for Israel is at historic highs.

More at Professor Jacobson’s original, where he reviews that rather sadly humorous problem of tenured professors proclaiming their absolute academic freedom seeking to restrict the academic freedom of others.

But what amuses me more was noted in the portions I quoted above: in their lust — and I believe that is the right word — to be anti-Israel, the feminists and homosexual activists are siding against a country in which they are free to express themselves pretty much any way that they want, and live any way that they wish, and allying themselves with people who would treat women as second-class citizens — if that high; the Taliban, when in power, prohibited the education of girls entirely — and would hang homosexuals by the neck until dead.1 Our leftists very much support the actions against Israel, in support of the oh-so-noble Palestinians, who would have nothing to do with their leftist views were they living under Palestinian rule. Freedom of religion? Not under Arab rule! Freedom of speech? Say the wrong thing, and you can be beaten or arrested or jailed or even executed! Freedom of assembly? Perhaps they ought to ask the Egyptians. The right to privacy, freedom from unreasonable searches and self-incrimination? Those things don’t exist in the Islamic states. And, of course, the Holy Grail for the American left, abortion, is against both Muslim and civil laws.

Is Israel perfect? No, not by any means; no country is. And I understand the almost reflexive sympathy for the underdog that some people have, even though it is wholly misplaced when it comes to the Palestinians. But I simply cannot grasp how people can be so opposed to a free, liberal democracy in which the freedoms that they personally choose to exercise are guaranteed, and rally in support of another people who would almost completely restrict those freedoms and, in some cases, just flat kill them for being who they are. They are deliberately choosing to side against people who are far more like themselves, politically and intellectually, and with people who are completely alien to them and have no respect for their views or their wishes or their lives. That is stupidity on an amazing scale, and much of it demonstrated by people who are (purportedly, on paper) highly educated.
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  1. Most countries which use hanging as a form of execution, use a “drop” method, in which the condemned man’s neck is broken and he loses consciousness and dies almost immediately. In Iran, cranes are used, to lift the condemned, so that they are conscious as they are strangled to death.