Saturday, January 24, 2015

Revenge on the Cheesehead

U of Wisconsin's Menzie Chinn further embellishes his professional reputation by this;

Private Employment under Obama and Bush

Which he illustrates with (Obama = blue line, Bush = red line);
Apparently oblivious to the depth of the recession that began in December 2007. Which can be seen at this Bureau of Labor Statistics site;

With a companion table that lists the Employment to Population ratios from which the above graph is drawn. That table shows the EP at 62.9% for January 2008, but only at 59.2% this past December--i.e. after all that fabulous job creation during the Obama Administration.

Why Menzie failed to include the latter under the heading, Private Employment Under Obama and Bush, will go unexplained, we're confident.

Friday, January 23, 2015


The state of the state of Venezuela, in the hands of God, says the Commie in Chief. So, don't blame him;
“Oil will never cost $100 again but God will provide. Venezuela will never do without.”
Did God provide toilet paper, tortillas or milk?
The president turned his annual report into an electoral campaign pitch. During his almost three-hour speech, he attacked his adversaries and claimed to be the victim of a plot that seeks to topple his government and take advantage of dejected chavista voters during this election year. 
 Funny how Communist governments never manage to avoid plotters. So, roll out the usual suspects [our bold];
Starting February 1, the government will increase the minimum wage and pensions by 15 percent. It also plans to more than double the meager scholarships university students receive, from 200 to 500 bolivars each month, or about three dollars at black market exchange rates. Maduro has also promised to build 400,000 public housing units. The measures fall under the government’s social investment program, which it uses to show its great commitment to the vast majority of Venezuelans who are grappling with a 63-percent inflation rate, the highest in the world.
Which descended on Venezuela like a plague from you know who?

Sharpen the steering wheel spikes, Sam

Safety first...then the gentlemen will rev their engines;
The California Highway Patrol announced Thursday that it is stepping up enforcement of speed limits on the Waldo Grade in Marin as well as at the bridge and toll plaza. The reason is that in the days since the more secure movable median barrier was installed, the average speed of drivers on the approach from the north has jumped even though the speed limit was lowered from 55 to 45 miles per hour.
“We’re really seeing unreasonable speeds on the bridge, much faster than before,” said Priya David Clemens, a representative for the Golden Gate Bridge District. For whatever reason, including the possibility that drivers feel safer knowing a car won’t come barreling at them from the opposite direction, “we’ve noticed speeds going up,” Clemens said. “That’s why we asked the CHP to help us.”
Known to economists as the Peltzman Effect after economist Sam Peltzman, who published an article in the Journal of Political Economy in 1975; The Effects of Automobile Safety Regulation. In which he, after noting that the increased interference by the Federal Government in auto safety standards--padded dashboards, mandatory seat belts--had shown no effect in greater safety, posited that the driving public had probably compensated for their safer cars, by increasing the speed at which they drove.

Which led the late Gordon Tulloch to remark that then, the best way to reduce auto accidents would be to install a sharpened steel spike on the steering wheels of all auto, pointed at the drivers' hearts.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mister, We could use a man like Owen Lattimore again

It's not your grandfather's Communist Party in China;
CHINA’S leadership has issued guidelines advising universities to strengthen their ideological work in classrooms.
The State Council document told professors that they should champion Marxism, traditional culture and socialist core values.
The official Xinhua news agency reported that the guidelines issued on Monday by top officials within the Communist Party and the government’s powerful State Council required that ideological work should be treated as central and strategic in the country’s education system.
We guess they miss the U.S. State Department's China Hands--John Stewart Service, John Paton Davies, John Carter Vincent--as well as non-Johns like Sol Adler, Lauchlin Currie, Harry Dexter White, Frank Coe, as well as free agent adviser Owen Lattimore. Who wrote an article for the Overseas News Agency (Sept. 1946, after George C. Marshall's mission for Mao had failed) which reads, in part;
The Kuomintang [our wartime ally Chiang Kai-shek] are the war party in China. They have had monopoly control over the Chinese Government, and they do not want to negotiate, because real negotiations would lead to a compromise, and a compromise would mean surrender of some of their monopoly privileges. They would rather fight, but they know they cannot fight successfully without continuing American aid. Therefore they must try to see-saw between pretended negotiations and experimental use of military power until, if possible, they have persuaded American public opinion that the Communists are a stiff-necked generation of vipers who have no intention of ever being reasonable. Then, they hope, the Americans will finally get mad and tell the Kuomintang to go the limit, with full American backing.
The Communists are the peace party in China. The Chinese who are actual Communist party members, together with the regular Communist military forces, are not strong enough to fight a civil war on their own. They survive only because they have the support of millions of people who are not Communists. These people do not want civil war; they long for peace. They will not fight to protect the Communists. They will fight only to defend their own rights and interests. They are backing the Communists only because they fear the Kuomintang more than they fear the Communists.
[Bold in the above by HSIB]

No, the Chinese Communists today are on their own, as the Comrades at Morning Star: The People's Daily ruefully note;
The recent focus on continuing intensified work reflects the thinking of a document leaked last year that outlined the Chinese Communist Party leadership’s top perceived threats.
Known as Document Nine, it warned of “Western anti-China forces” and unhealthy criticism that “appears in public lectures, seminars, university classrooms, class discussion forums, civilian study groups and individual publications.”
Not like in the good old days when they could count on their foreign friends.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bruder Romantik

Barack and Gero, sittin' in a tree;
That was not the voice of a loser. It was the voice of a winner. Forget the Republicans, take no notice of them, they have given you nothing. The calls of many of the Democrats fearing an electoral defeat sounded almost like pleas to their president. But President Barack Obama didn't have to be told twice. The fact that his party had just suffered a crushing defeat in the midterm elections and had to address a completely Republican-controlled Congress for the first time seemed to be anything but a challenge for the US president.
A reinvigorated Barack Obama was bursting with power, self-confident, and aggressive during his address to Congress.
His pants were even sharply creased!

Shop til we have the drop on you

Don't over do it when shopping in Venezuela, Nick Maduro may be watching you speculate (that the shelves will soon be empty).

This second video is the reality of shopping in Venezuela: people standing for hours just to get into the stores, for who knows what is available. As one woman says at the end, that's what's normal in their country.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ordeal by Lattimore V (D Day celebration)

By one of the coincidences that makes life ironic, the BBC chose to post the above picture on its Democracy Day web-lebration. Which reminded us of a guy--note the Che Guevara button on the righteous lad's chest--who used to have a similarly loose definition of democracy. None other than Owen Lattimore, who was indicted for perjury for denying, under oath in front of a Senate subcommittee, that he'd ever promoted the philosophy of the Soviet Union.

Some excerpts from that noble martyr's 1945 book, The Solution in Asia;
If we are politically intelligent ....We may count on seeing, over wide areas, the partial acceptance of Marxist ideas and the adoption of one or another part of the Soviet system. [p. 24]
Maybe even in;
The Japanese, like other people, can adopt any system of society; but only if the changes made go beyond catchwords and permeate the whole society. Democracy in Japan cannot  be attained by changing the status of the emperor, but will require democratic changes throughout Japanese society.

There is in fact a democratic potential in Japanese life.... [p. 44]
But not like elsewhere;
It is a mistake to think that Japan could achieve "democratic monarchy" by reform. We Americans are likely to be misled by thinking of England as the example of a democratic monarchy. [p. 48]
Fortunately, thinks Owen (The architect of our Far Eastern policy, moi?) Lattimore, others are wiser in re Japan;
...the post-revolutionary Russians [aka, Communists], coming on the scene with fresh minds, or at least with preconceptions quite different from ours, were often right in stressing a number of phenomena whose importance we underestimated .... [p. 51]
 Owen ends chapter II with; Have we any idea what course to set? Then on to chapter III, REVOLUTION AND NATIONALISM IN CHINA;
Sun Yat-sen knew China could only be saved by a multiple process. Penetration into China of European and American thought had to be encouraged but the penetration of European and American control had to be pushed back. ....
Into this complicated situation there intruded the influence of the Russian Revolution, the effects of which were felt all over Asia. We in America have never yet properly grasped the character of that influence. Wherever we see Russian influence, we still tend to look for Russian "agitators" upsetting the minds of people who would not make trouble if they were not "stirred up by troublemakers" We cannot understand either the Asia of yesterday or the Asia of today and tomorrow if we resort to such absurd simplifications. [p. 67-68]
Unlike the sophisticated Owen Lattimore, that is. The table setting goes on for several more pages, but eventually we get to dine. On page 121, we're finally hit with the situation on the ground in China as Lattimore sees it in early 1945; The political structure under the Communists is more nearly democratic than it is under the Kuomintang.

I.e., Mao is the democrat, not our ally Chiang Kai-shek. Mao is aligned with the Russians, and;
One way of rating the prestige of any country is to compare what it does with what it says. With Russia, more than with any other country, what is done counts relatively more and what is said relatively less. What Russia says, more than what any other country says, is subject to distortion. [p. 129]
But those wise Orientals can see through that distortion;
The propaganda of what the Russians were actually doing in their own territory had a far more powerful effect of attraction in adjacent territory than any propaganda of theories; people who could not have been attracted by the abstract and invisible Marx were attracted by the concrete and visible Marxists. [p.137]
Who had been murdering their own countrymen wholesale, but apparently that didn't count. No, Owen assures the reader that for Koreans, Mongolians, Uighurs, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Tajiks;
To all of these peoples the Russians and the Soviet Union have a great power of attraction. In their eyes...the Soviet Union stands for strategic security, economic prosperity, technological progress, miraculous medicine, free education, equality of opportunity, and democracy: a powerful combination.
The fact that the Soviet Union also stands for democracy is not to be overlooked. It stands for democracy because it stands for all the other things. Here in America we are in the habit of taking a narrow view of foreign claimants to the status of democracy. If China, or Russia, or some other alien people does not measure up to the standards of the particular American modification of Anglo-Saxon democracy, we say that it is not democratic. [p. 139]
 Btw, the reader had to take Owen's word for all this, since he didn't bother to produce any evidence that that is how Asians themselves saw Russia and Communism. And anyone who disagreed with him was just a fascist like that Joe McCarthy (who came along later to remind Owen Lattimore just what he'd been claiming back in 1945).
Happy Democracy Day!