President Trump Responds To Hillary Clinton’s Blame-mongering

Following Hillary Clinton's earlier proclamation that she "was on the way to winning before Jim Comey's letter and 'Russian' Wikileaks… scared off late voters," it appears President Trump has his own perspective on how he won the greatest upset election in US history…

"FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds! The phony… …Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?"

We leave it to Hillary to conclude this brief blamescaping with an admission she made later in today's interview

"I take absolute personal responsibility. I was the candidate. I was the person on the ballot."

Indeed you were.

Why There Will Never Be A Political Solution To America’s Problems

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

Why do things never seem to change no matter who we send to Washington? 

It seems like for decades many of us have been trying to change the direction of this country by engaging in the political process.  But no matter how hard we try, the downward spiral of our nation just continues to accelerate.  Just look at this latest spending deal.  Even though the American people gave the Republicans control of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives, this deal very closely resembles “an Obama administration-era budget”.  It increases spending even though we have already been adding more than a trillion dollars a year to the national debt, it specifically forbids the building of a border wall, it fully funds Planned Parenthood, and there are dozens of other concessions to the Democrats in it.  As I previously warned, these “negotiations” were a political rout of epic proportions.

Perhaps many of us were being highly unrealistic when we expected that Donald Trump could change things.  Because fixing America is going to take a lot more than getting the right number of “red” or “blue” politicians to Washington.  Rather, the truth is that the real problem lies in our hearts, and the corrupt politicians that currently represent us are simply a reflection of who we have become as a nation.

The generations of people that founded this nation and established it as the greatest republic that the world had ever seen had far different values than most Americans do today.

So until there is a dramatic shift in how most of us see the world, it is quite likely that not much in Washington will change.

Throughout the campaign, Donald Trump spoke boldly about “draining the swamp”, but this spending deal very much reflects the swamp’s priorities.  The Washington Post has published a list of eight ways that “Trump got rolled in his first budget negotiation”, and in this case the Post is quite correct…

1. There are explicit restrictions to block the border wall.

 

2. Non-defense domestic spending will go up, despite the Trump team’s insistence he wouldn’t let that happen.

 

3. Barack Obama’s cancer moonshot is generously funded.

 

4. Trump fought to cut the Environmental Protection Agency by a third. The final deal trims its budget by just 1 percent, with no staff cuts.

 

5. He didn’t defund Planned Parenthood.

 

6. The president got less than half as much for the military as he said was necessary.

 

7. Democrats say they forced Republicans to withdraw more than 160 riders.

 

8. To keep negotiations moving, the White House already agreed last week to continue paying Obamacare subsidies.

In essence, the Democrats got virtually everything that they wanted, and the Republicans got next to nothing.

Trump and the Republicans are promising that they will fight harder “next time”, but we have already heard that empty promise from Republicans year after year going all the way back to 2011.

Among many other conservative pundits, author Daniel Horowitz is absolutely blasting these “weak-kneed Republicans”

Now, with control of all three branches and a president who sold himself in the primaries as the antithesis of weak-kneed Republicans who don’t know the first thing about tough negotiations, we are in the exact same position. Last night, President Trump signaled that, after not even fighting on refugee resettlement and Planned Parenthood, he would cave on the final budget issue – the funding of the border fence. But fear not, he’ll resume his demand … the next time!

 

This degree of capitulation, with control of all three branches, is impressing even me … and I had low expectations of this president and this party. They have managed to get run over by a parked car. It’s truly breathtaking to contrast the performance of Democrats in the spring of 2009 with what Republicans have done today with all three branches. At this time in 2009, Democrats passed the bailouts, the stimulus, the first round of financial regulations, an equal pay bill, SCHIP expansion, and laid the groundwork for other, bigger proposals, such as cap and trade and Obamacare. Then they got everything they wanted in the March 2009 omnibus bill, and a number of GOP senators voted for it. We, on the other hand, are left with nothing.

And even the mainstream media is admitting that the Democrats made out like bandits in this deal.

Just check out the following quotes

  • “Overall, the compromise resembles more of an Obama administration-era budget than a Trump one,” Bloomberg reports.
  • The Associated Press calls it “a lowest-common-denominator measure that won’t look too much different than the deal that could have been struck on Obama’s watch last year.”
  • Reuters: “While Republicans control the House, Senate and White House, Democrats scored … significant victories in the deal.”
  • The Los Angeles Times describes the agreement as “something of an embarrassment to the White House”: “Trump engineered the fiscal standoff shortly after he was elected, insisting late last year that Congress should fund the government for only a few months so he could put his stamp on federal spending as the new president.”

If Trump can’t get his priorities funded now, do you think that the Democrats will somehow become more agreeable after he has spent a year or two in the White House?

Of course not.

If there ever was going to be a border wall, it was going to happen now.

If Planned Parenthood was ever going to be defunded, it was going to happen now.

The next “big battle” is going to be over a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, but the truth is that “Trumpcare” is going to end up looking very much like Obamacare.

Instead of repealing it, the Republicans are trying to “fix” Obamacare, and that is kind of like going to the dump and trying to “fix” a big, steaming pile of garbage.

But like I explained earlier, we should not expect things to move in a positive direction in Washington D.C. until the values of those representing us change.

At this point, there are only a few dozen members of the House and a handful of members of the Senate that even give lip service to the values of our founders.

And until our values change, we are not going to send representatives to Washington that share the values of our founders.

Sadly, most Americans know very little about the history of early America.  I would encourage everyone to look into why our founders came to this country in the first place, what they believed was most important in life, and how they viewed the world.

If we ever want to “make America great again”, we need to return to those values.  Otherwise, we are just blowing a lot of hot air.

China Issues Unprecedented Warning To Citizens In North Korea: Return Home

In an unprecedented move, the Chinese Embassy in North Korea has advised Korean-Chinese residents to return home amid concern that the North's military provocations may trigger a U.S. attack on the North.

The Korea Times reports that the embassy began sending the message on Apr. 20, five days before the North celebrated the 85th anniversary of the Korean People's Army with a show of military power, according to Radio Free Asia (a U.S.-based station specializes in North Korea).

The station cited a Korean-Chinese living in the North's capital, who said he left for China late last month after the embassy contacted him. He said he has been visiting China every two to three months but, after being told he should "stay in China for a while," left North Korea a month early.

"The embassy has never given such a warning. I was worried and left the country in a hurry," said the man, whose name was withheld.

But he said that most Korean-Chinese residents in Pyongyang were ignoring the message.

The city's "peaceful" atmosphere, despite the global crisis due to the state's threats involving missiles and nuclear tests, might have kept them unaware of the situation, he added.

The embassy's warning indicates that China is worried that the saber-rattling North and U.S. moves to destabilize the Kim Jong-un regime might affect Chinese citizens abroad.

“It’s A Public Health Crisis” – Is Pittsburgh The Next Flint?

We have noted that Flint, Michigan is not alone with its 'poisonous water' problems, it appears Pittsburgh is near a tipping point as WSJ reports, according to EPA data, a total of seven U.S. water systems, which each serve more than 100,000 people, had lead concentrations above the federal action level of 15 parts per billion in recent months. "It's a public health crisis," warns one city official.

A Reuters investigation late last year uncovered nearly 3,000 different communities across the U.S. with lead levels higher than those found in Flint, Michigan, which has been the center of an ongoing water contamination crisis since 2014.

click image for link to interactive map…

Last week, Michigan’s legislature voted to send $100 million in federal funds to Flint for lead-pipe replacements and other infrastructure upgrades. The funds were approved by the Obama administration in December.

And now, as The Wall Street Journal reports, Pittsburgh, which exceeded the lead limit last July for the first time, is drawing renewed attention to the problems besetting crumbling and heavily indebted water systems nationwide. Pittsburgh’s troubled water authority has nearly $1 billion in debt and has been plagued with allegations of overbilling and water-main breaks. It began testing for lead in the late 1990s.

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority serves about two-thirds of the city, or about 250,000 people. It treats water from the Allegheny River and distributes it through 1,000 miles of pipes to 81,000 homes.

The authority estimates that a quarter of those homes have lead pipes.

The lead levels in Pittsburgh’s drinking water, based on sampling from a limited number of homes, reached 22 parts per billion last July and fell to 18 ppb in December. The next test results will be released in June. Exceeding the 15 ppb federal action level triggers increased regulatory oversight, and cities are typically required to begin replacing lead pipes and launch a public awareness campaign about the hazards of lead in water.

“It’s a public health crisis,” said Ms. Wagner, a Democrat who has criticized the mayor for not responding quickly enough when higher lead levels were found last year.

Marc Edwards, a Virginia Tech researcher who helped uncover lead contamination in Flint, said Pittsburgh’s lead woes are representative of issues facing many older cities. No one in Pittsburgh with a lead pipe should be drinking the water without a filter,” he said.

He criticized Pittsburgh officials for replacing only the public portion of lead service lines. In the short term, the disruption typically causes more lead to be released from the remaining lead pipe, he said.

“We have old pipes, and some of those pipes are lead,” said Mayor Bill Peduto, a Democrat. “What took many decades to happen with the system itself will take at least a decade to solve.”

What Nassim Taleb Can Teach Us

Authored by Jeff Deist via The Mises Institute,

Nassim Nicholas Taleb does not suffer fools gladly. Author of several books including The Black Swan and Antifragile, Taleb is known for his incendiary personality almost as much as his brilliant work in probability theory. Readers of his very active Medium page will experience a formidable mind with no patience for trendy groupthink, a mind that takes special pleasure in lambasting elites with no “skin in the game.”

“Skin in the game” is a central (and welcome) tenet of Taleb’s worldview: that we are increasingly ruled by an intellectual, political, economic, and cultural elite that does not bear the consequences of the decisions it makes on our (unwitting) behalf. In this sense Taleb is thoroughly populist, and in fact he correctly identified trends behind the Crash of ’08, Brexit, and Trump’s election. He understands that globalism is not liberalism, that identity and culture matter, and most of all that elites don’t understand how randomness and uncertainty threaten the inevitability of a global order. 

Thus Taleb argues the intelligentsia are not only haughty when they plan our future, they are also clueless: fragility abounds, and threatens to crash the Party of Davos. Hubris results from unearned wealth and prominence, coupled with a blindness to the Black Swans lying in wait.   

Born in Lebanon to a prominent family, educated at the University of Paris and Wharton, Taleb was poised to become part of the cognitive aristocracy he mocks. But he was never one of them. His hard-nosed persona, enhanced by a dedication to rigorous deadlift workouts, is quickly evident in his notorious interviews and very public Twitter brawls. His willingness to delve into history and and religion sets him apart from the neoliberals who hope to wish them both away. Taleb writes for the intelligent everyman, and this blue-collar approach also extends to his description of himself as a “private intellectual, not a public one.”

Austro-libertarians will find much to admire in his brilliant takedowns of the “pseudo-experts” he identifies in academia, journalism, politics, and science. But Taleb is no Austrian. While he holds a decidedly jaundiced view of most economists—calling for the Nobel in economics to be cancelled— he does not denounce economics as a field of study per se. Nor does he claim heterodox or reactionary inclinations:

“I am as orthodox neoclassical economist as they make them, not a fringe heterodox or something. I just do not like unreliable models that use some math like regression and miss a layer of stochasticity, and get wrong results, and I hate sloppy mechanistic reliance on bad statistical methods. I do not like models that fragilize. I do not like models that work on someone's computer but not in reality. This is standard economics.”

While he is not averse to using mathematics and statistics in economics, Austrians share his perspective that both are tools for economists. Statistical models are mostly bunk that provide no value to economic forecasters or investors, despite the highly paid Ivy League quants who produce them. In fact, models often have harmful effect of creating a false sense of relative certainty where none exists. It's refreshing to see Taleb make this claim so effectively from outside the Austrian paradigm of praxeology. But if his view of economics is mainline, his tone is Rothbard meets Hayek:

I'm in favour of religion as a tamer of arrogance. For a Greek Orthodox, the idea of God as creator outside the human is not God in God's terms. My God isn't the God of George Bush.

 

We know from chaos theory that even if you had a perfect model of the world, you'd need infinite precision in order to predict future events. With sociopolitical or economic phenomena, we don't have anything like that.

Taleb does see a role for government, and supports consumer protection laws against predatory lending as one example. But he also purportedly supported Ron Paul in the 2012 presidential election, and has indeed mentioned Hayek as an influence regarding the dispersal of knowledge in society. He’s also applied special venom to several worthy targets in professional economics, including Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, and Paul Samuelson. Taleb labels as “Stiglitz Syndrome” the process whereby public intellectuals suffer no financial or career consequences for being spectacularly wrong in their predictions.

This is especially galling to a man who correctly called (and in fact became wealthy as a result of) economic crises in 1987 and 2008. In both instances, Taleb had “skin in the game” as a market trader. His own money and reputation were on the line, unlike the court economists in the New York Times.

For an excellent (albeit indirect) analysis of how Austrians and libertarians can advance their cause from a minority position, Taleb’s recent article The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority is a must-read. He reminds us that a small minority with courage—the most important form of skin in the game— can prevail over the slumbering masses. And he also reminds us that courageous individual actors, not 51% mass movements, drive real changes in every society:

The entire growth of society, whether economic or moral, comes from a small number of people. So we close this chapter with a remark about the role of skin in the game in the condition of society. Society doesn’t evolve by consensus, voting, majority, committees, verbose meeting, academic conferences, and polling; only a few people suffice to disproportionately move the needle. All one needs is an asymmetric rule somewhere. And asymmetry is present in about everything.

Economics is lost, mired in a quicksand of predictive models that fail to predict and macro-analysis that fails to analyze.

Democratic politics is lost, ruined by bad actors with perverse incentives to burn capital rather than accumulate it.

And academia is lost, still stuck in a centuries-old model run by hopelessly sheltered PhDs.

Taleb gets all of this, and does an admirable job of explaining it. Austro-libertarians would be wise to see him as a valuable ally and voice in the ongoing fight against states, central banks, and planners of all stripes.