The Deep State

The movie “American Made” starring Tom Cruise is based on a somewhat exaggerated account of Barry Seal. What is likely not exaggerated is the involvement of the CIA and politicians from Arkansas, namely the Clintons.

The CIA are by law prohibited from running operations inside the United States. However I do not think that anything so pedantic as “the law” actually stops the CIA from doing anything, especially considering how compartmentalized intelligence agencies are it might just be “creative funding solutions” that people overlook because the results look good.

The coincidental death of people who either claim to have evidence against the Clintons showing up dead from things like shooting themselves in the back of the head, or having their aircraft spontaneously explode, hasn’t gone unnoticed by many of the American public. The question is, who is pulling the trigger and rigging the planes? Ironically the CIA has an entire training program to ensure that they have personnel well trained to do such activities.

The latest buzz, on Jeffrey Epstein being “someone’s intelligence asset” makes sense if that intelligence agency was the CIA, and its purpose in using Epstein was to gain leverage against politicians and business leaders who could prove to be useful to the CIA at a later time. Consider that Epstein wasn’t eliminated to protect the Clintons, but eliminated to protect the CIA.

I can’t prove any of this of course, and I wouldn’t dig too deeply considering that it seems quite clear that if the CIA has no qualms about protecting its interests by assassinating American citizens it would have no qualms about assassinating me to protect its interests. I also know that journalists who have gone digging, even as recently as the past few years, have been quietly told to back off:

Now, I would be remiss if I did not point out that George H.W. Bush served as the 11th director of the CIA from ’77 to ’78, and had a close working relationship with Bill Casey, the Director of the CIA from ’81 through ’87 when all this drama out in Mena, Arkansas was happening. Bill Casey was an old school OSS alumni, and killing communists while giving the US Government some thin layer of plausible deniability seems like a legitimate play.

So there you have it, from Mena to Manhattan, people being eliminated to protect the influence some CIA agent/director gained through years of tradecraft in drugs and sex trafficking children. The deep state didn’t every really care if it was an R or a D in power, as they had the dirt on enough of the power players to make sure that the CIA got its way.

Whether it’s true or not, it’d make a helluva screenplay.

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Red Flag Lawfare

Laws a punitive, not preventative. Politicians will use any excuse to ignore this rule in order to “prevent another tragedy!”

The newest round of “gun control” is the concept of “Red Flag Laws.” This concept is that if an individual has enough “red flags” that police will be able to send the SWAT team, kill this individual or confiscate that individuals private property, whichever comes first, in order to prevent someone who might commit murder from committing murder.

But…who is against preventing murder? It’s a politically vulnerable position to take to come out against giving the state more power to prevent murder, so Republicans from Trump to Dan Crenshaw have voiced support for “red flag laws.”

However, as the person who calls 911 on open carriers, as college girls who claim rape because he dumped her, and as the wife who surfed for child pornography on her husband’s computer illustrate, there are plenty of people who are more than willing to use the legal system to attack other people. “Red Flag Laws” are completely ripe for this sort of abuse, and as the “rubber stamp this warrant based on single source information” judiciary is somehow supposed to serve as a “check” in the “system of checks and balances” I have no faith that the judiciary will in fact serve as any sort of limit on abuse.

If anyone denies that this sort of abuse of the system happens, I ask them to explain why cases of “SWATting” have doubled from 2011 to 2019:

If anyone denies that people maliciously use legal mechanisms meant to stop violence, I challenge them to take their argument over to restraining order abuse and see how far their belief in unicorns gets them.

Swatting, restraining order abuse, are both cases of individuals using the power of the State that was intended to stop criminals and domestic violence in a manner that harms a private citizen. That I’m not hurting for examples in either of these two particular subjects means that if “Red Flag Laws” pass at the Federal level, I wouldn’t hurt for examples of malicious misuse of “Red Flagging” attacks on individuals.

But, it is still a politically tenuous position to come out against trying to prevent the next mass shooter, so I hope that people will spread the word about how dangerous “Red Flag Laws” are to individuals.

As an illustration, imagine if you will a young woman, mid-20s who we will call Julia, who finally worked up the courage to leave her abusive partner and take their two children. But her abusive partner files for custody of the children, files for a restraining order against Julia based on nothing more than individual testimony. So Julia doesn’t have her kids, and can’t legally go to where she knows they are, and for a little bit is living with her brother, a military veteran who owns a hunting rifle and a pistol for protection. Julia’s abuser makes a highly detailed fake social media account for the brother, and calls in a “Red Flag” tip, which causes SWAT to respond to the “dangerous veteran.” Thankfully no one dies this time, but Julia’s brother’s firearms are confiscated “pending a mental health review and judicial order to release them” and now Julia and her brother have no means to defend themselves when Julia’s abuser murders them five days later. This scenario is completely plausible.

So “Red Flag Laws” are ripe for abuse, violate the concept of due process, and have never been shown to reduce violent crime at the state level in the states where Red Flag Laws are on the books. But still, politicians don’t want to be seen as enabling the next mass shooter, and so we are in danger of getting bad laws on the books.

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Economics, never trust a Leftist

I read Vox so you don’t have to, but in case you want to read what inspired me to write this post, here is the link:

So the author, Jared Bernstein, lays out “4 myths” and explains why freshmen socialist AOC is brilliant for questioning the employment rate.

Well, lets not talk employment and unemployment rate, lets talk “labor participation rate.” This is going to paint an entirely different picture of the economy than the unemployment rate.

Yeah… a low unemployment number either means that people are getting hired back, or they’ve stopped being eligible to collect unemployment. The Obama Administration, of which Jared Bernstein was an “economic advisor” oversaw that precipitous, steady drop in labor participation rate. President Trump’s administration, has not been able to increase the labor participation rate, which means that job creation is expanding at pace with population (people between 16 and 65 entering the workforce through birthdays, immigrations, etc at a surplus compared to people exiting the workforce through death, aging out, immigrating away, etc). To put this into perspective, about 4 million people in the US will turn 16 before the end of the current year. If they don’t get a job, they don’t go into the “participating” pool.

Ocasio-Cortez didn’t waste time poking holes at it. She pointed out that the unemployment rate, now 3.7 percent, has fallen well below the Fed’s estimates of the natural rate, which it forecast at 5.4 percent in 2014 and 4.2 percent today. And yet, she noted, “inflation is no higher today than it was five years ago. Given these facts, do you think it’s possible that the Fed’s estimates of the lowest sustainable unemployment rate may have been too high?”

Powell’s response, to his credit, was as simple and direct as you’ll ever hear from a central banker: “Absolutely.” He elaborated: “I think we’ve learned that … this is something you can’t identify directly. I think we’ve learned that it’s lower than we thought, substantially lower than we thought in the past.”

While the author has many good things to say about AOC, he doesn’t point out that we are still in a historic low period for labor participation, which means that unemployment is now irrelevant to inflation because of HOW unemployment is calculated (by people filing for unemployment) rather than any measure of the “economic health” of the workforce.

We could have 0% unemployment now, and still have fewer people working than before Obama took office because we are 4% short on the labor participation rates.

Now, some people will not be in the labor participation numbers for personal reasons, such as a stay at home parent, or retiring early, or permanent disability. By no means am I advocating to try to get 100% labor pool participation.

The natural rate of unemployment that AOC questioned is one such idea (more on that below). There are three others worth singling out:

  • that globalization is a win-win proposition for all, an idea that has deservedly taken a battering in recent years;

Ok, despite the fact that this is a huge straw man, globalization is a win-win with caveats. The biggest caveat is that trading partners won’t “militarize” their economy to achieve leverage against the U.S. and won’t try to circumvent free markets. Clearly (and if you’ve read this blog for a while you have probably read my thoughts on Chinese weaponization of their economy). On it’s own, globalization is just a thing, and requires context between trading partners on everything from coffee (are you destroying the Amazon, or will we pay a premium for sustainably grown coffee?)  to diamonds (are you supporting child labor in Tanzania?). Free trade, and globalism, is a net win for the United States, but it will not always be a net win for U.S. manufacturing, because there are a lot of places where manufacturing is cheaper.

Then again, Trump sinking the Pacific Partnership deal inherently recognized that it wasn’t a good deal for the US, so at least the Trump administration understands the caveats of globalism.

  • that federal budget deficits “crowd out” private investments; and

This is another broad generalization, because budget deficits CAN crowd out private investment under certain financial circumstances. Such as when market risk is high for low reward and government bonds are very attractive to private capital.

  • that the minimum wage will only have negative effects on jobs and workers.

Well, how to address this. Minimum wage will have a net negative effect by reducing jobs, and reducing hours available for workers to work. Bernie Sanders is now catching flack for cutting workers hours to get them the 15 dollar an hour wage he supports. Many minimum wage jobs in the food industry exist on margins that cannot support their current workforce at 15 dollars an hour, so either they have to raise prices on the consumer and hope that they don’t lose consumers, or they have to cut employment costs.

A self service kiosk or checkout terminal is not “free” to an employer. But when one of those costs less than the yearly salary for an employee, and doesn’t ever take a sick day or miss a shift, it looks like an absolute bargain.

Case in point about minimum wage, look at the labor participation rate again. We have low unemployment, but we don’t see increasing labor participation. Because those jobs that are lost to automation in the form of kiosks and self checkout terminals, are not coming back. It will take a time for the economy to progress to the point where new human specific jobs are generated.

I’m not an economist, and I just showed you the critical reasoning gaps from someone who was Vice President Biden’s economics advisor. Sure he’s probably got much more in depth analysis not written into the Vox article, but he also was part of the administration that saw a 4% drop in labor participation. I’m not sure his advice is worth crap.

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Serpa Holsters, they don’t suck, you are just using them wrong.

Do you jump out of perfectly good aircraft? Do you enjoy kicking in doors and shooting bad guys in the face with an M4 while carrying a pistol as a transition weapon? Do you enjoy wearing 35 lbs of body armor while rucking 55 lbs of gear? If so, the Serpa holster is for you!

If you aren’t doing any of those things, the Serpa Holster, is NOT for you.

The Serpa was designed to positively retain an M9 pistol when you’ve got a metric crap ton of stuff strapped to your body. Body Armor, Helmet, Rucksack, Radio, Ammo Pouches, Grenade Pouches, IFAK, Hydration Pouch. When you have all that crap on you, you don’t want a non-positive retention “friction grip” kydex holster trying desperately to keep your M9 in place.

So if you are air softing or LARPing some sort of Call of Duty, by all means use a Serpa, it’s great for keeping your backup pistol strapped to your chest, or leg, or wherever the hell else you put it. If you are relying on your pistol as your PRIMARY weapon, aren’t acting as part of a team where someone else can cover you while you deal with a kit issue, then DON’T USE A SERPA.

Now, there are other positive retention holsters out there that are going to work just as good or better than a Serpa for Seal Team Six or Delta Force or MARSOC or the Ranger Regiment. Those guys will get what they want, and use what they want. You can too, buy a holster that fits your specific style of defensive carry. Even a floppy nylon holster that fits your waistband and works with your belt to retain your pistol comfortably is a better choice than a Serpa, although Kydex is better for retention.

I guess a better title would be “Serpa’s suck for civilian concealed carry, work actually pretty well in a war zone.”

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Socialism, Nazis, and Keynesian Economics

The Nazi era in Germany is an extremely interesting bit of history, and one that deserves a large amount of study as the Nazi’s present a bit of a conundrum to orthodox political and economic thinkers.

1. The Nazi era is the premier historical example of the success of Keynesian stimulus, that is government spending to get the economy back on track. This is interesting because Keynes theories about government spending can only work to stimulate a free market.

2. The Nazi era is also the premier historical example of a brand of socialism that did work, in terms of nationalization of industries (including banking). However, this success came at the same price as other Socialist countries, by confiscating private wealth and killing people to keep it. The Nazi’s did NOT have a free market.

This “free market/not free market” problem is one every political power struggles with, how to allow enough freedom that the market is healthy, while at the same time commanding the market to do the bidding of the political party. The Nazi’s did it, the Chinese are doing it now. The Russians are getting much better at it. However, there is hardly a lineup of people trying to get into China that don’t also come from even more repressive countries (such as North Korea, where China must seem like a glittering beacon of freedom by comparison).

What we should take away from the history of the Nazis, and their control over the economy, is that it IS POSSIBLE for a central government to create economic gains and stimulus. And that should scare the living hell out of you, because the steps necessary to do that left millions dead in Germany (and occupied countries), and Tens of Millions in Russia and China. Socialism is always one purge away from true success, and the Nazis showed that it’s completely doable if you can scapegoat the people you are purging.

However, Donald Trump is not the literal reincarnation of Hitler. Hitler rose to power on the promise of restoring German greatness as a result of the loss of World War One and the shame of the resulting Treaty of Versailles. Trump ran on a slogan of “Make America Great Again” which is a blatant appeal to nostalgia (even a nostalgia for an America that might never have been). Trump does not have the star power that Hitler did, and his “divisive” personality ensures he will never enjoy Hitler’s record 98% approval ratings. Additionally, Trump is much more likely to have a positive impact on the economy by minimizing rather than increasing government interference.

If you want to look to the 1930s for a comparison, the FDR to Obama comparison is much more apt. Very similar government intervention into the private sector, with the same overall results on the economy.

The take away? When the government seeks to control the economy, to make it work there must be sacrifices. For the Nazis it was the Jews, and for the modern left it is supposedly “the rich” or “the 1%” but in reality it is the middle class.

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Do Blue States Subsidize Red States? Or the Other Way Around?

It really depends on how you run the numbers.

This argument “high tax blue states subsidize low tax red states!” or the other way around, when talking about tax policy. The typical states that authors bring up will be California, Mississippi, and New York. One west cost blue, one east coast blue, and one southern red.

So the first question, is do we treat all “Federal Spending” the same? I like to start this off with a “no.” Since there is not an even distribution of military bases across the states, it makes sense to eliminate military spending from the conversation. For example, Montana has very few military bases, and Texas has quite a few military bases. I don’t want to ignore the economic benefit of the military presence in a state, but I want to put it aside as Federal spending in a state, not Federal spending FOR a state.

The second thing I like to remove, is Federal salaries and retirement spending in a state. Once again, this is Federal spending for Federal purposes, not State purposes. For things like “retirement spending” former Federal employees have freedom to choose whether to retire to Florida or not, so it makes sense to not count that as a wealth transfer from a any state to any other state, as it should rightly be counted as a Federal expenditure.

So what that leaves us with, is non-retirement benefits, grants, and contracts. All these numbers are from Wikipedia, which is honestly as legit as a media source as anything else these days.

STATE Non-Retirement Grants Contracts TOTAL
Virginia $2,168 $1,099 $6,197 $9,464
Maryland $2,552 $1,678 $4,318 $8,548
New Mexico $2,624 $2,249 $3,211 $8,084
Alaska $2,162 $3,604 $2,215 $7,981
Connecticut $2,927 $1,960 $2,892 $7,779
Massachusetts $3,107 $2,247 $2,177 $7,531
Maine $2,993 $2,399 $1,565 $6,957
Mississippi $3,181 $1,723 $1,934 $6,838
Vermont $2,760 $3,013 $628 $6,401
Alabama $3,033 $1,273 $2,000 $6,306
Missouri $2,749 $1,914 $1,643 $6,306
New York $3,046 $2,690 $547 $6,283
Rhode Island $3,252 $2,292 $729 $6,273
Pennsylvania $3,158 $1,714 $1,267 $6,139
Arizona $2,756 $1,367 $1,864 $5,987
West Virginia $3,158 $2,153 $622 $5,933
Kentucky $2,958 $1,502 $1,464 $5,924
Hawaii $2,453 $2,052 $1,351 $5,856
Louisiana $2,994 $1,950 $743 $5,687
Washington $2,394 $1,512 $1,683 $5,589
New Jersey $3,106 $1,730 $724 $5,560
Tennessee $2,938 $1,444 $1,176 $5,558
California $2,570 $1,740 $1,243 $5,553
Michigan $3,179 $1,666 $486 $5,331
Idaho $2,251 $1,474 $1,597 $5,322
Texas $2,455 $1,330 $1,477 $5,262
South Carolina $2,856 $1,193 $1,139 $5,188
Florida $3,403 $975 $721 $5,099
Delaware $2,882 $1,882 $294 $5,058
New Hampshire $2,440 $1,246 $1,351 $5,037
Montana $2,356 $2,238 $436 $5,030
Arkansas $2,810 $1,853 $319 $4,982
Colorado $2,068 $1,346 $1,521 $4,935
North Dakota $2,072 $2,165 $678 $4,915
South Dakota $2,348 $1,844 $669 $4,861
Oklahoma $2,636 $1,662 $528 $4,826
Ohio $2,868 $1,402 $541 $4,811
North Carolina $2,750 $1,442 $503 $4,695
Illinois $2,776 $1,367 $504 $4,647
Indiana $2,682 $1,436 $478 $4,596
Minnesota $2,354 $1,670 $562 $4,586
Iowa $2,491 $1,548 $518 $4,557
Wisconsin $2,469 $1,502 $561 $4,532
Georgia $2,561 $1,163 $763 $4,487
Nevada $2,448 $975 $1,033 $4,456
Wyoming $1,986 $1,856 $544 $4,386
Nebraska $2,301 $1,359 $518 $4,178
Oregon $2,669 $1,149 $286 $4,104
Kansas $2,511 $652 $594 $3,757
Utah $1,740 $1,212 $771 $3,723

Now it could be argued that “contracts” should be pulled because these are contracts for the Federal Government, and not necessarily focused on spending FOR the states.

State Non-Retirement Grants TOTAL
Vermont $2,760 $3,013 $5,773
Alaska $2,162 $3,604 $5,766
New York $3,046 $2,690 $5,736
Rhode Island $3,252 $2,292 $5,544
Maine $2,993 $2,399 $5,392
Massachusetts $3,107 $2,247 $5,354
West Virginia $3,158 $2,153 $5,311
Louisiana $2,994 $1,950 $4,944
Mississippi $3,181 $1,723 $4,904
Connecticut $2,927 $1,960 $4,887
New Mexico $2,624 $2,249 $4,873
Pennsylvania $3,158 $1,714 $4,872
Michigan $3,179 $1,666 $4,845
New Jersey $3,106 $1,730 $4,836
Delaware $2,882 $1,882 $4,764
Missouri $2,749 $1,914 $4,663
Arkansas $2,810 $1,853 $4,663
Montana $2,356 $2,238 $4,594
Hawaii $2,453 $2,052 $4,505
Kentucky $2,958 $1,502 $4,460
Tennessee $2,938 $1,444 $4,382
Florida $3,403 $975 $4,378
California $2,570 $1,740 $4,310
Alabama $3,033 $1,273 $4,306
Oklahoma $2,636 $1,662 $4,298
Ohio $2,868 $1,402 $4,270
North Dakota $2,072 $2,165 $4,237
Maryland $2,552 $1,678 $4,230
South Dakota $2,348 $1,844 $4,192
North Carolina $2,750 $1,442 $4,192
Illinois $2,776 $1,367 $4,143
Arizona $2,756 $1,367 $4,123
Indiana $2,682 $1,436 $4,118
South Carolina $2,856 $1,193 $4,049
Iowa $2,491 $1,548 $4,039
Minnesota $2,354 $1,670 $4,024
Wisconsin $2,469 $1,502 $3,971
Washington $2,394 $1,512 $3,906
Wyoming $1,986 $1,856 $3,842
Oregon $2,669 $1,149 $3,818
Texas $2,455 $1,330 $3,785
Idaho $2,251 $1,474 $3,725
Georgia $2,561 $1,163 $3,724
New Hampshire $2,440 $1,246 $3,686
Nebraska $2,301 $1,359 $3,660
Nevada $2,448 $975 $3,423
Colorado $2,068 $1,346 $3,414
Virginia $2,168 $1,099 $3,267
Kansas $2,511 $652 $3,163
Utah $1,740 $1,212 $2,952

Poor Utah, coming in at the bottom of the list.

Now there are those who argue that it’s irresponsible to pull out military, salaries, retirement payments, and just count total state contributions to Federal and total Federal expenditures in that state. This is a method, but it ignores the reality that it is cheaper for the Federal Government to house, feed, and train the Army in Georgia than it is in Maryland. Significantly cheaper. This is why the DOD has been quietly shifting troops away from the DC area ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union. And low tax Red States are cheaper than high tax Blue States, which is why Texas has way more Army bases than California.

The other argument is “you need to distribute this per capita, otherwise it doesn’t paint the correct picture!” is another argument that I see made frequently. In short, not really. Once we’ve removed Federal Spending for Federal Purposes (Salaries, Retirement, Contracts) then all we are left with is non-retirement spending and grants, things that should be putting money into State stuff for State purposes. At that point, the population density and demographics of the states is irrelevant unless you want to really point out that Connecticut has more wealthy urban white families and Alabama has more poor rural black families. Of course somehow it’s “not racist” to demand the data be shown “per capita” but totally racist to point out how “per capita” is meaningless because Arizona has an entirely different ethnic/racial mix than Maine.

So to sum it up, Federal spending to the states for State purposes (welfare, medical, etc) is a smaller sum of money than total Federal spending per state. A lot of that total spending in cheaper states is because individuals choose to live in lower tax areas after retirement, or the Federal Government has deliberately placed a Federal activity (such as a military base) there to save cost versus a higher expense area. So it is a poor argument to say that “poor red state receives more money than it pays! tax policy meme for the win!” without actually looking at WHAT those Federal dollars are being spent on.

Here’s an example:

Top 10 States for Total Defense Spending
1: California, $49 billion
2: Virginia, $46.2 billion
3: Texas, $37.7 billion
4: Maryland, $21.1 billion
5: Florida, $19.2 billion
6: Washington, $15.2 billion
7: Connecticut, $15 billion
8: Georgia, $13.2 billion
9: Pennsylvania, $12.1 billion
10: Alabama, $10.9 billion

The states with the most total active duty and reserve members of the military, as of September 2017, were:

1. California: 184,540
2. Texas: 164,234
3. Virginia: 115,280
4. North Carolina: 112,951
5. Florida: 92,249
6. Georgia: 88,089
7. Washington: 64,066
8. South Carolina: 55,369
9. New York: 48,974
10. Colorado: 47,636

California comes in #1 both lists (huge Navy, USMC, and Air Force strategic basing for the Pacific theater), but Virginia costs more than Texas, but houses fewer troops. Maryland, coming in at #4 for expense, doesn’t even make the top ten list for most troops at all, although neither does Alabama or Pennsylvania. North and South Carolina look like absolute bargains as they are not on the top ten for total defense spending, but occupy position #4 and #8 for total troop strength. Notice that “Hawaii” is not on this list, but if you look at “per capita” there is loads of military spending in Hawaii (due to being strategically important for the Pacific theater).

The take away. If you look at total income earned by all women versus total income earned by all men, it’s easy to “prove” that there is a wage gap for women. When you control for individual choice, that gap goes away. When you look at “total tax revenues by state versus total Federal spending by state” it’s that same gross level of analysis that doesn’t actually inform anyone on the impacts of tax policy. The Federal government will often choose to spend money where they get the most “bang for the buck” the same as retired Federal employees choosing to move to areas with lower costs of living.

So anyone, Left or Right, who claims that state taxes have anything to do with prosperity or “subsidizing” other States, is full of horseshit if they can’t show how they did their math to end up at that conclusion, and as I’ve shown here, it’s not that hard to manipulate the data set to show whatever conclusion you want.

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Cocktail Time

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, my wife has an intolerance to wheat. This makes shopping more difficult, cooking more difficult, and even enjoying a libation more difficult. But not impossible. Last year for the holidays we needed to restock the booze cupboard, and during my research I found that Tito’s Handmade Vodka is certified gluten free, and Disaronno brand Amaretto is as well as the alcohol content is from distilled sugar beets or sugar cane.

1 part Disaronno
1 part Tito’s Vodka
1 part heavy cream

Mix together, serve over ice. The drink is creamy, sweet, with a hint of almonds and alcohol. Easily mistaken for a White Russian by sight, but not by taste.

Despite bourbon whiskey not being wheat or gluten free, I keep a bit on hand for my own medicinal purposes.

1 part Disaronno
2 parts bourbon whiskey
Orange twist for garnish

Mix, serve on the rocks. This drink makes good use of younger, less expensive straight bourbon whiskey that have a lot of cinnamon and fruit notes and is a nice way to serve up a cocktail without paying for top shelf whiskey. Save the older, more expensive whiskeys for sipping neat, straight, or on the rocks during special occasions.


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