Monday, January 16, 2017

DOJ "Ankle-Bracelets" The Chicago and Baltimore Police

With only days left at her job as Attorney General, Loretta Lynch announced that she has reached a "consent decree" with the cities of Baltimore and Chicago.  Under the "consent" of those two cities, the police departments will be forced to address the findings of abuse and violations of civil rights that were found to be "systemically" present in the year-long investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ).  As a result, police compliance under these "consent decrees" will be subject to a federal judge's review over the next 5 years and extending beyond 5 years, if compliance isn't achieved.

What is interesting is that there are now 20 police departments under "consent decrees" in this country, and in every case, the civil rights and abuse charges were always the same.  They are always defined by the DOJ as "systemic".  In other words, the violations are part of a "planned" and police-wide policy.  Even a reasonable person might find that claim to be quite unbelievable. Especially when it involves the arrest and treatment of minorities.  More importantly, the word "systemic" implies that there is rarely fair treatment of minorities by the police in these communities. 

The Washington Post/Frontline studied the DOJ's record of changing police departments as a result of these "consent decrees" and the results were mixed.  In many of those communities that were under federal supervision, crime spiked.  Also, in many cases, compliance can take more than a decade because of a revolving door of police chiefs during the process, coupled with a high rate of officers quitting.  In Detroit, for example, the compliance took 11 years and required the replacement of 8 police chiefs.  In Los Angeles, the taxpayers paid $300 million for reforms.  I think this quote from the Washington Post/Frontline report says it all:
"Officer morale in some of the departments plummeted during the interventions, according to interviews. Collectively, the departments have cycled through 52 police chiefs as the agencies tried to meet federal demands. Some departments have struggled to sustain reforms once oversight ended, and in some cities, police relations with residents remain strained."
With murders and crimes rising in major cities,  the intervention by the DOJ appears not to be having a positive effect.  Barack Obama's DOJ -- more than any previous administration -- has been particularly heavy-handed at adjudicating against the police; always occurring after the shooting of an  unarmed black person reaches national prominence in the media.  That, in my opinion, makes these investigations both reactionary and political.  More importantly, these kinds of "scathing" reports by the DOJ are putting targets on the backs of our police officers as each new report concludes that they are racist.  More police were killed in 2016 than in any of the previous 5 years, combined.

References:

January 12, 2017: Baltimore, DOJ Reach Agreement On Consent Decree For Baltimore Police: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/01/12/509479934/baltimore-doj-reach-agreement-on-consent-decree-for-baltimore-police

January 13, 2017: Feds release scathing report on Chicago police abuse: https://www.yahoo.com/news/doj-release-report-chicago-police-abuses-062249940.html

The DOJ’s jaw-dropping report about the Cleveland Police Department: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/12/05/the-dojs-jaw-dropping-report-about-the-cleveland-police-department/?utm_term=.1d21c14fed22

The 12 key highlights from the DOJ’s scathing Ferguson report: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/03/04/the-12-key-highlights-from-the-dojs-scathing-ferguson-report/?utm_term=.223c48fde486

Ferguson’s Violent Crime Rate Skyrockets In Aftermath Of Brown Shooting: http://dailycaller.com/2016/09/28/fergusons-violent-crime-rate-skyrockets-in-aftermath-of-brown-shooting/

Washington Post/Frontline: Forced reforms, Mixed results Federal interventions at troubled police departments across the country drag on for years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2015/11/13/forced-reforms-mixed-results/

DOJ investigations: 20 departments under enforcement agreements: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-doj-investigations-police-departments-20170112-htmlstory.html

After Bloodiest Year, Baltimore Murder Rate Still Rising: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/06/06/bloodiest-year-baltimore-murder-rate-rising/

Last year, Cleveland suffered a 90 percent jump in homicides: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman/ct-ferguson-crime-cops-murders-laquan-mcdonald-perspec-0131-jm-20160129-column.html

More police officers shot and killed in 2016 than in past 5 years: http://www.nbc26.com/news/national/a-look-at-the-shootings-of-police-officers-in-2016

pb

Saturday, January 14, 2017

No Shock that John Lewis Calls Trump Presidency Illegitimate

I get it.  Democrats are mentally "grief-stricken" over Hillary Clinton's loss.  Most are in a state of "denial" which is the first of the 5 stages of recovery from that "mental" condition.  No one better exemplifies this more than Georgia Congressman John Lewis, who said that Trump was not a  "legitimate President" in this recent "Meet the Press" interview:


But, this was not a shock or surprise for Lewis.  In October,  the Clinton campaign ran this ad in which he was solely featured and where he said “She’s smart, she’s gifted. She is a leader. She is a fighter for what is right, what is fair, and what is just":



Obviously, Lewis was an "impassioned" supporter of Hillary Clinton. By default, it is safe to assume that he is just as impassioned about the Trump presidency.  Sadly, he will have to live with the results of this election, and by not accepting this Presidency, his actions, as a U.S. Congressman may be clouded by what appears to be his total disregard of our 45th President.

References:

The 5 Stages of Grief & Loss: http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/

John Lewis Praises Hillary in Campaign Video: http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2016/10/07/john-lewis-featured-in-hillary-clinton-video-new-america/

Friday, January 13, 2017

Obama's Economy in One Chart

At almost every opportunity, Barack Obama touts his record on the economy.  In fact, at his final press conference as President, he said this:
As I was preparing to take office, the unemployment rate was on its way to 10 percent. Today it is at 4.6 percent, the lowest in nearly a decade. We've seen the longest streak of job growth on record, and wages have grown faster over the past few years than at any time in the past 40.
Of course, the implication of that statement is that he, and he alone, saved the country.  That, without him, we would still be in recession.  But, guess what?  From the Federal Reserve's perspective, we pretty much still are.  The primary job of the Federal Reserve (our central bank) is to keep our economy stable and growing at a reasonable clip.  When the economy is overheating, the Federal Reserve increases its prime lending rate (the Fed Funds Rate) to make borrowing more expensive, and thus, retard economic (buying) activity.  On the other hand.  When the economy is in recession, the Fed Funds lending rate is lowered to stimulate economic activity by making borrowing cheaper and more attractive.  With that in mind, note this chart of Fed Funding rates (prime interest rates) over the last 65 years:

Click on Chart to Enlarge or Select Link Below
What this clearly shows, is that the Federal Reserve has kept its lending rates at the lowest levels in the last 65 years; and, for an unheard of period of time.  Still, almost 7-1/2 years past the end of the recession, rates are still below any other rates on the chart.  More importantly, this graph refutes Obama's claims of job and wage growth.  If those claims were really true, the economy would be firing on all cylinders and the Federal Reserve would be forced to raise interest rates to keep the economy from overheating due to too much buying activity.

However, just like most of Obama's claims, there are few facts to support them.


References:

Transcript: Obama’s end-of-year news conference on Syria, Russian hacking and more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/12/16/transcript-obamas-end-of-year-news-conference-on-syria-russian-hacking-and-more/?utm_term=.3e6ad3f0b6fd

Source of Chart: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/FEDFUNDS

Video: Federal Funding Activity Explained:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iK91Lq2Jz2Q

pb



Thursday, January 12, 2017

New York's Tuition-Free College Madness

During their runs for the White House, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders promised tuition-free college.  Now, with Trump's victory, that seemed to become a distant dream.  That is, until Democratic Governor Cuomo of New York tepped up and proposed that the state legislature make it a reality for up to one million eligible families who have children in the State, who want to attend state colleges.  He promises that the program will only cost $163 million a year; when fully phased in over 3 years.

Now, one thing I've learned about Democrats like Cuomo, is that they are terrible at math.  They almost always underestimate the true cost of any new entitlement program.  Once more, this appears to be the case for this tuition-free entitlement program.  Here's why.  The in-state annual cost of tuition for a New York public college student is $6,470.  Divide that into Cuomo's proposed $163 million a year and you end up with 25,193 students who could benefit from the program.  Yet, a million families would be eligible?  That's just 2-1/2% of all eligible families.  Also, when you talk about eligible families, you are not taking into account that some families could have more than one eligible child.

However, here's the biggest problem with any talk about free tuition.  As a country, we waste billions of dollars on college education.   Most students enrolled in a 4 year colleges don't graduate in 4 years.  In addition, the 6-year graduation rate for state colleges is still only 57%.  In other words, those that don't graduate in either 4 or 6 years, will be -- a waste of money.  Of course, under Cuomo's plan, that will be a waste of taxpayer's money.  But, its not just about money.  ACT (American College Testing) found that 60% of high school students that took their test were not qualified or prepared for college.  Yet, somehow, 66% of high school graduates go on to college.

There is also a bigger problem with college education in this country.  All too many workers have degrees that are worthless.  Career Builder, in 2014, found that 51% of those college students who graduated that year and found emplooyment, were working in jobs that didn't require a degree, which that brings me to another point.  Too much emphasis is placed on a college education.  What we should be doing is getting people into trade schools for professions that are desperately in need of trained job seekers.  This is where tuition-free education would carry more bang for the buck. Further, if you want to provide 4 years of college tuition, make sure it is targeted to students that are enrolled in programs that will provide the type of expertise that is so often lacking in the country.

References:

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Announces Free College Plan With Bernie Sanders: http://time.com/4621407/free-college-andrew-cuomo-bernie-sanders-new-york/

Bernie Sanders is wrong: College is not a right: http://theweek.com/articles/553857/bernie-sanders-wrong-college-not-right

National Center for educational Statistics: College Graduation Rates: https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=40

ACT Shows 60% of High School Seniors Not College-ready: http://www.governing.com/news/state/mct-seniors-not-college-ready.html

Most High School Seniors Aren't College Or Career Ready, Says 'Nation's Report Card': http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/04/27/475628214/most-high-school-seniors-arent-college-or-career-ready-says-nations-report-card

Fewer U.S. Graduates Opt for College After High School: Last October, just 65.9 percent of people who had graduated from high school the previous spring had enrolled in college, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said this week. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/26/business/fewer-us-high-school-graduates-opt-for-college.html

51 Percent of Employed 2014 College Grads Are in Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree, Finds CareerBuilder Survey: http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?sd=10%2F9%2F2014&id=pr846&ed=10%2F9%2F2099

America's Skilled Trades Dilemma: Shortages Loom As Most-In-Demand Group Of Workers Ages:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/emsi/2013/03/07/americas-skilled-trades-dilemma-shortages-loom-as-most-in-demand-group-of-workers-ages/#3939ec4c4545


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Democrats and the Politics of Victims and Villians

I used to be a Democrat.  I grew up knowing nothing else because the extended families of both of my parents were all Democrats.  I firmly believed in the Democratic politics of "inclusion" and that the party embodied the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty:
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me..."
 I left the party when I realized that the so-called party of "inclusion" was actually a party of "exclusion" by only identifying with the victims in society.  If there are victims, then there are villains.  Hillary Clinton was the embodiment of that type of politics.  She stated that half of Trump supporters -- more than 30 million people -- were deplorable and were misogynists, racists, white supremacists,  and any other "ist" she could conjure up.  The victims of all those deplorable villains were women, blacks, gays, immigrants, Muslims, Hispanics, and many more.  She also villainized Wall Street and the banks by blaming them for the recession. She aligned herself with Black Lives Matter, and by doing so, effectively implied that all cops were racists.  Then, too, the poor were only poor because they were the victims of the rich. All this is merely an attempt to divide the country. 

Those who don't believe in same-sex marriage or abortion, are not automatically villains to those of us who are gay or women who support pro-choice.  But Democrats and Hillary think they are.  I believe this is one of the reasons that Democrats have lost so much legislative control.  They are purveyors of negativity. There is nothing at all positive about their message.  As a result, most American's -- those in the middle class -- can't see what's in it for them if they vote for a Democrat.  Of course, this is just my opinion but, something to consider.

References:

The Democratic Party Is Not One of Inclusiveness: http://time.com/4423975/democratic-party-divided/

Dem blame game rages over Clinton loss: http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/308600-dem-blame-game-rages-over-clinton-loss

Democrats must drop identity politics: http://www.denverpost.com/2016/11/15/democrats-must-drop-identity-politics/

Dems hit new low in state legislatures: http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/306736-dems-hit-new-low-in-state-legislatures

Obama’s legacy is a devastated Democratic Party: http://nypost.com/2016/12/25/obamas-legacy-is-a-devastated-democratic-party/

pb

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Dems Need to Blame Themselves for the Russian Hacking

Ever since Hillary Clinton lost the election, the Democrats have been on a constant campaign to blame Trump's win on Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee's (DNC's) email server.  But, the timeline of the hacking doesn't fit that narrative. The proof is in a mid-year news story from CNN.

Here's the two pertinent quotes from CNN in a story they published in July of 2016 titled "Sources: US officials warned DNC of hack months before the party acted":
"Federal investigators tried to warn the Democratic National Committee about a potential intrusion in their computer network months before the party moved to try to fix the problem, U.S. officials briefed on the probe tell CNN.
"The DNC brought in consultants from the private security firm CrowdStrike in April. And by the time suspected Russian hackers were kicked out of the DNC network in June [2016], the hackers had been inside for about a year."
Therefore, we now know that the Russian hacking actually started almost 1-1/2 years before the election of Donald Trump.

This is why the narrative that the Russian government wanted Trump to win the presidency is nothing but fake news.  Unless they had some miracle crystal ball, they started the hacking of the DNC well before anyone ever thought that Trump would be the GOP nominee, let alone be elected.  But, that's the story being concocted in order to prove that Hillary didn't lose because she was simply a bad candidate; or, at least worse than the other bad candidate.

References:

FBI took months to warn Democrats of suspected Russian role in hack: sources: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-cyber-democrats-reconstruct-idUSKCN10E09H

Sources: US officials warned DNC of hack months before the party acted: http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/25/politics/democratic-convention-dnc-emails-russia/

Monday, January 9, 2017

Will California Kill Its Cash Cows?

In the "Golden State" of California, dairy products are truly gold.  It is the state's number one agricultural commodity.  So, why would anyone in their right mind want to jeopardize this proverbial cash cow. Leave it to Governor Brown and the State Legislature of California to do just that.

In an effort to control the State's methane gas production from dairy cows, and save the world from climate change, farmers in the state must now control the methane production caused by cows.  In fact, by 2030, they must reduce the methane from cow farts and manure to levels that are 40% less than the measured levels of 2013.

The insanity of this law is that it isn't achievable, and it places a high financial burden on dairy farmers in the state.

Now, according to NASA, atmospheric methane production breaks down as follows:

As you can see, animal waste (manure) accounts for just 5% of the methane in our atmosphere.  16% comes from enteric fermentation (farts from ruminants like cows).  Thus, 21% of the total methane comes from these farm animals.  And, if only 5% is from manure, then manure management will address only 24% of the required 40% methane reduction. Thus, most of the reduction in methane from "Elsie" and her sisters is going to have to come from controlling cow farts.   I hardly think that diet and exercise is the solution.  Essentially, the only way to control cow farts is to get rid of cows.

Now, methane reduction from manure is achievable.  But, at a high cost.  This can be done by building anaerobic digesters.  Manure must be collected and placed in a custom airtight chamber and through a process of fermentation, a flammable gas is produced and contained.  Then, that gas is used to produce electricity that is sold back to the local electric utility.  In doing so, they lose the composting of manure that produced a high quality fertilizer that was used to enhance the feed in their grazing fields.  But, more importantly, there's the cost for "digesters".  Costs range from $1000 to 2000 per cow; depending on the size of the dairy farm.  Since there are 1.8 million head of dairy cows in the state, at best case ($1000 per cow), farmers would have to spend $1.8 billion in compliance.  $3.6 billion, worst case.   Since there are roughly 1500 farmers in the state, the average farmer will have to spend at least $1.2 million dollars to have a digester built on their property.  California dairy farmers are already losing money due to the drought and this added expense could see the shutdown of this industry in a State where farmers are already going bankrupt or moving elsewhere.

This is a perfect example of climate zealots not thinking about their actions.  Blinded by ideology, they are going to bring a lot of pain to a lot of people.  Then there is the consumer who will suffer higher prices for milk and milk products.

References:

Cow farts can now be regulated in California: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2016/09/20/cow-farts-can-now-be-regulated-in-california.html

California's New Cow Fart Regulations Totally Stink: http://reason.com/blog/2016/11/30/californias-new-cow-fart-regulations-tot

Source of Chart: Atmospheric Methane: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_methane

Anaerobic Digestion: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anaerobic_digestion

Cost of Anaerobic Digesters: http://articles.extension.org/pages/19461/economics-of-anaerobic-digesters-for-processing-animal-manure

Economy of California: http://www.netstate.com/economy/ca_economy.htm

Udder Confusion: Dairy Digester Development in California: http://biomassmagazine.com/articles/12062/udder-confusion-dairy-digester-development-in-california

California losing dairies, cows, production as prices fall: http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20160517/california-losing-dairies-cows-production-as-prices-fall

California Livestock and Dairy: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/statistics/pdfs/2013/LivestockandDairy.pdf

pb