Thursday, June 17, 2021

Supreme Court Backs Catholic Foster Care Agency in Gay Rights Case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously sided with a Catholic foster care agency that says its religious views prevent it from working with same-sex couples as foster parents. The justices said the city of Philadelphia wrongly limited its relationship with the group as a result of the agency’s policy.

Philadelphia violated the Constitution in limiting its work with the agency, Catholic Social Services, the court said.

“The refusal of Philadelphia to contract with CSS for the provision of foster care services unless it agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents cannot survive strict scrutiny, and violates the First Amendment,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.

Roberts said that the group “seeks only an accommodation that will allow it to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs; it does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else.”

Catholic Social Services is affiliated with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Read the rest here.

FTR I fully expected the court to back the Catholic Church. I did not expect the decision to be unanimous. It may be worth noting that there have been quite a few unanimous, or nearly so, decisions coming out of the court of late. I suspect the justices may be sending a subtle message to those talkig about court packing. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Two Cheers For The New Navalism

At the end of the 19th century, the United States was gripped by a sudden enthusiasm for sea power. The immediate impetus was literary in nature—in one of the most massively influential works of military strategy ever published, American naval officer Alfred Thayer Mahan developed a view of history which linked the fortunes of states to their command of the seas. Applied to his own country—then in what Mahan considered “a period of commercial and naval decadence”—this theory suggested the United States needed to seriously build up its maritime power, or risk losing out to rivals who did. His calls were taken seriously by “navalist” statesmen like Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge, who eagerly set about turning what had been a moldering collection of Civil War relics into one of the world’s premier battlefleets. 

Fast forward to 2021, and a similar anxiety about the state of America’s navy is playing out among a growing coterie of legislators, national security officials, and defense commentators. Like their turn-of-the-century forebears, today’s navalists see maritime dominance as critical to national power, and worry the country is being outclassed by its competitors. They note with alarm China’s rapidly expanding naval capabilities: Last year, Beijing acquired, in terms of sheer numbers, the largest fleet on the planet, even as the U.S. plans to cut its own shipbuilding budget. The geographic arena of Sino-American competition is also adduced to bolster the case; clearly ships, submarines, and naval aircraft will play a more important role in the Western Pacific than tanks and infantry. 

For adherents of this view, the obvious prescription is to boost investment in maritime capabilities—and that is exactly what they have been pushing for. Some have advocated for diverting money from other areas. “You can’t get to where you need to be if you just continue to cut the pie one-third, one-third, one-third,” the chair of the House Seapower Subcommittee argued earlier this year, “the Navy’s share of resources have to grow.” Others have been blunter:  “We need more money” was the message the Chief of Naval Operations offered in January. All agree, as a recent cover piece for National Review put it, that the demands of great power competition mean “America must become a sea power again.”

Although skeptics will understandably wince at the invocation of what is already a hoary national security cliché, an explicitly navalist strategy does have considerable attractions. China, despite the frequent exaggerations of some foreign policy circles, is still America’s number one geopolitical challenge. It is the only country which even approaches peer status, and the only serious alternative hegemon on offer. So, if the U.S. is going to maintain a serious military, it makes sense to tool it for an actual threat, rather than the counter-insurgency phantoms the Pentagon has chased for the last two decades. This is especially true when one considers the importance of commercial sea lanes, which—since they account for 80 percent of global trade—Washington is interested in keeping open and safe.

Moreover, prioritizing the Navy at the expense of other services can act as a check on strategic adventurism. For a country like the United States, which lacks serious threats from its neighbors, strong ground forces are almost inherently expeditionary; their very existence, in addition to being rather expensive, can create a strong temptation to use. A powerful navy, on the other hand, can serve a more naturally defensive purpose, guarding potential avenues of attack and patrolling commercial sea lanes without posing an overtly offensive threat (although of course there are exceptions to this general rule—recall the recent use of submarines in launching missile strikes against Syria). It is for this reason that enthusiasts for what is now termed “foreign policy restraint” have long held navalist sympathies: “From Cromwell to Cobden,” as one 19th century newspaper proclaimed, “good radicals have ever insisted on an all-powerful navy.” 

Read the rest here.

Hungary bans the promotion of homosexuality in schools- effects seen as far reaching

Viktor Orbán stepped up his war on LGBT rights on Tuesday as Hungary’s parliament passed legislation banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools.

Mr Orbán's government claimed that the latest in a string of anti-gay measures was aimed at protecting children and fighting paedophilia.

The bill outlaws LGBT people from featuring in educational material or TV shows for the under-18s. It means that films featuring gay character or seen as promoting homosexuality could only be shown at night with an 18-plus certificate.

Movies that could be affected include Bridget Jones's Diary, the Harry Potter films and Billy Elliot, broadcaster RTL Klub Hungary said.

Companies would also be forbidden from running adverts showing support for the LGBT community if the commercials are thought to target under-18s. More than 5,000 people protested outside Hungary’s parliament as it passed the amendments.

Read the rest here.

Monday, June 14, 2021

The liberal argument against NATO

Read it here.

I have had decidedly mixed views of NATO post Cold War and the author makes some solid points here. But it is also dangerous to think that history stopped in 1991 and that NATO is the bad guy in the world today. Both China and Russia represent serious threats to their neighbors and the broader international community. Contrary to shop worn clichés, history rarely repeats itself. But it does contain warnings. Allowing bullies to push people around indefinitely usually ends badly for everybody. 

The Vatican Warns US Bishops Against Denying Communion Over Abortion

Details.

Friday, June 11, 2021

In Congress a Bipartisan Push to Rein in Big Tech

House lawmakers proposed a raft of bipartisan legislation aimed at reining in the country’s biggest tech companies, including a bill that seeks to make Amazon.com Inc. and other large corporations effectively split in two or shed their private-label products.

The bills, announced Friday, amount to the biggest congressional broadside yet on a handful of technology companies—including Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. as well as Amazon —whose size and power have drawn growing scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators in the U.S. and Europe.

If the bills become law—a prospect that faces significant hurdles—they could substantially alter the most richly valued companies in America and reshape an industry that has extended its impact into nearly every facet of work and life.

One of the proposed measures, titled the Ending Platform Monopolies Act, seeks to require structural separation of Amazon and other big technology companies to break up their businesses. It would make it unlawful for a covered online platform to own a business that “utilizes the covered platform for the sale or provision of products or services” or that sells services as a condition for access to the platform. The platform company also couldn’t own businesses that create conflicts of interest, such as by creating the “incentive and ability” for the platform to advantage its own products over competitors.

A separate bill takes a different approach to target platforms’ self-preferencing. It would bar platforms from conduct that “advantages the covered platform operator’s own products, services, or lines of business over those of another business user,” or that excludes or disadvantages other businesses.

The proposed legislation would need to be passed by the Democratic-controlled House as well as the Senate, where it would likely also need substantial Republican support.

Each of the bills has both Republicans and Democrats signed onto it, with more expected to join, congressional aides said. Seven Republicans are backing the bills, with a different group of three signing on to each measure, according to a person familiar with the situation.

“Unregulated tech monopolies have too much power over our economy,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D., R.I.), the top Democrat on the House Antitrust Subcommittee. “They are in a unique position to pick winners and losers, destroy small businesses, raise prices on consumers, and put folks out of work. Our agenda will level the playing field.”

Rep. Ken Buck (R., Col.), the panel’s top Republican, said he supports the bill because it “breaks up Big Tech’s monopoly power to control what Americans see and say online, and fosters an online market that encourages innovation.”

Read the rest here.

Anti-trust laws have largely fallen into a coma over the last forty or so years and the new tech economy urgently needs some regulation. I haven't read any of these bills, but in principle I support doing something to check the dangerous level of power these monster companies now wield. The fact that both parties, that otherwise can't seem able to agree on what time their committees should take a bathroom break, seem to be moving in the same direction here, is encouraging. 

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

James Carville's Warning to Democrats on Crime: "Own the issue or it will own you."

I first became familiar with James Carville back in the early 2000s when he was on Crossfire. Those were the show’s thunderdome days, when the cameras soared over the cohosts and tense music blared in the background and the whole setup seemed like an answer to a question no one in human history had ever asked: “What The McLaughlin Group were directed by Michael Bay?” Carville was one of the “from the left” hosts whereas I was a young conservative, and I remember being irritated by his pugnacity. I also remember noticing that he sometimes wore jeans underneath the desk.

Today, Carville is something like a begrudged eminence grise of the Democratic Party. No one can dispute that he won that 1992 election for Bill Clinton, but then Democrats have about as much interest in reviving the Clinton years as they do in taking cues from Grover Cleveland. The party has moved on. Yet Carville is still there and he has developed a penchant for telling difficult truths. That’s what he did in the Wall Street Journal last week when he took up an issue no one else on the left wants to talk about: crime.

There’s a lot to object to in Carville’s piece, starting with its headline, “Democrats Are the Anticrime Party” (uh-huh). Carville all but credits Bill Clinton with the steep drop in crime that occurred during the 1990s even though the reasons for that plunge still aren’t fully understood. He attacks Donald Trump because the crime rate increased on his watch even though Trump had little control over that and in some places violent crime had already been going up for years (Baltimore’s murder rate, for example, jumped following the Freddie Gray riots in 2015). He claims that Trump is part and parcel of this crime wave, that he “broke laws, obstructed justice,” which is…rich coming from a signed-in-blood Clintonista.

Still, it’s hard to argue with Carville when he warns Democrats not to “pivot on crime. Own the issue or the issue will own you.” The man surely remembers the tough Democratic losses of the 1970s and ’80s when the far left was exerting influence and the party was seen as being too soft on social pathologies. And with Trump having injected some steel into the GOP’s law and order plank, with violent crime spiking across the country and expected to grow worse over the summer as COVID restrictions lift, Carville is worried this could prove a possible road to recovery for an ailing Republican Party.

Read the rest here.

Making satire redundant

 You can't make this up. 

Coincidence?

Last night it was announced that the Feds had managed to seize a large chunk of the roughly $5 million paid to a Russian ransomware crime gang in order to release a major east coast pipeline that they had managed to shut down. That ransom was paid in the de facto currency of organized crime, Bitcoin. Cryptocurrencies, and especially Bitcoin, have become the go to venue for largely anonymous financial transactions. In this respect they have replaced the now illegal practice of anonymous banking such as the legendary numbered bank accounts that once upon a time every narco kingpin, terrorist and dictator used to stash their money untraceably in places like Switzerland. Its pretty common knowledge that BTC's wild swings are being partly driven by naked price manipulation on the part of celebrity endorsements and criminal syndicates who use it both for money laundering and as a high tech ponzi scheme believing that its relative anonymity makes them near invulnerable.

Today Bitcoin took a dive, at one point losing more than 8% of its value. Hmmm...

Monday, June 07, 2021

Deutsche Bank warns rising inflation could become a serious and long term problem

Inflation may look like a problem that will go away, but is more likely to persist and lead to a crisis in the years ahead, according to a warning from Deutsche Bank economists.

In a forecast that is well outside the consensus from policymakers and Wall Street, Deutsche issued a dire warning that focusing on stimulus while dismissing inflation fears will prove to be a mistake if not in the near term then in 2023 and beyond.

The analysis especially points the finger at the Federal Reserve and its new framework in which it will tolerate higher inflation for the sake of a full and inclusive recovery. The firm contends that the Fed’s intention not to tighten policy until inflation shows a sustained rise will have dire impacts.

“The consequence of delay will be greater disruption of economic and financial activity than would be otherwise be the case when the Fed does finally act,” Deutsche’s chief economist, David Folkerts-Landau, and others wrote. “In turn, this could create a significant recession and set off a chain of financial distress around the world, particularly in emerging markets.”

As part of its approach to inflation, the Fed won’t raise interest rates or curtail its asset purchase program until it sees “substantial further progress” toward its inclusive goals. Multiple central bank officials have said they are not near those objectives.

In the meantime, indicators such as the consumer price and personal consumption expenditures price indices are well above the Fed’s 2% inflation goal. Policymakers say the current rise in inflation is temporary and will abate once supply disruptions and base effects from the early months of the coronavirus pandemic crisis wear off.

The Deutsche team disagrees, saying that aggressive stimulus and fundamental economic changes will present inflation ahead that the Fed will be ill-prepared to address.

Read the rest here.

In Israel the Ultra-Orthodox Face a Loss of Power

JERUSALEM — Still reeling from bearing the brunt of Israel’s coronavirus pandemic, then a deadly stampede at a religious festival, Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jews now face the prospect of losing the power they have wielded in government — a setback that could relax some of the strictures on life in Israel.

The heterogeneous coalition that is emerging to replace the 12-year rule of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spans the Israeli political spectrum from left to right, including secular parties, modern Orthodox politicians from the religious Zionist camp and even a small Arab, Islamist party.

Missing are the ultra-Orthodox, or Haredim, a Hebrew term for those who tremble before God. Their political representatives have sat in most, though not all, governments of Israel since the late 1970s, when the right-wing Likud party upended decades of political hegemony by the state’s socialist founders.

Over the years, the two main Haredi parties have forged a tight alliance with Mr. Netanyahu, the Likud leader, and leveraged their role as linchpins in a series of governing coalitions. There, they have wielded what many critics view as disproportionate power over state policy that became apparent as they successfully fought or, in the case of some sects, simply refused to follow pandemic restrictions.

The influence and official privileges of the ultra-Orthodox, who make up about 13 percent of the population, have created resentment among mainstream Israelis and alienated many Jews abroad who practice less stringent forms of Judaism. The ultra-Orthodox-run Chief Rabbinate, the state religious authority, dominates official Jewish marriage, divorce and religious conversions and does not recognize the legitimacy of Reform or Conservative rabbis.

Haredi politicians promote a conservative social agenda that opposes civil marriage, gay rights, and work or public transportation on the Sabbath, often blocking a civil rights agenda held dear by many members of the new coalition. They support an independent education system that focuses on religious studies and largely shuns secular education for boys.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Communism is evolving. But the new version isn't any less toxic than the old

On Thursday, I debated against the cult Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek at the Cambridge Union. The motion? “This House believes that Marx was right.” It is extraordinary, on one level, that such a debate can still be held. No one would dream of discussing whether Torquemada or Mullah Omar or Anders Behring Breivik was right. In the grisly tally of murder, Marxism stands unchallenged. The abominable Atlantic slave trade claimed ten million lives. The Nazis, their evils protracted by the lights of perverted science, killed 17 million. Communism has so far slaughtered 100 million. Marx may not have killed anyone with his own hands. Neither, as far as we know, did Hitler, but no one tries to claim that this exculpates him from the horrors unleashed by his doctrines. Only communists get a special pass here. Every barbarity they inflict is explained away as “not real socialism”.

To see how absurd that is, imagine arguing that Hitler’s crimes were “not real fascism”. Fascism, like every other doctrine, is judged by its actual record. Only communism is treated as textbook theory, too pure and numinous to be sullied by real- world examples. Yet history has furnished us with some laboratory-standard experiments: China versus Taiwan, East Germany versus West Germany, North Korea versus South Korea. While free-marketeers are generally prepared to accept that, say, South Korea, marred by occasional corruption and abuses, is an imperfect capitalist state, Western communists resolutely refuse to allow similar inferences to be drawn about North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela or anywhere else. Such, at any rate, were my arguments in the debate. But I was uneasily aware as I made them that they were unlikely to hit home. Marxism is more like a religious sect than a political creed. The more palpably absurd its tenets become, the more the faithful flaunt their piety by embracing them. Marx insisted that his doctrines were scientific truths rather than political opinions. Yet every prediction he made turned out to be wrong. The market system did not destroy the bourgeoisie – it enlarged it. It did not concentrate wealth in the hands of a tiny oligarchy – it increased it across the board. It did not exhaust resources – it kept finding more. Most obviously, it did not collapse under the weight of its contradictions.

Yet, in every generation, a new crop of devotees arises to explain that this time it will be different, this time the prophecy will be fulfilled. Marxists resemble nothing so much as doomsday cultists, constantly shifting the date of their Armageddon as it keeps failing to materialise. Then again, religions evolve, adapt, spawn heresies that sometimes displace them. During the debate, Žižek told me that he had become something of a hate figure among younger Leftist radicals because he diverged from the woke line on some gender and identity issues.

Read the rest here. (paywalled)

The ACLU's drift from champion of civil liberties to champion of the left

It was supposed to be the celebration of a grand career, as the American Civil Liberties Union presented a prestigious award to the longtime lawyer David Goldberger. He had argued one of its most famous cases, defending the free speech rights of Nazis in the 1970s tIt was supposed to be the celebration of a grand career, as the American Civil Liberties Union presented a prestigious award to the longtime lawyer David Goldberger. He had argued one of its most famous cases, defending the free speech rights of Nazis in the 1970s to march in Skokie, Ill., home to many Holocaust survivors.

Mr. Goldberger, now 79, adored the A.C.L.U. But at his celebratory luncheon in 2017, he listened to one speaker after another and felt a growing unease.

A law professor argued that the free speech rights of the far right were not worthy of defense by the A.C.L.U. and that Black people experienced offensive speech far more viscerally than white allies. In the hallway outside, an A.C.L.U. official argued it was perfectly legitimate for his lawyers to decline to defend hate speech.

Mr. Goldberger, a Jew who defended the free speech of those whose views he found repugnant, felt profoundly discouraged.

“I got the sense it was more important for A.C.L.U. staff to identify with clients and progressive causes than to stand on principle,” he said in a recent interview. “Liberals are leaving the First Amendment behind.”

The A.C.L.U., America’s high temple of free speech and civil liberties, has emerged as a muscular and richly funded progressive powerhouse in recent years, taking on the Trump administration in more than 400 lawsuits. But the organization finds itself riven with internal tensions over whether it has stepped away from a founding principle — unwavering devotion to the First Amendment.o march in Skokie, Ill., home to many Holocaust survivors. Mr. Goldberger, now 79, adored the A.C.L.U. But at his celebratory luncheon in 2017, he listened to one speaker after another and felt a growing unease. A law professor argued that the free speech rights of the far right were not worthy of defense by the A.C.L.U. and that Black people experienced offensive speech far more viscerally than white allies. In the hallway outside, an A.C.L.U. official argued it was perfectly legitimate for his lawyers to decline to defend hate speech. Mr. Goldberger, a Jew who defended the free speech of those whose views he found repugnant, felt profoundly discouraged. “I got the sense it was more important for A.C.L.U. staff to identify with clients and progressive causes than to stand on principle,” he said in a recent interview. “Liberals are leaving the First Amendment behind.” The A.C.L.U., America’s high temple of free speech and civil liberties, has emerged as a muscular and richly funded progressive powerhouse in recent years, taking on the Trump administration in more than 400 lawsuits. But the organization finds itself riven with internal tensions over whether it has stepped away from a founding principle — unwavering devotion to the First Amendment.

Read the rest here.

Friday, June 04, 2021

Latest opponents of solar energy farm in Mojave Desert? Environmentalists

MOAPA VALLEY, Nev.—This windswept desert community is full of clean energy supporters including Suzanne Rebich, an airline pilot who recently topped her house with 36 solar panels. About 200 homes generate their own solar energy and a quarter of the local electricity supply comes from hydroelectric power.

All the same, many here are dead set against a planned solar plant atop the Mormon Mesa, which overlooks this valley 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Slated to be the biggest solar plant in the U.S., the Battle Born Solar Project by California-based Arevia Power would carpet 14 square miles—the equivalent of 7,000 football fields—with more than a million solar panels 10 to 20 feet tall. At 850-megawatts, it would generate nearly one-tenth of Nevada’s current electric capacity.

“It will destroy this land forever,” Ms. Rebich, 33, said after riding her bicycle on the 600-foot high mesa.

Across the U.S., more than 800 utility-scale solar projects are under contract to generate nearly 70,000 megawatts of new capacity, enough to power more than 11 million homes, equivalent to Texas and then some. More than half this capacity is being planned for the American Southwest, with its abundance of sunshine and open land.

These large projects are increasingly drawing opposition from environmental activists and local residents who say they are ardent supporters of clean energy. Their objections range from a desire to keep the land unspoiled to protection for endangered species to concerns that their views would no longer be as beautiful.

Unlike past fights between polluting industries and environmentalists, this one pits people who say they want more renewable power against companies that want to generate it. It threatens to significantly slow efforts by the Biden administration and businesses to fight climate change by reducing America’s carbon emissions.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Miami and South Florida Are Starting to Face Some Tough Choices

MIAMI — Three years ago, not long after Hurricane Irma left parts of Miami underwater, the federal government embarked on a study to find a way to protect the vulnerable South Florida coast from deadly and destructive storm surge.

Already, no one likes the answer.

Build a wall, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed in its first draft of the study, now under review. Six miles of it, in fact, mostly inland, running parallel to the coast through neighborhoods — except for a one-mile stretch right on Biscayne Bay, past the gleaming sky-rises of Brickell, the city’s financial district.

The dramatic, $6 billion proposal remains tentative and at least five years off. But the startling suggestion of a massive sea wall up to 20 feet high cutting across beautiful Biscayne Bay was enough to jolt some Miamians to attention: The hard choices that will be necessary to deal with the city’s many environmental challenges are here, and few people want to face them.

“You need to have a conversation about, culturally, what are our priorities?” said Benjamin Kirtman, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Miami. “Where do we want to invest? Where does it make sense?”

“Those are what I refer to as generational questions,” he added. “And there is a tremendous amount of reluctance to enter into that discussion.”

In Miami, the U.S. metropolitan area that is perhaps most exposed to sea-level rise, the problem is not climate change denialism. Not when hurricane season, which begins this week, returns each year with more intense and frequent storms. Not when finding flood insurance has become increasingly difficult and unaffordable. Not when the nights stay so hot that leaving the house with a sweater to fend off the evening chill has become a thing of the past.

The trouble is that the magnitude of the interconnected obstacles the region faces can feel overwhelming, and none of the possible solutions is cheap, easy or pretty.

Read the rest here.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Traveling

 I will be traveling for much of this week. Little or no posting for the time being and I may not be checking email or approving comments as quickly as usual. 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Is Prince Harry a republican?

I'm not going to link to any of the numerous stories about Harry and how he is torching his family at every opportunity online, in the mass media and press. They are all over the place. A Google will get you scores of links. But I am starting to wonder if his bitterness has not reached the point where he just wants to burn the institution down? 

To be clear, I accept that Harry got dealt some really crappy hands at the card table of life. Fancy dinners, gilded furniture, and lots of servants can only compensate for so much. Everyone in that family lives in a very large and well appointed fish tank. And yes, the press/media pretty much killed his mother, for which he still, understandably, has a chip on his shoulder. I doubt he will ever forgive them. 

But since he threw the whole royal thing overboard and bolted from his own country, ultimately landing in California, he seems to have become an arsonist with a particular preference for bridges. Of course, Harry is hardly the first royal to feud with the family. The Duke of Windsor (formerly Edward VIII) had a notoriously chilly relationship with his brother and successor, George VI, and the late Queen Mother who detested him. But for the most part the family was able to keep the more unpleasant aspects of that story under wraps until after the Duke's death. 

By contrast this little civil war is starting to get downright ugly. And if Harry has a deeply ingrained loathing for the press, he seems quite willing to use them for his own purposes. Which brings me to a couple of observations. If Harry is not out to bring down the monarchy, he certainly is not going out of his way to reassure those who suspect exactly that. 

Beyond which, there is something unseemly in a man who owes everything he is and will ever be to the accident of birth that put him in the British Royal Family, suddenly going all woke and bleating endlessly about privilege and racism. All the while cashing in on his titles to the tune of well over $100 million and the stardom that only Hollywood can confer on the deserving. And while we are on the topic of privilege, I would note that there are billions of people in the world who have issues with their family. Almost none of them have the 'privilege' of being able to trash their relations in the global press with a virtual guarantee of front page coverage by the very people loathed, if possible, even more than the offending relatives. 

Real men, in the real world, deal with family problems in private. They reach out and try to set things right without causing scandal. And mayhap that won't work out. In the real world not every movie is a Disney picture with a happy ending. If an honest effort has been made, but failed, sometimes you just need to man up and say, privately, 'it's not working and we need to go our ways in peace.'

But I'm not seeing anything like that. I am seeing a man who is consumed by bitterness directed at everybody but himself, and who appears to be staging one of the most spectacular tantrums in recent memory. The tabloid press and his woke Hollywood pals will indulge this for a while. But sooner or later the public is going to get tired of the endless carping and moral lectures from one of the most privileged men on God's Earth. And then I fear he is going to discover the loneliness of being a man without a family or country. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Bitcoin gets hammered as China issues warning to investors

Bitcoin fell below $37,000 for the first time in over three months on Wednesday, continuing a major sell-off that began a week ago.

The digital currency was down 20% in the last 24 hours, according to Coinbase. The cryptocurrency hit an intraday low of around $36,189 at 7:30 a.m. ET. It was the lowest level since early February. Bitcoin is down more than 30% in the last week, according to Coinbase.

That means bitcoin has now erased all its gains following Tesla’s announcement that it would purchase $1.5 billion worth of the cryptocurrency. It’s also down about 44% since hitting a record high of $64,829 in mid-April.

Negative news over the past week has dampened sentiment for bitcoin.

On May 12, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the electric carmaker had suspended vehicle purchases using bitcoin, citing environmental concerns over the so-called computational “mining” process. This is where high-powered computers are used to solve complex mathematical puzzles to enable transactions using bitcoin.

Musk’s comments caused over $300 billion to be wiped off the entire cryptocurrency market that day.

Read the rest here.

In related news; JP Morgan believes large institutional investors are losing confidence in crypto-currencies and are moving into gold as a hedge against inflation and other potential issues that could weaken the dollar. 

Details here. (Paywall) 

New York Widens Probe Into Trump's Finances

The Manhattan DA's criminal probe has a new ally. Last night the New York State Attorney General (a highly partisan Democrat) announced that their hitherto civil investigation into the Trump Organization and Trump family's taxes, has now become a criminal probe. It would have been better if the AG had appointed an independent prosecutor, but whatever. The former president is now the subject of at least three criminal investigations, that we know of. 

Details.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Supreme Court to Review Roe v Wade

With the current composition of the court, I figured this was coming. Fasten your seat belts folks. Things are about to get crazy.