Saturday, April 30, 2016

Socialism: Yeah, It Works ...

"It's Pure Chaos Now; There Is No Way Back" - Venezuela Hits Rock Bottom As Its Morgues Overflow.  It continues to amaze me that people still think socialism works.  Then again, after reading Thomas Sowell's Intellectuals and Society, I understand why: when either socialism or communism fails, there's always another set of intellectuals who believe the failure came about as a result of poor leadership and that they can, and will, do better when they're in charge.

More from that utopian paradise known as Venezuela: Venezuela Calls for Patriotism as It Plans to Ration Electricity.  'Cause you know, socialism works!  People, just remember, when politicians call for patriotism, hold onto your wallet and for those of military age, hold onto your life.

Of course, things are so great in the socialist paradise of Venezuela that now has five day weekends for public workers!

Worthy Reads on Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia: a scumbag state if ever there was one.  It's well past time to throw the Carter Doctrine into the heap of stupid American foreign policy initiatives.  Besides, there are still 28 pages ...

 Unjustified Presidential Bow to Royals in Riyadh: Does the U.S. Need an Ally Like Saudi Arabia?

The U.S. Might Be Better Off Cutting Ties with Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Is a Good Ally? Get Real 

Yes, Prince Faisal, We Need to ‘Recalibrate’ Our Relationship

New:  The U.S. Should Quite Coddling Saudi Arabia

New:  US Needs No Saudi Arabia

My Political Endorsement As Well

I cannot hope to say it as well as Robert Higgs does in his latest piece, My Political Endorsement, as It Were:
I notice that many people are making public announcements these days to identify which candidates they will endorse for the presidency and other public offices in the coming elections. Encountering these statements, I often shake my head because I have no idea who the endorser is or, when I do recognize the name, because he or she is such a nonentity that I wonder, “Who cares whom you endorse?” However that may be, in view of the cavalcade of nobodies who are making endorsements, I suppose it will do no great harm if I make an announcement of my own in this regard. So here is my public statement (my private statement is not suitable for a family-friendly website). 
I will not endorse any of the candidates seeking the Republican or Democratic Party nominations for election to the presidency nor any of those seeking a nomination by the minor parties nor any of those seeking nomination for election to lesser offices. Indeed, I will not endorse the election itself. Finally, I will not endorse the continued existence of the nation-state over which these aspirants seek to preside. Enough is enough. I will not give my endorsement to politics as usual, a process by which competing parties seek to gain control of the state’s powers in order to plunder and bully the people at large for the sake of their principal supporters. 
Oh that all other people would join me in withdrawing their endorsement—indeed, their acquiescence and endurance. Decent people ought to flee the whole diabolical process, leaving only those who are criminally inclined to assault their fellow human beings to go to war exclusively against one another without sacrificing the bodies, souls, and wealth of innocent parties.
A pox on all the houses of politics.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Monetary Policy Primer

I love it when an expert like George Selgin can take what many people want to convince the public is a complex subject, in this case, monetary policy, and reduce it to its simple, essential elements.

A Monetary Policy Primer, Part 1: Money

A Monetary Policy Primer, Part 2: The Demand for Money

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Just About Covers It

Self-Ownership In a Nation of Thieves

Walter E. Williams has celebrated his 81st birthday, and I feel truly blessed that I discovered his work 8 years or so ago.  He's made a profound difference in my life, my thinking and most importantly, my questioning of everything.  Please, read his latest, a simply elegantly reasoned piece, A Superior Vision:
Last month, I celebrated the beginning of my 81st year of life. For nearly half that time, I have been writing a nationally syndicated column on many topics generating reader responses that go from supportive to quite ugly. So I thought a column making my vision, values and views explicit might settle some of the controversy.

My initial premise, when looking at all human issues, is that each of us owns himself. I am my private property, and you are your private property. If you agree with that premise, then certain human actions are moral and others immoral. The reason murder is immoral is that it violates private property. Similarly, rape and theft are immoral, for they, too, violate private property. Most Americans will agree that murder and rape violate people's property rights and are hence immoral. But there may not be so much agreement about theft. Let's look at it.

Theft is when a person's property is taken from him — through stealth, force, intimidation, threats or coercion — and given to another to whom it does not belong. If a person took your property — even to help another person who is in need — it would be called theft. Suppose three people agreed to that taking. Would it be deemed theft? What if 100,000 or several hundred million people agreed to do so? Would that be deemed theft? Another way to ask these questions is: Does a consensus establish morality?

Self-ownership can offer solutions to many seemingly moral/ethical dilemmas. One is the sale of human organs. There is a severe shortage of organs for transplantation. Most people in need of an organ die or become very ill while they await an organ donation. Many more organs would become available if there were a market for them. Through the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984, Congress has made organ sales illegal. Congress clearly has the power to prevent organ sales, but does it have a right? The answer to that question comes by asking: Who owns your organs? One test of ownership is whether you have the right to sell something. In the case of organs, if it is Congress that owns our organs, then we have no right to sell them. That would be stealing from Congress.

People have the right to take chances with their own lives. People do not have a right to take chances with the lives of others. That is why laws that mandate that cars have brakes are consistent with liberty and seat belt laws are not. You might say, "Aha, Williams, we've got you there because if you don't wear a seat belt and you have an accident and turn into a vegetable, society is burdened with taking care of you!" That's not a problem of liberty. It's a problem of socialism. Nobody should be forced to take care of me for any reason. If government assumes the job of taking care of us, then Congress can control just about every aspect of our lives. When I was a rebellious teenager, my mother frequently told me, "As long as you're living in my house and I'm paying the bills, you're going to do as I say." That kind of thinking is OK for children, but not for emancipated adults.

I have only touched the surface of ideas of self-ownership. The immorality associated with violation of the principle of self-ownership lies at the root of problems that could lead to our doom as a great nation. In fiscal 2015, total government spending — federal, state and local — was about $6.41 trillion. That's about 36 percent of our gross domestic product. The federal government spent $3.69 trillion. At least two-thirds of that spending can be described as government's taking the property of one American and giving it to another. That's our moral tragedy: We've become a nation of people endeavoring to live at the expense of others — in a word, a nation of thieves. 

The Importance of Fracking on Earth Day

The Importance of Fracking on Earth Day by Marian Tupy: (emphasis mine)
Earth Day 2016 came and went without much fanfare. Instead of the usual doom and gloom about the state of the planet, the headlines on April 22 were dominated by our entertainingly dysfunctional presidential primaries and by Barack Obama's clumsy attempt to rig the British referendum in favor of the U.K. remaining in the terrifyingly dysfunctional European Union. You see, for President Obama there is no problem too small to opine about. Conversely, most problems appear too large for him to fix—just ask those war veterans on the hospital waiting lists, which our Commander in Chief promised to do something about back in 2007.

I thought of our president on Earth Day not only because of his hypocritical and misguided intervention in the electoral process of another sovereign democracy, but because of another promise he made when running for his first term in the White House. I hope some of you still remember those 5 million "green jobs" Obama promised to create in order to "stimulate job growth" and America's transition to green energy. Obama's failure to deliver but a small fraction of those jobs must surely rank—along with the botched launch of Obamacare—as one of his bigger domestic failures.

Yet, the man was re-elected in 2012 and will remain with us until January 2017. Admittedly, the Republicans did have an uninspiring candidate, but Obama, unknowingly, had a trump card in his pocket: the fossil fuel industry. The fracking revolution, which the progressives continue to do everything possible to stop, has massively increased the U.S. production of natural gas.

The price of gas collapsed from its high in 2005 and made energy much more affordable for ordinary Americans. A welcome respite from the lingering effects of the Great Recession may have contributed to Obama's relatively close reelection.

There were other, non-pecuniary, benefits of the fracking revolution. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. CO2 emissions declined from 5,584 million metric tons in 1997, when the Kyoto protocol was signed, to 5,408 million metric tons in 2014 (last year for which Human Progress has data). That's a reduction of 3 percent. Over the same period of time, the U.S. economy grew from $11.9 trillion in 1997 to $17.4 trillion (adjusted for inflation). That's a growth of 46 percent.

Our reliance on coal—the cleanest type of coal produces 215 pounds of CO2 per million Btu of energy, while natural gas produces 117 pounds of CO2 per million Btu of energy—was reduced from 55 percent of energy production in 1997 to 40 percent in 2014. Correspondingly, natural gas use rose from 12 percent to 26 percent over the same time period.

Had the self-declared smartest guy in the room read F.A. Hayek, he would have known that politicians and central planners cannot know where the jobs of the future come from. Capitalism may not be to Barack Obama's taste, but it may have saved his bacon.

Just About Covers It: The War on Drugs

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Lesson That's Yet To Be Learned Here, But ...

This is so true! An excellent post, and lesson, from Charles Hugh Smith - The Lesson of Empires: Once Privilege Limits Social Mobility, Collapse Is Inevitable:
The next few years will strip away the illusions of "growth" and reveal which dominates our society and economy: privilege or social mobility.
Among the many lessons of empires is one shared by virtually every empire: once the privileged few limit the rise of those from humble origins (i.e. social mobility), the empire is doomed to rising instability and collapse.
Just as a reminder of how wealth and income are increasingly concentrated in the top of the wealth/power pyramid:
The greater the concentration of wealth and power, the lower the social mobility; the lower the social mobility, the greater the odds that the system will collapse when faced with a crisis that it would have easily handled in more egalitarian times.
When the economy is expanding faster than the population and the tide is lifting all ships large and small, the majority of people feel their chances of getting ahead are positive (even if the actual chances remain low).
But when the economy is stagnating, and they see those at the apex of the pyramid still amassing monumental gains, the majority realizes their chances of securing a better life are declining.
The natural result is frustration, anger and a disavowal of the corrupt status quo: in other words, precisely what the U.S. is experiencing in this election cycle.
People are waking up the reality that the status quo exists to protect the privileged, period. When the serfs do all the right things--get a university degree, work hard, serve their masters well, etc.--they find that "getting ahead" has been redefined as "running in place to keep from falling behind" (i.e. the Red Queen's Race).
One of my projects is to better understand what social, economic and cultural elements of empires enabled their rise and durability. I was especially interested in locating traits shared by virtually all empires that endured.
One key trait that all enduring empires shared was high levels of social mobility:in enduring empires, those of humble birth had multiple pathways to wealth, power and influence.
When social mobility is lost, all those denied access to the empire's top rungs leave for greener pastures or devote their energy and ambition to bringing the empire down.
Social mobility is only possible if merit is valued more than privilege. When privilege locks up all the top rungs for cronies, the empire crumbles under the weight of incompetence, elitist squabbling, inefficiency and wasted resources, while the best and the brightest seek outlets for their ambition elsewhere--often in the ranks of the empire's enemies.
Though ancient societies were by and large anti-egalitarian--slavery was an accepted norm--the enduring empires maintained very porous boundaries between classes. The Roman Empire, for example, accepted people of many ethnicities and origins as Roman citizens. A free citizen of a distant Roman province was as fully a citizen of Rome as a free resident of Rome.
In the Republic of Venice, the system was carefully designed to enable new blood to enter the higher levels of power. Commoners could rise to power (and take their families with them if their wealth outlasted the founding generation) via commercial success or military service.
The Eastern Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire) offered multiple pathways to wealth and influence to the humbly born: the clergy, the army, trading, and service in the Imperial bureaucracy. (For women, the path to wealth and power was generally marriage into an influential aristocratic family. Many women gained great political power in the Byzantine Empire.)
After suffering the many indignities of the poor (and often warring) tribespeople of Mongolia as a young man, Genghis Khan instituted a highly regimented, merit-based system of rule in his sprawling empire. Success was more important than privilege.
The question, not just for the U.S. but for every nation, is whether the ladder of social mobility is real or if it is largely propaganda. Is merit and success more important than privilege? Or does society give lip-service to social mobility while heaping wealth and power on the privileged few?
The test is always economic crisis. When the pie starts shrinking, who's piece gets trimmed to a sliver, and who's slice gets bigger? I think we're on the cusp of a crisis that started in 2000 but was short-circuited by central banks in 2000-2003 and and again in 2009-2016.
The next few years will strip away the illusions of "growth" and reveal which dominates our society and economy: privilege (sludgy toxic oil) or social mobility (clean refreshing water).
I recommend these books to anyone interested in the history of empires, not just their decline and fall, but their rise to dominance:
Venice: A New History (Thomas F. Madden)

Thank You My Fellow Americans for Sending Your Tax Dollars to Philly

... so that our local transportation system (SEPTA) can fund its capital budget:

Source: SEPTA Capital Budget hints at even more delays for SEPTA Key, shorter wait for real-time ETA technology

So, here's another topic that bothers me to no end.  Why should taxpayers from Michigan, say Boyne City, have any of their money "collected" and sent to Philly for its public transportation system?  Here's the question I ask those who live in Philly and agree with this theft: if you actually had to write a monthly check, payable to BART, a bill that was just like your mortgage, i.e., a required payment, would you do it?  I tell people all the time: there's a reason the government gets its money automatically from your paycheck.  They KNOW for a fact that if people were actually paid their gross and then required to make a payment to their various levels of government, politicians know they'd have very little money.  I often ask people if they believe their government trusts them as much as they trust it, "why do they get their share first?"

Without federal, state and local funding, SEPTA, like most, if not all other "public" transportation systems, would go bankrupt. 

Keep This In Mind on Earth Day

So, I think I'm late on this one, but meh ... 14,000 Abandoned Wind Turbines Litter the United States: (emphasis mine)
The towering symbols of a fading religion, over 14,000 wind turbines, abandoned, rusting, slowly decaying. When it is time to clean up after a failed idea, no green environmentalists are to be found. Wind was free, natural, harnessing Earth’s bounty for the benefit of all mankind, sounded like a good idea. Wind turbines, like solar panels, break down. They produce less energy before they break down than the energy it took to make them. The wind does not blow all the time, or even most of the time. When it is not blowing, they require full-time backup from conventional power plants.

Without government subsidy, they are unaffordable. With governments facing financial troubles, the subsidies are unaffordable. It was a nice dream, a very expensive dream, but it didn’t work.

California had the “big three” of wind farm locations — Altamont Pass, Tehachapi, and San Gorgonio, considered the world’s best wind sites. California’s wind farms, almost 80% of the world’s wind generation capacity ceased to generate even more quickly than Kamaoa Wind Farm in Hawaii. There are five other abandoned wind farms in Hawaii. When they are abandoned, getting the turbines removed is a major problem. They are highly unsightly, and they are huge, and that’s a lot of material to get rid of.

Unfortunately the same areas that are good for siting wind farms are a natural pass for migrating birds. Altamont’s turbines have been shut down four months out of every year for migrating birds after environmentalists filed suit. According to the Golden Gate Audubon Society 75-110 Golden Eagles, 380 Burrowing Owls, 300 Red-Tailed Hawks and 333 American Kestrels are killed by the turbines every year. An Alameda County Community Development Agency study points to 10,000 annual bird deaths from Altamont wind turbines. The Audubon Society makes up numbers like the EPA, but there’s a reason why they call them bird Cuisinarts.

Palm Springs has enacted an ordinance requiring their removal from San Gorgonio Pass, but unless something else changes abandoned turbines will remain a rotting eyesores, or the taxpayers who have already paid through the nose for overpriced energy and crony-capitalist tax scams will have to foot the bill for their removal.

President Obama’s offshore wind farms will be far more expensive than those sited in California’s ideal wind locations. Salt water is far more damaging than sun and rain, and offshore turbines don’t last as long. But nice tax scams for his crony-capitalist backers will work well as long as he can blame it all on saving the planet.

Random Thoughts

In my opinion, what the world lacks the most is this: questioning.  Far too many people the world over take what's told to them by politicians, the media, by businesses, by health care professionals, as the truth.  Very few people question anything, but especially "authority".  So, please, question everything.

So, Obama is putting more Special Forces troops on the ground in Syria to "in an effort to stem the influence and spread of ISIS."   Just one question: when the fuck will this country stop this nonsense? Why can't we just bring everyone home and spend the trillions here on real hope and change?  When is enough, enough?

American Dysfunction in the Middle East

I'm sure this title has nothing to do with the Five Stages of Death ... nah, I change my mind ... Libya and the 5 Stages of U.S. Intervention:
The United States and its European allies are ramping up plans to intervene in Libya again, this time to confront the growing Islamic State presence in the country. The eagerness to jump back into Libya follows a five-stage pattern that has become all too familiar since the end of the Cold War. This pattern reflects the fundamental inability of the American political system to accept the world as it actually is, rather than how policymakers prefer it to be. Without addressing this dysfunction, the United States will find itself unable to break its cycle of failure in the Middle East.

Stage 1: Outrage and Denial

Since the end of the Cold War, every U.S. military intervention has been one of choice rather than necessity. Even the terrorist attacks of 9/11 did not require the United States to launch a full-scale invasion of Afghanistan. Instead, it is outrage that has driven American intervention. After 9/11, the outrage was visceral, stemming from the intense pain caused by the terrorist attacks. In most other cases, the outrage has been philosophical, erupting when events abroad violated the moral sensibilities of American foreign-policy elites and the public.

Even on the eve of Desert Storm in January 1991, a war approved of by many realists, outrage was evident in President Bush’s explanation of the decision to go to war. Citing the need for a “new world order” in which the rule of law triumphed over the “law of the jungle,” Bush quoted Marine Lieutenant General Walter Boomer, saying: “There are things worth fighting for. A world in which brutality and lawlessness are allowed to go unchecked isn’t the kind of world we’re going to want to live in.”

Obama’s speech to the nation about the first Libyan intervention revealed similar motivations. In his speech to the nation announcing the operation Obama told the public that, “We knew that. . . if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”

Stage 2: Stunted Debate and the Precipitous Use of Force

Once outraged, the United States typically mobilizes for intervention by conducting a stunted debate on the question of whether or not to use military force. The White House dominates the debate thanks to the president’s institutional advantage in courting the news media, and because opponents of intervention are afraid of getting on the wrong side of public opinion.

In many cases, proponents of intervention actively attempt to stifle rational debate by feeding the media hyped-up stories about the threat and telling stories aimed at generating more outrage. Many Americans will still remember the tearful Kuwaiti girl telling Congress about how the Iraqi army had thrown babies from their hospital incubators during Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The story would later turn out to be a lie, but was repeated endlessly at the time, making rational debate and opposition to the intervention much more difficult.

In turn, thanks to the reliance on emotion and the lopsided debate, there is little patience in the American political system for the steady exploration of alternative approaches. The American refusal to accept that thugs and evil regimes populate the world makes diplomacy difficult. Sanctions, meanwhile, are decried as too slow or ineffective to provide satisfactory progress for a political system hopped up on outrage.

The 2003 war in Iraq rightly receives a great deal of attention for the failure of rational debate. Despite the gravely suspect WMD intelligence and the improbable connections suggested between Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda and 9/11, there was very little in the way of a sustained debate about the pros and cons of the invasion of Iraq. Even the New York Times editorial board would later apologize for how little coverage it gave countervailing evidence and the war’s skeptics.

But the better example of how outrage cuts off debate is surely Afghanistan. The Bush administration launched Operation Enduring Freedom on October 7, 2001, less than one month after 9/11. In the rush to send tens of thousands of troops to topple a government, there was hardly a dissenting voice to be found in the United States. The haste to retaliate and to destroy Al Qaeda was certainly understandable from an emotional perspective, but time revealed that it was an incredibly costly and counterproductive policy in the long run.

In the case of Libya, roughly three weeks elapsed between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s public acknowledgement that the U.S. might get involved militarily and Obama’s announcement to the American people that the United States had joined the effort to impose a no-fly zone in Libya. This left little time for a debate over the wisdom and mechanisms of U.S. intervention, even though many were in fact critical of the Obama administration’s decision. Later, NATO’s mission would expand without any real debate whatsoever, from enforcing a no-fly zone to supporting the rebels in ousting Muammar el-Qaddafi. Regime change, of course, was the very thing that led to the civil chaos that has allowed the Islamic State to take root in Libya.

Stage 3: Premature Declaration of Victory

The same inclination that motivates intervention in the first place is what drives the United States to claim victory on the basis of emotional, rather than strategic, calculations. Who can forget Bush’s dramatic “Mission Accomplished” speech on the deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln six weeks after the invasion began? Saddam Hussein, the target of so much outrage since the first Gulf War, had been deposed, and his statue in Baghdad toppled. But Bush’s declaration was wildly premature; the real battle for Iraq had just begun. Obama would later double down on that declaration of victory, telling Americans that “The last American soldier[s] will cross the border of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success. . . That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end.”

The Obama administration followed the same course with Libya. In August of 2011, after rebels ousted the Qaddafi regime, U.S. officials called it a “model intervention.” Obama boasted that “Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives,” and Clinton described it as an example of “smart power” in action. In October, when the rebels finally captured and killed Qaddafi, Clinton crowed, “We came, we saw, he died!” As with Iraq, there was little indication that the Obama administration imagined that the swift “victory” in Libya might later prove to be something else.

Stage 4: Attention Deficit Disorder and Memory Loss

Declaring victory cleans the slate in American politics, allowing presidents to drop the issue and move along to the next pressing issue. Without presidential pronouncements and U.S. military actions to follow, television drops the story and the newspapers move it to the back pages. What happens after a tyrant is toppled isn’t nearly as newsworthy as the chase to kill him in the first place. Then new fires break out, attracting the attention of the president and the media. Within weeks, the links between American actions and their consequences start to become obscured. Within a few months, it’s easy for the average American to forget the intervention ever happened.

What’s less clear, of course, is why political leaders forget so quickly. When Bush declared victory in Iraq, the United States was still deeply enmeshed in Afghanistan. When the Obama administration declared victory in Libya, the United States was not only still in Afghanistan, but Iraq continued to boil even as U.S. forces were withdrawing. One potential explanation is that American outrage first generates short-term thinking and rash decisions, and then spawns attention deficit disorder, provoking the impulse to move quickly from one emergency to the next. Under such conditions, it would be surprising if there were much room for historical reflection and lesson learning. Another, more cynical, possibility is that like the stock market, American politics only rewards short-term thinking.

Stage 5: Repeat. . . Endlessly

Whatever the cause, the potent combination of outrage and memory loss paves the way for an endless repetition of the same mistakes. The Obama administration talks about military intervention in Libya today as if the previous intervention had never happened. When the Pentagon discusses plans to conduct air strikes, it does so without betraying any sense that there could be anything to learn from Libya’s recent history or the past fourteen years of the failed “war on terror.” Why, exactly, would the administration use almost exactly the same plan to prevent chaos today that helped create the conditions for chaos in 2011?

Outrage, of course, is a normal human reaction to pain and suffering. And to many, America’s desire to confront the world’s evils is a noble impulse worthy of an exceptional nation. The refusal to accept the world as it is, however, has no place in international relations because it prevents the clear-eyed assessment of costs and benefits required to make foreign policy. As understandable as it is to want to prevent oppression and punish rogue regimes, endless intervention has caused more problems than it has solved and at great cost.

If the United States wants to break the cycle, it must wake up and accept that it cannot remake the world through military intervention.

So True

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." - H.L. Mencken

Just About Covers It

28 Pages

Nothing more needs to be said ...

The Smoking Gun: "Document 17" Links Saudi Embassy In Washington To Sept 11

White House Set To Release Secret Pages From Sept 11 Report

Because People Make Money Off It, That's Why!

Why Fight the Long War?: (emphasis is mine)
The United States appears on the cusp of doubling down on military tactics to fight terrorism. That’s a bad idea.

On March 19, the latest American military member was killed in Iraq. A week later, the U.S.’s top general said he expects an increase in U.S. troop levels there shortly. Presidential hopefuls have offered their insights on the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and the Taliban, with one keeping open the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons against the Islamic State. Pentagon planners are readying for another round of U.S. intervention in Libya. Most recently, arguably the most-respected general of the modern era, David Petraeus, called for a “sustained“ U.S.-led effort in the fight against Islamic extremism.

But why? Islamic terrorism poses a modest threat in the scheme of things, and military campaigns are not effective in diminishing it further. Where is the compelling argument that the United States should continue fighting what is already its longest war?

The attacks of September 11 were as anomalous as they were severe. Nothing like that has ever happened before or since. Almost all of the massive increase in terrorism since 9/11 has occurred in war zones in the Middle East and in weak or failing states. And believe it or not, Americans have been safer from terror attacks since 9/11 than they were the thirty years prior. Data from the Global Terrorism Database indicates we have lost, on average, four Americans per year to terror attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11 compared to 11 per year from 1970 to 2000. This reduction is even more noteworthy, as it occurred while the number of terror attacks and fatalities worldwide rose 64 and 72 percent, respectively.

Still, many assert that only a U.S.-led effort can succeed against ISIS. Though we agree that the world must confront ISIS, the “U.S. must lead” mantra has become dogma among much of the foreign policy establishment, repeated endlessly with great confidence but without evidence. Upon closer reflection, it makes little sense.

First, the argument that U.S. leadership is necessary to motivate a response to ISIS is a non-starter. It is local actors, not the United States, who face an existential threat from the insurgency and terrorism. Iraq and Syria are worried about survival, but their neighbors in the region all have pressing concerns ranging from national security to regional influence and economic stability that are already motivating them to action.

Second, the argument that U.S. leadership is necessary because only the U.S. has the military capabilities to defeat ISIS and terrorism is nonsensical. Terrorists and insurgents are, by definition, weak. Otherwise, they would control the powers of the state and use them. ISIS may not be a pushover, but it is no match for the combined capabilities in the region even without the United States. Moreover, research from the RAND Corporation indicates that local policing and intelligence efforts are five times more likely to lead to the dissolution of a terrorist organization than the use of military force.

Beyond this, the insistence on U.S. leadership in the war on terrorism has muzzled discussion about the unintended consequences of U.S. policies. How might the U.S. invasions of two Muslim-majority states and military operations in another five have fueled recruiting efforts which rely on the narrative that Islam is under attack from the U.S.? Recall that the emergence of ISIS was predicated on the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the ungoverned spaces that have resulted. Similarly, U.S. efforts to install democracies within states where few or none of the needed liberal institutions or cultural norms existed have fallen short and likely exacerbated grievances among Iraqis and Afghans.

Finally, calls to go all in on the “long war” ignore an essential calculation: are the benefits worth the costs? In the past 15 years, nearly 7,000 Americans have given their lives in the fight and the government has borrowed somewhere between $1.7 and $5 trillion to fund the wars and their associated costs. The benefits remain elusive, to put it charitably. Worldwide terror attacks and fatalities have soared to unprecedented levels. Islamist-inspired groups and the fighters that comprise them have more than doubled since 2000. Meanwhile, the relative security of America suggests that focusing on homeland security efforts is a more effective approach to dealing with terrorism than endless war.

At the end of the day, the current arguments for fighting the long war are not persuasive. The discussion we should be having now is about how to reduce our footprint in the Middle East and how to end U.S. involvement in the endless conflicts being fought in the name of the war on terrorism.

Nation Building: A Process Only Politicians Could Believe In

Nations are not built: they evolve, and they do so as the result of a local genesis, not an external hegemonic state.  Whenever I hear the term "nation building", I cringe, as I think of elitist intellectuals protected from the "unwashed masses" by fences, walls and armed guards, designing western-style democracies while in total ignorance of the local language, ethnicities, mores and norms.  Then I next think of how these same elitists want to implement their conceptions: through violence, usually war (undeclared and of course, supposedly without "boots on the ground").  Of course, this results in the deaths of untold locals and hundreds of American lives, none of which are the relatives of these elitists.  Anyway, here's a superb piece from Dan Sanchez entitled The Pretense of Nation-Building, The Disaster Of R2P:
In 1974, when Friedrich Hayek won the Nobel Prize in Economics, he used his acceptance speech to deliver a warning to the world. Do not again fall for “the pretense of knowledge,” he counseled.

Hayek was singling out economic policymakers who presume to possess the knowledge needed to confidently predict and design market outcomes, much as engineers precisely predict and design mechanical outcomes.

Yet, as Hayek surely recognized, such epistemic arrogance is rampant throughout all social thought, and not just economics. It particularly plagues the realm of foreign policy.

Consider how impossible it is to know exactly what is going on in anyone else’s mind. Nobody can predict with certainty an individual’s future choices, and the preferences those choices reveal. The mind of even a single person is to a great degree opaque. Now take that opacity and multiply it by the millions of minds that make up an economy or a country. That is a hell of a lot of ignorance and unpredictability.

Add to this the manifold nature of the material world in which we live. Then contemplate the fluctuating and elaborate interplay of all those minds and materials. Only then do you begin to realize how unfathomably complex the social world is, and the absurdity of anyone thinking they can engineer society.

Foreign policy planners are particularly prone to this kind of hubris. They are infatuated with the belief that they can whip a country, a region, even the whole world, into shape through the judicious application of extreme violence. This faith is impervious to mounting evidence to the contrary. Consider, for example, recent U.S. foreign policy.

The Bush administration neocons guaranteed that regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq would be the first steps toward remaking the Greater Middle East with the blessings of freedom and democracy.

No sooner had the neocons covered themselves with failure than they were superseded by devotees of the counterinsurgency doctrine, or COIN. This doctrine was nothing more than a warmed over retread of the “hearts and minds” hooey of the Vietnam era. Yet the COIN peddlers did have one strategic success: capturing the hearts and minds of the foreign policy wonks in DC and Arlington. The Democratic-oriented COINsters proved just as arrogant as the Republican neocons, boasting that they could “change entire societies” and that they had a “government in a box” to bestow upon the benighted people living under their occupation.

No sooner had the COIN crowd been disgraced in turn than they were eclipsed by the Obama administration’s champions of the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine, or R2P. Following the 2011 inception of the Arab Spring rebellions, R2P was a leading justification in Washington for regime change operations in Libya and Syria. These efforts focused on regime decapitation and have largely eschewed nation-building. Yet even their more modest goals proved unattainable. The R2Pers did not head off, but only precipitated humanitarian disasters. Somehow flooding countries with weaponry and jihadist recruits turned out not to have a salutary effect on civil society.

After all these invasions, “surges,” and interventions, the Greater Middle East has been “remade” alright, into a cauldron of collapse, chaos, and carnage. Yet, unperturbed, Western planners continue to dream up new schemes for the region.

Even if their stated intentions were genuine, these geopolitical planners could not have succeeded and never will. It is foolish enough for domestic governments to think they are capable of “remaking society.” It is an even greater folly for foreign governments to think so.

This is because foreign planners are in an even worse position than domestic ones when it comes to “local knowledge,” or what Hayek referred to as “the knowledge of the particular circumstances of time and place.”

Hayek stressed the importance of local knowledge in the context of an economy. In his classic essay on the subject, he argued that it is impossible for a central planner to access and integrate all the relevant knowledge that is dispersed throughout the minds of individuals in society. And it is only through such an integration of the untold billions of bits of local knowledge that a complex economy can be rationally coordinated. Hayek added that:
“The problem which we meet here is by no means peculiar to economics but arises in connection with nearly all truly social phenomena…”
And so nation builders are just as helpless in the face of this “knowledge problem” as economic central planners. Just as with the production of anything else, there are innumerable local circumstances relevant to the production of peace and security, which is ostensibly the business of governance.

What are the tribal dynamics of this province? What are the sectarian dynamics of that town? Who are the pillars of this neighborhood community? What are the security needs of that family business? Local knowledge like this is crucial to navigate the multitude of adjustments and compromises necessary for avoiding civil strife. The military intelligence officer likes to fancy himself a quick study when it comes to these affairs. But his stunning rate of failure belies not only his incompetence and his perverse incentives, but the overwhelming nature of the challenge for any outsider.

De-Baathification. The marginalization of Muqtada al-Sadr. Drone-striking tribal leaders working for order and reconciliation in countries from Somalia to Pakistan. If military planners can’t avoid such obvious unforced errors as these, what chance do they have against more subtle problems?

It is no wonder then, that U.S. intervention has fomented and fueled sectarian and tribal civil wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and elsewhere. The expertise of America’s geopolitical planners has proven to be, not in the building of nations, but in the demolition of societies.

What is the alternative? According to Hayek, the market society manages to handle the knowledge problem in two ways. The first is through decentralization. Hayek wrote:
“We need decentralization because only thus can we insure that the knowledge of the particular circumstances of time and place will be promptly used.”
The second is the market price system, which performs the essential (and amazing) function of communicating local knowledge from throughout the economy to every market participant and meaningfully integrates it into his/her decision-making process.

Ideally, judicial and security services should also be left wholly to the market and to other purely voluntary institutions of civil society. Then, the provision of peace and justice would be responsible, service-oriented, and responsive to variations in local circumstances and needs.

But failing that, the next best thing would be maximum decentralization and devolution in governance. The more familiar a ruler is with local circumstances, the less monumental will be his blunders. Foreigners ruling Middle Eastern neighborhoods from “green zones” and other garrison outposts according to diktats sent by detached and self-absorbed politicos residing in the imperial capital of the West is the exact opposite of what’s needed.

Another name Hayek had for the pretense of knowledge was, “the fatal conceit.” The numberless victims of geopolitical planners are a grim testimony to just how fatal that conceit can be.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Just About Covers It

The Myth of Recycling

[Original Post date: 9/24/2010]  see new addition below!

Disclaimer: I take as best care of the environment as I can - period. I conserve electricity; recycle (more on this in a moment); I conserve water, gasoline, purchase efficient appliances, weather-proof my home, use my bike where and when I can, use public transportation and so on. Now let me vent: first, I detest the 'green movement' because as I commented upon before, it has become a religion and as a result, it has become faith-based and should one express doubts about climate change, our impact on the earth and so on, what happens is not an exchange of rational opinions and ideas, rather, it's more of an attack and is instantly turned into an offensive exchange. I do what I can to act and live 'green' but today's movement is more about coercion than cooperation and rationality on the topic. (Another disclaimer: I detest all religions and as such, 'green coercion' ranks right up there with astrology.)

I am incensed that the government will soon make the purchase of incandescent light bulbs illegal. Likewise, regulating the flow of the water from my shower via limiting the valve size on shower heads is equally offensive and abhorrent. The government should not be in the job of modifying behavior - period.

Let's take one of my favorite topics: recycling. I have long believed and suspected that today's most common recycling programs are wasteful and inefficient and do more harm than good, especially given the extra vehicles necessary to pick up the materials: more gasoline burned, increased carbon footprint, and worse of all, more government via public sector unions where it's not be privatized, resulting in more control, higher costs, etc. I believe that commingling of trash and separation at a facility is a much better way to accomplish the same goal, but then I realized that real goal of recycling programs is simply designed to coerce the public to adhere to a tenet of the green movement.

Finally, there's a post from Mark J. Perry over at Carpe Diem that contains this reference to "forced government recycling" from a piece by Jeff Jacoby from that supports my view:

“There is not a community curbside recycling program in the United States that covers its cost,’’ says Jay Lehr, science director at the Heartland Institute and author of a handbook on environmental science. They exist primarily to make people “feel warm and fuzzy about what they are doing for the environment.’’

Jacoby's article is a depressing read, from what people in Cleveland and San Francisco will soon have to do:

"To be fair, things could be worse. Clevelanders will soon have to use recycling carts equipped with radio-frequency ID chips, the Plain Dealer reported last month. These will enable the city to remotely monitor residents’ compliance with recycling regulations. “If a chip shows a recyclable cart hasn’t been brought to the curb in weeks, a trash supervisor will sort through the trash for recyclables. Trash carts containing more than 10 percent recyclable material could lead to a $100 fine.’’ In Britain, where a similar system is already in place, fines can reach as high as $1,500.

San Franciscans, meanwhile, must sort their garbage into three color-coded bins — blue for recycling, green for compost, and black for trash — and scofflaws who pitch teabags or coffee grounds into the wrong bin can be fined. In other cities, residents must bag their trash in clear plastic, lest they be tempted to toss recyclables out with the garbage."

How much government is enough? Really, you want to spend your money on people being paid to go through your trash and enforce recycling? You want to be told what type of bags in which to dispose trash?

Look into your local recycling program and investigate its cost. If you are of the opinion that even a proposition that loses money but is a program that benefits the environment is "worth it" then I ask this: why not send a personal check, each month, to the government in any amount you feel will further contribute to the value of helping the environment?

New: April 24, 2015

Also from Mark Perry, comes Recommended reading for Earth Day: ‘Recycling is garbage’ from the NYTimes in 1996; it set the record for hate mail:

Today is Earth Day and to recognize that annual environmental holy day, I recommend reading the classic 1996 New York Times Magazine article titled “Recycling is Garbage” by New York Times science columnist John Tierney, especially if you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffer from “garbage guilt” — one of the religious components of recycling according to Tierney.
Tierney’s controversial argument that he made back in 1996 is this: recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America. “Rinsing out tuna cans and tying up newspapers may make you feel virtuous, but it’s a waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources.” Now you can understand why Tierney’s article set the all-time record for the greatest volume of hate mail in the history of the New York Times Magazine. Here are some excerpts of the John Tierney classic “Recycling is Garbage“:
On recycling as a religious experience:
…. the public’s obsession wouldn’t have lasted this long unless recycling met some emotional need. Americans have embraced recycling as a transcendental experience, an act of moral redemption. We’re not just reusing our garbage; we’re performing a rite of atonement for the sin of excess.
On resource scarcity:
We’re [supposedly] squandering irreplaceable natural resources. Yes, a lot of trees have been cut down to make today’s newspaper. But even more trees will probably be planted in their place. America’s supply of timber has been increasing for decades, and the nation’s forests have three times more wood today than in 1920. “We’re not running out of wood, so why do we worry so much about recycling paper?” asks Jerry Taylor, the director of natural resource studies at the Cato Institute. “Paper is an agricultural product, made from trees grown specifically for paper production. Acting to conserve trees by recycling paper is like acting to conserve cornstalks by cutting back on corn consumption.”
Some resources, of course, don’t grow back, and it may seem prudent to worry about depleting the earth’s finite stores of metals and fossil fuels. It certainly seemed so during the oil shortages of the 1970s, when the modern recycling philosophy developed. But the oil scare was temporary, just like all previous scares about resource shortages. The costs of natural resources, both renewable and nonrenewable, have been declining for thousands of years. They’ve become less scarce over time because humans have continually found new supplies or devised new technologies. Fifty years ago, for instance, tin and copper were said to be in danger of depletion, and conservationists urged mandatory recycling and rationing of these vital metals so that future generations wouldn’t be deprived of food containers and telephone wires. But today tin and copper are cheaper than ever. Most food containers don’t use any tin. Phone calls travel through fiber-optic cables of glass, which is made from sand — and should the world ever run out of sand, we could dispense with wires altogether by using cellular phones.
On “human time” as a precious, non-renewable, scarce resource:
The only resource that has been getting consistently more expensive is human time: the cost of labor has been rising for centuries. An hour of labor today buys a larger quantity of energy or raw materials than ever before. To economists, it’s wasteful to expend human labor to save raw materials that are cheap today and will probably be cheaper tomorrow. Even the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental group that strongly favors recycling and has often issued warnings about the earth’s dwindling resources, has been persuaded that there are no foreseeable shortages of most minerals. “In retrospect,” a Worldwatch report notes, “the question of scarcity may never have been the most important one.”
On the enduring myth that “it is better to recycle than to throw away“:
That enduring myth remains popular even among those who don’t believe in the garbage crisis anymore. By now, many experts and public officials acknowledge that America could simply bury its garbage, but they object to this option because it diverts trash from recycling programs. Recycling, which was originally justified as the only solution to a desperate national problem, has become a goal in itself — a goal so important that we must preserve the original problem. Why is it better to recycle? The usual justifications are that it saves money and protects the environment. These sound reasonable until you actually start handling garbage.

Prince: "Dearly beloved, we gathered here today to get through this thing called life…."

The sinews of our interconnected cosmos have been disturbed ... I always liked Prince, for reasons I can't quite articulate, but I know for certain one trait I truly admired: he was his own man and always beat to his own drum ...  cool

A worthy read:  Prince, R.I.P.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Quote of the Day .... 28 Pages

"I think it is implausible to believe that 19 people — most of whom didn't speak English, most of whom had never been in the United States before, many of whom didn't have a high school education — could've carried out such a complicated task without some support from within the United States." - Fmr. Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fl.), 60 Minutes

Source: Saudi Arabia's Alleged 9/11 Connection Just One of Many Reasons the U.S. Ally is a Problem

Rights vs. Wishes

Once again, Walter E. Williams attempts to educate the parasites of this nation in his latest, Rights Versus Wishes:
Here is what presidential aspirant Sen. Bernie Sanders said: "I believe that health care is a right of all people." President Barack Obama declared that health care "should be a right for every American." The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: "Every person has a right to adequate health care." President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his January 1944 message to Congress, called for "the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health." And it is not just a health care right that people claim. There are rights to decent housing, good food and a decent job, and for senior citizens, there's a right to prescription drugs. In a free and moral society, do people have these rights? Let's look at it.

In the standard historical usage of the term, a "right" is something that exists simultaneously among people. As such, a right imposes no obligation on another. For example, the right to free speech is something we all possess. My right to free speech imposes no obligation upon another except that of noninterference. Similarly, I have a right to travel freely. Again, that right imposes no obligation upon another except that of noninterference.

Contrast those rights to free speech and travel with the supposed rights to medical care and decent housing. Those supposed rights do impose obligations upon others. We see that by recognizing that there is no Santa Claus or tooth fairy. If one does not have money to pay for a medical service or decent housing and the government provides it, where do you think the government gets the money?

If you agree that there is no Santa Claus or tooth fairy and that Congress does not have any resources of its very own, the only way for Congress to give one American something is to first take it from some other American. In other words, if one person has a right to something he did not earn, it requires another person's not having a right to something he did earn.

Let's apply this bogus concept of rights to my right to speak and travel freely. Doing so, in the case of my right to free speech, it might impose obligations on others to supply me with an auditorium, microphone and audience. My right to travel freely might require that others provide me with resources to purchase airplane tickets and hotel accommodations. If I were to demand that others make sacrifices so that I can exercise my free speech and travel rights, I suspect that most Americans would say, "Williams, yes, you have rights to free speech and traveling freely, but I'm not obligated to pay for them!"

As human beings, we all have certain natural rights. Of the rights we possess, we have a right to delegate them to government. For example, we all have a natural right to defend ourselves against predators. Because we possess that right, we can delegate it to government. By contrast, I do not have a right to take one person's earnings to give to another. Because I have no such right, I cannot delegate it to government. If I did take your earnings to provide medical services for another, it would rightfully be described and condemned as an act of theft. When government does the same, it's still theft, albeit legalized theft.

If you're a Christian or a Jew, you should be against these so-called rights. When God gave Moses the eighth commandment — "Thou shalt not steal" — I am sure that he did not mean "thou shalt not steal unless there is a majority vote in Congress." The bottom line is medical care, housing and decent jobs are not rights at all, at least not in a free society; they are wishes. As such, I would agree with most Americans — because I, too, wish that everyone had good medical care, decent housing and a good job.

Not All Scumbags Are Politicians

What a tragedy!  There are no words.  What a scumbag.  I'm stunned, really.  I usually don't post Philly-related shit like this but I needed to do something:  Suspect Maurice Phillips Arrested for Murder in the 24th District: (emphasis mine)
On Saturday, April 16, 2016, approximately 2:25PM, Officers from the 24th Police District responded to a radio assignment report of a “Hospital Case” at 2XX E. Mayfield Street. Upon arrival, officers located an unconscious female toddler lying on the floor, face up in the second floor rear bedroom. The victim later identified as 4-year old Tahirah Phillips had suffered a gunshot wound to her head. Fire Department Personnel – Medic #46B was on location and subsequently pronounced the victim at 2:27PM.

The initial investigation revealed that Tahirah Phillip was in the front bedroom of the home with her father Maurice Phillips, and her siblings (13, 10, 5, 3, 1, and 7months). The children were watching television and playing in the room when a single gunshot was heard, and Tahirah Phillips fell to the floor with a bullet wound to her head. The other children became upset and began yelling. Maurice Phillips then got off the bed where he was sitting and struck his 5-year-old daughter with a closed fist then wiped the blood from his hand onto her shirt. He then picked up Tahirah and carried her into the rear bedroom; called his fiancé, and told her to come home. When she arrived he followed her to the bedroom where Tahirah was lying. Maurice Phillips then changed clothes and fled the residence.

Flash information was put out to locate Maurice Phillips; however, he turned himself in to 24th District personnel and was transported to the Homicide Unit. Maurice initially denied responsibility; however, he later told investigators what occurred.

Maurice Phillips 30-years-old from 2XX East Mayfield Street was arrested and charged with: Murder-Third Degree, Involuntary Manslaughter, Endangering the Welfare, Recklessly Endangering Another Person and related charges.

A Case Where Saying Nothing is Better Than Saying Something

 From  Massive Suicide Bomb Attack Near US Embassy In Afghanistan Kills Over 28, Injures Hundreds:

"President Ashraf Ghani condemned the assault "in the strongest possible terms" in a statement from the presidential palace, only a few hundred meters away from the scene of the blast in the Afghan capital.
Really?  This absolutely disgusts me on many levels.  Seriously, what does "strongest possible terms" really mean?  What, if only two people died, the condemnation would be in the "least possible terms"?  On the rational level: do terrorists really care if their act of murder is condemned or not? Or condemned on the "strongest possible terms"?  Next, do the families of the victims truly care whether the president, who is safe behind guarded walls, condemns those that murdered their loved one?  There are times when there are no words, and this is one of those times.  Unfortunately, one thing politicians the world over cannot do, is to shut the fuck up. 

This Just About Covers Socialism

Source (and a good post): Study Finds Unemployed Support Legalized Theft

Monday, April 18, 2016

And This Just In ....

Obama Administration Makes Stunning Admission: "Seed Money For Al Qaeda Came From Saudi Arabia".   Well, it's not a surprise of course.  Maybe the "admission" is, but then again, there's a motive behind it, somewhere, and only time will tell what that is .... stay tuned.  28 Pages.

Institutionalized Lying

David Stockman's Institutionalized Lying - Why Central Bankers Never See Bubbles is a long, but necessary read.  We're being lied to every single day and these lies are reinforced by the MSM.

28 Pages

By Paul Sperry at the New York Post
In its report on the still-censored “28 pages” implicating the Saudi government in 9/11, “60 Minutes” last weekend said the Saudi role in the attacks has been “soft-pedaled” to protect America’s delicate alliance with the oil-rich kingdom.

That’s quite an understatement.

Actually, the kingdom’s involvement was deliberately covered up at the highest levels of our government. And the coverup goes beyond locking up 28 pages of the Saudi report in a vault in the US Capitol basement. Investigations were throttled. Co-conspirators were let off the hook.

Case agents I’ve interviewed at the Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Washington and San Diego, the forward operating base for some of the Saudi hijackers, as well as detectives at the Fairfax County (Va.) Police Department who also investigated several 9/11 leads, say virtually every road led back to the Saudi Embassy in Washington, as well as the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles.

Yet time and time again, they were called off from pursuing leads. A common excuse was “diplomatic immunity.”

Those sources say the pages missing from the 9/11 congressional inquiry report — which comprise the entire final chapter dealing with “foreign support for the September 11 hijackers” — details “incontrovertible evidence” gathered from both CIA and FBI case files of official Saudi assistance for at least two of the Saudi hijackers who settled in San Diego.

Some information has leaked from the redacted section, including a flurry of pre-9/11 phone calls between one of the hijackers’ Saudi handlers in San Diego and the Saudi Embassy, and the transfer of some $130,000 from then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar’s family checking account to yet another of the hijackers’ Saudi handlers in San Diego.

An investigator who worked with the JTTF in Washington complained that instead of investigating Bandar, the US government protected him — literally. He said the State Department assigned a security detail to help guard Bandar not only at the embassy, but also at his McLean, Va., mansion.

The source added that the task force wanted to jail a number of embassy employees, “but the embassy complained to the US attorney” and their diplomatic visas were revoked as a compromise.

Former FBI agent John Guandolo, who worked 9/11 and related al Qaeda cases out of the bureau’s Washington field office, says Bandar should have been a key suspect in the 9/11 probe.

“The Saudi ambassador funded two of the 9/11 hijackers through a third party,” Guandolo said. “He should be treated as a terrorist suspect, as should other members of the Saudi elite class who the US government knows are currently funding the global jihad.”

But Bandar held sway over the FBI.

After he met on Sept. 13, 2001, with President Bush in the White House, where the two old family friends shared cigars on the Truman Balcony, the FBI evacuated dozens of Saudi officials from multiple cities, including at least one Osama bin Laden family member on the terror watch list. Instead of interrogating the Saudis, FBI agents acted as security escorts for them, even though it was known at the time that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens.

“The FBI was thwarted from interviewing the Saudis we wanted to interview by the White House,” said former FBI agent Mark Rossini, who was involved in the investigation of al Qaeda and the hijackers. The White House “let them off the hook.”

What’s more, Rossini said the bureau was told no subpoenas could be served to produce evidence tying departing Saudi suspects to 9/11. The FBI, in turn, iced local investigations that led back to the Saudis.

“The FBI covered their ears every time we mentioned the Saudis,” said former Fairfax County Police Lt. Roger Kelly. “It was too political to touch.”

Added Kelly, who headed the National Capital Regional Intelligence Center: “You could investigate the Saudis alone, but the Saudis were ‘hands-off.’ ”

Even Anwar al-Awlaki, the hijackers’ spiritual adviser, escaped our grasp. In 2002, the Saudi-sponsored cleric was detained at JFK on passport fraud charges only to be released into the custody of a “Saudi representative.”

It wasn’t until 2011 that Awlaki was brought to justice — by way of a CIA drone strike.

Strangely, “The 9/11 Commission Report,” which followed the congressional inquiry, never cites the catch-and-release of Awlaki, and it mentions Bandar only in passing, his named buried in footnotes.

Two commission lawyers investigating the Saudi support network for the hijackers complained their boss, executive director Philip Zelikow, blocked them from issuing subpoenas and conducting interviews of Saudi suspects.

9/11 Commission member John Lehman was interested in the hijackers’ connections to Bandar, his wife and the Islamic affairs office at the embassy. But every time he tried to get information on that front, he was stonewalled by the White House.

“They were refusing to declassify anything having to do with Saudi Arabia,” Lehman was quoted as saying in the book, “The Commission.”

Did the US scuttle the investigation into foreign sponsorship of 9/11 to protect Bandar and other Saudi elite?

“Things that should have been done at the time were not done,” said Rep. Walter Jones, the North Carolina Republican who’s introduced a bill demanding President Obama release the 28 pages. “I’m trying to give you an answer without being too explicit.”

A Saudi reformer with direct knowledge of embassy involvement is more forthcoming.

“We made an ally of a regime that helped sponsor the attacks,” said Ali al-Ahmed of the Washington-based Institute for Gulf Affairs. “I mean, let’s face it.”

This From A Nobel Peace Prize Winner ...

.... Obama Sends More Troops To Iraq; Authorizes Use Of Apache Helicopters; Gives $415 Million To Local Army.  Imagine what the loser would send!!!

This Just About Covers It

Source: Reason

Just About Says It All

Happy Tax Day!

28 Pages ... Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Threatens To Liquidate Its Treasury Holdings If Congress Probes Its Role In Sept 11 Attacks.  Interesting on many labels, yet one question I'd ask Murder Inc. Saudi Arabia is: Who'll buy what you're liquidating? 

Absurdity: When The Con Believes The Con

There are many infamous con games that have been foisted upon the public for millennia. Probably none more enduring than that of Charles Ponzi which bears his name as its moniker. Yet, there’s also been another who was also just as “daring” when it came to finding ways as to extract monetary gains by ill-gotten means: Victor Lustig.

Lustig is best known as “The man who sold the Eiffel Tower.” However, it was one of his other cons that came to mind as I was thinking about the current state of monetary policy we now find ourselves in.

Lustig’s other con was a device he slated would print $100 bills. But it had a problem.

Unbeknown to his mark, this problem was also part of the deception. The problem was (as stated by Lustig) – it could only print 1 bill every 6 hours. The genius was; located within the machine it contained two genuine $100 bills. After that – blanks. You could be long gone, and quite far with that kind of head start back then. Yet, it’s once the con, ruse, or scam is finally exposed one thing is certain: You don’t want to still be around or found.

As with any con game the perpetrator knows it’s all a con. In other words, “Duh!” Yet, if you listen closely to both past as well as present Fed. members you can’t help but notice by way of their current arguments, as well as, proposals for future monetary policy. The one’s who’ve truly bought into “the con” is: themselves!

Nowhere has this been on display more than the current public writings and musings of former Fed. Chair Ben Bernanke.

If you read his latest (which I’ve tried but can’t bear that much comedy in one sitting) he lays out what he thinks (or believes) should now take place involving Congress, the Administration, and the Fed. His great idea? Create and “fill” some arbitrary account which only the Fed. or its appointed designates have control of as to “empty” or “fill” as “Congress and Administration” see fit. But here’s the punchline, ready?

“Importantly, the Congress and Administration would have the option to leave the funds unspent. If the funds were not used within a specified time, the Fed would be empowered to withdraw them.” (Insert laugh track here)

Remember, this is coming not only from the former Chair, but also, one who is quite possibly the most emblematic of current thought residing throughout central bank policy makers with an additional caveat: He’s no longer bound by the position where his thoughts need to be guarded as a voting member of such policy lunacy. In other words: he can now speak his mind openly. To which I’ll muse – that’s no laughing matter when you consider how prevalent Keynesian economics now dominate.

The latest from Bernanke exposes just how far down this “rabbit hole” central bankers have gone. So far I’ll contend – its frightful. e.g., They actually believe this subterfuge.

When I’m giving a talk, or engaged in conversation, I often use the term “con game” when describing current monetary policy and its effect on business and more. Often the term “con” at first seems to put people on the defensive as if I’m using hyperbole, or trying to make a point by using over the top styled rhetoric.

The problem is (I’ll explain) it is exactly that. e.g., Many forget “con” stands for confidence in con-game. And now that the $Dollar along with just about every other currency is all fiat based: confidence is the only variable that supports it in a fiat system. Period. And once it’s lost just as with any “con” – it ends with blinding speed and consequences.”

This is the current danger now inherent after years of QE, NIRP, ZIRP, and every other acronym that represents some form or another of central bank intervention within the markets. So adulterated have the markets now become with central bank meddling; describing them without using quotes such as “markets” seems reckless. For these are far from the markets once thought to represent free market capitalism. Today they are “markets” in name only. For just like currencies – they’re no longer backed by anything once considered tangible like gold or actual net profits via 1+1=2 accounting.

At some point printing ad infinitum, as well as, companies reporting (ad infinitum!) losses of Billions in sales and revenue while declaring “We’re killing it!” via Non-GAAP accounting will make even the most ardent supporter of Keynesian thinking question this new reality. The absurdity can only go on for so long, because, to keep up the ruse (just like suckers) more absurdity is needed. We may be reaching that end point after all these years. And the latest clue might be in the absurd recommendations emanating from central bankers themselves. For it’s becoming clearer by the day if one reads Bernanke’s latest: they think this all makes perfect sense. Talk about absurdity.

Let me pose this question: Does anyone for a moment think China would (or will) allow the Federal Reserve along with the U.S. government carte blanche as to create “piggy banks” that can be used to help bolster its position without calling into attention the absurdity of it? Especially as it holds $TRILLIONS of U.S. debt on its own books? Imagine all this while not only the U.S. but the world of central bankers and other governments push, or brow beat Chinese current policies? Or, question their numbers for authenticity? How about Russia? Or Brazil? Or __________(fill in the blank.) Think they’ll all just stand idly by as their economies teeter on the brink of insolvency as the West just prints and points fingers?

If you listen to the musings emanating from many of the central bankers today whether currently holding an active position, or one which has returned to the “private” sector. One would have to construe that they believe exactly that. i.e., Don’t worry – they’ll buy it because that’s what we want them too. And that absurdity is a glaring warning sign from my viewpoint.

This shows just how far down this absurdity “rabbit hole” we’ve gone. And it can be directly contrasted with the con games of old. For it was always a given: for the ruse to work for the benefit of the perpetrator – one must have both the sense as well as alertness to “get outta Dodge” and not to be seen again as the game blows up. Today?

So enamored with the ruse they now fall all over themselves whether on TV, radio, or print, professing what absurdity should take place next to any and all that will listen. Again, even Lustig knew printing money ex nihilo was a con. Yet today, central bankers regard that as: prudent monetary policy. The difference for a contrast in the absurdity?

Before; it landed you a session in jail. Today? It lands you a speaking gig for $250K a session.