Friday, September 19, 2014

America Goes To War - Again. A Repository of Worthy Reads

Once again into the Valley of Death goes America.  The last grasp of desperate politicians claiming to be leaders and representatives of those that elect them.  We are living in Orwell's 1984, a book that has been transformed from a work of fiction, a work of warning, to an instruction manual.  Below are all worthy reads on this mess, one that will not end well.  I'm so tired of political elites sending the sons and daughters of others to go and die, all in the name of freedom and democracy.  I supposed I'm more exhausted by the fact that we the people, allow it to happen.

Let's start with President Obama's speech to the American People:

All the President's War Declaration (or Whatever it Was); Transcript

Worthy Reads:

Ending Evil vs. Defending the Country by Jacob Sullum

Some War Links by Don Boudreaux (within the post there are several additional links)

Countries at Risk, not Fake U.S. Coalition, Should Stop the Islamic State by Doug Bandow

Is Obama Abusing the Constitution to Combat ISIS? by Gene Healy

Nation Building Isn’t Needed to Fight ISIS by Christopher Preble

What Sort of Problem Is ISIS? by Justin Logan

Well-Armed Turkey Aided Rise of Islamic State: Yet NATO Promises To Defend Ankara From Extremists by Doug Bandow

Why Obama’s War on ISIL Won’t Hold Its Popularity

The Obama Administration’s Member-less Coalition against the Islamic State: What Good Are Allies Anyway? by Doug Bandow

The Islamic State Will Probably be Defeated, but It’s Not Thanks to President Obama by John Mueller

Obama’s Plan Has Nothing New or Strategic by Benjamin Friedman

No, We Shouldn’t Have Stayed in Iraq – and “History” is Not on our Side if We Go Back and Nation Building Isn’t Needed to Fight ISIS by Christopher Preble

The Unlawfulness of Obama's ISIS Plan and Waging War Is a Decision for Congress Alone by Andrew Napolitano

Obama Repeating Bush's Iraq Folly by Sheldon Richman

CIA to Obama: We Already Did Your Dumb Plan And It's 'Doomed to Failure'

Get Ready for Boots on the Ground in Iraq... and Threat Inflation and Our Next Dumb War: ISIS Edition by Nick Gillespie

Conference on ISIS Excludes Syria, Iran; Iran, U.S. Reject Idea of Cooperating Militarily and It Begins: U.S. Action Against ISIS Lets Regional Powers Off the Hook to Do Anything About Their Own Security by Ed Krayewski

Obama’s B.S. Justification for His Illegal War: the 2001 AUMF and Obama’s Grotesque Flip-Flops on Congressional Authorization for War by Matt Welch

The Tower Of Babel Comes To Paris: The Folly Of Obama’s War On ISIS by David Stockman

Obama’s “Broad” Coalition: The Gang That Can’t Bomb Straight by Jason Ditz

Cowardice, Meet Politics: Congress Didn't Want to Vote on ISIS Plan, Anyway by Robby Soave

The Hyped Up Western Jihadi Fear of ISIS by Shikha Dalmia

Even a Top Democrat Thinks Obama's Legal Case for War Makes No Sense and Contractors Ready to Cash In On ISIS War by Eli Lake

Obama Might Send Armed Soldiers, On the Ground, to Help Fight ISIS—But Don't Worry, They Won't Be 'Ground Troops' by Jesse Walker

Why We Shouldn't Be Scared of ISIS: Threat Inflation and Our Next Dumb War by Nick Gillespie

How Many Billions Will Bombing ISIS Cost? What About Other Radicals? by Zenon Evans

Japanese Economy - Abenomics

Recall how Japanese recycled Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has printed stimulated the Japanese economy to the tune of $116B, all with the goal of course of ending Japan's journey through the economic doldrums (recession), which has been underway now for at least 30 years.  Of course, Abe said that "this time it would be different" as the stimulus would be "targeted" not on infrastructure, but on innovation and technology.  Well, all is not well and this time will be no different (well, at least if you're not counting being worse than before as 'different') than from the other failures in the past: Keynesianism does not work and you cannot borrow or print your way out-of-debt. 

So Abe-san, how's that stimulus working out for 'ya?

Why "This Time Won't Be Different" For Japan In Two Charts by Tyler Durden  [especially interesting is the impact of Japan's decision to shutdown all but one of its nuclear power plants after the tsunami]

Abe Says Fears Of Hyperinflation Are "Mostly" Unfounded As He Urges Companies To Hike Wages by Tyler Durden [last few sentences are all that need to be said]


Japan Food Prices Set To Soar As Government Hikes Wholesale Wheat Prices By 10% by Tyler Durden:
If the past three months have been any indication of what Japan has to look forward to from Abenomics, we have a feeling his tenure will be as short, if not shorter, than all of his recent (and numerous, among which he, himself) predecessors. Because while the stock market may have risen in lock step with the plunge in the Yen, what has also soared are costs. And while a very select few benefit from the transitory surge in the Nikkei, the rising costs, i.e., inflation, hit everyone equally.
But while the "no free lunch" reality has until now mostly been felt by those who need energy, as shown in "You Wanted Inflation, You Got It: Japanese Gasoline Price Rises To Eight Month High" the inflationary impact on Chinese imports is about to hit everyone like a sledgehammer right where it hurts the most: in the stomach, as the inevitable has finally happened, and the agriculture ministry announced that wholesale wheat prices are set to rise by a near-record 9.7% in April, which will shortly thereafter send regular food prices soaring.
And just like that Japan is about to learn that soaring stock prices always have a trade off, a lesson which even GETCO's S&P ramping algos will not be exempt from when the latest bout of soaring food inflation results in central banks scrambling to withdraw liquidity, just as they did in early 2011. The results will naturally be the same.

As for how long Abe's government will remain in power after energy and food inflation sweep through the net importing nation, that is anyone's guess.

Japan: Front-Runner Of Outright Monetization by Ryutaro Kono of BNP Paribas

Japanese Welfare Recipients Hit All-Time High by Tyler Durden

The Abenomics Farce Continues by Tyler Durden

Abenomics Tries To Make Sure Japan Is Going Down Swinging by Wolf Richter

Abenomics Utter Fail: Japan’s Crazy Exploding Trade Deficit  by Wolf Richter

Abenomics Wins: Budget And Inflation Both Jump (Over The Cliff) by Wolf Richter

“We Don’t Feel Any Impact Of Abenomics Here”  by Wolf Richter

Japan’s Frantic Redo Of An Artificial Boom Followed By A Bust  by Wolf Richter

BNP Warns Only 10% Chance That Abenomics "Ends Well" by Tyler Durden

Japanese Consumers, Hammered By Abenomics, Get Gloomier   by Wolf Richter

Cheered on by the OECD, Japan Announces Higher VAT Rate to Enable Bigger Government by Dan Mitchell

What Will It Take To Blow Up The Entire Japanese Banking System? (Not Much, According To The Bank of Japan)  by Wolf Richter

Chart Of The Day: "Japan Has No Alternative But To Print And Print And Print" by Tyler Durden

Abenomics One Year Later by Tyler Durden

Dismal Abenomics Leads To 16th Consecutive Decline In Japanese Wages by Tyler Durden

The Japanese Feel The Heat From The Big Lie Of Abenomics by Wolf Richter  [last for 2013]

*******************   2014 *******************************

Crazy Abenomics Orgy In Japan Is Ending Already – Pounding Hangover Next by Wolf Richter

The Madness Of Abenomics In One (Crazy) Chart by Wolf Richter

Total Abenomics Fail Slams Japan Where It Hurts Most by Wolf Richter

Double Data Whammy For Japan As PMI Tumbles & Industrial Production Misses By Most Since Abenomics by Tyler Durden

The Economic Catastrophe That Is Abenomics Sends Japanese Gas Prices To Five Year Highs by Tyler Durden

Abenomics At Work: Largest Ever Trade Deficit Slams Domestic Wages, Gooses Overseas Corporate Profits by Mike Mish Shedlock

Abenomics At Work: Japanese Consumer Confidence Plummets Due To Rising Prices, Stagnant Wages by Pater Tenebrarum

Abenomics Down The Memory Hole: Maniac Money Printing Has Not Stopped Japan’s Falling Wages by Jeffrey P. Snider

Abenomics At Work: Japan’s April Output And Orders Fall Sharply by Mike Mish Shedlock

Japan’s 10th Round Of QE: Still A Flat-Out Failure by Jeffrey P. Snider

Abenomics: Japan’s Live Fire Test Of Keynesian Central Banking Is A Growing Disaster by David Stockman

Abenomics' Legacy: Japan's Greatest "Misery" In 33 Years by Tyler Durden

Abenomics Nails Japan’s Workers: April Real Wages Down 3% Y/Y by Jeffrey P. Snider

Japan’s Great Keynesian Rebuke: Abenomics Has Wiped Out ItsTrade Accounts—-Exactly Opposite The Theory by Jeffrey P. Snider

The Essence Of Abenomics: Swapping Japan’s Historical Trade Mercantilism For Keynesian Financialization by Jeffrey P. Snider

The Wrath of Abenomics: Sales Collapse, Inflation Soars by Wolf Richter

Abe's Worst Nightmare: Household Spending Collapses As Inflation Spikes by Tyler Durden

Printing Press “Prosperity”: The Complete And Utter Failure Of Abenomics by Andy Sirkis

Japan’s ‘Surge’ Undone: The Abenomics Rebuke To Keynesian Money Printers by Jeffrey P. Snider

The Flame-Out Of Abenomics, in One Crucial Chart by Wolf Richter

 Pity The Japanese: They’ve Been Turned Into Keynesian Lab Rats  by Jeffrey P. Snider

 What Japan’s June Trade Disaster Really Means: Abenomics Is Flaming-Out by Wolf Richter

Abenomics Is Working: Japanese Households On Welfare Rise To Record by Tyler Durden 

The Raging “Success” of Abenomics in one Crucial Chart  by Wolf Richter

Japan’s Keynesian Money Printing Experiment Continues To Fail: Jobs, Real Incomes And Spending Plunge Again from ZeroHedge

Keynesian Central Banking Is An Economic Scourge: More Evidence From Japan from Jeffrey P. Snider

The Wrath of Abenomics Crushes Japanese Consumers, Eviscerates Economy by Wolf Richter:
So the hapless Japanese consumers are in the nightmarish situation of having to watch how the government that they themselves elected into power is executing its plan that had been part of its election platform. That plan is now destroying their earnings power and their life savings at a rate that middle-aged Japanese have only read about in history books.

Abenomics Crushes Sony: Electronics Giant Forced To Cancel Dividend For First Time Ever by Tyler Durden

New:  Miraculous Impact of Abenomics on Trade, in One Chart by Wolf Richter

Public Sector Pensions: The Day of Reckoning Is Coming

Pension Fibs from The Burning Platform:

There are only three possibilities regarding these pension obligations. You agree to let them double your real estate taxes, government employees agree to take cuts or the States declare bankruptcy and default on their promises. Which do you think will happen?

Chart of the Day

IL, CA, NJ, TX and PA Worst at Keeping Pension Promises

September 12, 2014:  IL, CA, NJ, TX and PA are the five worst states at keeping their pension promises. These states continue to increase their pension debt instead of setting aside enough money to pay retired employees.
State
2012 Unfunded Pension Benefits Due
2013 Unfunded Pension Benefits Due
Illinois
$94.6B
$100.5B

California
$53.4B
$59.4B

New Jersey
$34.7B
$37.6B

Texas
$31.6B
$35.9B

Pennsylvania
$29.3B
$34.0B


·      These States promise their employees pensions but do not set enough money aside to pay them
·      Pensions should be fully funded yearly, since they are part of employee compensation.
·      Future taxpayers will be responsible for paying for these debts – for services they never received

Government accounting rules allow these states (and others) hide much of their pension funding problem from public view.  See Hidden Pension Debt: CA, IL, NJ, PA, TX 2009-2013  Check your state by selecting ‘Edit Chart Criteria’ below the chart, select your state, scroll down and ‘Generate Chart.’   READ MORE

Nutrition 101

Great starting point for a new repository on nutrition.  Let's start off by debunking the myths that are killing us.  All new updates will be in RED BOLD going forward:

New:  Study: Eating High-Fat Dairy Lowers Type 2 Diabetes Risk

New:  12 Signs You Need to Eat More Protein

What’s the Deal with Fiber? 

Breakfast—Not the Most Important Meal After All... 

Butter Is Back—Processed Foods Are Identified as Real Culprits in Heart Disease

10 Reasons Green Tea Is The Healthiest Drink In The World

Top 10 Destructive Nutrition Lies Ever Told

Not All Carbs Are Bad: How You Can Tell the Difference

4 Foods That Have Surprising Medicinal Benefits

Study Shows That Coconut Oil Can Help Reduce Belly Fat

10 Shocking Facts About Processed Food

Four Great Fat Rich Foods To Start Adding To Your Diet

High-Carb Diet May Increase Your Risk of Dementia

The Health Benefits of Coconut Flour • A Gluten-Free Flour Substitute

John Yudkin: The Man Who Tried to Warn us About Sugar  [1.5hr video in the article is worth the time.  Sugar is a killer, plain and simple; followed by wheat]

5 Lies About Healthy Food That Are Making You Fat  [your body needs fat; plenty of it! Same with cholesterol.  Please, read the following books: Wheat Belly; Grain Brain]

7 Foods For Teeth That Your Dentist Wants You To Eat More Often  [not so sure about #6, as any sweetener will trip insulin production to some degree. I'm still researching this!]

10 Surprising Benefits of Walnuts You May Not Know About

11 Charts That Show Everything Wrong with Our Modern Diet

18 food replacement hacks worth giving a shot

7 Unexpected Ingredients You Might Eating For Lunch Today

15 Best Anti-Aging Foods You Need To Start Eating Now [Note: I'd say '14' ... be careful about #3: stay away from wheat! And, I'm not on board with the 'anti-aging' - they're just good foods]

All Salt is Not Equal

10 Amazing Benefits of Oolong Tea You Didn’t Know

Supplement Alert: Antioxidants May Protect Cancer Cells Instead Of Protecting Us From Them  [note: key word here is "may" ... more studies need to be conducted, and, the raw data and methodology for THIS study needs to be peer reviewed as well]

The Benefits of Coconut Oil

6 Things You Need To Know About Protein

How To Win An Argument With A Nutritionist

The Top Foods That Lead To Inflammation–Avoid These At All Costs

7 Super Foods That Will Make You Live Longer

8 Foods that Speed Up Ageing While Promoting Sickness:
4. Artificial sweeteners are worse than sucrose. Ignore the aspartame and diet soda trap, too. You should actually avoid all sodas, including diet soda. Aspartame is a neuron excitoxin that can excite brain cells to death, putting you in the fast lane to dementia or even brain cancer.

The Latest From Charles Hugh Smith

Charles Hugh Smith is a daily read, and I highly recommend you to do so as well.  This will be the last post on this blog (well, likely not the very last one) in which I'll add links to his work.  Instead, what I've done is to add his blog to "My Blog List", located above right.  Enjoy!

Which Global Hegemon Is on Shifting Sands?

Why the Dollar May Remain Strong For Longer Than We Think

Janus Yellen and the Great Transition from Risk-On to Risk-Off

Is Risk-On About to Switch to Risk-Off?

What If the Easy Money Is Now on the Bear Side?

Why Has Classical Capitalism Devolved to Crony-Capitalism? 

How the China Boom Unravels: One Person at a Time

Could the Alibaba Model Undo the Wal-Mart Model?

The China Boom Story: Alibaba and the 40 Thieves

Stocks Have Reached a Permanently High Plateau

Here's Why the Market Could Crash--Not in Two Years, But Now

Have We Reached a Financial Singularity?

Central Bank Monetary Policy Enables Us to Put Off Real Reforms




Here's ...

Before we commit to a third Iraq War, can we at least get real about what we’re actually up against?

More than a dozen years after the horrors of 9/11, we find ourselves in a Groundhog Day-style nightmare. We wake up yet again to find ourselves terrified of a radical Islamist group that shows no compunction about barbarically killing American civilians and gets off on issuing apocalyptic warnings about a coming age of Allah uber Alles. These days, ISIS is wired; al Qaeda is tired; and Saddam Hussein and Qaddafi expired.

“God willing,” proclaims an ISIS spokesman, “we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House.” Administration officials are only too happy to play along as well. ISIS, explains Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk, “is worse than al Qaeda,” while a deputy secretary of defense warns that ISIS has proclaimed, “We’re coming for you, Barack Obama.”

And so we’re being gulled into a new-and-improved crusade to fix a Middle East still utterly destabilized in large part due to our still-smoldering failure to reshape desert sand into a form more to our desires. As we prep for the next “smart war” engineered by Obama (he’s against “dumb wars,” remember, and lives by the credo “don’t do stupid shit”), it’s worth acknowledging that the signature characteristic of America’s 21st-century war on terrorism and foreign policy has been massive threat inflation at every level. Until we fully grok that terrorism—whether state-sponsored or stateless—thrives on the overreaction of its targets and that we have overreacted so far at virtually every turn, we have no hope of enacting real solutions.

Domestically, we are finally beginning to understand that threat inflation has produced results like the petty, ineffective, and costly indignities that we experience each and every time we board an airplane. Even brass-balled, pro-security Republicans who are otherwise quick to redact the Constitution in the name of national security understand that the Transportation Security Administration exemplifies wasted time and money. Every time you raise your hands in the air and get irradiated in the name of national security, the terrorists have won another small victory. On the 10th anniversary of the TSA’s creation, Reps. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and John Mica (R-Fla.) released a report that concluded (in Broun’s words), “Americans have spent nearly $60 billion, and they are no safer today than they were before 9/11.” The simple act of reinforcing cockpit doors has guaranteed that an American airliner will not be hijacked and used as a missile again. The TSA, by contrast, exemplifies “security theater,” or visible actions to make people feel comfortable while doing nothing to actually increase safety.

The sheen has also mostly worn off The Patriot Act, that awful, Constitution-shredding piece of legislation that, until the passage of Obamacare, held the record for being the least-read law that was rubber-stamped by a pliant Congress (at least our representatives debated The Affordable Care Act). Ongoing revelations about massive bipartisan government abuses of power and the general ineffectiveness of the Patriot Act have driven home the reality that government will use whatever powers it has to do pretty much whatever it can get away with.

But when it comes to foreign threats in foreign lands, we’re still as gullible as the tourists Mark Twain chronicled in Innocents Abroad. As Ohio State University political scientist John Mueller has written, at least since 9/11, our elected officials and policymakers have been quick to designate any number of states (Iraq, Iran, North Korea, for starters) and terrorist groups (the Taliban, al Qaeda, and now ISIS) as “existential threats” to the United States and our way of life. This is, to say the least, preposterous. Unlike, say, the old Soviet Union, which controlled a vast nuclear arsenal capable of blowing up the planet and a large number of vassal states, none of these enemies has the military or economic might to challenge the United States. “As a misguided Turkish proverb holds,” explains Mueller, “‘If your enemy be an ant, imagine him to be an elephant.’”

The original sin of post-9/11 foreign policy stems from the intertwined and equally mistaken ideas that al Qaeda was a potent, ongoing “existential” threat to America and that the United States had a responsibility to “nation build” in the Islamic world rather than avenge monstrous acts against its citizens. As Mueller and Mark G. Stewart note in their 2012 survey of “Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism Since 9/11” (PDF), the 9/11 attacks were not the start of a new era of mass terroristic violence in the West. “Terrorists are not really all that capable a bunch, terrorism tends to be a counterproductive exercise, and 9/11 is increasingly standing out as an aberration, not a harbinger,” they write in their survey of 50 Islamist terrorist acts since 2001.

The United States had every right and reason to destroy al Qaeda’s capabilities and hunt down its leadership (which it eventually did do, after a long detour into Iraq). But apart from hawks who are always on the hunt for the next military engagement, who among us will argue that America’s adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq have left those places and neighboring areas more stable?

As with al Qaeda back in the day, our fears of ISIS suffer from massive threat inflation at every possible level. At the start of the summer, the number of ISIS fighters in Iraq was somewhere in the neighborhood of 7,000 to 10,000; those numbers have doubtless grown but they still face off against more than a quarter of a million Iraqi troops and somewhere between 80,000 and 240,000 Peshmerga soldiers. Even the much-maligned Free Syrian Army numbers 70,000 to 90,000. And, it’s worth pointing out, ISIS is facing intense opposition (and some cooperation) from other jihadist groups, including and especially al Qaeda.

If the Iraqi armed forces are in fact incapable of fighting successfully against ISIS after years of training and resources given them by the United States, there is in fact little we will be able to do to change things in Iraq (Obama has already ruled out “boots on the ground,” and it’s unlikely he will change course between now and leaving office). At the same time, we’re now in a position where we are de facto allies with at least two of our longtime enemies in the immediate vicinity: Iran and Bashar al-Assad in Syria, whose government Barack Obama was set to attack just a year ago. Indeed, the widely expected push to start bombing targets in Syria can only help Assad, who earlier this year was supposedly close to total defeat. The United States and other Western countries being hit up to form the next multinational coalition are now prepping their citizens to help keep Assad in power for the foreseeable future.

Add to this uncomfortable turn of events the fact that American arms given to Syrian opposition forces are now being used by ISIS against Iraqi (and eventually, one presumes, American) forces. If that is not enough to underscore shifting political alliances worthy of Orwell’s 1984, now comes news that Steven Sotloff, the American journalist just beheaded by ISIS, was sold to the group by “moderate Syrian rebels” of precisely the sort we were helping to take down Assad (the White House disputes this).

Given all this, it’s easy to sympathize with why Barack Obama copped to not having a strategy on what to do in the Middle East. But given his past record—tripling troop strength in Afghanistan with nothing to show for it, bombing Libya with nothing to show for it, “resetting” relations with Russia with nothing to show for it—there’s no reason to be hopeful that the president will finally come up with a workable plan. Especially if early reports that he’s pursuing a three-year strategy that will, according to The New York Times, outlast his second term, thus saddling the next president with an inherited war of choice.

At the very least, it’s worth holding the president and his planners accountable for clarifying whether ISIS in fact poses any sort of threat to the United States homeland and narrowly defined American interests, the two things on which foreign policy and military action should be built. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, has stated flatly that “We don't have any information about credible planning for an attack" by ISIS, an assessment that has been corroborated by both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

A wise foreign policy—or at least one that doesn’t constantly make the world worse off—would start by countering threat inflation here and abroad with a heavy dose of reality.

The ISIS Crisis

What, You're Surprised To Learn That ...

Obama marks Constitution Day by referring to our constitutional rights as “privileges”?  Really?  Some constitutional lawyer he must have been!:  [emphasis mine]
Today, September 17, is Constitution Day. Spearheaded by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), Congress passed a resolution in 2004 as rider to an omnibus spending bill setting aside this particular day to celebrate the ratification of the Constitution, the document that provides the framework of the federal government and the rights protected under the Bill of Rights.

The Constitution has experienced somewhat of a resurgence in the last several years, perhaps because of the polarization of political opinions in the United States as well as attempts by presidents from both parties attempts consume more power for the executive branch. The revelations about the National Security Agency, efforts to censor speech, expand gun control laws are just the tip of the iceberg of attempts to trample the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

In his presidential proclamation marking Constitution Day, President Barack Obama offered some insight into how he views the Bill of Rights. “Our Constitution reflects the values we cherish as a people and the ideals we strive for as a society,” Obama said in the release. “It secures the privileges we enjoy as citizens, but also demands participation, responsibility, and service to our country and to one another.”

Given that this White House is known for its expansive view of executive power, the fact that President Obama views these fundamental liberties to be “privileges” isn’t too terribly surprising. After all, President Obama treats the legislative branch — which is supposed to be a co-equal branch of the federal government — as an afterthought as it arbitrarily changes statues and even refuses to enforce laws.

But words matter. To say the rights secured by the Constitution are “privileges” implies that they can be revoked. Let’s put this another way: a high school-aged kid is given the privilege of taking their father’s car out to go hang out with friends, that is until they abuse it by getting caught speeding or into a car accident. The disappointed father would, no doubt, take away the privilege.

Rights and liberties, however, are based on a solid foundation. They can’t be taken away by some paternalistic president. The view of the framers was that the rights protected under the Bill of Rights existed before the formation of the federal government under the Constitution. In short, they were natural rights.

In fact, James Madison believed that a list of specific rights was unnecessary. Thankfully, George Mason and others, to ensure ratification, convinced Madison to come up with proposals, ten of which were passed by Congress and approved by at least three-fifths of the states.

While Obama is the first president (and he won’t be the last) to try to run roughshod over the Constitution and Bill of Rights, his comments are dangerous. They offer much insight into how progressives view your rights, which is to say they’re just privileges that can be revoked at any time some purported emergency arises.

It’s true that Congress and the federal courts have the responsibility to keep the executive branch in check, but, unless Americans begin to take a strong stand against these abuses, thus preventing presidents from treating their rights as mere privileges, they are ostensibly endorsing the slow deconstruction of the very document that makes the United States such a unique experiment.

Quote of the Day

"The purpose of argument should not be victory, but progress." - Unknown

Few people today can truly argue or debate their points of view without the conversation deteriorating into an emotionally-charged clusterfu*k.  Rationality, like commonsense, is in short supply these days, especially when it comes to government, politics, economics, religion and of course, our foreign policy as it relates to our armed forces. 

Buddhist Extremist Cell Vows To Unleash Tranquility On West

Buddhist Extremist Cell Vows To Unleash Tranquility On West ... from The Onion of course!

Distrust the State

In his post Anthony Burgess on “the Duty to Distrust the State”, David Boaz educates me on a person with whom I have only a passing awareness of, that is, only that I know of his book A Clockwork Orange.  Here's the entire post in which Boaz provides a lengthy excerpt from one of Burgess' essays in which he recommends we should distrust the state.  I agree: 
Anthony Burgess wrote some 50 books, but he became most famous for one that was made into a hit movie – A Clockwork Orange, published in 1962 and filmed by Stanley Kubrick in 1971. Two years later Burgess wrote an essay reflecting on the book, the film, and their message. But the essay was not published until 2012, in the New Yorker, where it could be seen only by subscribers. Only this summer did the New Yorker open access to its archives, if only temporarily. So at last I have a chance to draw attention to the section of it I particularly enjoyed, on the dangers of the modern state:
We probably have no duty to like Beethoven or hate Coca-Cola, but it is at least conceivable that we have a duty to distrust the state. Thoreau wrote of the duty of civil disobedience; Whitman said, “Resist much, obey little.” With those liberals, and with many others, disobedience is a good thing in itself. In small social entities—English parishes, Swiss cantons—the machine that governs can sometimes be identified with the community that is governed. But when the social entity grows large, becomes a megalopolis, a state, a federation, the governing machine becomes remote, impersonal, even inhuman. It takes money from us for purposes we do not seem to sanction; it treats us as abstract statistics; it controls an army; it supports a police force whose function does not always appear to be protective.

This, of course, is a generalization that may be regarded as prejudiced nonsense. I personally do not trust politicians or statesmen—very few writers and artists do—and consider that men enter politics for the negative reason that they have little talent for anything else and the positive reason that power is always delicious. Against this must be set the truth that government makes healthful laws to protect the community and, in the great international world, can be the voice of our traditions and aspirations. But the fact remains that, in our own century, the state has been responsible for most of our nightmares. No single individual or free association of individuals could have achieved the repressive techniques of Nazi Germany, the slaughter of intensive bombing, or the atomic bomb. War departments can think in terms of megadeaths, while it is as much as the average man can do to entertain dreams of killing the boss. The modern state, whether in a totalitarian or a democratic country, has far too much power, and we are probably right to fear it.

It is significant that the nightmare books of our age have not been about new Draculas and Frankensteins but about what may be termed dystopias—inverted utopias, in which an imagined megalithic government brings human life to an exquisite pitch of misery. Sinclair Lewis, in “It Can’t Happen Here”—a novel curiously neglected—presents an America that becomes fascist, and the quality of the fascism is as American as apple pie. The wisecracking homespun Will Rogers-like President uses the provisions of a constitution created by Jeffersonian optimists to create a despotism which, to the unthinking majority, at first looks like plain common sense. The trouncing of long-haired intellectuals and shrill anarchists always appeals to the average man, although it may really mean the suppression of liberal thought (the American Constitution was the work of long-haired intellectuals) and the elimination of political dissidence. Orwell’s “1984”—a nightmare vision which may conceivably have prevented the nightmare fact from being realized: no one expects the real 1984 to be like Orwell’s—shows the unabashed love of power and cruelty which too many political leaders have hidden under the flowers of “inspirational” rhetoric. The “Inner Party” of Orwell’s future England exerts control over the population through the falsification of the past, so that no one can appeal to a dead tradition of freedom; through the delimitation of language, so that treasonable thoughts cannot be formulated; through a “doublethink” epistemology, which makes the outside world appear as the rulers wish it to appear; and through simple torture and brainwashing.

Both the American and the British visions conjoin in assuming that the aversive devices of fear and torture are the inevitable techniques of despotism, which seeks total control over the individual. But, as long ago as 1932, Aldous Huxley, in his “Brave New World,” demonstrated the submissive docility that powerful states seek from their subjects as being more easily obtainable through non-aversive techniques. Pre-natal and infantile conditioning makes the slaves happy in their slavery, and stability is enforced not through whips but through a scientifically imposed contentment. Here, of course, is a way that man may take if he really desires a world in which there are no wars, no population crises, no Dostoyevskian agonies. The conditioning techniques are available, and perhaps the state of the world may soon frighten man into accepting them.

The whole thing is worth reading, with its reflections on freedom and conformity, good and evil, Orwell and B. F. Skinner (he was big in 1973).

Bitcoin

I have followed, albeit with less than my full attention, the virtual currency known as Bitcoin for quite some time now.  Bitcoin is a "decentralized digital currency" and according to Wikipedia, is "... the most widely used alternative currency." To be honest, I still am quite puzzled by the concept and my attempts to actually understand it is frustrating.  I find the fundamentals interesting: no central bank and purely voluntary, the opposite of what we have today.

Two recent events have had a significant impact on Bitcoin: the Cyprus meltdown and the U.S. government's announcement that it is going after Bitcoin.  The latter of these two events has really captured my attention because I firmly believe now that if the government, any government, seeks to regulate or otherwise interfere in something, that something must be good.  And, when it comes to controlling money, especially today's fiat currency, the government does not like competition and in fact, it is a direct threat to their monoply.  And finally, none other than Nassim Taleb had this to say on Reddit about Bitcoin:

"Bitcoin is the beginning of something great: a currency without a government, something necessary and imperative."


So, I begin the attempt to create a repository on the best Bitcoin articles and posts I can find.  Hope it helps ...

The Foundation:

Bitcoin: The Organization

Bitcoin from Wikipedia

Bitcoin - The Libertarian Introduction

Five Years Ago Today Bitcoin was Born – Read Satoshi’s Original White Paper

All Things Bitcoin from Venture Scanner

How The Bitcoin Protocol Actually Works

Bitcoin has theory and history on its side

Bitcoin Infographic [Excellent!]


The Government Response to BitCoin:

The Empire Strikes Back: How the State will Attack Bitcoin

Bitcoin vs. Big Government

US Begins Regulating BitCoin, Will Apply "Money Laundering" Rules To Virtual Transactions

Of Bitcoin & the State

Paul Krugman Goes on the Attack: Calls Bitcoin “Antisocial”  [Note: this does it for me!  Once Krugman is against something, that automatically means I'm for it!  Read the first paragraph of the post.  Since Krugman is a government shill, he is added to this the "government response" section!]

The US Regulatory Vice Closes On Bitcoin 

Homeland Security cuts off Dwolla bitcoin transfers  [Note: another "does it for me"! ... If the DHS is against it, I'm for it ... whatever the "it" is ...]

US Government Begins BitCoin Crackdown [Note: ditto]

Bitcoin: The Tyranny Test

Bitcoin Anonymity Dream: Dying?

US Treasury denies it is trying to torpedo Bitcoin

California Sends Bitcoin Foundation Cease and Desist Order

The Wild Bitcoin Frontier Getting More Crowded with Clueless Lawmen

Bitcoin recognized by Germany as 'private money'

What Does the Silk Road Seizure Mean for Bitcoin?  [My opinion is that this raid had nothing to do with drugs and everything to do with going after Bitcoin, however, this article explains why this will fail.]

Thoughts on the Silk Road Raid, “Trolling” the FBI, and the Future of Bitcoin

Bureaucrats Line Up to Regulate Bitcoin


    The Virtual Bookshelf:

Bitcoin Goes Parabolic: My Updated Thoughts by Mike Krieger

Bitcoin: the fastest growing currency in the world - video

The Bitcoin Economy Evolves: Bitpay Slashes Fees and is Adding 1,000 Merchants a Month

Bitcoin: How An Unregulated, Decentralized Virtual Currency Just Became A Billion Dollar Market

Bitcoin Hits $101 - Doubles Since Cyprus

Bitcoin Holds More Value Than the Entire Currency Stock of 20 Nations

The Bitcoin Bubble and the Future of Currency

Everything You Wanted to Know About Bitcoin But Were Afraid to Ask  superb infographic!




Gold, Redeemability, Bitcoin, and Backwardation




Bitcoin Busts Out! Federal Reserve to Blame?

What Is the Value of Bitcoin?

Bitcoin: An Escape From Currency Debasement?

The money-ness of Bitcoins

Tenants Can Now Pay Rent And Maintenance In Bitcoin

The Bitcoin Money Myth

BitCoin, Or BetaCoin? What The Venture Capitalists Are Thinking

Could Bitcoin be the money of the future?

Welcome to Kreuzberg, Berlin: The Neighborhood with the Highest Bitcoin Concentration on Earth

Venture Capitalist: BitCoin Is Gold 2.0

Bitcoin Startup Coinbase Raises $5 Million…Major Venture Capital Players Getting Involved

Could an Inside Sneak Attack on Bitcoin Destroy It?

Bitcoin a Refuge For Argentines Tired of Government's Currency Despotism

Thailand's Central Bank Outlaws Bitcoin, Though Enforcement Should Be Interesting

Bitcoins Catching On in Latin America

Bitcoin: As Good as Gold?

Chinese internet giant Baidu starts accepting Bitcoin

Bitcoin Climbs To Highest Since April, Led By Chinese Actions

Video of the Day – Bitcoin: A Banker’s Worst Fear

Picture of the Day: Bitcoin Reaches Record Market Capitalization of $2.64 Billion

Meet Dark Wallet – How Crypto-Anarchists Will Store Their Bitcoins

As Bitcoin Soars Over $300, A Question Arises: Could It Become A Global Reserve Currency?

Is This Why Bitcoin Is Surging?

People have bought or sold $100,000 in Bitcoins from a Vancouver ATM, firm says

As Bitcoin Plunges 25% On Government Scrutiny, The First BTC "Fair Value" Reco Has A Stunning Price Target

5 Bitcoin Projects That Could Make Payments Far More Anonymous

New:  Bitcoin Charts, Finally  [must read!]

Quote of the Day

"Keep a close eye on this bifurcation, because as the Chinese housing bubble goes, so goes the US financial bubble." - ZeroHedge, When It Comes To Net Worth, This Is The Main Difference Between China And The US:


Ever wonder why for the US, it is all about reflating the stock market bubble in order to boost the "wealth effect", if only for a small portion of the population?

Or, for that matter, why in China where the Shanghai Composite has gone absolutely nowhere since the Lehman crash (and certainly isn't up some 200% unlike the liquidity-supercharged S&P 500), it is all about preserving the sanctity of the housing bubble?

Then the following chart should make it all clear.

As we reported earlier today, in the US it is all about (record) financial assets. So much so, in fact, that financial assets as a percentage of total household assets have never been higher at 70.3%, which also means that real estate as a percentage of total is as low as it has ever been.

Meanwhile, in China few households care as much about financial assets (the ones that do are largely a part of the Politburo or the ultra-rich oligrachy). Instead, the largest Chinese household asset is Real Estate, which at 74.7% of total household assets, is by far the most valuable asset that China's population has.




Said otherwise, while the US, the Fed, and in general the Western world, will happily keep reflating the financial system until it all bursts again, in China it will be all about reflating the housing bubble. And while so far the Fed appears in control of the S&P 500, trading well over 2000, in China - as reported earlier today - the housing market is in clear freefall, despite Beijing and the PBOC's best interests to levitate it. Keep a close eye on this bifurcation, because as the Chinese housing bubble goes, so goes the US financial bubble.

All You Need To Know About ISIS

Now, I'm not going to repost Nafeez Ahmed's How The West Created ISIS, however, please do not let that stop you from opening the link and reading it.  The subtitle says it all "... with a little help from our friends."  Some friends.

Please think about this for a moment: a ragtag "organization", newly "formed" (better yet, 'created' as the article states) whose numbers range anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 has somehow managed to become the target of the world's most powerful nation in the matter of time that amounts to what, months - a year?  Everything about ISIS, ISIL, etc., just screams "manufactured".  This is not to say this group is not barbaric and hasn't committed horrific acts of violence, yet it has burst upon the scene with such suddenness and yet, this is not questioned at all. 

The stupidity of man ... especially the political man ...

Our Spineless Duopoly Strikes Again


From a new war in the Middle East to the reauthorization of a corrupt government programs, Republicans always find a way to disappoint everyone.

The GOP’s metamorphosis from what Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal once called the stupid party into a party that is both stupid and useless is almost complete.

Between Wednesday’s votes in favor of bills that put federal spending on autopilot through December 11 and arm and train Syrian rebels, the Republicans are no longer even pretending to offer a serious alternative to a status quo deeply at odds with their supposed political philosophy. That’s not just bad for the GOP’s political fortunes—it’s bad for the country. Why have two parties when they’re effectively the same outfit?

Republicans have long talked a good game about wanting to cut the size, scope, and spending of government without ever really delivering the goods (see, for instance, the George W. Bush years). But these days, they can’t even be bothered to fake it. Gone is any of the budget-cutting brio that animated not only Tea Party enthusiasts a few years back but incoming House leadership just a couple of months ago.

They can’t be bothered to fight for even the smallest of trims. After Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was unexpectedly bounced in his June primary, his replacement Kevin McCarthy announced that he was ready to let the wasteful and corrupt Export-Import Bank (or Ex-Im) expire at the end of September. That was not only refreshing to hear, it seemed to signal that the GOP might actually start drawing out differences on economic policy between it and the Democratic Party. Maybe, just maybe, the party of Lincoln was finally getting serious about that total reboot they’d promised after the 2012 elections.

Created by Franklin Roosevelt during the Depression, Ex-Im offers $150 billion of taxpayer-backed loans and other financing to foreign countries to buy American products. It has long been attacked by free traders as a blatant form of corporate welfare that subsidizes the purchase of airplanes made by Boeing, farm equipment by John Deere, heavy machinery by Caterpillar, and various products made by such struggling firms as General Electric. On the very weekend it was announced that McCarthy would replace Cantor in the House leadership, he was asked whether he would let Ex-Im expire. “Yes,” McCarthy told Fox News, “because it’s something the private sector can be able to do.”

Well, that was then. Ex-Im funding will now be temporarily extended, and then the GOP will figure out a way to reauthorize it for another few years. After the midterms, look for stories talking up “bold” and “important” reforms that will do nothing to redirect the hyper-concentrated flow of Ex-Im funds to a single state (Washington, which pulls in over 40 percent of all disbursements).

Then there’s the resolution to arm and train “moderate” Syrian rebels, so they can fight a two-front war against both the hideous Assad regime and the barbaric Islamic State. This was a an amendment to the continuing resolution and it passed easily by a vote of 273 to 156, with Republicans voting two-to-one in favor. It now goes to the Senate, where there will be a single vote on the whole megillah: regular government spending, plus the training dollars for our new rebel friends. It is expected to pass easily in the Senate.

The GOP, which claims to be the party that pledges maniacal fealty to the Constitution, can’t be bothered to push for a declaration of war, but it’s happy to shovel more borrowed money toward a dodgy group of Syrians. “I frankly think the president’s request is a sound one,” Speaker of the House John Boehner told the Washington Times. The only real disagreement among Republicans is whether to put American soldiers on the ground to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria, which appears to be what Sen. John McCain is pushing for..

As the differences between the two parties are blunted, it’s no wonder that Republican chances for retaking the Senate are evaporating faster than those anticipated federal surpluses in the early Aughts. “Democrats now have a 51 percent chance of holding the Senate,” reports The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, who notes that just a few months ago, the odds were better than 80 percent that the Republicans would pick up six seats to gain a majority in both houses of Congress.

The Republicans’ utter lack of temerity is somewhat understandable. Their leaders have long refused to commit to any real change, even when Tea Party fever was at its highest (the few times Republicans pushed for spending trims—such as when the GOP called for cutting food stamps while growing farm subsidies—have been less than inspiring). Much like Mitt Romney, who, spent five long years steadfastly refusing to name any major federal program he would cut, the current crop of party leaders is terrified of laying out any specific plans. Romney played defense all the way, as did Boehner upon becoming Speaker of the House.

Just a couple of weeks before ascending to the big-boy chair in the House of Representatives in 2011, Boehner was asked to “name a program right now that we could do without.” His answer: “I don’t think I have one off the top of my head.”

Years later, at a time when President Obama has managed to turn off even his longtime fans in the press, the GOP still doesn’t really have any answers or reforms or changes that it’s willing to share with the voting public.

In a two-party system, we’re effectively down to one party that wants to keep spending essentially the same and to start a new war without having to go on the record as voting for it or against it. No wonder that just 25 percent of Americans identify as Republican, according to Gallup, and the GOP probably won’t win the Senate despite appalling poll numbers for Obama’s Democrats. Because when you go from being stupid to being useless, voters are smart to stick with the status quo, no matter how miserable it might be.


Good News For A Change: Americans Trust the Government Less and Less


Americans trust their government less and less, according to new polling from Gallup.

Overall, “trust in the three branches of the federal government is collectively lower than at any point in the last two decades,” with those who place a fair amount or great deal of trust in Congress down to 28 percent. At 43 percent, trust in the executive branch has dropped to its lowest point since Watergate. Only the court system fares relatively well, with 61 percent saying they trust the judicial branch.

Overall, trust has been dropping for years. Yes, there have been a handful of spikes—around September 11th, the war in Iraq, and the election of Barack Obama. But each of those hopeful moments was followed by a rapid slide. Here's Gallup's graph:

Gallup Polls 

What, exactly, trust represents in a survey like this is somewhat hard to pin down. To some extent it’s just a measure of approval or disapproval, which is why you see a clear partisan split on trust in the executive branch, with 83 percent of Democrats saying they trust the executive, compared to 37 percent of independents and 13 percent of Republicans.

But it’s also a measure of expectation. Will this institution and its members deliver on promises made? Will they act in accordance with the values they claim to hold? Will they make good judgments, and will they act in ways that allow for transparency and accountability?

Which is another way of saying it’s a measure of faith. And on the evidence, Americans have lost a lot of faith in their government—the elected branches in particular.

It’s easy to imagine politicians trying to address this by promising to do everything better, to finally make it all work as promised. That’s sort of what Barack Obama promised back in 2008, when his big idea wasn’t any program or policy so much as a promise to change the way Washington works. Another way of putting this is that he was going to restore trust in the government.

But of course, despite initial hopes, that didn’t really work out, and, in the end, that notion, and its failure, probably contributed overall to the decline in trust: Obama promised big, sweeping cultural changes that were never likely to pay off, and then when they didn’t, trust fell even further. No one likes having their hopes dashed, their expectations shattered.

Which suggests an opening for any politician who is both bold and humble enough to try—acknowledging that there are real limits to what government can accomplish, and promising to do fewer things, but to do them well.

However, this being said, Americans will STILL reelect incumbents and decline to do anything substantial to effect real change.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Walter E. Williams: Multiculturalism Is a Failure

German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that in Germany, multiculturalism has "utterly failed." Both Australia's ex-prime minister John Howard and Spain's ex-prime minister Jose Maria Aznar reached the same conclusion about multiculturalism in their countries. British Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that multiculturalism is fostering extremist ideology and directly contributing to homegrown Islamic terrorism. UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said the United Kingdom's push for multiculturalism has not united Britons but pushed them apart. It has allowed for Islam to emerge despite Britain's Judeo-Christian culture. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the roots of violent Islamism are not "superficial but deep" and can be found "in the extremist minority that now, in every European city, preach hatred of the West and our way of life."

The bottom line is that much of the Muslim world is at war with Western civilization. There's no question that the West has the military might to thwart radical Islam's agenda. The question up for grabs is whether we have the intelligence to recognize the attack and the will to defend ourselves from annihilation.

Multiculturalism is Islamists' foot in the door. At the heart of multiculturalism is an attack on Western and Christian values. Much of that attack has its roots on college campuses among the intellectual elite who see their mission as indoctrinating our youth. In past columns, I've documented professorial hate-America teaching, such as a UCLA economics professor's telling his class, "The United States of America, backed by facts, is the greediest and most selfish country in the world." A history professor told her class: "Capitalism isn't a lie on purpose. It's just a lie." She also said: "(Capitalists) are swine. ... They're bastard people." Students sit through lectures listening to professorial rants about topics such as globalism and Western exploitation of the Middle East and Third World peoples.

Some public school boards have banned songs and music containing references to Santa Claus, Jesus or other religious Christmas symbols.

The New York City school system permits displays of Jewish menorahs and the Muslim star and crescent, but not the Christian Nativity scene. One school district banned a teacher from using excerpts from historical documents in his classroom because they contained references to God and Christianity. The historical documents in question were the Declaration of Independence and "The Rights of the Colonists," by Samuel Adams.

The U.S. is a nation of many races, ethnicities, religions and cultures. Since our inception, people from all over the world have immigrated here to become Americans. They have learned English and American history and celebrated American traditions and values. They have become Americans while also respecting and adapting some of the traditions of the countries they left behind. By contrast, many of today's immigrants demand that classes be taught — and official documents be printed — in their native language. Other immigrants demand the use of Shariah, practices that permit honor killing and female genital mutilation.

Multiculturalists argue that different cultural values are morally equivalent. That's nonsense. Western culture and values are superior. For those who'd accuse me of Eurocentrism, I'd ask: Is forcible female genital mutilation, as practiced in nearly 30 sub-Saharan African and Middle Eastern countries, a morally equivalent cultural value? Slavery is practiced in Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan; is it morally equivalent? In most of the Middle East, there are numerous limits placed on women, such as prohibitions on driving, employment and education. Under Islamic law, in some countries, female adulterers face death by stoning, and thieves face the punishment of having their hand severed. In some countries, homosexuality is a crime punishable by death. Are these cultural values morally equivalent, superior or inferior to Western values?

Multiculturalism has not yet done the damage in the U.S. that it has in western European countries — such as England, France and Germany — but it's on its way. By the way, one need not be a Westerner to hold Western values. Mainly, you just have to accept the supremacy of the individual above all else.

The American Public: A Tough Soldier Or A Chicken Hawk Cowering In A Cubicle?

Via ZeroHedge, comes Mike Krieger's The American Public: A Tough Soldier Or A Chicken Hawk Cowering In A Cubicle?  It's practically a primer on the "history" of the ISIS, which as Krieger points out, seems to have suddenly come about just about the time Obama was denied his goal of bombing Syria.  America's MICS complex needs an enemy for good business and politicians need distractions for their constituents.  All so convenient.