Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category
(When I wrote a couple of weeks ago about Texas history, some of it – like the mass executions of Texian fighters at the Goliad – came as a surprise to some readers. This might be another surprise: a Mexican invasion six years later, which briefly occupied San Antonio…) Read the rest of this entry »
Carter Doctrine:”The Carter Doctrine was a policy proclaimed by President of the United States Jimmy Carter in his State of the Union Address on January 23, 1980, which stated that the United States would use military force if necessary to defend its national interests in the Persian Gulf region. The doctrine was a response to the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, and was intended to deter the Soviet Union—the Cold War adversary of the United States—from seeking hegemony in the Gulf. After stating that Soviet troops in Afghanistan posed “a grave threat to the free movement of Middle East oil,” Carter proclaimed:….”
On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, as we remember the fallen and the many members of the armed services of the United States who have served for ten years of war, heroically, at great sacrifice and seldom with complaint, we also need to recall that we should not move through history as sleepwalkers. We owe it to our veterans and to ourselves not to continue to blindly walk the path of the trajectory of 9/11, but to pause and reflect on what changes in the last ten years have been for the good and which require reassessment. Or repeal. To reassert ourselves, as Americans, as masters of our own destiny rather than reacting blindly to events while carelessly ceding more and more control over our lives and our livelihoods to the whims of others and a theatric quest for perfect security. America needs to regain the initiative, remember our strengths and do a much better job of minding the store at home.
1. Canada and oil sands: “Bituminous sands, colloquially known as oil sands or tar sands, are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit. The sands contain naturally occurring mixtures of sand, clay, water, and a dense and extremely viscous form of petroleum technically referred to as bitumen (or colloquially “tar” due to its similar appearance, odour, and colour). Oil sands are found in large amounts in many countries throughout the world, but are found in extremely large quantities in Canada and Venezuela.”
2. Israel and Natural Gas: “In recent years, Israel has found and begun developing massive natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean Sea. There is much more wealth underwater– the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the Levant Basin contains as much as 122 trillion cubic meters of recoverable gas — and all countries around the basin want a piece of the action.”
3. Russian state oil and American oil companies: “America’s largest oil company last week reached an historic agreement with Russia’s state oil company, Rosneft. ExxonMobil now will take the place of BP (British Petroleum), whose dealings with Rosneft collapsed earlier this year.”
4. Dakotas and oil reserves: “America is sitting on top of a super massive 200 billion barrel Oil Field that could potentially make America Energy Independent and until now has largely gone unnoticed. Thanks to new technology the Bakken Formation in North Dakota could boost America’s Oil reserves by an incredible 10 times, giving western economies the trump card against OPEC’s short squeeze on oil supply and making Iranian and Venezuelan threats of disrupted supply irrelevant.”
5. Bloom boxes: “One example to illustrate why the future is proving elusive in the USA: There is a stand-alone electricity providing unit called the Bloom Energy Server or “Bloom Box” — small, simple to use — which can power any home or commercial building. The wondrous box has already been test-driven; Google, eBay and a number of other Fortune 500 companies have a few Bloom Boxes and they’re saving fortunes in electrical bills.
In other words, the Bloom Box can make America’s electricity grid obsolete. There are only two things holding the box back from being installed in every residential, commercial and government space in the USA:
a) Bloom Energy, the company that makes the box, doesn’t have large manufacturing capacity.
b) The U.S. energy industry doesn’t want to be shoved around by a box. (The same for much of the ‘Green Jobs’ sector that the federal government has been pushing hard. The Bloom Box technology makes windmill and solar panel technologies obsolete.”
The GOP debates have been intellectually vapid and the fault does not lie entirely with our lightweight media moderators. Ladies and gentlemen, you are “auditioning” for the toughest job in the world. Ladies and gentlemen, you are genuinely interesting and accomplished people. Be leaders. Hire some decent speech coaches, do a little background wonky reading and show us your vision for the future.
Update: I made a few edits for clarity. Thanks for the comments, everyone. I don’t know squat about this topic. Carl from Chicago is definitely the “go to” guy on energy topics around here but I’ve been bored with the debates and wanted to blog about that for some time now. Also, I don’t know what the whole “ladies and gentlemen” thing is about. It’s kinda affected. Incorrect, too. Only one lady has been involved in the formal debates….so far….
Posted in Americas, Big Government, Business, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, International Affairs, Israel, Middle East, North America, Russia, Science, Society, Uncategorized | 6 Comments »
Sixty six years ago today, had Japan not surrendered to the Allies after the dual A-Bomb attacks and the Soviet Invasion of Manchuria, the armed forces of the British Empire would have stormed the western beaches of Malaya at Port Dickson and Port Swettenham with two infantry divisions, one infantry brigade, lead by a regiment of DD-tanks and flame throwing landing vehicles. This invasion would have set off a chain of events that would have seen hundreds of thousands, if not millions, murdered and killed before the Allies put down the Imperial Japanese Armed Forces, starting with Allied Prisoners of War. The word of that atrocity would have prevented a later Japanese surrender as the British and American public’s rage would have left the American President and British Prime Minister no other options.
This is was a very near run thing as Britain’s ambassador to Japan Hugh Cortazzi (1980 to 1984) said here:
On Aug. 15, 1945, the Japanese authorities “announced that although Nippon had agreed to unconditional surrender, Field Marshal Count Terauchi, Commander in Chief of the Southern Army, did not associate himself with it and intended to fight on. What we did not know then was that a plan existed at Count Terauchi’s Saigon headquarters to execute all prisoners in case of invasion.”
This passage on page 573 of “Tennozan: The Battle of Okinawa and the Atomic Bomb“ by George Feifer, makes clear the human cost of that “Kill All” order being executed:
“After the fall of Okinawa, Field Marshal Count Hisaichi Terauchin issued an order directing his prison camp officers to kill all their captives the moment the enemy entered his southeast Asia theater. That would have been when those 200,000 British landed to retake Singapore, less than three weeks after the Japanese surrender. There was a real chance that Terauchi’s order would have been carried out, in case up to 400,000 people would have been massacred.”
And it would not have stopped there. When the British reached Singapore, it would have found a repeat of “The Rape of Nanking without wartime censorship being able to cover it up. More importantly, Allies Ultra and Magic code breaking let Allied leaders know this was on the table.
From Truman’s August 9, 1945 Radio Report to the American People on the Potsdam Conference.
I realize the tragic significance of the atomic bomb.
Its production and its use were not lightly undertaken by this Government. But we knew that our enemies were on the search for it. We know now how close they were to finding it. And we knew the disaster which would come to this Nation, and to all peace-loving nations, to all civilization, if they had found it first.
That is why we felt compelled to undertake the long and uncertain and costly labor of discovery and production.
We won the race of discovery against the Germans.
Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans.
We shall continue to use it until we completely destroy Japan’s power to make war. Only a Japanese surrender will stop us.
Emperor Hirohito took the hint and sent a personal representative known to Field Marshal Count Terauchi to get the Count to enforce a surrender on his troops.
11 Sep 2011 UPDATE (Below the Fold)
Read the rest of this entry »
The town of Gonzales is about an hour’s drive east and a little way south of San Antonio. In the days when Texas was a Spanish and then a Mexican posession, San Antonio, Goliad and Nacogdoches were the centers of what little population there was. But in the 1820s, the newly-established and independent Mexican nation sought to encourage America and European entrepeneurs to take up generous land grants, and bring in settlers. Stephen F. Austin was the one that everyone knows about: the urban heart – if you could call it that – of his grant was at San Felipe on the Brazos River.
Posted by Lexington Green on 1st September 2011 (All posts by Lexington Green)
“A society that puts equality – in the sense of equality of outcome – ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality or freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom. On the other hand, a society that puts freedom first will, as a happy by-product, end up with both greater freedom and greater equality.”
Bring Milton back to ChicagoBoyz!
Image from here.
Posted by Charles Cameron on 21st August 2011 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
[ cross-posted from Zenpundit -- philosophy, psychology, history, game theory, dilemma, commons cooperation, analogy, 9/11 ]
I have an interest in game theory that is much like my interest in music: I can’t play, but I can whistle. And so it is that I’ve substituted curiosity about the history of the thing, and whatever analogical patterns I can discern there, for any actual ability at the thing itself.
Somewhere in my analogy-collector’s mind, then, I have these two quotes, cut from the living tissue of their writer’s thoughts, and prepped fpor contemplation. I find them, in retrospect, quite remarkable.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in On the Inequality among Mankind, wrote:
Such was the manner in which men might have insensibly acquired some gross idea of their mutual engagements and the advantage of fulfilling them, but this only as far as their present and sensible interest required; for as to foresight they were utter strangers to it, and far from troubling their heads about a distant futurity, they scarce thought of the day following. Was a deer to be taken? Every one saw that to succeed he must faithfully stand to his post; but suppose a hare to have slipped by within reach of any one of them, it is not to be doubted but he pursued it without scruple, and when he had seized his prey never reproached himself with having made his companions miss theirs.
And David Hume, in A Treatise of Human Nature:
Your corn is ripe today; mine will be so tomorrow. ‘Tis profitable for us both that I shou’d labour with you today, and that you shou’d aid me tomorrow. I have no kindness for you, and know that you have as little for me. I will not, therefore, take any pains on your account; and should I labour with you on my account, I know I shou’d be disappointed, and that I shou’d in vain depend upon your gratitude. Here then I leave you to labour alone: You treat me in the same manner. The seasons change; and both of us lose our harvests for want of mutual confidence and security.
Those two, I believe, are fairly well known – I was delighted the other day to run across a third sample for my collection. William James, in The Will to Believe, writes:
Wherever a desired result is achieved by the co-operation of many independent persons, its existence as a fact is a pure consequence of the precursive faith in one another of those immediately concerned. A government, an army, a commercial system, a ship, a college, an athletic team, all exist on this condition, without which not only is nothing achieved, but nothing is even attempted. A whole train of passengers (individually brave enough) will be looted by a few highwaymen, simply because the latter can count on one another, while each passenger fears that if he makes a movement of resistance, he will be shot before any one else backs him up. If we believed that the whole car-full would rise at once with us, we should each severally rise, and train-robbing would never even be attempted.
The first two quotes are of interest as showing the forms that an idea which will later be mathematized can take. They are, if you like, precursors of game theoretic constructs, although neither Hume nor Rousseau appears to be mentioned in von Neumann and Morgenstern‘s Theory of Games and Economic Behavior.
The third, I think, is even more interesting.. Consider the eerie and heroic “fulfillment” of that third paragraph if read “as prophecy” – in this account from the 9/11 Commission Report of the events on United Flight 93:
During at least five of the passengers’ phone calls, information was shared about the attacks that had occurred earlier that morning at the World Trade Center. Five calls described the intent of passengers and surviving crew members to revolt against the hijackers. According to one call, they voted on whether to rush the terrorists in an attempt to retake the plane. They decided, and acted. At 9:57, the passenger assault began. Several passengers had terminated phone calls with loved ones in order to join the revolt. One of the callers ended her message as follows:
“Everyone’s running up to first class. I’ve got to go. Bye.” The cockpit voice recorder captured the sounds of the passenger assault muffled by the intervening cockpit door.
Yesterday’s highwayman is today’s hijacker, yesterday’s train is today’s plane…
If there’s anything to be learned here, it’s not a novel way of protecting trains or aircraft from passengers of malicious intent –
It’s that there’s a subtle thread running from something akin to instinct that’s also close to unspoken common sense, surfacing for a moment in the writings of thoughtful individuals, leading on occasion to the formulation of exact mathematical principles — but also (i) available, (ii) in the human repertoire, (iii) to be acted upon, (iv) cooperatively, (v) as required, (vi) via the medium of human common interest, (vii) which provides the resultant trust.
Which may in turn offer some reason for hope — for a humanity in various forms of communal distress…
Posted in Arts & Letters, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Education, Environment, History, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Quotations, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »
I guess I am now an honorary Chicago Boy … although I have never ever actually been to Chicago, and a quick glance in the mirror confirms that I am, in fact, of the female persuasion. Lex and Johnathan invited me, I guess since I have been commenting for a while, and am relatively sane and well-balanced for having been a blogger since 2002. (Yikes … time does fly when you are having fun.)
I’ve blogged in a couple of places, and focused on a number of things, over the years: as a mil-blogger, here … as a novelist, here and here … and even on Open Salon, where I posted a short lesson in Terrorism, Tea Parties and Hobbits, for the edification of the perplexed. The Boyz asked for a link, in my first post — so happy to oblige!
I also do photo-blogging, and I can see I will have to look around for some pictures of cows.
The government of the United States has a large number of assets. Some of them we use. Others we leave idle. Of the idle ones, some of them have people lined up, right now, willing to pay good money to buy or lease them. For political reasons the Obama administration is turning down a portion of that money every day. Instead, they would prefer to increase our taxes and have bumped us up against our debt ceiling and are threatening default rather than lease assets for oil exploration, mining, or timber production.
When our executive is in the midst of an unofficial and arguably illegal campaign to leave certain productive assets idle and not permit the logging, oil drilling, and other natural resources exploitation leases that Congress has authorized to take place, it is obscene to insist that increased tax rates must occur to protect these revenue limiting policies.
Let’s be clear. These permit slowdowns cost the Treasury money, are not authorized by any statute, and if they would stop would both increase employment and revenue. The NIMBY and environmentalist interests who disproportionately supported this President in 2008 and are poised to do so again in 2012 are making our fiscal crisis worse in a misguided attempt to create idle assets.
We can increase revenue by maximizing our leases. This does not take any act of Congress. Congress long ago did its part of the job. This is a problem created by, and wholly solvable by the President and his political backers who have their people appointed to the posts approving those leases.
We are not maximizing our revenues. We are leaving money on the table and this administration’s explicit policy is to take money out of ordinary american’s pockets in higher tax rates and keep them unemployed rather than allow the creation of resource extraction jobs. Shouldn’t clearing the lease and permit backlog and putting americans back to work be the first priority in these times?
Posted by Lexington Green on 14th July 2011 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Vive la France.
The Federal Government has adopted standards which will effectively prohibit the sale of incandescent bulbs for most purposes, beginning next year. Virginia Postrel has an excellent piece on the problems with this idea, in which she makes several important points.
I suspect that many if not most people believe that reducing electricity consumption, via more efficient bulbs or otherwise, has something to do with reducing oil consumption—but in reality, as Virginia points out, “electricity comes mostly from coal, natural gas and nuclear plants, all domestic sources.”
Much more important, though, is the bulb ban’s interference with individual choice. Different people value different things, and for some individuals, the quality of light in their houses or apartments is aesthetically important. As Virginia notes:
Maybe I want to burn a lot of incandescent bulbs but dry my clothes outdoors and keep the air conditioner off. Maybe I want to read by warm golden light instead of watching a giant plasma TV.
Red Wing by The Steel Wheels.
Recorded at a Blue Moon House Concert in Oklahoma City.
The discovery of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan’s most secure stronghold at Abbottabad, just 800 yards from Pakistan’s West Point is clear and convincing evidence that Pakistan is a state sponsor of terrorism against America. There is no other reasonable explanation.
We already knew Pakistan is what we feared a nuclear-armed Iran would be — a nuclear-armed, terrorist supporting, state. Just ask India about Mumbai and the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Now we know that Pakistan is attacking us too. Al Qaeda is the operational arm of Pakistani intelligence (ISI) attacking us just as Lashkar-e-Taiba is its operational arm attacking India.
There are no good options with Pakistan, just greater or lesser degrees of bad ones. Given its possession of nuclear weapons, there is little we can safely do to deter Pakistani terrorism against us. Nothing short of actually destroying the nuclear-armed Pakistani state, and the rapid, forcible, seizure of its nuclear weapons, will protect America from Pakistani terrorism – they’ll build more nukes if we allow the Pakistani state to survive.
Destruction of the Pakistani state and prompt seizure of its nuclear weapons are well within America’s power, particularly if we ruthlessly use some of our own tactical nuclear weapons in the process of seizing Pakistan’s. Securing Pakistan’s nukes quickly — to keep them from being used on American cities by Pakistani agents aka terrorists funded by Pakistani intelligence — is an important enough objective to merit the use of our tactical nuclear weapons.
Our second major problem here is that Pakistan’s people and culture are almost totally infected by Islamist Jihadist hatred of us, unlike Iraq and Iran. We liberated Iraq from tyranny, while the Iranian people loathe their Shiite Islamist tyranny. Pakistan is larger than Iraq and Iran combined, and far beyond our ability to subdue, let alone occupy. Our destruction of the Pakistani state would create a vast, hideously dangerous, and totally unrestrained failed state base for overt terrorism against us. The single thing they wouldn’t be able to use against us after we leave are nuclear weapons, which only an organized government can (so far) manufacture.
The only way to keep Pakistan from subsequently becoming a far more dangerous terrorist base than Afghanistan ever was would require the physical destruction of its people with strategic nuclear weapons. We won’t have the will do so…until we are again hit at home with more biological weapons, or with nukes.
Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Americas, Anglosphere, History, India, International Affairs, Islam, Military Affairs, National Security, North America, Terrorism, Uncategorized, USA, War and Peace | 29 Comments »
Posted by Charles Cameron on 18th April 2011 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
[ by Charles Cameron -- cross-posted from Zenpundit ]
I thought I’d back-track a little, and drag in two blog posts that I made elsewhere back in March of 2008, which may help to explain my basic outlook on the sorts of issues that analysts face.
I. The version of the idea as poetry:
I am Charles
My concern is the human mind in service
to an open heart, and my problem
is that the heart picks issues rich in ambiguity
and multiplicity of voices, tensions
and torsions tugging not one way but
in many directions, even dimensions, as does
a spider’s web weighed down with dew –
to clarify which a mind’s abacus is required
equal in subtlety to subtlety itself, while
in all our thinking and talking, one
effect follows one cause from question
to conclusion down one sentence or white
paper — whereas in counterpoint,
Bach’s fugal voices contain their dissonance.
II. The same idea presented in prose — as I say, a few years back — with graphical illustration:
Spiders and dewdrops
Spiders and dewdrops do a pretty convincing job of portraying a certain level of complexity in this node-and-edge diagram of the global situation.
When, say, Castro hands over power to his brother, or Musharraf has to give up control of the Pakistani army, it’s like snipping a couple of threads in that spiders web — and the droplets fall this way and that, carom into one another, the fine threads they’re on swing down and around until a new equilibrium is reached…
But try thinking that through in terms of Cuba and Pakistan before breakfast one morning if you’re Secretary of State, with a linear Cold War mind, Russia going through its own changes, and al-Qaida and associates training and recruiting in the background…
Well, those two instances have been and gone, and the new configurations are now the tired old same old configurations we believe we’ve figured out — until another dewdrop slips, and a thread breaks, and all things are once again new…
Funnily enough, I think this spider’s web of mine ties in with the Hokusai quote I posted in response to Zen‘s quote from Steven Pressfield yesterday, and with a piece I read today about intelligence analysts — Martin Petersen, What I Learned in 40 Years of Doing Intelligence.
It’s the web of tensions that constitutes the “complexity” that must somehow be grasped by the analyst, the writer, the historian…
And Hokusai, watching across the years how grasses bend in the winds, reach for sunlight, bow under the weight of dew — and spring back when released — may finally have a mind that’s attuned to that kind of complexity — to a degree that linear thinking will never reach…
Posted by Charles Cameron on 7th April 2011 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
Posted by Charles Cameron on 2nd April 2011 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
In the forest of
wisdom, part two, tree five,
you shall find honey.
The Wallstreet Journal on the Fed’s new media campaign to spin its inflationary policies:
The former Goldman Sachs chief economist gave a speech explaining the economy’s progress and the Fed’s successes, but come question time the main thing the crowd wanted to know was why they’re paying so much more for food and gas. Keep in mind the Fed doesn’t think food and gas prices matter to its policy calculations because they aren’t part of “core” inflation.
So Mr. Dudley tried to explain that other prices are falling. “Today you can buy an iPad 2 that costs the same as an iPad 1 that is twice as powerful,” he said. “You have to look at the prices of all things.”
Here’s the thing: The iPad was always going to provide more bang for the buck regardless of what the Fed did or didn’t do. The cost drop for the iPad is due to the rapid technological change in the computer field. Moreover, without the Fed destroying the value of the money in people’s pockets, the cost to performance ratio change for the iPad would have been even more dramatic.
How can the Fed claim they aren’t causing problems by pointing to a factor over which they have no influence. Shouldn’t we hold the Fed accountable for the factors they do influence?
Improving technology automatically improves the standard of living but that has nothing to do with inflation. Yes, it’s great that you can buy a much more powerful iPad2 for the same price as an iPad1 but it’s not so great if you can’t afford even the price of an iPad1 now because your food and gas prices have increased to absorb all the excess income you had budgeted to get a new iPad!
Inflation is the most dangerous of all financial strategies. It destroys real wealth and utterly disrupts the price mechanisms that drives the entire economy. To the extent it works, it does so by transferring vast amounts of wealth from ordinary people to those who get the inflated currency first. In this case, it is the large banks that the Fed are trying to re-inflate after the housing bust sucked all the capital out of them.
Even if is necessary, and I’m not saying it is, the Fed should have at least have the good grace to explain things straight to us instead of trying to convince us that our rapidly decreasing purchasing power is nothing to worry about. Inflation is just a form of taxation. They are taking money from us to prop up our financial institution. That taking will leave us all with a lower standard of living than we would have had otherwise. They should be honest about that.
Just because Steve Jobs is very good at his job doesn’t mean the Fed doesn’t suck at theirs.
Posted by Lexington Green on 3rd March 2011 (All posts by Lexington Green)
I saw Rick Santorum speak to a small group today in Chicago. He has announced that he is running for President. He spoke to a group of mostly Conservative Catholics, some of whom I believe would be able to help a candidate financially in a meaningful way. I am not in that category, but I was invited anyway, and the little snacks were nice.
I came away, to my surprise, favorably impressed.
I went to the meeting disinclined to be supportive. I generally agree with Santorum on the “cultural” issue. For example, I am 100% Pro-Life 100% of the time, and will never vote for a serious pro-abortion candidate. But in our current circumstances, I want the GOP candidate to be focused on taxes, spending, entitlement reform. We will be destroyed as a nation if we do not get those issues under control. My sense is that Santorum has been pre-labelled as a one-note social conservative. Whether that is unfair or not, I went to the meeting believing this was too steep a hill to climb, and that we don’t need the distraction in 2012, thus disqualifying Santorum from serious consideration. (Further, I am from Chicago, and Mayor Daley, Senior advised, “don’t back no losers” and Santorum’s failure to win reelection to the Senate in 2006 is a red flag.)
Santorum is obviously aware of this type of thinking, and spoke accordingly. He focused his remarks on the money issues. He was rock solid. Further he was intensely realistic about the situation, meaning pessimistic until Mr. Obama is voted out. He noted that the GOP House majority can only do so much, and that many activists will be disappointed. We need a GOP president who is committed to getting the budget under control. He described his own record on these issues, and he made a compelling case for himself, particularly on opposition to HillaryCare, and now to ObamaCare. He also addressed the strictly political side, explaining in some detail that mobilizing the base is at least as important as reaching into the center, and that he can certainly do the former. A facially plausible argument.
His comments on defense and the danger or Islamic radicalism were solid. His criticism of Mr. Obama on these scores was tough but fair.
His discussion of American exceptionalism was moving. He said that he loves the Constitution but “I’m a Declaration guy.” He spoke about the rights granted by our Creator, and the how the point of America is for each individual person to have the freedom to develop into the person they were meant to be. I am not doing justice to these comments, which were powerful.
He was challenged on his support for Arlen Spector over Pat Toomey, which was a question many of us wanted answered. He gave a completely convincing, and somewhat indignant, response to this, which you will hear at some point if his campaign carries on very long. Before this meeting I had considered his support for Spector to be a defection, and I would have told you I would never vote for Santorum as a result. He changed my mind, and he disposed of that issue for me. I told him afterward that if that question and answer had been preserved to became a video on YouTube (there was no video) the Spector issue would be neutralized.
Personal back-pat: At one point he said, here is a trivia question, when is the last time the Republicans nominated someone from East of the Mississippi for President, not counting Ford? I correctly and quickly answered it: Thomas Dewey. He noted that the states of the Midwest and Northeast are in play and will decide the election and being from Pennsylvania will help the GOP carry those states. Maybe so.
I don’t know what fortune Sen. Santorum will have in this race. As of this minute, I like Santorum better than any of the front-runners: Romney, Gingrich, Pawlenty.
Sen. Santorum will be a red flag to the legacy media. They will try to make his candidacy an all day, every day discussion about abortion rights, intelligent design, gay marriage, Terry Schiavo, etc. They will be absolutely rabid in their attacks on him, and he has given them plenty of ammunition.
On the other hand, the legacy media is going to be over-the-top, psycho-vicious to whoever the Republicans put up. I don’t know how much difference it makes. If he survives the primary process, and got the nomination, the public will have gotten a good look at him, and may judge him on the totality of his positions and his record.
Sen. Santorum came across as sincere, very well prepared, smart and serious. In fact, his seriousness about the current dangers we face was impressive. He did not put a smiley face on anything.
I still like Mitch Daniels, and I hope he runs.
I liked what I heard from Rick Santorum today, too.
And I wish him luck, and look forward to hearing more.
(Oddly, I cannot find his campaign website. He must have one. He should fix that.)
Posted by Charles Cameron on 5th February 2011 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
see more Very Demotivational
Personally, I’ve always thought that politicians spend like a drunken frat boy with daddy’s credit card.
Posted by Charles Cameron on 14th January 2011 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
[ cross-posted from Zenpundit ]
Foreign Policy has had two articles up in the last couple of days with somewhat similar headlines:
The site which specifically tracks WikiLeaks on Tunisia is TuniLeaks:
My rosette for best tweet of the week goes to Galrahn and all those who RT’d him:
What a world, eh?
Posted by Lexington Green on 13th January 2011 (All posts by Lexington Green)
There will come a time when all sides can dispassionately discuss the great Illinois income tax deal of 2011.
Today is not that day.
Today is a day for anger. Our Springfield leaders have failed us in producing a one-sided monstrosity that will cause true pain, avoids needed decisions, makes it markedly harder to get a job in a state with too few and, worst of all, won’t really solve the state’s fundamental budget problems.
I wish this normally left-leaning blogger could report otherwise. I can’t. This one is indefensible.
As our colleage Carl from Chicago so aptly puts it: Stone-cold redistributionists run our state.
Greg Hinz concludes:
So, the folks who run Springfield can talk about how they made the tough decision. But, I think, they instead acted like another fellow who just decided to grab everything he could get. That would be Todd Stroger, father of the nation’s highest sales tax and, as of this writing, the former president of the Cook County Board.
We’ll have to see how the taxpayers of Illinois react. But if this taxpayer is typical, watch out.
Greg is right. But it is a long time until the next election.
In general the investing thought process on risk is:
- US government debt lowest risk (and CD’s)
- then municipal debt, which rarely defaults (often the “nominal” interest rate offered is lower than the Federal rate because it is tax exempt, for the most part, but the “effective” rate is higher)
- then stocks
All things being equal, you’d expect to have a low interest rate on US government obligations (now short-term it is effectively zero or less than 1% unless you go out a couple of years), a modest rate on municipal debt, and then the return on stock prices is a component of the rise in prices (generally expected to be about 10% over time by most commentators) plus dividends (and the growth in dividends).
What people are starting to notice, however, is that municipal debt “earns” that higher return than the Federal instruments by being riskier. The New York Times (which has an excellent business section) had an article titled “Gauging Those Tremors in Municipal Bonds” on January 9, 2011:
(the) benchmark muni index lost 4 percent in the fourth quarter, nearly a year’s worth of income yield for an intermediate-term, high-grade tax-exempt bond fund.
Meredith Whitney recently raised her profile in the media by going on “60 minutes” and describing how we are going to have a “Day of Reckoning” for state budgets. Side note – gotta love Wikipedia – I would have never known that Meredith is married to a former pro wrestler.
I would say that, in general, the nation was taken aback by the fall in home prices and now people have a grim understanding of how the housing market really works. An acquaintance of mine recently said he couldn’t re-finance his home because he didn’t have enough equity in it; and he purchased it in 2002, far from the frothy 2007 at market highs. In the 90′s and up to the mid 2000′s the average person also believed that the stock market could give them 10% returns over time; we have spent the last decade or so essentially flat. Anyone retiring soon or looking at their statement also has seen that the common wisdom isn’t paying the bills.
So I would say that the public will likely awaken sooner to the issues with municipal debt sooner than they did to these other asset class issues. It is strange to say that there is an asset class “bubble” but in some sense there is with municipal bonds because they are able to sell them with such a small risk premium (only a bit above the Federal risk free rate) while they, in fact, have been storing up a great deal of risk.
While the “professional” indicators are seeing red (CDS rates by state), there are new “measures” being tossed about by commentators attached to the status quo (pretty much everyone in government and the muni-issuing community) showing statistics such as “debt to GDP” with the states around 5% while the Federal government is > 70%. The difference is that the crisis at the state level is laid bare; you can’t go to California now and say that there isn’t a debt crisis or in Illinois either; the state of Illinois is not paying bills nor have they made contributions to the states’ massively underfunded pension plans – and the only place they can go to are the state tax payers who emphatically are not excited about putting more money into such obviously un-restructured institutions.
If you have money in municipal bond funds you are subject to many other items driving change than the credit worthiness of the main issuers; you have benefited from the Fed’s policy of dropping interest rates to nearly zero and the Federal governments’ cash infusions into the states as part of the stimulus package. Both of these tides are likely to recede at some point, as well.
In the vast universe of municipal bonds there are huge differences in credit-worthiness and if you select individual bonds and hold them to maturity you won’t face the same issues that the bond funds face, above. However, the fact is that municipal bonds are traditionally priced as if the likelihood of default is remote and over the next few years we will see if, in fact, that is true. If you are holding municipal bond funds, especially those with concentration in risky states (pretty much any state run by a “blue” party right now), you are in effect betting that these defaults are remote and that no risk premium is warranted.
Cross posted at Trust Funds for Kids
Posted by Charles Cameron on 6th January 2011 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
Posted by Charles Cameron on 10th November 2010 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
Here’s a meme worth noting when it crops up in the advocacy of religious violence:
You don’t need permission from a religious authority…
This particular idea came up in the video of Anwar al-Awlaki that was released yesterday, Nov. 8th.
Flashpoint Partners translated the comment in question, “do not consult anyone in killing the Americans. Fighting Satan does not require a jurisprudence. It does not require consulting. It does not need a prayer for the cause. They are the party of Satan … It is the battle between truth and falsehood.”
The AFP translation of the key phrase here reads, “Killing the devil does not need any fatwa (legal ruling).”
My interest was piqued because of the correspondence between this comment from al-Awlaki, and the case of Phineas in the biblical Book of Numbers, chapter 25.
Phineas is “the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest” – but when he recognizes that the Lord would be infuriated by the interracial and interreligious copulation of Zimri, “a prince of a chief house” in Israel, with Cozbi, the daughter of the “head over a people, and of a chief house in Midian”, he does not go to the priest his grandfather seeking permission to kill them – he knows it is his Lord’s wish that they should die, and so he takes the responsibility for his action entirely upon himself, and kills them.
As I shall recount in greater detail in two future posts on the topic of Phineas, it is the fact that Phineas acts without first requesting permission that pleases his Lord so much that He grants to Phineas and his seed “the covenant of an everlasting priesthood”.
It is precisely this acting without requesting permission that is emphasized in modern Christian Identity writings on the topic of “Phineas Priests”:
So a Phinehas priest is a MAN who acts on personal initiative to execute Yah’s judgment on violations of Yah’s laws which are adversely affecting His people.
And according to Ehud Sprinzak, the eminent scholar of modern Jewish terrorism, it was reading the “Balak portion” of the book of Numbers, in which the story of Phineas is recounted, that convinced Yigal Amir that he could legitimately assassinate Yitzhak Rabin without first obtaining rabbinic approval (which would have put the rabbi who granted him permission at risk).
So. We have one more piece of the puzzle by which a mind with its own interpretation of God’s will can come to the conclusion that some specific act or acts of violence – accurately termed “terrorism” by others – are not only divinely sanctioned, and indeed mandatory, but can be undertaken without the requirement of prior verification from an appropriate religious authority.
And in this case — the religious authority, such as it is, of Sheikh al-Awlaki proposes this.
Aaron Zelin‘s post on the Qur’anic text invoked by al-Awlaki’s title and the commentaries on that verse by ibn Kathir and others, is well worth your time, if you have not already seen it.