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  • Worthwhile Reading

    Posted by David Foster on June 27th, 2016 (All posts by )

    No aesthetically-appealing photos or amusing stories today, I’m afraid, just some very serious links and excerpts.

    The rockets of Hezbollah.  I knew they had accumulated considerable weaponry, but didn’t know it was this bad.

    Men, women, Christianity, and Islam

    Kevin Williamson on  preventing jihadist violence

    The impact of Islamic fundamentalism on free speech

    James Schall of Georgetown University on Orlando in hindsight:

    The Orlando killer was not alone. He was a true believer and other believers in the mission of Islam inspire him. Neither he nor any of his predecessors or future companions are to be explained by psychology, economics, or sociology. They are to be explained by taking their word for what they are doing. If the President of the United States or the British Prime Minister, the media, the professors, the clerics, cannot or will not understand this reality, we cannot blame ISIS and its friends. They are also realists who understand where ideas and reality meet, sometimes on a battlefield in Iraq, sometimes in a night club in Orlando.

    The Democrats as the American Totalist Party

    Football player Herschel Walker reports that he has had speaking engagements canceled because of his support for Donald Trump.   Which is exactly the kind of action one would expect from members of a Totalist party.

    Shortly before the Brexit vote, writer Frederick Forsyth wrote about the basic character of the EU:  Government by deception:

    You have repeatedly been told this issue is all about economics. That is the conman’s traditional distraction. This issue is about our governmental system, parliamentary. Democracy versus non-elective bureaucracy utterly dedicated to the eventual Superstate.

    Our democracy was not presented last week on a plate. It took centuries of struggle to create and from 1940 to 1945 terrible sacrifices to defend and preserve. 

    It was bequeathed to us by giants, it has been signed away by midgets.

    Now we have a chance, one last, foolishly offered chance to tell those fat cats who so look down upon the rest of us: yes, there will be some costs – but we want it back.

    A former ‘big proponent’ of the EU has this to say:

    To be fair, the EU’s main problem has always been its troubled relationship with democracy…This contempt for the will of the people might still be perceived as tolerable if the leaders otherwise seemed sensible – but now that someone as bad as Merkel calls the shots in EU, we’re reminded of just why having perpetual democratic safeguards is so important…the EU’s contempt for European voters and its current attempts to shut down dissenting voices bodes ill for its ability to course-correct on its own. If the EU is to be saved, it first needs to be humbled, nay, outright humiliated in such a manner that no-one can doubt that recent developments can’t be allowed to continue.

    John Hussman  of Hussman Funds looks at Brexit from an economic and investing perspective:  Brexit and the bubble in search of a pin.  He quotes his own post from last month:

    My impression is that the best way to understand the next stage of the current market cycle is to recognize the difference between observed conditions and latent risks. This distinction will be most helpful before, not after, the S&P 500 drops hundreds of points in a handful of sessions. That essentially describes how a coordinated attempt by trend-followers to exit this steeply overvalued market could unfold, since value-conscious investors may have little interest in absorbing those shares at nearby prices, and in equilibrium, every seller requires a buyer.

    Imagine the error of skating on thin ice and plunging through. While we might examine the hole in the ice in hindsight, and find some particular fracture that contributed to the collapse, this is much like looking for the particular pebble of sand that triggers an avalanche, or the specific vibration that triggers an earthquake. In each case, the collapse actually reflects the expression of sub-surface conditions that were already in place long before the collapse – the realization of previously latent risks.

     

    15 Responses to “Worthwhile Reading”

    1. Mike K Says:

      “he high-level churning in global financial markets since late-2014 represents what we view as the top formation of the third speculative bubble in 16 years.”

      I have been concerned about this for a couple of years. Housing in California is also a bubble with a house down the street from us, 3 bedroom, 2 bath, about 1500 square feet, being listed for $770,000 and it sold in one week. Many of the house sales in this community are to people shifting inflated equity from one house to another but where are the young families ?

      How does a couple with small children find the money to buy these houses ? They don’t. Smaller single story houses about that size sell for more than large two story houses on the same street. The buyers are my age.

      My son, who I helped buy a condo 20 years ago, has a nice home nearby with a pool they just put in with a home equity loan. He has a next door neighbor with two small children. The neighbor is a high school coach and I think his parents provided the down payment.

      We had a wave of foreclosures here in 2008 and I think another wave is coming.

      Trump is the only person I think who could survive the coming economic turmoil because, I assume, he has enough solid assets to do so. I doubt he can stop it.

      I thought Romney could get us out of it with a soft landing but I think that is past.

    2. dearieme Says:

      @Mike, please forgive me for repeating my comment from an earlier post, but here’s a comment by “ivor” at Tim Worstall’s blog.

      “All that has happened here is that the British have finally noticed the water being sucked away from the shore and have realised this means a tidal wave of geopolitical and economic disasters is soon to arrive.

      That we have set off running for higher ground may give us a better chance of survival than the tourists still gawping on the beach, but our chances are not good.

      And sprinting uphill is a lot more painful than relaxing on a sun lounger – brace for the pain.”

      I think that a “a tidal wave of geopolitical and economic disasters” may be coming, and I don’t suppose Brexit will have much to do with causing it. To change the analogy: when you work with flammable gases you try very hard to prevent their escape because you know that it must be assumed that, once out, they will find a source of ignition. Of course you try to eliminate nearby sources of ignition, but you know that the prime mover of an explosion or inferno will not be the ignition source but the fact of the escape. Brexit might or might not be an ignition source – it won’t much matter.

    3. Will Says:

      Here’s a video of Andy McCarthy discussing the usual business:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dP9q2UCrhF4

      While the speech itself is not really ground-breaking stuff, the Q & A after the forty five minute mark leaves us some interesting remarks. He was directly involved in the investigation the first WTC bombings and that case has ties to Orlando. He speaks also of the entanglement with Iran, and the difficulties that this portends. AND, his remarks on the next six months are very worrisome, coming from someone not given to hyperbole.

    4. Grurray Says:

      “but where are the young families?”

      Similar situation in Chicago. We sold our house to a retired couple in their late 70s and bought a new one from a couple in their 60s who are retiring. There are very few young homeowners to be found around here, and they’re certainly not having children.

      They were hit with a financial perfect storm. Most of them who ordinarily would be buying houses already mortgaged their future with student debt. Private sector entry level hiring is low because of regulation uncertainty, so companies are afraid to invest in training kids. Instead they hire kids to train bots. Young people are discouraged from having children through cultural and social marginalization, cultish celebrity worship dismissing parenthood, offspring are said to contribute to global warming, etc.

    5. David Foster Says:

      “Most of them who ordinarily would be buying houses already mortgaged their future with student debt”

      The mansions of university presidents, and the salaries of totally unnecessary academic administrators, have been purchased at the price of considerable human suffering.

    6. Mike K Says:

      Also:

      But in 40 Islamic countries surveyed by Pew, 70 percent of Muslim men said they attend religious services at least once per week, compared to 47 percent of Muslim women.

      According to David Goldman, mosque attendance in Iran is less than 2%. They seem to have been immunized to Islam by the tyranny. The birthrate in Iran is less than Europe and all in one generation.

      Maybe it is just that Persians are not Arabs.

    7. Ginny Says:

      Coke’s argument that the Magna Charta is such a man as has no sovereign may be in our memorable quotes, but when a bureaucrat (for them in Brussels, for us in Washington) seizes the power to write, change, and then enact with force laws that affect every cirizen’a daily life, we haven’t lost a few years in our slow groping towards freedom but centuries.

    8. veryretired Says:

      To paraphrase an observation made by Shannon Love on this blog a while ago, there is a world-wide transnational class of credentialed, intellectual, culturally adept, articulate persons who simply cannot imagine that the great mass of humanity that is “below” them could ever get along properly without their guidance and control.

      This class is, in everything but name, a world-wide aristocracy, whose members attain membership by several routes, including the time honored methods such as birth into the right families, graduation from the right schools, success in politics, whether democratic or not, and the achievement of celebrity status, often without regard to the means by which that celebrity-ness was acquired.

      The current election build up in the US has now settled into a contest between two people who are basically celebrities, without much of any other qualification for the exalted office to which they aspire.

      It appears to me that the very celebrity driven nature of the election is a major factor in the obvious collapse of the significance of the major parties’ central controlling committees. The republican establishment couldn’t sell any of its chosen candidates, and the democrats have had to practically carry their anointed one through a bruising primary campaign, thereby alienating a large part of their younger, more progressive fan base.

      I have seen some references to 1968 recently, but mostly they were talking about the violence and social turmoil that accompanied that election. I believe a more apt comparison is with the failure of the insurgent democratic candidates, i.e., McCarthy, Bobby Kennedy, and even Wallace.

      The latter two, of course, were mysteriously shot en route to the convention, and McCarthy was blocked by the established party’s selection of Humphrey. The result was the loss in 1968, and the McGovern takeover, which led to an even more catastrophic loss in 1972.

      This whole contest between Sanders and the other creature reminds me greatly of that scenario, and the disillusionment of the berners will have some serious future consequences for the party, and the country.

      We are in the middle of a major political and social re-alignment, something which happens regularly in our cultural history, and the incoherent thrashing about of the self-designated leaders of our society, in the US and the West in general, is reminiscent of other periods in which seemingly entrenched and impregnable ruling elites simply crumbled when the mass of ordinary citizens decided they weren’t worth paying attention to any more.

      Ghandi, for all his faults, re-discovered a powerful method of resistance to tyranny—non-cooperation.

      In the current situation, that has become the modified form of resistance being used by those who have decided they have had enough of the current ruling establishment. In it’s most basic formulation, it consists of simply not giving a crap what the self-annointed think or say any more.

      And so the cascade rolls on.

    9. ErisGuy Says:

      The abolition of the family has for over a 100 years been the dream and goal of the Left. A concept well-promoted in science fiction, which has oft described futuristic “family” relationships as crèches of children who know neither mother nor father.* The crèches themselves are advanced versions of kibbutzim, where children were raised in common

      How is one to oppose these dreams without new dramas, new literature, new philosophies which cease to denigrate men and women and family? Who will oppose the entirety of modern Enlightenment, modern Reason to condemn feminism, homosexuality, and socialism? And should we celebrate those who dare oppose even a sliver of modernity, e.g. Vox Day, #GamerGate, #RabidPuppies?

      *Already philosophers, politicians, and several state hold the opinion of “mother” and “father” held by Mustpha Mond: that these words are obscenities of oppression.

    10. Mike K Says:

      “a powerful method of resistance to tyranny—non-cooperation.”

      Have you read Charles Murray’s new book, By the People.? It’s pretty good.

      He describes some ways to resist,

    11. Veryretired Says:

      MK—no I haven’t, but Ty for the recommendation. I am far behind in my reading. I keep falling asleep in reaction to the various meds I take. It seems to take forever to finish a book these days.

      I used to sit up half the night with a good book. Now I can’t make it through half the day.

    12. Mike K Says:

      I’m working my way through “Joe Rochefort’s War” which has a special significance for me as I have pretty much blown up a career by being too outspoken.

      Long story but great book about a great man who was a victim of Navy politics. He was a “mustang” who entered the Navy as an enlisted man.

    13. Joe Wooten Says:

      To change the analogy: when you work with flammable gases you try very hard to prevent their escape because you know that it must be assumed that, once out, they will find a source of ignition. Of course you try to eliminate nearby sources of ignition, but you know that the prime mover of an explosion or inferno will not be the ignition source but the fact of the escape. Brexit might or might not be an ignition source – it won’t much matter.

      Dearieme, there are quite a few who are standing outside the gas containment area with lighters waiting for it to get to them so they can set it off.

    14. Anonymous Says:

      “the EU’s main problem has always been its troubled relationship with democracy..”

      Troubled relationship isn’t the term which most Europeans would use; We would use such terms as ‘Utter disdain’ and ‘Non-existent’.

      When my buddy posted on the comments from the European Parliament’s President, he was just lifting a small corner on the huge cover-up which has lasted as long as the European Project itself, if not longer. When this jumped-up jack-boot hopeful stated that ‘It is not the EU Philosophy that the crowd decides its fate’ he was, of course not only speaking the truth, he was declaring a belief, a foundation stone of that Project. “How can we, a Federal State in embryo, allow one of the mere members of that embryo State to fracture the very progress of that Federal State?”

      If the reader goes back into the past, and examines the motives of those who set up the whole IDEA in the first instance, the one thing which they wished is to remove all decisions, all discussions, all the trappings of Government; from the merest scrutiny by ordinary people, the voters who had not even been asked about those decisions in the first place.

      When Arthur Salter and Jean Monnet came together , working in accord to hire and lease shipping to feed the monster which was the Allied cause in WW!, to carry the munitions, the food, the weaponry which was needed to back up the millions of fighting men, based all along that blood-glazed trench-strewn border; they were continually so frustrated by the road-blocks placed in their way by both shipowners and Governments that they hatched a plan. Their plan was to create a supra-Government which could override ownership, as well as indeed national Governments, and requisition the ships to carry war materiel. Their initial path was through the League of Nations, but the refusal of America’s Congress to adopt or ratify the League’s proposals left it mortally wounded. Monnet returned after the end of WW2, and hatched out a plan with Henri Spaak, which resulted in the European Coal and Steel Community, morphing into the European Common Market, which title of course was pure window dressing, as the end result was still a Super-State, built and operated by technocrats, with absolutely no allowance for Democracy. The Maastricht Treaty firmed things up, the Constitution which was thrown out by France, was refurbished, given a new name, and the Lisbon Treaty, giving, or rather handing over yet more areas of governance to Europe was signed by all European Leaders, with no ordinary person who had a vote even getting near it. UK Parliament ratified Lisbon, and then we ended up with the one man who counted…….Nigel Farage.

      Farage’s UKIP scared Cameron so much he was forced to offer a Referendum, the last thing any politician wants. Why, because it demands a binary response; either ‘Yes’ or ‘Leave’, as against ‘No’ or ‘Remain’. So the intent of two secretive men who despised the very idea of Democracy, wishing instead for control by a benevolent Bureaucracy, which unfortunately had morphed into an autocratic Dictatorship, has been demolished because one nation, pushed into a vote by a Prime Minister shit-scared of what might happen; has voted by a healthy majority to leave the cosy warm hearthrug of the EU, and become, once more, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    15. Will Says:

      And what will become of our Boris?

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3668484/The-man-king-winning-Brexit-getting-brink-seizing-No-10-Britain-s-famous-politician-Boris-Johnson-gets-tripped-final-hurdle.html

      Difficult enough keeping up with the skulduggery on this side of the Atlantic, let alone “over there”