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0230 GMT December 31, 2011
Blockade versus Embargo
Reader Scott wrote in to say Editor was mistaken that an embargo is an act
We had an informative back-and-forth exchange, the gist of which is that an
embargo only says the US decides not to buy or sell from Iran. Iran is
perfectly free to buy and sell from/to anyone else. Take, for example, the
US embargo against Cuba. Scott notes that while we refuse to do business,
other nations are free to operate as they see best. An embargo, then, is not
a blockade. For Iran to threaten to close Hormuz is an act of thuggery.
Let us first admit Scott is entirely correct:
an embargo is not a blockade; the latter is an act of war, the former is
not. Next let us face the uncomfortable reality that if all the US/Allies
are planning to embargo Iranian oil, then our leaders are again pulling a
fast one. Let’s look at the mechanics of an embargo.
At such-and-time, it becomes illegal for the US to buy or sell Iran oil.
Well, for starters, the US does not buy or sell Iranian oil right now, so
what is the big deal? The embargo, of course, will be joint with many other
countries. And it will mean nothing. Oil is fungible. A tanker loads oil,
unloads it somewhere, and the oil goes where it will. Saying Western tankers
are not to carry Iran oil will cause big yawns. Tankers will be reflagged
overnight. The oil will be “bought” by China. The tanker will put to see.
Traders will buy the China-bound crude on the sea and send it where they
want. The traders have not busted the embargo: they bought oil from China.
Is the US planning to follow tankers, board them, and test where the oil has
Tankers can be boarded under UN authority. Ships suspected of carrying
missile components from DPRK are routinely tracked and boarded, and if
necessary diverted. [UN Resolution 1874, for you lawyer types.] But we will
never get a UN resolution because China will veto it, likely also Russia.
Further, all that will happen is that Iranian oil will head for China, and
Saudi oil that would have gone to China will go to Germany or wherever.
At this point the US Government might respond:
We know this. But if Iran can sell oil directly only to non-embargoing
countries, it will have to sell at a discount because China, India, or
whoever depends on Iran oil will have the upper hand and be able to
negotiate discounts. Also, Iran will have to offer traders discounts to
offset all the inconvenience of rerouting oil, getting dirty looks from the
US and so on. So Iran will lose money and this will put pressure on it.
Our response is:
Editor being from Iowa is a simple person, and definitely lacks the
sophistication to appreciate such an argument. So what is the US
government’s plan to stop Iran from pumping more oil to make up for
What it comes down to is
an embargo without a blockade is worthless in the case of a vital commodity
like oil. We have to give a mea culpa to Scott because without explaining
this point, we jumped to the assumption the US was going to do a blockade,
and of course there is no sign the US is going to do that. So here we are
again, with the “Talk Talk You Worry Me To Death” syndrome.
What exactly are we trying to pressure Iran to do?
Why, to terminate its N-weapons program, of course
Great. So our strategy is to squeeze Iran till it tamely stops its N-weapons
program. If there is anyone in the Administration who seriously thinks this
strategy has the slightest chance of success, Editor did them a favor and
called St. Elizabeth’s hospital in DC, and yes, Room 221 is indeed vacant,
because they need to be in a straitjacket in the looney-bin where they can’t
harm anyone. Or themselves.
Why on earth would Iran give
up the one chance it has to stop the US from Saddaming it? [In the American
tradition of inventing new verbs, Editor gives you his creation.]
At which point the inner-inner-inner
circle in Washington goes “Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle, OF COURSE we don’t
expect Iran to give up its N-weapons, but we have to APPEAR to have tried
everything before we whack them.
Here we beg to differ
This “international consensus” the US sees necessary to build before
attacking Iran will never be built. Outside of the anti-Shia Arab states and
the West, no other countries will agree that whacking Iran is justified
unless Iran does an act of war. It does not matter if the US has some scrap
of paper giving it the authority to attack. It had pieces of paper in 2001
Afghanistan and 2003 Iraq. And you know what? The whole rest of the world
hates the US for what it did.
“Better to be feared than loved”
Machiavelli might have said. US should remember that. Old Machi also said if
you have to do something bad, do it all at once and people will forget what
happened. Don’t draw it out like Chinese torture which is what the US is
doing right now. The longer the US takes to do the deed, the worse it will
So are we saying “Darn the torpedoes, full speed ahead”?
No. A little bit of subtlety does not hurt.
Help Israel to attack the Iranian N-program while all the time saying: “No,
don’t do that”. Plausible deniability. The countries who normally would be
expected to retaliate against Israel for an attack on an Arab nation will
silently cheer. In any case, the Iranians are not Arabs, as they never tire
of telling you. Teheran has been busy trying to subvert several anti-Israel
countries, as far as they are concerned, what Israel does is payback.
Iran will surely retaliate against Hormuz
if Israel attacks. Then we have every legitimate right to attack.
At which point the inner-inner-inner
circle in Washington goes “Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle, OF COURSE that’s what
we’re already doing, dimwit.”
So you are.
But we still say “Just do it now.” Why? It’s a matter of aesthetics and
Aesthetics and disrespect?
Editor is just plain tired of seeing one Unshaven One after another
disrespecting US military power on TV. Unshaven Ones need to be shown off,
as the Brits so nicely put it.
The point of power is not to have to use it. The longer these twerps go on
disrespecting American military power, the more likely we’re going to have
to go all-out against someone else as well. Remember Somalia and Bin Laden.
Smack them now, and good, and for the next twenty years people will think
long and hard before taking on the US.
Everyone has their limit
Editor’s was reached when the Iranian filmed CVN-74 transiting Hormuz and
wildly boasting they knew how to keep track of US warships, implying the US
Navy can be attacked at Iran’s will.
Okay, minor point of international law
In peacetime, you cannot stop someone from tailing a US warship. Soviets
used to do it all the time. And all the time, as the US warships got into
open water, they shook the tail. The video might even have been taken from
one of the Iranian islands using a telephoto lens. You can put ten torpedoes
or cruise missiles into an American carrier and you won’t even slow it down
unless you make a very lucky shot and cripple a propeller shaft. [Normal
Polmar once pointed out to the Editor there is one scenario under which you
could hurt a US carrier: if a cruise happens to get through an open elevator
and into the hanger, there’s going to be a big problem. Carrier won’t sink
or slow down, but it won’t be doing any fighting for a while.] These babies
were designed to slug it out with the Soviets. They can take a lot of
damage. And no guess what happens to Iran if it does hit a US carrier. As
the man says “It’s crying time again”. That’s if in wartime they can even
see a carrier. 100% assurance: they won’t. The carriers will not enter the
Gulf till its been sanitized
As far as Editor is concerned
the Iranians are free to disrespect American politicians. Heck, even
Americans disrespect American politicians. But disrespect a US capital ship?
No sir. The Unshaven Ones have to pay for this. They have to be defeated,
captured, put on trial, and sentenced to – a barber chair. That’ll make
America’s enemies think twice.
0230 GMT December 30, 2011
This is the second time in the week we’re commenting on China. The occasion
is the Chinese have tested a train that hits 500-kmph. That’s the whole
train, not just the engine, and it isn’t Maglev either.
So of late the Chinese high-speed rail program has run into setbacks. Prices
are very high, rendering many of the lines economic busts, and then there
was an accident which killed 40-people.
In the various blogs we skim, there is considerable schadenfreude, an
unseemly glee in the misfortunes of the Chinese.
So, as we explained in the last post, Editor is no fan of China. Truthfully,
Editor’s entire 21 years (this time around) in America has been a slow-mo
humiliation as the Chinese have pulled ahead and we’ve fallen behind. Editor
is always happy to let the Chinese have a reverse raspberry or two. [A
reverse raspberry is not produced by the lips, in case you wondered.] If
Editor was to wake up tomorrow, and be told that China has vanished into an
alternate universe, Editor would be highly pleased with life. Editor has no
time for Chinese geopolitics, Chinese economics, Chinese culture, Chinese
history or anything Chinese.
But we’d like to ask Americans something.
What have WE done lately in transportation engineering that we should feel
superior to China? A very small example. Extending the Washington Metro to
Dulles IAP is an 8-year project, and there’s no assurance when it will be
finished. America is so broke that we cannot afford an underground station
at Dulles: it will cost $100-million more than an above ground station. To
any European, an above ground station is déclassé, not to say about it
running the lines of Saarinen’s famous design. And how is the extension to
be paid for? By driving up the tolls on the Dulles Toll Road, used by
commuters, to insane levels. The Dulles Toll Road drivers may well wonder
what they have done to deserve the huge increase in tolls because the Metro
has nothing to do with them.
But forget the extension. We can’t even keep Metro running in the capital of
the Free World. The entire system, which honestly was the best in the world
when it was built in the 1980s to early 2000s, is falling apart. The
escalators would be an international joke on the Borat scale, if the world
actually was interested in what happens in America today. Luckily, the world
could care less. Trains break down every single day. You cannot count of
Metro to get you where you need to go without providing so much reserve time
that if your meeting is urgent, you cannot risk it. The interior of the cars
reminds of Dickesian England, they are so shabby. As for dirt and lack of
cleanliness, you want clean, please go play in a pig sty. And please don’t
even think of getting on a train in rush hour in the Washington DC part of
the system, unless you’ve brought your pepper spray, the trains are so
Every now and then we will have a genius citizen writing in to the
newspapers: “What has the extension got to do with me? Let those who use it
pay for it.” Right. So next time your street needs paving, are you going to
pay for it? On this basis, why should the residents of Maryland state and
Montgomery County, Maryland pay for the schools in Editor’s city, Takoma
Park? And why should the citizens of Montgomery County pay for the ambulance
service that zips them to the hospital? You wanna get your life saved by the
ambulance, YOU pay for it. And why should the good people of Dewitt, Iowa
(Editor’s spiritual home) pay for the US Navy? Let those who directly
benefit pay for the Navy.
The concept that underpins a civilized society, that we all pool in for
services even if we don’t directly benefit from some, is becoming as strange
as the notion of sharing his food with homeless rays in Delhi would seem to
Back to the Chinese
Their trains will fill up as their people get richer. They’ll have a train
network for the 21st Century. What will we have that we can be
proud of? That our backsides have grown by another average 5-cm?
When people are losing out in a competition, they should be working harder
to compete. Not standing around making fun of the guy who is winning and
insisting it isn’t important that we compete. Aesop had a phrase for it:
Sour Grapes. That is a very familiar American condition today.
Oil Pipelines bypassing Hormuz
There are two pipelines of consequence. One is the Saudi Yanbu pipeline,
5.1-million bbl/day theoretical and 5-million bbl/day tested. Then there is
the Oman pipeline, 2.5-million bbl/day, specifically built to bypass Hormuz.
About 17-million-bbl/day go through Hormuz.
The West and Gulf oil producers have been aware of this problem for some
time, which is why new pipelines are under construction, including one
through Yemen and one from Ras Tunura to where exactly we haven’t been able
to figure out.
Oddly, Google doesn’t respond well when you type in “Pipelines bypassing
Hormuz” and any one of dozens of variants, which is why our ignorance of the
current pipeline situation is abysmal.
Sure, we could find out, but we’re racing to finish up Concise World Armies
2012 and even half-an-hour is hard to spare.This is what we’ve found so far
– and it sure would be great, readers, if someone would look into this.
(a) The Iraq-Saudi pipeline to the Red Seas (1.7-million-bbl/day) has been
sitting them. Unless someone has been quietly working on it, it’s unusable.
Now Baghdad and Tehran are all kissy faces, but Baghdad will suffer badly if
Hormuz is closed. After the 1008 crisis, it would seem logical someone is
working on it, but is there any evidence?
(b) The Yanbu pipeline can be jumped to 8-million-bbl/day with much work.
You have to mix in a chemical that reduces the turbulence inside the pipe
generated by oil flow, this adds a dollar or two to a barrel. And you have
to get in bigger pumps. Then Yanbu line can do 8-million-bbl/day. Again, it
would seem logical someone is working on this, but in the brief time we’ve
researched, we don’t see anything.
Put all this together, and you get 12.5-million-bbl/day. That’s still
5-million short, but the world can live with that shortage for a few months.
Now, we know the Iranians have threatened to attack the Oman pipeline if
necessary. Fair enough. Oman will simply go to the UN to complain of
aggression; UN will take 6-hours to authorize a US-led force against Iran,
and whatever else happens, its bye-bye Mullah Regime.
We also suspect little has been done about alternate routes because Iran
cannot keep Hormuz closed for more than a few weeks. But if someone was
asking us, we’d have to say: look, the alternates cost a few billion dollars
at most. Sure Hormuz will reopen within weeks. But isn’t it a good idea to
Now, we’re not going to get into the mechanics of keeping Hormuz open,
or of reopening it should it be shut. But we’d like to give a word of advice
Please stop getting excited every time there’s a couple of three US carriers
in the region. That is NO indicator of imminent hostilities. If Debka had
understood this, it could have saved itself from becoming a laughing stock
because of its repeated insistence that an attack on Iran was imminent.
What you should look for, people, is a movement of USAF fighter wings to the
Gulf region. If those wings start flying in, THEN you expect war.
0230 GMT December 29, 2011
Iran has every legal right to close Hormuz
if an oil embargo is imposed. Oil is Iran’s economic lifeblood, stopping
Iran from exporting oil is tantamount to economic strangulation, which is
cause for war, which is cause for retaliation as possible, QED, Ergo, Ipso
Facto, A Priori, Sui Generis, and
Per Diem, closing Hormuz is permissible.
After getting that straight, we also need to get straight that closing
Hormuz is equally an act of war. So we have a right to whack Iran for
Our personal request to President Obama: Can you kindly justify your
existence by doing something useful, i.e., whacking Iran? Thank you. You
will get Editor’s vote (virtual vote as Editor can’t vote, but then, as they
say, it’s the thought that counts).
US SF Troops in Uganda, Central African Republic, and South Sudan
as preparations are underway to terminate the head of the Lord’s Resistance
There is no limit to the stupidity of some US commentators.
In October Glen Beck defended the LRA, accusing the US President of
targeting Christians. The LRA is Christian in the same way that a pool-full
of starved piranhas are God’s creatures. Technically piranhas are indeed
God’s creature, but you sure wouldn’t want to get into the pool with them/
The atrocities of the LRA are too grisly to relate here, so let’s confine
ourselves to one LRA ritual. When it needs fresh recruits, it attacks a
village. Children are made to kill their siblings and their parents. If they
refuse, they are deemed unsuitable and killed. Those who comply are forcibly
conscripted. Any attempt to escape means death.
That Glen wants to defend this organization shows he is well overdue on
being retired to the Funny Farm.
Quite oddly, Glen doesn’t seem to have anything to say about the very sad
situation of Iraqi Christians,
who have been the victims of ethnic cleansing after the US arrived.
Americans and their government are so messed up in the head that we consider
it noble to prevent the killing of Sunnis, but don’t give a hang about our
Oh wait: isn’t there a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that says the larger a
class of religionists, the less protection they are entitled to? So since
this is a Christian majority country by far, we suppose the rights of Iraqi
Sunnis are much greater than those of Iraqi Christians.
Sorry if this doesn’t make sense, people. But it’s your Supreme Court that
made this ruling. And you’re the ones who don’t say anything about the
persecution of Christians in Muslim nations. Or is Editor being unforgivably
anti-multicultural when he makes such statements? Americans are so
enlightened, so fair, so kind, so generous, that they weep about other
religions. Their own doesn’t count. It’s still not clear to Editor why so
many Americans hate themselves and their country so much. If they feel
America is such a cancer on the face of the earth, and they need to make
restitution, can they please migrate to Saudi Arabia or kill themselves
quietly? Why are the rest of us being tortured?
Let’s hear it for over-engineering
editor is a big opponent of over-engineering in weapons systems, because a
weapon is no good if it’s too expensive to afford or too expensive to lose.
But there is something to be said for over-engineering in fields like space
exploration. Cases in point: the Voyager probes, now about to enter true
interstellar-space, as they prepare to leave the heliosphere, and of course the Mars
Launched in 1977, Voyager I and 2 were supposed to image Jupiter and Saturn,
but they went on to image Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto, and are now about
18-billion kilometers from earth, and humming along getting further by 3.3
AU/year. The remarkable thing is they are still sending data, almost thirty
years or so after they should have done their thing. And they have power
sufficient to transmit till 2025.
Spirit Mars Rover functioned for twenty-times a long as designed before
going four-paws up in 2010. Its twin, Opportunity, has lasted thirty-times
longer and is still zapping along.
But we nonetheless oppose the big, ultra-expensive explorer missions
because too much is at stake, and the things that can go wrong are many.
Either we need to double our space exploration budget, or we need to make
explorers half as expensive so that each mission has a backup.
To those who say: don’t we have enough needs at home?
We have a simple reply. Ever occur to anyone that one reason Americans are
going slowly insane is because there’s no more frontier? Up to 1880 an
American who didn’t like the way things were could pick up and move
elsewhere. For 130 years we haven’t been able to do that. But by nature we
are different from – say – the Europeans. We are absolutists, and believe
compromise is selling out. So since we cannot compromise and be happy, nor
can we move away, we are gnawing at our own hind legs. This behavior is
neurotic and destructive.
Okay, you say, so if were to colonize the Moon and Mars and the
Jupiter/Saturn moons, how many people are we talking about in a 100 years? A
hundred thousand? How is that going to help?
Well, you have to make a start somewhere. The Lief Ericksons and their
equivalent among the Siberians and the Polynesians probably numbered in the
thousands. It wasn’t till centuries later that large-scale emigration from
Europe, at least, became possible. But if we sit around saying what’s the
point, we’ll never get started.
As for other planets, here’s a simple calculation. Say a planet is 600 light
years away and our colony ship (for generation ship as the sci-fi writers
call it) can make it up to a sustained one-tenth light speed. That’s only
six thousand year without relativistic effects. A few years of slow-mo acceleration can get a ship to 1/10th
six thousand years you say? Okay, if that seems too long for you,
accelerating at one gee for a year puts you close to light speed and then
relativistic effects kick in big time. Travel for 10 years at 1 gee than
slow down for 10 years at one g, you can visit the center of the galaxy
30,000-light-years away. Of course, 60,000 years has passed on earth
This will give new meaning to the cliché “you can’t go back home again”.
But, you will say, how can we possibly build ships that can
accelerate/decelerate for 20 years? Not saying it can be done tomorrow. But
look, 100 years ago we could not fly. 200 years before that we didn’t have
We can do it.
0230 GMT December 28, 2011
China debt – a slightly more detailed explanation
Occurred to us we need to
better explain what we meant that China’s ability to clean up its debt is
greater than ours. Not that ours is a free market economy, but China’s
economy is state capitalism. So say Enterprise XYZ has taken on too much
debt and can’t pay it back. In the US that means bankruptcy, baby, and the
bank has lost its money. You have a whole bunch of XYZ companies, and in the
US the banks get freaked, so they start lowering limits and refusing to make
loans. Bam, you have a liquidity crisis.
Well, back in the land of the Red Dragon, when XYZ Enterprises can’t pay
back its debt, if the solvency of XYZ is important to the state, the Chinese
Government just tells the bank to restructure the debt. The economics of the
deal count for zero, the politics count for 100%.
But, you say, that means the Chinese Government takes the loss, which is to
say the Chinese taxpayer. That’s not good. Good or not, the resources of the
Chinese people are the government’s to deploy. China is not a democracy; the
government is accountable to no one but itself.
Chinese government has other tools at its disposal, which it uses all the
time. Among these tools is to tell ABC Enterprise, which is doing well, to
take over XYZ, and that’s the end of the XYZ problem.
Now, obviously we are simplifying. Government of China cannot, or at any
rate will not, bail out every single land deal that is now in trouble: 123
Corporation has borrowed, say Yuan 100-million to put up an office tower on
the assumption it will get more-and-more thousand yuan per square foot; the
market is overbuilt, it crashes, and now that property is worth
less-and-less yuan, so the developer can’t pay the bank back. Government –
central, provincial, local – may or may not bail out every developer and
bank. But China will not under any conditions let a liquidity crisis set in.
That’s all there is to it, nothing complicated. In Beijing they don’t have
debates about Hayek and Keynes, about big government versus small
government, about transparency, about how parliament is going to react,
whatever. They do what’s necessary to keep the show on the road and the band
So there was lot of criticism of US and ROK intelligence
for not knowing till 48 hours that the Child of White Swans was dead. We
avoided saying anything – hey, even we can’t comment on every stupid
allegation the media and its half-educated sources make.
It’s quite clear to us that Americans, at least, have seen too many Tom
Cruise movies and are actually quite weak on how intelligence works.
That America or ROK doesn’t have an agent inside the very innermost circle
of DPRK regime should not be a surprise. That’s not a failure, that’s just
reality. So the way we generally find out things DPRK doesn’t want anyone to
find out is (a) signal intercept; or (b) reconnaissance. Over the longer
term there are all kinds of signs, such as – say – Kim II didn’t appear at
such-and-such ceremony which he always attends, stuff like that.
Well, one reason no one picked up the story of Kim the second dying on a
train while travelling the country ministering to the needs of his people
who loved him so much is that he did not die on a train. The head of ROK
intelligence says the said train did not move from its siding in Pyongyang,
Kim was at home and has to have died at home.
If he died at home, the information could be kept to a small handful of
people. Sure, servants and guards and gardeners might know, but in case
Americans haven’t noticed, it’s kind of unlikely one of these people will
tip-toe over to a telephone and call Washington or Seoul and let us know the
old boy is dead.
DPRK couldn’t have kept the matter secret for long, because invariably
someone talks – if only because the succession jockeying begins. But 48
hours? Sure, that’s entirely possible.
Newt is at it again
He has been telling people that he is the senior-most lecturer to the senior
military so he knows defense. Hmmmm. Turns out a couple of times a year he
gets invited to talk at some defense college or the other, where he
lecturers to one and two star types, and he has been doing this for 23
We dare say that any of a hundred American military professors get in more
by way of lectures in a year than Newts has in 23 years, but you don’t hear
them touting themselves as the senior-most anything.
Next, is Newt is talking, Newt is not listening. Since his expertise is
talking, where exactly is he picking up his alleged defense expertise from?
And a historian is a defense expert? Since when? In what universe?
If he is a defense expert, may we ask what is NOT an expert on? According to
Newt, he’s an expert on everything. That automatically makes him an expert
The man cannot even think two steps ahead. In 2006 he thought Romney’s
health care for Massachusetts was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Now
he says he’s changed his mind because he’s had a chance to see how it works
in practice. So this Giant Intellect could not look ahead at Romney’s plans
and see how they would play out?
So should he become Prez, do we wait every day for his latest brainstorm, so
that you have a non-stop sequence of “Lets do this – oopsies, that didn’t
work – let’s try that – oopsies, that didn’t work”
Are Americans mad that this man is even considered a serious candidate to
By the way, this was Newt’s idea for pension/social security reform. Some of
your money would go into government-approved funds. Some you could invest as
you wanted. Didn’t do well on your investments? Not to worry. Treasury will
send you a check to bring your payment up to par.
Readers, please tell us: what do you call a man that seriously suggests
individuals gamble and the government will indemnify them against losses or
lower than anticipated returns? Some GOP voters apparently call him a
Presidential contender. We call him a raving idiot. But then what do we
know, we’re from Iowa.
Letter to the Editor
Please apologize immediately to Mr. Newton Gingrich. Ad hominum attacks are
impermissible in civilized debate. Besides, their use shows you have no
proper refutation of Mr. Gingrich’s ideas.
Letter from Editor to Newts
Dear Newts, I am sorry I called you a raving idiot. The raving idiot is
obviously me, for having wasted 22 lines refuting your inane ideas. Thank
0230 GMT December 27, 2011
Problems building up in China economy?
So it would seem from the media reports. Now, Editor is no fan of China, nor
is much informed about China’s economy which doesn’t seem to operate
according to normal economic rules. But Editor doubts China is in as much
trouble as is being made out.
Beijing itself announced that the days of double-digit growth are over.
Okay, so big deal. After 30 years the growth had to slow. So China won’t
grow at 9% a year, which doubles GDP in eight years. Say it grows at 6%. FDP
doubles in 12, and surely China can sustain 6% for 25 years, or till it has
a GDP of $30-trillion. It will be number one in the world. So Editor
suggests those of us who don’t like China refrain from any celebrations that
Chinese growth is slowing.
So we are told China has figured out it can’t employ its surplus labor all
in manufacturing. This is supposed to be a setback? China already has ten
percent of the world’s manufacturing; in a couple of years US will be down
to 10%. Chinese manufacturing is still growing, it will be first in the
world soon. This is supposed to be an economic crisis?
Then, it is said China has a property bubble that is going to burst and that
will create woe and lamentation in the land. Editor is deeply pained to have
to say this, people, but didn’t the US just go through a huge, huge property
bubble which will take us till 2020 to work through? The point is there are
1.4-billion Chinese going on 1.5-billion, and well over half live in hovels.
Demand will rapidly catch up with the supply. Editor would not break out the
champagne on this point.
Okay, so the Chinese are supposed to have a whole bunch of bad debt. Why on
earth would an American, or an Englishman, or a Euro get excited about this?
We in the west should know a thing or two about bad debt. And China’s
ability to clean up its debt is a lot greater than ours.
The thing is, like it or not, the Chinese central planners seem to know a
thing or two about economics. Their 30 year record is unmatched in all of
human history. China is a totalitarian country and it can turn on a dime by
fiat. Editor suggests we not start judging the Chinese ability to handle
their economic problems by assuming they are as incompetent as we are.
Using tactical A-Bombs in the invasion of Japan
Reader Richard Thatcher reminds us that one of the plans was to use nine
A-bombs just ahead of the Forward Line of Own Troops (no clue what they
called it in those days), against intermediate depth targets, and against
depth targets. The lack of information on the radiation aspects of these
weapons was so great that US troops were not to enter bombed areas for
48-hours. Indeed, Mr. Thatcher also reminded us about the 1957 test series
where US staged 29 tests in 5-months or so, and had tens of thousands of
troops as observers, sitting right there without shielding. So people
weren’t very clear on radiation effects even 12 years after the war.
A George Mason University history site says that 300,000 US military
personnel were exposed to radiation. At
http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/6451/ you can read the memoir of
one officer who with 5000 men was position 11-kilometers from an air-dropped
explosion. Then everyone got into their trucks and rumbled up to the
explosion area. Whereupon everyone got out and walked through the area. As
the officer says, no one died and no one got sick.
Yoicks. Of course, now a days we are way, way too scared of radiation. You
had a problem in Japan, a couple of workers may have died from radiation,
and doubtless there will be extra deaths from cancer than might otherwise
have been expected. Wunner how many of those Japanese are going to stop
smoking, drinking, driving in cars, flying, eating red meat and insisting
coal fired power plants be shut down. To say nothing of demanding the
elimination of the maybe 50,000 chemicals that cause cancer. Because sure as
anything, a whacking greater boat load of Japanese are going to die from
these causes than from the extra radiation thrown out at the disaster site.
But back to the A-bombs and Japan. Had the Japanese been disinclined to
surrender after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the use of nine bombs – or even
twenty – against troop areas would not have defeated them. A-bombs are great
stuff against fixed unprotected targets like a city. Against dug in troops,
the blast and fire effects are very greatly reduced.
And parenthetically we say to our Green friends:
you don’t like coal, you don’t like oil, you don’t like hydro, you’re
starting to have problems with windmills, yet you also are not prepared to
go back to the year of Our Lord 1850. Don’t blame you, neither do we.
So what’s the solution? Well, passive nuclear reactors. The ones that shut
down by themselves should anything go wrong, and so require no human
intervention. Extra safety can be obtained by burying them. Yep, your power
is going to be expensive because nothing is as cheap as coal and oil, and
safety costs money. But really, truly, environmentally N-power is better for
And Greenies – can you also start agitating about the population thing? The
earth is polluted not because we use coal and oil or whatever. Its polluted
because we have too many people. Cut back the global population to
100-million, and most of your pollution problems will be resolved.
And thanks to reader Chris Raggio
for keeping us informed on the Lulzsec (are we saying it right?) attack on
Stratfor. As far as we know, Stratfor is about as harmless an organization
as you can get. The attack, according to the hackers, was to steal money and
buy Christmas gifts. Also, their “comrade” Bradley Manning is spending his
Joyous Season in military jail, and they didn’t think it right that Stratfor
clients be enjoying their Christmas.
We’re going to say something that may seem outrageous.
On one level we sympathize with the hackers. Truly, who amongst us would not
just love the chance to stick it to The Man?
But the difference between grownups (or at least purported grownups) and
those sticking it to The Man is that grownups restrain themselves. What the
hackers are doing is plain theft. How would they like it if others, who lack
computers and other nice gadgets the hackers might have, bonk them over the
head with a baseball bat and steal their stuff?
As for Bradley Manning suffering all alone, not to worry, good buddies.
Sitting at a computer you really do believe you are anonymous, don’t you.
You have no idea, not the least idea, of the massive power of the modern
state. You too will be suffering soon enough. That will show your
Mr. Raggio sent an article where this lady who knew some hackers was visited
by eight FBI agents. Now try and imagine this. There you are, peacefully
reading the comics while taking a satisfying dump, and you are interrupted
by eight – eight – FBI agents. They want to know what you know. You sing.
Treble, Alto, Tenor, Bass, and several other frequencies you never thought
you could reach, but you easily do. Because at any point those FBI agents
can take you away for interrogation at their offices. They will find out
about the 2-cent stamp you took from office without paying. They will nail
you for it.
And just BTW, children, Manning has it very easy in military jail. He is not
getting beat-up, he is not getting sexually assaulted, his face is not being
rubbed in poop, he is not getting casually clubbed on the knees every time a
guard passes because they don’t like him. If you didn’t know this happens to
you in civil jail, those kind FBI agents will make a point to tell you.
It doesn’t matter how tough you are, you’ll talk. You’ll give up names. They
will quietly investigate for months. Then they will move in. They will
quickly break all those names – you all are kids, after all.
And which big-time lawyer will come defend you for free? See, Manning stole
documents. He didn’t steal money. Oooooh, The Man hates it when you steal
his money. And it won’t be just theft charges. Racketeering and conspiracy
will be there.
So you think: we’re hundreds, we’re thousands. How can they get us all? The
Man will simply hire 10,000 more computer cops. If need be he’ll hire
100,000 more. And he won’t have to get you all. He’ll have to get just one.
The five who know that one will be lying awake waiting for The Man. They
will get two of the five. Then ten people will be lying awake. They will get
four of the ten. And so on until you will get down on your knees and pray so
hard that you will be a good boy that the neighbors will be banging on the
walls asking you to be quiet.
None of this is to divert from the point Mr. Raggio made.
Stratfor didn’t even bother encrypting its credit card transactions.
Ultimately, Mr. Raggio notes, organizations have to get more serious about
computer security. After all, you don’t leave your house unlocked, or your
car, or lay out your credit cards on the curb and leave for work.
30 GMT December 26, 2011
There’s a lot happening around the world, but nothing that requires a shout-out
or a rant
The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis have won Round Two (of three rounds)
in Egypt’s multi-step election, 67%. In general, there is not much to fear
from the Brotherhood. Okay, so they are conservatives, but they are not
stark raving homicidal crazies like the Salafis who want to take the world
back to the social norms prevalent in the 8th Century while
enjoying – of course – the material benefits of the 21st Century.
To keep in mind: the Egypt election is only intended to elect a constituent
assembly. The whole thing is meaningless, because the Army has said it will
not even allow power to be snatched from its cold, dead hands. So the poor
Egyptians have to go through a second revolution, which could be a bloody
affair unless the US steps in. Also to keep in mind: a majority of Egyptians
is happy Dictator Muburak is gone, but is highly freaked at the continuing
instability and it is likely the majority does NOT support the Second
Revolutionaries, if we can term that.
Which takes us to Belarus, which is being taken back to Stalin era
totalitarianism with all the ultra-hard-ball repression of dissent for which
Stalin was famous. The reason Belarus’s leaders are getting away it is
because much of the population fears the anarchy that democracy brings, at
least until people become used to democracy. Belarus is part of Putin
project to recreate the core of the Soviet Empire; the other partner is
Kazakhstan. You don’t hear a lot of bad things about Kazakhstan because of
one word: hydrocarbons.
Which takes us to Russia
Do not be impressed by the protests. Putin can quash them in an instant. He
is allowing them because he can smilingly turn to the west and say: “Wot, me
a dictator?” Do not be impressed a Russian billionaire has said he will run
against Putin. The fellow is Putin’s man, allowing Putin to say: “Wot, me a
The protesters are the urban elite. Your typical Rus is very, very big on
stability and certainty. See, to you
and I the Soviet Union was a dark dictatorship. But as long as you refrained
from openly attacking the regime, you were left alone. There was little
crime, because the cops were everywhere, and they didn’t have to read you
your rights. To this day Russian courts convict 99% of accused. You had a
tiny little apartment, but you paid just a couple of dollars a month in
rent. Medical care wasn’t wonderful, but it was free. Education was free,
and if you had the smarts, you got into elite schools and universities –
free. Okay, so the diet was monotonous, but the basics like bread were very
cheap. Public transport was a few cents, and in Moscow the idea of running
to catch a bus would have been considered nuts, because if you missed one
bus, in a few minutes the next one came along. Yes, you didn’t get to buy
scotch, but the vodka was absurdly cheap. You had no political freedom, but
the state looked after you.
Now all that is gone, and your average Russian is just as worried about
making do as your average American. And all around him you have the Russian
1% who have millions, hundreds of millions, and billions of bucks, fast
cars, beautiful women, children studying in Paris and Washington, private
bodyguards, and if you don’t get out of their way on the roads, they will
simply push you off, and if you are dead or crippled, tough.
Sure there was corruption in the Soviet Union. But that was if you wanted
something extra, like fresh oranges in a Moscow February. If you obeyed the
law, kept your head down, and didn’t publically grumble, the corruption
didn’t affect you. Right now to even get your due you have to pay.
We’re sure our readers appreciate we are not defending Soviet Russia, which
really was a creation of Satan at his best. We’re just saying do not mirror
image Russia. Of course as human being they want the same rights you and I
enjoy. But a lot of Russians want to know what use are those political
rights when there is no safety in the streets, life very harsh if you are an
ordinary Joe, and meantime around you is all the excess, the pomp, the
wealth, the power of the Russian nobility during the time of the Czars.
From Moscow we amble over to Damascus
where President Assad has tears in his eyes after the bombing of two
intelligence agency buildings in Damascus. Tears of joy, that is. “See?” he
declaims “I told you this was a bunch of terrorists, from the start.
Everyone knows terrorists deserve no mercy.”
Well, let’s first take a huge leap of credibility and assume the Syrian
opposition did do the deed, which to a lot of people makes no sense because
the opposition has avoided traditional terror. This revolt started off as completely peaceful
protests, which were brutally suppressed by the security forces. Part of the
Syrian population has guns, and this part decided to shot back. Soldiers
defected when told to massacre civilians, so the regime executed those
soldiers. To survive, they had no choice but to fight back.
So okay, we’ll accept it’s a civil war. So what? Wasn’t Libya a civil war?
Wasn’t Yemen a civil war? Go back far enough, and wasn’t the American
Revolution a civil war? In terms of what the colonists were doing, were they
not traitors and terrorists? There was no reason for Syria to become a civil
war – no reason except Assad Bloody Hands did not want to give up power.
Assad’s days are numbered, he absolutely cannot survive because he is a
minority repressing a majority. A Shia minority repressing a Sunni majority
– iron or ironies, because in Iraq it was the other way around. The Gulf
Sunnis have ganged up on Assad, sooner or later, its going to be goodbye to
From Damascus we take a stroll to Iran
Teheran is determined to go down fighting, and is so out of touch with
brutal reality it is doing ten-day exercises on how to close Hormuz. Just
the kind of behavior that assures the world they are dealing with a sane,
Last time there was a Hormuz crisis, 2008, Editor was very frustrated
because people kept saying “Ooooh, we’re dead because the Iranians will
close Hormuz”. Well, militarily there is no way they can close Hormuz unless
they make a first strike, and it wouldn’t have stayed close for long. Our
own estimate was two-weeks to three months. This time around, for some
reason, the military experts are saying the closure will be days, which
truthfully, if Iran makes a second strike – closure in response to an attack
on Iran – is accurate. That’s because an attack on Iran will begin with
sterilizing – not sanitizing – the Iran coast. Even a fishing sail-powered
dhow will not be able to move.
But if things go wrong, the closure could be as we estimate, up to three
What will happen? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. We’ve been through the
pipeline equations, and 10-million of 17-million barrels will still flow
daily. Even sea-borne traffic will resume in days – the megatankers may not
be able to sail, but smaller tankers will. You’ll lose a few million barrels
a day for max three months, and the world has reserves to ride that out.
But won’t oil shoot up? Last time around some financial institutions was
licking its chops and saying “Ooooh, oil will go up to $250”. Our response
was “In your dreams, buster.” This time we were taken aback to hear Armand
de Borchgrave – he’s a senior journalist – say the price will go to $300 to
$500. If we are going to pull figures out of the air, why stop at $500? Why
not $5,000/bbl? Why not $50,000/bbl?
Now don’t be absurd, Mr. Editor, you will say, who will pay $5,000/bbl?
Precisely. Now ask yourself who will pay $500 when there’s a couple of
billion barrels in global reserve, and the Straits will be reopened quickly.
The great weakness of the $500/bbl school, which is a total wet dream of
speculators, is that the day Hormuz closes, government will ban forward
trading in oil futures. They will take steps to ration oil in the event
Hormuz remains closed for half a year or a year.
Further, there is something the economists call demand destruction. We saw
that in 2008 when oil shot up to $150 and then collapsed to $80. Yes, the
recession had something to do with it. But more than that, demand started
going down because $150 was not justifiable under any objective factors.
Incidentally, there is a move in the US at least to ban non-actual-users
from forward trading in oil. Consider for a moment: the idea of the futures
market is that it matches up future supply and demand, giving certainty to
the producer and the buyer. No
economic purpose is served by speculation in oil – or any other
commodity. Before US hedge funds, awash with trillions of dollars of pension
money, decided to speculate in oil, the futures market represented reality.
Right now speculators have pushed up oil $30 above what economics says it is
– and at that, that’s cartel economics. (Exxon chief gave that figure some
So right now a lot of people don’t like the idea of government controls,
particularly when its stopping them from ripping off your pants and mine by
making us pay absurd prices for our oil. Do the speculators really think the
people and the government will let them not rip off our underpants as well
if Hormuz should close?
“Oooooh!” the speculators will say “Rationing never works. It creates a
black market.” Hmmmm. So you know, governments have a remedy for that. They
allow a certainly level of black marketeering because up to a point its too
petty to cost-effectively police. Beyond that point, they simply take
speculators and shoot them in the town square.
And if the speculators think “Ooooooh, this is America, that will never
happen”, they need to be disabused of this fantasy. People say how you
should never mess with the right of Americans to own guns because you’ll
have a revolution on your hands. Well, guess what Americans love more than
You guessed right. In the absence of controls, and with full throttle
speculation, gas will go up to $15/gallon. At that point the Editor will not
have to shoot any speculator. The little old lady at the end of the street
will do the shooting herself.
This being Takoma Park, Maryland (the Berkeley of the East) she may need to
borrow someone’s gun. On the other hand, Editor has been inside her house
when she needed help moving stuff. The little old lady has a kitchen knife
with an 18-inch long and three-inch wide blade. Just as effective. Cheaper
too. Given the cost of living, bullets are not so cheap in America anymore.
When Editor was in college, he used to bartend.
At one party, even though they were grad school and grad assistant types,
they’d hired the local policeman for security, as it was going to be a wild
party. Editor has a vague memory of
a rather tall lady arriving clad in high-heels, a fishnet body suit, and
silver paint, and nothing else. The security was to stop the townies from
crashing the party, grad school students were too well-behaved to fight.
Anyway, Editor had to keep making trips back to the kitchen where The Law
was ensconced, downing bourbons as if prohibition was going to be declared
at midnight. Solid Massachusetts man, in his early fourties. Because there
was hardly any non-European immigration in those days, people thought Editor
was from southern Italy or from Greece. To simplify things he used the nom
de guerre “George” which is what his friends called him.
So The Law was telling Editor about his time in the wartime navy, on a
destroyer in the Pacific. He proceeded to explain to the Editor how young
people today had no respect for The Law.
There was this lady (not the tall one), who was intent on – er – amorous
activity with two of the grad students, simultaneously, and was by the time
– shall we say – rather scantily clad. Let’s just say panties were being
worn, but somehow they had got transferred from the young lady to one of the
young gentlemen. So doubtless you are thinking: if he’s wearing her panties,
his boxers have to be on her head, obviously.
You would be wrong. His boxers were on the head of the other young
gentleman, which was a bit baffling, now that Editor thinks of it. Of
course, us bartenders are not paid to think.
Somehow the three ended up in the kitchen, and the young lady fell in the
lap of The Law, which slowed neither her down nor slowed her admirers down.
In those days we didn’t have the holler “Get a room, people” So The Law and Editor merely continued
The three guests were – shall we just say – deep in the throes of passion,
and at some point the young lady grabbed the Law’s tie for something to hold
on to. The Law was being quietly strangled, as the throes of passion were –
shall we say – considerable and loud.
Law just kind of squinted, ignored what was happening on his lap,
downed another considerable part of his bourbon, and morosely proclaimed:
“I’m telling you, George, this country isn’t what it used to be.”
So the other day Editor was updating Concise World Armies and for some
reason an advert for an ammo supply place came up. Editor almost passed out
from shock: 30-30 Remington rounds are a dollar each. One. Dollar. A. Round.
If the Government came to take away the Editor’s gun (hypothetical gun, as
he can’t afford one) he could not even resist because he can’t afford to buy
any ammunition. And with a straight face
they call this a democracy?
Editor’s reaction was the same as that of The Law, those many decades gone.
He blindly reached for his glass of bourbon, finished off half
(metaphorically, as he doesn’t drink), and mournfully proclaimed to himself:
““I’m telling you, George, this country isn’t what it used to be.”
0230 GMT December 25, 2011
I have been wondering where you get your eclectic, eccentric, and peculiar
economics. Now that you have explained you slept through your economics
texts (and presumably your lectures), the reasons for your deep ignorance
become perfectly clear.
In common with your fellow countrymen, you seem to have the same rabid fear
of Keynes that American creationists have of Darwin. I make the analogy with
intent, because only Americans are still arguing about Keynes versus Hayek.
To the rest of the world, Keynesian economics is mainstream, just as for the
rest of the world, Darwinism is mainstream thinking.
What Keynes said was very simple. There are business cycles. In an up-cycle,
government needs to cut back on spending and raise taxes. This prevents
inflation, which after all is the single greater destroyer of man’s economic
labors. In a down-cycle, when private demand collapses, government must step
in by reducing spending and bowing money to spend. Saying that Keynes was
the guru of big government and centralized government is without foundation.
Keynes did not want the government telling you how to spend your money. In
good times he wanted government to contract. He saw an expanded role for
government only in bad times.
In contrast to Keynes’ prescription, your government – and mine – has for
decades failed to cut spending and up taxes in good times. It has used good
times to expand the role of the government. This would give Keynes fits.
That cutting spending and increasing taxes in bad times is suicidal is quite
evident in the Eurozone which is heading into deep recession (some parts of
the zone already are in deep recession) because of the quite idiotically
superstitious beliefs of the Germans regarding inflation. I accept the
Germans were traumatized by the inflation after World War I. But then to
approach every economic situation within the paradigm of inflation is the
equivalent of saying: “My marriage did not work out, not only will I never
marry again, neither should anyone else marry – ever”. Inflation comes when
demand exceeds production. That is not the problem today because productive
capacity far exceeds demand. The danger is deflation not inflation.
Yes, I am waiting for you to say “But the American stimulus did not work.”
You have said it many times, though I recognize you believe it did not work
because the money was given to the banks who then refused to lend it, so
demand was not stimulated. You have a point, but the reason the American
stimulus did not work was that it was too little, too late. It was
guaranteed to fail, indeed, the American Keynesian Paul Krugmann predicted
it would fail. So if I throw a drowning man a rope three meters long when he
is six meters from shore, and he drowns, do I conclude that throwing ropes to drowning men is futile?
You have frequently these last months bemoaned that the politicization of
the simplest things in America is running America into the ground. I agree.
But the failure of Presidents Bush and Obama to increase the stimulus is
because of politics. Both were/are so deathly afraid of the Republican right
wing that they would rather fail than run afoul of that august lobby.
Let me conclude with my own thoughts of why America is so politicized that
is has become not just non-functional, but dysfunctional. The world in the
era of globalization has become bewildering complex. The solution is greater intellectual
power. America, however, prides itself on its anti-intellectualism, which is
akin to boasting: “I never read a book and that makes me a superior man!”.
Instead of educating themselves, keeping an open mind, an eschewing rigid
doctrine, Americans are retreating further into intellectual fundamentalism.
I believe Islamic fundamentalism must fail because it is fundamentalism. So
must Christian fundamentalism and yes, economic fundamentalism. The Germans
are suffering from the same syndrome. Be that as it may, unless Americans
accept intellectualism, they are doomed to become the barbarians that
destroyed the west, instead of playing the role the role that brought the
country into being and making it great. And America became great because of
its intellectual ideas, so powerful they have become the truth for all
humankind – at a time America rejects intellectualism.
Che. Here is it is Saturday, Christmas Eve, not a date in sight, and this
reader by the unlikely name of E. Edward Edwardes is stomping your Editor,
who can’t defend himself just because decades ago he fell asleep in his
economics classes. With a name like that, Editor suspects the letter writer
is English. We thought the English were a sporting race, believing in giving
a man a second chance, and not holding youthful sins and omissions against a
person for forever. Or is that the Americans? Older the Editor gets, the
more confused he becomes.
The annotated nightly briefing from Reader Luxembourg
Luxembourg resides in Chicago, which he calls “My L’il Cesspool”. He sends a
nightly collection of the days absurd stories. So for Christmas we thought
we would forward his Christmas Eve briefing.
In Iraq this year I asked an Iraqi military officer
doing joint training at an American
base what was the big thing he’d come to believe about Americans in the years they’d been there. He
thought. “You are a better people than your
movies say.” He had judged us by our exports. He had seen the low
slag heap of our culture and
assumed it was a true expression of who we are.
And so he’d assumed we were disgusting.
Thomas Friedman Was Unavailable For Comment:
“The Xinjiang Procedure: Beijing’s ‘New
Frontier’ is ground zero for the organ
harvesting of political prisoners.”
http://www.weeklystandard.com/print/articles/xinjiang-procedure_610145.html Funny how people who were outraged beyond outrage by the Abu Ghraib pics
don’t care much about this.
Sign Of The Times: A Frankincense
Have a Sno-cone and enjoy the show:
snow-cone machines for homeland
security. “when you give out money based on
politics, without any accounting, this is what you get.”
Change: Annual fuel budget for U.S.
families this year? Over $4,000. “Been wondering where a bunch of your money went this
year? For the average American family, a
higher percentage of the budget was spent on gas in 2011 than at any
point since 1981. According to the
AP, gas cost most Americans $4,155, or 8.4
percent of the median household income, in 2011. In 1981, the number
was 8.8 percent. In the 2000s, a
normal number was around 5.7 percent. The culprit, as should not be a surprise, was
$3.50-a-gallon gas in a sluggish economy.”
Unless, Of Course, It’s A Brilliant Piece Of Misdirection:
How Downed U.S. Drone Helps China.
My Lil Cesspool ...you know.
CHICAGOLAND: Christmas Brings Rampant Thefts Of Baby Jesus Statues, Lawn Decorations...
Editor thought he was being very clever when he planned to suggest that
anyone wanting to put up a religious display in public spaces be permitted
to do son. The every religion could express their holy days. Well,
apparently in Leesberg, Virginia they’ve had this policy since 2009. So
atheists have this year grabbed most of the 10 spaces. One of their displays
is a skeleton dressed as Santa Claus. The story is from NPR
and like good liberals, NPR clearly believes that passing a moral judgment
is a crime so the story is actually quite sympathetic to the
Let us first say that Editor believes in public subsidies for the arts and
he is for government funding of NPR. So Editor is not bashing NPR. Editor is
merely reminding readers of what Patrick Moynihan called “defining deviancy
down”. Moynihan was a larger-than-life liberal in the old style, but he said
that there are consequences to continually downgrading what society
considers deviant behavior (see Luxembourg’s story about the Iraqi officer,
Second, so you are an atheist, is there some law that says you have to prove
you are uneducated? What does Santa Claus have to do with religion? Saint
Nick’s is a tradition celebrated
around Christmas. But Santa is 100% secular. Have you ever heard Santa utter
the words “God” or “Jesus”? Sure he talks about Christmas, but it’s about
the celebration of Christmas as a secular holiday, not as an occasion to
worship the deity. NPR just shows its own confusion when it titles its
story: “Secular opponents of holiday displays get creative”. So these people
are objecting to holiday displays
and not religious displays?
A huge part of Santa Claus is about the kids. So it’s really, really
thoughtful of some people to be putting a Santa suit on a skeleton and
exhibiting it in a public space. It shows how terribly clever, how amazingly
sophisticated, these people, what a fantastic sense of humor they have, what
genius irony they can exhibit.
Editor likes to think he is an intellectual. When he hears stories like
this, he’s not sure if Americans are wrong to reject intellectualism, even
if they do it for incorrect reasons.
See, if Editor were not an intellectual, he could speak his mind about these
people. He could say: “A skeleton Santa is ‘getting creative’?” What a sick
bunch of deviant perverts.” And by that Editor also means NPR.
[For the record, Editor does not celebrate Christmas because Christ is the
last person on anyone’s mind. When the youngest was little, Mrs. R. IV would
put up a 2-foot plastic tree made in Hong Kong (this is before everything
was made in China) and she’d put the presents for the youngster around the
tree. Not a word said about Christ. Editor once made the mistake of taking
the family to a Midnight Mass at a Catholic church, just something that
should be experienced once, after all, one reads about the midnight mass all
the time. Big mistake. The congregation was mainly dressed in sweats. Talked
through the service. Chewed gum. Kids ran around screaming. People changed
seats to catch up on gossip with friends they hadn’t seen in a while. Other
people napped. Went outside to smoke and use the cell phone. Hopefully not
to have a holiday nip. Another sick bunch of deviant perverts.]
0230 GMT December 24, 2011
Letter to Editor regarding rant on Christmas without Christ
From Robert Griffin. I suspect Editor has gotten two separate things mixed
up. First, what most non-Christians will be objecting to is the display of
Christian symbols on government property. The Establishment Clause is
generally interpretation by courts to mean that government in no way should
support any religion. The White House is home to a person who is President
of all Americans, not just to Christian Americans and its lawns are a public
space. Second, if someone is objecting to the display of Christian symbols
on private property, I will be the first one to say this is wrong.
According to the Third American Religious Survey
http://wessner.ca/?p=388 75% of Americans identify themselves as
Christians, 5% as belonging to other religions, 15% as having no religion,
and 5% as refusing to answer. How does the White House Christmas Tree
support Christianity? Is the White House pushing Christianity over other
religions? We think not, because from what we read the White House regularly
has celebrations of the holy days of other religions. We may as well argue
that the official declaration of December 25th as the Christmas
Day holiday (not the Winter Holiday or whatever) is illegal.
With three of four Americans saying they are Christians, and with Christmas
celebrated worldwide including in non-Christian countries, we think it’s
about as close to a universal day as one can get. Sure, other cultures –
like non-Christian Indians – are not celebrating it as a religious holiday.
You can even argue that the power of American advertising is such that
Christmas has become a global secular
holiday. Certainly we may agree this business of shopping till we drop
is actually offensive to the spirit of Christ, who was anti-materialistic.
But Why should a non-Christian be upset because the White House Christmas
Tree has Christian symbols? Isn’t America supposed to be about tolerance?
When 3 of 4 Americans are Christians, why are we begrudging them symbols
that are important to them?
Who precisely is objecting? Presumably the objectors are from the 5%
non-Christians and 5% atheists, a pool that is 10% of the American
population. How many from this pool are objecting? Is it as much as 1%? Is
any purpose served by someone from the 1% getting aggressive and saying
Christian symbols on public land are unacceptable? When the 75% are not
harming in any way the 1%, it is (a) mean beyond belief to object; and (b)
spineless beyond belief of the First Family to eliminate Christian symbols
from the First Tree.
By the way, if Christian symbols are objectionable when displayed on public
land, that tree had better come down. Because what symbolizes Christmas
better than the tree with a star. The holiday had better be repealed.
Now let us approach this obliquely
Much is being made of the Homecoming Kiss bestowed by a female naval
serviceperson on her girlfriend, another female serviceperson. You have to,
of course, wonder if the media so hard up for news that they have to
publicize something of zero significance. One of the servicepeople is in the
uniform of the United States Navy. The action takes place in a naval
dockyard. By no definition whatsoever is the Homecoming Kiss a private
affair. There is a solid percentage of the US population that holds same-sex
relations to be immoral and an offence to God. So what would people think if someone
went to the courts, saying naval personnel on duty, wearing the country’s
uniform, and on government property?
If someone objects, should we not be saying: “Look, I don’t agree to this,
but America is about tolerance, and I should be tolerant”?
Ditto the Christmas Tree.
This said, Editor has to make a caveat
If a Jewish person objected to public displays of Christmas symbols, Editor
would understand. Note we said “understand”. We did not say it is right.
There is 2000 years of very bad history between Christianity and Judaism
with Jews coming out – repeatedly – on the losing end. If a Jewish person
tells Editor: “I get really, really freaked at seeing Christian symbols in
ANY public context because I worry this may be the thin edge of the wedge.
My people fled to America to save themselves from people who called
themselves Christians but used the power of the State to oppress my people.
I would rather the public and the private observance of Christianity be kept
as separate as possible.”
Editor’s reply might be: the government of a (at the time) an overwhelmingly
Christian note gave you refuge, please be gracious at least this one time of
the year. You cannot blame the White House and the US president for the
terrible atrocities you endured under the Nazis, the Russian pogroms, at the
hands of the Spanish and so on.
Editor might also ask: “If Israel can be tolerant of Christian symbols, why
can’t American Jews?
Just utterly beside the point
WWJD if he passed by the White House and saw the National Christmas Tree?
Editor cannot claim to be an expert on Christianity, but his suspicion is
that Jesus would not approve. First, Jesus was against the establishment of
a church. Secondly, he would have considered himself a failure to witness
how his followers have deified him and how they worship him. Thirdly, as we
said before, he would be very aggravated at the commercialism carried on in
an ostensible celebration of his birth. Quite honestly, if Jesus was to go
to the mall and take the skin off the back of crazed shopper using a whip,
Editor for one would applaud.
As a teacher who told the Editor she is a devout Christian but does not
celebrate Christmas said: “Christmas has become a circus in Christ’s name;
but if Christ was to walk on to the stage and stand their quietly, he would
be ignored because we are so busy doing everything except what he wanted. I
will spend my Christmas considering how I can better meet the standards
Christ has set me.”
Profound, moving, sincere, and – dare we say it – possibly even holy.
So, dear readers, carry on with the shopping, massive consumption of alcohol
and food, enjoy killing the turkey who has done no harm – at least no turkey
Editor has met has done him harm, and so on. Editor will be working at home
tomorrow, like The Brain in Pinkey and the Brain doing what he does every
night, plot to take over the world. Editor is not going to Grinch your
Christmas, but he sure is going to do a lot of complaining and whining, but
then he does that regularly, Christmas or not.
And this really is it for tonight
Two souls got on Air Force One yesterday and headed out for the Presidential
vacation in Hawaii. One was President Obama, the other was Bo. We sincerely
wish one gets a Christmas stocking full of nice things, and the other gets a
Christmas stocking full of coal. Just to help you with the puzzle, our Coal
Candidate is not the soul who looks endearingly cut and walks on four legs.
Along with the coal should be a card:
“We, the people, are taking away all your planes and helicopters. You can
fly Sardine Class and pay for your own tickets just as we all do. As for
security, are you saying the rest of us don’t have a right to be secure?
Either give each of us an Air Force One, or travel like the rest of us and
take your chances.”
0230 GMT December 23, 2011
Does it say in the Bible that God ordered the US Congress not to make sense?
It would appear so. Cutting the
payroll tax once again is messing up Social Security once again. This is –
once again – pushing our problem down the road on to the back of our
children. That the Boomers should do this is no surprise, given their
colossal selfishness. But Congress has plenty of members who are
post-Boomer. We’re counting post-Boomer as after 1960 – we think using 1964
as the cut-off date is a bit unrealistic. Surely fifteen years of breeding
like rabbits sufficied to clam down the World War II generation.
One on side you have our beloved President, who has not a single real
Christmas ornament on his Christmas tree and sees nothing wrong with that.
We are told the White House doesn’t want to offend non-Christians. So to not
offend non-Christians, Christians should make their second holiest day into
a secular celebration? Okay, Editor – who is not a Christian by the way,
will go for it. If and when all other religions stop celebrating
their holidays so as not to
offend Christians and others not of their faith. Or is the case that only
Christians are capable of giving offense so only they must make their
holidays secular? If a country that is vastly Christian majority cannot
celebrate its holy days without minorities getting offended, then where is
the justice, the tolerance, the acceptance that led non-Christians to
migrate to America in the first place?
Our Prez wants to increase his chances of relection, so nothing like
pandering to the people – after all, the man’s retirement is not going to be
affected because there won’t be enough money in Social Security by the time
we are through with this nonsense.
On the other side you have the blessed GOP, who for a moment showed some
spine, wondering how the tax cut money was to be made up. Of course, they
showed spine for all the wrong reasons – they give no more hoots than the
President for the future of this country, they wanted to deny him an
election advantage. And of course, had they insisted this tax cut be paid
for, the Democrats would have said: “Interesting. When the Republicans
propose tax cuts without offsetting reductions, the extra jobs created are
supposed to increase the tax inflow – which if it happens they then again use as an excuse to cut
taxes again. When we cut taxes, the GOP asks where are the offsets?
Then the Editor gets home five hours later than usual
because he had his annual physical after work and then got caught in the
holiday traffic – his route home skirts a major shopping center, and since
he’s never out in the evening he got caught unawares. He is not a happy
camper. Then he learns from the Washington Post that lobbyists cannot buy
members of Congress a slice of pizza or a hot dog – buying meals is
prohibited. But if I want to give one billion dollars to the party of my
choice, as long as I am a company its okay for me to buy Congresspeople by
the score, but it’s not okay for me to buy that same Congressperson who I
own a slice of pizza?
Editor’s prayer to the Deity:
“Please Lord, let this all be a bad dream and please may I wake into a sane
Message left on Editor’s telephone answering machine by the Christian Deity:
“Have left America to settle in New Zealand. No America-specific prayers
will be answered any more. “
Oh, wait, the answering machine is still blinking. It’s another message,
this time from the Hindu Deity. “You
are living in a dream, Doofus, and the reason it’s a bad dream is that
you were a very bad boy in your last life, and now you have to pay the price
by making penance and maybe I’ll relent for your next life to the extent of
letting you have one date one a Saturday.”
Message left by Editor on Hindu Deity’s answering machine: “Lord, I am so
ready to be penitent I am even willing to wear a skirt and change my name to
Ravina to atone for making fun of Bradly “Breana” Manning.”
Message left by Hindu Deity on Editor’s machine by Hindu Deity, seconded via
conference call by all other Deities: “Don’t be silly. We mean you have to
do a real penance. You are to go a whole day without disrespecting the
President, Congress, the Democratic and Republican parties, the US
Administration, and the Washington Post.”
Message left by Editor on all Deities telephone answering machines: “But
making fun of all those people is the only way the Editor gets through this
Message left by Deities on Editor’s answering machine: “Okay, we see your
point. Your alternative penance, not negotiable, is to write something nice
about the Kardashian Sisters and Lindsay Lohan.”
Message left by Deities on Editor’s answering machine: “Yo, Head Doofus. We
have not heard from you. Give your reply at once: Deities don’t like to be
Message left by Editor’s family on Deities answering machine: “Sorry for the
delay. Editor did not reply because he shot himself, leaving a cryptic note:
“I can’t do this”. Any idea what he was referring to?”
0230 GMT December 22, 2011
Can we please talk sense about Iraq?
Anyone with one functioning brain cell knew that when the US left Iraq, the
Iraqis would get back to sorting out their issues the way they did before
the US arrived. By killing each other. Iraq is 60% Shia, 20% Sunni, and 20%
Kurd. Rather than go back to 1600 AD, which to the Editor is yesterday but
to our younger readers may seem too far in the past to identify with, let’s
go back to 1970, when Saddam came into power. A Sunni, he killed any Kurd or
Shia who opposed him. When US overthrew him, and introduced democracy, by
the nature of the beast Iraq came to be ruled by Shias. The Sunnis were not
happy, the Shias were itching for blood, and so you have the horrific events
in the run-up to the US surge of 2007. The surge put an end to the
bloodletting. Some say it did not, what ended the killing was that the Shias
finished ethnically cleansing the Sunnis from the Shia majority provinces.
Either way, clearly the underlying tensions of the previous 400 years, when
Sunni kings came to rule the three provinces of the Ottoman Empire we call Iraq were not resolved.
Some say the tensions of the last 1300 years. The Shias made no secret that
once the US left, they would get back to killing Sunnis. We can argue what
precisely this means, some say that the Shia are perfectly happy to let the
Sunnis have Sunni majority provinces and to live there in a united Iraq, as
long as your average Shia does not have to see or smell a Sunni. After the
US left, that the Shias waited, like, 12 hours before going after the key
Sunni ministers in the US-brokered cabinet should have come as no surprise
So from the viewpoint of some in the US, the US shouldn’t have left, and the
Administration is criminally negligent for having pushed off. It is these
people who seem to lack even one functioning brain cell. We’ve gone over
this a jillion times. Let’s make it a jillion and one.
The US did not want to leave.
Is there anything too complicated for the earthworm brained Americans who
are now getting upset to understand? (Yes, we realize earthworms are Nobel
material compared to the Americans we are talking about, but we don’t know
any creature without a single braincell, except among the tribe known as
Washingtoons. So the earthworms is a metaphor, we do not mean to insult the
US plan was to occupy Iraq forever and a day with 50,000 troops.
Problemo, dudes, as the Ninja Turtles used to say. With the exception of the
Kurds, and some Sunnis, the vast majority of Iraqis did not want the US to
stay. Just in case their own leaders did not get the point, extremists Shia
including the Terrorist Al-Sadr told their government if the US did not
leave, they would resume attacks on US forces. So is it the case of “we
should have stayed” crowd that the US should get into a new war in Iraq? If
so, can they tell us why?
US kept bargaining with the Iraqis.
Okay, let us keep 20,000 troops. No? How about 5,000? No? Okay, you can’t object to 3,000, for
heaven’s sake. Al-Malaki, who has no time for the Americans, got fed up and
said: “Okay, but your troops cannot have immunity from arrest, trial, and
jailing if we, the Iraqis, decide they have committed a crime.
Please for the Washingtoons to explain:
how could any US president have agreed to this?
The Washingtoons say but if the Administration had negotiated skillfully,
the Iraqis could have been brought around. Really? If people think that,
they have zero clue about Iraq. What leverage is it the US had in the
matter? Iraq is earning $80-billion a year – for a country of 30-million –
from its oil. It has more money than we do. So it doesn’t want our money.
Next, it doesn’t want our protection because the country we want to protect
Iraq against is Iraq’s friend, whereas the people who the Iraqis may want
protection against are America’s friends. Nor are the Iraqis interested in
our oil expertise. In the lineup to develop Iraqi oil, one country is sadly
missing. Us. Coinkydinky? We don’t think so. We don’t expect you to take our
word for it: talk to the American oil companies and you will see Iraq made
quite clear it was going to be Iraq’s way or the dirt road, and their way
was ratcheted up to the point that it was near impossible for American
companies to do business and still make what they consider a decent profit.
Iraq does not want our oil expertise.
The Washington Post, which on some days views with Mad Magazine for the
Funnies, yesterday suggested that the Iraqis want our F-16s so we have
leverage with them.
Washington Post is, of course, confusing Iraq with Pakistan. Pakistan wants
F-16s. Iraq would like to have
F-16s, because frankly, for a small air force it’s a very good deal. But
guess what, WashPo? Suppose Washington says: “Behave, or no F-16s”. The
Iraqis are going to roll their eyes, and say, okay, no F-16s. They will turn
around and buy Eurofighter, which if you have the money is a better buy. So
perhaps the Euros say: “Oh, we can’t sell you Eurofighter because you are
busy massacring Sunnis”, the Russians will say: “Here – take our Su-30”.
It’s called the free market – something you can’t expect anyone in
Washington to understand. So they don’t want our arms either.
By 2018 Iraq plans on pumping 13.5-million barrels/day of oil. Okay, its not
going to happen till 2025. At $80/barrel, that is: One. Billion. Smackers.
A. Day. (We have to say this slowly because Washingtoons, being brainless,
are not quick.) That sum is $120,000/per capita using today’s population and
prices. What precisely is this leverage we’re supposed to have over Iraq?
Next we come to a point of philosophy
Can the United States explain to us why it wants Iraq to stay together? If
there is one country above all others that has broken up nations, it is the
US. We’re not saying this is right or wrong. Merely asking Americans: why
are you contradicting yourselves? Just in the last twenty something years,
the US helped create: fifteen new states from the former USSR, six countries
freed from the Soviet Empire, breakup of Czechoslovakia, and eight countries
from Former Yugoslavia. That’s 29 right there. Did the US try and keep Sudan
together? Sudan has already split into two, and if Darfur manages to get
independence you aren’t going to see the US object. If Belgium decides to
split, are we going to see US peacekeepers yelling “Peace and Harmony, or we
shoot!” We could continue, but you get the point.
In each of the cases, US took the sensible stand that people did not want to
and the US did what it could to create amicable separations. The right
course in Iraq is not moan and whine about being forced out, but to tell the
Iraqis: “We don’t want you killing each other, let’s help you separate.”
Oooooh, but that means an independent Kurdistan, and Turkey will not like
that. You know what? How is that an American problem? The clear solution is
a Kurdish state of four provinces, a Sunni state of four, and a Shia state
of ten. As for how the Sunnis are going to survive (a) there’s said to be a
ton and a half of natural gas in Sunni provinces (b) how is this our
problem? Let the Gulf Arabs help their co-religionists. By the way, if US
doesn’t want to leave Iraq, A Sunni nation and a Kurd nation will gladly
accept US protection.
So: Washington, stop whining already
From Day One going to into Iraq served no American objective. The Iraqis
have done us a favor by forcing us to quit cold turkey. We should be
thanking Al-Malaki and Al-Sadr for saving us from our folly. Feeling lonely
that we’re not occupying someone? Heck, there’s plenty of action in Africa.
Somalia and Darfur come immediately to mind. (Somalia is very high on the
list of countries to split, by the way. There’s already three autonomous
nations: Jubaland (Anazia), Puntland, and Somaliland.)
That sound you’re hearing is Editor banging his head against the neighbor’s
Give him a minute and he’ll tell you why. It feels too good to stop.
Okay. Remember yesterday we were saying a friend was trying to explain
Keynes is dead because Keynes does not work when there is a huge debt
Reader BR points out that (a) our friend was channeling Robert Samuelson’s
column of a few days back, and (b), he sends a graph from a Paul Krugman
article that shows UK, at least, is pretty low debt-wise compared to the
last 170 years. You can see the graph at
Truthfully, aside from the British military and a general knowledge of
British history, Editor knows nothing about British economic history. So it
was a big surprise to learn that in the 1830, British debt was 180% of GDP.
Then it steadily reduced so that by 1914, it was 30% (we’re reading off the
graph, these are approximations). By
1950 it was a whacking great 260% of
GDP, then started coming down again. 1970s through 2005 it was at 50%.
Now the public debt is 63%; if money lent to banks is included it is 148%
We’re wondering if Robert Samuelson is the son of the Samuelson who wrote
the economics text used when Editor took Economics 1 and Economics 180.
There were a whole bunch of textbooks one was supposed to master, including
monetary policy, microeconomics, and labor policy. Editor never got to the
other books. He didn’t get past page 20 in the Samuelson text – invariably
the graph explaining marginal utility Editor would fall fast asleep.
The North Korean Troika
The word is that power will be shared by the Podgy Kid who is either 27, 28,
or 29, or all three, his aunt and her husband (aunt is the now dead dad’s
sister), and the generals. Apparently the aunt likes her alcohol and own’s
Pyongyang’s only hamburger joint.
Simply fascinating. Zzzzzzz.
More bangy-bangy in Iran
this time as an Isfahan refinery and the Kermanshah HQ of the Revolutionary
Guard. From what we read, it seems most of the explosions are the work of
Iran dissidents, not foreigners.
250 dead in the last 48 hours, including nearly 100 regime soldiers and
about as many deserters. Rebels are now operating in a Damascus suburb seven
miles from downtown Damascus.
Haaretz of Israel says half of the conscripts for the last three call-ups
have not reported for training and 10,000 soldiers have deserted, including
entire units. Warning: Haaretz is not an impartial source even if Israel
would rather live with the devil it knows (Assad) than with a chaotic Syria
at war with itself.
The Sunni Vice President al-Malaki seeks to arrest for treason and terrorism
has fled to Kurdistan, where he cannot be touched by Iraq forces. Al-Malaki
has told the Sunnis if they do not stop their boycott of parliament, he will
form a new government and exclude them from power. He has told the Kurds to
hand over the Sunni VP or face the consequences.
0230 GMT December 21, 2011
Sorry, that should be Breana Manning. Anyway, we jumped the gun a bit about
Manning’s sentence. What’s happening is a pre-trial hearing, not the trial.
The way it’s going, however, there is no doubt whatsoever that (a) Manning
will be sent to trial; (b) Manning will be found guilty; and (c) the sole
question is the sentence.
Now, regarding Julian Assange. The prosecution has introduced evidence that
Assange and Manning were in direct contact. But as yet it has not been
proved that any emails Manning may have given Assange were published. So the
thinking is that so far no case can be made against Assange.
We differ slightly. US laws are not concerned with if you published a US
secret document. They are concerned with if you had unauthorized possession
of the secret. So let’s see how this plays out.
Assange might be tempted to feel pleased he has been directly linked to
Manning, because that ups the chances of his prosecution. That in turn
bolsters his contention that he should not be extradited to any country that
might extradite him to the US, as the offense is a death penalty offense.
But we don’t think this is going to make any difference to Assange’s
extradition to Sweden. He has to reasonably show Sweden will extradite him
to the US. He cannot show that, because from what we understand, his
Wikileaking was not a crime in Sweden. Realistically, there is a chance
Britain will extradite him to US because of the close ties the two countries
have. He would be safer in Sweden, unless, of course, at the end of
proceedings in Sweden, guilty or innocent, the Swedes put him on a plane to
Australia. The Australians have already said they are taking a dim view of
But can Assange not argue before a British court that he should not be sent
to US, as Britain has no death penalty? No, because US will simply give UK
assurances the death penalty will not be imposed. Nor can he argue he will
be tortured, because this is not a black case. It concerns the Official
Secrets Act, which means it will be handled in the criminal justice system.
So no torturing. Too bad. If anyone deserves to be waterboarded, it is Mr.
Smirky Face. Not because of the severity of his crime, but because of his
Had A-Bomb Number Three not worked on Japan
We wondered yesterday what would have happened had Japan refused to
surrender even after being A-bombed. Today while taking a break from
updating Concise World Armies, we surfed around and found an article that
said the US was aware of the possibility the Japanese would not surrender
despite the A-bombs. But – something we didn’t know – was rapidly
accumulating fissile material and would have had enough for 20 bombs into
1946. The plan was to use the weapons tactically in support of an invasion.
Editor is sorry he did not note the reference.
By the way, Editor recalls decades ago reading a paper in a Harvard journal
(International Security) about recently declassified documents which
discussed a plan in 1948 or 1949 to nuke the USSR. It was well recognized
that the existential threat posed by Hitler had been replaced by one posed
by Stalin. Soviets were known to be working on N-weapons, and the thought
was, best to get this over with while US could. Well, the reason this plan
was dropped was because after the war, the US essentially stopped production
of the darn weapons. There didn’t seem any reason to make more of them.
Readers will also remember the US had offered atomic disarmament if everyone
else went along with it – Baruch Plan, which Moscow rejected. So the US
didn’t have but a few of the things, and all it needed was one look at the
size of the Soviet Union to realize A-bombing USSR wouldn’t achieve the
objective of crippling that country.
Some minor good news from Eurozone
Spanish 10-year yields fell to 5.05 from 6.78% a month ago, and Italian
10-year yields fell to their lowest in almost 2-months, at 4.91%.
We’re not all that impressed because the market gets spooked at the smallest
thing. There’s a lot of irrationality at work. For example, there is no
reason at all for Spain to be in trouble. And also there’s some hang-up on
the Greek plan.
Is it goodbye, Mr. Keynes?
Someone was patiently explaining to us that when Keynes came up with his
ideas, governments had small public debts and private global funds did not
have any influence on the market. And there was no such thing as the
colossal private debt overhang we have today. So governments could stimulate
the economy by spending.
We are sorry to say our eyes glazed over and we did not hear the rest of the
scholarly exposition. It’s become obvious to most rational people that no
one has an easy answer. That being the case, we’re not interested in the
theology of the thing. And theology is what is under discussion, or at least
theology in the guise of economics.
sent a story about a teacher in California who retired after 40-years on a
pension of $170,000/year. Dang. Why is Editor always in the wrong place? In
Maryland, public servants including teachers pay in 6%, and after about 30
years get 1/3rd of the average of their last three years of
service. Also, teachers get no steps after 20-years: you get a cost of
living increase and that’s it.
See, folks, if some state has made some absurd promises to its employees,
obviously the pension has to be cut back. But in states where the employees
have paid their fair share, its wrong for a state to say “oh well, we
haven’t been paying in our share so too bad for you.” Even the staunchest
conservative would be upset if after paying their social security taxes to
the government the government turns around and says: “Sorry, we mismanaged
our share of the contribution so you’re going to lose.”
And no – please – lets not get into this “this is why all pensions should be
privatized” business. We have plenty of evidence how easily the private
sector can get out of its obligations – just declare bankruptcy. It honestly
is time Americans on both sides talked about what will work, not go on and
on about ideological purity. We’re in this mess because we stopped being
practical. The solution is not to get even less practical.
0230 GMT December 20, 2011
Just by the way here’s another perspective on why
America had to use the A-Bomb against Japan.
http://hnn.us/articles/52353.html The article is from a scholarly
source, George Mason’s University. It notes than of America’s 1.25-million
casualties in World War II, one million were suffered in the year between
June 1944 and June 1945. We may assume American war planners were not in a
kind, soft-hearted mood about the enemy, German or Japanese, and the last
thing on their mind was how to save the enemy’s lives. Rather, their minds
would have been focused on getting the war over with as soon as possible.
American strategists had seen how the Japanese were prepared to fight to the
very last. Given the ferocity with they defended their positions in the
Pacific, there was not one reason to believe they would defend their home
islands any less ferociously. And among many other factors, American
suddenly realized Japan had not 3.5-million defenders left, but seven
The article makes clear that the issue of casualties was thoroughly debated
at the highest levels by experts, contrary to what revisionist historians
Our position is that it’s fine after the war to sit and endlessly debate how
we could have done this or done that, anything but use the A-Bombs. What no
one has explained is why America’s leaders should NOT have used every weapon
at their disposal. How precisely were America’s leaders to have told the
country: “We have a weapon we think can end the war immediately, but we’ve
decided not to use it because we think it’s immoral.” How precisely was the use of the A-bombs
immoral? It is possible to argue that their use was far more humane than the
saturation bombing of Japanese cities we were undertaking.
It is said we could have blockaded Japan and brought the war to an end and
there was no need to invade. No insult intended to the undoubtedly sincere
revisionists, but this is crazy thinking. It is backward thinking: having
decided the A-bombs were immoral, the revisionists look for ways to win the
war without the bombs.
But who responsible for making decisions at the time thought the bombs were
immoral? Sure, some of the scientists who witnessed the test wondered what
they had unleashed. But surely there were scientists who, seeing the
destruction conventional bombing was wrecking on Japan and Germany who
wondered what they had unleashed.
Doubts are natural. That does not mean decision makers responsible to their
people for ending the war as efficiently as possible should get into
And we argue the bombs were NOT
immoral. The war ended ten days after they were used. No other justification
for their use is needed.
Recently a Japanese man who survived one of the bombings and who became an
ambassador for peace died. In his obituary, it was noted how he had met Col.
Paul Tibbets, and said that he saw a tear roll down the pilot’s cheek. The
story also noted that when Tibbets was told that, he told a friend nothing
of the sort happened. He said he was sorry that the Japanese burned, but he
had to do what he had to do.
And there’s nothing more to be said. America did what it had to do. Had the
Germans developed the bomb first, they would have used it – on London, if
necessary. If the Japanese had developed it first, they would have used.
There’s no morality involved.
Incidentally, today we learned something interesting
Editor has always maintained that those who say it was racism to use the
bomb against Japan and we’d never have used it against Germany are plain
wrong. Americans who say that don’t understand their own people. For the
first time, however, we have proof of this assertion. Read this article
which Studs Terkel interviews Tibbets.
Tibbets told Terkel in 2002 that the US was training for a
simultaneous drop of bombs on
Germany and Japan.
And equally interesting, Tibbets says that when there was no reaction from
the Japanese after the second bombing, General Curtis Le May called him to
ask if there was a third bomb. Tibbets said there was in, in Utah. Le May
told him to get it because Tibbets was going to make another run. Tibbets
said they got the bomb to California, from where they would fly to Tinian,
and the war ended.
Think about that for a minute. No orders from the President, the Joint
Chiefs, or whatever. Curtis Le May, head of 21st Bomber Command,
quite junior in the scheme of things, calls one of his group commanders to
ask if there’s a third bomb. Tibbets says yes. Le May tells him to bring it
over. Tibbets is in the process of doing that when the war ends. Of course
one can doubt that Le May would have sent Tibbets out again without getting
clearance. But if this story is not a big “Whoa!”, what is.
The History Learning site (UK) reminds us that the bombing of Tokyo March
9-10, 1945, killed as many as 100,000 people. This what Le May had to say
about his role in the war: "Killing Japanese didn't bother me very much at
the time....I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a
war criminal....every soldier thinks something of the moral aspects of what
he is doing. But all war is immoral and if you let that bother you, you're
not a good soldier."
“All war is immoral”. We can respect the pacifist who takes the next step
and says “I will not kill, regardless of the provocation.” We cannot respect
those who suddenly draw a line – after the event – and say: “using the
A-bombs was immoral.”
We leave readers with a thought. What if the third bomb had been dropped,
worked, but the Japanese still refused to surrender?
0230 GMT December 19, 2011
Egyptian Army drops all pretense of being “for the people”
The brutality with which the Egyptian Army is attacking demonstrators makes
it clear the Egyptian Army isn’t for anyone except itself. The Army’s
expectation – and that of some people in Washington who should know better –
is that the Muslim Brotherhood, having won the elections, has no interest in
joining the demonstrators. So the demonstrators can be suppressed.
We’re all neurotic, more or less; the real test of sanity is psychosis,
where your reality fundamentally differs from reality. The Egyptian Army is
well on its way to becoming psychotic, because where in the world do they
get the idea the Brotherhood will be content to sham rule Egypt while the
Army maintains real power? Editor can agree the Brotherhood has no interest
in the demonstrations. Who, after all, wants to come out into the streets
when in a little while they will be the government? Once that happens,
however, the Brotherhood will take control over all the non-military
instruments of power including the security and finance apparatus, and there
should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Brotherhood will then move
against the Army.
Washington has so many problems to deal with that for once we do not feel we
should criticize its catatonic Eyes Wide Shut response to the Egyptian
Army’s crackdown. Most of Washington just wants the problem – and about five
hundred other problems – to just go away. There is a limit to how many
crises even Washington, with its immense energy and relentless push to
create more problems, can take.
Nonetheless – and we will limit ourselves to saying just this – it is
unseemly that Washington has not told the generals to back off or face
sanctions. Some will tell you that Washington has indeed done this.
Unfortunately, all Washington has done is threaten to beat the generals with
a limp flower, and not every hour either, but solely when there is a
conjunction of all nine planets in our solar system. People since 1776 have
looked to America to support the right of self-determination. Call us
impossibly idealistic, but we really do expect Washington to appreciate the
Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights applies to all humans,
not just to those fortunate to have been born by accident in this country.
From a person we often ask what’s going on with political America
and whose analyses we have learned to trust. “As matters stand right now,
with the caveat that things can dramatically change in a short while,
2013-2016 will be a repeat of 2009-2016. The next president will be Mr.
Obama, and he may get even less done in his second term than he got done in
his first, if that is possible to imagine. The Democrats will continue
control of the Senate, but still not have enough seats to defeat
filibusters. The GOP will continue control of the House, though with a
reduced margin. Americans will continue holding Congress in contempt, but
will still not understand what they can do to change things. Vested
interests of every kind will continue to rule, and corruption will reach
even higher levels. After the effects of the coming recession wear off,
growth will resume, but because there is no political agreement on how
America should be run, real growth will barely keep ahead of population
growth. The rich will continue to get richer, the middle class to shrink,
and the poor will grow poorer. America’s standing in the world will continue
to fall, even as every rational nation will remain wary of American’s
enormous capacity to impose military harm should we get into a bad mood. In
other words, same-old, same-old.”
Bradley Manning’s defense: he was confused about his sexuality
The Wikileaker had an alter-ego, “Breanna”.
You know, we feel for Breanna. When it comes to alter-ego, Walter Mitty had
nothing on your Editor, though admittedly Editor’s alter-egos do not include
a “Ravini”. That’s clearly a serious shortcoming in the Editor’s character.
He defends himself by saying he’s never claimed to be perfect.
But whatever we feel, we do not think the military court is going to be
moved. From the court’s viewpoint, there are but two questions. One, is
Manning guilty as charged. It appears his defense has no hope of avoiding a
guilty verdict. Two, if guilty, what is to be his sentence. Clearly the
defense is aiming at mitigating the sentence.
Manning cuts such a pathetic, unsoldierly picture that a person’s first
thought has to be: Gosh, the US Army has to be very seriously desperate to
recruit a person like him. His appearance and this Breanna thing could go
either of two ways with the judge. He could laugh at the Breanna thing (to
himself) and say this man is a lost soul, instead of giving him 30-years in
Levenworth I’ll give him 22. Or the judge could get totally put off and give
We may be way off base, but we don’t think he’s going to get more than 30.
After all, this is not like the CIA moles whose actions cost lives.
Anyway, good luck, Breanna, from your friend, er, Ravini. Next time try not
to betray your country because you want to dress up in frills and lace and make-up, will
0230 GMT December 18, 2011
Is there an organization more irritating than the US Army?
Updating the US Army has to be the most unrewarding task of any in the orbat
business because you have miles and miles worth of every type of unit except combat units. This year, reader Ryan Opel
is helping so Editor is feeling less imposed on. But then he’s reviewing US
Army Europe, and what do we see? Four rather anemic combat brigades, and
among the supporting arms: 4 MP, 5 Military Intelligence, and nine signals
battalions. Come on, people, how can you have 18 of just three types of
supporting arms for four combat brigades? Why do we need nine signals battalions? What are
the four MP battalions doing? And five MI battalions? US needs to cut back
on these supporters and get at least three more combat brigades with the
Yes, we’re familiar with the argument that if needed the US will reinforce
Europe so these support troops are needed. But there’s a gazillion support
battalions in the reserves too.
Editor just updated the Marine Corps entry, and with the orders to cut
15,000 troops, the first thing the Marines are doing is deactivating three
infantry battalions. So you’re going to have a 187,000 Marine Corps with 24
infantry battalions. The reasoning is that, well, you can always quickly
train up more infantry if needed.
Sorry, folks, this is Grade A Inane. Who do the Marines and Army think does
the fighting? The support battalions? No, it’s the infantry, the armor, the
artillery. So where do you need the best trained and most experienced
troops? Not in support functions.
Does the military think the job of a rifleman or machine gunner is so simple
you can give someone 90 days training and that’s adequate? You need at least
two years – you heard us, general – two years to train combat troops. If you
don’t do that, you’re sending half-trained boys to get killed. Anyone
remember Vietnam? Why do you think the casualties were so high? Well, yes,
we know the VC Main Force and NVA were superb troops. We know the generals
thought they were fighting World War II. But it was also because you had
hundreds of thousands of clueless kids thrown into battle. And then, of
course, the ones that made it through alive one way or another, who were now
experienced, we sent home to replace with another bunch of tyros.
For this the generals get paid?
Oh, but, Mr. Editor, you don’t understand, numbers don’t wind wars, its
synergy and intelligence, and logistics, and blah and blah. Balderdash. Rot.
Feeble minds. There is no substitute for combat numbers. We’ve spent ten
years in Afghanistan and are coming home after eight in Iraq and we haven’t
Oh, but, Mr. Editor, you don’t understand, we aren’t going to fight
those kinds of wars anymore. We
fight smart, not numbers. Look at our fantastic intelligence fusion, for
Aaaaaannnnnd? Did your fantastic intelligence fusion help you stop the flow
of insurgents from Pakistan into Afghanistan? Were we winning in Iraq before
we sent in the big divisions? For heaven’s sake people, Iraq and Afghanistan
are not pre-history – they’re today. Why do we refuse to learn lessons from
the wars we are fighting today?
And as for not fighting those kinds of wars: we seem to recall the giant
genius military minds telling us we weren’t going to fight any more
counter-insurgencies any more, after Vietnam. Then we spent a decade
fighting two wars that were – hold your breath – counterinsurgencies.
What do our generals think wars are? Like a buffet, chose which one you want
and decline the one you don’t want? People, you don’t choose your wars. Your
wars choose you. You fight the war the enemy brings to you.
And in any case, what is this butt-backward thinking: we don’t like
counter-insurgency, so we won’t do it – how does that make any sense at all?
No one asked you what you like or don’t like, sir and (now) madam general.
Someone needs to smack a lot of heads with skillets. Make that anvils: our
generals have pretty hard heads. And each time they are smacked, we need to
say loudly: “Numbers. Numbers. Numbers.”
All praise to Saint Steve?
Yesterday we came across a news article saying the chip for Apple’s new
phone is to be made in – get this – Texas. Yes, Samsung has invested
$3.6-billion in a new fabrication line for the chip. One thousand Americans
will be employed. That’s a whacking great $3.6-million for each job created,
by the way, something we do need to discuss but not today. Of course, we
don’t doubt for a moment the jobs will be as badly paid as Samsung can get
away with. But at least a thousand more people will have manufacturing jobs.
Does this mean we’ve forgiven Steve Jobs for shipping heaven knows how many
jobs to Foxconn in China? No, we haven’t. You’d have to show us evidence
that Steve actually stopped gazing at his navel long enough to say: “Gee, I
must do something for America, let me work with Samsung and get a
fab-facility put up in the US.” We doubt Steve Jobs gave the matter another
thought, and if Samsung had said “But you’ll have to pay $5 a phone more”,
Steve would have shot that down very rapidly.
Government subsidies for energy
We learn that the science and technology for fracking has been heavily
subsidized by the government for decades. Without these subsidies, it is
unlikely private industry would have been able to afford to develop the
technology, particularly when gas prices were low.
We discussed this with someone who knows a bit about these things.
Their response: “No one in their right mind denies government has a role in
basic/fundamental research, perhaps even in some kinds of applied research.
Nuclear power would never have gotten anywhere but for government-funded R &
D. You wouldn’t have an internet but
for the government. Satellites are another example. What people are
objecting to is government trying to pick winners by giving money for
manufacturing facilities such as happened with Solyndra. Picking winner and
losers is not something bureaucrats do well. That’s the job of the market.”
Fair enough, we said, except you can’t say the market is much good at
picking winners and losers, either. Look at the airlines mess, which has
been going on for decades. The airlines just keep losing money, decade after
The response: “Accepted. But the government has to be held to a higher
standard because the government appropriates your money, backed by the very
real threat of throwing you in jail if you don’t hand over your money. Then
when the government messes up by deciding who it will invest with, it’s not
a decision YOU took, but you pay the price. It’s your choice to invest – or
not – in the airlines. You didn’t have a choice when the government invested
We had to concede the point. And that’s a few hundred million now not
available for R and D. So we, the people, lose twice.
0230 GMT December 17, 2011
The Hidden Story Behind The Battle To Save the Euro
There are two types of people in the world. One, the insiders, which is the
0.01%. The other is the dofuses like you and me, who are the remaining
When it comes to military matters, while the Editor is no insiders, having
religiously studied the issues since age 14, Editor has sufficient knowledge
that he can still fairly well tell what’s going on. But since Editor is not
an international banker, he doesn’t know any inside stories about stuff like
Business Week to the rescue. In its December 19-26, 2011 issue, BW tells us
that Germany has lent $650-billion
to the European Central Bank, even while proclaiming to the world that no
slacker country is going to get a pfenning unless it agree to German Fiscal
Discipline, which is so tough it makes the Prussian Army look like a bunch
of part-time actors for the annual Nutcracker ballet performance. Business
Week figured this out by analyzing reams of documents, because no where can
you find the information stated as simply as an entry is Angela Merkel’s
diary saying: “Lent $650-billion to ECB today. Boooorrriiiinggg. Uhlrich
still refusing to throw away his much-too-worn slippers he has owned since
the Berlin Wall went up. I threw them out, and he chased the garbage
disposal truck for five kilometers to get them back. Can the Iranians be
tricked into making a nuclear strike against his slippers? Because frankly,
that’s what it is going to take to get rid of them.”
Now, if you didn’t know Germany has given ECB that money, in proportion to
GDP which is like US investing $3-trillion in the ECB, you wouldn’t know
that regardless of what Chancellor Merkel is saying to the world, she can’t
afford to let the Euro go down the drain. Any more than US Fed can afford to
let $3-tril go down the drain. Changes things, no?
This little piece of information,
available to insiders, makes a lot of difference not just to the Euro story,
it shows in stark form why capitalism does not work as it should.
Hold the horses, people
When we say capitalism does not work as it should, we are not then
advocating some other economic system. Remember, we’ve said this many times:
capitalism, like democracy, is the worst thing – till you are faced with the
alternatives. All we’re saying is: capitalism depends on a free flow of
information because without equal access to information, you and I cannot
make the sort of informed decisions the insiders can. The market cannot
function. People with inside information distort the market to their
advantage, which is why John Paulson takes homer $6-billion/year or whatever
he’s doing these days, whereas you and I look at our paychecks and have a
tough debate on if we are going to pay that Washington DC parking ticket or
buy a Brazilian grape.
According to your Editor, if Government has a role in economic matters, it
should not be to regulate, because if you allow the government to regulate,
the insiders with their big $$$$ pay off Congress to set up regulations that
favor the insiders. Government’s role should be to level the playing field
by providing information to everyone. Information transparency. Now, of
course when the government issues a daily sheet of information with
100-million variables on it, the aforesaid John Paulson is in a much better
position to sort out what it means than, say, Bozo the Clown. Because JP has
spent his lifetime sorting out figures and BC has not. There’s nothing wrong
with JP benefiting from his greater experience and more diligent study.
[Strictly speaking, what we should say is that JP will be able to afford to
hire 1000 top B-School grads to figure out the data whereas Bozo will think
that B-School is where bees go to learn their ABCs. But you get our drift.]
But wait, you will say. What’s to stop the big $$$ people from influencing
the government to give them the data first? That is easily taken care of.
When discovered, the government people can be sent to jail. That won’t end
all malfeasance, but it will certainly deter a lot of government people.
Please do not take this story as a reason to rush out and buy Euros. The way
this stuff works, if Business Week is selling that information to Editor as
part of his teacher subscription of $30/year, it’s likely already outdated.
Talking of Business Week, which is now owned by Bloomberg
Remember the other day Bloomberg revealed that the US Fed had given
$7.5-trillion to banks, including foreign banks, without telling anyone, to
stabilize the global banking system? Well, US Fed says hogwash. The sum was
$1.5-trillion, and was repaid. Yes, it went to foreign banks as well as
American ones. But that’s because foreign banks hold American private and government debt.; If
there is a Euro bailout, American banks will benefit because they hold
private and public Euro debt.
So is the $7.5-trillion figure invented by Bloomberg? No. US Fed said it
would make that money available if needed as a way of telling the world’s
speculators: don’t think you can bet against us and win. We’ll print enough
dollars to choke you and anyone else who thinks they can deft us, and you’ll
be begging for change on Wall Street.
Fair enough, but we STILL object to what the Fed did
It’s that same question all the little people are asking: Why did the banks
get bailed out and not us? The Fed says if credit had frozen business would
have come to a standstill. But business still did not hire those it had
fired because there was no demand. So it didn’t matter the banks were
liquid. There is a much more logical case to be made for lending every
American $5000, man, woman, child (equals $1.5-trillion) using deferred
taxes. People would have spent that money, stimulating demand and getting
people hired again. The money could have been recovered over 10 years or
whatever so that it didn’t add to the national debt.
More discussion on the Iranian drone
It’s fair to call it the Iranian drone, because President Obama asked for it
back, nicely, and the Iranians told him to take a running jump. (Actually
they were a lot more rude than that.) Since we say it strayed off-course,
technically it got lost and the Iranians found it. Finders keepers, losers
weepers, and all that.
Reader Chris Raggio has been following the story and discussed with us the
Iranian claim that they took over the drone’s GPS unit, and told it to land.
Some experts have said well, yes, that’s possible to do. But we don’t like
this explanation for a variety of reasons.
First, it seems an opportunistic explanation based on news stories that
Hezbollah or whoever hacked US drones using parts they got from a Radio
Shack or whatever. US said yes, the baddies had hacked into the system, but
couldn’t do anything after that, so they are none the wiser.
Second, the GPS signals you and I use are not encrypted. But military GPS is
encrypted, and you have to bust that encryption – which still doesn’t mean
you can take control.
Third, where’s the drone’s undercarriage? No sign of any undercarriage. This
means it did not land normally, whatever happened the undercarriage got
totaled. That, and the crazy welds make the US story of a crash more
plausible, though of course you can say the Iranian could have welded the
undercarriage together. That doesn’t explain why they haven’t done that.
Plus there’s the other stuff like some experts saying it’s the wrong color
and so on. And you can see that, why would the US have coated the drone
Fourth, if this is indeed a stealth drone, how come the Iranians saw it, and
at night too, when the stealth stuff flies?
That said, we have a general observation and a major gripe. The general
observation is: has anyone seen an RB-170 in the first place? Bill Sweetman,
the renowned aircraft identifying person, deduced from pictures taken of a
strange drone flying out of Kandhar it was an RB-170. But honesty, as far as
Editor knows, no one knows. If you have some familiarity with US black
programs, there’s a case to be made that no one knows if there is something
called the RB-170 in the first place, or if the US is just using that as a
cover for something else.
As a simple example of what we mean, go back to the F-117.
It was revealed to the world at some point in the 1980s. But as of 1963 the
US changed its aircraft designation system, starting over in a sense, with
the A-1, A-3, A-4, A-5, A-6, F-4, F-5, F-8 and so on.
[Well does the Editor remember that because he had to sit and memorize all
the new designations. It’s always annoying when your previous body of
knowledge becomes irrelevant, because you can’t show off till you’ve
mastered the new body of knowledge. Of course, the new system was so simple
and logical it was a huge relief. It’s hard to think of anything the US
military has done since then that was as sensible. Or is Editor revealing
his true age by saying that?]
The 100s designations are from the 1950s – F-100, F-101, F-102, F-104,
F-105, F-106 and so on and so forth. Now either you say this plane was
originally developed in the 1950s and remained a closely guarded secret till
the 1980s – by which time it would be obsolete – or the US for reasons of
its own applied an obsolete designation to a new fighter.
There is no law that says the US has to tell the truth regarding national
security. So you lose a drone, say one of your least advanced. Someone says
“ooooh, I know, teacher, it was over Iran so it has to be an RB-170 because
US would only fly its best over Iran.” Then the US Government mumbles – the
usual sources – oh yeah, embarrassing as heck and all that, but it was an
RB-170.” Meanwhile Iranians are looking at something that has nothing
advanced about it, and saying “gosh, this encryption is really hard to crack
whereas the thing has no encryption at all – just an example.
True, you could equally say the US lost something very advanced, and is
saying its an RB-170 because the RB-170 is on the verge of obsolescence.
The gripe comes
because we don’t care if the drone was the private property of an
enthusiastic soldier who likes to put together radio-controlled airplanes,
or something equally insignificant. You do NOT let Iran have it. You bomb it
just on general principle.
And what is this business of (a) President Obama asking for the drone back,
and (b) SecDef Panetta saying that had to be done? Why did it have to be
done? Is the US going to sue Iran for the return of its property or
something equally stupid?
The reason you play tough is that it saves trouble later. Remember the
Iranians let the hostages go when Reagan was elected president. “Him heap
crazy” the Iranians said. Actually, Reagan did not take national security
risks. He was not crazy. He just cultivated the persona of a crazy cowboy.
It worked with Iran. Many believe it was responsible for finally getting the
Soviets to understand they couldn’t win against the US.
President Obama is coming across as J. Carter, Esquire. Not a good idea when
dealing with Iran
0230 GMT December 16, 2011
We forgot to mention yesterday in connection with the story about the universe
as a video game: That idea comes up a lot, but we think Brian Greene in “The
Hidden Reality” explains it best.
Can the Giant Genius Minds of America explain to us again how messed up the
and by implication how great we are? Editor needs this explanation because
once again – for what must be about the fifth or sixth time this year, who
keeps count – the US Government is in danger of shutting down for lack of
funds. Here it is three months into Fiscal 2012, and we don’t have a budget.
Clearly Editor’s understanding of how completely ignorant the Europeans are
compared to us is faulty, but is there ANY government in the entire world –
and we’re including Zimbabwe as part of the world – that threatens to shut
down every 2-3 months and seems to go years without a budget?
Editor thinks we need to change our national anthem to “Yes, we have no
bananas today”. A Banana Republic at least has bananas. We aren’t a Banana
Republic because yes, we have no bananas today. We have Looney Tuners in
abundance, though. They’re called the US Congress.
If Congress doesn’t want to do its job, there’s a simple solution. Don’t pay
Oh wait – we forgot members of Congress are public servants. So as the GOP
keeps telling us, public servants get paid even though they do no work. So
we can’t single out Congress, including its GOP members, for punitive stuff
like withholding paychecks.
Obviously there is a case here for paying GOP members of Congress
$1-quadrillion each – every hour – because the GOP is the party of the job
creaters. Instead of paying tax on that $1-quadrillion per hour, we, the
grateful people of America, should sell our wives and sons to the Chinese
and use the money to give tax credits to the GOP members so they can create
even more jobs.
Sorry, ladies, we are not being sexist: the Chinese will buy American women
and boy children, but not American men and girl children. It’s called
globalization…excuse us a minute, we’ve got mail…
“Dear Editor, how can you forget that American women can sell their husbands
to the Iranians? I think you ARE being sexist because there is no way you
don’t know that. Regards, Caitlin Duffy.”
Okay, we did know that, but subconsciously “forgot”, so we guess we remain
sexist despite years of trying to do the right thing. Correct: we can sell
American men to Iran and use the money to give even more tax credits to the
GOP congresspersons for creating even more jobs. Too bad the jobs will be on
Kepler 22b, the newly-discovered planet a few quadrillion kilometers away.
Democratic congresspersons obviously get lumps of coal, because what jobs
have they created, huh, huh? Here’s a slogan for when you go and demonstrate
against Democratic members of Congress: “Two, Four, Six, Eight, Who Is It We
Love To Hate? Jobkillers, jobkillers! One, Three, Five, Seven, and Nine,
Wont America Be Just So Fine, After We Kill the Jobkillers, Jobkillers!”….
Excuse us, we’ve got mail again…
“Dear Editor, clearly you are about to disrespect President Obama next. Let
me make clear I will not stand for that. If you say one word against
President Obama, I personally will
date you this Saturday. FYI, I am the Telephone Pole Tossing Champion of
Beedle-Deedle, Iowa. Since you weigh more than a telephone pole, are twice
as ugly, and three times less intelligent, I look forward to setting a new
record tossing you from Takoma Park, Maryland to National Airport. Regards,
Caitlain Duffy, you misunderstand the Editor. He was just about to say that
President Obama is – er – so intelligent, charismatic, good-looking, and
witty, that he does not deserve to be President of this scruffy little
republic we call the US of A. Yes, that is why Editor is proposing Mr. Obama
be elected the president of Kepler 22b. Love to be dated by you, but we
don’t know who told you Editor lives in Takoma Park, Maryland. He resides at
39 Degrees North, 125 Degrees and 25 Minutes East. Till next Saturday…
0230 GMT December 15, 2011
Butter in Norway reaches $900/kilo: Is the world about to end?
Reader Luxembourg keeps a sharp look for out-of-the-way news and sends on a
bunch of URLs each evening. This is what he sent yesterday: butter has
reached $900/kilo in Norway. Something to do with the summer being more dry
(or was it more wet) and the fodder being not the right sort to get the
maximum milk production; combined with the Norwegians have gone crazy trying
to lead healthy lives and have decided to stuff themselves with any dish
that requires huge amounts of butter; combined with Norwegian customs
regulations on butter imports. So it is not as simple a matter as filling up
a few 747 freighters with 100-tons of butter each and sending them over to
Oslo. Indeed, an enterprising Russian was arrested for bringing in 90-kilos
of butter in his car from Sweden. We thought there were no customs regs in
the EU, but what do we know.
The above is the OFFICIAL explanation of why butter went to $900/kg
($400/pound) in Norway. But there could be another explanation.
Some cosmologists argue there is evidence the universe is being run as a
game inside a computer. How would we know if this is true? One way is that
one day the numbers just don’t add up anymore.
Now, a bit of basic high school math here. The set of irrational numbers is
very much larger than the set of rationals. Irrationals are numbers with
non-repeating, non-terminating decimals. The square root of 2, or 3, or 5
etc. is an irrational. So as a practical matter, engineers etc are
continually having to round numbers. Well, you keep on rounding and one day
you are going to get an error. That’s why you have those caveats in tables
with figures given as percentages which warn: “Due to rounding numbers will
not sum to 100%”.
For practical purposes, that’s fine. But you can see that the rounding error
will keep building up. And one day instead of 100, you will get 99 or 101.
Suppose now that that error is in something critical, say a part of the
computer program that determines gravity and water starts flowing uphill.
You’d notice that, one assumes.
Let’s take a less drastic example. Butter reaching $900/kilo in Norway, is
that a sign that rounding errors in the computer program are starting to
give totally absurd results?
Now assume you are the Super Geek middle-school girl who is running the
program that is our universe. What do you do? You can either let the water
run uphill, at which point something else goes wrong which causes something
else to go wrong, and of a sudden your Sims all turn into flying purple
elephants, and you hate flying purple elephants. So you have to reboot your
So Super Geek Girl goes CTRL-ALT-DEL and while the universe is resetting she
checks her I-Phone to see why her order for Ugg boots she paid $150 for
hasn’t arrived (or the equivalent of Ugg boots, in the Super Geek’s
universe), but as for you and me, its light out, game over.
So what we are suggesting is that it is possible – if the cosmologists who
postulate we live in a computer game are right – that $900/kilo butter in
Norway may be a sign the computer game is coming apart.
The good news: when Super Geek Girl reboots, you won’t feel a thing. You
will just cease to exist, and the universe with you. You won’t even know you
The bad news: Your Ugg boots that
you paid $150 for are never going to arrive.
The butter crisis
is explained at
Meanwhile, we offer this quote without elaboration – nothing we say could
possibly do justice to the quote: “"I need butter today to make my lussekatt
buns and my Christmas biscuits," grumbled one elderly Norwegian."I brought
up my four children under German occupation but this is nothing like that."
Theatre of the Absurd 1
The other day we mentioned a report by the EPA that said it had found a case
of water contamination caused by fracking. We took it at face value, and
concluded yes, contamination will occur if things are not done properly, but
that’s no reason to stop. Every day people die in car accidents, we don’t
But it turns out that the EPA found contamination because it drilled two
wells well past the water level and straight into the natural gas reservoir
underneath. So yes, EPA found natural gas, but the gas was where it should
be. It also turns out there have been complaints about the water quality in
the area since – er – 1880.
Theatre of the Absurd 2
It’s probably not a good idea to read the Washington Post’s Letters to the
Editor at 5:30 in the morning, but it can put one in a bit of a grouchy mood
and that’s not a nice way to start the day when you have to deal with 150
hormone-charged adolescents with as much control of themselves as starving
piranha encountering a drowning person. (Or as much control as the Editor
exhibits on seeing a bar of chocolate, if you prefer that analogy.) Today
was a doozy.
To explain, US Government has refused permission to pharmacies to sell a
post-de-facto birth control pill to girls younger than 17 without
parental/guardian permission. We aren’t going to get into the debate about
the government’s reasoning. But several self-appointed advocates for the
rights of “women” are disappointed. Calling girls younger than 17 – which is
to day they are 16 or less – “women” is a little device used to obscure the
issue of if society should okay the sale of such contraceptives to the
aforesaid girls. Obviously you will not deny a woman the right to decide on
contraceptive, whereas you might have problems letting your 8th
Grader or 9th Grader just walking into CVS by herself and picking
the contraceptive off the shelf along with the chewing gum. But: that is
another debate altogether.
One person wrote in to say she was disappointed in the Government’s
decision. What if a 15-year old girl was raped by her parent/guardian and
the police refused to take her seriously? Without anyone over 17 to buy the
contraceptive for her, she could get pregnant. If you think we are making this up, go to
December 14, 2011’s Washington Post, Letters to the Editor.
This is a great example of how we in America reason. Yes, there is a
mathematically finite chance that the scenario could happen. But does that
chance offset all the other reasons for not allowing girls under 17 to buy
the contraceptive off the shelf? Why can we no longer accept that every
decision, every course of action, has pros and cons. It is our job as
informed citizens to see where the balance lies. We cannot take extreme
scenarios as an excuse to overlook all the cons in this particular case.
If one wants to be absurd, how about this: the contraceptive costs $10-$70.
Is it beyond the realm of possibility that the hypothetical 15-year old does
not have $10-$70 to pay for the contraceptive? Is this not denying her
rights? So should we make this contraceptive free? Now, a 15-year old girl
may well have serious emotional reservations about walking into a CVS,
picking up this contraceptive in full view of customers and staff, and then
walking to the checkout to pay for it. So should we install vending machines
in our schools where for a nickel the 15-year old can get the contraceptive?
To spare her embarrassment, we’d have to carry the contraceptive in the
candy machine labeled as chewing gum. After all, we don’t want someone else
seeing her and then splashing the information all over Facebook.
What we suggest to this letter writer is to calm down for a minute. First, how
likely is it the 15-year old does not know a girl over 17 who can get the
contraceptive for her? Second, the letter writer has a very strange conception
of how the police work. If a 15-year old walked into a station to say she had
been raped by her parent/guardian, absolutely the last thing that would happen
in real life is the cops rolling on the floor laughing saying “You are such a
0230 GMT December 14, 2011
The US-Iraq Divorce is final: Can we move on please?
There are parts of the American power elite that are having a nervous
breakdown because Iraq has quit us (ha ha) and they can’t get over it. We
keep reading criticism of the Administration because Mr. Obama, after he was
told Iraq didn’t want us any more, responded with: “Oh, okay then, it’s been
real”. We get all sorts of learned analyses saying how important it is the
US do this, that, and the other in Iraq, and we have this, that, and the
other vital interest that must be secured.
Let’s pull back a bit. Did we or did we not say we invaded Iraq to make it a
democratic state? Did we or did we not succeed? And did Iraq, or did Iraq
not tell us: “Our Parliament wants you to go now, so goodbye and thanks for
So what’s our problem? That the Iranians handed us our papers is absolute
proof of our contention that we did not go to Iraq to make it our colony. By
withdrawing its troops – as required by Iraq – US has completely, totally,
confounded all those who said we had come as occupiers. “Those” included not
just a good proportion of Americans, but just about the rest of the world
too. We kept our word.
Why now do many people want us to pressure Iraq to let us stay in one way or
another? Aside from the unseemly nature of this premise, is it going to
occur to any of these characters that we really have no leverage with Iraq?
There is nothing we have the Iraqis want badly enough they will compromise
Weapons? People, people. With the amount of hard cash Iraq throw off every
day – something like $120-million – Iraq could give a hoot if we refuse to
sell it weapons. Every government is just waiting to get into the game and
to supply weapons without strings. American protection? But against whom?
Who is threatening Iraq? It isn’t Iran, because Iraq and Iran are natural
allies. If this bothers Washington, sorry, but Washington should have
figured this out before it overthrew Saddam.
The people who threaten Iraq are America’s friends, starting with the
Mideast Sunni regimes. Iraq is deeply threatened by our push to get Assad of
Syria out, because Iraq does not want a Sunni-majority regime on yet another
border. So unless we’re willing to defend Iraq against our friends, we and
the Iraqis have nothing to talk about security wise.
Prevent Iraq from descending into chaos because of sectarianism? Of all the
reason we give why we should stay on in Iraq, this has to be the silliest. Hasn’t Washington figured Iraq is quite
happy to have an excuse to ethnically cleanse the country of Sunnis? It’s a
priority for the Iraqis, payback for four centuries of oppression by the
Sunnis. There will be no chaos: the Shias will simply kill those Sunnis who
don’t flee. The only way the Sunnis can avoid this fate is to accept they
are now going to be the oppressed and not make waves by insisting on their
Further, the “we can’t leave” group in Washington has not been paying to
attention to something Iraq is saying. Iraq wants to produce
12-million-barrels/day of oil. And it can, given the time needed to go from
2.5-million to 12-million. At today’s prices, Iraq will take $1-billion
every day. And guess what? Iraq will tell us what to do, and not the other
way around. We will kiss Iraq butt, just as we kiss Saudi butt, and what’s
more, we will insist that Iraqi butt is the best we’ve ever kissed.
Iraq plans on dominating the Middle East – remember that’s was Saddam wanted
to do, and just because he’s gone doesn’t mean Iraq doesn’t have its
national dreams. Like Persia, Iraq is also the site of ancient empires, and
we’d be truly, stupidly blind not to realize this “we will return to the
glorious past” business really means something to the Iraqis.
When your spouse tells you to get out, and you don’t have any way to get
her/him to change her/his mind, you have two alternatives. One is to rave,
rant, threaten, fantasize revenge, develop an exaggerated sense of your
importance, make a nuisance of yourself till finally the spouse calls the
police to have you removed and gets a restraining order.
The other alternative is to say “Oh, okay, well then, it’s been real” and
push off with your dignity intact. President Obama has done a boatload of
incredibly stupid things, though even he has not been as dumb as Mr. Bush
who got us into two completely pointless wars. In the case of Iraq, however, Mr. Obama
is taking the dignified way out. He has no choice. America has no choice.
Then you may as well look dignified as you exit.
0230 GMT December 13, 2011
Aviation Week on the US drone
Apparently no one is panicked.
Iranian MP claims Army will stage exercises to close Hormuz
See, it’s not for the world to restrain the Iranians from doing stupid
things. If the Iranians think that they can close Hormuz for better than a
few weeks or a couple of months at best, then they really don’t understand
what they’re up against. It’s not for us to tell them if they close Hormuz,
they will be very, very sorry.
All we are willing to say right now is that even during the period Hormuz is
closed, six million bbl/day of the 16-million bbl/day will still flow
through alt-Saudi/UAE pipelines. In the event the west decides an Iran
strike is required, oil stocks will be built up massively above and beyond
what they currently are. And no western warships will enter the Gulf till
after all threats are removed: that means all Iranian fighter and air
defense units, all naval bases, all anti-ship missile installations and so
on. As for sinking a supertanker or two in the shipping channels to create
serious problems, before an attack on Iran tankers will be sent to port or
will clear the Gulf. As for Iran-ported tankers, they will be attacked in
the first wave precisely to keep them from sailing.
Anyway. This is not a particularly interesting subject.
Nonetheless, we’d have liked to see a second pipeline across Saudi, another
to Yemen (isn’t this being built?) and a rebuilt TAP line Saudi
Arabia-Jordan-Lebanon. That would take care of a lot of problems, cost
perhaps $4-billion, and require perhaps 24-months on an emergency basis.
We’re assuming these precautions have not been taken because people are
figuring Iran will attack Mideast pipelines if war breaks out, but still,
that’s not easily done, and $4-billion is a pittance in the larger scheme of
By the way someone spoke to us to say that fracking has been going on since
and on a large-scale in the US since 1960s. We did not know this. It is not
a new technology per se and there is a decades-old record available for
examination by those who might be concerned about its environmental impact.
There is no danger to water supplies providing well casings are properly
constructed. The anti crowd will say but that’s the point, accidents can
happen. True. They do. All the time. Take airplanes. But we haven’t stopped
Both economics and science policy make a 100% wrong assumption: that people
are rational about assessing risk. They are not. It’s not complicated.
Also by the way
Iran says it has located a 50-trillion cubic feet natural gas field in the
Caspian. We’re confused, though, because the iranins don’t use cubic feet as
far as we know. Did the report mean 50-trillion-cubic-meters?
This Iran source also says cubic-feet
but 50-trillion cubic-feet while an important find is not a game changer as
the Iranians are claiming. Its only 50 Quads, a tenth of world consumption
per year in 2008.
The Iranians are just SO clever
yesterday they announced they had “drained” the allegedly captured drone of
ALL its secrets and are now read to produce the drone themselves.
There are several ways one can take these pronouncements. The first: we are
dealing with certified psychiatric cases. Second, the Iranians feel helpless
against US weaponry and are just lashing out. Third, this is for domestic
But if it is for domestic consumption, shouldn’t the government try to
present a coherent story? Week One: drone is captured in an “electronic
ambush.” Week Two: drone is
“drained” of all information. Week Three?? Drone is flying in vast numbers.
Is the Iranian public so dumb? We doubt it.
This takes us back to the second possibility, that the Iranians are simply
freaked at their helplessness and are just lashing out without thinking.
report that Iran says it has “drained” the drone is from another source)
US asks for drone back. Huh? Iran says it will sue the US for sending a
drone into its airspace. Double huh???
How about US suing Iran over the 1983 Beirut Embassy attack – there’s no
limitation on murder. Reagan pulled out of Lebanon, but oddly, no one
accused him of being chicken and running away as happened with Clinton when
he pulled out of Somalia in 1993. In retrospect, neither withdrawal was a
smart move.0230 GMT December 12, 2011.
0230 GMT December 13, 2011
Caution: all figures here are back-of-envelope. You want precision, work out
better figures and forward to us. We’re happy to put them up.
World War 2 cost the US $304-billion (http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/tassava.WWII
) Taxes paid for $137-billion. War bonds raised $205-billion. Even at this
time of existential crisis, the US Government did not print money. Tax rates
for someone earning as little as $500 (say less than $6000 in today’s money)
were 23%. For those earning $1-million and up, rates were 94%. Unemployment
by 1945 had fallen to 1.9% of the labor force of 56% of the US population.
Before the Second World War, our national debt was around 45% of GDP. The
national debt soared to roughly 120% of the GDP because of the war, but then it steadily came down to less
than 40% by about 1973 (we are reading off graphs from
) In other words, we did not finance the Cold War, the Korean War, or the
Vietnam War by going further into debt as a percentage of GDP
But starting around 1980, our national debt started climbing till now it is
100% of GDP and still climbing. 1980 is when the loveable Ronald Reagan
started to cut taxes so that by the time the BushMiester arrived, debt was
60% of GDP. But even BushMiester, after doing his worst in cutting taxes,
still managed to push up the national debt to only around 75%. The rest of
the damage was done by the Big O.
Now, dear readers, please still the cries of outrage.
We are passing no moral judgments here. We are not arguing for or against
tax cuts. We are not blaming the Big O, because if you think the recession
was bad, imagine what it would have been like if the federal government had
cut $2.5-trillion in spending in 3-years.
All we are saying is, that since 1980 we have been spending more money than
we have taken in taxes. Whether you chose to balance the budget by raising
taxes, or cutting expenditure, or whatever, is entirely your beeswax. (Or,
if you have a lipth, your bithneth.)
US direct costs for Afghanistan and Iraq are $1.23-trillion (http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33110.pdf
). Of course, the “regular” defense budget also kept increasing because
stuff like pay/allowances and a good deal of equipment costs came from the
regular budget, not the supplementary war spending. Let’s give it
$1-trillion, round off, for a total war cost of $2.3-trillion. Back of
envelope, make that $3-trillion in today’s money
In terms of today’s money, US national debt in 1980 was $2.5-trillion
(dollar is worth 40 cents now, and national debt was $1-trillion in 1980 -
We financed the Afghan and Iraq wars on the national credit card. You can
draw your own conclusions as to why. We choose to believe that BushMiester
secretly believed the wars to be illegitimate, so he did not ask the
American people to pay more by way of taxes.
But at the end of the day (don’t you just love that cliché?) the Bush wars
would have brought the national debt to $5.5-trillion.
That leaves us with an interesting situation. In the last ten years, we have
tripled the national debt excluding the war costs. That means for ten years
we have spent an average of $1-trillion/year on the national credit card.
Now, folks, Editor is not interested in the whys of why this happened.
Listening to a drunk why he gets drunk is not particularly edifying, and
moreover, no matter what the reason, it doesn’t justify his being a drunk.
And listening to a shop-o-holic’s justifying his spending is even more dull
and even more pointless. A drunk, after all, can say “I drink because my
wife left me for another woman, my kids don’t respect me, and even my dog
pees on my slippers to show me what he thinks of me,” and you can still go –
at least the first time you hear the story – “There there, you poor fellow.”
When a shop-o-holic says he must shop because his wife left him etc, even
the first time around you don’t want to hear about it.
If ever we are going to get out of our debt mess, short of a default, we
need to understand the problem. Problem the First is we paid for ten years
of war on the national credit card when marginal increases in taxes would
have covered it, and Problem the Second is then we went haywire on
It’s no use our chastising the profligate Greeks and Italians and Spanish and the like, because we are far worse.
The Italians at least were running a primary account surplus before the
recent Euro crisis, and the Spanish have a debt of 60% of GDP, which is
positively Puritan Frugal compared to us.
We have not just been bad, we have been very very bad.
And after being very very bad, we are still to refusing to raise taxes and
cut spending. You have a bunch of blithering idiots on one side who say
cutting taxes will generate enough money that the national debt wont matter,
without explaining how come our tax rates are half of what they were in 1980
and we are in a huge mess. Then on the other side you have a bunch of
blitherers who say raise taxes on the rich and that will solve all our
problems. They don’t seem to understand taxes have to be raised on EVERYONE,
yes, even on the mom with five kids whose husband walked off, AND we have to
drastically raise taxes.
Lets try and explain this to the blitherers on both sides. US takes in
$2-trillion in income taxes. It spends $1-trillion more than it takes in (it
actually spends more than $3-trillion because it takes in social security
taxes and pays out social security etc, but $1-trillion is uncovered). If
this amount of $1-trillion is to be raised by taxes, the average tax rates
in the US will have to go up by 50%. We didn’t say the marginal rate has to
go to 50%. We say every single person and every single company has to pay
50% more in taxes than they pay today. Still want taxes to go up?
As for the cut taxes division, say we want to reduce taxes by 50%, so that
the government takes in $1-trillion, leaving it $2-trillion short (still
excluding social security as “paid for”) That means the economy will have
TRIPLE in size to $45-trillion.
Now even in La La Land, is that going to happen? Of course it isn’t going to
So the cut taxes division will say “You misrepresent us. We want a reduction
in spending.” Okay, lets run with that. Cut taxes by half, we are
$2-trillion short. That is 2/3rds of the federal budget.
If there is anyone outside a handful of purists who says they are prepared
to see a 2/3rds cut in federal spending, they are lying so hard it’s not
just their pants are on fire, they are spontaneously combusting.
Because $1-trillion in federal government spending does not mean a 2/3rds
cut. Take away interest on the debt, somewhere around $300-billion, the
government will have $700-billion to spend versus $2.7-trillion today. You
will have to cut spending by THREE-QUARTERS.
Still want to cut spending? Okay, then send in your proposed budget that
keeps government spending to $700-billion. Factor in that if interest rates
go up tomorrow, you’re going to have less than $700-billion to spend.
We’re patiently waiting to hear from the Increase tax how they will manage
with a 50% increase in their taxes, and from the cut spending crowd how they
will manage with a $700-billion federal budget.
0230 GMT December 11, 2011
We now understand why “intellectual” is a bad word in America: Newtie Newt
claims to be an intellectual
In most of the world, to call someone “intellectual” is to praise them. In
America it’s a word of abuse. We’ve always wondered why. Now thanks to
Newtie Poo we understand why.
Newtie says that Palestine is not a country because the territory claiming
to be Palestine was part of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. So is it okay to say
that Israel is not a country because its territory was part of the Ottoman
Empire? Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon are not countries? Germany is not a
country? France? Italy? Belgium? Poland? Netherlands? Spain? They were all
parts of the Holy Roman Empire. Is the US not a country then? It was part of
the British Empire. Ditto Canada, South Africa, Australia/New Zealand and
India. Are Pakistan and Bangladesh not countries? They used to be part of
What makes a country a country? Well, one thing is that it should be
recognized as a country. Thus, the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus is not
reckoned a country because precisely two countries recognize it, including
Turkey. So maybe Newtie meant that the US doesn’t recognize Palestine as a
country so it isn’t a country?
See, folks, most Americans are not intellectuals so it’s perfectly okay they
don’t know that 95 countries recognize Palestine as a country, and it’s not
a UN member because the US has said it will veto any such recognition by the
UN, and it doesn’t have control over its own territory because one part is
occupied by Israel and the other part is blockaded by Israel. . But Newtie claims he is an intellectual –
and a historian at that, la de da. He should know that about Palestine.
But – wethinks – perhaps we demand too much of the Newt? A man who can move
to impeach the President of the US for having an affair while he himself is
having an affair, a man who can take $1-$2 million from federal
organizations he claims are blood suckers on the American polity, and a man
who says he never lobbied anyone, people handed over $100-million to him for
his thoughts on history, such a man is a little – er –
If it is true that Fannie Mae et al gave Newtie public money to get his view
on history, we think it really is time Fannie et el were abolished. Because
they have to be really, really
special to think Newt knows history.
And folks, a favor: please don’t ever, ever make the mistake again of
calling the Editor an intellectual. If you do, he will have no choice but to
unleash the nuclear option – he will call you a Newt.
Japanese on their defense: Blah blah blah blah blah
Can a document such as a White Paper on defense incite the reader to
violence? Yes, if it is the Japanese White Paper on Defense 2011. Updating
our CWA Japan entry today we went through this 196 page document which
frankly is not worth the paper it must have used. It is a masterpiece of
saying nothing in too many words. We thought the Japanese were the Masters
of Minimalism? Say Less, Mean More, that sort of thing? Apparently not in the matter of defense
white papers. The whole thing is a masterpiece – of excuses. Recognizing the
rise of China, the Japanese have decided to reorganize the words they speak
without spending a yen more than GDP growth. Which is about as close to zero
as you can get.
The Japanese say they will reorganize to lighten their army and give it more
mobility to better meet a Chinese threat. Are we supposed to believe the
Chinese can get to Japan faster than Japanese army formations get to their
battle stations, requiring making them lighter and more mobile? We thought
fads were the province of the US Army. Apparently we were wrong. The major
Japanese ground forces program is a Stryker equivalent with around a 105mm
gun. For this the Japanese are going to not replace hundreds of obsolete
tanks with their super-hard and super-advanced T-10. Too expensive,
apparently. How $12-million for a tank capable of meeting threats to 2020,
for a country with a $6-trillion GDP, is not explained.
The Chinese will have fun and giggles blowing up the Japanese Stryker
equivalents and thanking their luck they don’t have to face T-10s. Or do we
have it wrong and the Japanese are demonstrating only their well-known
consideration for honored guests? “Welcome to Japan, and we don’t want to
hurt your feelings by making our armor too difficult to destroy. Fire away,
and enjoy your stay in Japan!”
Letter on Apple manufacturing its electronics in China as opposed to the US
(November 29, 2011) I have comment on your Nov 29th posting
regarding building of electronics e.g -IPads in the USA I have some
experience with manufacture and the situation is not quite as simple as
saving $8 of Chinese labor. The short summary is the manufacturing
capability for this type of device (iPad) is not present in the USA. It is
not an issue of adding a few $ per tablet. Issue is billions of dollars for
factories and then years to train workforce and develop engineering
Random article that explains some of it poorly
Yes some companies assemble in the USA but semiconductors all from China.
Even in weapon systems. You see parallels in US car production. The USA
invented automotive mass production. Toyota improved it after world war 2 to
the extent where they were far in advance of the US (Just in Time system and
Toyota Production System). US manufacturers saw this, sent people to Japan
to learn it, invited Japanese to America to teach it, and still it took
years to build the US car industry into the powerhouse it is today. This is
not criticism of USA. There are many fields in which USA leads the world.
However tablet and semiconductor manufacture is not one of them. It wpuld l
require government subsidy to enable the companies to remain profitable
while they built a new manufacturing base in the USA. In my opinion, cannot
really blame Apple or Amazon etc.
Our reader’s argument is absolutely correct. But why is it the US no longer
has a manufacturing base capable of making electronics or power generating
turbines or batteries or solar panels or oil pipelines? It’s because
American capitalists have been single-minded in shipping US manufacturing to
China. If Mr. Jobs (now thankfully dead) and Mr. Bozo (unhappily alive) had
any thought for the country which has enabled them to become billionaires,
they would figure out how to give jobs to Americans, instead of giving
excuses a la Forbes.
Are we being idealistic? Perhaps. But how do Apple and Amazon expect
Americans to buy their products when they are complicit in shipping jobs
overseas so that Americans either have no jobs, or – for the great majority
of Americans who work in the pathetically paid services sectors – make
We have a suggestion for the Bozos and the Wal *arts of America. Please
apply for Chinese passports and go live in the Middle Kingdom. After all,
that’s your spiritual home. And anyway, give it 10-15 years and China will
be a bigger market than the US. By then American wages will have been driven
down to the point Chinese companies will buy up America and get their goods
produced here because we’ll be the Third World. We’ll be making I-Phones and
I-Pads for export to China! Hahahahaha!
Nie How Ma, Dude?
From Richard Thatcher
Herr Rikhye has advocated a combination of spending cuts combined with tax
increases to get a “grip” on our (the United States) debt. In my view even if this were done it
would merely delay the inevitable which is full default. In most respects the sooner this occurs
the better on the grounds that the longer this is delayed the worse things
will get and longer the following “hangover” will be. The “crash” will not be pretty by any
means. During the height of the
1930s Depression some 1000 homes and properties were being foreclosed on per
DAY! Taking the midpoint, 1935, as a
population “average” which was 127.25 million one can only wonder what, with
close to 310 million today, what that rate will be like when this default
“hits”. Again, I see this default as
inevitable, economics, no matter “twisted” will assert itself and our
resulting “crash will be a rough one that will, very likely, make the 1930s
look quite mild by comparison. For
those that worry about what others think of the US pretty much everyone will
blame us for the resulting worldwide recession (depression?) and there will
be more than some justice in that as we have known for decades that if we
didn’t get a grip on things financial; we haven’t and the Piper WILL be
PS: Mister Rikhye has stated a number of times that when default occurs that
he will be one of many made homeless as a result; I see the same thing
happening to myself. I don’t like it
but I’m not getting any real choice in the issue.
0230 GMT December 10, 2011
The Iranians have an RQ-170. No they don’t .
Right after a bunch of people said that the Iranian did indeed have an
RQ-170, a bunch of people are saying no they don’t. Apparently the pictures
the Iranians have shown are inconsistent. The matter is not helped by noone
in the public actually having got a good look at an RQ-170.
What we thought were the exhaust for the engine turn out to be bumps on the
wings that likely contain equipment. Nothing to do with the engines, so it
doesn’t matter if they’re 20-cm or whatever across.
Good energy news from China
The US Energy Information Administration says that China may have 1,
275-trillion cubic feet of gas, versus US 875-trillion. The Chinese have
started to explore their shale gas
Since they lack the pipeline infrastructure its not as if they’re going to
see the gas tomorrow. But anything that reduces China’s dependence on
imported hydrocarbons is good because it will push down the cost of oil.
Bad news on the US fracking front
The US EPA says it looks like one well has contaminated groundwater. Now,
normally, no one should be freaking because one well, or ten, or even 100
create leaks. The existence of humans on the planet creates contamination,
and whatever damage there is from fracking has to be orders of magnitude
less than created by coal and oil mining, which contaminates waters like
crazy.. The news is bad because the environmental purists are now going to
go made and double efforts to stop fracking.
Editor is all for the environment and has said if that means we have to
reduce our standard of living to protect the environment, he’s all for it.
At the same time, folks, there’s worse things than contaminated water. Your
drinking water can be purified at far less cost than the energy foregone
from not fracking.
But then in every field of human endeavor, be its schools or medical care or
transport or consumer safety or whatever we Americans have lost any balance
on cost-benefit ratios. We are absolutists and OUR CAUSE IS THE MOST
IMPORTANT. We say again: you wanna protect the environment, figure out how
to reduce the world’s population to ten million in 200 years. Mother nature
will look after the rest.
By the way, how is this for a crazy enviro mom? We read in the Washington
Post about this one mom who says she will not allow her kids to walks
outside a bird sanctuary or under the path of a jetliner because who know
what bugs poisons they are exposed
to. We wonder if this mom realizes
that the great cause of death on earth is – life. Once you’re born, 100% for
sure you are going to die no matter what you do. Guaranteed. The only way to
keep your kids absolutely safe is not to have them in the first place. Which
will help bring down the earth’s population if enough people think along the
So what do you think, people? Time to float a 503c or whatever they are
called, a website, a lobbying group and so on built around the theme: “Avoid
Life. It leads to 100% mortality”?
All that’s left for the Iron Chancellor is the triumphal parade through the
All except UK and three EU nations have said they agree to Germany’s terms.
The three have said they have to submit the matter to their parliaments.
This is a pointless exercise except for giving their politicians cover
because if they say “no” they will be chucked out of the club. Hungary is
already saying it is likely to sign. And Sweden and the Czechs say they’ll
likely sign too. As for UK, Merkel is not bothered. Today Europe, tomorrow
she’ll worry about the UK. Actually, she will never worry about the UK. She
just doesn’t care enough to bother.
There is a warning in UK’s situation that the US would do well to heed.
Sixty years ago people could agree the sun was setting on the British
Empire. But could anyone have even dreamed that the UK would become as
irrelevant as it has today? We don’t think so. So, my fellow Americans, by
all means keep whistling in the dark and assuring yourself all is well. But
all means, Mr. Romney, tell people that America is entering a new golden
age. But the world has no interest in what people say. It is concerned
solely with the realities of power. And the USSR learned, if you don’t have
economic power, you don’t count. All the USSR’s mighty military power could
not save it from collapse and irrelevancy.
By the way, guess who has the best debt:GDP ratio in the EU?
Estonia. Six percent. Estonia just did not start down the debt road so right
now its golden. Now we know you’re saying well, Estonia’s economy is the
size of Montgomery County, Maryland, or whatever the equivalent county is in
your part of the US of A, but that isn’t the point. The Estonians took a
decision after independence, twenty years ago, that they weren’t going to
get into debt, and they didn’t. There was no good reason for us to get into
debt after paying off the World War II debt (if we had done that). We CHOSE
to get into this mess. No one forced us.
We’re going to say something that is going to get our liberal readers angry
But look, people, no one has a monopoly on wisdom, except the Editor’s Teddy
Bears, and they are so wise they don’t say a word about how people should
lead their lives. On this the conservatives have a valid point: agreed that
a whole lot of the country barely makes do, but if people weren’t so ready
to have kids out of wedlock or to divorce, a whole lot of this country would
be more economically secure. You can’t have the rest of society pay for the
wrong judgments and choices made by others.
So what are we saying here? That parents who father/mother children and then
run away or don’t make enough money to send for their kids should be
publically executed? Yes, that is exactly what we are saying. A human who
brings children into this world and then doesn’t do everything to look after
them doesn’t deserve to live as far as we are concerned. But what about
people in bad marriages? Should they be forced to stay together so they have
economic security? No, we aren’t saying that. But if you get married and
then decide you’ve made a mistake and can’t look after yourself, why do Jane
Q and Joe Q have to pay taxes to look after you? But what if your spouse is
abusive, beats you, drinks and drugs like the fish of the sea and so on?
Well, your bad luck and sorry about that. Its not the job of the state to
make things right for you. You figure it out. No one said life is easy. As
the philosopher said: “Life’s a b**** and then you die.”
That’s about it, folks. A few decades ago no one would have quarreled with
the philosopher. No one thought they were
entitled to anything – and
especially not at someone else’s expense. The Irish still think that way,
which as far as we are concerned, makes them a good deal more moral than
your average American.
0230 GMT December 9, 2011
“Where does the time go?” trilled Joni Mitchell and that’s what happened today.
We forgot we hadn’t updated, and were redoing several Concise World Army files
lost in the computer crash. We though all document files were backed up by Mozy
Back Up, but the free version only does the files in “My Documents” so we lost a
lot of countries update. The external hard drive where backups are supposed to
go had a loose connection so we did not know nothing was backing up there.
Anyway, only a very short update tonight, with apologies.
The Washington Game: “I am a bigger idiot than you” – “I protest, sirrah!
I am a bigger idiot than
So first you have one bunch of braying idiots, the Democrats, who want to
cut payroll taxes so they can get votes. Never mind that cutting payroll
taxes means more trouble down the road for social security and is a really
bad idea. Then you have another
bunch of braying idiots, the Republicans, who have never met a tax cut they
didn’t make them swoon, determined that this one should not go through
because they don’t want the Dems to get votes. That’s not the idiot part we
are concerned with. It’s when the GOP says that
this particular tax cut will not
generate jobs that you have to go “Uh oh, someone is not taking their meds
again.” So only a tax cut passed by the GOP creates jobs? BTW, has the GOP
ever been able to conclusively show that tax cuts at the upper income levels
generate jobs or is that more whistling through the wrong orifice? And has
the GOP bothered to explain how people with more money are going to create
jobs when there is no demand for the goods those jobs will produce because
people are broke or without jobs or too scared to spend? Remember, the
corporations are sitting on $3-trillion at home and abroad, cash.
There is no shortage of capital to
create jobs. The day they see demand, they’ll create those jobs. So what
is the GOP proposal to get the U3 rate down to 4%? And what, when the
government taxes money from you, it disappears into a black hole? Gee, color
us stupid, but we thought government spending ALSO created jobs.
Sure, there are jobs the government does not do well at. But there are jobs
the private sector doesn’t do well at either. The idea is for the private
sector to do what it does best, and the government to do what it does best,
not for the government to take all your money (communism) or for the private
sector to do everything for a profit (don’t know what that economic system
is called – it wasn’t covered by the Editor’s political economy class when
he was in college. Correction: when he was enrolled in college. He was
seldom actually in college, if
you get his drift. Too much wine and too much song, if you see what he’s
saying. Which is a bit odd in Walrus and Carpenter style, because the Editor
neither drank nor sang and still doesn’t. Ah, the mysteries of the universe.
So the Iranians have shown a foto of the RQ-170
and US “sources” are screaming “Yes! Yes! They have the RQ-170! We are
doomed!” Dunno, to us the thing looks like a clay model and are the engine
outlets really only around 20-centimeters across. But okay, say they really
have it, so what? The trick with stealth is the manufacturing technology and
the computer modeling. Sure it’s nice to have one, but that doesn’t mean
Iran is going to start making stealth drones. As for China, they’re busy
stealing everything including the secret formula for the CIA Chief’s special
toilet paper. Don’t worry, people, be happy.
Reader Chris Raggio sent us an article
that says the President was given three options, including an air strike and
a special force expedition to either blow up the drone or recover it, and he
said he didn’t want to do any option because it could be construed as an act
Possibility A: This report is fabricated. If the Prez was given the option,
the US knew where the drone was. Since the Iranians didn’t get to it till
some days later, whacking the drone from the air could hardly be construed
as an act of war. What, the Iranians arrive at the scene, see a piece of
machinery in Lego-sized pieces, and start screaming: “Its war! We have been
attacked! The dastardly Americans have destroyed their own drone!”
Possibility B: The report is true and the people who decide things in
Washington DC are seven short of a six-pack. Hello, people, are we not at
war with Iran already?
Without further evidence, right now we go for Option A. Prez has shown no
hesitation in using clandestine force. Was the raid to kill OBL not an
attack on Pakistan? Are the strikes against Al-Shabab not an attack on
Somalia? That doesn’t bother him, why would destroying US property that
touched the sacred soil of Iran bother him?
Possibility C: The report is true, but Prez’s advisors told him “The enemy
isn’t going to get anything worthwhile from the drone, it’s not worth the
effort or the bother to whack it.”
0230 GMT December 8, 2011
Another exciting day at the ranch. For sheer excitement, nothing beats entering
into Google search “Yemen Army 1st Brigade” and then continuing to
401. That last number is the highest brigade number we’ve seen so we stopped
there. There may be more. Before the Arab Spring hit Yemen, there was little
publically available about its brigade numbers. For the last several months
people have been furiously blogging and tweeting and so on. Of course, it’s not
as simple as just entering the search time and seeing if something pops up. You
still have to go through several entries for each number. If there is a point to
all this, please do write; Editor would love to know.
Hello global government
Like it or not, global government has arrived, and it’s called the Global
Financial System. It pulls down governments who don’t do what the GFS wants.
It tells countries how they are to run their economies. It’s responsible to
no one. US has so far escaped the worst of the GFS government because, after
all, US is the world’s reserve currency. But in a few years down the line,
US economic power, already diluted, will start fading. Correspondingly, the
GFS’s orders to the US economy will start increasing. GFS will NOT accept
the current 100% debt to GDP ratio, slated to go higher. As it is doing in
Europe, it will insist US raise taxes and cut spending, even if it pushes US
into years of recession. If US refuses to comply, GFS will push the interest
rates on US bonds so high US will not be able to borrow.
Don’t laugh: this has already happened to Italy and Spain. Italy was running
a primary current account surplus, but GFS wasn’t happy. Spain has been
pretty responsible about its borrowing, but not good enough for the GFS. The
Greek, Italian, and Spanish governments have fallen or changed, all three
countries are in recession or heading for it. GFS does not care. It does
what it feels best to protect its money.
US played possibly the major role in creating the GFS. It’s going to turn
around and bite the US’s butt – not the next years, perhaps not even for
five years or more. Buts it’s going to happen. The US members of the GFS
won’t be the least upset. It’s all the economic geniuses that told us
globalization was good for us and the fewer restraints on international
money flows, and all of us who bought these false doctrines who are going to
pay the price.
Even the Great Merkel has had to bow to the GFS. Remember Merkel helped push
through the Greek haircut? Her point was governments should not have to
indemnify the money lenders for their bad decisions. Anyone notice that no
one is mentioning haircuts for Irish and Italian debt? No, because the GFS
has recovered from the panic that led it to agree to the Greek haircut.
There aren’t going to be any more. According to the GFS the function of
government is to help it make more money, and to force people to pay for the
money they borrowed.
Just By The Way: It’s Not True American Capitalism Has Failed
as many liberals are now saying. American capitalism has created tens of
millions of jobs in the last 20 years. Why, Apple alone probably created a
million new jobs.
Too bad the jobs are all overseas. But if you believe in global capitalism,
where does it say American capitalism has to create the jobs in America?
So long, suckers. The 1/100th of 1% is laughing all the way to
their bank. (Their bank and not
the bank because the 1/100th
of 1% owns the banks
So here’s a provocative thesis: Is there a correlation between crime and
The Gini Coefficient measures national income inequality. The higher the
Gini, the more inequality; the lower the Gini, the more financial equality.
An enduring liberal thesis is that people turn to crime, anti-social
behavior, rioting, etc because of the gap between the rich and the poor.
Coming from India where there is a whacking great gap between the middle
class (forget the rich) and the poor, this thesis has never made sense to
us, because according to this thesis, India should be submerged in violence,
and it isn’t. [Editor has never liked the theory that American children from
poor families do badly in school because the families are poor. In India the poor make every sacrifice to
make sure their children get educated. They correctly see education
as a way out of poverty and will
do anything for their children’s education. And woe will befall the child
from a poor background at the hands of the parents if s/he misbehaves in
school or doesn’t do the homework and so on.]
Now a British fellow of the Manhattan Institute has written an analysis on
the British riots last summer
This is not an easy article to read, but its provoking. It questions the
thesis that income inequality leads to crime. If you have the time, it’s
X-37 gets more weird
Reader Richard Thatcher writes to say that apparently the X-37B mini space
shuttle has been playing hide and seek with ground based astronomers, likely
as part of its testing. And now there’s a C version planned, which will have
twice the volume.
Is the RQ-170 loss over Iran THAT serious?
A provocative article
it may not be. The article says that drone are lost all the time, implying
it would be silly of the US to fly something over hostile territory if it
were not prepared to lose the vehicle.
0230 GMT December 7, 2011
70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. We’d like to disabuse, if we can,
the notion that FDR let the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor as an excuse for
bringing the US into the war. Even had the Japanese not attacked Pearl, their
attack on the Philippines would have led to a war with the US. Please to notice FDR did not declare war
on Germany. He may have wanted to, to help Britain, but the American people were
pretty isolationist and did not want to involve themselves in a European War. It
was Hitler’s folly in declaring war against the US that led to the US
intervention in Europe
One thing we should all be able to agree on without being accused of
revisionism. Knowing that putting embargos on Japan would cripple its economy,
US either should have thought ten times over before taking actions which – if
someone had taken against us would 100% have led to war – forced the Japanese to
attack. Alternatively, US should have been prepared for the consequences of its
anti-Japan actions. The last thing the US should have done is stick a dozen
sticks in the Japanese hive and then fail to be prepared for war. Yes, if FDR
had told the American people sanctions against Japan would lead to war they may
well have said forget about China. That’s the way democracy works, like it or
Should the US have intervened against Japan for China? Two things. It’s easy to
forget that till the communists took over China, US and China had a close
relationship. And considering the horrible atrocities the Japanese were
committing, it was morally right for US to intervene. Simultaneously the US
should have heavily reinforced the Pacific and been ready for war. If FDR though
the American people wouldn’t go for this, we repeat, then morally right or not,
he shouldn’t have acted against Japan.
What were some of the US’s actions against Japan? Oil, iron, and steel were
embargoed. Japanese assets were frozen. The Dutch and the British followed suit
at least on the oil. So what were the Japanese supposed to do except to go to
war? None of this to justify what the Japanese were doing in China.
It’s fine for the Japanese to say to the west “You all built your colonial
empire and reaped the benefits, why aren’t we being allowed to do the same
thing?” First, this was the 1930s and not the 19th Century. People’s
ideas on what was acceptable behavior toward the natives had changed. Second,
the only colonial power who remotely approached the Japanese brutality against
China was Leopold of Belgium with his genocide in the Congo. Remember the
Europeans, in the early 20th Century, were so aghast at Leopold that
they collectively threatened intervention. The Congo was taken away from him (it
was his personal estate) and made the responsibility of the Belgian Parliament. Even here, Leopold’s genocide came in
the form of treating labor very badly so that hundreds of thousands died due to
malnourishment, maltreatment and the like. Leopold was not having his soldiers
bayonet Congo men, women, and children for sport or as a way of making his
soldiers ruthless. Of course, then Hitler had to come along and make the
Japanese look like hypersensitive protectors of human rights.
The more things change the more they remain the same, say the French. We’re a
bit surprised that more people don’t see parallels between FDR 1941 and W Jr.
2001. In both case, the men’s hearts were in the right place. But when it came
to thinking before acting, FDR and W Jr. had a lot in common. This is the curse
of humanity. Just as every generation of children have to make the mistakes of
their parents, countries have to keep making the same mistakes again and again.
It’s just the way it is. It cannot be changed. Editor will not be around in
2071, but he can say with full confidence a US president will do something so
stupid and so costly that people for years will be trying to find conspiracies
and plots because they will refuse to believe people can be so monumentally
US says Iran does have an RQ-170, and likely in good shape as the drone is
programmed to find a place to land if it gets into trouble. So we do have a
problem, unless the US cleverly sent over a giant flying rubber duckie with
RB-170 stenciled on its side as a way of misleading the Iranians. We’d like
to ask if the Flying Rubber Duckie – sorry, we meant the RB-170 – is so
smart why isn’t it programed to return to its base?
Speaking of drones
wired magazine says the Army and Marines are working on putting
mini-munitions – 12-lbs – on the same drones these services use at battalion
OWS Washington’s misstep
People have the right to protest peacefully and the Washington authorities
have gone out of their way to accommodate and coexist with the Occupy
Washington lot. There was absolutely no call for some of the Occupiers to
start verbally abusing the law enforcement people when the latter took down
a wooden semi-permanent structure the Occupiers were erecting. The officer
on the street is as much part of the 99% as the Occupiers. But s/he has to
do what they’re told or they get disciplined. It was not the idea or
initiative of the officers on the street to take down the structure. That
was the Interior Secretary’s orders. It is immoral in every sense to take
out your anger on people who’ve been doing their level best to let you do
Occupy Washington owes an apology to the Washington law enforcement
There’s a black hole out there with the mass of 22-billion suns. Frankly it
does not seem right to us that this super hungry monster is possibly
destroying thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of civilizations just
to gratify its ego. Like the 101st Dalmatian who was always
hungry, this fellow seems to have no concept of appropriate behavior. We bet
it gives nasty burps each time it downs a star system.
There may, however, be a cosmic purpose behind these giant destruction
factories. We’ve been slowly, painfully, trying to get through Roger
Penrose’s new book on cyclic universes, about a page a week. What Penrose
thinks is writing for the lay public and what the lay public can comprehend
are two different things. If we have his main idea right, it seems that once
the entire universe is chewed up by black holes, the last Redskins football
fiasco witnessed, the last beer quaffed, and the last star scarfed like just
another Cheez Doodle, black holes regurgitate all the matter they’ve
ingested, sort of like a giant cosmic Roman orgy, and the universe is
If we’ve understood Penrose’s point, and if he is right, then okay, perhaps
these fellows do serve a purpose.
Mind you, Penrose is saying some really weird stuff, such as that entropy
does not keep increasing. Inside a black hole it decreases, and you have to
have that if you’re going to get a cyclic universe.
Reader Richard Thatcher made the point to us this sort of stuff is far more
interesting than the stupid euro and the equally stupid dollar and all the
horrible mundanities with which we trap ourselves. We were reading an
article on Einstein, and apparently in his day he was a pop super star for
the masses. People used to wait for his latest pronouncements which used to
be headline news. How did we get to the stage where Angela’s latest news –
she has spent time visiting Brad’s family and they piled on about it was
time to make an honest man of him – is of greater importance than the
cosmology news? Don’t want to sound elitist and all that, but maybe its as
well there are black holes to put a stop to this deterioration in our mind.
Today we read that 50% of kids want an I-pad for Christmas; 30% want an
I-phone; and 20% want an I-pod, or something like that, which adds up to
100% of the kids in America wanting an I-gadget. Is this something we should
be proud of or should it cause us to worry?
0230 GMT December 6, 2011
Germany Uber Alles
Chancellor Merkel rammed her tough conditions for saving the Eurozone down
Europe’s throat, including France’s. Merkel was insisting the price of her
help was Euro nations lived with a 3% budget deficit or faced sanctions.
Right now everyone has to vote for sanctions. In the new dispensation, agreed to by
France, the sanctions will be automatic. Merkel first rubbed everyone’s nose
in the mess while whacking their behinds, sort of like you housetrain a
puppy. Then graciously she allowed the European Court of Justice would
decide who has broken the 3% deficit rule.
So do we expect that the crisis is over and that Germany will now agree to
various bailouts? Germany is not quite there because the other nations have
to sign on to this agreement. Will they dare refuse? Well, this female
reincarnation of another German Iron Chancellor, Bismarck, has conclusively
shown it’s her way or the – er – path less travelled. If they don’t sign,
they will not get bailed out and that’s that.
Britain may now want a renegotiation of the European treaties. Rage was
running pretty high against the EU even before this Euro thing happened.
Britain has to assert itself or accept it will be bulldozed by the Germans,
and it’s not about to accept the latter. In our opinion, though, Britain is
a side show; Merkel made it clear she had no time for Britain – or for US
So this is more of a reprieve than a done deal. But note that Italy has
already reaped the benefits of being Merkelized: it announced even more
austerity, making it more likely it will be bailed out, and the interest
rate on 2-year bonds plummeted. People may march in the streets, but
ultimately all their choices are bad, and agreeing to Merkel-strength
austerity may be the least bad choice.
Hey guys, don’t Bogart that joint – pass it on to us. Took control of a US
drone and forced it into Iran? Lot of inhaling and no exhaling going on
here. If the Iranians did that, how come it took them a week to announce it,
and why did they have to shoot down the drone as they claimed?
At this point several things are not really clear
First, does Iran have its grubby paws on a US drone of any sort? The media
assumption is that it does, but till pictures are shown, we’d hold our
horses. Next, is the advanced stealth RQ-170? Again, the assumption is it
is, but that’s based on backward reasoning: If US is flying a drone over
Iran it has to be the advanced stealth beat because Afghanistan opposition
has no radars so there’s no need to fly it over Afghanistan. But was the US
flying it over Iran, or was it on an Afghan mission and kind of putt-putted
into the sunset? (You do realize there is a children’s book and
inspirational movie in all this: the poor drone, forced to work
day-and-night by the cruel military, manages to break free due a momentary
lapse of control and makes a run for freedom. Of course, the problem with
this plot is what sort of freedom is it going to have seeing as its smashed
into bits in Iran. You can’t impress lady drones if you can’t – er – get it
up. We mean get it up in the air, you dirty-minded readers.)
If Iran does have a RQ-170, then regardless of what the US says, it’s a
setback. Maybe not so with regard to the sensor package, which some people
are saying is an old version now replaced by a very much more advanced one.
But still, China and Russia get to take close looks at another US stealth
If it is an RQ-170, we’re wondering why the US didn’t pulverize it with a
cruise or even an airstrike. You could argue (a) it wasn’t that important to
bother with; or (b) US itself didn’t know where it was. Finding things in
mountains can be quite hard.
Also please to note Iran said almost a year ago it shot down a US drone
lurking near a nuclear facility, but it has still to put it on display or
post pictures. US denied that one.
Kepler makes it Strike Three
The telescope has found a third blue planet, 600 light years away. It has a
G5 star, like we do, and has a temperature of 72F (22C). The planet, Kepler
22b, is 2.5-times the size of earth.
For the last three years Kepler has been watching 150,000 stars between
Cygnus and Lyra. When last the Kepler team made an announcement, in
February, the telescope had found 1300 candidates for life. Now the number
Another very simple explanation of why we are in an economic mess
Robert Samuelson writing in the Washington Post says that from 1820 onward
2% annual economic growth was normal. In the 1960s and 1970s it became 4%.
Assuming that the Good Times were Going To Roll Forever, governments went
all-in for the welfare state. But growth has returned to 2%, and we cannot
afford the welfare state. End of the story.
What could be simpler than this?
0230 GMT December 5, 2011
United Russia may end up with 50% of the vote
So far we haven’t seen what this means in terms of Duma seats. In the
parliamentary system a party can get less than 50% and still end with a
majority of seats. The Communists have made a strong showing; according to
some estimates they have doubled their votes. Looks like the Russian people
have finally had it with corruption and the oligarchs, which was really the
main issue in the election.
Oil will go to $250/barrel if Iran is embargoed, says Teheran
You see, we all have fantasies. This $250 figure was thought up by American
speculators in oil futures as a possibility should Hormuz be closed, and it
was a self-serving estimate, not based on reality. Iran has picked up that figure without
thinking things through, as a threat should the west embargo Iranian oil.
But there is no basis to that figure simply because if the price of
something rises, its use declines. That brings down the price. This is one
reason people like the Saudis don’t want oil to go much higher than $80,
because they’ve seen before energy substitution starts taking place. Of
course, right now there is a huge speculative premium in the current price
of $100. We mentioned the other day that the chief of Chevron said he
thought speculation had added $35 to the price.
Besides which, the west is not thinking of embargoing Iranian oil in the
usual sense of an embargo. West will simply stop direct purchases. Since
Iran has to sell its oil, the thinking goes, non-embargoing parties like
China, India etc will be able to negotiate discounts. Iran will be hurt; the
oil will still get to the market.
We are not oil economists and we are not vouching for the accuracy of any of
this thinking, but we have been told by People Who Know that the maximum oil
can go for is $150 before the market collapses – as happened in 2008
Merkel, Germany, and the Euro
Because of the Internet, anyone can say what they want, and on Chancellor
Merkel we’re quite astonished at how many insist neither she nor Germany
realizes how serious the Euro problem is. We beg to differ. The Germans are
perfectly aware that their hardball tactics can go either of two ways. One,
the problem Euro nations bring down their deficits and start paying off
their debts, which will cause recessions – this is already happening. Two,
the problem nations default.
Germany is ready for either eventuality. The Germans do not care one hoot
that the over-borrowed Euro nations will suffer. The Germans have gone
through ten years of restructuring their economy. They suffered, and for any
other nation to say “you’re making us suffer” cuts no ice with the Germans.
Should the over-borrowed nations default, the Germans will fall back on
their core Euro zone, and they’ll take the banking losses default entails.
Won’t be pretty, but there is just no way you are going to get the Germans
to accept bailouts.
Now, it is argued that the prime beneficiaries of the Euro have been the
Germans, because it has allowed them to export huge amounts to other Euro
nations. If the Eurozone shrinks, or breaks up, people say the German mark
will be so strong Germany will not be able to export as much. A rate of 1.8
DM per dollar is mentioned.
First, the Germans can live with that rate – it was higher before they went
into the Euro. Second, if it is a choice between two bad alternatives, as
we’ve said, the Germans will choose the path that requires no bailouts
except on German terms.
We wouldn’t get too excited about the exchange rate. Remember, Germany is
also a major importing nation. If the hypothetical future DM is strong, the
price of all imports, including energy, raw materials, food,
semi-manufactures etc. falls. This mitigates the effect of a strong currency
Another reason not to get excited is Japan. Remember when Japan’s yen was
360 to the US dollar? Well, its 75 now, and while the Japanese are screaming
(in their quiet, polite way), they’re managing. That is a huge, huge
revaluation. Sure the Japanese are paying a price. But no one is suggestion
that Germany will be caught in anything like the same magnitude of
China becomes Number 1 CO2 emitter
Congratulations, China. Of course, US still leads China 4-to-1 in per capita
Oklahoma Gas Exploration Leases become 100-times more expensive
Readers will be familiar with the natural gas boom that is changing the
economies of states like North Dakota. Oklahoma is another place where the
boom is exploding. Leases for a single acre have shot up from $200 to
$20,000 – royalties if gas is found are extra.
0230 GMT December 4, 2011
Pakistan Border Post Attack
On anything to do with US-Pakistan relations in “AfPak” as the in-people
like to call it, Editor’s first reaction is to go “Not tonight, my dear, I
have a headache”. Sorting out the “US says Pakistan says” is less productive
than trying to write all the zeroes in a googolplex. And likely one will get
to write all those zeroes before one determines the truth of such incidents.
Nonetheless, here’s more headache-inducing news about the recent incident.
First, Pakistan says it immediately warned NATO that its border post was
under attack. But Pakistani communications were not good enough to get
aircraft scrambled to warn off the attackers, who had the outpost under fire
for two hours according to Pakistan. Seems a bit peculiar on the face of it,
that Pakistan’s communications with NATO are better than within its own
forces and in its own country.
Second, Pakistan has refused to participate in an enquiry being launched by
NATO. Also sounds very peculiar.
Third, Wall Street Journal on Thursday December 1 ran an article saying the
Pakistani troops were not at the declared outpost, but at a temporary
outpost which was not on the map.
Fourth, NATO says Pakistan cleared the airstrike, implying Pakistan did not
know where its troops were. But Pakistan says NATO gave the wrong
coordinates for where it was going to attack.
If, dear reader, you don’t have a headache by now, you’re made of sterner
stuff than the Editor.
And then there were two
One GOP candidate is the Klasse Klowne and one is a screaming bore. The
GOP’s penchant for shooting itself in its head six times in one go is now in full evidence. Our advice to
the GOP is: do what people say you should do if you’re being sexually
assaulted. Lie back and think of England in winter.
Oh, sorry, we got that mixed up. Thinking of England in winter is when
you’re having sex with your significant Other. Lying back and enjoying it is
what you’re supposed to do when you’re being assaulted. We know what some
readers are thinking: “Sure, just go blame the victim for the attack.” In
this case, however, if we’re not going to blame the GOP for the situation,
who do we blame? Or is it Obama’s fault the GOP presidential lineup is just
There is simply no point any more to following the 2012 election.
Letter to the Editor from Name-Withheld-By Request
You blasted American generals for their incompetence in Afghanistan. Yet in
your own country, India, your generals took twenty-five years and 600,000
troops to defeat 5000 insurgents. So who are you calling incompetent?
Dear me. If the Editor has ever said one nice thing about his country’s
higher defense leadership, it must have been while the Real Editor was under
abduction by aliens and the Fake Editor was writing this blog. The Real
Editor has never said one single positive thing about his country’s higher
defense leadership – ever. That’s in 41 years of writing about Indian
defense. Please to show Real Editor any other analyst in the world who has
been so consistently consistent.
Next, let’s have a few facts please. India never had 600,000 troops fighting
insurgents in Jammu and Kashmir. The figure was at peak 150,000 troops and
the same number of police/paramilitary. If you count allied forces in
Afghanistan in the same manner, including contractors who are doing jobs
that used to be done by the military, you have half-a-million
NATO/Afghans/Contractors. The US performance in Afghanistan is even more
pathetic than we made it in our blog entry because we left out the Afghans.
Because India was fighting on its own territory, it had to operate under
rules of engagement so restrictive no American officer of any rank would
agree to them. No air support. No artillery. No heavy weapons. (Yes, all
this was used on occasion – very rare occasion – when India cornered a large
enough body of insurgents in terrain away from villages.) India had just a
few helicopters, and it had absolutely nothing like the vast American C4I
network. No drones. No technical reconnaissance. No fancy weapons. No
information fusion. Etc etc. The entire action barring a couple of hundred
kilometers in the Jammu-Pathankot area was in the high mountains. No
vehicles for one thing. This is not a joke. Lets see how the Americans would
do in such circumstances
India did not take 25 years to defeat 5000 insurgents. That was the maximum
number of insurgents operating at the peak of the insurgency. Every year
fresh batches of insurgents would infiltrate and had to be wiped out all
The biggest reason for the 15-years is that the Indian government refused to
fence the border till very late in the day. Why? Plain incompetence and
plain ad hocism. A war of 25 years was fought on an ad-hoc basis?
Absolutely. Indians, like Americans, pride themselves on being exceptional.
The Government of India is “exceptional” in the same way as American
students of a certain group are “special”. Once that fence was built,
infiltration came down 95% and the war was over.
There is a reason we don’t criticize Indian generals. Indian generals have
no political influence whatsoever. They can talk to the press, but heaven
forfend they should say anything that has any meaning. They do not get to
shape policy, leave alone MAKE policy as American generals get to do. You
can’t blame Indian generals, hardly, because the fellows have no influence
with the government. Zip. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Null.
Last, our patriotic reader is under some misapprehension concerning the
Editor’s status. Except that he does not get to vote, he is for all
practical purpose an American. He lives here, hasn’t been back home in 21
years and has no plans to ever return. Further, aside from those 21 years he
was brought up here. Editor’s entire family is American. He pays American
taxes religiously and obeys American laws more strictly than most Americans.
The reason Editor is slamming American generals is because this bunch of
over-educated, over-confident, over-arrogant, over-publicity-chasers and at
the highest levels totally political animals is making a mockery of America.
With the one shining example of Gulf I, since 1945 American generals have
failed their country again and again and again. Not one has been punished –
except McArthur, and that was not because of his military failures, but
because he openly, publically defied his Commander-in-Chief. American
soldiers have paid the price for their generals’ failure, and the American
taxpayer has paid to fund the endless follies of these same generals. If our
patriotic reader is not outraged by sixty-five years of pathetic
performance, maybe it’s time he did get outraged.
By the way, any time our patriotic reader wants to slam the Indian higher
national security setup, we’d be happy to start him off by giving him more
hair-curling data and stories than he will be able to absorb. Next Editor
will give him lots of contacts in India who will tell him even more
hair-curling stories. We just told one the other day, of how India has
managed to produce 150 T-90 tanks in ten years.
It is always a big mistake to confuse silent acquiescence in our general’s
misdeeds with patriotism. Americans are so patriotic that all you have to do
is raise the flag and they will shut up. This is what has been happening
since 2001. Neither Congress, nor the media, nor the people have brought our
national security leaders – which includes the government – to account for
the last decade. This is not patriotism. This is abdicating all
responsibility just because the man is waving a flag in your face.
American generals are supposed to be professionals. In Afghanistan they have
shown again and again that they do not know how to fight an insurgency. This
is not professional. End of story.
(Even if the generals did know how to fight an insurgency, since the Afghans
are not willing to fight for themselves, there can be no ultimate victory.
But the American generals should stand by their sworn ideals of duty, honor,
country, and tell the politicians there cannot be victory. Since the
generals have consistently refused to do that, they have failed America, and
0230 GMT December 3, 2011
If this is not military incompetence, what is?
Since only a tiny fraction of the population goes to war, the rest of us
have figured out new ways to assuage our guilt. One is that we don’t
criticize the military. We have no problems criticizing the military because
Editor lived through Second Indochina and was on the outer edge of Korea. We
never criticize the people in the trenches, it’s the flag officers we have
it for, though we have to admit in Afghanistan there are many cases of
brigade commander’s acting weird. We discussed one such some months ago.
When he landed up the men told him they had to hold the high ground, which
is kind of basic in mountain warfare, you know, a bit like saying B goes
after A and before C. kindergarten sort of stuff. He just brushed it off.
Now today we read something that has to take the cake and will explain why
we will never win in Afghanistan, not in fifty years. And no, it’s got
nothing about how good the enemy is. We are continually amazed at how
hopeless he is. Its because our military leaders are plain incompetent at
anything other than conventional warfare.
Aviation Week’s Aries Blog informs that the military has figured out that
since the range of most American company weapons is 500-meters, the Taliban
has been firing with RPGs and machine guns from 1000-meters out. So the
ground troops have had to call in artillery and air strikes: expensive, time
consuming, and great danger of whacking civilians as well as the bad guys.
So the Army is sending the Carl Gustaf rocket launcher to Afghanistan, high
explosive and air burst warheads, range out to 1300-meters
As the Washington Post columnist George Will says when he is really
First, dozens of armies have been using Carl Gustaf for decades now. It is
not a new weapon. Second, the US
military has been using it for forever and a day for the Special Forces.
It is not even a new weapon for the US military. Read about it at
This has taken ten years for American military leaders to figure out? These
are the people who we’ve entrusted the Afghanistan War to? The same lot who
build bases on the valley floors, load up the infantry with 60-120 lbs of
gear – we’re talking mountain now, not the plains, and who have a devised a
strategy that before a company can go out on patrol, it has to do planning
that makes the planning for Omaha Beach looks like 1st Grade
stuff? The same lot who leaves it to Pakistan to hold the border when
Pakistan’s interest lies in defeating the Americans in Afghanistan? The same
lot who complains of not enough troops when there are a quarter-million
troops and contractors, the later doing the work the military did in
previous years? The ones who after ten years want another ten? The same ones
who tell us the Taliban is taking a beating, when over the border in
Pakistan you have over 2-million males reaching military age every year, and
the Taliban needs to recruit 1% to keep this going forever?
You know what? We’re willing to bet that the amount of water NATO troops
drink on operations is more by weight than all the supplies used by the
What kind of a strategy is to push the Taliban away from American bases and
outposts, and let it hang around till it feels like making another attack?
Look, people, we know seek-and-destroy got a bad name in Vietnam, but how
else are you supposed to take the initiative and make the enemy dance to
your tune? Sure you’ve got to protect the population. But you can’t because
the locals don’t want to fight.
Aaargh. We don’t want to go on because it raised the old blood pressure. And
the worst of it? Not even the incompetent military men. It’s the
sophistication with which those same military men have seduced the media and
controlled the media and manipulated the media so that we get astonishingly
non-critical accounts of the war – and the media has let the military do
this and get away with it. It’s the media makes us really, really want to
puke. All its grandiosity, overblown sense of importance come to nothing
when they’re facing a photogenic American general in battle dress. Somehow
the Americans never have a shortage of these folks. The media become as helpless as kittens picked up
the scruff of their necks. And its not as if the generals are doing the
equivalent with affection. The generals are doing Number One and Number Two
all over the media, and laughing at what a bunch of dumb-butts the media
are. Enough now.
Jobless rate falls to 8.6% - but hold the diet soda
The reason the figure fell was 315,000 people left the labor force.
Otherwise 120,000 new jobs would not have moved any needles. Labor
economists are said not to be concerned, we have no idea what concerns them
but assume they are employed, which automatically reduces anyone’s level of
Further, the bulk of those new jobs are in retail, which pays pathetically.
And a lot of the 140,000 jobs created may be seasonal (government jobs fell
by 20,000, continuing a two-year pattern of decline).
The real figure we should look at is that 64% of Americans are participating
in the workforce, down from October’s 64.2%. So the situation has worsened.
But what are facts between friends? You have your facts, I have mine, and we
must respect each other’s facts otherwise we are not being inclusive,
tolerant, multi-cultural and what have you.
0230 GMT December 2, 2011
This happened on Monday November 28,The
Australian report at
which we quoted in Twitter today is the only one we could find that mentions
that while Iran has denied any explosion, satellite fotos show there is an
explosion at the uranium centrifuge facility.
Okay, so things are blowing up all over Iran, and there comes a point you
have to start wondering if the previous explanation that it is bad
maintenance should be questioned. We are reminded of Bond James Bond who
said “once is an accident, twice is a coinkydinky, and the third time is
The question is, how are these places being sabotaged? Is it by fiddling
with the computers and driving machinery crazy? Is someone actually sneaking
in and putting explosives? Are these someones insiders or outsiders? And so
on. Many questions, few answers.
Saudis fear there will be ‘no more virgins’ and people will turn gay if
female drive ban is lifted
Dang. Now they tell Editor why he
can’t get a date on Saturday.
http://tinyurl.com/7tj4fmg What we
can’t figure is why get agitated if there are no more virgins when everyone
has become gay? Gay men won’t care, and we’re unsure if gay women will.
This will solve the problem of global warming: since everyone is gay, no
more kids will be born, in due time the population will be down to zero, and
the polar bears will be so happy. Deficit problem? Solved. Failing schools?
Solved. Illegal immigration? Solved. Fear that the children of the
Kardashian Sisters will have children? Solved. Worry that President Obama
will get re-elected? Don’t worry: there won’t be any people so no one can
vote for him.
The new Pearl Harbor “warning” that has been declassified
A declassified report made three days before Pearl Harbor is being cited as
evidence of the government’s mistakes.
We haven’t read the book and probably will not, but at least from what the
UK Daily Mail report, its clear this report was no warning.
“The memo read: 'In anticipation of
open conflict with this country, Japan is vigorously utilizing every
available agency to secure military, naval and commercial information,
paying particular attention to the West Coast, the Panama Canal and the
Territory of Hawaii.' As the Americans say, tell me something I don’t
This is warning: “Japanese carriers departed their home port ten days ago
and are headed toward Hawaii. It is apprehended from supporting intelligence
a, b, and c, that an attack on Pearl Harbor may take place.”
Even that message may not have sufficed for the simple reason that all sorts
of contradictory intelligence comes in every day. There was no particular
reason for anyone in Washington to suspect that a Japanese attack was
imminent. People don’t just attack people out of nowhere.
Something we have yet to see anyone ask: was the US fleet really crippled at
Pearl Harbor? Sure, the battleships were either sunk or badly damaged. But
let’s suppose no battleship was hit. How precisely were American battleships
supposed to retaliate? They could not have survived sea battles with
Japanese carriers, nor could they have made much difference to Japanese
control of Pacific islands because they would have been attacked by Japanese
land-based aviation. To fight the Japanese you needed aircraft carriers. And
not one American carrier was touched at Pearl Harbor.
The Americans believe their fleet was crippled because in those days the
battleship was deemed supreme. You lose your battleships, you’re crippled.
The reality is if the Americans had gone after the Japanese with
battleships, those battleships would have been lost anyway.
Flashback to December 10, 1941: under 100 Japanese aircraft attack HMS
Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales. The British have no air support. The
Japanese lose three aircraft. The British lose both capital ships.
Same thing would have happened to US battleships operating without air
cover. If you have the carriers, you don’t need the battleships except for
shore bombardment. Also please to remember to Japanese at that time were
masters of the universe when it came to aircraft carriers.
0230 GMT December 1, 2011
As a hedge against delays/cutbacks in the F-35 program
US is working to extend the lives of its F-15s. The air defense variant is
to be extended from 8,000 hours to 16,000. The strike version (-15E), which
has stronger wings, is to be extended from 8000 to
32,000 hours. Gulp. That’s 60+
years to 100-years depending on how many hours an individual aircraft is
flown. People don’t keep major warships for 60-100 years (though in the age
of sail that was often the case). Aircraft are sort of like throw-away
items, so it’s a bit mind-boggling that you could fly a fighter for 60+
US is also working on a stealthy version, the Silent Eagle.
X-37 to exceed designed 270-days in space
The unmanned mini-shuttle is doing its Energizer Bunny thing. Having stayed
aloft for 270-days, its maximum design, US is keeping it aloft to see how
much more it can take.
What’s surprising to us that of a sudden people are talking of this as a
vehicle to deliver 7-astronuats at a time to the Space Station. Well, didn’t
we have such a vehicle, which we called the Space Shuttle? Where did this
astronaut thing come from, given the US government and private companies are
working on astronaut delivery vehicles?
India’s planned aviation brigades
defense news says India plans two types of aviation brigades, one per corps.
One is for the strike corps with two battalions each with 12 attack
helicopters, and two with 15 general purpose helicopters each. The aviation
brigades for the other corps is not defined, but will have more troop lift.
Parenthetically, just to show how completely pathetic
India can be regarding defense, Ajai Shukla’s blog “Broadsword” says in ten
years India has produced 150 T-90 tanks. That’s fifteen per year. Mr. Shukla
blames Russians for reneging on contracts, refusing to supply items and
technology agreed to, upping prices, and so on. As the Americans might say:
“Aint that a surprise”. Come on India, grow up. The Russians have been
jerking India around for decades. India put up with it because Russian
equipment was much cheaper and didn’t require precious foreign exchange. You
can blame the Russians all you want, the real question is why India puts up
with them. It’s as if India enjoys being a victim.
Back in the day, in the 1960s, when Britain provided India with an MBT for
domestic manufacture, Indian factories turned out 200/year. Now they’re
turning out 15 Russian tanks a year. How can anyone take India seriously?
That’s nice the stock markets rallied
after the world’s major national banks (not the Germans, please note)
announced they would provide additional liquidity, basically (a)
guaranteeing no major bank would be allowed to go bust; (b)
banks/governments could buy Eurobonds, pushing down yields; (c) providing
people funds to buy USA dollars. We’re not quite clear what the point of
this last is. Anyway.
All that this does is buy time for Europe to work out a political-economic
solution to its debt crisis. Before the world’s central banks announced this
move, people were saying Europe had ten days to save the Euro, after that,
barring a solution, the Europe was in Bye Bye Land. These moves should
provide a lot more than 10 days. But it’s a band aid, not a solution. Very,
very tough decisions still have to be made on bringing down deficits and
refinancing bonds coming due.
In UK the government has informed the people that they’re in for another six
years of misery
before incomes can start growing faster than inflation. Now just imagine
American politicians telling their people that six more years of misery is
in the cards. Can’t imagine it? Neither can we. Americans want to live in La
La Land, they can’t take being told the truth. Incidentally, aside from
cutting budgets like crazy, the Brits are raising taxes on anyone making a
mere $70,000/year. Try doing that here in an effort to stop the deficit from
Honduras is the latest Latin nation to send in the army
because drug trafficking is out of control. Mexico readers know all about.
El Salvador is being taken apart by drug gangs. Same problem is starting to
happen in Puerto Rico, which the last we heard is America for all purposes.
Trafficking into Haiti and Dominican Republic is starting to boom. Honduras
now has a murder rate of 82 per 100,000, the highest in the world. US
average is 5; Puerto Rico is 25, El Salvador is 66, Mexico is 65. Venezuela
is 72, with Caracas at 230, but while drugs are definitely an increasing
problem in Hugo-Land, there are other issues.
But: my fellow Americans, no need to worry. Please sleep on. There is no
problem anywhere. We are the largest consumer of illegal drugs in the world,
we jail the highest percentage of our population in the world, but there’s
no problem. Carry on, America. Roll another Jay, snort more cocaine, lets
drink more booze – which in terms of its social consequences is far more
destructive than drugs, as for tobacco – just as is the case with booze –
the government (at every level) cannot do without the tax revenue.
Either drugs are a moral issue or they are not. If they are a moral issue,
than alcohol and tobacco should be made equally illegal with identical
penalties. If drugs are not a moral issue, legalize them so that entire
countries are saved from being torn apart and we can jail fewer people. We
are not taking a position on this. We’re just calling for consistency and
0230 GMT November 30, 2011
Only 30% of US cargo transits Pakistan
40% comes in by northern rail route, 30% by air. (We don’t want to even
think about the last 10 years has done to the life of the US airlift fleet.)
Of course, the 30% via Pakistan is stuff you don’t really want to move by
air, like POL, and US partners are more dependent on the Pakistan route.
NATO has built stockpiles because closure of the Pakistan route for one
reason or another is fairly common.
Governor Christie, we agree with you – but watch that blasphemous mouth
We agree with Governor Christie of New Jersey that what the heck is America
paying Mr. Obama for, to be a referee for Congress and to walk out when
there’s tough work to be done? A president is supposed to lead. That doesn’t
mean he is going to win every battle, or even a majority of battles. But he
has to get down in the trenches and fight. Mr. Obama is not doing that.
That said, while we understand that Governor Christie wants to show he is a
real man, and a man in a hurry, and one who brooks no nonsense, there is no
call for him to cuss. America’s public dialog is already crude enough –
media, TV, films, the conversations of ordinary folks – that we don’t need
to make it worse. A person who cusses tells us only about the kind of person
he is, not what kind of person the other fellow is.
Meanwhile, there’s a new imbroglio concerning Mr. Herman Cain
We think Mr. Cain could aptly play the magicked ass in Shakespeare’s
Midsummer Night’s Dream, though we may be insulting the poor ass. But we
don’t see how it’s anyone’s business that he did, or did not, have a 13-year
So what is it Americans want, a candidate without sin? May we ask (a) where
they propose to find such a person; and (b) can any man or woman really
afford to cast the first stone etc.? Or is it their case that we are all
flawed, but our leaders must be perfect, so that we can vicariously watch
someone else expiating our sins? If so, we’re exactly 2011 years too late,
sorry about that.
Is Chancellor Merkel playing poker?
One school says she is. She’s acting tough on an Euro rescue because she
wants countries to get serious about their budgets. Another school says she
is not playing poker. Aside from that printing money goes against her
personal beliefs, the German people will pull her down the day she agrees to
print money and the next government will reverse the decision, so why make a
pointless decision in the first place?
Canada and Kyoto
Canada has refused to abide by the terms of the Kyoto Treaty. In part
because of the strip mining required for unconventional oil extraction,
Canada’s carbon footprint has increased, and not decreased as the Treaty
requires. Canada is looking to expand tar sands output from 1.5-million
barrels/day to 3.5-million by 2025.
BTW, a small misconception needs to be cleared up. From well to tank –
extraction to refining – tar sands may well create 3-times as much carbon as
conventional oil. But most of the carbon created from oil use comes when the
oil is used by vehicles. If you calculate well-to-wheels, the increase is a
Don’t like even that? Okay, support nuclear. Don’t like nuclear? Fair
enough. That leave us with two alternatives. Alt A: sit and suck our thumbs.
Alt B: reduce our standard of living. Personally, Editor has no problem with
Alt B for the simple reason that, existing on the lower margins of society
as he does, he’s not using that much energy to begin with. For example, he
drives an average of 500-miles a month in a sub-compact. The thermostat is
set at 80F in summer and 65F or less in winter (at night heat is off
completely). Every light bulb in the house is a 17-watt incandescent. Water
use is 2/3rds standard per capita for the region. Lawn is never watered,
young trees are occasionally watered. No flower beds.
But don’t suggest stuff like windpower unless you want to live next to a
400-foot windmill. Solar? Okay, we’re progressing slowly, be prepared to pay
at least twice, if not thrice, per kilowatt/hour. Etc.
I-95 South between Washington and Richmond
We made the trip again to Raleigh NC to see how the new grandkid was coming
along, and large stretches of the infamous Washington beltway as well as
I-95 appear to have been newly paved. The contractor has done an excellent
job, with lanes marked clearly and a profusion of catseyes to help keep you
in your lane at night. But: the traffic remains brutal – obviously.
Returning Saturday after Thanksgiving, in the early evening, Editor was
trapped in a giant traffic jam Richmond Exit 86 all the way to where I-95
becomes 12 lanes (or is it 14) as you approach Washington. Six lanes isn’t
enough for the traffic the road must carry between Richmond and Washington.
Giant traffic jam as in being completely stopped, 15-25 mph otherwise. Nary
an accident, either.
But will I-95 get expanded?
They’re doing something north of Baltimore, adding toll lanes (you already
pay tolls in Maryland at Baltimore (tunnel), before you hit Delaware, and
the Delaware bridge. They’re also adding toll lanes to the Washington
Beltway in Virginia. So when traffic reaches the Maryland border, you’ll
have 12 lanes or whatever falling to 8, and good luck with that.
Meanwhile, we are being told that MD 200, the Inter County Connector between
I-270 and I-95, is the last major
road project Maryland will see in a generation. There is no money left
for any other road project. Of course, the population will keep growing.
Sigh. And here Editor used to think he was living in a first-world country.
Still, the air and water are clean and there’s a lot to be said for that.
Not complaining, only saying.
0230 GMT November 29, 2011
US Fed made $1.2-trillion in secret loans to US and global banks, says
If the $700-billion in TARP is driving conservatives nuts, this is going to
put them in orbit with rage. The loans were made in 2008, so it was Bush not
Obama who made them. Bloomberg had to use the FOIA to get the information
which the fed wouldn’t cough up.
Democrats are making the point the total money committed by the Fed for
loans etc was $7.7-trillion – we’ve read this figure before, and think it
was in Bloomberg/Business Week.
Presumably the bulk of this money has been paid off. But there were no
strings attached, unlike with TARP.
The 6 biggest US banks had $6.8-trillion in assets in 2006, before the
meltdown began. As of September 23011 its $9.5-trillion.
Two points. One we’ve made many times before. When it comes to comes to
Crony Capitalism, we cannot talk about the democrats did this or the
Republicans did this. It has nothing to do with political party, the entire
lot of bums is on the take. Two, if you consider US had to commit more than
half its GDP to stabilize the financial system, you’ll see why we’re so
skeptical about the piddling multi-hundred billion bailouts the Europeans
keep talking about. It seems to us the Europeans need to come up with a
several-trillion-dollar bailout. Since Germany refuses to let European
Central Bank print money, which is what the Fed did, the European bailouts
Global markets rose yesterday as it appeared Germany and France will propose
stringent rules regarding member budgets. If members reject this, the two
countries will form an inner Euro zone where they will issue their own
bonds. Countries who refuse European control over their budgets will have to
tough it out on their own. This two-tier thing is seen as the better
alternative as opposed to breaking up the Euro which will prove costly and
plunge the world into a recession.
Meanwhile, Britian is caught in the logic of deficit reduction
UK went all in to cut spending as a way of bringing its budget deficit under
control. That has triggered a near recession, which in turn has meant a
Sterling 50-billion tax shortfall. Which means to meet budget deficit
targets, more spending will have to be cut, which will cause growth to fall
The problem is that pay now, or pay later, but pay you must. If you use
deficit spending to mitigate a recession, debt goes up, which weakens the
economy in all sorts of way. Cutting spending causes trouble now, but is
beneficial in the long run.
Mars Rover Curiosity is on its way,
and that’s the easy part. The landing is going to be a white-knuckle affair,
with too many things to go wrong as far as we are concerned, despite the
most rigorous design, production, and testing. That’s why we favor cheaper
probes and more of them.
Meanwhile, BBC says a Russian general says a big US radar in Alaska
may have caused EM radiation that crippled the Russian Mars rover, which is
in orbit after failing to head off to Mars.
The following is not an apology for Steve Jobs who shipped 700,000
manufacturing jobs to China so he could make a few more dollars on his
products. (We are told there’s $8 of Chinese labor in a $500 I-phone – if
correct, there is no reason why Apple could not have taken a slightly
smaller profit and had the I-Phone made in the US.) But we came across one
allegation against Jobs which we don’t think is quite fair.
Jobs in his younger days before he settled down was living the un-material
life and easting meals at a Sikh temple. It is a tradition of Sikh temples
that anyone who wants eats free, and they will even give you a place to
sleep if you help with the chores etc. This applies to anyone, of the Sikh
religion or not of it.
In an Indian publication we saw a letter attacking Jobs for his lack of
personal hygiene, his abusiveness towards subordinates and so on. Then the
letter writer said Jobs never did anything for the temple which fed him over
some period of time.
This is not fair because whatever Jobs’ faults, and he had plenty – we think
he was a traitor to America along with others of his ilk – but he never
talked about the money he gave to charity.
You could argue that he never talked about it because he never gave any.
This is not what we hear. He didn’t want the attention by giving to charity,
even though he had so large an ego it could not fit the entire US. We
acknowledge its possible we’ve been told wrong . But till proven otherwise,
the one allegation we are not prepared to lay at his unwashed feet is that
he never did anything for the temple that fed him.
Nothing to remotely do with the GWOT, but we felt we had to respond to the
From Professor Faizal Khan
A couple of comments on your views on the NATO attack on the posts at
Salala. Its possible that both sides are ‘correct’ in so far as it goes. NATO has admitted that there was a
NATO/ANA joint operation in progress; probably some kind of a cross-border
raid on a suspected Taliban camp.
Mohmand Agency is clearly bandit country for the Pakistanis. It is possible that they saw something
(movement, firing, whatever) and the forts (for that is what they really
are) opened up since they knew that there were no friendlies out
there—presumably they had not sent out a patrol—and NATO hadn’t told them
The NATO/ANA troops report receiving fire from the Pakistanis and request
support; the helicopters and planes pound the posts and wind up killing a
lot of Pakistani regulars (NB: these
weren’t FC troops; the coffin pics I saw said Azad Kashmir Regt). Since this went on for two hours and it
seems that there are reports that the Pakistanis (not sure at which level)
were in communication with NATO/US and the attacks still continued, no
Pakistani will believe that this was in any way a mistake.
The reaction of the Islamic parties and the government is irrelevant; all
that matters is what the Corps Commanders and PSOs say in the conference
that will surely be called and how much they have heard from their own men. The PA officers I know are all very
anti-US military (and very few of them are in any way ‘islamists’) and many
would not be at all averse to an actual confrontation. I’m not sure they are exactly spoiling
for a fight but continually rolling over for the US is getting very
unpopular among the junior/field-grade officers and ORs.
No matter what Kayani might be personally inclined to do, it really depends
upon how angry the Army as a whole is.
The PAF also is not particularly happy with the US since they wound
up looking particularly pathetic when the OBL raid helis came in and left
unmolested. The outcome of any such ‘confrontation,’ if shots are fired, is
of course all but preordained but maybe the US might have a minor surprise
From Phillip Rosen
When talking of data speeds, you should be using Mb and Kb for Megabit and
Kilobit. Files are in Megabytes and Kilobytes, 8 bits to a byte. Regarding
Verizon, it is likely the speeds at your door are as they advertise, 15/5
Mb/second. The data is likely going over a network, however, which could
slow it down.
0230 November 28, 2011
Arab League imposes total sanctions on Syria
Most readers are probably too young to know that 3rd world bodies
such as Arab League were nothing but cozy get togethers for despots and
tyrants. To us old timers, it’s a bit of a shock to find Arab League has not
just acted against a member, it has acted decisively. As of yesterday, Syria
is under trade, financial, and travel sanctions. These, in fact, are tougher
sanctions than the west has imposed to date, and the AL did not spend months
hemming, hawing, hedging, iff-ing and but-ing. It told Damascus last week
its patience had run out, and them whammo, when Damascus didn’t respond, the
sanctions came down. Goods intended for consumption by the people are
AL says it has acted quickly and harshly because it does not want outsiders
to interfere in what’s going on. It’s hard to overstate the significance of
this development, particularly given several members of the AL are no
paragons of democracy themselves – Bahrain and Saudi being two of particular
concern. If they are now insisting that Syria allow a representative,
popular government, it follows next when their people ask for the same,
these countries will have no option but to concede.
Meanwhile, please note Iraq was one of the three countries to against
sanctions. Baghdad says it has Iraqis living in Syria, trade, and general
security issues to consider. In short, while it’s okay for Iraqis to enjoy
the benefits of a democracy, it’s not okay for the Syrians. Is this weird or
is this weird?
The Iranians of course voted no, and so did the Lebanese, because of trade.
With three neighbors likely to turn a blind eye to sanctions Syria can
expect some help. But let’s see what happens.
We spoke with Mandeep Bajwa, and both he and Editor came to conclusion that
the US air attack was a mistake because it is not like the US to apologize
all over the place without a full enquiry, which can take weeks and months.
NATO spokesperson has said, without elaboration, that NATO troops came under
fire on the border and responded.
We should explain it is routine for Pakistan to provide cover by fire to
infiltrators and exfiltrators. They used this tactic against India till the
Kashmir insurgency was defeated. There were nights on the Kashmir Cease Fire
Line where you’d think war had broken out, because Pakistan artillery would
open up and then the Indians would respond, and it would go back and forth.
Neither country has ever disclosed how many soldiers got killed in these
Pakistanis have been doing the same thing in Afghanistan. Personally, we
don’t think it is NATO’s responsibility to always be absolutely sure that
fire is coming from a particular outpost when the firing from Pakistan’s
side is a daily occurrence. It doesn’t matter these two posts were not
firing on NATO forces at that particular time. War is not civil policing,
where it doesn’t matter if a habitual law-breaker may not have broken a law
on one particular day and is therefore innocent of that particular offence.
Pakistanis say they cannot stop the Taliban from firing on NATO forces from
Pakistan. First, this is so not true. Second, how come the firing always
takes place from near Pakistani posts? Who do the Taliban choose to
infiltrate/exfiltrate adjacent to Pakistani posts
Anyway, the above is beside the point as far as we are concerned. We’ve said
the US needs to get out of Pakistan and we stick to that position.
It seems that Germany is going to remain firm against allowing the European
Common Bank to print money to buy bonds and push down yields. There’s talk
that Germany is in talks with 9 or so other nations to go their own way on
the Euro. It means global bankers will have to take a huge hit. But as we
said yesterday, therfe comes a point the politicians will not stay bought by
the bankers because what their own people will do to them is worse than what
the bankers can do to them.
0230 November 27, 2011
That tick-tick-ticking you hear
is the timer attached to the Euro bomb. When it blows up, no one can tell
what will happen and where it will end. The timer becomes inaudible over the
weekend, because the markets are not open. But it's ticking on.
Latest: Belgium downgraded to AA; the 180-day Italy rate at 6.5% we
mentioned; the 2-year rate is at 8%; three-quarters of the German public is
against the European Central Bank printing money to buy bonds and bring down
interest because this will cause inflation; but if the ECB doesn't print
money, there will be no one to buy Euro nation bonds at reasonable prices.
Had interest rates remained as they were in October, Italy as an example
would have been fine. But Italy is having to pay twice as much interest as
it planned. So it has to raise taxes at a time it has been in near-recession
for years, and that will push the economy into deep recession, and then
Italy will be unable to pay - reference Greece.
Without getting into existential debates on this, it is very clear (a)
Europe cannot pay back the money it has borrowed; (b) neither can the US.
Default is the only solution. The big money people who own governments don't
want this option. But there comes a point where you have the big money
people threatening the politicians from one side, and the lynch mob
threatening from the other. The worst the big money people can do is not
give you money. The worst the mob can do is take your life. So what is the
course a rational person will choose?
From Eric Cox
Today, you wrote: "Agreed that the problem with the stimulus was it was too
small and directed to benefit the rich, and so it saved the rich but it
didn't help anyone else." I think that you are confusing the TARP with the
The TARP, passed reluctantly by both houses and signed into law by GW bailed
out the Banks (which are, arguably, the Rich although the Banks have little
money of their own). The Stimulus, (the ARRA), which was passed without
bipartisan support during the Nancy Pelosi-Harry Reid interregnum, that was
signed into law by BH Obama, bailed out the unionized public employees, the
unionized teachers, the unionized auto workers
and the unionized portion
of the construction trades (Those most likely to be competitive under
Davis-Bacon wages), the green energy industry and the States.
The much of the TARP money, that which was guarantees, not loans, was never
disbursed. The TARP that were disbursed been largely been paid back,
although there is some funny accounting where the government received stock
in the banks.The Stimulus funds, only about 20% of which were for physical
product, have not been paid back, but they will be by inflation down the
line as you observed.
Reader Cox is absolutely correct
we should have said the stimulus was too small to help much.
Government's reasoning was the stimulus was a temporary patch till the banks
started lending again and got the economy going. That is why George Jr came
up with TARP because his economists told him credit was getting frozen and
the economy would collapse.The banks were save but did not start lending
because there was no demand, because the stimulus was too small. This is a
country of 313-million people, after all, and an economy of $15-trillion.
the ARRA spent $730-billion of which $215-billion was for contracts,
grants, and loans, the stuff that creates jobs as opposed to the rest. The
whole thing put together is 5% of the economy, not enough to stimulate
anyone considering the borrowing-driven growth of the last three decades
(correct us on the time frame) had collapsed and thus demand had collapsed.
The banks and almost all the financial institutions, of course, are in fine
shape thanks to our government. In a true capitalist state, as opposed to a
Crony Capitalist state, those bank/institutions should have been left to
fail. Hayek specifically says the system has to be cleaned out once excesses
build up, and until the system is rebalanced, you cannot get growth. System
has not been rebalanced - for example, the mortgages underwater are still
carried on bank books as fully viable.
Capitalism, to use Churchill's memorable comment about democracy, is the
worst form of economic systems - except for the others. Editor is all for
capitalism - but what we have today is not capitalism.
Moreover, what we have is the Anglo-American variant that puts the interests
of the shareholders first, last, and always. Other variants, such as Japan,
Germany, France put customers and workers first. In the Anglo-American
system, it was Steve Jobs legal duty to maximize Apple's profits, even if it
meant taking jobs away from Americans and giving them to the Chinese. Also
fine and dandy, but when American workers don't have jobs, or make too
little to do more than survive, then they cant buy products American
companies make. So Steve, the dear boy, checked out with $6-billion and
Apple has $60-70 billion overseas that it has evaded taxes on - legally. So
there is a place in North Carolina, that had several hundred decent
furniture factor jobs. The factories are gone - they're doing excellently in
China. Now Apple is putting up a cloud computing facility in that town. The
payroll? Fifty people.
The truth is, the economists lied to us. Believe it or not, till he saw the
error of his ways, Editor wanted to be an economist. Shudder. One is so
foolish in one's youth. The economists said: "Its okay for the furniture
jobs to go to China, because they make furniture cheap, which benefits our
consumers, and we'll sell them high tech." Well, if you ever have time, look
up the China-US trade stats (we'll carry some tomorrow). Like most people,
likely you've been assuming that our enormous trade imbalance with China is
because of garments, shoes, toys, and furniture. No, sirs and ma'am. Its
because China exports far, far more machinery to us than we export to them.
We have nothing high tech to sell them, not in any meaningful quantity,
because they make everything themselves.
Then the economists said" "We don't need to make anything, because we'll be
a knowledge economy." Honestly, Editor has not figured out what this means,
because you cannot eat knowledge, nor can it clothe you, nor can it house
you, nor can it drive you to work.
And in any case, guess what? The Indians will take every single last
knowledge job there is in America. Already American law firms, architect
firms, insurance firms, and medical firms, get their scut work done in
India. Its just a matter of time before the Indians design the next World
Trade Center for us, develop the next miracle drugs, argue our cases before
the Supreme Court, and take over not just the bank end of insurance, but the
Then what will we do?
You see, its not just the government lies to us. Its everyone who has a buck
to make lies to the American people.
First, whose fault is this? If a huckster sells you the Brooklyn Bridge, do
you blame the huckster or blame yourself? The American people not only blame
the huckster, they want the government to protect them from hucksters.
Interesting, considering the government and its allies are also hucksters
working with the huckster who sold you the Brooklyn Bridge.
Second, unless we the people - you and I - stop whining and blaming the
government, the banks, the politicians, the media, for the situation we are
in, unless we the people rise up and change things, we will continue getting
the Royal Shaft. It may be a 24-carat gold shaft, but it works the same as
any other shaft.
Now, having made this inspiring call for revolution - not the silly OWS
revolution - Editor will go the fridge and have a nice, soothing glass of
chocolate milk, full fat of course. This will put him in a happy coma where
nothing matters - not even the lack of a date on Saturday. The rest of the
country can return to the TV, beer, and Frito Lays and get back to its happy
coma where nothing matters.
PS we're told there is a New Yorker cartoon:
this obscenely wealthy banker is in his obscenely extravagant office,
looking out of his windows, well pleased with himself. He's on the telephone
and he says: "What am I doing? Occupying Wall Street."
There is more truth in that one cartoon than there is in the rest of the
uber-indignant, uber-entitled people who say they speak for 99% of the
This cartoon reminds us of another, where these two very proper explorer
Englishmen in the deepest heart of America have been set upon by the
natives. One of the Englishmen has a spear through his middle. The other
solicitously asks: "Does it hurt much?" The wounded man says "Only when I
We laugh at the New York cartoon. But we're the Englishman with the spear
through his middle. The banker is the one having the last laugh.
PPS: You know who are taking the responsibility for the economic misfortune
that has befallen them? The Irish. That's right, the Irish. As a matter of
form they may hurl the occasional abuse at the bankers and politicians. But
they realize they were responsible for buying into the over-consumption
thing, and they understand they have years of sacrifice ahead of them to
make up for their indulgence of the 1990s and 2000s.
0230 November 26, 2011
Letter from "Irate Reader"
You have advocated everything from defaulting on our national debt, to
cutting the federal budget to $1-trillion, to raising taxes, as a way of
eliminating our national debt. In Europe, we see one country after another
getting into severe trouble because they have followed your formula. Since
they have raised taxes as well as cut back government spending, the
economies of these countries have been pushed in recession and the situation
just gets worse every day. I specifically mention Ireland, Italy, Greece,
and Spain, with Portugal and Belgium about to tip over. As for UK, it's just
a matter of time before it slips into recession. Greece has done all three
things you want the US to do: defaulted on 50% of its debt, raised taxes,
cut spending, and the best anyone can hope for is that by 2020 the Greeks
will owe "only" 120% of their GDP, if democracy in the country survives till
then considering the steadily increasing hardships the Greeks must endure.
When are you you going to understand that your crypto-fascist economics
don't work, and that Keynes remains as relevant today as he did seven
decades ago, and that Hayek, who you seem to love, had it wrong. And when
are you going to admit that we were doing fine with the national debt till
your hero, George Bush Junior, cut taxes instead of paying off the national
debt as Bill Clinton had begun to do, and then financed two wars using
deficits because of his ideological aversion to raising taxes, regardless of
the fact that that Great Guru of the Right Wing, Ronald Reagan, raised taxes
when it was neccessary.
Lets talk morality rather than politics or economics. For whatever reason,
we have saddled our children and grandchildren with a massive debt. Just as
we as individuals would not live high on the hog using credit cards we leave
to our children to pay, we as a country should not leave the debt to our
The figures are quite simple. The federal government spends $3.5-trillion
and takes in $2-trillion. So we add $1.5-trillion a year to the debt. No
one, right left, center, up, or down, has come up with a plan that balances
the budget leave alone pays off the debt, which is now 100% of our GDP and
growing. we need not to just cut the federal budget by approximately 40% so
that it is is balanced, we need to pay of $15-trillion. That means raising
taxes, and realistically, it also means a partial default.
Yes, people will suffer. Editor has said earlier that if things get any
harder, he's going to lose his house for starters because like tens of
millions of Americans, he is barely making it through day-by-day. But what
justification does Editor have to life off the future of his children? None.
Agreed in theory we should be stimulating the economy. Agreed that the
problem with the stimulus was it was too small and directed to benefit the
rich, and so it saved the rich but it didn't help anyone else. Agreed that
when the economy revives, we should cut spending and raise taxes and so on.
But there's the theory, and there's the reality. The reality is that when
times improve, instead of saving more and paying our debts, we will spend
more. How does Editor know this will happen? Because it has happened before.
Few sacrifice willingly, particularly in this country.
Regardless of the theory, its better to do everything bad that needs to be
done all at once. Politically, too, that's better as Machiavelli noted.
As for Keynes and Hayek, neither has an answer for what's happening in
America today. The country is deindustrializing, the rich are getting very
rich, the very rich are getting obscenely rich, the poor are either getting
poorer or just ding-donging along. America has become a country of low
wages, decaying infrastructure, terrible health, failing education, etc etc.
Can either Keynes or Hayek help us with this situation which neither
foresaw? The mantras of the right have proved as barren as the mantras of
the left. While Steve Jobs made $6-billion, he didn't help Americans because
he outsourced all but a tiny fraction of his jobs. When John Paulson makes
$6-billion in a year, he generates - what? - a thousand jobs. As for the
left, Government is now "helping" so many people that vast numbers no longer
know how to take care of themselves.
Honestly, Editor would put no stock in what Keynes said or Hayek said or
whoever said. Someone has to come up with new thinking.
As for Bush Jr, Editor liked him because he was a decent man who governed
for eight years without a single woman accusing him of sexual harassment or
a single financial scandal. We like him for his personal ethics, not for his
financial and foreign policies which have proved disastrous and have eroded
our personal freedoms to the point no American can sing the "Land of the
Free" part of the national anthem without adding quickly in parenthesis "I
As for being a crypto-fascist, fascism was a unholy troika of state, church,
and industry. It's very hard to deny that we live in a fascist country with
the composition of the equation having changed somewhat. Its now the state,
the financiers, and the media. Closest Editor comes to any American
political doctrine is Libertarianism, which is not fascism. Sure, Editor is
a heretical Libertarian. But we all need to think for ourselves, no follow a
If we're going to follow a playbook, then how are we different from the
Islamists, who justify everything because "it says right here in the Koran"?
Or our own fundamentalists, who justify everything by because "it says right
here in the Bible?" Or from the Chinese power elite, which has no playbook
since Maoism was jettisoned, but just makes up rules to suit itself as it
0230 November 25, 2011
Iran arrests 12 CIA spies?
This news is a bit boring, for all that it will give everyone a chance to go
around beating their chests (Iranians - "We're so smart"; Americans - "we're
so stupid"; Brits - "the Yanks still have not learned the business despite
all our attempts to teach them" etc. etc.
First, twelve spies is a bit much. It takes years and years to build up
twelve real spies and certainly no one is smart enough to roll up that many
at one time. Second, since when does one take the Iranians at their word
about anything? Just the other day they were claiming they've developed an
air defense missile that's superior to the Russian S-300, and that's just
one of the claims they seem to make every day of the year.
What's a bit odd is the way the alleged CIA sources are going "Yes, yes, mea
culpa and this is a setback." Normally you don't say anything, unless you're
trying to distract people from picking on your real spies.
Some things are beyond dispute, and the American love affair with high tech
spying is one. A billion dollar spysat is so much more exciting than the
dull, risky business of developing people on the ground. Its true people can
give you information "national technical means" cannot. It's also true that
technology can give you results people cannot. It's also true any statement
anyone makes about the world's second oldest profession is true at some time
in some context somewhere.
What also cannot be denied is the media pressure for the Sound Bite. A fave
Go-To is Mr. Robert Baer, formerly of the CIA, who can be relied on to shoot
off something auro-genic (our word for attractive sound bite) faster than
you can draw your gun, pardner. Not that anyone asks our opinion, but if
they did, we'd have to hem and haw and say "Look, its going to take time to
come up with an answer, one has to investigate and analyze and evaluate and
so on." (Maybe this is why no one asks our opinion.) Mr. Baer is of the
opinion that these arrests show how messed up our intelligence ops in the
But lets first answer this question: do we know the Iranians are making a
true claim? Based on experience, that is very unlikely. Second question: how
do you define spy? In totalitarian countries you are a spy if the government
says you are - don't take our word for it, talk to people who've gotten into
trouble consulting in Russia and China. Remember the three American "spies"
Iran has just released? A young woman and two young men, hiking in
Kurdistan, told by Iranians "you're in Iraq, not to worry, come along", and
then they're arrested as spies. Its an old - and very boring story. North
Korea probably arrests a dozen CIA spies every day. Even the Iranians
couldn't stop laughing over that one, and if you have had dealings with
Iranian intelligence officials in the Shah's day or post-Shah - its all the
same - you'll know Iranian intel officials are not given to ROTFL.
Which reminds us: Can Editor's spy friend who must have retired by now
please get in touch? Editor has lost your contact so he sent a letter to
your office, which came back "no such person In This Zip Code". Cheez. As if
they went around and asked everyone in an entire Zip Code if they were this
person. On top of which they opened the letter, made a fotocopy, and made
absolutely no attempt to hide what they did. These youngsters are very
disrespectful, but are would they know how to disguise their spy cow in
Shiraz to look like a mullah? Obviously not. For the good stuff you need us
oldies. (Mr. Robert Baer does not count as an oldie. He knows how to
disguise a spy cow as a mullah, but he doesn't know how to infiltrate it
into the Nantez enrichment plant. His spy cow would be caught at the
first Plop. Editor's spy cow would Plop the Iranian National Anthem in
perfect four-part harmony and have everyone standing at attention. So there.
Why should we take Russian seriously?
Russia is threatening the US that if Washington doesn't do its ABM thing in
a way that satisfies Russia, Moscow will station missiles on NATO's borders.
Yawn. Double Yawn. Zzzzzz.
That was a nice nap. Where were we? Oh yes. Russia's point is that the US
ABM shield for Europe can be used against Russian missiles. A-a-a-a-a-n-d?
Of course it can. Maybe not these particular ones, but in general no weapon
system comes with a guarantee that it will be aimed only in one direction.
But are the Russians planning to fire missiles at the US? If they are, then
the US should be doing everything to build up its ABM defenses. At this
point the Russians will say: "We're not planning to fire anything at
anybody. But if the US builds up an effective shield, it could believe it
can make a first strike and neutralize our second strike."
Well, we could debate if MAD was that logical a doctrine to begin with. But
lets leave that aside. What evidence do the Russians have that the Americans
are mad enough to think they can stop 100% of a Russian second-strike? After
all, just one warhead getting through would cause catastrophic damage to the
US. Moreover, why on earth would the US want to nuke Russia to begin with?
The Cold War is over, remember?
We'd like to make two points. One, if the Russians are so worried about US
ABM for Europe, let them join the west in stopping Iran's N-weapons program.
When Moscow threatens US about Iran, you've got to wonder: is Russia our
friend or our enemy? if it is our friend, help stop the Iranians. If it is
our enemy, okay, we'd better thicken that shield by a factor of 100. No
telling when the Russians decide for a first strike.
Second, what exactly has Russia done to be taken seriously? Its GDP is the
same as India's, and will soon fall behind.
We rest our case.
(IMF World Economic Outlook, September 2011, India $1.8-trillion GDP,
Russia $1.8-trillion. Currently India is less because the Rupee is in a
temporary slump, down from its usual Rs 45/US$1 to Rs52/US$1. But it will
recover. Meanwhile, the Indian economy continues growing at 7%.)
0230 November 24, 2011
Saleh of Yemen steps down?
The question mark is because though he has signed on the dotted line saying
he will go, he has 30-days to hand over power to his vice-prez, and he will
remain "honorary" prez for 90. This could give him time to move his cash out
of places it could be blocked, and then he could go back on his word.
And as Reuters points out, this deal does not resolve the matter of his
relatives, who are armed and dangerous, and have signed no deals.
Egypt protesters reject military's offer
and continue demonstrating. There are allegations that the authorities are
now using CN and CR tear gas, which is bad stuff compared to the regular CS.
There are also reports that the Army is in the forefront of crowd control,
possibly hoping that people will get less angry with the army than they get
with the police.
Despite our fervent wish the Egyptian generals would just accidentally trip
in front of their M-1 tanks and get run over, we have to note that a lot of
Egyptians are really worried about the potential for chaos ahead if matters
are not resolved soon. A lot of people are okay with the army acting as the
de facto guarantor of the constitution. which, we are sorry to say, is an
oxymoron. In a democracy the military can be the guarantor of the
constitution. Parliament and the courts have that role.
Unidentified jets, possibly Kenyan, bombed Badade in Southern Somalia, a
Shabab stronghold. Simultaneously, naval warships shelled Shahbad positions.
We don't know what is happening with the Ethiopian troops that are supposed
to have entered Somalia, but Bloomberg reports Somalia is not averse to the
idea of an Ethiopian intervention. For their part the Ethiopians say they
will not do a unilateral intervention, it has to be within a regional or
international framework. Meanwhile, AU is sending two more battalions to
reinforce its troops in Mogadishu.
One hopes that people are fed up enough of Shabab that evreryone has decided
to get together and wipe it out, but this beinG Somalia, its foolish to make
PRC says it has a right to exercise in Western Pacific
and will go ahead with its plans in this regard. Japan says six PLAN
warships have passed Okinawa in the last few days.
Okay, its true we don't follow the politics of the Western Pacific closely.
But who has said China does NOT have a right to exercise in WestPac? To the
best of our knowledge nobody.
All that people have said is they are worried about China's rising military
power and they are rushing to get into a group hug with a United States that
cant even pass an annual budget on time. Why is China getting bugged by
this? It has its rights, and others have their rights.
The rights of others cover the South China Sea. Should the US stop
non-Americans from drilling in the Gulf of Mexico? Obviously not, and its
not legal. Ditto China and the South China Sea.
We want China to take a deep breath, take Prozac, and just calm down. China
has the right to look to its security. Its already the world's biggest oil
importer (we don't count US because Canada/Mexico routes do not have to be
guarded). And everyone else has the right to look to their security.
If China doesn't want coalitions built against it, the first step would be
to respect other nations instead of pretending this is back in the 16th
Century or whenever that the Chinese used to give orders to the barbarians.
The second step would be to permit democracy. Unless China does that, it can
have a $50-trillion GDP and it will still get no love.
Right now with all their whining the Chinese are making the biggest mistake
anyone can make, which is to be boring. People don't like whining bores. You
think you're better than America, then offer a competing vision that can
grab the world's attention. DON'T WHINE.
So now UK Telegraph tells that when HMS Westminster went off to
Libya, it had exactly four SAM rounds. Since the Seawolf missiles are fired
in pair, it could have defended itself against precisely two targets. Is
this the right time to utter a 'Cor Blimey?
0230 November 23, 2011
US growth slips, Spain bonds at new highs, US deficit super-committee fails.
Kris Humphries, 72-day husband to Kim Kardashian, called her "fat".
Syrian troops fire on Turkish pilgrimage bus, International Criminal Court
concedes Libya's jurisdiction over Saif Gadaffi, Egyptian military makes
soothingly unconvincing noises to Tahir square demonstrators
49-year British wife falls over balcony railing in Tenerife hotel, luckily
her ankle gets caught in another balcony's railing. After rescue, husband
and wife are given lecture on safe sex by police.
Even more unimportant news
Sui Kyi to run for Burma parliament; Pakistan ambassador to US resigns;
alleges the memo sent to US asking for Washington's help in dislodging
Pakistan Army Chief/ISI Chief was planted by Pakistan Army to weaken
Pakistani President, Bahrain Government report commissioned by King concedes
some cases of overreaction in putting down pro-democracy protesters.
American frat pledge busted by security cameras after he tosses 16 dead
ducks inside the front hall of a rival frat, will be charged by police.
Absolutely, totally unimportant news
Banks ask European Central Bank for $333-billion in emergency funds, worst
hit since 2009, indicating they cannot get credit elsewhere.
Tiger wood's Number 1 mistress, 36, marries boy toy chef, 26.
You call this news?
From Xinhua of China: "The Greek public debt has risen to 360.379 billion
euros (487.12 billion U.S. dollars), or 165.3 percent of GDP by the end of
September, the Greek Finance Ministry announced on Tuesday. The figure was
seven percent higher than three months ago, and 23.6 percent more than that
of the same period last year."
is news Suspected that Kate "Mother-of-Eight" Gosselin has had
all real news items courtesy of UK Daily Mail, the world's greatest
Letter from RS
I am unsure why you advocate drowning lobbyists. Do you advocate drowning
doctors who provide medical care to politicians just because you don't like
Reader RS has a point.
0230 GMT November 22, 2011
Pizza is a vegetable? Has US gone starkers?
So first you have pizza lobbyists trying to get pizza declared a vegetable
on the basis that tomato paste is made from a vegetable, which it is not,
because tomato is a fruit. Your typical pizza lobbyist is so devoid of a
mind he can't even figure that out. The reason for this
"pizza-as-a-vegetable" push is that then pizza need not be be kicked off the
"healthy" school lunch menus US has mandated.
Okay, so here you have pizza lobby wanting to feed at the public trough,
because school lunches are paid for by us benighted taxpayers. But this
development is matched by Yum Brands, a fast food chain, that wants
permission to accept food stamps.
But second, there is a larger issue here. Why are schools serving lunches in
the first place? How can a school lunch, no matter how "healthy" compare to
a home made lunch put together by Dad or Mom? Especially in these
financially difficult times, schools should be focusing every penny on
education, not on school lunches.
Aha, some will say. One function of school lunches and breakfasts is to make
sure less well-off kids eat, because a hungry kid is not a
learning-receptive kid. Fair enough. But why is the State taking over the
functioning of providing breakfasts and lunches? Add that money to the
subsidies given to lower-income families and let them do the needful.
Oh but we can't be sure that the parent(s) will be responsible. In which
case we have a suggestion: lets take away children from their parents the
minute children are born, and let the state bring them up. All public
schools can become boarding schools, and children will be locked up 24/365
till they are of legal age so that there is no chance irresponsible parents
can harm them. Come to think of it, a great deal of harm can be done to an
unborn child, so the second a woman gets preggers, she will have to be
seized and locked into a government facility - we can build additional
floors for the schools to accommodate them - where the government will make
sure they have a healthy pregnancy.
Come on, people, its time this nonsense is stopped. Lobbyists should be
taken and drowned in the Anacostia River - cheaper than shooting or hanging
them. And breakfasts and lunches should be returned to where they belong, to
[Point of clarifications: some Americans think "gone starkers" when one
means "gone bonkers" is incorrect, as "starkers" means without clothes. No,
no, and no. You can say "he was starkers" to indicate he was without
clothes. But "gone starkers" means gone crazy, as in "stark raving
[In case readers are wondering way we're using "without clothes" when we
mean "n****": in New England, "n****" is a word that creates lust, and us
New Englanders don't do lust. Having lust in your heart definitely counts as
a demerit when old St. Peter does the tally before sending you down the down
We sincerely hope the scoundrelless (that's female scoundrel) who accused
Justin Beiber of fathering her child goes to jail. First, she was an adult
and Justin was not of consenting age when this encounter took place. Now you
know and we know that it is the dream of every teenage boy to be seduced by
his ultra-hot teacher or Mom's Hot Best Friend. But if you're going to put
men away for messing with below age females, you have to be fair and do the
same thing for women who transgress. Remember Title VII?
But what is really, really bad, is that Justin has been saying he's never
met the woman. And now it emerges that the child in question is another
man's, and the mother has been lying through her toffers. No, the results of
the DNA test haven't come in. The woman has been ratted out by people and by
emails asking people to cover up who the real daddy is.
We're not quite sure why this affair should make us so angry. But it does.
and we're sure it's the Main Stream Media's fault. Everything is. We've
often wondered when The Old Boy caught Eve with the Apple why she didn't
deny everything and blame the MSM.
In case the authorities have trouble punishing this child molester, we have
a suggestion. Editor till very recently subbed at two middle schools,
Newport Mills Middle and Silver Springs International, in Montgomery County.
He had to stop subbing there because the little darlings are so out of
control they give Editor elevated blood pressure and at his age getting
elevated BP is not a priority. What we suggest is this woman be driven to
either school, the doors locked, and the adults withdrawn a safe distance.
After the middle school girls are done with this woman, there won't be
enough of anything left for a funeral.
0230 GMT November 21, 2011
Libyan ex-spy chief captured
He was the last major regime figure on the loose. No ICC for him. They'll be
hanging him ASAP. And it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
That the Egyptian army has zero sense and is headed for a fall has become
increasing clear over the past few month, as the generals try to sidetrack
the revolution. After trying everything else, the revolutionaries returned
to Tahir square, where the police - backed by the army - thoughtfully killed
twelve and wounded 1000 over the weekend. The demonstrations have spread to
Suez and Alexandria.
Where does the US stand? Washington will say it is working behind the
scenes. Actually, one part of Washington has been suffering acute stomach
pains followed by many rushes to the latrines since the Islamists have
become prominent - which of course another part of Washington knew would
happen and has been working to co-opt the Islamists.
But unless Washington moves very rapidly to send its running dogs, the
Egyptian generals, back to the barracks, and accept its fave generals are
going to get arrested and out on trial, America's credibility in the Arab
Spring is going to get so low we'll be having tea with the Kangas in Oz.
There's no wiggle room for the US at all, not even a little bit. The
Egyptian army has gone back on its promises to the people, and the people do
not trust it anymore - and particularly not after this fresh explosion of
As for the Egyptian generals thinking they can hold on to power - sorry, old
buddies old pals. wrong country, wrong time. Leave Egypt while you can.
Yes, the generals will undoubtedly manage to suppress this current uprising.
For a few weeks. After that its going to be downhill, and if the generals
dont go, its going to be Syria all over again.
Also please to note that after the police cleared Tahir Square using live
ammunition, Sunday night the protesters came right back. We hope the
generals are taking note. And if they decide to tell their troops to fire on
demonstrators, then they will be out of jobs that much sooner. The police
has a stake in the old regime: thousands of them are facing arrest and trial
for their misdeeds under Mubarak. But the army ahs already once refused to
attack demonstrators, that was during the anti-Mubarak demonstrators. That's
what bought Mubarak down. So we wonder why the generals think it will be any
different this time around.
Dutch and windmills fall out
Sounds like the end of the world, because after all, the Dutch ARE
windmills. But not the new kind. (a) Environmental opposition to the giant
machines is building; and (b) Netherlands government's austerity program
cuts out subsidies for windmills.
The environmental problem is acute in Europe, particularly small countries
like Holland and England. In the latter country people are going bats
because the monsters are up to 410-feet high and ruin the view. Ditto
Holland. In US its different because we have so much empty space. of course,
its possible that Texas gophers also object to having windmills in their
yards, but since they don't have a lobby in Congress, it doesn't matter what
Among the companies supported by the Bush AltEnergy initiative is one which
was building flywheels to store wind power. The technology works fine, but
the company is in the dumps - we're not sure why.
BTW, the Dutch are not in financial trouble as you might think since they
are tightening their belts. Many countries are doing that because they don't
want any whiff of trouble to attach to them. Poland is another country that
is tightening up entirely on its own.
Newt's Dollar Bonanza
Much to our amazement, no one has made anything of the revelations that
Newtie Newt fed at the public trough and stole $1.8-million of the public
money acting as a consultant for Freddie Mac. Like all theft in Washington
DC, it was all done legally, of course. Now comes the news that in the last
eight years he has made $37-million "consulting" for health care companies.
Newt's center the idea that every earner above $50,000 be required to buy
insurance or post a bond. And then people call Obama a Communist.
We wonder what other money Newt made as a super-lobbyist.
BTW, we want to share a little secret with our readers. Individual Americans
may well be aghast at the notion the Government can force them to buy health
insurance. But guess who wants Government mandated health care? The health
insurance companies, of course. ObamaCare is going to expand their pool by
another 50-million people. Its not visions of sugar plums dancing, its
visions of dollars dancing.
And still further - but this you know - guess who secretly supports
ObamaCare. Big Business. Yup, because they will now stop offering health
insurance to their workers. Its cheaper to pay the $2,000 fine than pay
$8000 or more for a family of four.
This is one reason we don't like to get into debates about the Bad Democrats
or the Bad Republicans or whatever. Every last one of the people in power in
this country are corrupt to the core. Big Business makes gazzillions of
dollars BECAUSE of government. Some people are just very open about their
corruption, like Chicago Democrats. Others are a bit more subtle about it,
like GOP Presidential Candidate Newt.
Oh yes: which state gets the most federal money? No, no, no people, it is
not the Washington DC region. It is - hold your breath - the great freedom
loving state of Texas.
0230 GMT November 20, 2011
The ICC and Saif Gadaffi
we confess to total bafflement by the International criminal Court's demand
that Said Gadaffi, captured yesterday, be handed over. The ICC seems to base
its case on two points. One, that he might meet his father's fate. Two, the
ICC has a warrant for him and Libya is duty-bound to hand him over.
Taking the second point first, so while Editor was napping did Earth
suddenly acquire a world government that supersedes the laws of individual
nations? The ICC has a right to demand service of its warrant if the man is
caught outside Libya. But inside Libya, the law of the legitimate government
must take precedence.
Right, there is no Libyan Government at this time. But the tribesmen who
have his custody say they will turn him over only when there is a
government. Sounds to us the tribesmen want to save him from vigilante
justice, which is dashed sporting of them considering.
Next, where does the charter of the ICC say that if a danger exists that a
legitimate government mistreats a citizen person for whom ICC has a warrant,
the person has to be handed over to the Court? So what comes next? ICC
knowing full well that terrorists seized by the US will be brutally
tortured, will issue warrants for them and demand the US hand them over? ICC
will issue warrants against President Obama because OBL, like Gadaffi, was
served vigilante justice? ICC is making no sense.
The point of the ICC is to intervene when an illegitimate government is
committing crimes against humanity and the government's citizens have no
recourse. But Libya does have a recourse - when the country gets a
government, of course. ICC should stay out of this.
US unlikely to reach debt agreement by deadline
i.e., by Thanksgiving, which is four days away. Given that in 2013 automatic
cuts to all programs start, we don't see why US politicians would expend
political capital in coming to any deal. There's all kinds of vague threats
if a deal is not reached the US will be downgraded again. does anyone think
the politicians care? There's other threats US will look like blithering
idiots in front of the rest fo the world, especially after telling the
Europeans to get their act together. Do the politicians care if the US looks
like blithering idiots? There are other prophecies saying Congress, whose
approval rating is 9%, must act to preserve itself otherwise the people will
vote the poltroons out. Okay, and then the people will vote another bunch of
So basically we are not impressed by all the predications of doom, gloom,
and chaos if the US doesn't reach a deficit reduction deal. And we're not
even sure how badly Americans want a reduction deal right now, seeing as
they have the shining example of the Euro economies on their way to
recession because of tax increases and budget cuts.
Turkish papers outlines possible Syria intervention
Could this be a trial balloon or a warning to Assad of Syria? Turkish papers
are saying that while Turkey will never intervene to change the regime, if
things worsen it might consider a no-fly zone adjacent to its border because
it doesn't want more refugees. It would also use the zone to protect
opposition groups. Turkey's other concerns are that the crisis could
destabilize the region and lead to war.
Comment from Major A.H. Amin on our write-up on the Pakistan dust-up
regarding an approach the Government made to Washington asking for help in
dealing with General Kayani.
Major Amin, whose articles we sometimes carry, feels that the Editor being
and Indian is partial to General Kayani because Indians find it easier to
deal with Pakistani military dictators than the country's civilian
Before replying, we have to note that its quite common for Indians to say
exactly what Major Amin is saying. At least when Editor was last in India
twenty-one years ago Indians use to say it.
Editor has no idea if they are still saying that, and if they are, they must
be a bunch of blithering idiots. It was a stupid thing to say in the past,
now it is even more stupid.
India and Pakistan have fought not three wars as some people think, but
five. Of these only one started when Pakistan was under a civilian
government, 1947-48. The 1965, 1971, 1999, and the terror war were all
started when Pakistan was under military rule. The almost war in 2002 also
came when Pakistan was under military rule.
Yes, the terror war was continued under Pakistani civilian leaders - Mrs.
Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. But did they have any choice? after all, then as
now the military ruled whatever was Pakistan's notational government.
There is a very widely accepted school of thought in India that were
Pakistan to develop strong civilian institutions, conflict between the two
countries could be greatly reduced. The Pakistan Army is seen as
perpetuating the Indo-Pakistan conflict as a way of maintaining its hold on
the country and as a way of doing just as it darn well wants without
civilian interference. It is to this school Editor belongs - not to
Pakistani Military Dictators are Easy To Get Along With school, because
manifestly that is not true. These gentlemen are dangerous, erratic,
vengeful, narrow-minded etc etc.
Maybe things have changed and maybe Indians love Pakistani generals. Editor
has not been back for 21 years so he cannot be included in whatever has
changed since then. And while he was in India no one listen to him anyway,
so what he thought was of no consequence.
Even the neighbor's dog in Delhi didn't listen to the Editor. If he was
outside when Editor and Mrs. R IV were walking to the market, he would
follow, and refuse to go home despite any number of whackings he got. People
on the street would be aghast at the whackings, What they didn't understand
is that the dog took them as a sign of true affection because his owners
just ignored him, and no amount of reasoning with him would get him to go
home. The poor fellow got distemper and died. Very sad.
0230 GMT November 19, 2011
US Successfully Tests Hypersonic Global Strike
The missile, travelling at more than Mach 5 hit its target 3000-km away
after a 30-minute flight. oddly, this particular vehicle is being developed
by the US Army.
Please to note there are several hypersonic vehicles under development. One
is the DARPA's HTV-2, which failed in one test in 2010 and was partially
successfully in 2011. That baby flies at Mach 20. USAF is also developing
Talking about these things, Editor has been reading Nick Cook's "The Search
for Zero Point", and he brings up a point: how on earth does the B-2 get
into the air? Compared to the B-52, engine-wise, this feller is downright
90-lb weakling. B-52 at normal loaded weight uses 1-lb thrust to put 1.8-lbs
of aircraft into the sky. But B-2 uses 1-lb thrust to put 4.6-lbs of
airplane into the sky. It has to be that something about the wing that
actually reduces the effect of gravity. Not quite anti-gravity, but there's
something very odd about this plane.
US is supposed a country that can keep no secrets, but personally Editor has
found US does quite well at keeping secrets when it wants to.
And further talking of these things, we didn't realize the F-22 is still in
though at the tail end. We hope someone is working on extending the
production run now that the PLAAF has a sort-of-stealth and the Russians
with the Indians are developing an F-22 analog, the PAK-FA. It had its first
flight last year. Now, we're not suggesting India is a threat to the US, but
Sukhoi projects a market of 600 aircraft outside Russia and India. That is,
the aircraft will be available to anyone who wants to buy it. The plane will
enter squadron service in 2016 - more like 2018 the way these things go, and
okay, so its not going to be equivalent to the F-22, which continues being
upgraded. Still, F-22 is not going to have the skies to itself soon enough.
Yes, yes, there's the theory that except for supercruise F-35 has everything
F-22 has and its cheaper. But F-22 is 7-tons heavier at normal take-off.
Okay, so it has two engines instead of one, but this suggests F-22 can carry
more by way of electronics, weapons, etc. And supercruise has its uses.
India almost-ICBM test in February 2012
This will be Agni V, a 3-stage missile. We misspoke the other idea when we
called the 3000-km Agni IV an ICBM. We somehow thought that was the ICBM but
fired at reduced range. We were sort of right, because Agni V adds a third
stage to an Agni IV. Agni 5 will become operational in 2014, and is still
technically short of ICBM range by 500-km. A longer range missile will
deliberately not be developed because India wants to make it clear Agni V is
solely a defensive deployment against China and it has no intention of
threatening any other part of the world.
US Harrier purchase update
defense News reports that the US Marines will not fly the British Harriers,
rather, they will be used for spare parts to keep the AV-8 fleet going till
2025, by when the Corps expects to have transitioned to an all F-35 fleet.
A British "Most-Wanted" Terrorist gets whacked in Pakistan
courtesy of the CIA's Little Plane That Could. So the family back in UK is
taking this badly because its the second son they've lost to drone attack.
Hmmmm. There is a very simple way to stop your son from being killed by the
CIA. If he won't listen to you and stay law-abiding, turn him in to the
authorities. They'll straighten him out, he'll live, and there's every
chance you'll see him again in a decade or two.
Tough choice? Sure. But this Pakistani family either chose not to make it or
couldn't bring itself to make it. Now its paying the price.
The Pakistan Coup Crisis
We've been staying out of this because frankly we don't think its Editor's
business or India's business. Purely an internal matter, as the press flacks
say. But we think we should comment on it, because it shows why Pakistan is
not successful as a nation.
Short story put shortly: after US killed OBL, the Pakistan civil government
sent word to Admiral Mullen that it was afraid the military was going to
stage a coup. If America would help, the Pakistan civil government would
take out General Kayani, Army Chief, and the ISI chief, and it would turn
over various AQ and Taliban people wanted by the US, like Mullah Omar and
the Haqqanis, and it would cut ties with the Taliban etc etc.
Admiral Mullen says yes, he did see the message but didn't take it
And he was absolutely right to, and that he did not proves the point that we
make again and again: US actually does understand what goes in Pakistan and
it knows the Pakistanis inside out.
Admiral Mullen was right because this was nothing more than a very cynical
attempt by President Zardari, who exists at the pleasure of the Army Chief -
as has been the case for every civilian leader since the 1950s - to get the
US to do something he can't, which is to remove the army chief.
In other words, Zardari was willing to sell out Pakistan for his personal
gain, repeating a pattern that has existed in North West India for
millennia. (Editor is from NW India, so this a mea culpa.) Us NW Indians are
always looking to involve foreigners in our local affairs, to gain some
ephemeral advantage or the other. In fact, Editor has gone as far as saying
that the real patriots in India before Independence were the Bengalis, who
of course us NW Indians make fun of as weak and un-martial. (This opinion
did not elicit a happy reaction from many Indians, but folks, facts are
facts. Read your history.)
Now hold your horses you say: Sell out Pakistan? But wasn't Zardari
promising to put Pakistan on the right course by getting rid of the
terrorists and so on?
We repeat: the head of Pakistan tried to sell out his country. See, you and
I might think that Pakistan's tight embrace of terrorists of several ilks is
the wrong course. But first, Pakistan has chosen the terrorist strategy as a
logical weapon against its very much stronger neighbor, who it regards as an
existential threat to its existence. Second, it is for the Pakistanis to
decide what is the right policy for them, not for you and I. If Zardari
thinks its the wrong policy, he has to figure out how to change it, and get
the Pakistani people behind him, not for him to call in a foreign power.
Yes, this would be lonely furrow to hoe and all that, but Tough Tootsie
Rolls, Did the Germans who opposed Hitler have it easy? Did the Czechs and
the Hungarians have it easy? Do the Syrians have it easy?
Still further, Zardari's offer was something he had no ability to deliver.
Its not as if you remove General Kayani and all is well. The next senior
general will take over. That's not complicated, is it.
And how precisely was the US to remove Kayani and the ISI chief? Send UAVs
Where Zardari really messed up was in trying to convince the USA that
General Kayani was planning a coup and the US had to preempt him. The US and
General Kayani share a bed - albeit a large one with a sword in between
them. but if there is anyone who knows better than the Pakistanis what
Kayani is thinking, its the Americans. And they knew jolly well General K.
was planning no coup.
So, you say, General K. is not selling out Pakistan to the Americans? Yes
and no. He could tell the Americans to get out and take the consequences.
The Army benefits from its alliance with the Americans. But that the
Americans would make Pakistan suffer if they were kicked out is not in
doubt. And General Kayani has done his uttermost to give the US as little as
he possibly can.
Whatever you think of him. General Kayani is a patriotic Pakistani.
President Zardari is simply for sale to the highest bidder. And he's made a
very bad mistake with this approach to the US. General K. neither forgives
nor forgets. Of course Zardari stays only as long as is convenient to
General Kayani. But now that General K has seen the snake he has been
nurturing at his bosom, so as to speak, Editor''s guess is Zardari may soon
find it expedient to enjoy his houses in London and Europe, before General K
decides to put Zardari on trial for any one of the hundred massive scams to
loot Pakistan the man has run, and continues to run.
0230 GMT November 18, 2011
Spain and France both took a beating. Yesterday new issue Spanish 10-year
bonds went for 6.975%, a whopping 1.5% above what it paid just a month ago,
and just a hair short of that supposed Point Of No Return, 7%. French
10-year bonds were at 3.636, which sounds good, till you realize German
10-year bonds are at 1.76%. That's half the French rate.
So what's happening is this: France is telling Berlin that unless the
European Central Bank starts printing Euros and buying debt - as much as 3-4
trillion worth, Euro and Europe are going to go down the potty. This
printing money is, of course, what we did in the US when we got into
trouble. The Germans are saying No Way Jose or whatever their equivalent
expression is, because (a) printing money means inflation and you won't get
agreement from us even if we're dead; and (b) You all - France, Spain,
Portugal, Italy, Greece etc - are a bunch of lousy lazy freeloading bums
whose spending is out of control and you'd better cut, cut again, and cut
some more after that (sound familiar?).
As the Euro plea that if they keep cutting they will get into recession and
riots, Berlin says "Tough Tootsie Rolls" or whatever the equivalent German
expression is. You have to be aware that Germany in the last 10 years
tightened its belt, cut spending, reduced protections for labor and so and
on, which is why the German economy has been going great guns, so as far as
the Germans are concerned, its time for the other Euros to swallow their
The other Euros are saying "If you don't cooperate, your export markets will
collapse, because guess where we were buying from when we were overspending?
We were buying from you."
The Germans are singing "We will not be moved" or its German equivalent.
Meanwhile the British are unhappy because if the Euro contagion spreads
further, the British banks that are holding whacking great sums of European
loans are going to go down the Thames. We're told the Thames is a lot
cleaner than it used to be, but glugging Thames water is not what you want
to do after you've been drinking Dom Perignon. (Editor drinks tap water, so
he has no sympathy for British bankers.) So that's why the Britis are in a
foul mood about the Germans because as far as London is concerned, the
Germans are standing smack in the middle of Europe in their stubborn,
sausage, and lederhosen sort of way and not giving a darn about anyone
including the Brits.
And the Germans are saying "You know what? You're absolutely right. We don't
give a darn about you or anyone else."
Berlo is plotting a return
That's all we can tell you because we know no more. Before he left office,
reader Luxembourg tells us. Berlo released an album of love songs. Message
to Berlo from Editor: "We defended you when you caught flak for saying you'd
slept with 8 women in one night, mainly because we know you had a jolly good
snooze while the women went home, but this album of love songs is totally
tasteless. You're seventy-five years old, good buddy. You've got to stop
making an exhibition of yourself."
And if that wasn't bad enough, we had Piper Laurie (who we thought was the
cutest thing) telling America that when she slept with President Reagan
(during his starlet days) he kept boasting about what a great lover she was,
and when she said she wasn't satisfied with his performance he said there
had to be something wrong with her and she needed to see a doctor. Thank
goodness Prez Reagan is dead, we don't know how we could have stood the
embarrassment had he been alive. But what's the matter with everyone? Why do
they have to share this information with everyone? When Mrs. R. IV announced
she'd been faking it for decades, did Editor tell the whole world about her
complaint? Of course not. He has some dignity, thank goodness.
We've been deliberately avoiding the subject because we were hoping people
who say "Why do we need the F-35, there's no potential enemy who can near
match what we have right now" would have seen the light by now.
People, aircraft are machines. No matter how lovingly you maintain them -
and US military does a great job, we have to say - and no matter how much
you upgrade them, like any machine they run down. F-16, for example, was
built for 8,000 flying hours and now has been extend to 13,000, or 30-years,
and that is a whacking large number of hours. You can't just keep extending
the thing. Okay, the B-52s are going to end up at 80-years of service when
they finally fly into the sunset, but (a) the thing is built like a tank;
and (b) it does not do low-level, high-g flying.
As it is the US cut the F-22 from a 750 planned buy to 110, and cut the B-2
from a 132 to twenty-one. BTW, please note if we had 100 B-2s today, US
could put 4000 1000-lb precision guided bombs on target in one
sortie. we wouldn't be sitting here saying "ooooh, we can't whack DPRK and
we can't whack Iran and we can't whack Syria" if we'd had the full monty
B-2s. The people who cancelled the B-2 thought they were being very clever.
Lets not make the same mistake again. Tomorrow when China has 300 stealth
fighters people are going to be weeping wailing about the lost F-22s. Okay,
we know the existing F-22 fleet can known down the entire PLAAF without
losing one aircraft, and that China Stealth is going to be kind of pathetic,
but why do we want to be taking these chances?
Please to note 10,000 F-86 Sabres alone were produced and the plane was in
US front line service for less than 10-years. And US had boat-loads of other
aircraft (10,000 if for all air forces). Of course, the plane cost
$2-million in today's money. Anyway.
Letter on Washington lobbyists from reader Mark E
11/17/11 entry mentions the D.C. “feeding trough.” I wanted to tell you
this: I was born and raised in D.C. (yes, one of the few). Since I was
born in 1943, I remember vividly the acres of “temporary” government
buildings that sat unoccupied for years after WW2.
And since I grew up near downtown, I also remember the K St. area skyline of
3-story walkups and flophouses. But I left D.C. in my late teens, never to
return as a resident. A few years ago I came back and visited family for
about ten days and had time to revisit the City. What astounded me was how
the skyline north of Penn. Ave. was filled with gleaming 5-story office
buildings. It looked more like Paris than the rundown city of the forties
and fifties. Then it hit me! As far as the eye could see were LOBBYISTS.
The Capital, Senate and House office buildings, Supreme Court, Fed, Justice
Dept, etc hadn’t changed much. But the LOBBYISTS! What a sight! Big Oil,
big Pharma, big Retail, big Auto, big Unions, big Sierra Club, big
0230 GMT November 17, 2011
European Bond Yields
Doubtless readers are slapping their heads and asking: "Why do I need to
know this?". But these days the global economy is strategic issue Number
One. For one thing, if Europe gets into worst trouble, US economy also takes
a hit; already many American analysts think a second recession is
inevitable. That will affect domestic stability. The first recession has
been really rough on people, another recession, this time with Europe is
super-crisis is not going to be met with same passivity Americans dealt with
For another thing, expect further major cuts in Euro defense spending
because almost without exception the Euro governments have to tighten belts,
and defense is one place that in Europe these days at least, is easy to cut.
Of course, you may ask what precisely are they going to cut, seeing as very
few countries meet the 2% GDP on defense NATO guideline. But that's another
Getting a hold on the US deficit is going to become a lot harder is the US
economy heads for a second recession, and like it or not, the US defense
budget is going to come under very severe pressure.
So: back to Euro bond yields.
If you look at the figures (which surprisingly not in one place, we had to
do a lot of searching to get them all, you'll see what the problem is:
10-year bonds 11/16/2011 (%) GR 28.7; PO 11.3; IR 8.2; IT 7; SP 6.4; BE 4.9;
FR 3.65; PRC 3.6; NE 2.44; UK 2.2; US 2.02; JAP 2.02; GER 1.84.
First, America, you are no longer considered the best bet. Germany pays less
for its 10-year bonds than we do. Admittedly that is a big simplification,
but who would have figured - say four years ago - that our bonds would not
be considered safest.
Second, look at Greece. If you thing 28% is an absurd rate, you're right. No
one can pay that rate. European Central Bank can huff, puff, do what it
likes, but Greece is history. BTW, in the middle of October the yields on
Greek 1-year bonds reached 188%.
The Greek PM won a vote of confidence 255 out of 300 seats, and the media
says this shows that the way is clear for the PM to push through even
tougher austerity measures. As if. Don't for a minute think the Greek people
have agreed for the government to tighten the vice even tighter. This whole
thing could fall apart any day.
US-Australia deal on Marines
Two hundred and fifty Marines will start rotating every six months through
Darwin, Australia next year, that's a company with logistical support and a
few helicopters. The number will gradually increase to 2500 by 2016, which
is a battalion air-ground team.
The Chinese pride themselves on the subtlety of their diplomacy. Here are
some quotes from them which show just how subtle they are:
"'If Australia uses its military bases to help the US harm Chinese
interests, then Australia itself will be caught in the crossfire";
"Australia surely cannot play China for a fool. It is impossible for China
to remain detached, no matter what Australia does to undermine its
security''; "...the US was trying to use Australia to contain China in a
''pincer'' movement. He said it would be a historical setback if the US was
trying to provoke a ''21st-century new Cold War''." These three quotes are
Definitely us Americans are too crude to be anywhere near as sophisticated
as the Chinese.
What precisely is bothering the Chinese is a bit difficult to see. China's
GDP is approaching $6-trillion, and it spends less than 2% of that on
defense. Even with the global slowdown, and an expected China slowdown, its
GDP should rise to $12-trillion by 2025. Four percent of that would be
half-a-trillion dollars, four times what China spends now. China will be
outspending the US in the Pacific. By the time 2025 rolls around, the way
the US is going, we'll be lucky to have 8 carrier battle groups, 8 army
divisions, two Marine divisions, and 10-12 tactical fighter wings - for the
Subtle message to Beijing from someone who is on the American side: "Take a
chill pill, homey".
Newt Gingrich took $2-million
as a consultant to Freddie Mac (Washington Post, Bloomberg says $1.6- to
1.8-million). After his contract ended in 2008. Newt became a critic of
government sponsored enterprises.
We repeat again: whether its Democrat pigs or GOP pigs, they all want to
feed at the public trough. When is America going to realize everyone
politician and businessperson is an opportunist in this country, as are
lobbying groups including non-profit groups who claim to represent the
(True Confession time: if Editor was getting his, he wouldn't be
UK Telegraph's Matt Cartoon
The protagonist wife has caught him in bed with another woman: "Darling...I
can explain. It's all the Euro's fault".
US Navy to buy mothballed British Harriers
As part of its military drawdown, the British withdrew their Harriers from
service and put them in store. US Navy wants all 74 of them plus available
stores of spares for the Marine Corps. The USN expects to get the recently
upgraded jets at bargain prices, and says the conversion to US standards is
easily made. The Marines will use the Harriers to replace some of their
F-18Ds which need to be retired. And the Harriers provide a hedge against
further F-35 delays.
India successfully test-fires Agni IV ICBM
The last test, December 2010, failed. This one succeeded at 3,000-km range.
when operational Agni IV will give India all-China coverage. The Chinese
have, of course, for years had all-India coverage.
Incidentally, the 17-ton, 800-kg payload missile was launched from a truck.
Prime Minister of Indian state of Uttar Pradesh proposes a division into
UP has already been divided, in that the mountain districts were split into
a separate state and the eastern districts joined to another new state. even
the diminished UP is equal to one of the largest countries in the world,
population wise. So it does need to be split.
But what we don't understand is - and hope readers can explain this - how
does splitting UP benefit the current Chief Minister, the amazingly corrupt
Ms. Mayawati? Why would she want to diminish her power?
0230 GMT November 16, 2011
"My Little Cesspool"" Reader Luxembourg in Chicago
Local CBS station, Channel 2 Chicago had a report about Huffington's new
book "How to Overthrow the Government." It details all the insider trading
that people in Congress do. Chief among them was Chicago's new Mayor/Glory
Boy/Media Darling/Democrat/former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel.
Rahm served on the boards of Fannie Mae/Freddy Mac, cashed in his chips
right before they imploded for a nice bundle of change, and I believe he
also got a couple of pensions out of it too. Low life has been living off
the public trough his whole life, was the guy who pushed the Solyndra
billions down the toilet, same guy who last week proposed a $1,200 fine for
weeds in Chicago. The Chicago Way. Our Fearless Leader is well schooled in
it. Madigan has been Speaker forever, working on his 5th Governor, he's
really the Governor, top of the list for a prison cell - except his daughter
Lisa Madigan is the Illinois Atty General. Convenient huh ? My Lil cesspool.
My property taxes have doubled in the last 5 years like yours. County
Treasurer didn't even try to hide it, sent an insert with the bill unfunded
pensions. State, County and City employees - union-loyal Democrat votes.
We were discussing Congressional wheeling dealing, lobbyists, pay-offs and
the like with a Washington insider the other day. Insider merely expressed
amusement at our outrage. This is a summary of what he said.
Life is about competing interests, whether you're talking of your marriage,
your children, your boss, your local government, your Congress,
international alliances, whatever. if everyone stood on principle, what
would you get? No need to guess, because we're already there. You'd get
gridlock. Life is about compromises. The compromises that Congresspersons
have to make have been compared to making sausages: the product may be
yummy, but the making would, frankly, lead you to puke.
Previously the sausage-making process was hidden from Congress in that the
work of the committees was not publicized. So you, as Jane and John Q
Public, got mainly to hear about the debate when bills came to the floor.
But they came to the floor after the real work had been done behind the
scenes. As a consequence of Watergate, the American people demanded
transparency from Congress. The got it. And the Law of Unintended
Consequences took over. Since the people are now exposed to the
sausage-making, the deals they can cut have become fewer and fewer. The
internet has led to a situation where the minute your Congressperson does
something some constituents don't like, a campaign is immediately launched
to punish the heretic.
The citizens influencing Congress are by no means the majority. The majority
accepts compromise. The citizens who get after their Congressperson are the
activists, and their views, ignorance, and passion rule.
There is NO Democrat who doesn't realize the Age of Entitlement is over.
There is NO Republican who doesn't realize taxes have to be raised.
Congresspeople are far from stupid; it takes a great deal of smarts just to
get elected. But in this age of transparency and the Internet, both sides
are being held hostage by their activists. The activists do not represent
the will of the majority. They represent their own interests, which may
be ideological purity, or downright dirty self-serving. The majority is
willing to accept more taxes and entitlement cuts. The activists on both
sides are having nothing to do with compromise, the dirtiest of all dirty
Because the activists bring passion and ignorance to the table, they shape
not just the debate, but also the vote.That's why nothing is getting done.
And you, Mr. Editor, are one of those ideological activists when it comes to
American foreign policy. You don't want to compromise. Bomb North Korea.
Whack Iran. Hang Assad of Syria. Execute terrorists on capture. Abandon
Israel. Double defense spending and station five carrier battlegroups in the
China Seas, as was the case in Second Indochina. Snatch Chinese satellites
from space. Drone Al-Shabab. Embargo Venezuela till Chavez falls.
Destabilize Evo of Bolivia. Machinegun anyone who crosses America's borders
except with valid papers presented at a customs entry point. Impose 200%
countervailing duties on Chinese imports. Mr. Editor, uou're as much as
problem as those you criticize for the gridlock.
(In case you're wondering which Editor the Washington Insider is referring
to, it is yours truly. Editor doesn't say these things because he doesn't
want to be to the extreme right of the American right, and lose whatever
credibility he has. Of course, readers will say anyone who can never get a
date for any day of the week has no credibility to begin with, because there
is no person anywhere in the world who doesn't get any date at all.
(Editor's request to readers: lets not get personal and abusive here,
So there you have it, folks. Doubtless graft and grift is more open in
Chicago than most other places. But East, West, South, or North of Eden,
little town, big town, metropolis, your town's governing body or the office
of the US president (ditto the rest of the world) everything is drowned in
corruption. Its the human condition. What is to be done? Editor has no idea.
Occupy Wall Street
Being one of the 99%, Editor has a certain sympathy with the Occupy lot.
Still, as someone pointed out to us, why were occupy people being given a
pass from permits and other such stuff, and what is this camping business
when they're creating a major public nuisance. Etc.
New York cleaned out Zucotti Park yesterday 1 AM. Occupy challenged in
court, court ruled for the city. Mayor Bloomberg says demonstrators can
return, but not to camp. Even though Bloomberg is one of the 1%, we have to
admit this is reasonable. After all, Occupy don't own the places they
occupy, and others are deprived of the use of the parks.
Zucotti, we learned, is actually private property. Presumably the owner, a
reality company, is one of the 1% - a building in downtown Manhattan has got
to cost several tens of millions. So this was pretty decent of them to let
protesters use their property till now, at least.
With the exception of Oakland, the authorities have gone out of their way to
avoid violence. This is quite remarkable given we are talking of American
authorities. In a strange sort of way we suspect that (a) even the
authorities have sympathy with the demonstrators, and (b) after the Arab
spring even Americans are cautious about clubbing demonstrators and so on.
One New York Occupier said the clamp-down was good, because now five
volunteers would come for every one previously present. We don't think so,
because people are not banned from demonstrating, no heads were broken, and
The other peculiar thing is we read a lot of people and hear some saying:
"Occupy has made its point, now what do they propose to do to change things?
Why are they not organizing political campaigns and so on, because after
all, that's the way things are changed in America." Americans are
essentially a practical people, and really have no time for romantic
anarchists. The whole Self-Improvement thing in America is all about: "You
have a problem that bugs you? Work to change it."
Just imagine: American professor finds attractive people get paid more and
are more successful
So we're waiting for the study that discovers the sun rises in the east,
that chocolate taste good, and that death and taxes are inevitable. Of
course, it had to be UK Daily Mail that published the story. All its weird
stories on yesterday's front page are from America except one.
0230 GMT November 15, 2011
Greek conservatives refuse to sign austerity pledge
saying that while they support fiscal austerity, they reject anything that
makes Greece's current economic situation worse. The conservatives New
Democracy has 84 seats and its ally the Popular Orthodox has 16. That is 100
seats in a 300 person Parliament.
The conservatives have said they will join a national unity government with
the Greek Socialists (152 seats). But if they maintain their stance there
will be trouble, because many in the Socialists and other parties are also
against harsh economic policies dictated by Brussels. Its too early to tell
yet, but it is possible the Greek Parliament will reject the conditions of
the EU bail-out.
On the other side, the EU is absolutely adamant that Greece accept not just
harsh measures, but also observers who will intrusively monitor Greek
finances. While Greece could arrive at a situation where the current prime
minister feels new elections are neccessary to give him a mandate to rule -
and to impose Brussels-mandated measures, the EU is also adamant that these
measures be unilaterally accepted by Greece and not be subject to political
decisions. The EU has said if its conditions are not met as is, there will
be no bail out.
While the big bail out of 130-billion Euros is not due till January 2012, so
that theoretically there is time to work out a solution at home, a smaller
bailout of about 5-billion Euros is due in the next few weeks, and
presumably EU will withhold that if its demands are not met.
Please keep in mind this 130-billion Euro package is the second large bail
out. The first, 110-billion Euros, was agreed on in May 2010, and there has
been a constant pattern of EU bullying Greece at each step.
Will Greece's famous prickly pride get in the way of the bail-out? Are both
sides playing chicken to see who blinks first? - the failure of Greece will
be the end of the Eurozone as we know it, so the cunning Greeks may still
have some cards to play. Or is Greece so beaten down economically that it
will simply accept every humiliation the EU imposes? Stay tuned.
The EU is anti-democratic
What is truly horrifying about all this is that the EU has very clearly
implied it does not believe in democracy. At all costs it wants to avoid a
Greek referendum on the bail-out, which of course will become a referendum
on the European Union and which could well end very badly for the dream of a
united Europe. It has clearly stated that it has no time for the messy
process of people having their say and coming to a consensus. EU says its
bureaucrats know best, and Their Will Will Be Done - or else. The EU's stand
is all the more astonishing because the EU is composed of vibrant
democracies. They seem to have elected a supra-national body that has no
use for democracy.
It seems to us that the EU's position is counterproductive. It's all fine
and well to say: "We've all put too much into creation of the EU to have the
will of the people destroy the EU", but sooner or later people in the Union
will have their say. if the Greek people reject the EU's term, it is not as
if the Greek government can stage a coup and subordinate itself to Brussels.
The Greek government will have to obey the will of its people.
It seems to us better to allow democracy to arrive at a consensus -
frustrating, time-consuming, and down-right risky as the process may be, as
we well known in America. Ultimately it is a question of legitimacy. Right
now the EU is flirting with illegitimacy by refusing to let Greeks decide
for themselves. How can this be good for the long-term health of the EU?
Oh the irony of it all
if you have played the board game "Diplomacy", you will know how rapidly
Germany comes to dominate the board, and how it invariably loses, assuming
all plays are equally skilled. In fact, Editor can share with you that about
the only way to win the game is to play Britain, and you can sometimes win
if you play Russia.
The reason for Germany's rapid rise its strategic position in Central
Europe. The reason for its fall is that ultimately everyone comes to their
sense, forms unlikely alliances, and defeats Germany.
No experts on medieval European history we, but if you will permit a
simplification, the successor to the Roman Empire was the Holy Roman Empire,
a lethal combination of church and military power. The Holy Roman Empire
was, of course, dominated till its end by what became Germany. When France -
which had been one kingdom with Germany, broke off to become a major power,
France and Germany clashed and France was defeated thrice - Franco-Prussian
War, World War I and II.
When World War II broke, a very fed up world - which at the time really
meant US and Europe - decided Germany had to be put down once and for all.
Of course, if the US had stayed out of the European war, its quite possible
in Europe at least it would have been Deutschland Uber Alles.
Once Germany was defeated in 1945, the west at least decided it had to avoid
the mistakes of 1918. West Germany was not punished, it was rebuilt, but
this time it was placed into a tight alliance with the west. The idea was
for Germany not to be able to move in any direction because it had too much
to lose. When the USSR fell, Germany became reunified, and it became all the
important to lock Germany down.
But in the Year of Our Lord 2011, who is giving the marching orders in
Europe. Its Germany.
And Germany has even stopped pretending that it is in alliance with France.
It's made very clear if the worst comes to the worst, and the Euro
collapses, and a two-tier EU happens, France should not automatically assume
it will be part of the first tier. Austria, Finland, Netherlands will be
part of the first tier. Ring any bells, people?
If someone in 1945 had written a novel mirroring actual events of 1945-2011,
s/he would have been credited with a fantastic imagination. Truth can be
stranger than fiction. The rise of Germany - once again - to dominate Europe
is an example.
Please note, BTW, that this time, unlike in 1917 and 1941, there is no
Russia/Soviet Union to block Germany's rise to the East.
0230 GMT November 14, 2011
Chinese ratings agency warns of another possible US downgrade
Dagong Global Credit Rating a year ago downgraded the US from AA to A+. In
August it dropped the US to A. Now its is threatening to drop the US
Any normal American reading this news will be tempted to say "$#@&*$ China
and (*&^%$#@ Dagong, whoever they are". But look at how the US looks to the
rest of the world. We can't even get a national budget passed, plans to
reduce the deficit are gridlocked, and even if those plans passed, all they
would achieve is slow done the inexorable march to a Banana Republic like
level of debt. We're already at 100% of GDP, by the way, a distinction we
reached in August. For 2011, our budget deficit is 10%, which is definitely
Banana Republic Land. The world is beating up Italy, but its 2011 budget
deficit is 4%.
Now, of course as with any financial figures you can slice and dice anyway
you like to prove your pet point. So you can the US dollar is the world's
reserve currency, the Euro is not, so that when we issue more debt, we are
really just owing ourselves. Only a bit more than a quarter our debt is
owned by foreigners. Its not the same for Italy, where foreigners own about
half the debt (all figures approximate). Americans can further argue that if
the foreigners were to sell their holdings, where would they put the money?
Certainly the yen, yuan, and euro are not candidates for trillions of
dollars worth of bonds. Etc.
Okay, we can fudge the figures all we want, but can we at least concede the
possibility that foreigners looking at our debt will not look at it under
the most favorable set of parameters? Dagong is said to be an independent
ratings agency that does not take its cue from Communist Party of China
headquarters. and we can't even claim to be in Italy's position: with the
exception of interest, Italy runs a budget surplus. We are nowhere near that
Libya and Egypt
In case you're wondering, nothing particularly happy-making is happening in
Libya or Egypt. Libya is dividing along tribal lines (not unexpected), and
in Tripoli rival militias from time to time have a go at each other. You
have thousands of armed young men, seemingly answerable to no one, and the
prospect suffices to make anyone nervous. A national unity government has
still not been formed.
In Egypt the Army has made it clear it will not give up power, no matter
what the people want. Actually, the majority are still happy to support the
army, because they fear the chaos that true democracy will bring.
But again, none of this is any reason to worry. Revolutions take time to
play out. In Iraq, for example, but for the US troop presence, there would
have been a bloody civil war that might still be continuing.
After being told by the Arab League that it is being suspended, Damascus has
shifted to a 2-track policy. On the one hand, Arab embassies are being
attacked. Turkey is flying its diplomatic staff and nationals out. On the
other, the regime is telling the Arab League, no need to suspend us, lets
continue talking and we'll even agree to your stationing observers.
The problem is the AL moved only after Syria repeatedly refused to implement
its agreement with the AL which was intended to pave the way for a peaceful
resolution. Damascus is now worried that with the AL disowning Syria, the
way for international intervention could be open. So far Russia and China
have been covering president Assad's sorry behind at the UN, and blocking
strict action. But if the AL makes Syria a pariah, Moscow and Beijing are
going to be hard-pressed to defend Assad.
Reader Luxembourg sends the results of British studies suggesting
when men see a woman wearing very little they focus on her body and less on
What's really shocking about this is the implication that men have ANY focus
whatsoever on women's minds.
0230 GMT November 13, 2011
US Marines/Darwin, Australia
As far as we've been able to figure, USMC will use Darwin for training and
advance basing of equipment. If this is correct, we estimate less than 100
Marines will be permanently stationed at Darwin.
Former Assistant Secretary for State Roger Noriega
says according to his sources poor Hugo is going to cash in his chips for
sure, possibly in less than six months.
we were sad to learn our fave political playboy Bunga Bunga Berlo was forced
to leave via a side door of the Presidential Palace to escape a crowd of
thousands chanting "buffoon, buffoon." This is just so rude.
Meanwhile, though Italian Parliament has passed an austerity package,
well-known - and cynical - economist Nouriel Roubini says it will be evident
by the end of next year that the package is insufficient.
Also meanwhile, we learn Berlo's successor will get a salary of 25,000 Euros
(about $35,000) a month - for life, doesn't matter how long or not his
government lasts. This salary is given to a Senator for life, and Monti has
not stood for office to become Senator for Life. The Italian Prez appointed
him. Something is not ethical in the Land of Italy.
Keystone XL Pipeline
The route is going to be reviewed. Meanwhile, other pipeline operators have
contingency plans to increase the throughput of their pipelines to take
Alberta tar sands oil. Apparently its a matter of more powerful pumping
stations. Some thought has been given to a refinery in Alberta, but
apparently this will be more expensive than sending the oil to US Gulf Coast
refineries. Further on the horizon are other contingency plans to move the
crude to US pipeheads using rail or barge, which of course will increase the
Don't except a rerouted pipeline to end the controversy. Greens have gotten
it into their head that Alberta tar sands should be blocked because of the
Meanwhile, many Canadians think a west-east pipeline should be built, to
take Alberta oil to Eastern Canada, where it would replace Saudi-origin
imports. Tar sand interests have been threatening a pipeline to the Pacific
for China to pick up the oil, but environmentalists say that the pipeline
will cross the land of several Indian tribes who are opposed to it. So they
don't see that alternative as a serious proposition.
Russia's Mars Jinx Continues
Sixteen of 18 Russian Mars missions have failed. The current mission to the
Martian moon Phoebus, where the probe was supposed to scoop up material and
return it to earth for study, is in trouble. It was also to out a Chinese
satellite in Mars orbit. Russian sources say the mission has failed, and the
announcement will be made in a few days.
Though the probe reached orbit as planned, the probe's booster rocket did
not fire so the probe did not begin its journey. While Russian scientists
were working on the problem, revival was considered a long shot, and now is
no shot at all. The Russians spent only $167-million on the probe, which
suggests that many design compromises were made.
Meanwhile, Reader Luxembourg updates us on the US Curiosity Mars Rover
The launch is set for November 25. The rover is the size of a Volkswagen,
and will explore Gale Crater for two years. The price tag is $2.5-billion,
and makes us a bit nervous. If it all works as it should, doubtless
Curiosity will be spectacular success. But the US's all-or-nothing approach
is worrying, because things go wrong all the time. Perhaps two missions
within that budget would have been more prudent, even if the science return
is less. This way if one fails, there would be a backup. If Curiosity fails,
that will be it for a good long while.
Spirit and Opportunity, launched eight years ago, have cost $1-billion
including five extensions, which have given 25-times the 90-day mission time
originally planned for. Each rover weighed 185-kg as opposed to Curiosity's
900-kg. It will traverse 19-km, as opposed to the planned 600-meters for the
The Hypocrisy of Michael Moore
UK Daily Mail has done something useful for once. It has broken the news,
including photographs, of Michael Moore's nice country home, said to be
worth $1-million. If you look at the size of the thing its likely more. He
also owns an apartment in New York.
Okay, so there's nothing that says a "radical" has to live in a one-room
apartment and own only two pairs of jeans and eat rice-and-beans every day.
But for Mr. MM to be cavorting with the 99% lot is a bit much. He needs to
have the decency to announce "mea culpa" and all that, and explain he grew
modestly wealthy leading counter-culture attacks on the 1%, but thanks to
his good luck and hard work, he is now one of the 1%. Then he should have
the decency to shut his mouth and go do whatever the 1% does for amusement.
0230 GMT November 12, 2011
Unemployment is 19%, and the real process of squeezing the Greek people for
money to pay the nation's debts has just begun. And by 2020, debt will still
be 120% - a level held untenable for Italy, which has a much more robust
economy than Greece's.
We'd like the learned financial institutions of the EU to tell us: do you
really think you are going your money back, even if you've accepted a 50%
In Britain they call it Armistice Day, because the World War I ceasefire was
called at 110 on November 11. Apparently only 52 of England and Wales'
16,000 villages escaped losing someone killed in the war, and no villages in
Ireland or Scotland have so been identified. The British call them "Thankful
Villages". Fourteen villages are termed as doubly thankful, because all
their men came home alive from both World Wars.
This is truly none of our business, but we though readers might be
interested in the law as related to teacher responsibilities. Teachers are
supposed to report any case where they even suspect - just suspect - that
child abuse is taking place. That includes all abuse, not just sexual abuse.
A teacher cannot just go to an administrator and then maintain s/he has done
their duty. The law, at least in Maryland, is the teacher must contact Child
Protective Services as soon as possible, and file a report, at least first
orally, then on paper. It is not for a teacher to investigate. The standard
is "suspect". Failure to report on suspicion can lead to the loss of the
teacher's job, plus other action as may be taken.
The teacher's name is not given to anyone - her/his anonymity is shielded by
This creates an Orwellian situation. Anyone - absolutely anyone - can call
Child Protective services and say "I believe Mr. Smith (or Mrs. Smith) is
abusing her/his child", without the least basis, and Child Protective
Services swoops in. "Specially trained" officials interview your child, to
"discover the truth". It doesn't matter if you try hard enough, you can get
a four- or a six-year old to say anything. Your children (all of them) can
be taken away from you, and you can go to jail. Once freed, you are a
registered sex offender, and society may as well brand your forehead,
because the consequences are the same.
We like to believe society holds a person innocent till proven guilty. In
child abuse situations, its the other way around: you have to prove to the
satisfaction of the investigating officers that you are innocent. And aside
from any over-zealousness of the sort people who have power exhibit, the
Child Protective Service staff are also under pressure. If they make a
mistake, and it turns out abuse has taken place, well, their jobs are on the
Editor has always been struck by the extreme hypocrisy we Americans exhibit
toward our children. We are so very ready to abandon them just because we
are not getting on with our partner, and we are so very comfortable that so
many children live in poverty and/or without health insurance. It seems
almost as if we know we as a society treat our children badly, and we excuse
ourselves by showing our "concern" when a child may be abused.
Editor twice was in situations where he suspected abuse. Knowing the law, he
immediately made his reports in required format. In one situation it was
obvious his student was severely undernourished. Since the student was older
than 18, Editor talked to him several times to find out what the problem
might be. The student's answers were highly evasive, and it was pretty
obvious the student was trying to protect his mother. Well, when the
investigation took place it turned out the woman had a low-paying job, was
desperately in debt, the father had run off years ago and no support was
forthcoming, and she was working three jobs to pay her bills. She received
food stamps, and by mid-week those were gone, so for three days in the week
it was scraping by as best as possible. Obviously the student would protect
his mother. He dropped out of school shortly after the investigation,
because he didn't want to come back to a place where the adults knew how
poor he was.
In the second case, Editor had a student who went through episodes of wild
anger followed by complete listlessness and lack of interest in anything.
One day after she got into a physical fight, instead of calling the
administrator Editor took her out of the room to ask what was the problem.
She said she hadn't been getting along with her mother and now her mother
had thrown her out of the house. (She was sixteen.) She was moving between
houses, staying with friends or anyone who offered to help, then moving on
when it got too much for those helping her. She begged Editor not to tell
anyone, because it would get around and the other students would be even
more mean to her.
Unfortunately, under the law Editor had no choice. He made his report. What
happened he doesn't know - the authorities are in no way obligated to tell
the person reporting what happened. The student did finish out the year and
Editor heard she had gone to live with her sister in another city.
Letter from Eric Cox
You have accurately described the dilemma of many American homeowners. In
spite of its many problems, California passed something called Proposition
13 back in 1978.
This did not prevent the rise in property taxes but it did severely limit
the rate of their increase, except in the event of a sale, when the buyers
at least knew what burden they were assuming. State and local government
spending in California has still increased annually, but I cannot doubt that
both would have increased more without Prop 13.
You are also correct to note that your wages have not increased 50 % in
seven years. I suspect that adjusted for inflation (the stretching of the
measuring stick) they have not gone up 50% in twenty years or more. That
has certainly been true for workers in the industries that I follow. The
exception, of course, is unionized government employees, (some of whom are
also work for the government), who have done better. (Without considering
compounding, 50% in seven years is just over 7% per year, and inflation has
been very tame over that same period.)
The government spending we have is not sustainable under our present system
of government. As you correctly note, other countries spend a higher
percentage of their GDP as government expenditures. And, they have systems
of government that differ from ours.
So, either the level of government spending must changed or our system of
government must be changed. Details can be argued, but the basic issue is
I hope your employment situation improves and that you get a date for Friday
Well, here it is 2030 Friday night local time, and Editor is working on the
update. No need to guess if the Editor got a date. The sad truth - the
Editor is compelled to explain - is that for 43 years he was married, to
someone or the other. He has no idea how to get a date. And at his age it
does not help when the Editor says to a potential datee, so as to speak,
"Well, if I use the money I keep in the car for parking meters we might just
be able to afford a plain hamburger at McDonald's - without the fires and
soda". Adult women are not terribly attracted to people who offer very cheap
dates at McDonald's. And you really cannot let the date pay. It was not done
in Editor's day, and there is no way he is going to change. In all his life,
he has gone out with only one woman who insisted she pay and Editor did not
mind. This is when he was a fiery intellectual in India and a married lady
old enough to be his daughter decided he was wildly interesting. When she
was about to pay the dinner bill, Editor stopped her. She said: "Don't be
silly. My husband is the biggest tax evader this side of town. I have more
money than I know what to do with." Editor said: "Oh, I don't mind you
spending your husband's money on me." There were many dinners till
Mrs. R. IV inconveniently returned early to town and put an end to that.
Wives have no sense of humor. Its very easy to get dates when you're
married. When you're not, your date value drops faster than Greek debt. Its
no use lying: women can tell at 20 paces if a man is married or not. (If
Mrs. R IV is reading this, she will be ROTFL - "Wildly interesting? Him?
I was married to him for over 30 years. A bigger bore there never was. He'd
insist on going to bed at nine." Well, they say no man is a hero to
his wife, and they say right. Uh oh: its 2050 - gotta rush, time for bed.
0230 GMT November 11, 2011
Why UK does not want a 2-tier Europe
We'd confessed bafflement at UK's opposition to a 2-tier EU, which France
and Germany are plotting. UK telegraph has an explanation which leaves us
just as confused.
A 2-tier EU will reduce UK's influence. Wish we could figure out how.
One thing we could figure out was that while Germany and France are plotting
a 2-tier EU, they are also blackmailing UK. If UK does not accept the
changes France/Germany want to the Lisbon Treaty, the French/Germans are
threatening a split. Paris/Bonn want to cut London out of the proposed
changes, which will be conducted on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. Very
complicated. American politics are so much simpler.
As nearly as we can tell from Fast and Furious reading of the press, Italy
has $400-billion of debt due in 2012. It is paying 3% more than it was
earlier. That equates to an extra burden of $12-billion on the Italian
exchequer. Italy's 2012 GDP is expected at about $2.3-trillion and its
government spending is 49% of GDP, or about $1.1-trillion. We calculate that
extra $12-billion is 1% of Government spending.
Plus, Italy runs a primary budget surplus, which means that other than its
debt interest, it runs a surplus. So actually Italy is in very good shape
compared to many other countries, and according to us, the danger of default
So clearly Editor is brilliant, and congratulates himself on his astute
analysis. which leaves the question why everyone is freaking out about an
Italian default. another mystery.
Amplification on US government spending
The other day we'd mentioned US government expenditure (all levels) is about
40% of GDP. We wanted to clarify that doesn't mean Americans pay 40% of
their income in taxes. The US runs a huge deficit, in FY2011 it was 8.7% or
$1.3-trillion. That indicates the US takes about 31-32% of GDP in taxes,
which compared to the other developed countries is quite low.
Talking about taxes
Editor got his annual notification from the bank that he was in escrow
deficit and will have to up his monthly payment. November 1, 2004 is when
Mrs. R. IV officially left the house. In the seven years since, assessed
value of the house has gone up 10%. Property taxes/insurance have gone up by
50%. Editor is now paying $6000/year in property taxes/insurance for a house
with 1000-square-feet and land of 7000-square-feet. It's like Dorothy said:
"I - I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto".
Editor is sure Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Montgomery County
Executive Isaiah Leggett, and whoever is mayor of the City of Takoma Park -
we had an election the other day, so Editor doesn't know who's the mayor; in
fact, he's never known who is the mayor - have a perfectly rational
explanation for all this. But Editor's income hasn't gone up by 50%. One
buys a home intending to live in the rest of one's life, one settles down in
a community. and then one has to one day sell and move to some place in the
far boonies away from friends where there are few jobs, just because one
can't pay the ever escalating property taxes? Oh, Editor gets it: THIS is
the American dream.
Editor knows country is in trouble. He has no issue with paying more federal
tax. Its the state and property taxes that are killing him, not the IRS. And
by the way, since Editor is a public servant (only employed part-time at
this moment, it is true, but a public servant nonetheless) he can attest the
salaries of county and state workers haven't gone up anywhere near 50%
either. Nor have services increased. It's a big mystery.
Secretary of Defense says Israeli attack on Iran could have unintended
Editor reels in worshipful admiration of our SecDef's Great Mind! What a
genius! We need something more advanced than the Mensa society to
accommodate people like our SecDef! America is truly supreme with people
like him at the helm! Take that you dirty Chinese and take that you dirty
Indians, do you think you can EVER overtake the US? Have you a single leader
as skilled in stating the obvious as our SecDef? Die, scumbags, you don't
have a chance! America Rules!
SecDef says an attack will set Iran nuclear program back only a few years
Quelle genius! (Repeat the above praise three times.)
Yes, Obviousman, you are right. That's why a few years down the road you
simply attack it again. Duh.
By the way, not to be like Obviousman, but you really do not need to attack
20, 50, or 200 or however many installations people say you need to attack
to cripple Iran's N-program. You need to hit facilities producing fissile
material, combined with tightening sanctions still further so that Iran
finds it that much harder to rebuild.
And yes, if you hit fissile material production, there's a danger you'll
release radiation into the atmosphere. So what, now we have to save a rogue
state from environmental pollution? A single warhead on Tel Aviv, Berlin, or
New York is going to cause a great deal more radiation.
Also, the calculations Israel will have to cross Turkish, Syrian, Iraqi, or
Saudi airspace enroute to Iranian targets is also not correct. There's
something called air-to-air to refueling. Though its hard to see what the
Syrians can do if the Israelis decide to cross.
Agreed Israel will need more than one raid. This is not an Osirak situation.
So what? What exactly is the junk heap called the Iranian Air Force going to
do? If aircraft are to risky, there's cruise missiles. And if some aircraft
get shot down, so what? Whose Mama promised anyone that military action is
risk-free and casualty-free? The aircraft casualties in the US raid on
Ploesti were 33%. The bulk of the damage was made good in weeks, and output
climbed higher than before. So Ploesti shouldn't have been attacked?
Nonsense. US/UK lost 40,000 combat aircraft during the strategic
bombing of Germany. So they should not have carried the war to Germany?
When there's a mortal threat to your country, you do what you have to do.
People need to stop spewing bilgewater on the subject of the difficulties of
an Israeli strike on Iran.
0230 GMT November 10, 2011
The Telegraph's Matt cartoon
for November 9, 2011, has a demonstrator saying: "I plan to get my student
debt up to a level that forces the IMF to bail me out."
Is there light at the end of Euro Tunnel? France, Germany discuss a "core"
In brief, the new Eurozone would kick out those who don't want to be in the
zone, or cannot afford it. Simultaneously, a European confederation would be
created with all of the current 27 members, with plans to add eight more in
the next ten years. presumably the non-core countries will keep their own
currencies, but enjoy all the benfits of free trade, open labor markets and
so on. Apparently France and Germany have been talking about this for
months, and a conference is being held on December 9.
Much to our surprise, the British of all people are objecting.
So are the Austrians and the Dutch, though they will likely be part of the
core Euro zone. While some Europeans may not want to weaken the idea of
Europe, we simply do not understand why the British, who have opposed
joining the Euro or even confederating with Europe, are having a problem.
Perhaps our readers can explain? does this have to do with fears of an even
more powerful Germany? Is this a playout of British foreign policy for two
centuries which requires no one power to be dominant in Europe? If so, let
the Brits join the core Euro zone. Why force countries who cannot stay in to
remain? Are British bankers they will lose money if the Euro zone goes on a
diet? Sorry, fellers, that money is gone, gone, gone. Better to accept it
than drive the Greeks, Italians, Spanish, Portuguese, completely bananas and
overthrow the existing financial order.
Meanwhile, regardless of fears that the core Euro zone will mean the end of
Europe as we know it, there are two considerations. One, if the current Euro
zone cannot work, which it cannot, it makes no difference what
Euro-federalists want. As we said yesterday, economics is economics. Two,
drop-out or expellees can rejoin the core Euro zone they are ready. It was
totally absurd to equate, say, Germany and Greece and assume both could
amicably exist in a common Euro zone. Those who would continue throwing
money at past mistakes have no answer for who is going to do the money
throwing. Right now Sakrozy and Merkel are channeling their inner Bob Dylans
and singing "It Aint Me, Babe."
Meantime, of course, the markets keep going up and down, down and up, as if
they are puppets controlled by some all-powerful puppet master. (Must be the
Venetian Bankers. Only kidding.) (Why do we have to add "only kidding"? Does
anyone take the Venetian Bankers theory seriously?)
Some argue Italy has not reached end of the road yet
Normally, when sovereign bonds cross 7.3% as Italian bonds have done,
there's no turning back. Its on to 8% and bail out time, baby, as Austin
Powers might say. But some argue that Italy is not yet done in, it can
sustain higher yields because though its debt is 120% of GDP, its deficit is
Italy 2- and 10-year bonds are both above 7%, and it is the 3rd largest bond
market in the world. The Economist says investors are ditching Irish,
Spanish, Belgian, and French sovereign debt as well.
Is India preparing for the fourth-generation of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to
Speculation is that Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, the head of the Congress Party, is
preparing to hand over power to her son, Rahul, who is 41 years old. She has
not been well, and was about to give her first public speech since her
return from New York last summer. But she is again sick, with what the
Indians call "viral fever". This is the good old dengue fever. Editor having
gotten it twice can attest it is no joke. He got it in his thirties and was
sick for three weeks. Every day he thought Upstairs had decided to cash in
his chips. The illness is, of course, survivable; relatively few people die
of it. But if Mrs. Gandhi has not fully recovered from the illness that took
her to New York's Sloan Kettering hospital earlier this year, or there is a
recurrence, or if she is just plain exhausted from being in Indian politics
for thirty years, she may want to hand over power to Rahul.
Which will cause a great disaster. There is no doubt this youngster has a
popular following among the villagers and the poor, mainly because of his
habit of spending days and nights in India's villages, living as do the
people, so as to speak. But running India at age 41? Not a chance.
Sometimes people are hard to understand
Accuser Number 4 (AN4) of Herman Cain, of 999 and Pizza Fame who would be
Prez of America, denied ever meeting AN4, let alone doing the - er -
ungentlemanly things she accuses him of. Okay. So now a radio producer
corroborates her story that she met him October 1, 2011. Okay, so Herman
lied or he has amnesia or whatever. That isn't the issue. The radio producer
says that initially Herman was all smiles, but then turned "stone-faced".
Okay, that also corroborates what AN4 has said. No confusion here.
But here comes our confusion: AN4 was seen by the radio producer, a woman,
to put her arms around Herman. They sort of embraced, says the producer.
Why on earth would AN4 put her arms around Herman, given what she says she
went through? This is what we don't understand.
0230 GMT November 9, 2011
Europe and self-deception
In one's personal affairs, one can deceive oneself forever. But economics is
a ruthless taskmaster (or taskmistresses, if one wants to be politically
correct). You can babble all you want, but the market will have its way
according to its own pitiless logic.
Please notice that Greece has already defaulted, though the Euros are
running around screaming at the tops of their voices it 'aint so. But it so,
because a 50% reduction is a default. Not as bad as a 100% default, but
default nonetheless. But do we hear the D word used anywhere? We don't.
Further, it has been obvious for some weeks that Greece has no choice but to
quit the Euro because it cannot pay back even the 50% reduced debts it owes.
Now on to Italy. Italy debt is $2.5-trillion, a tad more than Greece's about
$350-billion, though given Greece's propensity for magical bookkeeping, who
knows if it is $350-billion or a lot more.
Be that as it may. Yesterday the Austrians said that Italy is too big to
bail, and it is going to have to save itself. Bringing down a $2.5-trillion
debt to something reasonable will require incredible sacrifices by the
Italians. Is Europe going to accept Italy cannot be bailed out? After all,
all the bailout money has to come from somewhere, and that ultimately means
Germany, and the Germans are already mad as heck. Think how mad they're
going to get when they have to produce - say - $4-trillion to bail out
Italy, Spain, and Portugal
So we can expect further self-deception.
Are we being typical ignorant Americans
who don't understand the sophistication, the intellectual power, the
unmatched understanding of economics that the Euros claim to have? Is this
post just another cheap Euro-Bash?
No, because we've said enough times that America too is in denial. Its debt
is manageable right now because interest rates are so low. But first, God
did not tell Moses that American interest rates are going to remain absurdly
low for as long as America needs to get its affairs in order. And second,
America's idea of debt reduction is to add "only" $8-trillion or more in
debt over the next ten years. That's if things according to plan. if they
don't, to put it as politely as possible, we're up poo-doo creek without a
paddle and indeed, without even a boat. Gross American debt is already
almost 100% of GDP: ten trillion smackeroos public debt, and five trillion
clams in intergovernmental debt. US is paying about 2.5% on its debt, about
$400-billion a year. (All these figures are rounded off/approximate). So say
interest rates went up to 3.75%, we'd be paying $600-billion. That's on the
current debt, not the debt we're about to assume in the next ten years. At
that higher rate, we could be paying close to a trillion on the national
And if Italy is too big to bail, what about America, with its seven-times
So we're not Euro-Bashing. We're just saying short of a miracle, Europe is
heading for the latrines if it doesn't tighten its belt so tight that the
stars on the 1 Euro coin have to switch out their lights. We read many
people in Greece have lost a third, a half, even two-thirds of their income
- and the stringency has only begun. Barring that miracle, and the last
certified one happened 2011 years ago, the Greeks may one day be talking of
the halcyon days of 2011 prosperity.
Of course, there are those who think the Euro is doomed when Greece defaults
The Greek political crisis explained: Reader Flymike's friend sent him this
Here is the end of day post I promised. I wrote the following note about the
referendum while Papandreou was still in France. It is written from a
Poli-Sci point of view and not a business one. As you know, the referendum
never came to be. There are 3 reasons for this:
1) Papandreou did not foresee the huge backlash from other European leaders.
2) The Greek Parliament is made up of 300 members. Papandreou only had 152
members on his side. Upon returning from France there were threats he would
lose more and without a majority he would have to give up his position as
3) Even if his own had stood with him, the country is bankrupt. There is not
enough money in the coffers to continue to pay wages. Without immediate
funds from the EU, the country could not survive. The country did not have
enough money to last until the December 4th referendum.
Personally I wish the referendum would have taken place. It would have shut
a lot of mouths and allowed the country to move forward. Under the stern &
watchful eye of the EU, Greece would have to curb spending. With a
referendum, the Greeks would have had to state a definite yes or no to
staying in the EU and with the Euro. I do not see how they could have said
no, but either way, Greece’s part in “rocking the world markets” would have
ceased. As it stands, Greece will still remain with the Euro, but with a
divided voice. Thus the country will remain in turmoil and still disrupt
world markets. Add the Italian Opera to the Greek Tragedy and the mess
Reader Luxembourg forwarded this letter from a transportation person
which explains why America cant build anything any more. "I’m a civil
engineer with a little over ten years in transportation design, and I’ve
witnessed first hand the chaos the industry has fallen into. I worked with a
private consultant for state and local transportation agencies, and the
whole shovel-ready mess wrecked our long term plans by using up most of the
available funding in short-term projects. The process now takes four to six
years for even a small project to go through, so when everyone moved
projects up to qualify for funding through ARRA, it left a gap where no new
projects are expected for a few years. Not to mention, most of the ARRA
projects required very little or no engineering (repaving roads or adding
sidewalks, for example). I was among the last group of engineers and
surveyors laid off from my company in June and have only found one temporary
job since then, with almost all the companies in my area (Nashville)
treading water or downsizing since then. (In my job search, I’ve been told
more than once that people are not planning on adding staff until after next
year’s election.) I’m now wondering if I should change disciplines in order
to hedge my bets. Environmental engineering looks promising. If you’ve been
regulated out of a job, I guess apply for a job with the regulators."
If you doubt what the writer is saying, ask yourself this
Suppose in 1941 the Japanese had attacked not Pearl Harbor, but the
equivalent of the World Trade Center. (That would be what - the Empire State
Building and the Chrysler Building?) Does anyone think that the US would
have taken 10-years to start rebuilding?
That was Bin Laden's real assault on America. Not that his people knocked
down two unprotected buildings in a time of peace, but he exposed how truly
effete and degenerate we are that we needed ten years to start rebuilding.
And by the way, we're told that it took something a bit over one year to
build the Empire State Building back in 1931. Also by the way, the twin
towers were only ten stories taller.
America The Absurd
So a company decided to build 190-MW of wind power in Minnesota, the
equivalent of a fifth the size of today's coal plants. So for that they need
a transmission line to tie into the grid. So there's a farmer who doesn't
want the pylons and cables crossing his land. His excuse? The Indians built
teepees where his land is. You can still make out the teepee rings. Its a
historical site. If this gentleman wants to preserve Indian history, why
doesn't he give his land back to the Indians from whom his forefathers took
Washington Post, Page A10, November 8, 2011.
0230 GMT November 8, 2011
Today's post has nothing to do with the GWOT or strategic affairs
The anti-Bank of America campaigner: Alice in Wonderland
We learn from the Washington Post that the person who led the campaign
against Bank of America's $5/month fee for using your debt card is a local
resident. She works part-time, $400/month, because that's all she can get by
way of employment. Before people write in to say $400/week would be good
wages in many parts of the country, please to note Washington area is not
most of the country. It is expensive, probably third most major metro area
in the US.
Okay, so she led a consumer revolt and good for her. Of course, she was
helped by the near universal hatred of the big banks at this point in
American history. People like B of A have been systematically destroying
competition by buying up one bank after another and they are not really
responsive to the market.
One example is the banks' habit of paying out money from your account when
you use your debit card, even if you don't have the money in your account,
then charging you $35 for it, while saying piously "our customers prefer
their transaction goes through". Sure, till you get hit with eight
consecutive charges, for debit card purchases of less than $200, as once
happened to Editor. He had forgotten to deposit his pay check and ended up
paying $160 dollars (the overdraft fee was $20 then). Since the debit card
kept getting accepted, he thought he was okay. Till he saw his next
statement. His preference would have been for the first transaction not to
go through at all, at which point he would have been embarrassed, but could
have checked his account and discovered he hadn't deposited his paycheck.
Another fun thing the banks do is that - say - you make four charges in a
day, $10, $15, $25, and $50, and you have $50 in your account. Instead of
levying the overdraft fee on the fourth and last purchase, they put the $50
toward your fourth purchase, and then charge you overdraft fees for the
three purchases you made earlier in the day. Really nice guys.
But that's not our point.
So the young lady is now looking for a job, and apparently she will have to
start paying $200/month toward her student loans. She rhetorically asked why
does she have to pay interest? Why does she have to repay the loan?
(WashPost, Metro section, page B1, November 7, 2011)
will and Ariel Durrant wrote A History of Civilization (a really good one)
and titled one volume "The Age of Enlightenment". If they were still around,
they could write a new book on post-1970 America, and title it "The Age of
What on earth gives this young person the idea that she shouldn't have to
pay interest on her student loans or even pay them back at all? Editor is
Student-Loaned up-the-wazoo, and he knows a thing or two about the loans.
Yes, its a racket. Yes, the college industry (its an industry now) keeps
raising the cost of education so you have to take out loans if you want a
degree and without a double masters these days you don't get the job of
unpaid research intern in Washington. Editor can give you any number of
reasons why the Student Loan thing is a a colossal rip-off.
But that said, the government has made repayment as painless as humanly
possibly. You don't have to pay anything for three years if you are not
making enough. After that you pay 15% (to go down to 10%) of your income
above 150% of poverty level if you chose an income contingent plan. Then, if
you work in public service for 10-years, making your 120 payments on time,
the government pays the rest of the your loan, no matter how high the
balance. And if you don't get into public service, after 25 years (soon to
be 20) the balance is written off anyway.
Just suppose for a minute that the mortgage market worked like the student
loan market. Do you think a normal person would say "I don't have a decent
job, I shouldn't have to pay interest or even my loan back"? We don't think
so. We think a normal person would say "I'm getting heck of a deal,
And so it should be on student loans. But apparently not in the Age of
Its not just bankers and hedge fund operators who need an "attitude
adjustment." We, the Little People, need one too. America is a land that
gives you equal opportunities: you too can run a financial institution and
rip off the taxpayer for tens of billions and not go to jail. America is not
a land that guarantees you great outcomes regardless of the bad choices you
make. Yes, there is a lot of outright fraud perpetrated in American
financial affairs. But student loans is not such an area.
The failure of the market
The market is the foundation of capitalism. Distort the market, and you
cannot have real capitalism. Stephen Pearlstein, writing in Washington
Post's Sunday Business Section November 6, 2011, says that speculation is
creating a new bubble, this time in commodities. He says commodity prices
have nothing to do with supply and demand, rather, people looking for ever
higher returns on their money are gambling with commodity futures now that
other instruments are out of the picture. (That didn't stop Corzine of MF
Global from reprising 2008 by speculating on Greek and Italian bonds.)
Re. oil, Pearlstein quotes the head of Chevron to say oil is $30/barrel
higher than it should be strictly on supply-and-demand. Since Chevron gains
the higher the price, the company has little to gain from putting out false
or faulty studies which say the actual price should be much lower.
All the "free" market people might like to ponder the above point when they
fill up their gas tank, paying $3.60/gallon instead of $2.40/gallon (of
course, we are simplifying here, there is not a one-to-one correlation
between crude prices and pump prices).
We've said this again and again: what the people who run America want is NOT
capitalism. They want state capitalism, where the power of the state is used
for their benefit, to tilt the playing field in their favor and against
ordinary folks like you and me.
There comes a point a few people control so much money that they
decide what the price should be, not the market. That is not capitalism.
From Reader DS on Fuzzy Wuzzy Economic Math
Check out this site.
As you can see they do not count people that quit searching or who have been
unemployed for a set period of time or are underemployed/part time. The
actual unemployment rate continues to go up.http
Not sure if the above statistics are
correct but these are the numbers that are thrown about by financial planners,
MBA's and government workers.
0230 GMT November 7, 2011
Like Celine Dion's heart, Greece goes on and on
Let us first confess that aside from the
Greek armed forces, Editor knows very little about Greece except the usual
general stuff that everyone knows. The Greeks eat a lot, drink a lot, sing
lustily, and do a lot of stomp dancing, and they never do IT on a Sunday.
(Only kidding.) So Editor excuses himself from not realizing that in Greece
nothing is ever actually agreed on.
We saw that with the bailout, where the figures changed every day for the
worse. Then we saw that on the terms of the bailout. Now we're seeing it in
the political situation which is too complicated to explain. A saying in
life is that one should live every day as if its the last day of one's life,
and we somehow suspect that unraveling Greek politics is not something
people want to do on the last day of their life, any more than they want to
figure out what Kim Kardashian is up to. Actually, the Kardashians are more
interesting than Greek politics, because they are American Trash. Greek
politics are not trashy, they're just complicated, like the Gordian Knot,
and right now there's no Alexander around.
So: best to assume that nothing is settled re. the Greek bailout; it could
still blow up in Europe's face big time, with the resultant negative
consequences for the US.
Fuzzy Wuzzy Economic Math? Readers may
recall that Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, he had no hair, and so he wasn't fuzzy
wuzzy. That makes as much sense as US employment figures. We are being told
than in October 80,000 jobs were created, and the unemployment figure
dropped from 9.1% to 9%.
But look: US adds 3-million people a year through natural growth and legal
immigration, and that means approximately 2-million people net a year are
entering the labor force. For simplicity, make that 150,000/month. So
shouldn't the unemployment figures have gone UP and not DOWN?
What are we not getting here, can someone explain?
Pakistani N-warheads zapping around the highways and byways?
Who comes up with this stuff? Atlantic
Magazine has a a video interview
http://t.co/GfdrvoZV where a
gentleman says that to keep the US from seizing its N-warheads the
Pakistanis are moving them around on the road. To avoid drawing attention,
they are using ordinary trucks without protection. Big danger, says this
person, because if AQ could get a hold of a schedule, they could seize a
This information caused us considerable confusion. Not because we wonder how
the Pakistanis will secure their warheads that just go rolling around,
because the Pakistanis are doing no such idiot thing. We're confused because
we wonder who puts out this stuff and then expects people to believe it.
May we also ask where the figure of 100 warheads so often used comes from?
The real figure is a fraction that. Now, we agree that no one wants even
handful of warheads doing their Keep On Truckin' number, so we are not
relating this to the story of the peregrinating warheads. We're merely
saying this figure has been around for at least 25 years. where is it coming
from? Please don't quite some think tank on this, because they don't know
Another thing: where do people get the idea that if India attacks Pakistan,
Pakistan will use tactical nuclear warheads to stop Indian spearheads? Don't
people understand in the field you normally need one warhead per mechanized
or tank company - if you hit it squarely. That's why you need lots and lots
of warheads to deter a ground thrust. And the process of reconnaissance and
targeting when you're using N-weapons is very complicated, especially when
you're firing them on your own territory! You don't want to make a mistake
and then say: "Oopsies! There goes Sialkot! Our bad!" and by the way,
Pakistan says it has tactical warheads. We say it makes sense for Pakistan
to SAY that, but operating tactical weapons are something else altogether.
These things are basically unusable unless you want to do a mutual suicide.
There's all this nonsense about you cant have a conventional war under a
nuclear overhang. Well, India and Pakistan just did, in 1999.
Let Editor be clear: he regards Pakistan as India's enemy. But that doesn't
mean you attribute to your enemy every little bit of silliness you can come
up, like the wandering warheads. That's not intelligent. And for Americans
to be saying stupid stuff about Pakistan doesn't make the Pakistanis stupid.
It makes the Americans look stupid.
0230 GMT November 6, 2011
1400 GMT Correction: Ortega of Nicaragua was cleared for 3rd term by Supreme
Electoral Council, which should be independent but which is controlled by ruling
party. Nonetheless, this permission is not constitutionally valid and the
Constitution forbids a third term He may get more than 50% of today's vote,
obviating the need for a run-off.
Colombia kills head of FARC, now lets wait for Amnesty International's
demand for an inquiry After receiving
information from a former rebel, Colombian aircraft bombed the jungle
hideout of the FARC leader. Colombian troops from helicopters followed,
killing the rebel chief and others in the camp. Six laptops and 39 memory
sticks were recovered. Colombians danced in the streets. We await Amnesty
International's allegation this could be a war crime - after all, the man
was not arrested and given a trial - and its demand for an inquiry.
No one is expecting the leader's death to mean the end of FARC, though it
has been seriously weakened by previous blows. But the narco rebels may be
more amenable to negotiations.
Meanwhile, in Nicaragua we have another farce so typical of long-suffering
Latin America Daniel Ortega, the former
Sandinista leader who was smacked silly by Ronald Reagan, but who after
losing the civil war then decided to go legit and won two terms as
President, is now running for a third consecutive term.
The problem is, the constitution bars him from running. That has not stopped
Mr. Ortega from campaigning. He might even win. How this plays out, we have
to wait and see.
Its true even Uribe, the former Colombian leader, considered a third term by
amending the constitution. But he ended up stepping down.
Please to remember Latin America threw off Spain's colonial yoke 200
years ago. Its disgraceful that we nonetheless have lovely people like
Castro, Chavez, and Ortega around.
Reader Patrick Skuza is not impressed with US F-35 offer to India
So, the US is going to offer India the F35
for sale. I wonder if the US is crazy, or crazy like a fox. Unless I missed
something, I believe India has not agreed to the US demand for a End User
License Agreement on military equipment. This mythical dragon slayer, F 35,
which is so complex and expensive that it takes all of the countries of St.
George to put together has yet to enter service with anybody.
It strikes me that India chose the Rafel in large part because of the
simplicity of dealing with one country rather than float on the sea of
international and business politics and can gain transfer to technology.
India has worked hard on a indigenous data link system for her airborne
platforms that would be hamstrung by US EULA requirements. Not to mention
BFF Pakistan (O' beloved Land of the Pures) would be sad and might quit
whispering sweet nothings in the US's ear. (never mind that Pakistan has the
indigenous built galactic death star J 17).
India, you are on the path to become the light of the world, Please put down
and step away from the "US Defense" crack pipe. I know it's disappointing,
but buy some howitzers. It will make you feel better.
The $31.50/weekly Food Stamps budget A
rabbi in New York decided to try and eat spending only $31.50/week, which is
what the Food Stamps allocation for a single person is. New York prices
being what they are, no need to guess he had a very hard time (Washington
Post, November 5, 2011). He'd have done somewhat better in Washington, which
is also very expensive but less so than New York City, and he likely would
have managed in East Texas or rural Mississippi.
The point the rabbi wanted to make is, where is our compassion? In this
great and rich country, can we not even give the unfortunate enough to eat?
Fair enough, and he made his point. But there is another point to be made.
Why are people in the position that they have to be given Food Stamps?
Before Food stamps, before the State became our family, people had real
families, and they depended on their family. Ditto child care, housing,
unemployment and so on.
Doubtless there are many cases where people are destitute and don't have a
family - we don't mean a family who won't help, but no family at all. And
surely we should help such people. But by substituting the State for our
family, we have freed children who don't want to look after their parents,
and parents who don't want to look after their children, from
responsibility. The State, to act as family, has to take money from one part
of the people to look after another part of the people.
What needs to be answered is: is this morally right? We are not talking
money. These days Editor has added another statistic to Concise World
Armies, percentage GDP spent by the government in each country. Editor is
struck by the realization that almost without exception, the state in
developed countries spends more than the US's 44% (IMF figures, from its
World Economic Report, September 2011). So obviously the US can afford to
spend more. That isn't our point. The question is - we repeat - is it
morally right to ask one part of the people to mandatorily pay for others
who do have family but for one reason or another choose not to ask their
family for help, or their family refuses to give it?
0230 GMT November 5, 2011
Syria moves closer to a real civil war An
army of 15,000 (claimed. UK telegraphs says may be as low as 5,000) has
announced it will fight the Syrian government. The army has Turkey's
We have problems with Turkey's savage repression of the Kurds (and of course
the Kurds have not helped their cause by their incessant use of violence and
terror) but we have to say we admire Turkey's courage in standing up to the
Tyrant Assad at a time the west is trying to find holes to hide in the
moment anyone suggests robust action.
Goodbye Papandreou Hello, Goodbye Berlo
The Greek PM is to step down and his finance minister will try and form a
new coalition. hopefully avoiding new election. These could add to the
uncertainty. Notice once again the horrible fear of democracy in EU affairs.
Papandreou's only crime, as we see it, was to honestly try and resolve the
debt crisis without sugarcoating the sacrifices Greeks will have to make.
Right after we wrote that we learned that the Greek PM not only survived the
vote he was sure to lose, but he is putting together a government of
national unity. Talk about ups and downs.
Our Papandreou headline is a play on Michael Coney's famous sci-fi book
"Hello Summer, Goodbye", one of the saddest stories of doomed young love we
have ever read.
Berlo says he will not quit because he has a majority. But officially his
majority is down to one, and now seven loyalists have called for him to
quit. Meanwhile Italian bonds rose to 6.43%, said by Reuters to be a
No need to feel sorry for Berlo: he still has a few billion, and lots of
bunga-bunga company. Though if he is out of office that could affect his
immunity and a lot of people in Italy (not least the Church) want his hide
nailed to a public wall because, they feel, he has brought discredit on
Italy by his lack of morals. The women who found solace and money in
involving themselves with Berlo are, of course, entirely blameless. The
balance of power was completely one-sided, because not only was PM of Italy,
he was also a billionaire, and in his seventies a much older man. These
women should now sue him because they were coerced into having sex with him
and into taking money from him. Bad boy, Berlo.
(We can't believe we managed to make that last statement with a straight
Talking about Italy, Ireland has said it with close its mission to the
Holy See because it cannot afford two embassies in Italy and it gets no
economic return. The Vatican is quite angry, because it doesn't see what
economic return has to do with the situation.
The Irish are devout Catholics, but it cannot be denied that the Vatican has
repeatedly failed them in the matter of abuse by priests and nuns.
Personally we agree with diplomatic sources who say that background has
played into the decision to close the embassy. We think a lot of Irish have
decided they can be good Catholics without necessarily bowing and scraping
to the Vatican.
That the decision by Dublin is a huge blow to the Vatican's prestige is
obvious. The head of the church in Ireland has come out against the
decision. The Minister for Foreign Affairs notes that Ireland is also
closing its missions in Teheran and Dili (Timor Leste).
Gadaffi son's German model UK
Telegraph has soothed editor's anger over UK Daily Mail called Gadaffi son's
model girlfriend "American" when she is half-Italian and works in Germany.
Telegraph calls her German model in a story. Again, a word to Daily Mail: we
accept America is infamous for its crime, violence, and depravity - for one
thing we have 310-million people, five times as many in UK, so you're going
to get a lot of bad stuff happening in America compared to UK. But believe
it or not, America is not the fount of every depravity in the world. There's
enough of that in UK to keep anyone happy.
0230 GMT November 4, 2011
US throws major spanner in India's fighter competition After India refused to consider either the F-16
or F-18, the US spent a lot of time getting upset and wondering loudly if it
really had a strategic partnership with India worth pursuing. Now US has
come back to offer the F-35 which effectively knocks the two Indian
short-list candidates, Rafale and Typhoon, out consideration: F-35 is much
more advanced than the French and European fighters.
India approves third set of two mountain divisions
in its buildup against China. The first
set of two was raised last year; approval for two more had been recently
given, and now a third set of two has been cleared. Though the second and
third pairs are under the 2012-2017 defense plan, which will start next
year, its likely the new divisions will be raised well before 2017.
With this approval, Indian Army has obtained its minimum requirement
against China. It actually wants a total of eleven new divisions, doubling
the size of the force available against China.
The next step is up to China. We have said before that for absolutely no
rational reason China has brought this Indian buildup on itself by pushing
and pushing India in the north when India was perfectly content to mind its
own business. China has to learn it may be the center of the Earth, if it
mistreats neighbors there will be a reaction. If China now reacts by further
provoking India, then those five extra divisions will happen. To begin with
15 large divisions facing Tibet is not exactly a joke, but twenty will be
even more devoid of comedy.
Moreover, India deliberately misleads the world by talking of "mountain
divisions", implying that its plains divisions cannot be used in the
mountains. They very much can.
In addition to the six divisions raised or cleared, India has also cleared
two mountain infantry and two armored brigade groups for the China border.
Now before our Indian friends go high-fiving, there's a couple of things for
India to remember. Its weapons procurement program is a complete and utter
mess. And while it has woken up to the need to improve its transport
infrastructure in the north, it is twenty years behind China in this game.
So that's nice there are to be all these extra troops in the north. That
doesn't mean India can go burping and belching along on its very long
delayed helicopter and medium artillery modernization/expansion programs,
scratching under its armpits and carefully examining its navel for lint.
As an example of India's approach, after 50 years it decided to improve the
roads in the XXXIII Corps sector (Sikkim). The original route was shot down
by Ministry of Environment. Then the army gave two alternate routes. Also
shot down by Ministry of Environment. Now, India is a terribly
environmentally degraded country, just as is China. The latter is in worse
shape because its economic expansion has been going on for a decade longer
than India's and Chinese industry has grown manifold since 1980. The
environment does matter. But on the other side of the border you have a
competitor who does not give half-a-hoot about the environment. In any case
Tibet is like a Chinese colony. So the Indian leadership either tells
Ministry of Environment that sorry about that, these roads have to be built,
or it calls in environmental experts and triples the outlays to get the
roads build causing minimum damage, or it lays out $30-50 billion to buy
helicopters and heavy transport aircraft. This last will help, but of course
you're still going to need roads.
Herman Cain and sexual harassment We think
Mr. Cain is a blithering idiot, but (a) you can hardly hold that against the
man considering the standard of American politicians today, and (b)
Orbat.com has to be fair to him.
Mr. Cain is 65 years old. He was brought up in an era where what is now
considered the vilest sexual harassment was considered harmless. You can
definitely hold an old person to the standards of today - but that can apply
only to his behavior of today. He has to be shown latitude for past sins.
Americans have lost all perspective on this harassment issue. The standard
of yesteryear was that the men pursed women, and aggressively. We don't
doubt for a minute the women of the past would have muchly preferred to be
pursued by gentlemen and not by uncouth boors. And for every man who acted
boorish, there were ten even back then who knew there was lots of stuff you
didn't do when it came to women. Bush Junior is the same age as Mr. Cain,
and no one accused him sexually harassing women. You just know had he acted
inappropriately, Mama Bush would have put him over her knee and let him have
it. So we are not defending Mr. Cain's behavior. We're saying it has to be
put in context of the times.
Doubtless our younger readers and the two women who read this blog are
deeply moved by our plea on behalf of forgiving Mr. Cain past
transgressions. And doubtless they are thinking: Editor is really dumping a
big load of bull poop on us. So Editor has to go one step further and say
that Mr. Cain still owes everyone explanations and apologies.
The simplest is to say: "I understand that my behavior then is unacceptable
now, and likely was even unacceptable then else why would settlements be
paid out to women. I was brought up in a different era. I accept that is no
excuse. I ask forgiveness for my sins and I won't do these things again."
Saying "no it didn't happen" and "I have no recollection of who these women
are" will not work. Mr. Cain is not Mr. Ronald Reagan. The latter could
gently smile and say "you know, I honestly don't remember" and get people to
believe him. But then he wasn't trying to pretend he was the smartest man
in America, just the friendliest.
Mr. Cain, apologize. Grovel. Seek "treatment". Consult your pastor. Hug a
goldfish. Back in the day all the Romans wanted was for the lions to rip
their victims to pieces. A few minutes of terror and it was over, because
you were dead. The New Romans, aka the American public and media, want
hours, days, months, and years of entertainment. You haveta give it to them.
sorry about that, but then no one held a gun to your head and forced you to
run for GOP nominee.
0230 November 3, 2011
Greece A British commentator says the
reason the Greek PM called for a referendum is that a left party in
parliament keeps insisting Greece stay in the Eurozone, but every time
action has to be taken to meet the conditions for staying in the Eurozone,
the party votes no. So the PM got very fed up and said lets leave it to the
The people are not happy, because the best their government can promise is a
decade of hardship, at the end of which they will still owe 120% their GDP
in debt. Many Greeks feel if they're going to suffer no matter what they do,
they may as well default and get it over with because at the end of the
tunnel there is hope. Not defaulting, even with a 50% write-down, is leaving
them another tunnel at the end of the tunnel.
A point that has eluded the Editor till recently - he's not a Eurozone
expert, is that the European governments take major decisions without
consulting their people. There's apparently a feeling among Euro bureaucrats
that the people are ignorant fools, and cannot be trusted with making
rational decisions on their future. Okay, so call him an ignorant American
(or an ignorant guest of America), but there seems something immoral, if not
out right illegal, in refusing to submit major decisions to the people. Just
because voters elect politicians to govern them for five years or whatever,
does not mean they have sheep-like handed over all authority over the five
years. It seems to us that when major decisions that affect the next 10, 20,
or even more years of peoples' lives are under discussion, these decisions
have to be submitted to the voters.
What does all this mean for America? No economists, we, and thank goodness
because there is no more confused bunch of people on earth than economists,
but two things are obvious. One, the Euros are sending butt-kissing
delegations to Beijing, not to Washington. That long talked-about shift of
power from America to China is already in evidence. Two, America's bad times
are going to continue, also likely for another ten years. Both right and
left think the solutions are obvious and the other side is being blithering
idiots for not getting it. Actually, we may be in a very dangerous phase
where neither side has the answers, and indeed, we may be in a really
dangerous phase where governments have no power to make things better, even
assuming they knew what to do. which they apparently do not.
Rule Britannia - er, we meant Britannia does not rule the waves
A sad day indeed when what was once the
greatest navy in the world does not have a single warship left to defend its
shores. The British surface fleet is down to 19 units, and if the British
follow the US Navy system, six will be forward deployed, six returning from
deployment or training for it, and six in dockyards or training. So the
Royal Navy has designated one (1, as in singular) warship as the naval
reaction force for defense of the realm. The other day the lone ship in the
force headed off for a NATO exercise, and voila, no designated ship left.
Meanwhile, plans are underway to cut the army to six brigades, and the
number of aircraft to levels not seen before World War I.
So you were thinking the US administers justice to all regardless of rank?
Americans are very proud of their fond
belief that no matter who you are, justice is done once you're found guilty.
Think again, good people. Lindsey Lohan has never met any conditions of her
repeated probations. Now the judge is finally fed up after four years of Ms.
Lohan's antics and disregard of court orders. The judge has sentenced Ms.
Lohan to - gasp - 30 days in jail. If Ms.Lohan had not been an in(famous)
actor, the judge would not have been so lenient to someone who repeatedly
disses the court.
But - wait - there's more (quotes from the Counting Count of Sesame Street).
Ms. Lohan was not carted off to the slammer with a pair of very used, very
ugly bracelets around her wrists. Why? Because the judge gave her time to do
a scheduled Playboy photoshoot where Ms. Lohan is supposed to appear - er -
Is there any other country with a functioning judiciary where this would
And yes, there's even more. The media says Ms. Lohan will likely spend no
more than a few moments behind bars because of overcrowding. Ms. Lohan is
supposed to have a drinking problem and drug problems. A three-year sentence
in any jail, crowded or not, should straighten her out. Of course, this
being America, the chances of an actual sentence for this purpose are less
than the chances of Mr. Herman Cain, GOP presidential candidate wannabe,
BTW, we don't want to go all mullah on our readers, but this person is a
former Disney star. This being America, its inevitable that as soon as she
is of age she is going to take off her clothes for a lot of money. We think
this is sick, but then what do we know, we're from Iowa.
0230 November 2, 2011
Greece: Danger of whiplash The danger is
to the ordinary person trying to follow what's happening. Day before
yesterday all seemed well, debtors had agreed to a 50% haircut on Greek
bonds. Yesterday it was all up in the air again. The Greek PM, out of the
blue, said he would submit the restructuring matter to a referendum vote.
There's a good chance the Greek people will say "to heck with restructuring,
we'd rather take the consequences of a default". Both the left and the right
are appalled, because the politicians don't want to leave the Eurozone. So
they're teaming up to defeat the call for a referendum. People are saying a
referendum cannot be held before January 15, 2012, and in a situation where
the financial markets react on a day-to-day basis, as commentators are
saying, January 15 is a lifetime. so there is a general freak-out going and
stock markets taking a beating worldwide.
We personally would as soon see Greece default because trying to keep it in
the Eurozone is totally dysfunctional. It does not belong, never did. if EU
is going to apply bandaids to keep an untenable situation going, well, it'll
catch up with the EU at some point. everyone pays homage to "the market",
but lets remember when things go south, the market can totally crush a
company or a country. Even with a 50% default, Greece cannot pay back the
remaining money. The austerity demanded by the US is sending the economy
into freefall, making it harder each day to repay even the reduced amount.
Give up, people. Let Greece go.
OUCH! The German violin child prodigy (now
26-years old) David Garrett tripped and fell on his Stradivarius violin and
now said violin is kind of dead. Repairing it will cost $100,000, mere
change considering these things go for $1.5-million and up, but its unlikely
to sound the same again.
Before you jump off the Chesapeake Bay bridge, there's still 600
Stradivarius violins left in the world.
On the other hand, considering road tolls are going up all over Maryland, if
you live in our beautiful state or have business here, you may still want to
jump off the bridge. If you put it off, you might not be able to afford the
toll to get on to the bridge to throw yourself off and end your toll-paying
Talking of tolls and infrastructure the
Washington Post is at it again. One of its columnists challenges the notion
that the US is approaching - say - Somalia in terms of infrastructure. The
columnist has a point when he says - or should be saying - that since Belize
has one road and one airport, just because they are in great condition
doesn't mean Belize should be put ahead of the US. Accepted.
But then columnist goes off the deep end. How can you compare, he says,
places like Switzerland and Germany with the US, which is so much larger. At
which point we are forced to ask "aaaaaaand?" US also just happens to have a
GDP that is that much larger than individual Euro countries. So its
perfectly fair to compare infrastructure in places like Finland or Sweden
with that in the US.
Then this genius columnist says you have to compare all the EU to all the US
because they're of a size. True. But at this point we again have to go
"aaaaaand?" Has it occurred to said columnist that half of the EU lived in
the dark ages before the fall of the Berlin Wall? US has been free,
independent, and enjoying a market economy since 1776. So what's the
justification for comparing the infrastructure of - say - Kosovo to that of
the US? Or Bulgaria or Poland or even East Germany for that matter.
When Editor lived in India, he used to be mightily annoyed that Indian
journalists thought they were experts on everything and could write
knowledgably on everything, usually ending up making total asses of
themselves. American journalists are supposed to be among the most
professional in the world. But when someone who is a political columnist
decides he's going to pontificate on infrastructure, unless he's spent ten
years studying the matter, he too is going to make an ass of himself.
And an undistinguished one at that, because in Washington we have gigantic
herds of asses of every variety. So an asinine WashPo columnist will likely
fail at being a notable ass.
Dear UK Daily Mail We've been planning to
write to you for some time, suggesting that you lay off Americans in your
scandal-drenched first page. After all, if we want to read about American
scandals, we can more usefully read an American tabloid. You severely overdo
the American angle, as if no scandals take place in the UK or Europe.
Teachers having sex with students (Americans)! Child abuse! (Americans.
Violent criminals! (Americans). People in bizarre relationships with their
pets! (Americans). Or is it your marketing department has said "put American
in the headline and you'll sell better than if you say Moldavian?
Case in point: your story yesterday headlines "American model fired after
speaking about passionate relationship with Gadaffi's son." Well, rather
than ogle the rather revealing photo of the American model, as you
undoubtedly expected us to do, we sternly kept our eyes on the story and
read it through.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2056263/Vanessa-Hessler-US-model-fired-supporting-Gaddafi-son-Mutassim.html
Okay. So this child has Italian and American parents. She was born in Italy.
So why is your story not labeled "Italian model?" Okay, so she spent ten
years of her childhood in Washington. But she is a model for a German
employer. So why not "German model"?
Now perhaps you think you'll sell better if you say "American model". But if
an American is reading your paper, he or she is going to say
"Booooorrrrrring!". If you want to have the Americans gasping and panting,
you'd do better to say "Italian" or "German" model. Us Americans think
Italian and German models are the very epitome of depravity - admittedly
ranking a poor second after British politicians who make our worst-behaved
politicians look like saints. Indeed, belonging as we do to the former
colonies, its built into our DNA that there is no depravity as depraved as
British depravity. The French? Poo-foo. The French don't have a clue about
real depravity. The Brits are the masters (or the mistresses) of the genre.
Now. As for your photograph of said model. Model is 23 years old, which is
why we said she's a child. The Americans are in(famous) for sexualizing
their girls the minute they turn - say - sixteen. But frankly, we thought
you Brits were not that into child pornography. At least not the
mainstream press. Shame on you. Next time you have to print a picture of an
American model - who is actually Estonian but once took a Delta flight from
Rome to London, which would make her American by your reckoning, can you
photoshop to show her in proper clothes? As any Victorian can tell you, the
less you show, the more left to the imagination and the more interesting.
(Okay, so the Editor had to tell the truth about his age but sometimes you
have to tell the truth to make an important point. Quite coincidentally, the
last time Editor had a date on Saturday night was when Vicky was still
Queen. There. Now you know how old the Editor is. And we bet you are not one
bit happier or a better person for knowing that. Thank you.)
0230 November 1, 2011
It turned out a good day after all: first major American casualty of
European crisis Honestly it did not start
as a good day. For some reason school was closed. so a day's earnings lost.
Then the assignment Editor had to do for university was making no sense. On
top of that, after spending four hours trying to find out what happened to
the Portuguese Army's 4th Cavalry Regiment, Editor had to admit what people
have been telling him all his life, that's he's plain crazy. But then
suddenly the day turned out very well. Why?
Well, a hedge fund company called MF something or the other has been forced
to shut down after regulators wanted to know what its exposure to Europe
was. Turns out, MF was quite exposed. The gig was up once the regulators
brought that nugget of information to face the fresh air, and voila, we have
the seventh largest bankruptcy in US history.
So, that a hedge fund has been shot to death is in itself very happy-making.
But the gent who headed this MF is the former head of Goldman Sachs,
ex-Senator and ex-Governor of New Jersey, Jon Corazine. Though he's a
Democrat, he is very much One-Of-Them responsible for the near collapse of
the American financial system. Editor tends to be a bit populist - which is
quite different from being a lefty which some accuse him of, so it was
deeply, deeply satisfying to see another know-it-all get his just desserts
when he tried to pull the same tricks he'd pulled at Goldman. And was All
Hallows Eve, yesterday to boot. Very symbolic.
Of course, Mr. Corzine is not going to be suffering much. He likely has a
couple of hundred million tucked safely away and in a year or so you'll
likely see him emerge, ready to pull another fast one using other people's
money. Scum always rises to the surface.
No so happy a day for the 2980 people who work for MF. But then, you just
know when you go to work for a hedge fund you're selling your soul to the
devil. Better to get a job at Burger King and die poor but with your
Portugal's 4th Cavalry Regiment so Editor
was updating Portugal Army, and lo, he noticed Portugal's 4th Cav was no
longer in the list of regiments on the Army website. This website is
specifically designed in a way no one can make any sense of it unless they
are in the Portuguese Army, which last we checked, Editor was not. The
French, at least, have the decency to tell you in advance when a unit is to
be disbanded. But sometimes official websites are inaccurate or plain wrong,
so in the absence of the 4 Cav Editor could not just assume its been
disbanded. Thus the four hour search. (Its because a training school.)
Four hours is a lot of time to devote to figuring out one unit on one Army
orbat. So why was the editor doing this? Well, he's putting together Concise
World Armies 2012. CWA has never sold more than $5000 in any year, and has
often sold less. It is proof of the adage content is nothing, marketing is
nothing. Editor can either work on the content or the marketing, he cannot
do both. After the ISP is paid for and half of the high-speed internet
connection (at least what passes for high-speed in America) and the annual
Maryland Property Filing Fee, and the couple of magazines Editor buys and
the inevitable diversion of sales money in the months he doesn't make the
mortgage, not much is left. So inevitably the experts Editor lured to work
for CWA with the promise of global fame and at least the price of a decent
evening out with their partner drifted off. So these days Editor basically
outs the entire book together himself. Larry Smith, who got this thing
started in 2000 is the only faithful feller left, and he has not been well.
In any case, when there's 220 orbats to be done, some brutally long like the
US, and some very short but with no data available like Vanuatu. there's
just so much Larry can do.
So considering Editor barely hangs on financially, month to month, does it
make any sense to bring out Concise World Armies to such a level of detail
that Portugal 4th Cav has to be accounted for?
You're right. It makes no sense at all. Ergo, ipso facto, ad hoc and
nevermore, Editor is bonkers. Orbat types tend to be obsessive compulsives
with many unpleasant habits and many problems. You try going to take a leak
when you're in your late sixties and have been sitting in front of the
computer for 8 hours without a break. Editor, alas, is among the most severe
OC types you are likely to encounter. There gets to be a point when doing
this kind of work for neither financial reward or acknowledgement, year
after year, becomes dysfunctional behavior.
As a poster in one of the schools Editor went to last week put it: "If you
go on doing what you are doing, you will get the results you've been
Very true. Now pardon us while we go back to search for just one more
Armenia Army brigade number. Just one more. Then we'll stop. We promise.
Then we'll spend four hours looking for just one more Azerbaijan Army
brigade number. Hahahahahaha!
And before you ask: Google Translate is supposed to convert Armenian to
English. It doesn't. But Armenian sure has a pretty script. Wish we could
figure out what it means.
0230 GMT October 31, 2011
Global warming, once more into the breach dear friends etc
So the issue was supposed to have been recently resolved. Some professor who
was a skeptic went back and looked at a gazzilion skmillion wiffillion data
points and said "I say, old chap, looks like I was wrong and there is global
warming". (He's an American, so its unlikely he said "I say, old chap", but
can our readers not interrupt while we're telling the story? We might forget
what we're telling. The world media said "the issue is resolved", and the
Editor was at peace, except that its more cost-effective to prepare for a
warmer world than to stop putting CO2 in the air and what not.
But now Daily Mail of UK says the issue is not settled. Someone took the
same data this professor used, and showed there has been absolutely no
increase in the last ten years. still further, when confronted with this
anomaly, El Professore admitted there has been no rise in 13 years but says
its a statistical fluke. As nearly as we understand it, you can say its a
statistical flue after decades into the future, and only if it turns out
these 13 years are a plateau but the temperature starts rising again. Since
we aren't in the future decades down the line, it cannot be said this is a
fluke. for example, some argue that among the pollutants we are pumping into
the atmosphere are some that cool the earth. Others argue warming/cooling is
caused by the sun's activities.
(we've become bored with this post, so we'll move on.)
The 1% doubles its share of national income
So, in 1979 the top 1% had ten percent of national income, now it has twenty
percent. That's the simple part. The difficult part is deciding (a) is this
a problem; and (b) if it is a problem, what is the solution. Here's reasons
why it is a problem.
First, the 1% have doubled their take not because they are harder working,
but because they've bought off Congress. And since they have that much more
money now, its easier for them to keep Congress bought, so that in thirty
more years we can look forward to them having 40% of the national income.
Second, if everyone is doing well, then no one particularly objects if one
group is doing better. But the 99% are not doing well. Non-supervisory
workers have seen their incomes go flat over the last 30 years. Others have
seen their incomes go up by a few percentage points. And right now you have
whacking great unemployment, with the additional problem that a whacking
great number of the employed are paid minimum wages.
Okay, so there's a problem. What's the solution? Our friends on the left say
tax the rich. Our friends on the right say cut back the federal government
so that we have more of our money to spend. Both solutions are deeply
flawed. Yes, the 1% shouldn't have the benefit of capital gains taxes and so
on, but as long as the own Congress nothing will be done. As for having more
of our money to spend, since when is the case that what the government takes
vanishes into a black hole? The government creates jobs and demand for your
and my services as much as the private sector. Does it do so more
efficiently? Surely in many cases it does not. But equally, there are areas
where the private sector cannot do a better job. Deciding where is the
boundary is not easy.
One that that severely diminishes the government's credibility is its habit
of complicating its solutions. We may all agree that everyone should have
health insurance, because it we don't, hospitals will pass on the cost of
treating the uninsured to the insured. So all these years those with
insurance have been getting beaten up with higher insurance rates. So why
couldn't the government have come up with a simple, minimum benefit plan for
the uninsured? Why not just give the uninsured vouchers to buy health care
and be done with it? why can't the government tell the truth and say "our
taxes will go up because there's no free lunch, but this is the right thing
to do - we don't let Americans starve to death, and it should be the same
for health insurance." But no. Government has to come up with a 4000-page
plan which will generate "savings" which will be used to pay for those
without insurance. If you believe there will be savings, you also believe
Santa Claus comes down the chimney and leaves presents. (If Santa really did
that, most of the time the "presents" would be deer plops.) The government
is so inept it has not explained that the insured are already subsidizing
(We've lost interest in our own argument so we will stop here, in
Letter on Kashmir from Sanjith Menon
May I know from
you the pros and cons of reliving AFSPA Armed forces special powers act in
J and K state. Many say that CI and CT will now be done by J&K Police in
urban areas! which to me is an alarming situation, because of the known
Jamaat Islami affiliations the police there have. Yasin Malik once captured
and sent to hospital, escaped from JKP guard is one incidence. The problems
leading to, 1989 insurgency to my mind is as a result of JI work in that
area. They consider themselves the progeny of the Mughals, and wants the
entire sub continent back in Muslim rule as it existed before the British
came in. Division of the Indian state again, under religious lines, to them,
is to recreate more divisions within India. I'm again reiterating I am no
communalist and have equal regards for Muslims as citizens in India.
From the Editor
Given the frequency with which the Editor insists on shoving his point of
view down readers' throats, it's always confusing to be actually asked for
an opinion. Particularly when one knows nothing of the subject. Sure, Editor
is happy to discuss any military aspects of Kashmir. But he has no clue what
are the internal politics except (a) the separatists are a bunch of looney
tuners because if they won independence from India, Pakistan would take them
over in 12 hours, and then they'd learn what repression is; and (b) we don't
see how a fraction of the population of Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh can claim
to speak for the entire region. The Valley Sunnis want independence, but no
one else does, including the Sikhs, Buddhists, Shias, and non-Valley Sunnis.
We've seen one study that says if a free vote were held 78% of the people
would vote against independence, not least because they know independence is
a mirage with Pakistan sitting across the border and claiming Kashmir.
But that's about all we know. In general, its not a good idea to use
military law to deal with insurgents and malcontents. In India, however, the
civil criminal justice system is weak. Police, witnesses and judges alike
are easily intimidated. So using civil law is not a solution either.
Personally, Editor does have a solution. Take over all Kashmir and be done
with it. Leaving the state divided between India and Pakistan is one of the
worst idiocies committed by the Government of India since 1947. It has
greatly weakened India and diverted attention from more important matters.
0230 GMT October 30, 2011
Saudis again being ultra-stupid
What is about people with money that makes their brain freeze? The brother
of a Saudi billionaire has pledged $900,000 to a Palestine cleric who has
offered $100,000 for the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier. The cleric wants
to force a trade for more prisoners held by the Israelis. The Saudi wants to
make it a million.
First, here is a member of the Saudi monarchy which runs the country with an
iron hand, worrying about the oppression of Palestine by Israel? What gives
any Saudi royal the moral standing to pass judgment on another country when
it comes to issues of self-rule and human rights?
Readers know we are against Israel's occupation of Palestine. But were we
Israeli, we'd recommend the government offer a public reward for the
kidnapping of a Saudi royal, the entire tribe being leeches of the worst
kind and contributing nothing to humanity. The Israelis could keep this
royal in reserve in case a soldier is kidnapped. Then they go tell the
Saudis: "you want your royal back, get our soldier back."
Second, what on earth makes this Saudi moron think the next time an Israeli
soldier is kidnapped, the government will release anyone in exchange? We
guarantee readers this was a one-off deal.
Now, in case readers don't understand why we are making a vitriolic attack
on a Saudi royal. That's because this lot is the biggest financier of
terrorists and that makes the ruling class are enemies of America. They need
to be obliterated, not pandered to. As long as America does not act against
the House of Saud, it can have no credibility in its claim to be fighting
terrorists. Oil is not an excuse: we have many times more than the Saudis.
We also despise the Saudis because they have a racial scale for paying money
in case a foreign worker gets killed. American and European white are at the
top of the scale. Indians and Bangladeshis are at the bottom. That alone, in
Editor's opinion, justifies the India government refuse to let Indian
nationals work in Saudi, and get the Saudi Embassy out of Delhi. Of course,
when it comes to kissing Saudi butt, there is one country that handily beats
the US, and that is India.
A sensible article on why the Eurozone bail-out will fail
This article was sent by reader Luxembourg, and you can read it at
http://tinyurl.com/3u7jl96 We'd summarize it for you, but it
deserves to be read in full.
Meanwhile, this is what passes for "experts" in global finance. One "expert"
has said that for Greece to leave the Euro would be a disaster as the
drachma would depreciate and that would make paying back Greek debts much
more expensive. Does this blithering idiot not realize that if Greece leaves
the Eurozone, it will default on its debt so there is no question of paying
anything back? As for a total default being deadly to Greece, bosh, tosh,
and nonsense. It will be deadly to owners of capital. Greece will go through
a few years of hardship, then it will straighten out. Meanwhile, there is so
much money floating around the globe that new lenders will arrive the day
after Greece defaults. They'll figure out some extra-clever way of insuring
their debt and everyone will be in business again.
What people who say "ooooh, default would be catastrophic" have yet to
explain why someone who lends money on interest has to be assured of 100%
security. People who invest in a business are taking a risk; if things go
well, they make money; if things don't go well, they lose money. That's
called capitalism. Why should it be different for people who invest in
By the way, someone told us the other the day that its just not true the US
has never defaulted. In 1933 the US said it wasn't going to pay its World
War I in bonds in gold as promised; instead it was going to pay in paper
currency. That's a default.
0230 GMT October 29, 2011
Iraq: And so it starts
Years ago orbat.com predicted once the Americans left Iraq, the country
would decide to breakup. Our reasoning was the Kurds not only want their own
state, they had one under US protection before US decided Kurds should be
part of a unified Iraq. But their nationalist aspirations would not be
squashed. We'd mentioned that an independent Kurd state would send Turkey
and Iran bananas, so it wasn't going to be an easy transition.
As for the Sunnis, the Shia 60% majority had no time for them or any wish to
live with them. And in any case serious ethnic cleansing took place. There
is a school of thought that it wasn't the surge and General Petraeus who
brought peace to Iraq as much as the Shias had achieved their objectives of
ethnic cleansing. This may be true, but its also possible to argue that the
surge stopped the Shias from massacring the Sunnis wholesale. That may not
have been an Iraqi objective, but it was a US objective. Still, we'd said
once the US leaves, if the Sunnis showed any inclination to live in peace
with the Shia, good old Head Terrorist al-Sadr would make sure they
regretted their choice.
So. US hasn't even left, and already the Shia's are striking out at the
Sunnis in Salahaudin Province, a Sunni majority area that was the birthplace
of Saddam Husain. Sunnis are being fired from government jobs and arrested.
with the US grip loosened, "arrested" is just like the good old Saddam days,
i.e., oftentimes the government doesn't feel like telling you where the
arrested person has been taken - or even if he is under arrest and not just
So, Salahaudin has declared itself autonomous. a symbolic gesture, we are
told, because the Iraqi constitution allows autonomy only by referendum.
This legalistic emphasis is, of course, 100% American. The point is that
with the US gone, the Shia government will resume settling scores as it
already is. The ready answer is "why are you getting upset, you yourself
engaged in de-Baathification, America." Of course, the Americans will say
"yes, but it was a mistake," and the government will gently say "no, no,
good buddies, you had it right the first time.
Now, one of the sensible things America could have done was arranged a
peaceful breakup. The Kurds and Shias can look after themselves - oil, and
lots of it; we'd suggested the US protect a Sunni homeland and give foreign
aid as the Sunnis would have no oil in their part. This would have saved the
vast expense of the surge and all that.
But the sensible thing and what America does are usually two quite different
things. This is not, as foreigners often tells us, because Americans are
blithering idiots - though they can often be, just as any other country can
be. Its because America is like a 100-armed octopus encircling the globe,
and America's logical course in one part of the world may conflict with
The obvious case in this region is Israel. In a purely geopolitical sense it
makes no sense to put Israel before all other American Arab interests. Not
only has the US done so, not only has it paid a colossal price, and not only
will this policy inevitable go down to defeat as the Arabs become democratic
- and therefore more determined to help Palestine, but you can see that
because of domestic compulsions, the US really has no choice but to support
Israel. (PS: everyone in the world knows it, which is why they smirk, laugh,
giggle, and make rude noises from their nether regions when the US pretends
that only it is capable of negotiating a peace for Palestine. As far as the
rest of the world is concerned, the US is the problem, not the solution. But
every country has its fantasies and the US is no different.)
We've already said that an independent Kurdistan would drive Turkey crazy,
and Turkey is a US ally. For how much longer one can't say, because the
country is fed up of begging to be called European, and more and more, it is
telling the west "the heck with you, we were great once, and we will be
great again". But anyway, for now it is an ally. If Kurdistan declares
independence, Iran and Turkey will invade, and that will not help the US.
So what about the Sunnis? Well, if the US got a peaceful Sunni secession US
might even recover some of the ground it lost with the Sunni Arabs when it
overthrew Saddam and let Iran rise. What are the chances US will follow this
course? About zero: US has too many problems to think clearly.
The thing to remember is there is nothing permanent about countries. India
and Pakistan were one country for millennia, but in 1947 they split. (Yes,
we know according to western political frames of references India was not a
country till the British made it one, but first, that is historically not
true, and second, western political norms are not the only norms in the
world, HELLO, people, get a life please.) When the Soviet Union broke up,
Ukraine and Belarus which had been part of Russia for centuries became
independent. The United Kingdom has been around for 400 years, well, its
decided to peacefully split, cooperating when its to everyone mutual
advantage and doing its own thing when that's more advantageous. And so on
and so forth - just the other day the newest new nation was born, South
Sudan. Afghanistan may split, Pakistan may split, and except that India has
a very strong center, there's all kinds of politicians who would just love
to have their own country in the name of self-determination, but with the
real purpose of becoming petty tyrants undisturbed by Delhi. Yugoslavia
split into seven states, for heavens sake. Czecho-Slovakia, get it?
Belgium would love to split, had its people time to spare from drinking beer
and eating chocolate. (And you know what? That's not a bad reason to stay in
the same country. Better reason than for Iraq to stay together.)
So it is with Iraq. As nations go, it is a latecomer. The west put Iraq
together from three provinces of the Ottoman Empire, after World War I, so
what is the big deal if the three provinces go their own way?
And never forget people, had the US stuck to its own constitution, the US
too would have been a country for less than a century. And going back a bit
further, the US itself was a part of Great Britain.
0230 GMT October 28, 2011
Libya NATO military ops end October 31
This has to be just about the shortest shooting war the US has been involved
in for many years, Panama excepted. Good job everyone - and please don't
forget to go home.
Updating Concise World Armies
for the next year, we're struck by how little the Europeans, Japanese, ROK
etc. spend on their defense - 1 to 2% is the norm. We spend a bit more than
6% when you count homeland security, coast guard, N-weapons, intelligence,
VA and so on. Editor hates to say this, because he's all for a strong
defense posture (or a strong offense posture, if you want to call a spade a
spade). Nonetheless, given the financial problems the US has, isn't it time
to rethink what we're doing?
The intel agencies, at least, are thinking of saving 25% of their IT budgets
by building converged systems - we're assuming "converged" means
Meanwhile, the new Zumwalt class destroyers
will be 14,500-tons. Aegis cruisers of today are 10,000 tons. The new
destroyers are not much lighter than the Baltimore-class heavy cruisers the
US Navy built during World War 2, about the biggest cruisers anywhere. Their
full-load was 17,000-tons.
Cannibalizing old satellites to build new ones - in space
Here's an innovative idea, which DARPA hopes to test in 2015. Use a space
robot to take parts from dead sats and make new ones - in orbit. If DARPA is
ready to test this idea in just three years, the odds are its been working
on it for several years now. And, of course, if you have a robot that can
assemble new satellites from old in space, the same feller could disassemble
satellites as well. Make it stealthy and other countries may not even find
out till its too late. Of course, the X-37 is already operational - the
second test mission has been underway for several months, if you want to do
a snatch and grab. Eat your heart out James Bond.
US GDP grows 2.5% 3Q - So why are we all feeling rotten?
These days 2.5% growth is something to write home about. But its no
consolation because (a) one decent quarter does not a real recovery make;
(b) the unemployment rate is not budging; (c) the housing market collapse,
which wiped out $7-trillion of Americans wealth, will not be straightened
out till 2020. Also, of course, construction is one of the biggest drivers
of the US economy, so if construction is in the doldrums, so are we all.
Plus there's the circus called the US Congress, which hasn't got a budget
together for a couple of years now, and can't agree on debt reduction.
Approval for Congress is in the single digits, which means 9 of 10 people
think its doing a lousy job. Its hard to find 9 of 10 Americans agreeing on
Then there's Europe, dark clouds over and all that. The Europeans are said
to have made progress in their current crisis, but you just know if lenders
exist Greece with 60% losses, Spain, Italy, and even little Ireland which
has not complained about the great misfortune that has come its way, will
start wondering why they are being required to pay 100 cents on the Euro.
Moreover, no one has decided who is going to take the 60% Greek loss. The
banks say the insurers should; the insurers are saying Greece has not
defaulted so they shouldn't have to pay. In Greece we were talking about
$300-billion. Italy and Spain are trillion dollar economies - $2-trillion
and $1.5-trillion respectively. If they start demanding partial repayment,
then we'll have Greece all over again times ten.
The question of if the government should subsidize new technologies with
guaranteed loans aside, people should remember if the government (public
sector) made a bad bet, so did the supposedly efficient private sector,
i.e., Solyndra itself. Aha, you say, but at least when a private company
mucks up, my taxes are not being used to subsidize it. Sorry, good buddies.
Every time a private company loses money, your taxes are being used, because
the company writes off its losses against taxes. Moreover, when a private
company decides to give itself lavish digs and private jets, you the
taxpayer are also subsidizing them, because they write if off as expenses.
We'd mentioned the other day that you and I don't get to deduct our expenses
from our taxes, except in limited ways. So why are companies allowed to do
that and not individuals?
We need to stop letting anyone deducting anything for anything, companies
and individuals both. If all income is taxes, not just net income, you could
reduce tax rates substantially.
0230 GMT October 27, 2011
Before you ask
no, Editor did not get a single dollar for his astonishingly creative of
bigotry yesterday. Editor senses racism: it seems if you are not a white
bigot no one takes you seriously enough to send money. But don't worry,
Editor will be back on this topic.
"Euro Armageddon is approaching, but it's too boring and complicated to
says Daniel Knowles of the UK Daily Telegraph. We like this youngster
already. He refers us to an article
- "JP Morgan analyst explains the Euro crisis with Lego" and says the
explanation is no more absurd than the explanations people are giving for
the Euro crisis. He says no one understands what is going on, let alone what
to do about it, and the whole thing is going to blow up.
This is the first sensible thing we've heard anyone say about the Euro
Now all we need is for an American to truth-tell about the US economy. No
one knows what to do and things are getting steadily worse. Admitting this
might be a vital step to actually understanding the crisis.
"A revolution is not a tea party"
Mao allegedly said. Someone quoted this in reference to the revenge the new
government's fighters are extracting against the loyalists, even as the
Human Rights people go burbling along about "war crimes". The Libyan people
suffered 42 years of violence at Gadaffi's hands. If anyone thinks now,
snap, from Day 1 the former rebels are going to establish and follow
standards acceptable to the Hague when it comes to treatment of the former
regime members and those fighters who refused to surrender, they need their
heads examined. And suggestions some Human Rights people are making that
somehow NATO is responsible are the height of absurdity.
What the west does need do, nevertheless, is to get out of Libya and let the
Libyans take care of themselves.
However they do it. The Libyan government is asking NATO not to end its
mission for now and to help with rebuilding. Negative, negative, negative.
Nation-building is the way to danger. The US in particular is absolutely no
good at anything to do with peace. It is good at war, and as anyone knows,
its best to play to one's strengths and not to one's weaknesses. US should
be focusing on whacking Bashir Assad of Syria, not trying to get fractious
and probably irreconcilable Libyan tribes together.
So the Tunisian election winners want Sharia law
They don't have a majority, but are the largest party and are looking to
form a coalition. They are mumbling things about respecting all religions,
the usual kind of baffling them with bull-poop. should we be worried?
Not one little bit. Lets go back a bit.
The US rationale for supporting every tin pot dictator during the Cold War -
at least the ones the Soviets weren't supporting - was that otherwise those
countries would fall to the communists.
Now, we're not blaming anyone, because it sure looked that way to anyone on
the scene in the late 1940s. First the Soviets snuffed out the democracies
of Eastern Europe that had the audacity to restore their democracies after
the fall of Germany. Then the communists took over China, which had been a
US friend/ally. Then the Soviets were busy stirring up trouble in Western
Europe. Then came the Korean War, and half of Korea went red. Then the
communists defeated the French. Huge swaths of the newly decolonized world
declared themselves to be "socialist", not least India, the largest of the
ex-colonial nations, and made kissy-faces with the Soviets. There was a
brutal civil war in Greece. Egypt fell to "socialists". The Red army was
poised to roll west. Etc etc.
So the US thinking the dictators had to be supported - ROK, South Vietnam,
Indonesia, South and Central America, Africa, etc etc.
But ultimately what happened - we argue - is that our opposition gave the
other side and its dictators an excuse to maintain their hold on power. This
delayed the fall of communism.
While the mistakes we made back then were inevitable, there is no need to
make these mistakes again. There is no need to replace the Red Menace with
the Green Menace. You either believe Rousseau when he said it is humankind's
natural instinct to be free, or you don't. If you believe that, when those
oppressed by the Green Menace ask for help, by all means give it in a
low key way, the way we are doing in Iran. If the Greenies don't leave us
alone, whack them, as we are doing in Yemen. But for the rest, let the
people of these countries figure out things for themselves.
For the rest, be nice and polite to everyone, be they Taliban, Egyptian
Brotherhood, Tunisian Islamists, whatever. By all means use all the low key
tools at your disposal to get them to change their behavior. but don't
confront them directly. Its not going to work.
The odds anyone will listen to our prescription are zero
Republicans and Democrats alike cannot come to terms with the reality the
American star is setting. They want to lash out in every direction, just to
prove to themselves that Americans are still a virile race who by sheer
force of arms can impose their will on anyone. No use pointing out to these
people that our experience in Afghanistan shows just how impotent we are.
People say we should have sent 250,000 troops to Afghanistan. Perhaps we
should have. But we couldn't because the fading will of the American people
no longer permits sacrifice. we've become soft - it had to happen, since we
won the greatest war known to humans, the Cold War. (In terms of people
killed of course it wasn't anything to write home about. But in scope, it
was the biggest war of all - no corner of the world was not involved.)
A sign of decadence and degeneracy is when a nation is not willing to
sacrifice to maintain its position but still screams and shouts threats left
and right, as if that will make us number one again. Our leaders owe it to
us to tell us the truth: are we willing to increase taxes by 50% and double
the size of the military? If we're not, its best to pull back from foreign
adventures. And there's a limit to what UAVs can do, by the way.
And have we forgotten Second Indochina? We sent 750,000 troops to that war,
spent seven years in direct combat, and imposed no restraints on ourselves
except rule out the use of nuclear weapons. And using nukes at Khe San would
have really made the US look good in the world, wouldn't it have? We'd have
used them if we thought we could get away with it.
Now its true as one grows older one's memory gets a little fuzzy. So maybe
we need the youngsters to read up their history and tell us: that was one
heck of a glorious victory, Second Indochina, wasn't it? It wasn't? See,
we've been telling you when Westy asked for an additional 250,000 troops
after Tet, LBJ should have sent them.
But more seriously, you know what? America did actually pacify South
But it paid such a price that when Giap came down with his third army -
having lost the first two, in 1968 and 1972, Congress wouldn't even approve
$850-million for ordnance for the South Vietnamese, and it wouldn't send its
tactical fighter wings and attack carriers back, and Giap won.
And today Vietnam is a BFF of ours. Wouldn't it have been simpler to be
polite to Ho in the first place?
And so with the Green Menace. The fundamentalists may hate American social
values all they want. But you know what? Because American social values
appeal to the basest of our instincts, they are insidious. They cannot be
fought off. No one can fight off sex, music, and having a great time. The
Greenies will lose if they try.
Somehow people thought it was just an ironical coda that the soldiers
and sailors who took out Bin Laden found pornography in his digs. It wasn't
an ironical coda. It was the whole point: it showed just how badly Bin Laden
and his vision of restoring some hypothetical Islamic purity failed. It
wasn't the bullet in the head that defeated him. Che Guevara died and became
a hero. It was western pornography that completely undercut everything OBL
said he stood for.
0230 GMT October 26, 2011
Operation Long Knife is actually Operation Short Knife
We can all relax; contrary to reports in British papers last week US is not
about to chase Haqqanis in Pakistan. Operation Long Knife is confined
strictly to the Afghanistan side of the border and involved two US brigades
plus an alleged 25,000 Afghan troops. The Afghan figure can be that high
only if the US is counting sheep and goats.
All this operation will do is push the Haqqanis into Pakistan, back on their
main bases. Then the US will say to Pakistan "Your move, we closed the
border as you demanded." Then Pakistan will either do a pretend operation or
refuse to do anything at all. Then the US will put pressure on Pakistan.
Then the Pakistanis will threaten to stop cooperating. Then the US will go
kissy faces. This is what is happening right now, after Pakistan's threats
in response to US threats about the Haqqanis.
Don't worry if none of this makes sense. Our national security and military
leadership is the best in the world, or so we're told. Best jackasses in the
world, more likely. To humor whom the taxpayer is paying $100-billion/year.
No problemo: we're the richest country in the world, aren't we?
Why is it Rush Limbaugh makes millions being an idiot
and the Editor barely makes the monthly mortgage? Is it Mr. Limbaugh's case
he is a bigger idiot than the Editor? If so, Mr. Limbaugh had better be
ready to settle this question in the boxing ring, because thems fighting
Mr. Limbaugh's latest is that the Lord's Resistance Army is a Christian army
fighting Muslims and here Mr. Obama is sending troops to finish of the LRA.
This is news to us that the LRA is fighting Muslims, because all it does is
to kidnap children, rape, loot, murder, mutilate, and burn down villages.
Mr. Limbaugh had better be prepared to show where in the New Testament Jesus
told his followers that that's how one becomes Christian.
It drives Editor into a jealous fury that this Limbaugh Clown is paid for
his inanities whereas the Editor is not paid for his. Where is the justice?
Does Editor have to say that Gadaffi was a sweet, loveable man who was
simply assisting his citizens in getting to heaven quicker by killing them,
and as such he was a true saint, and instead of villifying the man we should
be sending his name to the Pope? Okay, if that's what it takes to see some
serious $$$, the Editor says that. Editor also says that Mao's killing of
40-50 million Chinese in the Great Leap was a mercy because China couldn't
have fed all its people. Similarly, Stalin was a humanitarian because as
everyone knows, the Soviet people had short, miserable, unhappy lives and he
was putting them out of their misery. The point that Stalin was making them
miserable in the first place is completely beside the point.
As for Hitler, its all the west's fault for defeating Germany in World War
I. Had the French had the decency to lie down and think of England in
winter, and the English to think sex is something the French do and is
un-English, and the Americans to mind their own business, Germany would
have won World War I and there would have been no Hitler. And Hitler
actually did America a favor by persecuting Jews, otherwise so many
brilliant Jews would not have fled to America and where would we be then?
Probably 100th in terms of infrastructure instead of the 35th we actually
are. The other thing Hitler did that was really good was that he stole so
much by way of food from France that the French didn't have enough to eat,
and goodness gracious, French women have never been as slim and gorgeous
before or after. How can anyone in their right mind criticize Hitler?
As for Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and al Shaabab, its all the fault of the
Christian armies that stopped the Muslim onslaught at the gates of Vienna.
Naturally Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and al Shaabab feel thwarted and unhappy
that they have no pictures of the Kardashian Sisters or New jersy Snookie.
And just think: had the Muslims taken over Europe we'd be saving so much
money on police, judges, and jails because thieves would simply get their
hands cut off. We would not need a Securities and Exchange Commission or
Dodd-Frank because Mr. Blankfein and his buddies would have no arms, legs,
or head, and could not rob us again. Women would not be allowed to drive so
they'd have to stay home and cook, and America would not be committing
suicide by eating junk food. And since women would not be allowed out except
in the company of a family male, they wouldn't be assaulted. As for the
Turks and the Armenians, if Mr. Obama did not insist that No Child is Left
Behind, we could all grow up ignorant and not have the faintest idea where
Armenia and Turkey are or what happened 100 years ago. Ignorance is Bliss,
Knowledge Leads to Hate.
Then if the west didn't have these silly rules about not making a public
nuisance, we could be like the Indians and go pee against the lamp-posts and
in the alleys, saving enough flush water to save the Florida swamps, And as
for the Chinese - okay, give us a minute and we'll think of something
snarky, tasteless, and totally false to say about the Chinese. How about if
we hadn't brought civilization to China they would have no cars to drive,
the price of oil would be SO much lower, and the Chinese wouldn't be
manipulating the price of rare earths because they would have no idea that
the earths were rare.
We have to stop here and check
email@example.com's PayPal account.
Doubtless the Editor is already at least a 1-millionaire.
0230 GMT October 25, 2011
Wikileaks founder deserves F in arithmetic
This gentleman says that donation were running at Euro 100,000/month before
the US told crfedit card companies and PayPal to block Wikileaks' account or
else. This cost the organization Euro 40 to 50 million he says. Right.
Arithmetic time, people. Lets give Wikileaks E100,000/month for all of 2010
and through October 2011. That's 22 months. That's E2.2-million, not
He further says the organization needs E3.5-million to operate next year,
which is three times what it was getting in 2010. Is it permitted to ask why
this 300% increase, and where did the E100,000/month of last year go?
The gentleman said the financial difficulties mean Wikileaks will have to
cease publications at the end of 2011. We weep for him.
Further, he has complained to European authorities that the financial
blockade against Wikileaks is anti-competitive.
Well, actually no. By being in possession of, and by publishing classified
material, Mr. Wikileaks committed a crime in the US, and possibly in the UK
too, but very likely not in Sweden. Of course he doesn't want to go to
Sweden for well-known reasons. Since he broke US law, US government has
every right to tell any financial institutions handling money from him that
also does business in the US, which is just about everyone in the world
except perhaps for the Fifth Bank of The Iranian Revolutionary Guards, that
it must cease and desist.
Mr. Wikileaks thought he was being so clever exposing the US and other
governments and capitalist organizations like Bank of America. Honestly, it
does not pay to antagonize the US Government. People don't understand to
what extent the US Government will go, spending millions or tens of millions
if it must, to get you if you get into a grudge match with Washington. And
if Mr. Wikileaks thinks the US diplomatic cables thing is over, he is
misinformed. The US will be waiting for as many years as neccessary to get
The man who killed Gadaffi
freely tells the world he did it because he had the dictator in his power
and could not bear to let him go alive. To prove he did the deed, he
displayed the blood-stained T-shirt and ring he took from Gadaffi. Obviously
this gentleman did not get the message from western human rights groups that
he committed a war crime, because here is boasting about the deed.
And people, good luck getting him arrested. People will start shooting if
the Libyan government tries to take him into custody at the West's behest.
The photographs released by a media organization lead us to question whether
Gadaffi would have survived even if he had not been shot. He was repeatedly
beaten with force on his head and face, and probably the only thing that
stopped the blows was he was killed. So perhaps the man did Gadaffi a favor,
finishing him off all at once instead of letting him suffering further.
Cryptographers break 18th Century Copiale Cipher
but early 1400s Voynich manuscript still untouched.
0230 GMT October 24, 2011
In the absence of real news, the Editor will now proceed to pontificate. This
might be a good time to take that nap you've denied yourself all last week.
Separating corporation and state
Someone said the other day that we have a constitutional separation of
church and state. Now we need to separate corporation and state.
This makes sense, given that the money is the new religion and the oversize
corporation its high priest. Editor is reminded of a saying in India: when
you give money to the priest at the temple, he says "I will now throw the
money into the air; God's share will rise to heaven, mine will fall back to
earth." Seems the Indians - as usual - were way ahead of the rest of the
world, because this is pretty much how much a modern large corporation
So here you have the corporations, whining, weeping, wailing, and
threatening the government and the people: "unless you dismantle
regulations, you will kill jobs." Who knows: the corporations may be right.
In which case we, the people, should offer a deal: we'll vote to get rid of
the regulations, if you stop buying up Congress to support your bottom line.
We have the unedifying sight of the big corporations insisting that private
enterprise is efficient, and government is not. The recent recession, which
will likely go on for years, was brought about by those supposedly efficient
big corporations like the banks. America likely would be restricted to
making car parts for Japanese, German, and Chinese automobiles had
Washington not bailed out the auto companies. You want examples of private
efficiency, visit the balance sheets of the airline companies over the last
40 years. if the government stopped the home mortgage deduction, the
construction industry would likely collapse. It would be interesting to see
what would happen to the profits of the oil industry if the government made
them pay the real cost of getting overseas oil to the US, i.e., having them
pay for security of the sea lanes. Readers might also want to contemplate
what would happen to the American pharma industry if the government withdrew
the de facto protection it gives the industry with its myriad rules, which
work against those who can sell drugs in the US at prices ten to twenty
Are we then saying that the government should run the oil companies, the
banks, the airlines, the auto manufacturers, and so on? No, we are not
saying that. We are saying that big business in the US thrives because
it manipulates the government to slope the level field.
Further, if the big corporations insist they are people and as such enjoy
the right of free speech as expressed in their paying hundreds of million
dollars a year to buy politicians, let the corporation pay the same taxes as
the people. We are not talking about tax rates. We are asking why
corporations get to pay taxes only on their profits, and get to use
thousands (tens of thousands?) of loopholes to minimize those profits,
including keeping the money outside the US, whereas you and I get to pay on
our income. By the way, keep your overseas income overseas and not
pay tax on it, and see what the government does to you. You will not be a
happy camper, we can assure you. If corporations claim the rights of
individuals, let them pay tax as individuals. Then the government could
seriously reduce tax rates for everyone, corporations and individuals alike.
Some readers might accuse us of being anti-capitalist. Wrong. We are firmly
capitalist. But if the government is to stay out of the way of capitalists
by dismantling regulations, then equally the corporations should accept no
unequal treatment from the government. The combination of corporations and
government working hand-in-hand is NOT capitalism. It is state-supported and
state-protected business. Quite different.
0230 GMT October 23, 2011
More confusion in Libya
Gadaffi's son Saif was first reported critically injured by an RAF strike
and captured. Now it turns out he may have escaped. How a man with his arms
blown off can escape custody is a great mystery to us. It would seem
unlikely he could survive for more than an hour or so after such serious
injuries unless immediately hopitalized,
Meanwhile, according to investigations of records in Tripoli,
the government estimates Gadaffi stashed $200-billion overseas. This being
Libya, the figure could be revised to $20-billion or even $2-billion. Given
how casual the Libyans are about their claims of having killed or captured
former regime officials, a few zeroes here and there should not be taken too
The details of the air strike against the Gadaffi convoy
are available at
The article clearly shows the Libyan militias remained incompetent to the
end. The British SAS and Qatari SF advisors had warned the militias to watch
all exit routes from Sirte. So naturally they did not watch, which is about
par for the course. Luckily a US Predator picked up the convoy, handed off
to a NATO E-3 AWACS, which directed two French fighters for the attack.
We thought we were being quite bold when we predicted Greece bond-holders
would have to take a 50% loss. Now a new figure is being tossed around, 60%.
Which will still leave Greece heavily indebted and unable to make payments
because its economy is rapidly deteriorating due to the budget cuts and tax
increases. So don't be surprised if even 60% proves too optimistic.
Colder weather driving New York protestors away
says Brietbart.com at
The protestors are not allowed to erect tents, and so are facing the
elements. Of course, winter has nowhere near arrived, there's still two
months of fall. The protestors have asked permission for tents. Mayor
Bloomberg says that the constitution guarantees free speech. It does not
Romney assails Obama for incompetent Iraq negotiations
Clearly Mr. Romney thinks he could have negotiated better and kept US troops
in Iraq - for what purpose is unclear. Question for Mr. Romney: has he
heard of a certain terrorist called al-Sadr, who is now an elected member of
parliament and without whose large faction no one can form a government in
Iraq? Does Mr. Romney think he could have persuaded al-Sadr to change his
mind? al-Sadr was willing for some thousands of US troops to remain -
horse-trading with Premier Maliki, who probably would have accepted ten or
twenty thousand troops. But al-Sadr said "no immunity".
It isn't too late. President Obama should send Romney to persuade al-Sadr to
change his mind. One meeting with the Bearded Self-Proclaimed Messiah of
Iraq, with his crazy eyes and venomous mouth, will lead to Mr. Romney
catching the next plane back.
But why keep American troops in Iraq, anyway? Mr. Romney says to counter
Iran's influence. Dear, dear Romney. Straight as an arrow and confused as a
6-year old whose ice cream cone has been stolen by an armed and dangerous
escaped circus monkey.If you were so worried about Iran, maybe you should
have advised President Bush not to overthrow Saddam. In case you haven't
figured it out, overthrowing Saddam gave Iran its greatest foreign policy
victory since whenever. Iraq is a democracy, Shias are 60% of the
population, so Shias rule. Iran is Shia. Get that, Mr. Romney? The ties
between Iraqi Shia leaders and Iran are extensive and deep. Can you
understand? And here's a little hint: Iraq is going to start joining Iran in
funding Shia insurgencies in the Arab world. There's a whole world of pain
waiting for the US.
Karzai says he will side with Pakistan in case of war with the US
This is what happens when you Americans fail to make sure Karzai is taking
his medicine. Is this any way to conduct your foreign policy?
Our theory is Karzai is going kissy-faces with the Pakistanis in the hope
Islamabad lets him continue as President after the Americans leave. Are the
Pakistanis crazy? Doubtful. When the Taliban take Kabul, if Karzai hasn't
run away to his restaurant in Washington DC, he will be the first person
publically executed. Then Amnesty International can declare his death a war
crime and demand explanations of the Taliban. (Sometimes we really crack
0230 GMT October 22, 2011
What's going on along the Pakistan border?
We spoke with our South Asia correspondent, Mandeep Bajwa. He hasn't heard
anything, but he says a big raid to capture some of the Haqqani leadership
is likely in the offing.
The 1883 comet
We hope you read the article reader Luxembourg said and that we linked to in
This is not science fiction, but an article in MIT's Technology Review.
Looks like this feller was in some 3000+ pieces, each between 50- and
800-meters across and 70- to 1,000-meters long.. The comet was between
600-million and 2.5-trillion tons. It was likely 600- to
6000-kilometers from earth as it went by. A bit closer and earth would have
been whacked over 3000 times in two days. Okay, so most of the fragments
would have landed in the oceans because water covers most of our planet. But
events near coasts would have led to tsunamis, and several hundred impacts
with the continents would have created a big mess.
The thing about the universe is that it an incredibly violent place. And the
universe does not care that we are living on earth. It does not care what we
have achieved. In the universe, if your number comes up, that's it.
The asteroid that hit the Yucatan sixty-million years ago was ten-kilometers
across. Now Indian scientists say it was likely only one of seven pieces of
rock that hit the earth at the same time or close together in time. What a
mess that must have been.
We are not suggesting you live your every moment as if an asteroid is going
to whack us, but a bit of humility about our importance in the universe
might not be a bad thing.
What kind of economy does America have?
Clearest explanation we've seen comes from Nassim Taleb, himself a Wall
Street guy who wrote the The Black Swan. Business weeks quotes him as
saying that America is neither capitalist nor socialist, its just somehow we
all work for the banks. so true. Now we need a name: "Bankist" doesn't have
zing. Neither does "Financeist". But the motto of the new American economy
comes easy: "What yours is ours, and what is ours is ours".
Occupy Wall Street
We sympathize with the OWS lot, as long as we don't have to look upon their
Super Grubby appearance and encampments. For once the American police are
being sensible, because nothing acts as an accelerant more than repression.
Now, while we sympathize with OWS, the inevitable question arises: what's to
be done about Wall Street? Wall Street controls the presidency and the
Congress, and we doubt the big finance CEOs are weeping in their pink
hankies because OWS hates them. You don't get be a Louis Blankfein or John
Paulson by being sensitive to what others think of you. Its easy to say:
"Call out the vote". But it doesn't matter who you elect, the money people
are going to buy them.
Remember, the richest people in America don't make a thing. They push pieces
of paper around (more accurately they push bytes around) as they gamble with
your money. If they win, the gains are all theirs.If they lose, the losses
All right, children, have your fun beating up President Obama on this energy
subsidy thing. Just keep in mind, its a 2005 Bush program. The pigs feeding
at the taxpayer trough have no political ideology when it comes to looting
And people can gripe all they want, it doesn't change the hard reality:
according to one estimate we read (by the industry and likely to be
exaggerated) last year the Chinese subsidized their solar power energy to
the tune of $29-billion. Even if its a third that, its a whacking great
amount of money. So how are you supposed to compete when Chinese solar
panels sell for a quarter of good quality western ones? Sure, classical
economics says, well, let the Chinese make the solar panels, we'll make what
we're good at and sell it to them.
Problem is, no one has come up with what to make that the Chinese will buy
from us. Or at least continue buying after they reverse engineer or buy the
technology, and then make it at half the price, while blocking your exports.
Gadaffi's son Mutassim was also executed after capture. Apparently someone
cut his throat. Meanwhile son Saif has been captured. One set of reports
said he was shot in the leg as he sought to escape near Ziltan, west of
Tripoli. But other reports say his vehicle was caught by an RAF Tornado and
he has lost both his arms. We are not to going bet on his chances, giving
the way his father and brother died.
By the way, the French aircraft that strafed the convoy in which Gadaffi
fled Sirte killed at least 50 people in the convoy.
Why are we mentioning this? Well, for some reason people now days think war
is an antiseptic video game. Unfortunately it is not. People are getting
horrified at the remains of what was Gadaffi. But where is the video of the
1200 prisoners who were executed in prison many years ago, just some of the
60,000 disappeared, or the videos of the thousands of executions Gadaffi
forces conducted during the uprising? We are not going to sit here and
moralize about the bad, bad former rebels, now government troops. If you'd
lost family and friends to a bloodthirsty dictator, you'd fight to be the
first to stick a knife in him. Many of the troops in Sirte are from
Misurata, which particularly suffered from the siege by Gadaffi forces. If
they want blood, we for one understand. People keep talk of Libya being a
tribal nation. Well, are we modern types so "sophisticated" that we don't
understand the concept of blood debt?
Kenya and Somalia
The Kenyans have now openly stated they will take Kisaymo and stay there as
long as is neccessary to extirpate Al Shabaab from the area.
0230 GMT October 21, 2011
every hour brings a new story about how the former Libyan dictator died.
Latest is Libya government chief saying he was captured alive (video shows
he was) but then his followers tried to rescue him and he died by a bullet
to his head.
So let's cut the obfustication and say he was executed, for whatever reason.
The question is, so what? Why is Amnesty calling for fair, impartial
investigations? This kind of rot may play in New York and among Amnesty's
funders - "Oh we are so fair we demand due process even for dictators", it
does not play in Libya. Did the US do anyone a favor by giving Saddam "due
process", let alone Saddam himself? Do Saddam supporters believe he got a
fair trial? No. So for whose benefit was that sordid drama played out?
America's, so that it could assure itself it was both humane and fair. You
can say the US captured and held Saddam, so its okay for America to have
But the same does not apply in Gaddafi's case. Amnesty may raise the alarm:
Victor's Justice. Honey, it is always Victor's Justice. A prime example is
the execution by the US of Japanese officers responsible for water boarding
American prisoners. But when it suits/suited us, we water boarded Al Qaeda
prisoners, including one reportedly well over one hundred times.
Amnesty needs to understand the world does not become a better place in all
cases when the US system of justice is applied. Gaddafi died on the
battlefield, he died quickly. He was spared the suffering and humiliation of
imprisonment and a "trial". if Amnesty wants to protest, let it protest that
Gaddafi got away too easily.
Don't expect peace in Libya
As commentators have repeatedly said, Libya is less a nation than a grouping
of 3-4 major tribes. No different from a lot of Africa, and an issue that
lies at the heart of African violence. The process by which the tribes agree
to a new government and abide by the rules will not be easy or quick.
Gaddafi, like Saddam and Assad of Syria, did not have this problem. If you
were from the wrong tribe and objected, you died. Expect a big mess as a new
nation is built, and don't be surprised if people decide they can't live
together and should have separate nations. Nothing wrong with that. America,
pay heed, because your turn may be coming sooner than you think.
India's amphibious division
Reader Avik B sends a story saying India's 54th Infantry Division is being
reorganized as an amphibious division. This ties in with the earlier news
that India wants to increase the number of amphibious brigades, and also
ties in with the already-underway expansion of Indian Navy amphibious
capability. Aside from plans for for 4 LPDs at a cost of $800-million each
(approval expected to be given shortly by Ministry of defense) a contract
was signed last month for 8 x 800-ton LCUs of Indian build. There are
already 9 LST (including 3Medium) and 8 LCUs; we're wondering if the
existing LCUs 500-tons will be replaced when the new ones arrive.
0230 GMT October 20, 2011
Kenyan troops in conjunction with the Somali government plan to drive on to
the port of Kisamayo, which is the nerve center of Al Shabaab in southern
Somalia. The Islamist group is no position to withstand the Kenyan assault,
which is being conducted by well-trained troops with artillery support.
accordingly the group is threatening terror strike against Kenya.
The problem with Al Shabaab is that it has created great difficulties,
instabilities, and uncertainties in all of Eastern Africa. Uganda and
Burundi intervened under the aegis of the African Union, and after many
years of undermanning/underfunding, the force became effective last year
with reinforcements. Al Shabaab took a beating in Mogadishu and was forced
to abandon the capital, leaving it to resort to terror attacks, which it has
been doing. Kenya has opened up a new front and is obviously looking to do
serious damage to the group. This may be no more than a heavy punitive raid
to retaliate against kidnappings of foreigners in Kenya. In which case Kenya
will withdraw after getting to Kisamayo and bashing Al Shabaab there.
Al Shabaab managed to fight off the Ethiopian intervention 2006-2009.
The west, of course, has no intention of really getting involved despite the
havoc Somali pirates are wrecking in the Western Indian Ocean. But unless
some sort of resolution is brought about, Somalia will continue to fester
and infect the entire region.
Meanwhile, we have not mentioned the new Somali famine which is causing much
suffering. The west has had it with coming to the aid of starving Somalis,
particularly with Al Shabaab saying any aid given to areas under its control
has to come through the group. The non-western countries, of course, care
less by several orders of magnitude. The sum of all this is the attitude
"its just another bunch of dysfunctional black Africans dying for one reason
or another, lets mind our own affairs."
In the intervention business, black Africans as victims rank dead last in
the world. Five million of them died in the Congo war, the deadliest
conflict since World War 2. The vast majority were civilians. Their bad
luck, as far as the world is concerned.
The US operation against the Haqqanis is called "Knife Edge".
There are no details at all available except the idea is to push the
Haqqanis into Afghanistan where they will be dealt with by the US. The media
keeps saying "US and Afghan troops". The day we see an Afghan brigade in
action, we'll believe it. We aren't holding our breath.
We have no comment on this operation because we have no idea what's going
www.longwarjournal.org has nothing, and this blog has excellent
contacts in the US military. So we are wondering if an operation is underway
in the first place.
The economy is worse than you and I think it is
according to an economic journalist writing for Reuters. He has gone through
the payroll figures released for 2010, and says that aside from everyone's
income falling except the very rich, ten million Americans worked zero hours
Herman Cain's 9-9-9
Excerpts from a letter, name withheld by request. "You have misunderstood
Herman Cain's proposal. First, revenue will not fall because tens of
millions of Americans who currently pay no federal taxes will have to start
paying. second, it is true - as alleged by the media - that the better off
and rich will pay less by way of taxes. But have you asked yourself why rich
people should pay a greater percentage of their income than poor people.
There is nothing in the Constitution which says "Each according to his
means". The US Constitution explicitly says all citizens are to be treated
equally under the law. How is it just for half of US taxpayers to not just
pay nothing by way of federal taxes, but to actually receive subsides paid
for by the taxes of the better off. Income redistribution is socialist
and/or communist. It is nothing in which a free country should engage.."
We want to tell our letter writer that these days Editor does not do much
thinking. His days and nights are occupied with making his mortgage. It is
his sole asset and he doesn't want to lose it because he wants to leave
something for his children. Coming home with $93/day after taxes for the
15-17 days a month one gets work does not cover the mortgage. There's a
miserly Social security check - miserly because the Editor had to ask for it
early, and a pension from Catholic Schools which is sort of interesting in
an abstract way: it is too small to have any relation to reality. Every
month Editor draws down on savings to make do.
Okay, he realizes he is fortunate because he is still in his house, and he
still has savings to make up the difference for a couple of years. There's a
terrible lot of people who have neither house nor savings.
Editor is going to leave the economic philosophy to others. Instead he is
going to ask a question. Whatever the justice or injustice of taxing the
rich more than others, if this economy does not improve - and there are no
signs it will for several years - at some point people are going to
desperate. Then they're going to get mad. Then they're going to kill the
rich - and anyone else who gets in the way. You'll notice that when the
killing starts, the innocent suffer more than the guilty. Whatever.
How do the rich propose to protect themselves? Put the power of the state
against the people? Haven't we understood by now that's a losing
Now, Editor is not going to be leading a mob to the house of whoever are the
rich people in Washington DC. Truthfully, if it gets really bad, Editor can
see his house, give the money to his kids, and go back home. The social
security and pension he gets is quite enough to live on comfortably. Of
course, he will have 1.2-billion neighbors and probably go mad from the
heat, dust, noise, and overcrowding, as happened during his 20 years as an
adult in Mother India, but you can't have everything.
Americans have nowhere to go. They'll have to fight.
One hopes that people see sense, stop blathering ideology, left and right,
and get the country moving again. But then one hopes one gets a date on
(BTW, back home there is no shortage of dates on Saturday night, or any
night, or any afternoon and morning.)
Good luck America. Editor is off to bed:
he has to wake early to go earn his $93 "teaching" kids the majority of whom
don't want to be in school, don't want to learn (many can't learn for
various reasons), and don't understand their parents are paying heavy local
taxes for them to get an education. Free universal education is a noble
ideal, but truthfully again, public education in America's big cities is
proof of the proposition when people are not directly paying out of their
pocket for a public service or good, they have little value for it and will
If Editor's parents understood that even the poorest of them are paying
thousands of dollars in state taxes, county taxes, sales taxes and so on for
the schools, they would confiscate all their kids' gadgets, thrash them
twice a day on principle, and cut their rations if they don't come home with
a good grade.
Like our hero Glen Beck, we're just saying.
Today editor had a young lady who wouldn't put away her I-pod and I-phone
till the Editor said he'd have to walk her over to the Principal's office.
She put the stuff away with multiple appeals to God, as in "OMG! OMG! OMG!
How can you do this to me!" (Nice to know one's students think one is God.)
When Editor said how was she going to pass the class, she said: "I don't
care if I pass this class! I don't care if I fail!" Then Editor had to tell
her that if she didn't pass, since math is required to graduate, her parents
would have to pay several hundred dollars for summer school. "I don't care!
I don't care! " Then Editor said: "Lets use the teacher's phone to call your
parents, who like most immigrants are working their butts off to buy you
nice things, and you can tell them you don't care if they have to pay for
Well, she still didn't start studying, but she did put her head down and
stop going "OMG! I don't care!"
Half the students do try. Half of them succeed. Half don't try. They leave
school with no skills. The reason teachers teach on is because of the ones
who do care and do try. Editor is getting tears in his eyes contemplate how
noble he is.
But you wanna know the truth? If someone would give the Editor a real job,