Saturday, February 4, 2012

Stable society with happy people

All philosophies have sought to describe societies, which are stable and produce happiness for the people.

The key question is the relationship of the society and the individual. The goal is to guarantee stability and happiness at the same time.

Utopian philosophies, including Marxism, have placed the society first, and relegated an ant's role for the individual. Socialism as well as Plato's Republic, Thomas Moore's Utopia, and Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes are Odes to the Ant Hill. These writers deluded themselves that their conceptions will provide for happiness, when even brief examination of their societies reveal individuals without rights or choices. Such people cannot be happy. These societies are dictatorships of one form or another.

John Locke started his consideration of the perfect society from the level of an individual. What are his Natural rights? By guaranteeing the rights of the individual he built up a conception of a happy society.

As Western democracies show, the 'pursuit of happiness' is not enough to make a stale society. There are always those who fail. Kind-hearted folks see that as an intolerable problem. They want everybody in the society to be happy, which is of course impossible. However much material and other benefits selfish individuality, closely connected with capitalism has brought it is not adequate to address a man's innate desire for universal happiness. This is an emotional drive, and there is no good emotional explanation that would allow one to accept inequality.

So, here's the dilemma. Those who start with consideration of society (top-down approach) can create a stable system, but it is a form of dictatorship. Those who start with consideration of the individual (bottom-up approach) ensure happiness of most, but not all people, and the resulting inequality leads to instability of the system.

Another way to describe this dilemma is to consider the differences of two terms, which are often used together - liberty and equality. I submit that (consistent with Lock's worldview) the only equality worth a damn is equality of liberty that is to say equal rights before the law, and the 'pursuit of happiness'. Equality that exceeds what is necessary to ensure liberty of each individual is a path to tyranny. Equality of outcomes, and 'social justice' and other forms of modern 'fairness' are Utopian concepts, on the road to dictatorship.

The preservation of rights of individuals is no longer seem as adequate in the Western societies. Embarking on a Utopian path is a sure way to lose all the benefits of the Western civilization, and may even destroy that civilization. The answer needs to be found quickly, because the West runs out of money and descends into one form of dictatorship or another.

Any suggestions?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Russia facilitates civil repression in Syria

Arab and western governments joined forces on Tuesday to urge the UN to condemn the violent suppression of protests in Syria and to endorse a plan for President Bashar al-Assad to step aside.

Ahead of the UN meeting in New York, Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said that the draft resolution was a “path to civil war” and insisted that it would not lead to a “search for compromise”. Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister, also declared that he “guarantees” Moscow will block a resolution proving military intervention in Syria, according to the Interfax news agency.

Why is Russia is refusing to back any pressure on Syria? Perhaps for the same reason it refused to sanction Iran, and provided political cover for Muammar Gaddafi - because it is a patron saint of dictators everywhere.

Russia supplied cruise missiles to Syria in December 2011. Although that deal was signed in 2007, the delivery took place many months after the start of bloody repression of a popular insurrection. Russia has similarly supplied Gaddafi with arms in deals worth billions that predated the civil war in Libya. However, Russia is not merely fulfilling its obligations in arms deals. Recently, Russia announced a new deal to provide Syria with 36 Yak-130 aircraft well-suited for ground attack of small mobile groups of the opposition. This deal is openly in defiance of international efforts to put pressure on Assad’s regime, which has faced broad condemnation for its brutal crackdown on an uprising. More than 5,600 people have died over 11-month  insurrection.

Russian technology for Syrian repression
Russia‘s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said last week that Moscow doesn’t consider it necessary to offer an explanation or excuses over suspicions that a Russian ship had delivered munitions to Syria despite an EU arms embargo. He told a news conference that Russia was acting in full respect of international law and wouldn’t be guided by unilateral sanctions imposed by other nations. “If some intend to use force at all cost … we can hardly prevent that from happening,” Lavrov said at a news conference. “But let them do it at their own initiative on their own conscience. They won’t get any authorization from the U.N. Security Council.”

Lavrov accused the West of turning a blind eye to attacks by opposition militants and supplies of weapons to the Syrian opposition from abroad and warned that Russia will block any attempt by the West to secure United Nations support for the use of force against Syria.

Russia has been a strong ally of Syria since Soviet times when the country was led by the president’s father Hafez Assad. It has supplied Syria with aircraft, missiles, tanks and other modern weapons.

Here's a copy of the draft resolution on Syria currently being discussed inside the U.N. Security Council. It calls on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to hand over power to his deputy and says additional measures would be taken if he doesn't comply within 15 days.

"We are looking for a resolution that reflects the commitments that the Arab League was seeking from the Syrian government, that -- in its November 2nd agreement, which unfortunately has not been lived up to by the Syrian side," said spokesperson for the US Department of State Victoria Nuland.

She indicated the United States was hopeful that Russia, which has been openly supporting Assad and sending him weapons, will work with the rest of the Security Council to produce a resolution that is strong and effective. Russia and China vetoed European resolution on Syria last fall and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said last Friday that Russia would veto any resolution that seeks to remove Assad from power.

"We continue to want to work with the Russians so that the whole U.N. Security Council is united in sending the strongest possible message to the Assad regime that the violence has got to end, and we've got to begin a transition," Nuland said. Russia does not seem to be concerned about its unsightly support a murderous dictator.

Syrians mark the 30-year anniversary of massacre in Hama 
The reasons for Russia's intransigence may be more than merely wanting to maintain its influence and a weapons market in a failing dictatorship. There are reasons to believe the Russian special forces, Spetsnaz, were involved in transfer of weapons of mass destruction from Iraq to Syria in 2003, prior to US invasion in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Why would Russians risk involvement in such a dirty operation in the first place? A lot of Saddam's WMD stocks came from Russia, for which Saddam paid in illegal oil shipments against UN embargo. Russia is likely concerned that the new Syrian regime, like that of Libya will open itself to international inspections. Their indifference to the suffering of Syrian may backfire - if Assad falls, the new regime will be very antagonistic towards Russia.

Meanwhile, Syrian government continues to butcher its own people: 'least 217 Syrian protesters killed in Homs' today with Russian weapons, no doubt.

Protest march in Russia tomorrow

There is a massive protesters planning for tomorrow, February 4th, in Moscow. The temperatures are hovering around -20 Celsius, or near 0 Fahrenheit.

The organizers are facing greater difficulties than sub-freezing temperatures. There are also organizational and financial difficulties. The organizing committee decided there that should be four columns. The first column will march under the slogan "For honest elections", a column of liberals will use "Russia without Putin" banner, and there are also columns of nationalist and left-wingers. Some liberals and their leader Edward Liminov refused to participate (again) because of the presence of security is civilian clothing.

After passing through metal detectors the participants in the march will have only an hour to be organized into columns. To complicate matters, there are those who refused to fall into one of the four neat categories above, such as the "Business party" led by Constantine Babkin.

The video screens and audio equipment on Bolotnaya (swamp) Square (revolution in Russia goes to the swamp, again) will be provided by the same company which supplied them for protests in December. There is a need to safeguard the equipment, however, because during the last meeting somebody has cut the cable to one of two mega-screens.

Despite the discounts for equipment, there's not enough money. "I will tell you right away - we don't have enough money," - said one of organizers Olga Romanova. Alex Novalny, who showed himself to be the most talented orator, during the protests on Bolotnaya issued a stark call for contributions: "Don't pinch a hundred rubles - you'll just spend that for something utterly useless. Like food."

A few days before the scheduled protest a 140 square meter yellow banner went up near Kremlin, to inform Putin how some folks feel, it reads "Putin - Leave".
This giant sign, which reads "Putin - Leave"
was posted on top of a building near Kremlin.
Putin and his cronies have decided to dilute the message of protest by holding a rally of Putin's supporters on 'Kneeling' Hill. The plan to remind Russians of the failure of the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, and the possibility of chaos in Russia. Indeed, they have a point, Russians remember the lawless days of Yeltsin in the early 1990's with trepidation. Putin is a devil they know, and the opposition is hopelessly split between left and right.

“For the average Russian, Putin may not be the best candidate in many domains, but he is the safest candidate because he represents stability and he has maintained a status-quo”, said Kobtzeff, an assistant professor in political science and history at the American University in Paris in an interview with FRANCE 24.

Actually Putin's popularity throughout Russia remains at relatively safe levels. A poll conducted on Dec 10-11 and released on Friday showed 51 percent of Russians approved of how he has done his job, down from 61 percent in a Nov 28-29 survey and 68 percent in January, state pollster VTsIOM said. This means that during the first protests on Bolotnaya square on December 10th, Putin's popularity was higher than Obama's popularity has been during the last two years.

Good luck to the protesters in Russia, they face a daunting challenge.

Fake statistics makes great news

Great news! "Jobless rate at 3-year low as payrolls surge!" Announces jubilant Reuters.

Nonfarm payrolls jumped 243,000, the Labor Department said on Friday, as factory jobs grew by the most in a year. The jobless rate fell to 8.3 percent - the lowest since February 2009 - from 8.5 percent in December.

Another 4 years, anyone?  

As the saying goes: "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics." This jobless
rate falls in the last category. That's  because we're fed the official, heavily-massaged U-3 unemployment rate. The labor force participation rate has fallen to a 30-year low (see figure). Fewer people in the workforce means the percentage of unemployed people in the workforce drops.

The drop in labor participation was due to 1.2 million dropping out of the labor force last month!

This sounded so bad I had to check it. It's true, as you can see in this video from Rick Santelli of CNBC Business News network.

So, to recap: 243,000 jobs created, 1.2 million left the workforce has been presented as great news.

Strategic Israeli ineptitude

Israel continues to be unable to secure political victories. It has won 4 or 5 wars against Arab aggression, depending on how you count, but has failed to translate its military success into political terms. South Lebanon and Gaza - territories Israel has given up for peace, have become a launching ground for attack. Now the same is happening with Sinani. The peace treaty with Egypt sealing in 1979 Camp David accord, pursuant to which Israel returned Sinai, is effectively void. One of the 'liberal' leaders in Egypt, Ayman Nour, recently told a Lebanese TV station that "it’s time to revisit the treaty with Israel". That the Muslim brotherhood, which controls nearly 3/4 of the lower Parliament, feels the same way goes without saying.

Israel is tactically brilliant, but strategically inept like Hannibal Barka, who was chided by one of his lieutenants: "vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" (You know how to conquer, Hannibal, but not how to profit by your victory.)

Israel continues to play into the hands of its enemies by its inability to assert its right to defend itself politically. Their lack of confidence is explained in part by the pressure coming from its 'friends' in Europe and the US. With friends like the current occupant in the White House, who needs enemies? Of course, US leaders predating Obama with his deep personal antipathy to the Jewish state applied the same type of misguided pressure on Israel to tolerate the intolerable and negotiate with those who openly call for Israel's destruction.

Israel cannot control the actions of leadership of foreign nation, of course, but its own behavior amounts to placing a 'kick me' sign on its back. Every land-for-peace deal has been bad for Israel, from the Oslo agreement, which PLO negotiated in bad faith, to the more recent pullout from Lebanon and Gaza, which allowed takeover by Hezbollah and Hamas. Current negotiations with Palestinian Authority, which is in the process of unification with Hamas are a no-win proposition for Israel.

A more difficult question for Israel is what to do when the pressure for land-for-peace negotiations comes from White House. The Obama administration has shown its bad faith on several occasions already. When Israel agreed to Obama's call for a moratorium on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, Robert Wexler, who is a major shill for the Jewish vote for Obama, explained the reasons for hope to triumph over experience once again by saying: “I want to call their[Palestinians'] bluff. I want to see, if Israel makes substantial movement toward a credible peace process, whether they are willing to do it. And if they are not, better that we should find out five or six months into the process, before Israel is actually asked to compromise any significant position.” Rather than pressure the Arab world in the wake of Israeli concession, Obama doubled down on his pressure on Israel calling for return to the pre-1967 borders, meaning the indefensible borders of 1949.

Caroline Glick, a keen columnist who writes for the Jerusalem Post, pointed out cost of negotiations in her recent article "Fool me twice" - contrary to American promises every Israeli concession mentioned in negotiations of an becomes the starting point for the next round of negotiations. The Palestinians are even refusing to come to the table now, unless construction in Judea and Samaria is stopped again, while the Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu is offering to negotiate without preconditions (which seems foolhardy given PA-Hamas unity agreement, however that only strengthens the point).

The pathological Israeli strategic ineptitude apparently can only be cured temporarily by a deluge of rockets coming over its borders. Why can't they present a firm position about a lack of a viable partner for peace? A list of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel in 2011 shows that almost every day Israel was subjected to unprovoked bombardment. Why can't Israel demand (sic) respect for their security? There are three main forces that prevent them, the so-called liberals in the West, especially in Europe, the UN, and the liberal media and academia in Israel itself, which is desperate to ingratiate itself to the popular opinion of the elites in the West.

The ridiculous position of the liberals is evident from the headline of an article from a self-described liberal newspaper Haaretz: "Netanyahu must treat Abbas as a genuine peace partner" published late in October of last year. The harebrained newspaper doesn't even attempt to say that Abbas is a genuine peace partner - that is too much for even for die-hard liberals to believe - merely that Netanyahu must treat Abbas as one.

While Israel cannot control those outside it's borders, including its rogue academics, it is slowly waking up to what it can do within its borders. Israel denied Noam Chomsky, a virulent anti-Semite, entry into Israel and West Bank in 2010. However, that was a singular incident. The fifth columnists are still getting funding from governments hostile to Israel. At the end of last year, Israel proposed a bill to limit foreign funding of anti-Israel NGOs, however, the intense pressure from the US has caused Netanyahu to suspend the bill.

Sadly, it appears that nothing short of a catastrophic attack on Israel can shake up the system, and evict Israeli fifth-column academics and journalists from their cozy perches. Until that happens, Israeli politicians will continue to apologize for attempting to preserve the Jewish state, and engage in self-defeating negotiations.

UN - the perfect host for socialist contagion

I recently wrote about UN being a useless gas bag, in reference to climate change. There's silver lining is that - the UN is quite ineffective at  pushing such pipe-dreams.

“No one should live below a certain income level,” stated Milos Koterec, President of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The UN wants a world tax imposed on all financial transactions to fund a global model of social services that will provide  “all needy people with a basic income, healthcare, education and housing.”  The new global tax is designed to be a progressive scale, with higher earners paying more for UN’s latest the Utopian attempt at global socialism.

There is greater danger in these UN's attempts to institute a world-wide government in the name of helping the poor by taking over national responsibilities piece by piece, the way the Federal government in US has been taking over responsibilities of states and  individuals. The attempts by unelected UN officials towards unrestricted  centralization of power is downright un-American. The United States is a Federal Republic, with restricted, enumerated powers of the Fed. This separation of powers was a brilliant insight of our Founding Fathers to guarantee the rights of individuals, not the government. Without such limitations, the Constitution would not have been adopted by the original 13 states.

The global, unelected nature of UN is the perfect vehicle for another political system - socialism. Marx's theory was internationalist to the core. Russia, which adopted his ideology had to experience a long series of painful disappointments, before switching to "socialism in one, separate country". That only happened in 1943, during the difficult days of WWII as a concession to the Allies, when Stalin closed down the Comintern in the Soviet Union.

Proletarians of the world didn't unite and the bottom up approach for the spread of socialism, envisioned by Marx, had failed. Until now the top-down approach was not feasible, however, it has a greater chance of success. The World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland entitled "The Great Transformation" was about moving away from capitalism: "...Capitalism saved China, it is sometimes said; it's now up to China to save capitalism, for there is depressingly little sign of Western nations standing up for it," wrote Jeremy Warner from Davos for the Telegraph.

One of the aspects favoring the top down approach to world-wide socialism is that it is more incremental and insidious that bottom-up revolutions. "UN wants a world tax to help the poor" has the veneer of good intentions. Still, no supra-governmental organization should be ever allowed even to attempt such an undertaking, because it would inevitably empower the Leviathan at the expense of individuals. In addition who in their right mind would trust trust the UN to run a chicken farm, much less take over caring for the poor, and other functions for the world? The UN spent two thirds of the Haiti relief fund on salary, perks and upkeep of its own personnel, not residents of the devastated island. Cases of UN's corruption, its list of failures to protect basic human rights or to guarantee agreements in has sponsored, is immense. How many problems has UN actually solved?

One can only hope that given the current economic difficulties in EU, this idea is a non-starter for financial reasons. The fact that it is politically viable in the Western nations is an indication of total philosophical confusion - the core of the West is rotten - and is a portent of bad things to come.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

UN contributes to global warming

UN is not just about wasting money. It does its part by contributing to global warming - destroying trees to print another useless report by spewing antropogenic CO2 to discuss it.

The latest UN effort resulted in a report entitled "Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing". The 100-page report seeks to shape the agenda for the upcoming summit this summer. The June 20-22 event, known as Rio+20 will take place 20 years after the landmark 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro that set down the UN conventions for protecting biodiversity and tackling global warming.

"We need to chart a new, more sustainable course for the future, one that strengthens equality and economic growth while protecting our planet," UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said in Addis Ababa to mark the release of the panel's report, which outlines more than 50 policy recommendations.
The three major things the report calls for are:

1. A new nexus between food, water and energy. "All three need to be fully integrated, not treated separately, if we are to deal with the global food security crisis".

2. A stronger interface between science and policy. "We must define what scientists refer to as planetary boundaries" beyond which human activity could wreck the planet.

3. Reducing social exclusion and closing the widening gap of social inequality.

Before discussing these three initiatives it is worth recalling the status of global warming, which the previous report sought to address. In December of last year, the UN climate discussion in South Africa turned ugly. It showed the lack of political will to deal with the issue in a way that was outline in the original summit at Rio in 1992 and the Kyoto protocols. I pointed out at the time that the entire enterprise of global warming was political posturing. Recently, the Climate Research Unit has quietly released data confirming absence of warming since 1997, and proving once again that the fluctuations of temperature on Earth is strongly correlated with the activity cycles of the Sun, not anthropogenic production CO2. In other words, the fear mongering of global warming is baloney.

After this reminder of the politicized non-scientific (basically, fraudulent) nature of the previous meeting in Rio, we can discuss this upcoming one. The goal of sustainability is a noble one, and is an important issue for discussion, however, the major thrust of the report suggest it is going to consist of more useless posturing.

1.A new nexus between food, water and energy. The first point seeks to make combine three separate issues into one great Gordian knot, which is unlikely to be tackled successfully (except perhaps by the method of Alexander the Great, who chopped it in half according to the legend). Food and water could conceivably be combined, although there are regions that have plenty of water, yet lack food for economic reasons. Throwing energy into the mix is going to make the problem intractable. US Congress often resorts to the same trick of combining unrelated legislation into one bill, when it seeks to push through a particularly unpopular item, or alternatively if it wishes to sink a bill, which may otherwise get passed. People who lack food will now have to contend with interests of energy producers.

2.A stronger interface between science and policy. The result (and likely the aim) of this stronger interface is to promote politicized pseudo-science like global warming. It is definitely related to Scientific Socialism invented by Marx and Engels, which used a veneer of science to distinguish itself from Utopian Socialism. It is another attempt to use global climate change (not warming) to justify unelected officials from asserting global control over national economies.

3.Reducing social exclusion and closing the widening gap of social inequality. This is double-speak for 'social justice' and other forms of 'fairness' that are another form of global socialism. The list of UN failures is immense, and it takes a lot of gall to put such a bold task on the agenda. Of course, the intended effect is to legitimize interference in national economies in the name of increasing 'social equality'. Only by pressuring nations into adopting this agenda could UN possibly have such an impact. UN was created to promote peace, and increasing homogeneity of people in individual nations, or between appear to be potentially consistent with that goal. But only on the surface. UN is not authorized by its charter to promote a socialist pipe-dream of equality within nations, but to reduce to conflicts between nations.

If UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon wishes to engage in such policies, he should start by reducing the social inequality between his country, South Korea, and its brethren in the North. Of course that would involve either the destruction of the nepotistic and Stalinist regime of North Korea to be absorbed by the South, or destruction of personal liberties of the South, and placing them under the rule of another "Dear Leader". Until Ban Ki-moon has shown the way by example he should have the decency not to attempt to force this socialist nonsense on the rest of the world.
Wasting money and contributing to global warming by
spewing CO2 and destroying trees on another useless report.

The gall of UN is infuriating. But, there's good news - the upcoming meeting shows no signs of being more successful than its failed predecessor.

Monday, January 30, 2012

SOTU 2012: chasing the great ideal

Obama delivered his State of the Union address last Tuesday.

Mr. "It's all Bush's fault" cited the difficulties he inherited, but the era of the big ideas like 'hope and chance', is long gone. If there is one big idea, which could be elicited from a litany of small fry it is "fairness". That is what 'hope and change' slogan was ultimately about - fairness.

How does 'fairness' Obama talked about differ from that guaranteed by the Constitution? If you get a paycheck from the government every month, or 'hope' to get one - you already know. If, on the contrary, you pay taxes - you won't understand.

The above 'explanation' of fairness is the key to understanding why Obama's address again rated at an 8th grade comprehension level on the Flesch-Kincaid readability test — the third lowest score of any State of the Union (SOTU) address since 1934.

The address was not mean to be comprehended logically, but grasped emotionally. Obama revealed this type of 'logic' in a debate in 2008, when he was would raise capital gains taxes in the name of fairness, despite the fact that doing so would decrease government revenue. Obama calls such redistribution for its own sake the 'Buffet Rule', named after a 'useful idiot', to borrow Lenin's terminology. Lenin was also in a big fan of chasing the big idea of 'fairness', like some great white whale. opined that "Obama's use of simple language is in part a reflection of his audience: the American voter in an election year". This seems like political spin by a left-leaning news organization - Obama's previous two addresses also used simplistic language. I would finish their statement with a different conclusion: "Obama's use of simple language is in part a reflection of his audience: the American voter ... (i) is being treated like a dummy (ii) actually is dumb."

Fortunately, some statistic suggest it was like it to the former. As the viewers heard Obama's 2012 SOTU recycling old lines from 2010 and 2011, 27% turned away after the first 5 minutes.

Mitch Daniels' rebuttal of SOTU 2012 brought up the inconvenient truth of the impact of Obama's policies over the last three years: “The President’s grand experiment in trickle-down government has held back rather than sped economic recovery.  He seems to sincerely believe we can build a middle class out of government jobs paid for with borrowed dollars.  In fact, it works the other way: a government as big and bossy as this one is maintained on the backs of the middle class, and those who hope to join it."

Associated Press described Obama's 2012 SOTU address "a wish list, not a to-do list". Furthermore, the conclusion of their fact check of his proposals was "Obama pushes plans that flopped before". "It sounds as if the president is doubling down on his already-failed policies of central management of the economy, higher taxes on job producers, and radical environmental policies which are costing us tens of thousands of jobs," said Dwight Weidman, chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party. "It was a campaign speech, and not something one would expect from a leader."

I beg to differ - captain Ahab was a leader, too. The only problem was that he led his ship and its crew to their doom. It would be more appropriate to call captain Obama a demagogue, who's leading us to the edge of a cliff. But he is leading. We need to work on that this November.

Captain Obama, chasing 'fairness'
I would like to finish by making a small adjustment to a great article by Charles Krauthammer on the SOTU 2012. The great columnist finished his article with: "If the Republicans can’t beat that [Obama's horrible record] in November, they should try another line of work." Charles is correct, of course, but what would the country gain from kicking the GOP? It's reminds me of a comical paraphrasing of a pizza ad "Your is pizza delivered in 20 minutes or ... it's cold." The relevant point, which Krauthammer was too polite to write is: "If Republicans can't beat Obama in November, we're screwed".

Sarah Palin proves her critics right

Sarah Palin issued a call to arms on behalf of New Gingrich: "Vote for Newt, Annoy a Liberal".

Palin told host Jeanine Pirro in response to a question about how Gingrich can bill himself as a Washington outsider despite a resume full of inside-the-Beltway experience: "You gotta rage against the machine at this point in order to defend our republic and save what is good and secure and prosperous about our nation. We need somebody who is engaged in sudden and relentless reform and isn’t afraid to shake it up."

Palin continued: "So if for no other reason [than] to rage against the machine: Vote for Newt, annoy a liberal. Vote Newt. Keep this vetting process going, keep the debate going."

When Sarah Palin was nominated by John McCain as his running mate in 2008 campaign, she took a lot of unfair flak from the media, which essentially called her stupid. Until today, I saw that viewpoint as motivated by politics of personal destruction by the biased media. They certainly engaged in vicious, personal attacks and 'gotcha' interviews. The image below shows the kind of gratuitous attack which could equally well apply to Hillary Clinton, who also had a habit of pointing to the crowd, as if recognizing familiar faces.

Main stream media made fun of Sarah Palin in 2008
So, it is with reluctance, and sadness that I write that the media had a point. The slogan "Vote for Newt, Annoy a Liberal" is idiotic, even on the surface. Is annoying a liberal the most important reason for voting for a particular candidate in this upcoming election, which everyone admits is for the future of US?

I little more than a week ago I wrote and article entitled: "GOP dilemma: to win or not to win". The main point of that article was to suggest that antipathy to liberals, by itself, is a very poor method to pick a candidate. Over six weeks ago, I presented my view that GOP would do better by picking a candidate who would govern well, and be able to unify the country, rather than to swing the wrecking ball from extreme left to extreme right. I also wrote "Democrats for Newt Gingrich", because his nomination may very well result in Obama's re-election.

Placing ideology over solutions to the real problems, which plague our country lies at the heart of Obama's erroneous and divisive approach. And now, Sarah Palin is essentially suggesting that the only problem with that is that the ideology came from the wrong extreme of the political spectrum. Palin's call for"sudden and relentless reform" is the opposite of "deliberate and inclusive" and, therefore, could be replaced with "poorly-thought out" and "ideologically-driven".

There is a saying: "It is preferable to keep quiet and be thought a fool, than to open you mouth and remove all doubt." Alas, today Sarah Palin has done just that.

Germany to Greece: Our money or your life

Germany is proposing that debt-ridden Greece temporarily cede sovereignty over tax and spending decisions to a powerful eurozone budget commissioner before it can secure further bailouts, an official in Berlin said Saturday.

Greece's international creditors - the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank (the troika) - already have unprecedented powers over Greek spending after negotiating with Athens stringent austerity measures and economic reforms in return for the first bailout.

Under the new German proposal, a budget commissioner would have veto powers over Greek budgetary measures if they were not in line with targets set by international lenders.Greece would also legally commit itself to servicing its debt, before spending any money in any other way.

"Given the disappointing compliance so far, Greece has to accept shifting budgetary sovereignty to the European level for a certain period of time," the Financial Times quotes the German plan as saying.

The Greeks know how much is at stake: "We must do everything that will restrict the recession and will begin the cycle of growth. The coming days will determine the coming decade," Finance Minister Evangelis Venizelos told reporters as the talks broke up on Saturday.

The idea was quickly rejected by the European Union's executive body and the government in Athens, with the EU Commission in Brussels insisting that "executive tasks must remain the full responsibility of the Greek government, which is accountable before its citizens and its institutions."

A government official in Athens said a similar proposal had been floated last year but got nowhere. In an angry reaction from the Greek government, the education minister, Anna Diamantopoulou, a former EU commissioner, slammed the idea as "the product of a sick imagination" in an interview with local television.

Despite the immediate rejection by the Greek, and the EU's executive body, Germans officials have brought up their proposal for discussion among the 17-nation currency bloc's finance ministers because Greece has repeatedly failed to fulfill its commitments under its current €110bn lifeline.

Greece’s finance minister angrily rejected a German plan for the eurozone to impose a budget overseer onto Athens in return for a new €130bn bail-out, saying it would improperly force his country to choose between “financial assistance” and “national dignity”.

Centralized control is a key point of the new 'unified' Europe that Merkel is calling for. There is no room for national dignity in that supra-national project, or at least not when it costs €130bn.

A powerful budget commissioner would further diminish the political leeway of Greece's government, just as politicians there are gearing up for an election set to take place this spring. Greece is currently locked in a twin effort, seeking to secure a crucial debt relief deal with private investors while also tackling the pressing demands from its European partners and the IMF for more austerity measures and deeper reforms.

The debt relief deal may actually go through, contrary to my expectations - I didn't think it was likely that bondholders would agree to take a the proposed 75% haircut on their investments. According to officials involved in the discussions, negotiators representing Greek bondholders largely completed a deal with Athens last weekend which would cut the long-term value of privately held bonds by just over 70 per cent. This is a sign of how desperate the situation is in EU.

To avoid default, however, Greece needs to succeed on both fronts: giving it's bondholders a 'voluntary' fleecing, and getting more loans from EU. Failure on either front would force the country to default, pouring new fuel on the fires of Europe's debt crisis.

Concurring with German proposals, IMF has also signaled that Greece will have to give up autonomy over its budget if it is to receive the full backing of the international community for its second €130bn bail-out.

Christine Lagarde, the director general of the IMF, said that a new "fiscal compact" was set to be signed by European Union members at the vital leaders' summit on Monday that would 'centralize' budgetary powers.

Greek officials, are not the only ones who have reacted angrily to the IMF and German proposal for an EU budget commissioner with veto powers over Greek taxes and spending. In Athens on Friday, protesters tried to blockade inspectors from the "troika" of institutional lenders - the EU, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB) - into their hotel. The pains of failure to salvage this situation economically are likely to pale in comparison to politcal turmoil, which will result if the German  plan succeeds.

"For your own good, surrender your sovereignty to us temporarily," is the essence of message to Greece coming from Germany. This a bad proposition for both parties, and the kind of proposal that supports the idea that Germany is establishing a Fourth Reich, perhaps unwittingly and with good intentions. It is a route to Germany hegemony on the continent by soft methods - conquering others through productivity, rather than brute force. This proposal supports my description of Angela Merkel as the "Mutti of the Fourth Reich".

Will the loss of Greek sovereignty be temporary? Does Germany benefit from the closer fiscal union proposed by Angela Merkel that leaves it shackled to an financial corpse (or a few)? What do you a call a plan which makes losers out of both parties? I call it a Suicide Pact.

As I pointed out, it's possible for Europe to back out of the euro - the greatest obstacle appears to be inability of leaders to admit that euro was mistake. Yet, even George Soros acknowledge at Davos last week: "The austerity Germany wants to impose will push Europe into an inflationary debt spiral. The architects of the euro knew it was an incomplete currency when they designed it." Soros didn't mention why such a flaw plan was pursued - you can read my opinion here.

It's hard to predict how this difficult situation will play out. I am certain of one thing - Benjamin Franklin was right when he said: "Those who would by up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporal Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety".

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Global warming baloney

Without much much fanfare the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit has confirmed that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997 based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations.

Dr Nicola Scafetta, of Duke University in North Carolina, is the author of several papers that argue the Met Office climate models show there should have been ‘steady warming from 2000 until now’.

So much for the hockey stick chart (below) from the the late 1990s presented by a teams who used proxy indicators to estimate the temperature record of past centuries, to suggest recent warming was exceptional with clear implications for anthropogenic global warming.

It turned out that the hockey stick chart shown above falsely discounted the Medieval warming period. The figure below shows real data (red curve) and the fudged data used in publication by Moberg in 2005 (blue)the official IPCC Third Assesement Report from 2001 (black) and the hysterical projection (dashed green) from a paper by Jones from 2009.

Hacked emails from the Climactic Research Unit (CRU) and University of East Anglia that were released on the internet showed collusion between these professors. Wikipedia article on this subject appears to have been written by sympathizers of these researchers, because it attempts to exonerate their conduct following Climategate 1.0. The second batch of hacked emails, known as Climategate 2.0 nail down the three themes that emerged initially were true:

(1) prominent scientists central to the global warming debate are taking measures to conceal rather than disseminate underlying data and discussions;
(2) these scientists view global warming as a political “cause” rather than a balanced scientific inquiry;
(3) many of these scientists frankly admit to each other that much of the science is weak and dependent on deliberate manipulation of facts and data.

The latest data released by University of East Anglia and the CRU showed that their prior projections were completely worthless and are a reminder of the embarrassing conduct of researchers involved. These data also shame Wikipedia, which provides political cover for the debunked 'anthropogenic global warming' to this day.

Analysis by experts at NASA and the University of Arizona suggest that Sun Cycle 25, whose peak is due in 2022, will be particularly weak, suggesting there is a likelihood of a mini ice age, not global warming.

Will these researchers who colluded and pushed misleading data be fired? Will Wikipedia's article change to reflect their documented, and shameful behavior?

Let's just say I won't be giving money to Wikipedia anytime soon.

Jimmy Carter's second term

Jimmy Carter oversaw an ally or US in the middle East, Iran, become an Islamist dictatorship. To patch things up he sent a delegation of 52 US diplomats, who were held hostage for 444 days - until the end of Jimmy's term. (They were released on the first day of the Reagan administration).

Barack Hussein Obama has been said to be serving Jimmy Carter's second term.

Initially it was folks like the  Tea Party making such comparison, then Fox News picked up on in. Lately this comparison has been made by dour New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, a liberal stalwart and a champion of Obama's election. In her column on July 30th Dowd said that both exhibited ineffectual management style as they presided over economic and energy crises. She also brought up the poor public opinion and compared Obama's apology tour in the Middle East to Carters handling of the Iranian hostage crisis.

Now we can add more detail to Maureen's list. Obama exacerbated the energy problems in USA by rejecting the Keystone pipeline, which would have facilitated distribution of Canadian oil and huge gas deposits in the American northwest throughout the US.

The latest comparison is between Egypt and Iran. Almost a year ago Obama threw Hosni Mubarack under the bus, in the same way Carter undermined the Shah or Iran. Mubarack was a flawed, but secular ally of US in the Middle East. Sadly, the results are very similar. Islamist parties recently won nearly 3/4 of Egyptian parliament, ensuring that Egypt is going to become another Islamist country. The only difference is that Egyptian Islamists are Salafist and Sunni, while Iranian are Shiites.

A disturbing reminder of this similarity that motivated me to write this piece, is the treatment of Americans in Egypt. We're recently learned that several Americans were barred from leaving Egypt last weekend. They include Sam LaHood, son of the U.S. Transportation Secretary, who said they are facing five years in jail for working for unregistered non-government organizations. LaHood, who was the director of the Egyptian program for the International Republican Institute (IRI) said: "We're kind of expecting the worst."

The United States said Egypt should release them: “We are urging the government of Egypt to lift these restrictions immediately and allow these folks to come home as soon as possible,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

The US State Department officials said it was the first time in three decades that US military aid to Egypt ($1.3 billion per year) was at risk.

Although Egypt is hurting financially, and has recently asked IMF for a $3.2 billion loan, I sense that the desire of newly empowered Islamists in Egypt to put a finger in the eye of what Iranians call "the great Satan" will prove greater than their need for US money.

Sensing this embarrassment three major beltway lobbyists, who have received over $4 million for representing Egyptian government since 2007 have chosen to drop Egypt as a client.

Lacking any sense of irony, Jimmy Carter recently offered Obama advice on how to win reelection: don't alienate voters in the first term.

It's too late for that. It would be more appropriate for Jimmy to speak from experience and console Obama on his impending loss in the November 2012, by saying: "If you wait long enough, Barry, another liberal will come to serve out your second term."