Monthly Archives: January 2017

David Petraeus: Anti-Muslim bigotry aids Islamist terrorists

And speaking of David Petraeus in my previous post here is the Washington Post article David Petraeus: Anti-Muslim bigotry aids Islamist terrorists mentioned in that post. Leave it to the Washington Post to publish something like this.

While Islamist extremist networks do not pose an “existential” threat to the United States in the way that Soviet nuclear weapons once did, their bloodlust and their ambition to inflict genocidal violence make them uniquely malevolent actors on the world stage.

No irony here for Petraeus to go on and say the following:

For that reason, I have grown increasingly concerned about inflammatory political discourse that has become far too common both at home and abroad against Muslims and Islam, including proposals from various quarters for blanket discrimination against people on the basis of their religion.

I suppose the words “bloodlust” and “genocidal violence” are not thought of as inflammatory. Sorry David, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t use inflammatory language and then profess your concern over people using such language.

I think David Petraeus should read his own advice

But it is precisely because the danger of Islamist extremism is so great that politicians here and abroad who toy with anti-Muslim bigotry must consider the effects of their rhetoric. Demonizing a religious faith and its adherents not only runs contrary to our most cherished and fundamental values as a country; it is also corrosive to our vital national security interests and, ultimately, to the United States’ success in this war.

So why did Petraeus choose to use words that were “corrosive to our vital national security interests’?

Why ISIS is celebrating Trump’s immigration ban

CNN has the article Why ISIS is celebrating Trump’s immigration ban.

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, retired US Army Gen. and former CIA Director David Petraeus said he has grown increasingly concerned about anti-Muslim rhetoric in the United States.

“As policy, these concepts are totally counterproductive,” Petraeus said. “Rather than making our country safer, they will compound the already grave terrorist danger to our citizens. As ideas, they are toxic and, indeed, non-biodegradable — a kind of poison that, once released into our body politic, is not easily expunged.”

In the spirit of being fair and unbalanced, CNN goes on to add the following to their article:

The number of American Muslims who radicalize is small, especially when compared with other Western countries, said William McCants, director of the Brookings Institution’s Project on US Relations with the Islamic World.

Law enforcement experts estimate that about 250 Americans have tried to join ISIS, far fewer than the thousands who have flocked to Syria and Iraq from countries such as France and Belgium.

“I would argue that American Islam is doing something right in contrast to these other countries,” McCants said.

I would argue that the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans provide somewhat of a barrier for American Muslims wanting to go to the Caliphate compared to those lining in Europe. Perhaps it is not only American Islam is doing something right but America (USA) that is doing something right, Well, that is until Trump arrived upon the scene. In the USA, we have far more acceptance of diverse people that some countries in Europe. We do not ban the wearing of religious garb as they do in France. We do not insist on English being the official language. There are a lot of things we do right that Trump wants to start doing wrong.

Celebrating Dr. King with the Departure of Barack Obama

Counterpunch as the article Celebrating Dr. King with the Departure of Barack Obama by Ajamu Baraka.

It is not too late, even with the election of Donald Trump, but it will take courage and clear thinking in order to shake ourselves free from the strange, hypnotic trance that has gripped liberals and progressives of all stripes. Dr. King pointed us in the right direction just before he was assassinated when he reminded us that we were living in revolutionary times. King argued that the U.S. needed to get on the right side of the world revolution and that required a revolution of values in U.S. society. With the U.S. gripped in an unsolvable capitalist economic crisis that has deepened poverty, exacerbated racism and xenophobia, intensified class contradictions and struggle, and produced a Donald Trump, the liberated knowledge and experience of the black liberation movement in the U.S. is actively creating new ways of living and seeing the world that will liberate all of us.

This is the reality of a new world that Dr. King could see from the mountaintop – and that is a world that a visionless, opportunist technocrat like Obama and a moribund liberalism could never imagine.

Wow, what a powerful statement this article is. In his own book, Barack Obama stated that he decided to go to Harvard University to learn where the levers of power were. I guess he learned his lessons well, and he worked those levers of power mercilessly.

When will the EU and the ECB Stop Torturing the Greeks?

New Economic Perspectives has the short article When will the EU and the ECB Stop Torturing the Greeks?

The International Monetary Fund believes Greece’s debt is “highly unsustainable” and will reach 275% of gross domestic product by 2060 unless the country’s loans are significantly restructured, according to a draft confidential review of the country’s economy.

I have found some of the worst enemies of Greece among USA citizens with a Greek background. The ones to which I refer blame the laziness of the Greek people, and refuse to understand what the international financial community is doing to Greece.

How we Americans can turn the tables on Steve Bannon’s shock event

The Dallas News has the opinion piece How we Americans can turn the tables on Steve Bannon’s shock event.

What Steve Bannon is doing, most dramatically with the ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries — is creating what is known as a “shock event.”

Such an event is unexpected and confusing and throws a society into chaos. People scramble to react to the event, usually along some fault line that those responsible for the event can widen by claiming that they alone know how to restore order.

For “corroboration” of this take on events, I hark back to some earlier posts of mine The Shock Doctrine. In her book and lectures, Naomi Klein gives a thorough exposition of the shock doctrine. It is shocking.

Unemployment Is Created By Government And Can Only Be Solved By Government

There is another very valuable short YouTube video Unemployment Is Created By Government And Can Only Be Solved By Government. This video is true to its headline, but did not lead to where I expected.

This gives away the surprise of the video
Warren Mosler, one of the founders of Modern Money Theory, discussing the purpose and consequence of tax. The monetary system is a tool to move resources to the government: the government imposes a tax on its citizens for a token piece of paper that only it can issue. In order to get the money to pay the tax, the citizens must work for the government, or must work for somebody else who has gotten the tokens from the government.

Real Terms Of Trade: Imports Are Good And Exports Are Bad

YouTube has a short video Real Terms Of Trade: Imports Are Good And Exports Are Bad with excellent written introduction to support the video. I’ll just quote the first paragraph of the introduction.

Warren Mosler and Professor Stephanie Kelton discussing the real terms of trade. When we import something from a foreign country, we get the thing and they get dollars. When we export something to a foreign country, they get the thing and we get their currency. Which one is better for us? Imports are goods and services that we can consume but didn’t have to work to produce, while exports are goods and services that we had to work to produce but don’t get to consume. So from the point of view of our society as a whole, exports are a cost, while imports are a benefit.

We need to stop buying the major baloney that our politicians want to feed us about trade, and start thinking about and understanding the reality.

If you are tempted to reject what this video is saying, I suggest you read the article in my previous post Ignore the Trade Balance: Concentrate on Full Employment.

Ignore the Trade Balance: Concentrate on Full Employment

The Binzagr Institute for Sustainable Prosperity has this fabulous paper Ignore the Trade Balance: Concentrate on Full Employment.

Do not attempt to discuss this unless and until you read, understand, and accept the limitations expressed in the words in the excerpts below that I have chosen to emphasize.

Monetary sovereignty involves having your own currency and central bank, not being on a gold standard, not being on any kind of fixed exchange rate system, and not having significant foreign currency debt. Under these circumstances, it is no longer clear that a current account surplus is beneficial and a deficit costly, and indeed, the opposite may be true, however provocative though the claim may appear.
The currency in which a country accumulates net foreign liabilities over time is of vital importance. If public and private foreign debt is denominated in foreign currency, this creates the risk of national insolvency and a costly financial crisis. It also implies that the government of that country does not enjoy full monetary sovereignty, especially if the foreign currency debt is public debt, or effectively guaranteed by the public sector.

If the rest of the world has chosen to net save in the currency of a country, however, it is not clear that the resulting net foreign liabilities are a debt which needs to be repaid using real resources at all. This is at most potentially the case. The accumulation of domestic currency financial assets by the foreign sector is a portfolio decision of the foreign sector , and not something that the government can control precisely, or arguably should seek to control, except in so far as speculative c apital flows are viewed as destabilising to financial markets.

For those of us who understand the accounting identity that underlies Modern Money Theory, this result should be no surprise. However, for those of us who did not go through the process of figuring out MMT’s implications on trade balances, this is a particularly nice result to read about.

You won’t find an inkling of this logical conclusion in any of the standard wisdom about trade policy. You certainly won’t find it in the idiotic ideas of Trump or Obama or Clinton. Here they are negotiating trade deals without a clue as to the consequences of whatever agreement they are trying to get.

Where is cybercrime really coming from?

TED has the interesting video Where is cybercrime really coming from?.

Cybercrime netted a whopping $450 billion in profits last year, with 2 billion records lost or stolen worldwide. Security expert Caleb Barlow calls out the insufficiency of our current strategies to protect our data. His solution? We need to respond to cybercrime with the same collective effort as we apply to a health care crisis, sharing timely information on who is infected and how the disease is spreading. If we’re not sharing, he says, then we’re part of the problem.

IBM’s Caleb Barlow is focused on how we solve the cyber security problem by changing the economics for the bad guys.

Cyber criminals

Remember George Soros’ insight into the reflexivity of social science. The ebola virus does not read about how the world is trying to combat it, and then change its behavior accordingly. Cyber Criminals will read about how we are trying to defeat them and will adjust accordingly.

My statement is not meant to disparage ideas presented in this video for protecting us. It is meant to warn us about how much more sophisticated we are going to have to be in these efforts than when fighting a disease.

Chuck Todd: Media Knew, But Downplayed, How Much Hillary Was Hated in Rural America

Townhall has the article Chuck Todd: Media Knew, But Downplayed, How Much Hillary Was Hated in Rural America.

“If we sort of were straight-up honest and blunt about hey do we understand the level of hatred that’s out there and you know, all the Hillary for Prison signs that are out there, we certainly would have at least made the viewer know, hey, you know, she’s not well-liked in some places in this country in ways that’s times 10 when it comes to Trump,” he said.

Hillary for prison sign

Gee, thanks a lot Chuck Todd. I kept trying to tell the members of the Sturbridge Democratic Town Committee about how much Hillary was disliked, but they refused to believe me. Of course, they saw those Hillary for Prison signs as much as I did. I don’t know why they couldn’t see the truth for their own eyes.

I wonder how much my previous post The Data That Turned the World Upside Down explains the difference between what I knew and what some of the other members of the Sturbridge Democratic Town Committee knew. Perhaps someone was targeting me for that information, and that soemone was not targeting the others on the committee. The trouble is figuring out if you are being targeted with the truth or targeted with misinformation.