The reports from Syria are certainly alarming. Refugees flooding across the Turkish border. And the citizens of the rebellious town of Jisr al-Shugour, bracing themselves for a full-scale assault by the army.
I think the idea that the Syrian army could not simply kill thousands of their fellow citizens was based on two assumptions – or, perhaps, hopes. First, that in the internet age, it would be impossible to carry out bloody repression on this scale, without immediately provoking a paralysing international outcry. Second, that the development of the international doctrine of a “responsibility to protect” brutalised civilians – even within the boundaries of a sovereign state – would make Assad junior stay his hand.
That's because past Obama budgets have been long on empty promises and short on real solutions. This president has consistently ignored Washington's crushing debt and passed the real costs on to future generations.
The administration has already signaled that this year's spending plan will offer more of the same: a budget that spends too much, borrows too much and taxes too much.
The decline of marriage and male wages is a problem of equality, not inequality.
Voters aren't bothering with the GOP, but Obama has lost their attention too.
Meet the men the U.S. might release as a goodwill gesture.
Their identities are an open secret, and last week the White House gave a restricted briefing to a few Members of Congress to win their support. The men are among the 46 out of 171 detainees left at Gitmo that an Administration review in 2010 deemed "too dangerous to transfer but not feasible for prosecution." Two years later, these detainees are evidently no longer too dangerous.
These upstanding citizens are:
• Mohammad Fazl, around age 45, was the senior-most Taliban commander in northern Afghanistan and their deputy defense minister when captured in November 2001. He was at the Qala-i-Jangi fortress, outside the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, when hundreds of Taliban prisoners revolted against their captors in the Northern Alliance. CIA operative Johnny Michael Spann died in the melee, becoming the first American casualty of the Afghan war. A confidential annex of the Administration's 2010 review suggests that Fazl may be responsible for Spann's death.
According to his secret 2008 Gitmo file, which was published by WikiLeaks, Fazl also commanded foreign fighters in Afghanistan and "possessed vast power and financial resources."
An 'accommodation' that makes the birth-control mandate worse.
So you almost have to admire the absurdity of the new plan President Obama floated yesterday: The government will now write a rule that says the best things in life are "free," including contraception. Thus a political mandate will be compounded by an uneconomic one—in other words, behold the soul of ObamaCare.
Foreign-policy pundits increasingly argue that democracy and free markets could thrive without U.S. predominance. If this sounds too good to be true, writes Robert Kagan, that's because it is.
By ROBERT KAGANHistory shows that world orders, including our own, are transient. They rise and fall, and the institutions they erect, the beliefs and "norms" that guide them, the economic systems they support—they rise and fall, too. The downfall of the Roman Empire brought an end not just to Roman rule but to Roman government and law and to an entire economic system stretching from Northern Europe to North Africa. Culture, the arts, even progress in science and technology, were set back for centuries.
Modern history has followed a similar pattern. After the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century, British control of the seas and the balance of great powers on the European continent provided relative security and stability. Prosperity grew, personal freedoms expanded, and the world was knit more closely together by revolutions in commerce and communication.
With the outbreak of World War I, the age of settled peace and advancing liberalism—of European civilization approaching its pinnacle—collapsed into an age of hyper-nationalism, despotism and economic calamity. The once-promising spread of democracy and liberalism halted and then reversed course, leaving a handful of outnumbered and besieged democracies living nervously in the shadow of fascist and totalitarian neighbors. The collapse of the British and European orders in the 20th century did not produce a new dark age—though if Nazi Germany and imperial Japan had prevailed, it might have—but the horrific conflict that it produced was, in its own way, just as devastating.
Friday, February 10, 2012
I don’t know why, exactly, but perhaps they fear me because I am a cynical, paranoid, gold-bug old man who thinks that the Federal Reserve has turned into an evil institution by creating So Freaking Much Money (SFMM), now so that it can commit the sin of monetizing new government debt by the truckload, increasing the money supply and guaranteeing a roaring inflation that hurts the poor, and hurts the almost-poor, and hurts the not-quite-poor, and (now that I think about it) it hurts everybody, which hurts me personally because they come whining to me to give them some of MY money!
There are not very many people outside the “Peak Oil” crowd who care — heck, even know — what “decline rates” are.
Yet the “story that isn’t being told” is often where you find the best investment narratives.
“At first,” our resident energy enthusiast kicks us off with just such a tale, “the conservative approach was to estimate that the Marcellus wells would be productive for about two-three years and then the decline curve would kick in.
“Now, after three years of testing in some areas, that window is more like five years.”
After five years? Many operators will go back and refrack the wells. Those five-year wells might become 10-year wells.
By Bill Bonner
“No, we don’t want to go through your new x-ray machine,” we told the TSA guard.
“Whassa matter? It’s safe…” she replied.
“How do you know that?”
“The government said it was safe.”
“Do you believe everything the government tells you?”
“Heh…heh… Okay…” then, turning to no one in particular… “REFUSAL on 11. Male.”
We were out quickly…but the poor old woman behind us had to get up out of her wheelchair…hobble through the x-ray machine…and then they still wanted to feel her up on the other side.
You can’t be too safe, right?
By Joel Bowman
“Greek Bailout at Risk as Party Pushes Back,” reports Bloomberg.
“Greece Plunged Into Political Turmoil Over Austerity Measures,” chimes The New York Times.
“Greek government hit by resignations,” adds the FT.
We spilled a good deal of virtual ink in yesterday’s issue casting doubt and aspersions over the validity of the Greek bailout plan. The story, we reckoned, was at best an old one…at worst an irrelevant one. Bailout or no bailout, the Greeks are broke. The rest is merely noise.
Curiously (and to their credit), markets yesterday would not be roused to action, neither by rumour, hearsay or scuttlebutt regarding the imminent, 11th hour deals “struck” between Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.
Instead, they held tight, patiently.