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Belmont Club

Your Card Has Been Debited

March 5th, 2013 - 12:54 pm

Since it is unlikely that Dr. Henry Kissinger has been lurking on this site any similarity between Kissinger’s recent observations and the familiar analysis of nuclear weapons offered here on the Belmont Club must be due to an earlier shared source. Dr. Kissinger is reported as saying on the BBC that what  7 American Presidents spent 40 years preventing may now have been achieved by the current incumbent.

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has warned that a crisis involving a nuclear Iran is in the “foreseeable future”…

The consequences of Tehran’s programme, he said, would be that other countries in the region would also want nuclear arms.

“The danger is that we could be reaching a point where nuclear weapons would become almost conventional, and there will be the possibility of a nuclear conflict at some point… that would be a turning point in human history,” he said.

That’s right. The world isn’t going to buy everyone a Coke. And the earlier shared source?  Why a hundred year old book which claims that reality eventually punctures fiction. “For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” And separately, “for they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.”

There’s a thought: that trouble, no less than investments also compounds with interest.

Meanwhile in other developments, Hugo Chavez’s officially renewed health problems have renewed speculation that he’s been dead or brain dead for some time and that the Venezuelan authorities are simply preparing the public for the announcement of his death. His death, by the way is the result of poisoning by the United States Air Force or some such, according to Venezuelan officials.

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro claimed Tuesday that President Hugo Chavez’s cancer was the result of an “attack” by his enemies and announced a commission to investigate.

The bizarre allegation came as Maduro announced that an American diplomat will be expelled for allegedly spying and meeting with military officers in a bid to destabilize the South American nation.

A U.S. embassy spokesman told the Associated Press that Washington was drawing up a response to the allegations about Air Force attaché David del Monaco, who was given 24 hours to get out of Venezuela.

What’s real any more?

Well Chavez has just been declared dead by Venezuela’s Vice-President. So I guess the claim is now that the Gringos assassinated Chavez. By some strange coincidence Chavez died on March 5, 2013, sixty years from the exact day Joseph Stalin Expired in 1953. Or did he die earlier and they simply got around to admitting it now?

The contrast between the actual and the announced has been noticed by 60 Minutes, which had a special on what could be the biggest property bubble in the history of the world: China’s. “If trouble comes in threes, then what’ll be the next global market to melt down after the U.S. and Europe? Some are looking nervously at China.” And here’s why.

Lesley Stahl: Why are they empty? I’ve heard that they have actually been sold.

Gillem Tulloch: They’ve all been sold. They’ve all been sold.

Lesley Stahl: They’ve all been sold? They’re owned.

Gillem Tulloch: Absolutely. Owned by people in China’s emerging middle class, who now have enough money to invest but few ways to do it. They’re not allowed to invest abroad, banks offer paltry returns, and the stock market is a rollercoaster. But 15 years ago, the government changed its policy and allowed people to buy their own homes and the flood gates opened.

Gillem Tulloch: So what they do is they invest in property because property prices have always gone up by more than inflation.

Lesley Stahl: And they believe it will always go up?

Gillem Tulloch: Yeah, just like they believed in the U.S. Actually, property values have doubled and tripled and more — so people in the middle class have sunk every last penny into buying five, even 10 apartments, fueling a building bonanza unprecedented in human history. No nation has ever built so much so fast.

Lesley Stahl: How important is real estate to the Chinese economy? Is it central?

Gillem Tulloch: Yes. It’s the main driver of growth and has been for the last few years. Some estimates have it as high as 20 or 30 percent of the whole economy.

Lesley Stahl: But they’re not just building housing. They’re building cities.

Gillem Tulloch: Yes. That’s right.

Lesley Stahl: Giant cities being built with people not coming to live here.

Gillem Tulloch: Yes. I think they’re building somewhere between 12 and 24 new cities every single year.

Unlike our market driven economy, in China it’s the government that has spent some $2 trillion to get these cities built – as a way of keeping the economy growing. The assumption is “if you build it, they’ll come.” But no one’s coming.

So what? As Bloomberg would say, why can’t the government pay for it all? After all, if  as he claims “people” will lend the US government an “infinite” amount of money, why won’t they lend China and Europe an equally infinite amount? That only makes three distinct infinities which are at least not uncountably infinite.

And if all else fails then the governments of China, the EU and the US can always get together and announce an imminent invasion of Space Aliens, just as  Venezuela is always about to be invaded by the US Air Force, and with that build their way out of depression. Paul Krugman said it could be done and he has a Nobel Prize.

But at some point, common sense may rebel and say “no”. No in spite of the Nobel prizes. No to Chavez being   alive if he’s dead. No to the proposition that if America unilaterally disarms then the world will buy everyone a Coke instead of everyone arming up, as Dr. Kissinger observed. And finally, no: if you build 12 to 24 new cities a year they won’t come.

People are beginning to get it. National Black Chamber of Commerce President Harry C. Alford now says that Obama “made a fool out of me.”

“He believes in government controlling the lives of the people,” Alford said. “He wants government in anything and everything. Health insurance. He wants it in your job, the way you run your lifestyle, culture. He wants to take away your guns, which is a constitutionally-protected right.”

Alford also called out Barack Obama’s inattention to the national budget. The president has yet to submit a budget on time, and has not had a budget passed in more than 1,400 days.

“He doesn’t care about a budget. I’ve never known a president who doesn’t care about a budget. How do you run the richest economy in the world without a budget?” Alford asked. “You can’t even run a shoe-shine stand without a budget.”

Maybe Alford doesn’t understand. Obama is too smart to run a shoe-shine stand. He’s too smart to be anything except President. Yes or no?

And if that leads to a big and very terrible yes, consider what it may mean. Yes we are in trouble. Yes we have been sold a pack of lies. Yes the time is fast approaching when the lies will start to blow up in everyone’s face. The terrible Ifs, Buts and Maybes accumulate.

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All Comments   (37)
All Comments   (37)
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Chavez can loan the US an infinite amount of money. Being dead he does not expect to be repaid. The US can then repay its debts to China. That will then save the banks there and enable the famously tolerant and welcoming Chinese to sell their empty cities to people from the Middle East, Latin America and Africa seeking greener pastures. Europeans can profit as style consultants to the new urban inhabitants. The UAW members from Detroit can then make them green cars.

So everything will be OK.

Where is my Nobel Prize?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"it is unlikely that Dr. Henry Kissinger has been lurking on this site"

No, but I did meet him at a New York Yankee baseball game last fall. That was cool.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
As has been pointed out by others, nuclear fission occurs within a range of conditions subject to the calculations and manufacturing capacities of any reasonably competent emerging civilization. The understanding and mastery of fission weapons can only be delayed and hampered, not fully controlled, except by a civilization of far greater sophistication than WE have in relation to our adversaries.

Despite that their use demonstrably shortened the bloodletting and prevented some millions of additional deaths and permanent injuries, the nuclear weapons used by USA in 1945 have served the worldwide Communist/Leftist/Progressive movement as a club with which to guilt-bludgeon America.

What it boils down to in all of these issues - the claims of human-caused climate change, Obama's deliberate exacerbation of the Macondo disaster, the frenzied characterization of nuclear power as intrinsically EVIL, ditto for guns - is the Left's intentional fencing off of key issues within an area in which rational discussion is OUTLAWED.

Some time back I read "Wild Thoughts from Wild Places" by David Quammen. In one chapter he describes a conversation with a radical environmentalist that took place during a long canoe trip down a spectacular River. The environmentalist cheerfully admitted that the radicals strategy was to promote ridiculously extreme positions, and push and push and push, promoting those policy positions so forcefully in the public mind that the effect would be to shift the perceived "centrist" view significantly leftward. THAT shift is as much the goal as any specific policy concession.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
An interesting article by the late Christopher Hitchens on Chavez's mental health (article from 4 plus years ago):

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2010/08/hugo_boss.html?wpisrc=most_viral

My favorite line:
Chávez, in other words, is very close to the climactic moment when he will announce that he is a poached egg and that he requires a very large piece of buttered toast so that he can lie down and take a soothing nap.

There are many ways to say it, but I think what it comes down to is that some men just want to watch the world burn. Chavez was one, our current Occupant is another.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yes, Obama is too smart to run a shoe-shine stand. Obama is also too smart to be the President of the United States. Now if only he were a dictator or the Emperor of the United States...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
For all I know, Nicolas Maduro could have killed Hugo Chavez as part of a coup d'etat. We really don't know what is going on.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In the realm of sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind. This article now reports that Yale hosts workshop teaching sensitivity to bestiality
http://www.campusreform.org/blog/?ID=4646

Having normalized homosexuality -- bestiality would not be far behind. Reminds me of Woody Allen and the Sheep. Who knew he was prophetic.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Putin risks mutiny in the Red Army

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/03/russian-cigarettes/

"...But troops may not be able to handle losing their free smokes. “Tobacco shortages will affect the psychology of the smokers,” Valentina Melnikova, executive secretary of the Union of Soldiers’ Mothers’ Committee, a human rights organization focused on the military, told Izvestia. “Platoon or company commanders will start collecting money from the ranks, including non-smokers. This will result in speculation, extortion, bullying and even violence.” (In case you were wondering, the Defense Department included free cigarettes in some K-rations until 1975.)

The reason, Melnikova implies, is that troops won’t necessarily quit smoking, and won’t have enough money to pay for cigarettes over the counter, leading to a black market within the military. It wasn’t until January that service members saw a raise from 500 to 1,000 rubles, or $16.50 to $32 per month. Before the raise, many soldiers spent much of their take-home pay on cigarettes, according to RIA Novosti, even with the government ration. (Smoking’s expensive.) Izvestia also suggests that troops would need their salaries to quadruple to support their habit."


If we ever need to suborn the Red Army, we should do it with cartons of Marlboros!!

First it was chocolate bombers.
Then is was chicken bombers.
Next it wll be Marlboro bombers!

Ain't the C-17 a thing of beauty???
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is no "Red Army"; hasn't been since 1946, when the name was formally changed to "Soviet Army."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Venezuela has huge reserves of heavy oil in tar sands.

Wikipedia says

"In addition to conventional oil, Venezuela has oil sands deposits similar in size to those of Canada (approximately equal to the world's reserves of conventional oil). Venezuela's Orinoco tar sands are less viscous than Canada's Athabasca oil sands – meaning they can be produced by more conventional means – but they are buried deeper, meaning they cannot be extracted by surface mining. Estimates of the recoverable reserves of the Orinoco Belt range from 100 billion barrels (16×109 m3) to 270 billion barrels (43×109 m3). In 2009, USGS updated this value to 513 billion barrels (8.16×1010 m3).[10]"

So the technology used in the Canadian tar sands holds the key to the economic future for poor Venezuelans. Let us encourage ExxonMobil to enter into a joint venture with Pdvsa, if Venezuela elects a free market president to replace Chavez. China, Russia etc do NOT have the technology, so if they want to earn more money, they need to snuggle up to Uncle Sam, especially the USAF ;-)

Murio Bolivarian Revolution!!!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Wretchard asked:

“If trouble comes in threes, then what’ll be the next global market to melt down after the U.S. and Europe?"

I know that since March 2009, the markets have been rigged by the Federal Reserve through money printing, quantitative easing and direct manipulation intended to kill market bears. The DJIA average has doubled since March 2009. There is data out on the web showing the correlation between the stock market rise and fall versus the Fed's money printing, refer to:

http://blogs.stockcharts.com/chartwatchers/2012/09/quantitative-easing-and-the-sp-500-since-2008.html

Bernanke has indicated that he will continue to print money ($85 billion/month) until the "market improves". My reading is that he will continue to print money until retail investors (dumb money) return to the stock market and then slowly withdraws Fed money thus "sterilizing" the previously printed money. Eventually the Fed will withdraw all of its money and allow the markets to crash to fair value (DJIA under 9000). Anyone still in the markets after the Fed withdraws its money will be savagely raped, e.g. the DJIA dropping 1000 points in single days and probably drop 5000 points in less than a month.

Most of the financial pundits out there are saying that it's a rigged casino but currently rigged to go up in the foreseeable future, refer to:

http://www.distressedvolatility.com/2013/02/dow-to-14000-jpm-pmi-new-home-sales-deleveraging.html

Anyone so greedy/stupid to invest in a market that he knows is a rigged casino while at a historic high deserves to lose all of his money. However the markets will continue to go up while Bernanke continues to print money (How long will this go on?).

Bernanke might be "riding the tiger" and unable to disengage, i.e. the moment he tries to withdraw Fed money or allow interest rates to go up then the whole system implodes in a heartbeat. If he is "riding the tiger" and can not disengage then we are on the front end of a Zimbabwe situation where the stock market goes to infinity and the US-dollar inflates away to zero.

The statistics concerning inflation are probably bogus. I know that my family's credit card expenses have doubled over the last four years but our life style has not improved significantly (most of our expenses are towards groceries, fuel, etc.). I know there is significant unreported inflation. I also know there is significant unemployment and Food Stamp usage (historic highs), refer to:

http://www.trivisonno.com/wp-content/uploads/Food-Stamps-Monthly.jpg

The level of unemployment is probably not being accurately reported. I have seen charts on the Internet showing the DJIA average priced in grams of gold. Since March 2009, the DJIA has been almost flat when priced in gold, refer to:

http://pricedingold.com/charts/DJIA-2006.pdf

This seems intuitively correct given that the recent stock market rise was due to money printing. However recently this correlation has broken as the stock market goes up while the price of precious metals has dropped. I have noticed that the usual market pundits have been talking down precious metals (gold) and calling it a "bubble". I know that the value of gold is driven more by ETF funds like GLD and less by physical gold (Krugerrands). ETF funds like GLD are susceptible to Fed market manipulation as they manipulate the DJIA. Bernanke would be compelled to manipulate the value of paper gold to remain flat or go down in order to maintain credibility of the zero inflation lie.

Finally, the European financial situation seems to be rotting from within. The Main Stream Media has lied repeatedly that the situation in Europe is under control but there is no reason to believe this (England had its credit rating devalued last week). Likewise the situation in China is getting very dodgy. Most people have forgotten but the collapse of the financial system during the Great Depression was a two stage process, i.e. there was first the 29 Oct 1929 collapse on Wall Street that first shocked the world markets followed by the collapse of the Creditanstalt Bank in Austria on 11 May 1931. A collapse of the European financial system could overwhelm all of Bernanke's money printing and financial deceptions. Thus we have the situation of Bernanke, riding the tiger, inflating away the US-dollar until a financial collapse in Europe or China causes the whole system to implode. Investing in the stock market might cause short term relief but in essence we would be riding the tiger with Bernanke until the system implodes. Alternatively, holding pure cash seems a non-option because Bernanke's money printing will cause paper money to inflate away to nothing. The traditional third solution of holding precious metals also appears to be a non-option due to manipulation of precision metal ETF funds.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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