That’s Niagara Falls looking completely wrong because 1) It’s frozen over, and 2) there’s no Superman rescuing a ten-year-old boy. There are some more stunning pictures at the link, but from USA Today there’s also this:
Globally, Earth had its fourth warmest January since record keeping began in 1880, according to a climate report released Thursday by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The month was warmer in 2002, 2003 and 2007.
January’s global average temperature was 54.8 degrees, which was 1.17 degrees above the 20th-century average of 53.6 degrees.
We could do with some of that warming over here.
Another post, another Fed President warning us off of QE:
Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher in a speech last night in Mexico City warned that the Fed’s quantitative easing has overstayed its welcome. “I fear that we are feeding imbalances similar to those that played a role in the run-up to the financial crisis,” Fisher said in remarks to the Association of Mexican Banks. He also noted that when it comes to the stock market, the price-to-projected forward earnings, price-to-sales ratios and market capitalization as a percentage of GDP, are at levels not seen since the dot-com boom of the late 1990s. In the associated video, Yahoo Finance Editor in Chief Aaron Task weighs in on whether or not investors should be concerned based on Fisher’s comments and his track record with predictions like these.
Another cautionary tale reported this morning: subprime lending is making a comeback.
Jesse Columbo coined the term “bubblecovery” to describe this funny money recovery we’ve been “enjoying” for nearly six years now. And like the last one, it will pop.
Only this time we’ll be starting with a multi-trillion-dollar bloated Fed, trillion-dollar deficits, and 18% underemployment.
Philly Fed Chief Charles Plosser is worried about the “unintended consequences” of QE3:
Plosser told CNBC that the U.S. was still suffering from “lasting effects” of the recession and “may never return” to its previous growth rates—and warned that policy should not bet on growth returning to previous rates, saying it could be “many, many years.”
With gross domestic product expanding at a 2.4 percent annual rate, according to the Commerce Department last Friday, Plosser said that the country was “pretty close” to its steady state growth and may never get back to where it once thought it could be. “To keep trying to think that we’re going to do that, means that we keep trying to overplay our hand in terms of policy,” he added.
“I am very worried about the potential for unintended consequences of all this action. And it’s very difficult for us to know because we’ve never done this before,” Plosser said, adding that the curbing of this extra liquidity in the global economy would be “very challenging”.
“Sometimes if you don’t have Plan B, you don’t have a plan,” he warned.
I’ve made these two points before but they bear repeating.
The first is that our “new normal” of low growth and high underemployment is being purchased at the cost of anywhere from $600,000,000,000 to $1,000,000,000,000 a year in deficit spending and a further $900,000,000,000 to $1,020,000,000,000 a year in quantitative easing. We long ago reached the point of diminishing returns on easy money.
The second is what happens when the Fed needs to unwind its $4,100,000,000,000 (and growing) balance sheet.
To remove the excess liquidity it pumped into the economy, the Fed will have to sell its Treasuries at a discount, since they were “twisted” into lower-interest bonds, and will be competing on the bond market with higher-interest new debt being issued by the Treasury to cover our continued deficit spending. Further discounting might be required if there simply isn’t enough of a bond market to buy all that old debt on top of all the new debt and on top of all the debt refinancing Washington has to do since the Treasury deals mostly short-term notes.
(Whew — that was a sentence, eh? But if you think the description was something, wait until we see this stuff in action.)
So by this time next year the Fed might need to start pulling, say, $5,000,000,000,000 back out of the economy. But due to heavy discounting, bond buyers only put $4,000,000,000,000 back into the Fed’s coffers. That’s an awful lot of funny money floating around, competing with your not-so-funny money. But how does Washington spell relief? I-N-F-L-A-T-I-O-N.
And keep in mind, the better the economy is doing when the Fed begins its Hoover Damn Project, the higher interest rates will be — and the heavier the Fed will have to discount. That of course means even more leftover funny money and higher inflation.
But the joke’s on them, since the Washington behemoth now sits so heavily on our economy that robust growth, as Plosser was just saying, is unlikely to return.
So it’s quantitative easing today, quantitative easing tomorrow, quantitative easing forever!
Chris Cassidy for the Boston Herald:
Hillary Clinton’s stunning H-bomb — comparing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Ukrainian invasion to Adolf Hitler’s 1938 seizure of Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland — was a blatant attempt to distance herself from the Obama administration as she prepares to mount a 2016 campaign for the White House, critics said.
“As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was enthusiastically for the reset with Putin,” William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, told the Herald. “Now, as a presidential candidate, she’s appalled by it. Will the real Hillary please stand up?”
For modern, national Democrats, bold foreign policy statements aren’t about bold foreign policy. It’s all merely for domestic consumption and electioneering. Which by itself is fine, I suppose. The problem is, bad actors like Putin know this far better than any low-information voter.
They’d be tired by now of getting played, if only they had any idea they were getting played.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey testified that he’s not exactly pleased with the plans outlined by the new Quadrennial Defense Review:
Dempsey predicted that it would become increasingly difficult to balance the competing demands of protecting allies abroad, securing Americans at home and deterring future wars.
“The smaller and less capable military outlined in the QDR makes meeting these obligations more difficult,” he said. “Most of our platforms and equipment will be older, and our advantages in some domains will have eroded. Our loss of depth across the force could reduce our ability to intimidate opponents from escalating conflicts.”
Dempsey added: “Moreover, many of our most capable allies will lose key capabilities. The situation will be exacerbated given our current readiness concerns, which will worsen over the next three or four years.”
It’s cool. The Professor ends wars, yo.
More seriously: We always do this, don’t we?
We got sick of the world after WWII and cut our forces. Next thing we knew there was a major land war in Korea. We got sick of the world after Vietnam and cut our forces. Next thing we knew the Soviets were all over Africa and Central America. We got sick of the world after the Cold War and cut our forces. Next thing we knew, 9/11 and Afghanistan and Iraq. Here we are today, still planning blithely to cut our forces to levels not seen since before Pearl Harbor, while the Russians are playing Annex Thy Neighbor with the choice bits of Ukraine.
The only conclusion to draw is that we’re very slow learners.
Well, that and Democrats can’t be trusted with military budgets in peacetime. They get a pass during wartime only because of FDR.
Daniel Fata was the Pentagon’s point man in the US response to Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia. Stephen Benedict Dyson spoke with him for WaPo on Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine.
Fata is suspicious of Putin’s claim that his intervention in Ukraine is limited in scope and designed to protect Russian citizens. Putin gave similar assurances to the United States over Georgia, Fata recalls. “He lied.” Putin’s intention all along in Georgia was to bring about the end of the government of President Mikheil Saakashvili, who survived in office but whose standing was weakened by the war. In Crimea, Fata is convinced that Putin’s ultimate objective is “to try and take Kiev if he can, and if the consequences aren’t too severe for him.”
The United States should have three goals in the current crisis, in Fata’s view: Russia must be deterred from attempting to advance any further into Ukraine; the United States must reassure its allies and partners in the region that their security will be guaranteed; and Russian gains must be rolled back. In Georgia, the United States achieved the first two of these goals, but to this day has not accomplished a roll-back of Russian gains. Fata believes achieving these goals is critical not only for Ukraine but for the credibility of U.S. policy in the region and around the world. “We cannot seem to be weak or hesitant. That doesn’t mean mobilize yet but it does mean we need to be resolute and have some form of an actual, executable plan for how we will shore up our allies.”
Haughty reminders that “Invading Crimea in March simply isn’t done, dear,” will hardly do the trick.
Dan Joseph talked to DNC committee members about Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments:
Some said she had about a hundred moments of greatness when she served under President Obama – but, strangely, couldn’t name a single accomplishment of hers, besides marrying Bill Clinton.
Another attendee mentioned Clinton’s stance on abortion as a reason to be super excited for Hillary Clinton in 2016. As for her accomplishments, none came to mind, but she noted that Obama saw a reason for her to be nominated as Secretary of State.
I’m surprised no one mentioned this, but I was always fond of her 1998 cover of Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man.”
The Syrian Civil War set in a western country as seen in a second-a-day video.
A Chinese passenger jet with more than 200 people on board flew through the trajectory of a North Korean rocket that had been fired minutes earlier, the South Korean government said.
North Korea fired the rocket Tuesday at 4:17 p.m. without giving any navigational warning, Kim Min-Seok, a spokesman for the South Korean Defense Ministry, said Wednesday.
Seven minutes later, a China Southern Airlines plane carrying 220 passengers from Japan’s Narita airport to Shenyang in China passed through the rocket’s trajectory, he said.
“It was a very dangerous situation,” Kim said during a news briefing. “North Korea’s provocative actions violate the international navigation laws and pose a great threat to the safety of civilians.”
I know the question is as old as North Korea, but what [REDACTED] are the North Koreans up to?
Tammy Bruce is filling in for Bill Whittle, and she found what is easily the most disturbing story of the week.
That’s the sound a sinking Sink makes, if Peter Schorsch has it right:
Following up on Marc Caputo’s number-crunching and my accompanying analysis, I reviewed the latest data on the early-ballots returned to the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections. First of all, the race is ending as I expected it to — with a bang and not a whimper. On Monday and Tuesday, 10,079 ballots were returned. The 5,625 ballots returned on Tuesday were the most since the ballots were mailed in mid-February.
A surge this large and a week before Election Day is out-of-the-ordinary in Pinellas County elections. It was not present in St. Petersburg’s 2013 municipal race. It was not present in the 2012 general election.
But this surge is not surprising considering that both David Jolly and Alex Sink are flawed candidates, both running for local office for the first time. Voters have needed time to decide who they were voting for and/or if they were voting at all. Moreover, as explained in yesterday’s post, several Pinellas municipalities, including Clearwater, Pinellas Park, and Safety Harbor, have hotly-contested elections on the same ballot as the congressional race and some voters in those cities may be/have been holding their ballots while those campaigns play out.
Diving into those ten thousand ballots which have been returned the last two days, it’s clear the trend is moving – decidedly – in the GOP’s favor.
I know, I know — “Don’t get cocky.”
You won’t get the desktop out from under my desk until you pry it from my desk’s cold, dead hands, but:
Worldwide personal-computer shipments may decline by a steeper-than-forecast 6.1 percent this year as demand weakens in emerging markets, researcher IDC said.
PC unit sales are projected to fall for a third straight year to 295.9 million from 315.1 million in 2013, IDC said today in a statement. The researcher, which in January predicted a 3.8 percent drop in 2014 and growth of less than 1 percent in 2015, now estimates the declines will persist through 2018.
On a second reading though, I have to wonder how much of that emerging market weakness is due to increased use of tablets and smartphones, and how much of the weakness might be due to emerging markets’ increasing weakness.
Ralph Peters is one of my favorite authors of modern fiction, in no small part because of his talent for creating real characters and then putting them (and the reader) through absolute hell. But that’s nothing compared to what the retired Army LTC had to say on Fox last night:
Look, the bottom line on this is Russia has a real leader. You may not like him, and I don’t, but he is brilliant and ruthless, he has clear goals and he moves straight toward those goals. The West lacks a leader. Like it or not, the president of the United States is the de facto leader of the West, and our president just is — he’s incapable and unwilling to lead.
The weakness is phenomenal. Now, you know, we are not weaker than we were in the Carter years. I was in that military, it was pathetic. Our military today is the best in the world, best in our history, although Obama wants to dismantle it. We’re also immensely wealthier than the Carter years. The problem is, that as a president Obama is far weaker than Carter, and he’s probably the worst president we’ve ever had.
He is a man who’s incapable of making a hard decision. And by the way, one other key point, Vladimir Putin believes in Russia. He believes in Russia’s destiny, its mission. Obama does not believe in American exceptionalism. He does not believe in this country.
RCP has the video if you want to watch Peters in action.
That last bit isn’t news however to anyone paying attention to these things. Here’s Professor Wiggleroom in his own words:
I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.
When everyone is special, no one is.
Republicans have another winner on their hands in Oregon:
“With regard to rape, we can’t know what it means to the woman.”
Todd Akin? Richard Mourdock? Neither. That was Oregon State Representative Jason Conger, a current candidate in the Republican primary race for the US Senate.
Rep. Conger reportedly made the statement on the Kremer and Abrams show on FM News 101 KXL in Portland, Sunday October 20, 2013, in response to a question about why, in 2011, he sponsored Oregon House Bill 3512, a medical emergency abortion bill that had no provision for incest or rape.
As Marc Abrams, one of the hosts of the conservative-progressive show (think CNN’s Crossfire), wrote the following day at Blue Oregon, Rep. Conger repeated the statement several times.
Mr. Abrams also confirmed to me in an email exchange, as part of my research for this article, that the quote is accurate and unaltered. He openly admitted he is a liberal journalist (though without a “horse in this particular race”), and was equally quick to state he believed he provided Rep. Conger with the opportunity to clarify his statement, but no such clarification was offered.
That’s Tom Dougherty in a must-read piece over at Practical Politicking.
Why does total BS like “Life of Julia” help win elections? Because of not-infrequent-enough nutjobs like these.
You might have read — and I meant to blog about this last week, but it got lost in the shuffle — about the kerfuffle between Apple CEO Tim Cook and conservative think tank (and Apple shareholder) National Center for Public Policy Research. NCPPR wants Apple to spend less money on alternative energy sources for its data centers and offices and whatnot, and pay more attention to the bottom line. Cook got angry, and compared Apple’s alternative energy efforts to its efforts to make its devices more accessible to the disabled — it’s not about the bottom line, it’s about doing what he feels as CEO is “right.”
PJM’s own Walter Hudson had this to say about it:
Stockholders went on to vote down a proposal to halt environmental efforts which hurt the company’s bottom line. In other words, stockholders voted against making money.
The episode evokes comparisons to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and the character of James Taggart, heir to a railroad company who squanders his inherited wealth on altruistic efforts which ruin both his company and the national economy. Like Cook, Taggart believes business should be motivated by more than profit. Like Cook, Taggart believes business holds some inarticulate responsibility to help people.
I respect and admire my colleague, but I’m more than a little suspect of his formulation. Taggart was the titular head of a railroad he didn’t know how to run, and sought to fix its declining fortunes through political pull instead of actually taking care of business. “It’s not my fault!” he was known to shout at every disaster that occurred under his watch. Taggart didn’t even want to run a railroad company; he just wanted to be loved.
Tim Cook is the hands-on CEO of one of the world’s most valuable and profitable companies. Before that, he was its operations officer — and Apple was and is widely considered to have the sharpest operations of any big company on the planet. Cook runs Apple and runs it well. Does he want to be loved? Dunno. He’s too busy running Apple to ever talk about his personal life. Ever.
So I find any Cook-Taggart comparison… a bit silly.
When Big Government takes my tax dollars and gives it to some dead-end “green” company to make car batteries nobody wants, I get angry because there’s nothing I can do about it, at least not until the next election. And we just saw how the “next election” turned out. When a private company — even one I might own a few shares of — decides to do the same, I can sell my shares or stop buying their products.
Or I might think, “This could be very cool.”
And I say that for a couple of reasons.
The first is that alternate energy is worth pursuing, even if you don’t believe the science is settled on global warming. I certainly don’t believe that it is. But the fact is that we have all sorts of un- or under-tapped energy sources, and they’re not going to improve because of government diktats. We’ll get to those sources because private industry will find profitable ways to tap them. It could be a fracker in North Dakota or a tech giant building out server farms around the world. Hopefully it will be both, because cheap energy is one of the keys to wealth creation and upward mobility for millions if not billions of human beings.
That’s worth pursing, even if in the short run it shaves a few cents or even a few dollars off the share price.
Now for the second reason.
Apple is one of the biggest users of batteries on the planet. Every iPhone, every iPad, every MacBook runs on battery power. Apple devices also tend to get the best battery bang for the size, compared to the competition. This is a company which understands better than probably any other on the planet how to make devices which conserve power while still producing best-in-class performance. If Apple wants to continue to improve, they should absolutely pursue every kind of energy source Cook believes might produce future improvement for Apple’s devices and for its customers. Will there be blind alleys and dead ends? Sure.
The Apple Newton was a dead-end device, but creating that product also resulted in the super-low-power ARM chips which run damn near every decent mobile device on the planet. Progress is sometimes what happens when you fail, as any Megan McArdle reader can tell you.
If somebody is ever going to invent the sci-fi solar-hyrdogen-kinetic battery-capacitor-hybrid or whatever that never needs a charge, I bet that company will be Apple. And the reason is precisely because Tim Cook is willing to take his eye off the bottom line in the pursuit of something that might just end up insanely great.
ONE MORE THING: Apple’s shareholders cheered at Cook’s statement, and Walter has a problem with that. But why? A company is owned by its shareholders and if they want to pursue their green dreams, who are we to tell them no? If Walter wants to sell his shares (if he owns any) or quit buying Apple products (if he has any) then that’s his happiness to pursue.
But I’m a happy Apple owner in both senses — and plan to remain one.
A House hearing on the IRS targeting scandal rapidly broke down into a heated and deeply personal argument between a top Democrat and Republican, moments after former IRS official Lois Lerner once again invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to testify.
Lerner, who last year refused to answer questions about her role in singling out Tea Party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status, was called back before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday. Though Republicans argue she waived her Fifth Amendment right by giving a statement during the last hearing, Lerner continued to invoke that right on Wednesday.
“On the advice of my counsel, I respectfully exercise my Fifth Amendment right and decline to answer that question,” she said in response to several questions.
Give her immunity and let’s see how near the head this fish rots.
Radio Shack will close “underperforming” stores — and lots of them:
The struggling consumer electronics retailer announced Tuesday that it plans to close up to 1,100 underperforming stores in the U.S., or about 26% of its current company-owned stores.
“Over the past few months, we have undertaken a comprehensive review of our portfolio from many angles — location, area demographics, lease life and financial performance — in order to consolidate our store base into fewer locations while maintaining a strong presence in each market,” RadioShack CEO Joseph Magnacca said in a statement. “The result of that review is our plan to close up to 1,100 underperforming stores. We will continue to have a strong, unmatched presence across the U.S. with over 4,000 stores including over 900 dealer franchise locations.”
There is (was?) (soon won’t be?) a Radio Shack in here my tiny bedroom town of Monument, CO. The last time I was in there was about three years ago, when I absolutely had to buy an overpriced audio cable right the heck then. And I didn’t recognize the place as anything like the Radio Shack I used to know. Or as Jim Dalrymple said, “the RadioShack I grew up with lost its soul.”
I was reminded of what happened to The Sharper Image. What was once a place to geek out on really cool, hard-to-find nerd toys became a purveyor of gimmicky plastic crap.
Such a shame.
Javier Manjarres reports:
Congressman Alan Grayson is once again in hot water, as a Orlando judge has just granted a temporary protective injunction again him. Lolita Grayson, who filed for divorce a couple months back, filed the restraining order against her husband after alleging that he shoved and injured here this past weekend.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Orange County Sheriff’s office is conducting a “Domestic Violence investigation which is open and active at this point.”
Lolita should change her name to Julia.
Yesterday’s Trifecta shoot ran into overtime yesterday, so I forgot to post a Monday Edition ♡bamaCare!!! fail — but it wasn’t for lack of an actual fail. Here’s what I should have posted, and I’ll find something even fresher for this afternoon:
The Obama administration is set to announce another major delay in implementing the Affordable Care Act, easing election pressure on Democrats.
As early as this week, according to two sources, the White House will announce a new directive allowing insurers to continue offering health plans that do not meet ObamaCare’s minimum coverage requirements.
Prolonging the “keep your plan” fix will avoid another wave of health policy cancellations otherwise expected this fall. The cancellations would have created a firestorm for Democratic candidates in the last, crucial weeks before Election Day.
The White House is intent on protecting its allies in the Senate, where Democrats face a battle to keep control of the chamber.
“I don’t see how they could have a bunch of these announcements going out in September,” one consultant in the health insurance industry said. “Not when they’re trying to defend the Senate and keep their losses at a minimum in the House. This is not something to have out there right before the election.”
Another delay in a desperate attempt to avoid the inevitable political fallout against the law’s Democrat handmaidens?
That Means It’s Working™.
This ought to show them:
“In the hearts of Ukrainians and in the eyes of the world, there is nothing strong about what Russia is doing,” [US Secretary of State John] Kerry said of the Kremlin dispatch of armed forces to Crimea last week and its standing threat to do so in other Russian-populated regions of Ukraine.
“It is diplomacy and respect for sovereignty and not unilateral force that can best solve disputes like this in the 21st century,” Kerry said, conceding that the Kremlin has legitimate interests to protect in independent Ukraine but that its military deployment has in no way secured them.
When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, Jimmy Carter responded increasing defense spending. Professor Wiggleroom sent John Kerry overseas to tell the Russians they’re, like, so immature.
More seriously, Kerry’s statement is seriously unserious — he’s either picked up on his boss’s habit of impotent finger-wagging, or comes by it naturally. I suspect it’s the latter and also a symptom of modern progressivism in practice.
It’s impossible to know what Putin’s next move might be, but after a cooling off period he’d be almost foolish not to try something even bolder.
President Barack Obama said Russia’s incursion into Ukraine is not a “sign of strength,” but rather a miscalculation that risks pushing former Soviet bloc nations further from Moscow.
“I actually think that this has not been a sign of strength, but rather, is a reflection that countries near Russia have deep concerns and suspicions about this kind of meddling,” Obama said Tuesday of the Russian military’s invasion of Crimea, a section of Ukraine which borders Russia. “And if anything, it will push countries further away from Russia.”
I believe Putin will have to make do this semester with a gentleman’s C from the Professor.
I do want to reiterate here that I’m not advocating going to war over Ukraine, or even going to New Cold War over it. But this presidential foot-stomping only makes us look even worse.
The New Republic’s James Mann says “the Obama administration’s rhetoric on Russia is accomplishing nothing,” and he details the reasons, one White House cliche after another. The first one is the most telling though, since it’s really the foundation for all the rest of the magical thinking going on. Read:
They are not acting in their own interest. They are only harming themselves.
Secretary of State John Kerry was all over the airwaves this weekend with versions of this line. “He is not going to gain by this,” Kerry told David Gregory on “Meet the Press.” “Russia is going to lose. The Russian people are going to lose.”
Over the years, Obama and his aides have offered similar versions of this line in talking about other foreign leaders who had done or were about to do something of which the administration disapproved: in Syria, for example, or Egypt or Qaddafi’s Libya. And guess what? It’s a useless line of attack. Putin makes his own calculations of what is in his interest. If he believed that sending troops onto Ukrainian soil was a bad idea, he wouldn’t have done it. Bashar al-Assad also makes his own calculations. He’s worried that if he loses to the rebels, he and many of the people around him will be killed. It’s enough of a full-time responsibility for Obama and Kerry to define what’s in America’s own interests without making grand proclamations of what’s in the best interest of other countries or their leaders.
See? Professor Wiggleroom, as Elliot Abrams argued yesterday, knows best for Russia and Syria and Libya as well as America. Only the (Self-) Anointed Ones, to borrow a phrase, really understand… well, anything and everything.
But a simple look at the facts on the ground, as Wiggleroom likes to say, demolish that notion. Libya is more of a terror breeding ground than it was before our Kind Of War there. Egypt was not better off under Morsi, even with the recent reductions in US aid to the military government which toppled his Islamist rule. Syria has kept its chemical weapons, despite promises to turn them over. Russia means to keep Ukraine, and likely will.
Each country has acted in its own interest (Libya’s anarchy excepted) much, I imagine, to the befuddlement of our White House.
And yet we keep coming up with the short end of the stick.
I didn’t even know that was a word until just today, reading Robert Zubrin’s column on Vlad Putin’s imperial ambitions, but it’s a word with a history:
The roots of Eurasianism go back to czarist émigrés interacting with fascist thinkers in between-the-wars France and Germany. But in recent years, its primary exponent has been the very prominent and prolific political theorist Aleksandr Dugin.
Born in 1962, Dugin was admitted to the Moscow Aviation Institute in 1979, but then was expelled because of his involvement with mystic neo-Nazi groups. He then spent the Eighties hanging around monarchist and ultra-right-wing circles, before joining for a while Gennady Ziuganov’s Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF, a neo-Stalinist group partially descended from, but not to be confused with, the previously ruling Communist Party of the Soviet Union, CPSU), after which he became a founder and chief ideologue of the Eurasianist National Bolshevik Party (NBP) in 1994.
The core idea of Dugin’s Eurasianism is that “liberalism” (by which is meant the entire Western consensus) represents an assault on the traditional hierarchical organization of the world. Repeating the ideas of Nazi theorists Karl Haushofer, Rudolf Hess, Carl Schmitt, and Arthur Moeller van der Bruck, Dugin says that this liberal threat is not new, but is the ideology of the maritime cosmopolitan power “Atlantis,” which has conspired to subvert more conservative land-based societies since ancient times. Accordingly, he has written books in which he has reconstructed the entire history of the world as a continuous battle between these two factions, from Rome v. Carthage to Russia v. the Anglo Saxon “Atlantic Order,” today. If Russia is to win this fight against the subversive oceanic bearers of such “racist” (because foreign-imposed) ideas as human rights, however, it must unite around itself all the continental powers, including Germany, Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics, Turkey, Iran, and Korea, into a grand Eurasian Union strong enough to defeat the West.
What it reads like to me is 19th Century German geopolitics with a Russian accent — the Eurasian core countries of today melded with Mackinder’s “World Island.”
The risk isn’t that Putin will form his Eurasian alliance and take over the world. The danger is the West looking weak enough that he’s tempted to try. That kind of risk-taking in the face of Western fecklessness has lead to two world wars already.
The non-interventionist wing of the party, best represented perhaps by the 2016 aspirations of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, R, is in a tough spot trying to fault Obama for what has happened. The more bellicose national security wing of conservatism is having an “I told you so” moment about Vladimir Putin. Of all people, Mitt Romney was surprisingly prescient in declaring Russia America’s top geopolitical foe.
The results of American diplomacy over the last five years have been disastrous from either perspective — to give two examples, both the results of the Libya invasion and the effort at rapprochement with Putin appear to be profound failures. And third, after accepting a Russian-brokered arms inspection deal with Syria, the U.S. has been humiliated by obstinate non-compliance.
This doesn’t necessarily recommend more wars — and that certainly isn’t what Americans want. But war isn’t the only way to show toughness or resolve.
A couple points to get out of the way first. It’s going to be difficult for the GOP to unite behind a single foreign policy Big Idea, just because of the multipolar nature of the post-Cold War world, and because of the dark nature of the terror threat. Defeating the Soviet Union required standing up and standing tough at every opportunity. Defeating al Qaeda (for lack of a broader and more fitting term) requires both less and more. The other point is one from yesterday — nobody “lost” Ukraine. It was never ours to lose.
The broader problem in the post-Soviet region is much like the broader problem in post-colonial Africa. The borders suck.
European powers drew lines on a map in a Berlin conference room in 1885, which made little ethnic, linguistic, or even economic sense. Instead of allowing Africans to redraw those lines, upon their exit from the continent, the Europeans insisted they be adhered to still. There have been precious few border changes since 1885 on a continent in desperate need of them.
Same deal with the old Soviet Union. Communist thugs drew the borders, giving little thought to if they made any sense. In order to avoid massive bloodshed upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia and the other 14 constituent Soviet republics agreed to keep the old borders. But what made sense in 1991 makes less sense today.
But making adjustments, probably necessary in the long term, is proving difficult and bloody in the short term.
The best we can probably hope for is to try and do what we can to help make the transitions as bloodless and peaceful as possible. But that would require a position of strength and positive American leadership — which is all but impossible given the nature of the American President and Moscow’s post-communist thug.
Remember how Dodd-Frank was going to protect us from another taxpayer bailout of TBTF banks? Stefan Nagel at Bloomberg says — you guessed it — the problem is worse than you think:
Problem is, too-big-to-fail status is an asset in itself. If equity investors expect to benefit from government bailouts in the future, they will place a higher value on the bank’s stock today. As a result, the measured distance to default will also be greater, and the bank’s counterfactual cost of borrowing — along with the estimate of its taxpayer subsidy — will be erroneously low.
A second problem arises from the unique nature of banks’ investments. Standard models assume that the risk of a company’s assets is symmetric: Their value is just as likely to double as it is to be cut in half. Big banks, however, have a peculiar set of positions — loans, mortgage-backed securities, derivative contracts — that have limited potential to rise in value but can entail large losses or even turn into big liabilities in a severe crisis. As a result, the banks’ distance to default can be much smaller than the models would suggest.
Again, this means that the models would underestimate both the banks’ proper borrowing costs and the implicit subsidy they receive from taxpayers. The error is compounded if the models focus only on data from quiet periods, during which the tiny fluctuations in the value of a bank’s assets would make a large loss seem extremely improbable.
Wall Street and Washington learned much from the last crisis — mostly in terms of how to cover their tracks.
Haven’t gotten enough Rob Ford news lately? Really, can anyone? Here’s the latest:
Long-simmering tension between Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and the city’s police chief reached a new level of animosity with the mayor daring Chief Bill Blair on Thursday to “arrest me.”
The mayor’s comments – including a demand for the chief to apologize “to the taxpayers” – are the latest salvo after months of friction between Chief Blair and Mr. Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford.
“I want to see how much money he spent on following me around,” Mr. Ford said Thursday, when asked by reporters about remarks made by Chief Blair about a police investigation targeting the mayor. “If he’s going to arrest me, arrest me. I have done nothing wrong and he’s wasted millions of dollars.”
I love this guy.
The ’50s saw some wild military procurement, such as the Davy Crockett recoilless nuclear rifle. Soldier mounts nuclear “bullet” in general direction of Soviet tanks, fires the damn thing, runs like hell. It was part of the “Pentomic Army,” and all I need to say about that is, it’s a good thing we didn’t find ourselves in any land wars at the time of that little reorg project.
However, I’d somehow missed the AIR-2 Genie nuclear air-to-air missile:
Hurled into a mass formation of Soviet Tupolev Tu-95 bombers, the W-25’s 1,000-foot blast radius and potent radiation flux were more than enough to do its job.
Missile guidance systems in the mid-1950s were primitive. Efforts to develop and miniaturize missile sensors and electronics would produce transistors, printed circuits and other game-changing technologies, but these advances lay in the future.
Instead, the Genie was a short-range unguided missile. With the W-25 attached, the huge blast compensated for the missile’s inaccuracy. As long as it got within a quarter-mile of its targets, the weapon would destroy them.
To get this unguided atomic weapon away from the pilot and into the enemy’s bomber formations as quickly as possible, the Genie’s solid-rocket motor accelerated the missile to Mach 3.3 during its two-second burn, putting about six miles of distance between its launch point and detonation.
The total flight time was 12 seconds.
During those precious seconds, the interceptor pilots had to get away from the weapon as fast as they could—while the enemy bomber crews dealt with the incoming nuke.
The back-flips and tight turns involved made for stimulating mission profiles.
I bet it did.
We made over 3,000 of the things, and kept them in service until 1988.