miércoles, 15 de febrero de 2017

The Curse of Oil

The Curse of Oil

by Thomas Gale Moore
The Bush Administration has made much of Iraq's oil reserves. It wants to use the proceeds from the sale of petroleum to pay off the country's debts, cover the costs of reconstruction and government expenses. It has been hectoring European governments and the Russian government to write off much of the debt that Iraq owes them so that the money can be spent on rebuilding that devastated country. In general, most people and governments have viewed Iraqi oil as a boon; but its existence has major downsides. Oil is more of a curse than a benefit.
First is the quandary it creates for possession of the oil fields. Kirkuk is surrounded by the northern oil fields, which represent about 40 percent of all oil in Iraq. The city of Kirkuk includes Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens, and Assyrian Christians. Except for the Christians, each group claims to be the largest. During Saddam Hussein's regime, Arabs were encouraged to migrate to the region and occupy farms and houses. In many cases Kurds were forced out of their properties, which were turned over to the newcomers.

Permanent Bases: A Recipe for Permanent Terrorism

Permanent Bases: A Recipe for Permanent Terrorism

by Thomas Gale Moore
While the White House has often denied having a Plan B for Iraq, it turns out that the Pentagon has thought about what to do if Plan A, the "surge" doesn’t work. According to Steve Inskeep and Guy Raz of National Public Radio, plan B would involve maintaining a series of military bases around Iraq with some 30,000 to 40,000 U.S. troops. That plan would have them stay for decades, under the excuse that they could train the Iraqi troops and deter neighboring countries, such as Iran and Turkey, from sending their own troops into the country. Already the U.S. has built military compounds that look permanent, supplied with air-conditioning, movie theatres, Starbucks coffee houses, and fast food outlets.

Need To Reorganize US Spy Agencies

On President Trump’s first full day in office, he went to the CIA and promised to back the nation’s spy agencies, but his time would be better spent downsizing the sprawling intelligence community
On President Trump’s first full day in office, he went to the CIA and promised to back the nation’s spy agencies, but his time would be better spent downsizing the sprawling intelligence community
Ivan Eland
Originating from the dispute over whether the Russians hacked the U.S. election and tried to influence it, rumblings came from the Trump transition team about reorganizing the intelligence community or parts thereof. That’s not a bad idea at all.
Prior to 9/11, the US intelligence community had grown to 16 sprawling, secretive agencies, which stayed in their stovepipes, thus cooperating insufficiently. For example, the CIA and FBI had coordination problems that really impaired the government’s warning of the 9/11 attacks.

Robert Gates, Pro and Con

"I worry that there’s a temptation to overstate the terrorist threat. It is not an existential threat."
"Demonizing Islam and demonizing Muslims is self-defeating. It will make the problem worse."
These are two of the statements made by former Secretary of Defense and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency Robert Gates at the Naval Postgraduate School on January 5, 2017. Classes for one morning time slot were canceled so that the students, largely U.S. military officers, could attend. I attended also.
What follows are some of the good things Gates said, along with some of the bad. There were more good things than I had expected, all in the direction of not going overboard on foreign policy. I caution, though, that it’s relatively easy for someone to make independent thoughtful statements when he is no longer a high-level appointee and when, given his age (73) and his likely net worth, he is likely no longer looking for a political job. I have no idea how he actually acted while Secretary of Defense. After listing the good and the bad, I’ll close with one thing Gates said that, whatever his intent, increased my respect for President-elect Trump.

A Win for the Deep State

The ousting of Mike Flynn takes us down the road to a police state
Let’s be clear about how and why former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn was ousted from his post: a cabal of current and former members of the “intelligence community,” fanatically opposed to Donald Trump’s stated desire to “get along with the Russians,” leaked the top secret transcript of Flynn’s conversation with Russian ambassador Sergay Kislyak. Although we don’t yet know exactly what transpired – as of this writing, BuzzFeed hasn’t gotten their hot little hands on the transcript – there was apparently some discussion of lifting sanctions on Russia, which is something the cabal and its collaborators in Congress and the media are determined to prevent at all costs.

White House: Trump Expects Russia to Give Crimea to Ukraine

Also Expects to Get Along With Russia

by Jason Ditz

According to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, President Trump “expects” Russia to both make the level of violence in Eastern Ukraine go down, and to unconditionally “return” the Crimean Peninsula to the Ukrainian government, adding that he “also expects to get along with Russia.”
After protests in Kiev ousted the pro-Russian government in Ukraine, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea held a referendum on secession from the Ukraine in March 2014. A region dominated by ethnic Russians and host to a major Russian military base, that referendum easily passed, and Crimea sought and received accession into the Russian Federation days later.
The post-revolution Ukraine government was pro-West, and naturally Western nations rejected the Crimean secession as unlawful, accusing Russia of “annexing Crimea” militarily. Despite this claim, no real military action ever took place, and the only movement of forces came after the referendum, when Ukraine managed to borrow enough gasoline and car batteries to get their military vehicles off the peninsula.
The US has vowed never to accept Crimea as part of Russia, however, and has repeatedly demanded Russia unconditionally “return” Crimea. Clearly Russia has no intention of doing so, and threats aside Ukraine has no practical way to expel Russia from the peninsula.

‘Media jihad’ against White House an old game

‘Media jihad’ against White House an old game

The media is systematically attacking President Trump's White House staffers, such as Kellyanne Conway and Stephen K. Bannon. (Associated Press)
The media is systematically attacking President Trump’s White House staffers, such as Kellyanne Conway and Stephen K. Bannon. (Associated Press) more >
- The Washington Times -
American Spectator columnist Jeffrey Lord notes that the news media is methodically attacking President Trump’s staff, one by one — including Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, advisers Stephen K. Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Miller; and press secretary Sean Spicer. Mr. Lord describes these attacks as a “media jihad” prompted by press annoyance of the Trump White House and its agenda.
“The game is to zero in on this or that Trump White House staffer and paint them with some form of journalistic radioactivity,” the columnist explains, adding that this is a very old tactic that has percolated for decades.

Trump tweets a red line for North Korea

 Trump tweets a red line for North Korea
The Cold War was waged and won in many places, including this beach city, home to the Rand Corp. Created in 1948 to think about research and development as it effects military planning and procurement, Rand pioneered strategic thinking about nuclear weapons in the context of the U.S.-Soviet competition. Seven decades later, it is thinking about the nuclear threat from a nation created in 1948.When Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that any North Korean use of nuclear weapons would draw an “effective and overwhelming” U.S. response, he did not, according to Rand’s Bruce W. Bennett, “overcommit” the president by saying that the response would be nuclear. But an overwhelming response could be.

The travel moratorium: A hopeless disaster

The travel moratorium: A hopeless disaster

Stupid but legal. Such is the Trump administration’s travel ban for people from seven Muslim countries. Of course, as with almost everything in American life, what should be a policy or even a moral issue becomes a legal one. The judicial challenge should have been given short shrift, since the presidential grant of authority to exclude the entry of aliens is extremely wide and statutorily clear. The judge who issued the temporary restraining order never even made a case for its illegality.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has indeed ruled against the immigration ban, but even if the ban is ultimately vindicated in the courts (as is likely), that doesn’t change the fact that it makes for lousy policy. It began life as a barstool eruption after the San Bernardino massacre when Donald Trump proposed a total ban on Muslims entering the country “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

Michael Flynn’s star burns out

After first reporting the telephone contact between then national security advisor Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak,The Washington Post’s David Ignatius highlights the questions that still remain surrounding his resignation. (Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

A strange and circuitous path led retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn toward his fateful telephone contact in late December with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and the flameout of what had been a distinguished military career.
Military and intelligence colleagues who served with Flynn describe him as a brilliant tactician whose work in the shadowy Joint Special Operations Command a decade ago didn’t prepare him for broader challenges as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, from which he was removed in 2014, and national security adviser, the post from which he resigned Monday night.
“In the JSOC world, you think you’re Superman,” said a former Pentagon superior of Flynn’s. After the disappointment at DIA, he said, “Flynn wanted recognition from anyone who would give it to him.” The Russians paid attention, and he reciprocated.

Flynn departure erupts into a full-blown crisis for the Trump White House

Flynn departure erupts into a full-blown crisis for the Trump White House

President Trump’s ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn, and the circumstances leading up to it, have quickly become a major crisis for the fledgling administration, forcing the White House on the defensive and precipitating the first significant breach in relations between Trump and an increasingly restive Republican Congress.
Even as the White House described Trump’s “immediate, decisive” action in demanding ­Flynn’s resignation late Monday as the end of an unfortunate episode, senior GOP lawmakers were buckling under growing pressure to investigate it.

A Lower Corporate Tax Means More Growth and Higher Wages

Dan Mitchell

Yesterday was “Australia Day,” which I gather for Aussies is sort of like the 4th of July for Americans.
To belatedly celebrate for our friends Down Under, I suppose we could sing Waltzing Matilda.
But since I’m a policy wonk with a special fondness for the nation, let’s instead acknowledge Australia Day by citing some very interesting research
Economists at the Australian Treasury crunched the numbers and estimated the economic effects of a lower corporate tax rate. They had several levers in their model for how this change could be financed, including increases in other taxes.
Corporate income taxes are one of the most destructive ways for a government to generate revenue, so it’s not surprising that the study concluded that a lower rate would be desirable under just about any circumstance.
But what caught my attention was the section that looked at the economic impact of a lower corporate tax rate that is offset by a reduction in the burden of government spending. The consequences are very positive.

Is Putin Being Honest and Accurate about the Benefits of Russia’s Flat Tax?

Dan Mitchell

February 5 Addendum: For my left-wing friends and others who are bending over backwards to misread this column, saying nice things about Russia’s flat tax doesn’t mean (as noted below) that Russia’s overall economic policy is admirable. And it obviously doesn’t imply anything favorable about Russia’s dismal political system or Putin himself. I like the Russia flat tax for the same reason that I like trade liberalization in China and Social Security reform in Chile. Every so often, bad governments stumble upon a good policy and I think that’s laudable because I want people to have better lives. Sadly, I don’t think the Putin-Trump “bromance” will lead to a flat tax in the US, but that would be an unexpected and nice silver lining to that dark cloud.

Get the Federal Government Out of Our Stomachs

Dan Mitchell

Back in 2010, I joked that the Libertarian Party should give Barack Obama a Man-of-the-Year Award because his failed policies rejuvenated interest in limits of federal power.
Though, in retrospect, perhaps the GOP should have given Obama the Award since Republicans reaped the short-term benefits.
In any event, let’s not get distracted by electoral politics. That’s because we have another tongue-in-cheek award. It’s time for the Libertarian Party to give its Woman-of-the-Year Award to Michelle Obama.
Why? Because the First Lady has single-handedly managed to discredit the federal government’s program to subsidize school lunches.
In short, there are now all sorts of federal regulations and mandates that have simultaneously made the program most costly for schools and resulted in food that is less appealing to students.
In other words, she’s helping to teach the next generation that big government makes your life less pleasant. That’s usually a lesson young people don’t learn until they get their first paycheck.
Let’s look at the results of Ms. Obama’s handiwork.
Citing a report from the Government Accountability Office, the Wall Street Journal opines on how Washington has made the school lunch program become far less appealing.

Great Moments in Foreign Government

Since I’m always reading and writing about government policies, both in America and around the world, I’m frequently reminded of H.L. Mencken’s famous observation about the shortcomings of “tolerable” government.

If you take a close look at the world’s freest economies, you quickly learn that they are highly ranked mostly because of the even-worse governments elsewhere.
Even places such as Switzerland have some misguided policies.
But there’s a silver lining to this dark cloud. The incompetence, mendacity, and cronyism that exists all over the world means that I’ll never run out of things to write about.
So let’s enjoy a new edition of Great Moments in Foreign Government.
We’ll start with the utterly predictable failure of an entitlement program in the United Kingdom.
The government must stop ‘nannying’ British parents and do away with universal free childcare, a new report has urged. Families most in need of help are not getting it because Government subsidies are poorly targeted, the Institute of Economic Affairs publication said. Many families on average earnings are spending more than a third of their net income on childcare, the report claimed, saying too much regulation in the sector has hiked prices. …One study has estimated that keeping parents in work costs £65,000 per job, the report claimed, describing current policy as ‘costly and inefficient’. …home-based childminders are priced out of the sector, it said. Co-author of the report Len Shackleton, an editorial research fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: ‘Government interventions in the childcare sector have resulted in both British families and taxpayers bearing a heavy burden of expensive provision.

California Secession Would Force West-Coast Leftists to Confront Reality

I’m not a big fan of Donald Trump, mostly because I fear his populist instincts will deter him from policies that we need (such as entitlement reform) while luring him to support policies that are misguided (more federal transportation spending).
But I admit it’s too early to tell. Maybe my policy predictions on Trump will be as bad as my political predictions about Trump.
And, for what it’s worth, I’ll freely acknowledge that Trump’s election is having a very good effect on my leftist friends. Because they fear the new occupant of the White House, they’re now much more sympathetic to the notion that there should be limits on the power of the federal government and they’re acknowledging that maybe federalism isn’t such a bad idea after all.
Indeed, some of them are so supportive of limiting the impact of Washington that they’re considering secession! The L.A. Daily News reports on a growing campaign in the Golden State.
“Yes California,” a pro-secession group, filed paperwork with the state attorney general in November for a proposed 2018 ballot measure to strike language in the state constitution binding California to the United States. …If its ballot measure succeeds, Yes California would pursue a 2019 vote to declare the state’s independence. …Talk of California secession is nothing new. But it gained momentum after Donald Trump’s election. Hillary Clinton got 62 percent of California’s vote in defeating Trump… According to Yes California, a path to secession exists through the U.S.-ratified United Nations charter.

Abby Martin Exposes Fake News and the Oligarchy Behind It

Jay Syrmopoulos, of The Free Thought Project, interviewed investigative reporter Abby Martin, the former host of the RT show Breaking the Set, which was featured in the fatally flawed DNI report on Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, and asked her a few questions about the widely panned intelligence report, fake news and more.
The “Declassified Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” report, which amounted to nothing more than a speculative assessment, contained no actual evidence of Russian hacking, and was a clear attempt at propping up a dubious political agenda.
The report provided no conclusive evidence to support the oft-made claims of “Russia hacking the election,” and instead devoted a large section of the report to speculative claims about Russian motives and criticism of the Russian television station RT.
In particular, the report explicitly blamed the RT program, Breaking the Set, for undermining Americans’ confidence in US electoral processes. One major problem: the program wasn’t even on the air during the current presidential election cycle.

Brutal Viral Meme Exposes Politicians and Bankers as Drug Dealing Criminals

Though the justice system in the United States might continue to be represented by Lady Justice, whose blindfold and scales symbolize the fair and equitable application of law without prejudice, regardless of one’s station in life, few could argue how that original intent has actually played out. With the blindfold long ago ripped off, Lady Justice metes out sentences based solely on power, privilege, and the size of one’s wallet.
This is, of course, most clearly evident in the State’s absurd War on Drugs — far more fittingly called a War on the People. A war in which, just as a recently viral meme describes, “anti-drug” politicians deal drugs, banks launder that illicit profit, the president supplies the cartels with badly needed weapons, and the military ineptly loses massive shipments of drugs — and all of this is carried out with complete impunity. However, if you are not an agent of the State and happen to be caught with one of the most medicinally beneficial plants on Earth in one of the State’s arbitrary areas where possessing or using that plant remains a no-no, it’s guaranteed you will not receive the same treatment.

Court Finds Speed Cameras ‘Unconstitutional’ — Forces City to Repay ALL Tickets

New Miami, OH — Take away the political corruption, bribery scandals, increased accidents, and police state issues with Red Light Cameras and we are still left with a system that is rooted in the removal of due process. After the corporatist red light camera industry spread through the nation like a cancer for more than a decade, people are finally beginning to realize their inherently despotic nature.
After they woke up to the fact that their due process had been entirely removed by Optotraffic — a private vendor allowed to extort citizens with the blessing of New Miami politicians — the people fought back in the form of a class action lawsuit.

Nobel Peace Prize Winning Drone Program, 8 Times More Strikes, 6 Times more Deaths than Bush

Five Years Of Obama Death Drones Has Snuffed Out 2400 Lives
Steve Watson
This week marked the fifth anniversary of Obama’s first drone kill while in office. Since that time, according to a report from a leading watchdog, close to two and a half thousand people have been killed by launches sanctioned by the White House.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London, a staunch critic of the semi-secret drone program, has compiled a report to mark the milestone. The group collates and compiles information on the drone strikes from local, national and international media, law enforcement and government reports, as well as eyewitnesses accounts. It’s statistics are considered the most authoritative on the subject.
image: http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Presidents-Pakistan.jpg
The group notes that Obama’s first authorised strike came just THREE DAYS into his presidency, and killed at least nine civilians, mostly from one family, in Pakistan’s tribal regions.
“There was one survivor, 14-year-old Fahim Qureshi, but with horrific injuries including shrapnel wounds in his stomach, a fractured skull and a lost eye, he was as much a victim as his dead relatives.” the report notes.

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