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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "It’s a 401(k) World": How Does This Benefit the Other 99%?

More invaluable advice from Tom Terrific . . .

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "It’s a 401(k) World" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/01/opinion/friedman-its-a-401k-world.html), Thomas Friedman predictably (yawn . . .) describes a "hyperconnected world," linked by "Facebook, Twitter, 4G, iPhones, iPads, high-speech broadband, ubiquitous wireless and Web-enabled cellphones, the cloud, Big Data, cellphone apps and Skype." Friedman writes:

"[T]he combination of these tools of connectivity and creativity has created a global education, commercial, communication and innovation platform on which more people can start stuff, collaborate on stuff, learn stuff, make stuff (and destroy stuff) with more other people than ever before.

What’s exciting is that this platform empowers individuals to access learning, retrain, engage in commerce, seek or advertise a job, invent, invest and crowd source — all online. But this huge expansion in an individual’s ability to do all these things comes with one big difference: more now rests on you."

Great news for the one percent of the population that can effectively wield these tools.

And the other ninety-nine percent? It now rests on them?

In the way of an answer, Friedman tells us:

"I find a lot of this scary. We’re entering a world that increasingly rewards individual aspiration and persistence and can measure precisely who is contributing and who is not. This is not going away, so we better think how we help every citizen benefit from it."

Yeah, right. Let's set up Facebook accounts for everyone, give them a tax credit for their iPads, and see if it makes a dent in unemployment or takes some 50 million Americans off of food stamps.

As always, thanks for the advice, Tom. What will you ever think up next?

Maureen Dowd, "Bottoms Up, Lame Duck": Obama, the Anti-Leader, Avoids Discussion of Unemployment

Holy cannoli, is Maureen Dowd ever pissed off at Obama.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Bottoms Up, Lame Duck" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/01/opinion/dowd-bottoms-up-lame-duck.html?_r=0), Dowd notes Obama's irritability and arrongance while answering a question from ABC News’s Jonathan Karl during yesterday's press conference, marking the hundredth day of his second term. Maureen writes:

"The job of the former community organizer and self-styled uniter is to somehow get this dunderheaded Congress, which is mind-bendingly awful, to do the stuff he wants them to do. It’s called leadership.

He still thinks he’ll do his thing from the balcony and everyone else will follow along below. That’s not how it works."

Obama? Work? He's been having too much fun on the golf course and yukking it up with Conan at Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Leadership? Although leadership can be studied and improved, it cannot be practiced on a virtuoso level by everyone. What are leadership's components? Certainly charisma, which cannot be taught. Add to the list, a willingness to accept risk - again something for which we are not all wired - and  abundant confidence and an ability to make snap decisions, which are not present in all of us.

Or in other words, Obama is the antithesis of a leader: Although intelligent and charismatic, he is slow to make decisions and reluctant to rule by fiat.

But Dowd failed to notice what wasn't discussed at the press conference. Some 5 million Americans are considered long-term unemployed, i.e. they have been looking for work for six months or more, and this number doesn’t include people who have stopped looking for work. Also, almost 50 million Americans are on food stamps. This is a horror story which shouldn't have been ignored by the president.

Dowd did briefly mention in passing Obama's prolonged inaction concerning the ongoing civil war in Syria, which has left more than 70,000 people dead:

"After Syria, Obama discussed another issue where he came across like a frustrated witness to history, rather than shaper of it."

Or what has been labeled "leadership from behind."

Concerning Syria, Obama said the following:

"What we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria, but we don't know how they were used, when they were used, who used them. We don't have a chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened . . . I've got to make sure I've got the facts."

You will recall that Obama previously stated that the use by Syria's Bashar al-Assad of chemical weapons would cross a "red line." Well, make no mistake about it - Assad has used chemical weapons against the rebels, as I've unequivocally told those who read this blog (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/chuck-hagel-opines-on-syria-is-americas.html), and as subsequently acknowledged by America's block headed secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel.

However, I also admit that Obama now faces a quandary. Owing to his delay in acting, there are no "moderates" among Syria's rebels. We are only looking at radical jihadists, many with links to al-Qaeda.

What to do? Unfortunately, there is a now a need to made a deal with the devil. The US needs to destroy Syrian airbases, chemical weapons depots and Scud missiles in exchange for some sort of commitment that the rebels will not engage in wanton slaughter of Syria's Alawites when Assad falls, which he will.

No American boots on the ground, of course.

The added benefit: the destruction of the Iranian, Syrian, Hezbollah triumvirate.

Can Obama bring himself to do it? As George Harrison once sang:

"It's gonna take time,
A whole lot of precious time"

Meanwhile, this situation is not getting any better.

Monday, April 29, 2013

David Brooks, "Engaged or Detached?": Are Friedman, Krugman and Collins "Rigid and Stale"? Is Their "Mental Hygiene" Suspect?

Are you tired of listening to Thomas Friedman tell us that faster Internet is going to cure unemployment and the federal deficit? Or of reading Paul Krugman's biweekly paean's to Keynesianism and the need to spend the US out of a depression? Or of wading through Gail Collins's revelations of nefarious Republican wrongdoing? Well, apparently David Brooks is also disgusted with his fellow New York Times columnists, although he doesn't name names.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Engaged or Detached?"(http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/opinion/brooks-engaged-or-detached.html?_r=0), Brooks distinguishes between "engaged" and "detached" writers. Of "engaged" writers, Brooks declares:

"The engaged writer closely and intimately aligns with a team. In his writing, he provides arguments for the party faithful and builds community by reminding everyone of the errors and villainy of the opposing side. For the engaged writer, the writing is often not about persuasion. (Realistically, how many times does a piece of writing persuade someone to switch sides?) It’s often about mobilization. It’s about energizing the people who already agree with you.

The engaged writer often criticizes his own party, but from a zone of trust inside it, and he is usually advising the party to return to its core creed. The engaged writer is willing to be repetitive because that’s how you make yourself an unavoidable pole in the debate. The goal is to have immediate political influence, to provide party leaders with advice, strategy and policy recommendations."

Friedman, Krugman and Collins, devoted to Obama, are obviously "engaged."

Regarding the "detached" writer, Brooks observes:

"The detached writer also starts with a worldview. If you don’t have a philosophic worldview, your essays won’t even rise to the status of being wrong. They won’t be anything.

But the detached writer wants to be a few steps away from the partisans. She is progressive but not Democratic, conservative but not Republican. She fears the team mentality will blinker her views. She wants to remain mentally independent because she sees politics as a competition between partial truths, and she wants the liberty to find the proper balance between them, issue by issue."

Brooks's preference? Simple:

"But I would still urge you to slide over toward the detached side of the scale. First, there is the matter of mental hygiene. You may think you can become a political partisan without becoming rigid and stale, and we all know people who achieve this, but the risk is high."

Friedman, Krugman and Collins and mental hygiene? Yes, I have my opinions, given Krugman's embrace of Occupy Wall Street ("It’s clear what kinds of things the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators want, and it’s really the job of policy intellectuals and politicians to fill in the details," Paul Krugman, "Confronting the Malefactors" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/07/opinion/krugman-confronting-the-malefactors.html)), and Friedman's periodic anti-Semitic outbursts (e.g., his assertion that Netanyahu's standing ovation after speaking before Congress was "bought and paid for by the Israel lobby" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/14/opinion/friedman-newt-mitt-bibi-and-vladimir.html?_r=0)). An overweight Collins? No longer able to crack Seamus dog-on-the-roof jokes, she seems to be at a loss regarding what to write.

"Rigid and stale"? I could ghost write for Krugman and Friedman for the next six months and no one would know the difference.

Fortunately for The Times, it still has Maureen Dowd in its stable of op-ed writers. A plagiarist? Yes. Totally ignorant of foreign affairs? Yes. But rigid and stale? No, as proven by her recent outrage over Obama's impotence (e.g., "No Bully in the Pulpit" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/opinion/sunday/dowd-president-obama-is-no-bully-in-the-pulpit.html?_r=0)).

Can Dowd save a "rigid and stale" New York Times from ultimately filing for Chapter 11? No way.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Paul Krugman, "The Story of Our Time": In God We Trust, But Those Green Pieces of Paper?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Story of Our Time" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/29/opinion/krugman-the-story-of-our-time.html?_r=0), Paul Krugman twice declares that the US is in a "depression," "a once-in-three-generations financial crisis," and proffers "a sort of refresher on the nature of our economic woes, and why this remains a very bad time for spending cuts." Krugman explains:

"Let’s start with what may be the most crucial thing to understand: the economy is not like an individual family.

Families earn what they can, and spend as much as they think prudent; spending and earning opportunities are two different things. In the economy as a whole, however, income and spending are interdependent: my spending is your income, and your spending is my income. If both of us slash spending at the same time, both of our incomes will fall too."

Thus, according to Krugman, "this is a time for above-normal government spending, to sustain the economy until the private sector is willing to spend again."

And it's the bad guys who oppose Krugman:

"[P]owerful people don’t want to believe it. Some of them have a visceral sense that suffering is good, that we must pay a price for past sins (even if the sinners then and the sufferers now are very different groups of people). Some of them see the crisis as an opportunity to dismantle the social safety net. And just about everyone in the policy elite takes cues from a wealthy minority that isn’t actually feeling much pain."

Good versus bad? How puerile. Get real, Paul.

There are also those who believe that relative to the size of the US economy, there is too much federal debt outstanding. As observed by Krugman himself in an earlier op-ed (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/17/opinion/krugman-that-terrible-trillion.html?_r=0), the ratio of debt to G.D.P. is "the best measure of our debt position." US debt is currently more than $16.8 trillion, and gross US debt is some 107% of America's G.D.P. Those "fools" at the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office have warned that "U.S. debt is on track to be nearly twice the size of the U.S. economy by 2037" (http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/budget/230901-cbo-warns-of-grim-long-term-debt-outlook). Sure, the American Taxpayer Relief Act and the sequester may have delayed "achievement" of that 200% debt to G.D.P. ratio by a few years; however, as acknowledged by the Peterson Foundation (http://www.pgpf.org/Issues/Fiscal-Outlook/2013/01/fiscal-cliff-atra-2012-long-term-analysis.aspx), we're still headed for that astronomical percentage by 2040.

Bottom line, if the federal government takes too many loans premised upon its ability to print additional pieces of green paper declaring "IN GOD WE TRUST" or upon the minting of a platinum coin (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/paul-krugman-lust-for-gold-what.html), we can only hope that people will continue to declare their trust in God, as they wheel piles of green paper to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Frank Bruni, "The Lesson of Boston": Go Back to School, Frank

I like much of what Frank Bruni writes, but today he is wearing his ignorance on his sleeve. In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/opinion/sunday/bruni-the-lesson-of-boston.html?pagewanted=all), Bruni opines on the motivation behind the Boston Marathon bombings:

"Our insistence on patterns and commonalities and some kind of understanding assumes coherence to the massacres, rationality. But the difference between the aimless, alienated young men who do not plant bombs or open fire on unsuspecting crowds — which is the vast majority of them — and those who do is less likely to be some discrete radicalization process that we can diagram and eradicate than a dose, sometimes a heavy one, of pure madness. And there’s no easy antidote to that. No amulet against it."

Pure madness. Yeah, right. I suppose that's the reason for the following findings by the Pew Research Center(http://pewglobal.org/2010/12/02/muslims-around-the-world-divided-on-hamas-and-hezbollah/):

"At least three-quarters of Muslims in Egypt . . . say they would favor making each of the following the law in their countries: stoning people who commit adultery, whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery and the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim religion."

So now you know that most Egyptians are "purely mad."

Then there was the recently foiled, al-Qaeda backed plot to derail a Canadian passenger train, but Raed Jaser and co-accused Chiheb Esseghaier are not Egyptians. More "pure madness"?

Perhaps 9/11 was also "pure madness"?

And all the "honor killings" being perpetrated against Muslim women around the globe also amount to "pure madness"?

Wake up, Frank. These hate crimes are something that I would describe as "pure evil," but I suppose that any such dark thoughts would be categorized as politically incorrect.

Thomas Friedman, "Judgment Not Included": The Bullshit Never Stops

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Judgment Not Included" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/opinion/sunday/friedman-judgment-not-included.html), Thomas Friedman opines on the Boston Marathon bombings and Islamic radicalism. Friedman writes:

"Moreover, some 70,000 people, most of them Muslims, have been killed by other Muslims in the Syrian civil war, which the U.S. had nothing to do with — although many Muslims are now begging us to intervene to stop it. And every week innocent Muslims are blown up by Muslim suicide bombers in Pakistan and Iraq — every week. Thousands of them have been maimed and killed in attacks so nihilistic that the bombers don’t even bother to give their names or make demands. Yet this does not appear to have moved the brothers Tsarnaev one iota.

Why is that? We surely must not tar all of Islam in this. Having lived in the Muslim world, I know how unfair that would be. But we must ask a question only Muslims can answer: What is going on in your community that a critical number of your youth believes that every American military action in the Middle East is intolerable and justifies a violent response, and everything Muslim extremists do to other Muslims is ignorable and calls for mostly silence?"

"We surely must not tar all of Islam in this"? All of Islam? No. But consider Bill Maher's interchange with Brian Levin, director of the Center for Study of Hate and Extremism. "Could they do the 'Book of Islam' on Broadway?" No way in hell.

Friedman concludes:

"And that’s why the faster, more accessible and ultramodern the Internet becomes, the more all the old-fashioned stuff matters: good judgment, respect for others who are different and basic values of right and wrong. Those you can’t download. They have to be uploaded, the old-fashioned way, by parents around the dinner table, by caring but demanding teachers at school and by responsible spiritual leaders in a church, synagogue, temple or mosque. Somewhere, somehow, that did not happen, or stopped happening, with the brothers Tsarnaev."

Spiritual leaders in mosques are going to take a stand against "honor killings" against women and declare that Muslims who convert to other religions should not be executed? Some 84% of Egyptian Muslims believe that those abandoning Islam should die (see: http://www.pewglobal.org/2010/12/02/muslims-around-the-world-divided-on-hamas-and-hezbollah/). From where do Egyptians, many of them illiterate, form these views if not from the sermons of their "spiritual leaders"?

Go back to sleep, Tom, before you hurt yourself.

Maureen Dowd, "Silver Fox’s Pink Slip": Stuck in Puissant Elephant and Donkey Droppings

Make no mistake about it: George W. Bush was a disaster for the United States. The Second Gulf War destroyed the equilibrium that existed between Iraq and Iran in the Middle East, setting the stage for Iran's fanatic pursuit of dominion over the region. His introduction of ground forces into Afghanistan was a tragedy in the making, as he should have known from Russia's prior entry into this quagmire. His administration allowed Wall Street and the big banks to rape the US economy with the introduction of worthless, real estate-based derivatives, and the elimination of the Uptick Rule during his second term in office (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/paul-krugman-jobless-trap-castigating.html) continues to plague American productivity.

Could Americans possibly make it worse for themselves? Answer: Yes We Can! Enter Obama, the anti-Bush, or so many thought. Yet, five years later, American forces remain in Afghanistan, and Iran continues its quest for a nuclear weapon. The Uptick Rule has not been reinstated, and the American economy remains in the doldrums with federal debt fast approaching $17 trillion and almost 50 million Americans on food stamps.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Silver Fox’s Pink Slip" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/opinion/sunday/dowd-the-silver-foxs-pink-slip.html?_r=0), Maureen Dowd takes another well-deserved swipe at George W. Bush on the occasion of the opening of his presidential library in Dallas. However, for me, what's past is past, and it's time to pick up the pieces, something at which the current occupant of the Oval Office has failed so miserably.

Of more interest to me is the opening of Dowd's opinion piece, in which she recounts Barbara Bush's recent admonition on the "Today" show that her son Jeb should not run for president in 2016. Dowd writes:

"But Bar, who was also giving the back of the hand to the Clintons, spit out the truth. It is wearying that America, a country that broke away from aristocratic England in a burst of rugged individualism, has spawned so many of its own royal political families, dynasties that feel entitled to inhabit the White House, generation after generation, letting their family competitions and tensions shape policy and history to an alarming degree.

Why does a George P., Chelsea, Beau Biden, Joe Kennedy III presidential sweepstakes feel so inevitable?"

God bless Barbara Bush, and may Hillary also relinquish any claim upon the White House.

Although managing high popularity ratings as secretary of state, seldom has a US government official travelled so far, yet accomplished so little. And then there was Hillary's outrageous testimony at the Senate Benghazi hearings. Just in case you missed it:

Senator Johnson: "We were misled that there were supposedly protests and then something sprang out of that. An assault sprang out of that. And that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact, and the American people could have known that within days, and they didn't know that."

Hillary: "With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans."

Senator Johnson: "I understand."

Hillary: "Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator."

Query: How do you figure out what happened in Benghazi and prevent it from ever happening again if you refuse to ascertain whether the deaths stemmed from a spontaneous protest or a planned attack by an al-Qaeda affiliate? It makes a big difference. In fact, I would say that it makes all the difference in the world if you want to take smart, effective measures to bolster US embassy defense and "to prevent it from ever happening again."

Please, God, is there no one out there but these narcissistic buffoons consumed with self-serving ambition?

You know the answer.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

David Brooks, "Health Chaos Ahead": Is Obama's Golf Game Improving? Everything Else Is Turning to S#$%

Is Obama's golf game getting any better under the tutelage of Tiger Woods? I hope so, because everything else he has touched is turning to s#$%.

As acknowledged by Paul Krugman today, the economy remains stuck (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/paul-krugman-1-percents-solution-dont.html).

And foreign policy is a shambles. One day after Chuck Hagel, Obama's new secretary of defense who cannot even string a sentence together, told us that it is unclear whether John Kerry's "dear friend" Bashar al-Assad is using chemical weapons against Syrian rebels (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/chuck-hagel-opines-on-syria-is-americas.html), this moron is now acknowledging that Assad indeed used such weapons (see: http://news.yahoo.com/hagel-says-syria-used-chemical-weapons-155008837--politics.html).

At least someone had the good sense to tell Hagel to read his retraction.

Hagel said that the US needs to consult with its allies to determine whether Assad crossed the "red line" drawn by Obama. How's that for leadership?

But wait, it gets better!

Today, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Health Chaos Ahead" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/26/opinion/brooks-health-chaos-ahead.html?_r=0), David Brooks informs us that Obama's signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, is proving not so affordable. Brooks writes:

"By now, everybody involved seems to be in a state of anxiety. Insurance companies are trying to put out new products, but they don’t know what federal parameters they have to meet. Small businesses are angry because the provisions that benefited them have been put on the back burner. Health care systems are highly frustrated. They can’t plan without a road map. Senator Max Baucus, one of the authors of the law, says he sees a 'huge train wreck' coming."

Obamacare's cost? Brooks writes:

"Nearly everybody not in the employ of the administration agrees this law does not solve the cost problem, and many of the recent regulatory decisions will send costs higher. A study in California found that premiums could increase by an average of 20 percent for people not covered by federal subsidies. A study by the Society of Actuaries found that by 2017 costs could rise by 32 percent for insurers covering people in the individual exchanges, and as high as 80 percent in states like Ohio."

Can it get worse? As Dr. Seuss's Cat in the Hat once observed:

"But that is not all!
Oh, no.
That is not all . . ."

Paul Krugman, "The 1 Percent’s Solution": Don't Commit Suicide, Paul!

Another week, and another two New York Times op-eds from Paul Krugman, demanding increased government spending to heal the economy. Yawn . . .

Except this week it's different. This week, in an op-ed entitled "The 1 Percent’s Solution" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/26/opinion/krugman-the-one-percents-solution.html), Krugman blames the wealthy - you know, Barack and Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, etc. - for the failure of the federal government to see things his way:

"Does a continuing depression actually serve the interests of the wealthy? That’s doubtful, since a booming economy is generally good for almost everyone. What is true, however, is that the years since we turned to austerity have been dismal for workers but not at all bad for the wealthy, who have benefited from surging profits and stock prices even as long-term unemployment festers. The 1 percent may not actually want a weak economy, but they’re doing well enough to indulge their prejudices.

And this makes one wonder how much difference the intellectual collapse of the austerian position will actually make. To the extent that we have policy of the 1 percent, by the 1 percent, for the 1 percent, won’t we just see new justifications for the same old policies?"

Heck, I finally understand: Obama's first term stimulus packages were insufficient to put America back on track, and although the 2013 budget calls for higher outlays in 2013 and higher receipts, i.e. taxes some targeting the 1 percent (see: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2013/assets/tables.pdf), it's just not enough.

But Krugman never studied logic. Even if austerity (i.e., insufficient stimulus as Krugman would have it) hasn't fired up the economy, it doesn't necessarily mean that significantly higher federal spending, which would trash the value of the US dollar, would make any long-term difference at all.

But it's Krugman's conclusion that has me worried:

"I’d like to believe that ideas and evidence matter, at least a bit. Otherwise, what am I doing with my life? But I guess we’ll see just how much cynicism is justified."

What are you doing with your life, Paul? So what it you write the same tripe every week? So what if your beloved Occupy Wall Street movement never caught on ("It’s clear what kinds of things the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators want, and it’s really the job of policy intellectuals and politicians to fill in the details," Paul Krugman, "Confronting the Malefactors" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/07/opinion/krugman-confronting-the-malefactors.html))? Maybe you can still find a hobby. Get yourself a cat. Don't put an end to it!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fareed Zakaria, "A Better Way for America to Integrate Muslims": More Americans Killed by Guns Than by Muslims

He may be a plagiarist and liar (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/fred-hiatt-editorial-page-editor-of.html), but Fareed Zakaria has good news for those who lost their legs in the Boston Marathon bombing. In his latest Washington Post opinion piece entitled "A better way for America to integrate Muslims" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/fareed-zakaria-a-better-way-for-america-to-integrate-muslims/2013/04/24/9e1ca588-ad12-11e2-b6fd-ba6f5f26d70e_story.html?hpid=z2), Zakaria explains that guns are killing more Americans than Muslims. Yes, I'm serious. Zakaria writes:

"Since 9/11, foreign-inspired terrorism has claimed about two dozen lives in the United States. (Meanwhile, more than 100,000 have been killed in gun homicides and more than 400,000 in motor-vehicle accidents.) One crucial reason the number of terrorism deaths is so low is that America does not have large pools of alienated immigrants. Polls repeatedly have shown that Muslim immigrants to the United States embrace core American values. The American assimilation machine continues to function well."

But according to Zakaria, Europe is doing even better than the US at integrating Muslims:

"Over the past two decades, [Boston College's Jonathan] Laurence argues, European countries have recognized the dangers created by their indifference and have sought to integrate Muslim migrants. Governments at all levels have engaged with Islamic communities, taking steps to include Muslims in mainstream society but also to nurture a more modern, European version of Islam. In effect, many governments are now dealing with Islam as they have other religions, creating Islamic councils, providing funding for cultural activities, representation in public forums and being mindful of religious practices and holidays."

Hey, who cares if there's a budget deficit! If you don't want another Boston Marathon massacre, cough up some cash to fund Islamic cultural activities, like they do in France and Germany.

Zakaria's conclusion:

"The better the relationship with local Muslim groups, the more likely they are to provide useful information about potential jihadis.

. . . .

Rather than ostracize or embarrass Muslims in the wake of Boston, the smarter move would be even greater outreach — so that the next time someone began to act strangely, community leaders would pick up the phone and call their friends in the police."

So, I'm asking all of you to invite a Muslim to dinner, but watch him carefully, and if he acts strangely, call 9/11, oops, I meant 9-1-1.

Chuck Hagel Opines on Syria: Is America's Secretary of Defense Also on Drugs?

More antics from the Obama cabinet, which consists of the worst and the dumbest:

A week ago, I wrote in a blog entry entitled "John Kerry Opines on North Korea: Is America's Secretary of State on Drugs?" (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/john-kerry-opines-on-north-korea-is.html):

As reported today by Reuters (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-korea-north-usabre93c01z-20130412,0,5931545.story), John (Bashar al-Assad is "my dear friend") Kerry is now seeking to resolve America's brewing crisis with North Korea:

"'We are prepared to reach out but we need (the) appropriate moment, appropriate circumstance,' Kerry said, adding that North Korea had to take steps towards giving up its nuclear programs.

'They have to take some actions. Now how many and how much I want to have a discussion with folks back in Washington (about)... but they have to take action,' Kerry told a small group of reporters."

Sorry, but even with the words in parentheses used by Reuters to clarify Kerry's remarks, I still don't have a clue what he is trying to say.
 
Well, Chuck Hagel is not about to be outdone by John Kerry. Commenting on reports that John Kerry's "dear friend" Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons again rebels in Syria, Hagel responded (http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Hagel-US-judgment-on-Syria-chemical-arms-wont-be-rushed-310968):

"I think we have to be very careful here before we make any conclusions (and) draw any conclusions based on real intelligence."

Here, too, even with the parenthetical "and" added by Reuters, this makes absolutely no sense. We shouldn't "draw any conclusion based on real evidence"?

In case you were wondering, chemical weapons have been used in Syria. However, Obama has previously gone on record as saying that such use would cross a "red line" (see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/honoring-a-red-line-in-syria-over-chemical-weapons/2013/04/23/ce30c978-ac42-11e2-a8b9-2a63d75b5459_story.html), and Obama, of course, does not want to be held to his word.

But imagine what Iran is reading into Obama's procrastination on this matter, given the president's purportedly unequivocal declaration that it is "unacceptable" for Iran to have nuclear weapons and his assertion that "as President of the United States, I don't bluff" (see: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/obama-to-iran-and-israel-as-president-of-the-united-states-i-dont-bluff/253875/).

Now we'll just need to wait and see if Iran doesn't call Obama's bluff.

May God have mercy on us.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "Goodbye to All That": More Venomous Bullshit

Again, for the umpteenth time, I support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I would be delighted to see a prosperous democratic Palestine arise beside Israel.

Yeah, I know, good luck with that.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Goodbye to All That" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/24/opinion/friedman-goodbye-to-all-that.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss), Thomas Friedman is back to writing bullshit. Lamenting the April 13 resignation of Salam Fayyad, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Friedman writes:

"President Mahmoud Abbas, frustrated by the right-wing Israeli government’s refusal to strike a land-for-peace deal, decided to seek recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations."

Needless to say, Friedman doesn't mention that in 2008, the centrist government of Israeli Prime Minister Olmert offered Abbas an independent Palestinian state along the 1967 lines with agreed upon land swaps, including Palestinian control of east Jerusalem. Abbas refused.

Why did Abbas refuse? Because if he were to acknowledge Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state along agreed upon boundaries, he would end up dead. Sadat, who made peace with Israel after Israel returned the Sinai, was murdered. Jordan's King Hussein, who also made peace with Israel, was the target of numerous assassination plots.

With Fayyad's departure, Friedman concludes:

"Add another nail in the coffin of the two-state solution."

Yes, I'm also sorry to see Fayyad go, but there's not going to be a two-state solution or any solution whatsoever with an Israeli right-wing or left-wing government, until Abbas, or some other Palestinian leader, is prepared to acknowledge Israel's right to exist.




Maureen Dowd, "Lost in Space": The Best Coverage from Boston Came from The Times? Covering Their Posteriors!

Has a New York Times op-ed ever caused you nausea?

In her latest Times op-ed entitled "Lost in Space" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/24/opinion/dowd-lost-in-space.html?_r=0), Maureen Dowd would have us know with regard to media coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings:

"The best reporting in Boston last week was not in cyberspace. It was in the two great daily newspapers that were on the scene, The Boston Globe and The Times."

Well, I don't read The Boston Globe, but with respect to The Times, did we indeed witness such "marvelous" coverage, as Dowd would have us believe? First, Fearless Leader and his media disciples couldn't decide whether the bombings constituted a "terror" attack until the following day. Hmm, three dead and more than 200 wounded from bombs constructed from pressure cookers packed with BBs, nails and pellets, yet no one had the guts to say explicitly that this was an "act of terrorism" or to question the president's timorousness.

When the perpetrators were caught, we learned that they were Chechans, but efforts were taken to avoid mentioning that they were radical Muslims, and needless to say, insipid questions concerning their possible "motives" made for the next series of headlines.

Discussion by the op-ed columnists of The Times? An embarrassment.

There was Thomas Friedman's saccharine opinion piece entitled "Bring on the Next Marathon" (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/thomas-freidman-bring-on-next-marathon.html), in which he didn't bother to ask who actually perpetrated this horror.

And then there was Charles Blow's inane opinion piece entitled "The Mind of a Terror Suspect" (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/charles-blow-mind-of-terror-suspect.html), in which he provided us with tweets written by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and explained to us that the whole matter was "complicated."

Okay, Jeffrey, you're one heck of an arrogant smart-ass. Could you have done any better? In fact, I tried my best.

On Monday, April 15, one day after the Boston Marathon, I wrote (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/david-brooks-what-youll-do-next-data.html):

"Two bombs have killed at least three people at the Boston Marathon. A small part of my life has been devoted to the war against terror, and I again recoil at this latest travesty, but I am confident that those responsible will be swiftly identified. Voluminous quantities of physical evidence will be collected, videos from every angle will be reviewed, and the data will be sifted. The murderers have left a trail and will not get away.

And in case you were wondering, Mr. President, this was a terror attack, and you need not hesitate to label it as such. In this instance, there is no cause for political correctness or ambiguity."

On Tuesday, April 16, two days after the bombings, I wrote (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/maureen-dowd-cias-angry-birds-after.html):

"Well, allow me once again to be politically incorrect and 'theorize' . . . that this horror was the work of radical Islamists. I know: the design of the device is available on the Internet, and there is no way of being 100% sure, but in this instance do we really wish to play parlor games in an effort not to offend anyone?"

And on Saturday, April 20, I wrote (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/maureen-dowd-no-bully-in-pulpit.html):

"'Radical Islamic terror'? You don't see these words in the headlines of The New York Times and The Washington Post. Rather, you see idle talk about discovering the motive for this latest travesty. The motive? It's as clear as day: radical Islamists hate the U.S. and will do all they can to destroy America's infrastructure, culture and way of life. You don't believe me? Type the words 'Islam death to America' into Google, and spend the rest of the day educating yourself. Travel from Iran to Egypt, to Yemen, to Indonesia.

Radical Islam opposes women's rights. It opposes gay rights. It opposes religious freedom. It opposes freedom of speech.

It's time to wake up."

The "best reporting" came from The New York Times? The coverage that I saw, particularly from their op-ed staff, amounted to efforts to obfuscate and paper over their posteriors.

Monday, April 22, 2013

David Brooks, "The Confidence Questions": The Ivory Soap Dog

It was more than 30 years ago. I was pretty much working around the clock for a Wall Street law firm, I was making more money than a single guy without a mortgage knew what to do with, and the love of my life was an Alaskan Malamute named Saar. I don't know how many of you have ever owned a Malamute, but my Malamute ate everything, I mean everything: hats, gloves and any garbage he could find on the street. About the same time, Ivory Soap was running an ad campaign, asking that you send in a picture of a woman dear to you, together with an explanation of her qualifications to be an "Ivory Soap Girl," and maybe she would be featured in one of their television advertisements. Well, being who I am, I sent Ivory a picture of Saar and asked that he be featured as their "Ivory Soap Dog." I explained that Saar hates baths, but he does like to eat soap, and Ivory was his favorite brand. No, they didn't put Saar in a commercial, but they did send me a coupon which could be exchanged for a big bar of soap.

Saar ultimately passed away - regrettably, dogs do not live forever - and, being who I am, I left the Wall Street law firm, and within a year I was roaming around in "exotic" places, making good on what I thought to be ethical obligations.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Confidence Questions" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/23/opinion/brooks-the-confidence-questions.html?_r=0), David Brooks makes reference to a new Ivory Soap campaign that I have never seen (no, I suppose I should have gone to the link he provided), and then asks several questions:

  • "A generation after the feminist revolution, are women still, on average, less confident than men?"

  • "Are women still more likely to flow into different domains in your organization?"

  • "Do we undervalue the talent for self-criticism the women display in that video?"

  • "In society over all, are more problems caused by overconfidence or underconfidence?"

Regarding his last question, Brooks writes:

"The financial crisis and the tenor of our political debates suggest that overconfidence and self-idolatry are by far the larger problems. If that’s true, how do you combine the self-critical ability to recognize your limitations with the majestic confidence required to struggle against them?

I guess I’m asking how to marry self-criticism and self-assertion, a blend our society is inarticulate about. I guess I’m wondering, as we make this blend, whether most of us need more of the stereotypically female trait of self-doubt or the stereotypically male trait of self-promotion."

Brooks asks us to send him our answers, some of which he will quote in future columns. Will, I get a free bar of soap? No? In which case I will confine my short response to this blog entry.

First, thank you, David, for this distraction. At a time when the US economy is facing ruin (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/paul-krugman-jobless-trap-castigating.html), Obama is stocking his cabinet with hapless nincompoops(see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/john-kerry-opines-on-turkey-is-americas.html), and America is again under attack by radical Islam (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/charles-blow-mind-of-terror-suspect.html), we are being offered the opportunity to have our names appear in your column. Hot dog! . . . not.

Regarding the confidence level of women, I'll ask my wife when she gets up. Wake her and demand an immediate reply? Sorry, but I don't think so. I survived those "exotic" locales, and I have since promised never wantonly to endanger my life again (with age, I can no longer leap buildings in a single bound).

How do I "marry self-criticism and self-assertion"? Goodness, the stakes have sometime been high in my lifetime, but without projecting confidence and letting no one know of my sleepless nights, nothing could have been achieved. Yes, I tremble before God (let's discuss the meaning of God in another blog entry), but looking back, I am grateful to have been offered the opportunity to address significant challenges, whose unsuccessful prosecution could have ruined my life, but which I believe have allowed me to contribute quietly, yet meaningfully, to society.

Arnold, my 150-pound Anatolian Shepherd? Sorry, Ivory, but unlike Saar, he doesn't consume soap.






John Kerry Opines on Turkey: Is America's Secretary of State on Drugs, II?

A week ago, I wrote in a blog entry entitled "John Kerry Opines on North Korea: Is America's Secretary of State on Drugs?" (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/john-kerry-opines-on-north-korea-is.html):

As reported today by Reuters (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-korea-north-usabre93c01z-20130412,0,5931545.story), John (Bashar al-Assad is "my dear friend") Kerry is now seeking to resolve America's brewing crisis with North Korea:

"'We are prepared to reach out but we need (the) appropriate moment, appropriate circumstance,' Kerry said, adding that North Korea had to take steps towards giving up its nuclear programs.

'They have to take some actions. Now how many and how much I want to have a discussion with folks back in Washington (about)... but they have to take action,' Kerry told a small group of reporters."

Sorry, but even with the words in parentheses used by Reuters to clarify Kerry's remarks, I still don't have a clue what he is trying to say.

Well, a globetrotting blockheaded Kerry is now back with more antics, this time after a meeting with Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, in Istanbul. As reported by the Associated Press (http://news.yahoo.com/kerry-pushes-turkey-israel-rapprochement-061951724--politics.html):

"On a trip to Israel last month, Obama secured a pledge from Turkish and Israeli leaders to normalize ties that broke down after a 2010 Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that killed eight Turks and a Turkish-American.

. . . .

Kerry said he understood the anger and frustration of those Turks who lost friends and family in the raid. The former Massachusetts senator said last week's Boston Marathon bombings made him acutely aware of the emotions involved.

'It affects the community, it affects the country. But going forward, you know, we have to find the best way to bring people together and undo these tensions and undo these stereotypes and try to make peace,' he said."

Hmm, Kerry would draw similarities between the attempt by the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara to break the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza and the Boston Marathon bombings. What was the background to the Israeli "raid" on the Mavi Marmara? The Gaza flotilla, consisting of the Mavi Marmara and five other ships carrying some 700 Leftist and Islamic "peace activists," sought to break Israel's sea blockade of Gaza in order to allow the free transportation of persons and material to Hamas, an organization whose charter calls for the murder of all Jews and rejects negotiations of any kind with Israel.

Before embarking, these "peace activists" were heard singing songs glorifying the murder of Jews. Some of these "peace activists" expressed their desire to be martyred as part of the effort to break Israel's sea blockade.

The "peace activists" were told they could unload the goods they wished to donate to Gaza at Ashdod and could oversee the transport of the said goods, after inspection for contraband, into Gaza. The "peace activists" refused the offer.

The Gaza flotilla was boarded by Israeli soldiers armed with paint ball rifles and pistols. The "peace activists" attempted to strip the soldiers of their weapons and kill them.

Sorry, John, but I fail to see any similarity at all between the "raid" on the Mavi Marmara and the murder and maiming of innocents in Boston.

Is Kerry on drugs, or is he just plain stupid?


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Paul Krugman, "The Jobless Trap": Castigating Obama

Why are the columnists of The New York Times so down on Obama? Yesterday we had Maureen Dowd telling us that Obama has proven himself totally ineffectual ("he still has not learned how to govern") (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/maureen-dowd-no-bully-in-pulpit.html). Today, in his New York Times op-ed entitled "The Jobless Trap" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/22/opinion/krugman-the-jobless-trap.html?_r=0), Paul Krugman begins by stating:

"F.D.R. told us that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself. But when future historians look back at our monstrously failed response to economic depression, they probably won’t blame fear, per se. Instead, they’ll castigate our leaders for fearing the wrong things."

A "monstrously failed response to economic depression"? Hey, Paul, aren't you being a bit harsh on the president? We might have high unemployment, but we still have "Hope," "Change" and "Forward." Obama is still learning the ropes, and you might just want to cut him some slack.

Jocundity aside, Krugman continues his opinion piece by highlighting America's disastrous unemployment numbers:

"Now, some unemployment is inevitable in an ever-changing economy. Modern America tends to have an unemployment rate of 5 percent or more even in good times. In these good times, however, spells of unemployment are typically brief. Back in 2007 there were about seven million unemployed Americans — but only a small fraction of this total, around 1.2 million, had been out of work more than six months.

Then financial crisis struck, leading to a terrifying economic plunge followed by a weak recovery. Five years after the crisis, unemployment remains elevated, with almost 12 million Americans out of work. But what’s really striking is the huge number of long-term unemployed, with 4.6 million unemployed more than six months and more than three million who have been jobless for a year or more. Oh, and these numbers don’t count those who have given up looking for work because there are no jobs to be found."

Krugman is correct. These figures are horrifying. However, we disagree as to how to put people back to work. Krugman believes that federal government borrowing still poses no danger and that the federal government should spend more to create jobs:

"America isn’t and can’t be Greece, because countries that borrow in their own currencies operate under very different rules from those that rely on someone else’s money. After years of repeated warnings that fiscal crisis is just around the corner, the U.S. government can still borrow at incredibly low interest rates.

. . . .

The main reason our economic recovery has been so weak is that, spooked by fear-mongering over debt, we’ve been doing exactly what basic macroeconomics says you shouldn’t do — cutting government spending in the face of a depressed economy."

But Obama's first term stimulus packages didn't work. Should good money be thrown after bad? Could it just be that something else, more fundamental, has been corrupted in the US? My belief is that US financial markets have been destroyed by legalized hedge fund manipulation and SEC indifference and that we have entered an era in which these markets no longer serve as economic growth engines.

What went wrong? The Washington Post recently refused my opinion piece submission on this topic, but I'll say it again here for the umpteenth time - the 2007 cancellation of the Uptick Rule is destroying the US economy. Allow me again to explain:

Micro-cap company "X" has designed and patented a revolutionary widget. Recently, the achievements of "X" have made their way into the news, and its shares have risen. Farmer Joe, who attends night school and reads the financial news, decides to buy 1,000 shares of "X". However, Farmer Joe is unaware that Slick Eddy at Hedge Fund "Z", who couldn't care less about the merits of company "X"'s widgets, has also noticed the rise in the share price of "X". With almost unlimited resources behind him, Eddy borrows "X" shares from various financial institutions and begins to sell vast quantities into the market, causing a precipitous decline in the market price of "X". Eddy then blocks any rally in the share price by activating a computerized program to immediately sell 100 shares at the bid after any purchase. Worried by the huge downswing in the price of "X," and also concerned that at the end of each trading day "X" always goes down (Eddy often sells into the market during the last seconds of trading), Farmer Joe dumps his shares at an enormous loss ("Someone must know that something is wrong at 'X'"). Having succeeded in panicking Farmer Joe and other small investors in "X", Eddy buys back the shares at a significantly lower average price than that at which he sold them, resulting in enormous profits for Hedge Fund "Z". Eddy's bosses note his "fine" work and reward him with bonuses as the shares of "X" tumble.

Of course, there are those who will say that ultimately the stock market is "efficient", and the price of "X" will recover to an appropriate level. However, in the process we have witnessed the flow of wealth from Farmer Joe and other small investors to Hedge Fund "Z" and Slick Eddy.

Also, consider the damage to company "X", which, owing to doubt raised by the run on its shares, is suddenly unable to raise additional funds to finance expanded production of a new line of widgets, declares bankruptcy and fires its staff.

Sure, there are instances when the scientific and/or commercial progress of a company shorted by Hedge Fund "Z" is so great that Hedge Fund "Z" must buy back the shares at a higher price, but these losses are more than covered by its programmed downward manipulation of the shares of many other companies.

I would only add that it has become known to me that although financial institutions are required to "borrow" the shares that they short, many financial institutions are ignoring these regulations: "If you look the other way regarding the shares of company "X" that I borrowed and should have returned long ago, I will look the other way regarding the return of the company "Q" shares that you borrowed.

In short, US financial institutions have been given carte blanche to cannibalize the economy, and we are witnessing their dirty work. Indeed, it's time for "Change."

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "How to Put America Back Together Again": "Change" and "Forward" Aren't Working?

Unlike Maureen Dowd (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/maureen-dowd-no-bully-in-pulpit.html), Thomas Friedman has the decency to make passing reference today to the travesty in Boston. In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "How to Put America Back Together Again" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/opinion/sunday/friedman-how-to-put-america-back-together-again.html?pagewanted=all), Friedman begins:

"UNTIL we fully understand what turned two brothers who allegedly perpetrated the Boston Marathon bombings into murderers, it is hard to make any policy recommendation other than this: We need to redouble our efforts to make America stronger and healthier so it remains a vibrant counterexample to whatever bigoted ideology may have gripped these young men. With all our warts, we have built a unique society — a country where a black man, whose middle name is Hussein, whose grandfather was a Muslim, can run for president and first defeat a woman in his own party and then four years later a Mormon from the opposition, and no one thinks twice about it. With so many societies around the world being torn apart, especially in the Middle East, it is vital that America survives and flourishes as a beacon of pluralism.

Rebuilding our strength has to start with healing our economy."

Friedman doesn't understand "what turned two brothers who allegedly perpetrated the Boston Marathon bombings into murderers"? Let me provide Tom with the answer: It's called radical Islam, and all the kindness showered upon these two refugees from Chechnya did nothing to prevent them from turning Boston's Boylston Street red with blood. Radical Islam opposes women's rights. It opposes gay rights. It opposes religious freedom. It opposes freedom of speech.

Friedman thinks that "healing our economy" is going to change the minds of jihadists intent on destroying America? True, ten years of US economic growth ended in March 2001, just months prior to the September 11 attacks; however, does Friedman really wish to contend that if the US economy had remained strong going into the fall of 2001, we would not have seen 9/11? Sorry, Tom, but Radical Islamists are going to hate the US whether the economy is good or bad.

Regarding his miracle cure for the economy, Friedman writes:

"A phased-in carbon tax of $20 to $25 a ton could raise around $1 trillion over 10 years."

A total of $1 trillion "over 10 years" and possibly "revenue neutral"? Well, that would be truly remarkable were it not for the fact that federal debt is now more than $16.8 trillion and growing by the second.

A phased-in carbon tax? As W.C. Fields once said, "Sounds like a bubble in a bathtub."

Maureen Dowd, "No Bully in the Pulpit": Bitching About Obama, Ignoring Boston

As I explained to my wife earlier today, our family has had its fair share of trauma. Two of my army buddies lost their faces to a Molotov cocktail, and my son's officer died a yard away from him. I'll spare you the details of both of these incidents, but if there is such a thing as post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), we both suffer from it. I've seen a lot over the course of a lifetime, but nothing left me prepared for what happened in Boston. Just a month ago, my daughter and I were spending quality time together on the streets where this horror played out. I had hoped that radical Islamic terror would not revisit America's shores, but my dreams were shattered.

"Radical Islamic terror"? You don't see these words in the headlines of The New York Times and The Washington Post. Rather, you see idle talk about discovering the motive for this latest travesty. The motive? It's as clear as day: radical Islamists hate the U.S. and will do all they can to destroy America's infrastructure, culture and way of life. You don't believe me? Type the words "Islam death to America" into Google, and spend the rest of the day educating yourself. Travel from Iran to Egypt, to Yemen, to Indonesia.

Radical Islam opposes women's rights. It opposes gay rights. It opposes religious freedom. It opposes freedom of speech.

It's time to wake up.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "No Bully in the Pulpit" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/opinion/sunday/dowd-president-obama-is-no-bully-in-the-pulpit.html?_r=0), Maureen Dowd again ignores what happened in Boston and busily berates Obama for failing to gain Senate approval of new gun control legislation. Dowd writes:

"President Obama has watched the blood-dimmed tide drowning the ceremony of innocence, as Yeats wrote, and he has learned how to emotionally connect with Americans in searing moments, as he did from the White House late Friday night after the second bombing suspect was apprehended in Boston.

Unfortunately, he still has not learned how to govern.

How is it that the president won the argument on gun safety with the public and lost the vote in the Senate? It’s because he doesn’t know how to work the system. And it’s clear now that he doesn’t want to learn, or to even hire some clever people who can tell him how to do it or do it for him.

It’s unbelievable that with 90 percent of Americans on his side, he could get only 54 votes in the Senate. It was a glaring example of his weakness in using leverage to get what he wants. No one on Capitol Hill is scared of him."

Obama is a fabulous teleprompter speaker, but an incompetent leader? You don't say. It took Dowd more than four years to find this out.

Gun control? As I've stated repeatedly, I favor a ban on the sale of assault rifles and stricter background checks. But I also acknowledge that each year knives kill four time more Americans than rifles (see: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-8).

And now Americans have painfully come to learn of the dangers of pressure cookers packed with explosives.

Guns don't kill, people do, and there are plenty of organizations like al-Qaeda prepared to teach them how to do it.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Charles Blow, "The Mind of a Terror Suspect": Giving Radical Islam a Free Pass

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Mind of a Terror Suspect" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/20/opinion/blow-inside-the-mind-of-a-terror-suspect-in-the-boston-marathon-bombings.html?_r=0), Charles Blow tells us:

"It’s complicated.

. . . .

'A picture has begun to emerge of 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev as an aggressive, possibly radicalized immigrant who may have ensnared his younger brother Dzhokhar — described almost universally as a smart and sweet kid — into an act of terror,' The Boston Globe reported Friday.

. . . .

[Dzhokhar] was a proud Muslim who tweeted about going to mosque and enjoying talking — and even arguing — about religion with others. But he seemed to believe that different faiths were in competition with one another. On Nov. 29, he tweeted: 'I kind of like religious debates, just hearing what other people believe is interesting and then crushing their beliefs with facts is fun.'"

Blow then provides us with additional tweets from Dzhokhar, before concluding:

"The last tweet on the account reads: 'I’m a stress free kind of guy.' The whole of the Twitter feed would argue against that assessment."

That's all? A "sweet kid," a "proud Muslim," who was led astray by his brother? Maybe we should give him a lollipop instead of a prison sentence.

This opinion piece is intended to provide us with insights into the workings of Dzhokhar's mind?

Charles, you haven't even scratched the surface. Yes, it is "complicated," but perhaps not as complicated as you would have us believe.

The mainstream media continues to turn triple somersaults to avoid having to examine the underpinnings of radical Islam. It's written in black and white, and you can easily find it on the Internet if you have the courage to face facts.

I already explained on Tuesday that the travesty in Boston was the "work" of radical Muslims (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/maureen-dowd-cias-angry-birds-after.html), but there were those pundits who still hoped to pin the horror on America's crazy homegrown right.

Michael Moore is busy telling anyone who will listen that "both Tsarnaev brothers were registered voters and U.S. citizens" (see: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Hollywood/2013/04/19/Michael-moore-Boston-bombers), i.e. they're not from the right, but at least they're homegrown. Give us a break!

Or as Star-Kist Tuna used to tell us in the '70s, "Sorry, Charlie."
 

And So, the Perpetrators of the Boston Marathon Travesty Were Indeed Radical Muslims . . . Oops, I Meant Chechens

As I informed those who read this blog on Monday, the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon travesty would be identified by examining the videos (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/david-brooks-what-youll-do-next-data.html). I also explained on Tuesday that this was the "work" of radical Muslims (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/maureen-dowd-cias-angry-birds-after.html).

But given my background, what could I possibly know?

Oops, did I say "radical Muslims"? That's politically incorrect, and I'm not permitted to say that.

Instead, let's call them "Chechens," so most Americans won't have a clue, or even half a clue, who they are. Maybe they'll think that they are Russians . . .

Djohar Tsarnaev's world view? As can be seen below: Islam. How quaint!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

David Brooks, "The Second Wave": Pressure Cookers in the Hands of Terrorists Can Kill Just as Easily as Guns

Quite honestly, I am more troubled by the bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon than by partisan politics.

What now happens with respect to efforts to legislate new gun control laws? I favor a ban on the sale of assault rifles and stricter background checks, but Americans have just discovered that pressure cookers in the hands of terrorists can kill just as easily as guns. It is all a matter of intent.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Second Wave" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/19/opinion/brooks-the-second-wave.html), David Brooks informs us that "the gun issue will not significantly damage the Republican Party." Brooks's conclusion:

"It would be great if Republicans can hash out their differences over a concrete policy matter, especially immigration, which touches conservatism’s competing values. But if the insurgent right defeats immigration reform, that will be a sign that the party’s self-marginalization will continue. The revolution devours its own."

The evolution of the Republican Party? Republicans against Democrats? Sorry, David, but who gives a damn about self-serving politicians when American values, institutions and traditions are under attack?

Will the travesty in Boston be quickly forgotten? I hope not. If lessons are not quickly assimilated, another disaster of this kind is apt to occur all too soon.

Marci Shore, "The Jewish Hero History Forgot": Is The New York Times Questioning the Need for a Jewish State?

Go to "The Opinion Pages" (http://www.nytimes.com/pages/opinion/index.html) of today's New York Times, and there you will currently see on the upper left hand side of your computer screen a black and white rendition of people wading through a sewer together with a link to an op-ed contributor piece by Marci Shore entitled "The Jewish Hero History Forgot." The accompanying blurb by The Times:

"Not everyone who fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising saw a Jewish state as the ultimate goal."

In her contributor op-ed piece, Ms. Shore, an associate professor of history at Yale University, writes of Marek Edelman, a commander of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising who remained in Poland after World War II :

"The Jews who found themselves sealed within the ghetto, like the millions of other Jews living in Eastern Europe, were deeply divided — by language and religiosity and class, by national identification and political ideology. Inside the ghetto were Polish speakers and Yiddish speakers; Orthodox, Hasidic, secular Jews; assimilated Jews and nationalists. The Zionists ranged from radical right to radical left. And most politicized Jews were not Zionists; some were Polish socialists, some Communists, some members of the secular socialist Bund. A debate raged between Zionists and the Bund over the issue of 'hereness' versus 'thereness' — and the Bund believed firmly that the future of the Jews was here, in Poland, alongside their non-Jewish neighbors.

. . . .

Edelman, who had survived by escaping through the sewers, was the last living commander of the uprising. After the war, in Communist Poland, he became a cardiologist: 'to outwit God,' as he once said. In the 1970s and ’80s he re-emerged in the public sphere as an activist in the anti-Communist opposition, working with the Committee for the Defense of Workers and the Solidarity movement. He died in 2009, and to this day, he is celebrated as a hero in Poland.

He is remembered with more ambivalence in Israel. 'Israel has a problem with Jews like Edelman,' the Israeli author Etgar Keret told a Polish newspaper in 2009. 'He didn’t want to live here. And he never said that he fought in the ghetto so that the state of Israel would come into being.' Not even Moshe Arens, a former Israeli defense minister and an admirer of Edelman, could persuade an Israeli university to grant the uprising hero an honorary degree."

And yet, on Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day, less than two weeks ago, Israeli television broadcast the movie "Defiance" concerning the Bielski partisans, a group led by three Jewish brothers who saved Jews and fought the Nazis in Belarus during the Second World War. Both Tuvia Bielski, the commander of this partisan unit, and his brother Zus Bielski, made their homes in New York after the war. They are heroes in Israel, notwithstanding the fact that they did not make "aliyah," i.e. immigrate to Israel.

I have no beef with Ms. Shore's piece. She is entitled to her opinion. But I can assure her that Edelman's decision to remain in a Communist, anti-Semitic Poland after the war (42 Jews died in the Kielce pogrom in 1946) is now a non-issue in Israel. Israel is too concerned with existential threats emanating from Iran and its proxies, Hezbollah, which has 60,000 rockets and missiles pointed south, and the crumbling Assad regime in Syria, which still controls one of world's largest arsenals of chemical weapons.

Jews may soon be fighting again for survival.

On the other hand, what does the Gray Lady mean when it writes "Not everyone who fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising saw a Jewish state as the ultimate goal"? Is The Times hinting that notwithstanding a rising level of global anti-Semitism, there is today no need for a Jewish state?

Given the rising level of anti-Semitism that has slithered its way into The Times in recent years, I think there is reason for concern regarding the ulterior motives of this newspaper, which disregards its own ethical guidelines as regards Israel (see, for example: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/03/sodom-and-gomorrah-plagiarism-and.html).

Paul Krugman, "The Excel Depression": Up the Creek Without a Paddle

When examining America's ratio of debt to G.D.P., is there a magic number beyond which the US should not go? At my age, I no longer "believe in magic in a young girl's heart" or any other magic for that matter. But as much as I don't believe in magic, I think one has to be obtuse not to acknowledge that the ratio of debt to G.D.P. in the US is currently in the stratosphere and is indicative of the fact that US debt is unsustainable.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Excel Depression" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/19/opinion/krugman-the-excel-depression.html?_r=0), Paul Krugman seeks to rip holes in a 2010 paper by two Harvard economists, Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, entitled "Growth in a Time of Debt," which claimed that when debt exceeded 90 percent of G.D.P., economic growth plummeted. Krugman writes:

"As soon as the paper was released, many economists pointed out that a negative correlation between debt and economic performance need not mean that high debt causes low growth. It could just as easily be the other way around, with poor economic performance leading to high debt. Indeed, that’s obviously the case for Japan, which went deep into debt only after its growth collapsed in the early 1990s.

Over time, another problem emerged: Other researchers, using seemingly comparable data on debt and growth, couldn’t replicate the Reinhart-Rogoff results. They typically found some correlation between high debt and slow growth — but nothing that looked like a tipping point at 90 percent or, indeed, any particular level of debt.

Finally, Ms. Reinhart and Mr. Rogoff allowed researchers at the University of Massachusetts to look at their original spreadsheet — and the mystery of the irreproducible results was solved. First, they omitted some data; second, they used unusual and highly questionable statistical procedures; and finally, yes, they made an Excel coding error. Correct these oddities and errors, and you get what other researchers have found: some correlation between high debt and slow growth, with no indication of which is causing which, but no sign at all of that 90 percent 'threshold.'"

Okay, so there is no magical 90 percent threshold. However, as observed by Krugman in an earlier op-ed (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/17/opinion/krugman-that-terrible-trillion.html?_r=0), the ratio of debt to G.D.P. is "the best measure of our debt position."

What does the Congressional Budget Office have to say? In a February 2013 report entitled "The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2013 to 2023" (http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43907), it informs us:

"With revenues expected to rise more rapidly than spending in the next few years under current law, the deficit is projected to dip as low as 2.4 percent of GDP by 2015. In later years, however, projected deficits rise steadily, reaching almost 4 percent of GDP in 2023. For the 2014–2023 period, deficits in CBO’s baseline projections total $7.0 trillion. With such deficits, federal debt would remain above 73 percent of GDP—far higher than the 39 percent average seen over the past four decades. (As recently as the end of 2007, federal debt equaled just 36 percent of GDP.) Moreover, debt would be increasing relative to the size of the economy in the second half of the decade."

Translation without expletives: We're up the creek without a paddle.

Iran: Thomas Pickering Paves the Way to a Nuclear Armageddon

As reported by David Sanger in a New York Times article entitled "Report Urges White House to Rethink Iran Penalties" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/18/world/middleeast/report-on-iran-urges-obama-to-rethink-sanctions.html?_r=0):

"A panel of former senior American officials and outside experts, including several who recently left the Obama administration, issued a surprisingly critical assessment of American diplomacy toward Iran on Wednesday, urging President Obama to become far more engaged and to reconsider the likelihood that harsh sanctions will drive Tehran to concessions.

In a report issued by the Iran Project, the former diplomats and experts suggested that the sanctions policy, rather than bolstering diplomacy, may be backfiring. As the pressure has increased, the group concluded, sanctions have 'contributed to an increase in repression and corruption within Iran' and 'may be sowing the seeds of long-term alienation between the Iranian people and the United States.'

The critique comes as both Israel and Congress are urging the administration to go in the opposite direction, to put a sharp time limit on negotiations and, if necessary, to go beyond the financial and oil sanctions that have caused a tremendous drop in the value of the Iranian currency and sent inflation soaring.

'I fundamentally believe that the balance between sanctions and diplomacy has been misaligned,' said Thomas R. Pickering, who was one of the State Department’s highest-ranking career diplomats and whom the department has called on to head up important investigations, including one into the death last fall of the American ambassador to Libya.

In an interview, Mr. Pickering also contended that Mr. Obama should review the covert program against Iran — which has included computer sabotage of its nuclear facilities — to 'stop anything that is peripheral, that is not buying us much time' in slowing Iran’s progress."

Yeah, right. Drop the sanctions, and expect the Iranians to gratefully relinquish their nuclear weapons development program. Given the mullahs' underlying humanitarianism over the past several decades, as reflected by the stoning of women, hanging of homosexuals, persecution of Baha'is, oppression of Kurds, repression of Christians, mistreatment of Sunni Muslims, arrest of journalists, and torture of regime opponents, they are sure to respond kindly to such a magnanimous gesture from Washington.

What are these "experts" in Washington smoking?

As for Pickering, Tom co-authored a March 20, 2008 article in The New York Review of Books entitled, "A Solution for the US–Iran Nuclear Standoff" (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21112), which begins:

"The recent National Intelligence Estimate's conclusion that Tehran stopped its efforts to develop nuclear weapons in 2003, together with the significant drop in Iranian activity in Iraq, has created favorable conditions for the US to hold direct talks with Iran on its nuclear program."

"Tehran stopped its efforts to develop nuclear weapons in 2003"? As we all know by now, this "conclusion" amounted to pure rubbish.

"Favorable conditions to hold direct talks with Iran on its nuclear program"? Years of negotiation with Tehran under the Obama administration have led nowhere.

If you think North Korea has turned the Far East upside down, wait and see what happens if Iran is allowed to build its first atomic bomb.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "Bring on the Next Marathon": What Does It Matter Who Perpetrated This Horror?

Thomas Friedman always has asinine advice for those addicted to frothy saccharine pap, and in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon travesty, Tom again flaunts his talent. In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Bring on the Next Marathon" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/opinion/friedman-bring-on-the-next-marathon.html), Friedman blithely declares:

"So let’s repair the sidewalk immediately, fix the windows, fill the holes and leave no trace — no shrines, no flowers, no statues, no plaques — and return life to normal there as fast as possible. Let’s defy the terrorists, by not allowing them to leave even the smallest scar on our streets, and honor the dead by sanctifying our values, by affirming life and all those things that make us stronger and bring us closer together as a country."

Friedman's conclusion:

"So hug your kids tonight, but also encourage them to start training for the next marathon tomorrow. Now that I think of it, maybe we should make this one longer — from Boston to the site of the World Trade Center to the Pentagon — to remind ourselves and anyone else who needs reminding: This is our house. We intend to relax here. And we are not afraid."

Telling us to go on with our lives, Friedman doesn't bother to ask who actually perpetrated this horror. Friedman is content to label the attackers as "terrorists," something which Obama took until Tuesday to acknowledge.

As noted in my prior blog entry (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/maureen-dowd-cias-angry-birds-after.html), it doesn't take much brain power to theorize who stands behind the killing and maiming in Boston.

As observed in an article in today's Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/boston-marathon-bombs-had-simple-but-harmful-design-early-clues-indicate/2013/04/16/c2b061cc-a6d8-11e2-8302-3c7e0ea97057_story.html?hpid=z1):

"The [explosive] devices’ design was immediately recognized by counterterrorism experts as a type touted by al-Qaeda for use by its operatives around the world. Similar devices have been used by terrorists in mass-casualty bombings in numerous countries, from the Middle East to South Asia to North Africa."

Yes, we can't yet be absolutely certain who was responsible for this horror, but the trademark signs are there for all to see.

Careful not to point an offending finger, Tom would have us return unafraid to our daily routines. Well, we should be afraid. Not panicked, but certainly cognizant of the danger posed by radical Islam.

Relax in our homes? We cannot afford to relax for even a moment as we fight this ugly war against terror.




Maureen Dowd, "The C.I.A.’s Angry Birds": After the Boston Marathon Attack, We Should All Be Angry

On Tuesday, President Obama finally got around to acknowledging that the bombing of the Boston Marathon was an "act of terrorism." Hmm, three dead and more than 170 wounded from bombs constructed from pressure cookers packed with BBs, nails and pellets - that sure as heck sounds like an "act of terrorism" to me. But why the delay in acknowledging it as such? Might it have been politically incorrect to do so too precipitously and have cost votes in future elections? Or was this simply the Procrastinator-in-Chief doing what he does best?

And now we have the White House and the media attempting to dance around the issue of the origin of this travesty. As observed in an article in today's Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/boston-marathon-bombs-had-simple-but-harmful-design-early-clues-indicate/2013/04/16/c2b061cc-a6d8-11e2-8302-3c7e0ea97057_story.html?hpid=z1) written by Joby Warrick and Sari Horwitz:

"The [explosive] devices’ design was immediately recognized by counterterrorism experts as a type touted by al-Qaeda for use by its operatives around the world. Similar devices have been used by terrorists in mass-casualty bombings in numerous countries, from the Middle East to South Asia to North Africa."

Well, allow me once again to be politically incorrect and "theorize" (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/david-brooks-what-youll-do-next-data.html) that this horror was the work of radical Islamists. I know: the design of the device is available on the Internet, and there is no way of being 100% sure, but in this instance do we really wish to play parlor games in an effort not to offend anyone?

I am offended by this attack. And although the Obama administration in the past would have us believe that the war with al-Qaeda is over - hence, efforts to attribute the attack upon the US consulate in Benghazi to "demonstrators" - it is far from that. The US is under fire from an organization seeking to undermine America's landmarks, institutions and way of life.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The C.I.A.’s Angry Birds" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/opinion/the-cias-angry-birds.html?_r=0), Maureen Dowd takes the CIA and the intelligence wing of the United States Army to task for the seemingly casual manner in which they undertake targeted assassinations of Muslim jihadists. Dowd writes:

"After two bloody, money-sucking, never-ending wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the idea of a weapon for war that precluded having anyone actually go to war was too captivating. Our sophisticated, sleek, smart, detached president was ensorcelled by our sophisticated, sleek, smart, detached war machine.

. . . .

But as The Times’s Mark Mazzetti notes in his new book, 'The Way of the Knife,' 'the analogy suggests that this new kind of war is without costs or blunders — a surgery without complications. This isn’t the case.'

Mazzetti raises the issue of whether the C.I.A. — which once sold golf shirts with Predator logos in its gift shop — became 'so enamored of its killer drones that it wasn’t pushing its analysts to ask a basic question: To what extent might the drone strikes be creating more terrorists than they are actually killing?'

Mazzetti writes that Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service, watched one of the first drone strikes via satellite at Langley a few weeks after 9/11. As he saw a Mitsubishi truck in Afghanistan being blown up, Dearlove smiled wryly. 'It almost isn’t sporting, is it?' the Brit asked."

In trademark snarky fashion, Dowd concludes:

"President Obama, who continued nearly every covert program handed down by W., clearly feels tough when he talks about targeted killings, and considers drones an attractive option. As Mazzetti says, 'fundamental questions about who can be killed, where they can be killed, and when they can be killed' still have not been answered or publicly discussed.

It almost isn’t sporting, is it?"

Sorry, Maureen but the savage ongoing war with al-Qaeda is not sport. The Boston Marathon, which most likely was attacked by radical Islamists - again, I admit it's too early to be certain - is sport.

Regrettably, rules - and sometimes laws - get bent in war. Yes, I think we can all agree that given an ideal set of circumstances, it would be much preferable to engage in far-reaching debate and to seek judicial review before taking the life of suspected terrorists by remote control from above. But then, during wartime, circumstances do not always permit reflection and procrastination. Anyone who has ever found himself or herself in a battle zone knows that if you procrastinate too long, you die.

Unlike Maureen, I have every reason to believe in the underlying decency of those working out of Arlington and Langley, notwithstanding my opposition to the Second Gulf War and America's ground war in Afghanistan.

And unlike Maureen, I am also someone who has witnessed up close the aftermath of terror attacks, and know that there are limits to oversight and due diligence when confronting al-Qaeda.

In short, a balance must be drawn, but it must not be forgotten, as we proceed with our everyday lives, that the US is engaged in a war that threatens its existence. The attack on the Boston Marathon, i.e. a violent intrusion upon our everyday lives, was yet another wake-up call.

Monday, April 15, 2013

David Brooks, "What You’ll Do Next": Data Mining Will Help Find the Perpetrators of the Boston Marathon Terror Attack

Two bombs have killed at least three people at the Boston Marathon. A small part of my life has been devoted to the war against terror, and I again recoil at this latest travesty, but I am confident that those responsible will be swiftly identified. Voluminous quantities of physical evidence will be collected, videos from every angle will be reviewed, and the data will be sifted. The murderers have left a trail and will not get away.

And in case you were wondering, Mr. President, this was a terror attack, and you need not hesitate to label it as such. In this instance, there is no cause for political correctness or ambiguity.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "What You’ll Do Next" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/16/opinion/brooks-what-youll-do-next.html?_r=0), David Brooks muses over the theory of big data. According to Brooks:

"The theory of big data is to have no theory, at least about human nature. You just gather huge amounts of information, observe the patterns and estimate probabilities about how people will act in the future."

A theory with no theory? Interesting. And what has it yielded? As observed by Brooks:

"Wal-Mart executives looked at the data and noticed that, as hurricanes approach, people buy large quantities of Strawberry Pop-Tarts. They began to put Pop-Tarts at the front of the stores with storm supplies."

I rebel at the thought of using data to sell Pop-Tarts, be they strawberry or any other flavor.

There is indeed a data revolution underway. Today, vast quantities of data can be collected and stored, but without a theory, it cannot be analyzed in a meaningful way.

Theory combined with data will lead to the capture of those responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing.

Theory combined with data can lead to the rationalization of America's health care system.

Theory combined with data will lead to the next generation of potent medicines against cancer and other diseases as well as personalized medicine.

Brooks writes:

"Big data is like the offensive coordinator up in the booth at a football game who, with altitude, can see patterns others miss. But the head coach and players still need to be on the field of subjectivity."

Indeed, without proposed solutions deriving from instinctive human thought processes, i.e theories, you can't possibly mine and make use of that ocean of data in a meaningful manner.

Unless you might be hoping to seek new ways of marketing Pop-Tarts . . .



Sunday, April 14, 2013

Paul Krugman, "The Antisocial Network": In Broccoli I Trust

Antisocial? Me? No way! So what if I'm digging a moat around my house and populating it with crocodiles?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Antisocial Network" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/15/opinion/krugman-the-antisocial-network.html?_r=0), Paul Krugman derides bitcoin, a new means for paying for online transactions, and gold. Krugman writes:

"The similarity to goldbug rhetoric isn’t a coincidence, since goldbugs and bitcoin enthusiasts — bitbugs? — tend to share both libertarian politics and the belief that governments are vastly abusing their power to print money. At the same time, it’s very peculiar, since bitcoins are in a sense the ultimate fiat currency, with a value conjured out of thin air. Gold’s value comes in part because it has nonmonetary uses, such as filling teeth and making jewelry; paper currencies have value because they’re backed by the power of the state, which defines them as legal tender and accepts them as payment for taxes. Bitcoins, however, derive their value, if any, purely from self-fulfilling prophecy, the belief that other people will accept them as payment."

Thus far, Krugman and I are in agreement, but then the professor goes on to say:

"The practical misconception here — and it’s a big one — is the notion that we live in an era of wildly irresponsible money printing, with runaway inflation just around the corner. It’s true that the Federal Reserve and other central banks have greatly expanded their balance sheets — but they’ve done that explicitly as a temporary measure in response to economic crisis. I know, government officials are not to be trusted and all that, but the truth is that Ben Bernanke’s promises that his actions wouldn’t be inflationary have been vindicated year after year, while goldbugs’ dire warnings of inflation keep not coming true."

I'm no goldbug and certainly have no use for bitcoin; however, I shudder over what will happen when the Federal Reserve ultimately raises interest rates. Will US stock markets collapse? Will it suddenly dawn upon America that massive federal debt, now over $16.8 trillion, is unsustainable and will never be returned, unless, perhaps, it is returned in bitcoin? And yes, I foresee runaway inflation sometime down the road.

Which is why I am so carefully tending my garden planted with broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers and melons, which perhaps will one day be worth their weight in gold. Yes, I am exaggerating, but bad times are certainly ahead.