The U.S. Federal Reserve has signaled it will finally reduce its quantitative-easing policy, a move that spells the end of the easy money that has helped Brazil's economy coast for years. This has contributed to an initial blow to the Brazilian real, which last week dropped to its lowest level in 4 1/2 years. The currency is now down about 11 percent against the U.S. dollar in the past three months according to Bloomberg data. Meanwhile, yesterday the central bank raised its lending rate by 50 basis points in a signal it plans to keep inflation below 6.5 percent -- the government's upper bound on its target range -- despite its exchange-rate woes.
Remember history? Brazil was one of the places for people to invest. It was "investment grade." It was "booming." Their market was up 13% for the year as of May 2008 even as the United States and the rest of the world was rolling over. It was "awesome." It was doing great -- while we were collapsing.
Ah, it was all a scam, you see. None of it was real, was it?
Tombini’s central bank has certainly become a part of the problem as well. Under his mandate the bank continued to cut interest rates to stimulate the economy even as President Dilma Rousseff's government showed a disregard for fiscal discipline. Just as Brazil’s economic troubles are in many ways self-inflicted, any loss of credibility by Brazil’s central bank is largely Tombini’s doing.
Naw... that would never happen in a place like...... The United States.
Cutting interest rates to "stimulate" the economy while the government shows a disregard for fiscal discipline, going from $2.7 trillion in federal spending to $3.7 between 2007 and 2013.
Here it comes.
There seems to be a certain level of, shall we say, fellating going on when it comes to Obama and his intent to attack Syria. It is illustrated here:
America is poised to strike at the Assad regime in good part because Obama could not resist the urge, last year, to declare publicly the existence of a chemical weapons red line that the Assad regime should not cross. Obama could not resist because the urge was morally irresistible. Like any decent human being, and like anyone with respect for international law and international norms of behavior, Obama was repulsed by the idea that the Assad regime would deploy poison gas against his own people, and he said so.
Obama, by demarcating a red line, placed American credibility on the line. If the world is to maintain the taboo against the use of chemical weapons, then the world’s superpower, which does so much to ensure global stability, must act, particularly when its leader has previously threatened to act.
The article goes on to argue for an actual wholesale engrossment in the Syrian mess.
But this is wrong on several levels.
First, it's wrong because we do not know with certainty who used the weapons. We have reasonable certainty that they were used, but not by whom. And this is critical because if in fact the rebels used them then our striking at the Syrian government will be an explicit act of endorsement of the rebel act of chemical weapons use irrespective of our claims otherwise.
There would have been only one thing worse than letting Hitler gas Jews and that's explicitly attacking his enemies after he did so!
If the rebels have laid a nice trap for America and we hit Syria the jaws of that trap will close upon us and there will be no escape. Being wrong is so disastrous that it could easily destroy all remaining international credibility that the United States has -- credibility that is at a 50-year low already.
Second, however, and at least as importantly, the rebels are terrorist-affiliated. This isn't speculation, it's known fact. And not just "any" terrorists either -- Al-Qaida. The taking of any action that assists them, no matter how much of a bastard the other side may present themselves to be, is taking arms in material support of a sworn enemy of the United States -- and not only is that as dumb as it gets it also meets the black-letter definition of Treason.
Now we might be able to weasel our way out of that if we had dropped our "State of Emergency" post 9/11 -- but 12 years later it remains in force and effect, and as a consequence so does the formal US recognition of Al Qaida as a sworn enemy of the United States.
Actions have consequences and so do declarations of enemy combatant status among a particular group, geographically-centered or not.
We made a severe set of mistakes post-9/11. We should have smacked the hell out of those who funded Al-Qaida but that would have included Saudi Arabia, and we should have bombed the camps involved in training and "activation" of these clowns back to the stone age in Afghanistan -- but not gone in there with troops on the ground.
We did neither, instead Bush played a three-way pincer move.
My writings of the time pre-date the Ticker but my position at the time was that what was being attempted in Iraq was to lay the groundwork for dealing with Iran which was fomenting much of the problem in Iraq, and that Syria would fold. In other words we'd invade one nation under a legally-defensible pretext, since there was never a peace but rather a cease-fire and terms had been violated and from there Iran would either sue for peace and cut that crap out or we could (if necessary) nail them. Syria would say "screw this; we like our cities standing!" and fold their tent.
Well, that didn't work. We never were committed to Iraq in a sufficient form and fashion because we played "hearts and minds" instead of "shoot with all available force until they sue for peace" (the only way you ever win a war, incidentally), we blew it in Afghanistan, learning exactly nothing from Russia's experience there (which is really stupid, if you think about it, given that they had their own Vietnam there not all that long ago, but we had CIA "assets", including drug production, that we had to "protect" there) and as a consequence both Iran and Syria erected middle fingers instead of folding their tents.
Obama apparently never figured out what was going on in the first place but he had no winning plays left with the 9/11 declarations still on the board. The right thing to do in 2009 when he took office was to cut the crap, bring the troops home, rescind the emergency powers and declarations of 9/11 and replace them with one simple statement:
If you attack the United States, either directly on our soil or our people and property abroad, we will return you to the dust from which you came without fear, favor or a care in the world as to who you are. Govern yourselves accordingly.
But that would have meant walking away from a huge build-up in the defense department, turning off all inside-the-US NSA and CIA activity, disbanding the TSA (except for perhaps that outside the United States) and telling Big Sis to stuff her head in a garbage disposal and then turn it on, because "Homeland Security" was being zeroed in the budget and all that crap was going back where it belonged, which was to the FBI (if inside the US) or CIA (if outside.)
In short it would have meant taking 10% off the Federal Budget immediately, which would have been good rather than bad for the nation and its tax and deficit posture but which went directly against the "Bigger Government Is Better" mantra of Washington DC -- irrespective of political party.
There was not only no support for that then in the Democratic party there is no support for it in the Republican side of the aisle either, irrespective of the grandiose bull**** that the GOP spews from time to time.
And both John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi are equally responsible for this, as is the entire Senate -- especially the feral hogs like John McStain who cannot resist the temptation to feast on anything that moves outside the United States.
So here we are, with a fetid "emergency statement" that has now turned into a lodestone being attracted to the side of an Aircraft Carrier and which will, if we strike Syria, instantly become black-letter commitment of Treason by Obama, every member of Congress who does not put an instant halt to this action before it occurs or who fails to impeach immediately if the operation goes ahead and which will also attach to every member of the Military that is involved in this action as well.
Of course nobody in those groups will actually be prosecuted for same, which makes it even worse, because destruction of the actual overt act of Treason as a crime is arguably the worst possible thing that could ever happen in the United States.
This act, should it proceed, when the history books are closed on the United States will mark the self-inflicted gunshot to the head of The Rule of Law in this country.
If Barack Obama decides to attack the Syrian regime, he has ensured – for the very first time in history – that the United States will be on the same side as al-Qa’ida.
The men who destroyed so many thousands on 9/11 will then be fighting alongside the very nation whose innocents they so cruelly murdered almost exactly 12 years ago. Quite an achievement for Obama, Cameron, Hollande and the rest of the miniature warlords.
This morning I saw John Mc(****)Stain on CNBS trying to justify what appears to be a now-inevitable attack on Syria's government.
There are several problems with this, far beyond what The Independent lays forth -- although that's enough standing alone.
The biggest problem is that while I'm quite-convinced that someone used chemical weapons in Syria I am not convinced and it certainly has not been proved that it was the Syrian Government that did so.
Never mind all the connections that appear to be present between the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaida, the "rebels" in Syria and the botched operation in Benghazi, among others.
Many people throw around the word "Treason" with wild abandon, but it in fact has a rather-precise definition. Treason is the act of waging war against one's own nation or consciously and purposefully aiding its enemies in a time of war.
Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.
If this attack goes forward then I believe there is a clean argument that McCain, Obama and every other member of the Congress and military who willingly and knowingly participates or permits, with the ability to refuse or stop said attack, has committed this crime.
Al-Qaida is a declared enemy of the United States. This is not a matter of speculation, it is by their own name, hand and actions, including the attacks of 9/11 and those that both preceded and followed that event.
It is that specific threat that has led both President Bush and Obama to extend the formal state of emergency that has existed since 9/11 and which extends to this day. Absent that justification the declared state of emergency is unconstitutional and by itself a violation of the oath of office and would constitute levying war on the citizens of this nation.
I believe a clean case can be made that arming these "rebels", along with what was going on in Benghazi, has already crossed that line.
But attacking the Syrian Government, irrespective of the justification, would absolutely constitute providing material aid and comfort to the militants who are known to be Al-Qaida affiliated.
If, as I suspect, it turns out that it was the Al-Qaida-linked rebels who actually used the chemical weapons then we will have joined a war on the side of Al-Qaida after they used chemical munitions!
But what if I'm wrong about that? What if Syria's government used the chemical weapons instead?
Then we're still providing material aid and comfort to a declared enemy of the United States.
This one can't be justified folks, no matter which way the facts on the ground fall.
Let's take a rather-jaundiced but honest look at Syria, shall we?
First, why does Syria matter? That's pretty simple -- they're a rather interesting energy conduit from a strategic point of view. Syria also "owns" the Golan Heights, which is under Israeli occupation (Ed: yes, I know Israel considers it to have been "annexed" -- the rest of the world sees it differently.) Having part of your land occupied by a foreign power is always good for your general civic mood, you see.
In addition Syria is an ally of both Iran and Russia, and the United States and Israel are concerned that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. They may be and they may not; the evidence is not clear. However, what is clear is that the uranium/plutonium fuel cycle is trivially exploitable to produce nuclear bombs, if you desire to do so. More on that in a bit.
Politically and culturally the nation is both Shiite and Sunni Muslim, with some Christian presence. There are also Kurds and Armenians in the nation from an ethnic perspective, none of which really like one another. The Assad regime, which is both dictatorial and brutal in its enforcement of "peace" (on its terms of course) has managed to more-or-less keep a pressure-cooker from exploding -- until recently.
The so-called "Arab Spring" is often blamed for the ignition of what is happening in Syria today. There is a decent case to be made that this was what emboldened people to rise, but the fact of the matter is that economic conditions along with state-initiated violence and dictatorship were the ingredients that led to civil war breaking out.
And we are largely responsible for the economic conditions.
The United States, along with the rest of the "developed" western world, has for 30 years run a policy of exporting our expansionary credit policy into other nations. That is, we have exported to them the bad effects of this policy, which would otherwise have resulted in immediate and ruinous inflation, choking off the ability of our bankers and governments to run this scheme. Instead we foisted it off through our balance of trade and in particular our energy dependence on Middle East oil to other places in the world. China, India and the rest of the emerging markets got the "consumer goods" cost-push of our expansionary credit, while the Middle East got the oil side.
This has had the effect of impoverishing the people in these nations. China, for its part, tried to compensate by blowing its own credit bubble and building cities with no people in them. India, which has a large current account imbalance couldn't get away with that and now is suffering a massive collapse in their investment climate and currency, as their "miracle" of cheap labor for call centers and similar "enterprises" pops.
The Arab world managed to stave off what has been a thousand year conflict over religious differences with oil pumping and showering the trade imbalance dollars upon their people -- for some. That has also allowed the more-dictatorial regimes the funding necessary to repress opposition and maintain dictatorial rule -- after all, killing people may seem cheap but managing to keep the mass of the population from rioting and burning you out of your palace can be a bit more expensive.
The United States could have resolved most of this after WWII by going down an energy path that actually made sense, including the use of Thorium as a nuclear fuel. Had we done so, or if we were to do so today we would, within a decade, be entirely independent of outside energy resources and have a stable base of energy, both in liquid form (e.g. gasoline, diesel fuel and similar) and electricity for the next thousand years.
But that path does not allow for the "side effect" of producing nuclear weapons from the same dual-use technology, and that would have exposed the full cost of producing and maintaining those weapons to the people, instead of hiding a good part of it in both civilian nuclear power and naval propulsion.
In addition from the 1980s forward we discovered the "free" view of manipulating the economic cycle by encouraging credit expansion and then bailing out those who got too far over their skis. This has been going on for 30 years but in the last few it has reached its logical terminus and the "benign" appearance of these policies has been exposed as a fraud. Now "QE" and other "support" programs, instead of being soaked up by cheap energy exports from the Middle East, are translating directly into out-of-control increases in the cost of living in those other nations.
Empty stomachs, collapsing standards of living and rampant unemployment make for easily-incited populations.
We have absolutely no business "intervening" in Syria. We also have absolutely no business arming Jihadists, but the evidence is that Barack Obama's administration has been doing exactly that. There is in fact a clean argument to be made that The United States government is itself a material supporter of Islamic Terrorism through the provision of both money and the provision of weapons to those who would and have used them against civilian populations in acts of terrorism (what else would you call burning a Christian church with Christians inside?)
The proper thing for us to do is to stop acting like jackasses and abusing our standing when it comes trying to swing the entire world around by the tail economically, force Bernanke to cut the crap and cease the lies about production, cost of living and credit inflation. In short, admit to this in public:
That's not particularly likely, however -- at least not voluntarily.
It's particularly true when you see the sort of academic stupidity that was on display at Jackson Hole this last week, which I will get to in a different Ticker. In short the premise of Central Bankers has been laid forth on the table for all to see -- they claim for themselves the fruits of technological advancement, rather than letting those who actually earned it keep it -- that would be you.
It is indeed that very premise that keeps their schemes alive and anything that threatens it is to be opposed -- by violence if it becomes necessary.
Well, it's now "necessary" because the limits of doing it the other way (by persuasion in attempting to get people to voluntarily turn themselves into debt slaves) have been reached.
Obama and his ilk would be wise to stay out of this and instead plot a course that allows us to withdraw from that part of the world entirely -- economically, politically and socially -- leaving them to find their own way. They could do so through the same technologies we can exploit here, and become both energy independent without the need for oil exports as well as resolving much of their issue with fresh water, which is of course a huge problem in that part of the world.
Or, we can keep screwing around until one of the folks with nuclear weapons pokes one of the other ones in the balls, perhaps by accident and perhaps not, and we wind up with a rapidly-spreading war we cannot contain.
I prefer not to glow in the dark.
How about you?
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel suggested Friday that the Pentagon was moving naval forces closer to Syria in preparation for a possible decision by President Obama to order military strikes.
Hagel declined to describe any specific movements of U.S. forces. He said Obama asked that the Pentagon to prepare military options for Syria and that some of those options "requires positioning our forces."
I don't seem to recall a Declaration of War by Congress. And there is certainly no exigent emergency that requires an immediate response by our military prior to the time that such a declaration could be reasonably obtained.
Yes, I know, Obama said the use of chemical munitions (if it occurred) was his "red line" months ago and now he has his schwantz in his hand, it would appear, in that he either has to act or be seen as "weak" and "feckless" (not that this would be anything new.)
But the fact remains that an offensive military strike is an act of war, and while there is a clean argument that such a strike is lawful under our Constitution when exigent circumstances exist and require immediate response, this is clearly not one of those cases.
Wake up America; we're not supposed to be a dictatorship but we're sure acting like we are one, and both our Congress and our people appear to be bowing before the King.
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