Hi folks. Hope you are all keeping well. I’ve missed you. Hope you can say the same.
I’m back, sort of. I had a sudden enforced blogging break thrust upon me when I received an SOS from a good friend of mine. His company was in need of help.
I thought at the time that it would be a two week job at most, but when he said he was in trouble he wasn’t kidding. We’re still not done, but at least now things are looking a little bit better.
I’m in “Yurp” right now, watching the refugees take over. More of that in a future post perhaps. In the meantime take Trump’s advice a close your borders or you’ll end up like this place.
I could have done some blogging when I was travelling around, I certainly had plenty of time at airports, in between flights and wading through the dumbest security checks you could imagine, but I wanted to take a bit of time to prepare my next post. Hopefuly I’ll get to it next week.
Meantime, if you can believe WP stats, this blog has whizzed through the 200,000 views landmark without me and there are actually MORE daily hits now than when I was blogging almost every day.
Do you think the world is trying to tell me something?
Maybe I should stay away?
Actually I don’t know whether to be pleased that I have created something with a life of it’s own or dismayed that I’m not really needed.
Now in an effort to get some of my dignity back I think I will indulge in a quick gloat.
This is not going to be pretty so feel free to skip over this bit if you haven’t got a strong stomach.
I’m having a laugh at the stupidty of the Fed again and the dumb financial journalists and fund managers who hang on their every word despite a mountain of evidence that should lead them to do otherwise.
The Fed has wimped out AGAIN. Lost their nerve. Promised and hinted and leaked stories to the financial press for months that an interest rate rise was imminent – and then they bottled out.
No surprise to me. At the beginning of May I wrote a post explaining why they wouldn’t put up interests despite all the pifle they were saying. (if you want to read it click here.)
Then in mid-June I did another one ( click here for that one), saying there was no way the Fed could make good on their threats to raise the rate in September.
Of course nobody listened and the meeting on Thursday was one of the most anticipated Fed meetings of all time. And it all came to nothing. No interest rate hike.
And I don’t think they’ll do it next time either. There’s talk about December, but as far as I see the Fed’s hands are tied and rates are going to remain at zero or close to it for years.
Good news for borrowers. Not so good for savers with all the traditional yield opportunities such as bonds, Treasuries and bank CDs offering little or no returns. If you have cash to invest you should be looking at solid low risk undervalued stocks with a decent dividend. Otherwise your savings will be eroded by inflation for at least another year, proably longer.
Having said that, no rate hike is on balance good for the economy as a whole.
That will do for the gloating for now. Not sure when the next post will be exactly. Hopefully next week so if you’re interested keep a look out for that.
Meantime warmest regards to everyone who visits – even when I’m not around.
Not quite up there with the Kennedy assassination conspiracy, but still a mystery, is the death of UN General Secretary Dag Hammarskjold who was killed in an airplane crash – some say assassinated – on September 17, 1961.
On that fateful day, a Douglas DC-6 transport aircraft with Hammarskjöld on board crashed in the British-administered territory of Northern Rhodesia (now called Zambia). Not only Hammarskjold, but everyone on board was killed in the crash.
Three investigations into the crash were held, conducted by the Rhodesian Board of Investigation, the Rhodesian Commission of Inquiry, and the United Nations Commission of Investigation.
As usual in these non-investigation investigations, “pilot error” was noted as the most likely cause of the tragedy.
But the UN Commission of Investigation held in 1962 said that deliberate sabotage could not be ruled out as a likely cause of the tragedy, which of course set the conspiracy theorists on over drive.
Since then many academics and independent investigators, such as Swedish development expert Göran Björkdahl and British academic Susan Williams, have raised the possibility that the plane carrying Secretary General Hammarskjöld may have been “shot down by an unidentified second plane”.
Just after the tragedy the eagerness shown by British colonial administrators in Northern Rhodesia to obscure the details of the incident has also been highlighted and has provided further impetus for those pointing to foul play.
Like many others who have met similar fates, Hammarskjöld probably contributed to his own downfall because he was an independent thinker, not content to remain in the pockets of the powers that be. He was, for example, a fierce supporter of anti-colonial movements that were sweeping the African continent, many of which were not in the interests of their colonial masters at the time.
This is borne out by the fact that on the day of his death, Hammarskjöld was flying to the Congo’s mineral-rich Katanga region to meet European-supported chieftains who in 1960 had seceded from the Marxist government of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.
Lumumba had been assassinated in a Western-backed coup exactly eight months before Hammarskjöld’s own death. The person said to have arranged his assassination was Daphne Park, one of MI6’s top female intelligence agents and known by some as the “Queen of Spies”.
Moving on in time to three years ago, in 2012, the independently funded Hammarskjöld Inquiry Trust appointed an international team of jurists, called the Hammarskjöld Commission, to study all available evidence on the plane crash. The team was composed of a diplomat and three judges from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Sweden.
The Commission reported in 2013 that “significant new evidence” had emerged, which suggested that American intelligence agencies, notably the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, had “crucial evidence” that could help clarify the causes of the crash.
This led to the current UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, appointing a UN-sponsored panel of experts to examine the new evidence and present it before the UN General Assembly. The three-member panel traveled to several countries, including Zambia, the US, Britain and Belgium, to access government, as well as private archives.
That ‘new evidence’ is said to include written testimony by a Belgian pilot who says he shot down the plane carrying Hammarskjöld by error while trying to divert it on orders by a government entity, and a statement by a former intelligence officer with the US National Security Agency, admitting he listened to a recording of a pilot who said he shot down the UN Secretary General’s plane.
Damning stuff – if true.
Is it really possible that more than half a century later the truth about “one of the enduring mysteries of the 20th century” is finally going to be heard?
Don’t hold your breath on that one. It all depends if those who ordered the assassination think they can get away with it after all these years.
So who really did kill JKF, more importantly, why, and how long are we going to have to wait to find out?
4,726 = the number of colleges and universities United States.
$589 billion = the amount spent by students annually.
Of that figure,
$393 billion = tuition fees, and
$196 billion = expenses like travel and housing.
538% = the percentage increase of the cost of a college education over the past three decades.
4.5 = the number times more expensive it is to go to college today than it was back in 1985, even allowing for inflation.
So is the cost worth it?
Does the education system make sense?
The vast majority of Americans never even consider these important questions. They are fixated on their kids going to college – end of debate.
Whether they have the ability or not, or whether it is the right career path for them or not, if the parents can afford it and/or the kids can get a student loan (which they usually can) then they go to college.
But there is a heavy cost to pay, as we have just seen above. By the time they graduate 70% of students are lumbered with a loan balance averaging $28,400. Nationwide in the US, student loan debt now sits at a staggering $1.2 trillion, which is nearly 50% higher than all the outstanding auto-loan debt, and almost double credit card debt.
While it is true that college graduates have more opportunities to earn more than those without a degree, the number of those good paying jobs is limited. Most college graduates have to settle for a lot less that they were planning for when they started that expensive college education.
What is often forgotten is that there are many other opportunities out there in the workplace for someone who spends their time and money learning a trade or a skill. A friend of mine who is a plumber earns many times more than many of his contemporaries with college degrees and office jobs.
In fact, since more and more young Americans are turning their noses up at manual type jobs and opting for expensive colleges, there will soon be a shortage of essential trades such as plumbers, electricians and so forth, making those jobs even more lucrative than they are now.
The statement in the title is not true, except that it is.
If you are a little confused stay with me and let me clarify.
The United States used to be the industrial power house of the world. Its industries generated unprecedented wealth for the country, creating the world’s first self-made billionaires and productive wealth creating jobs galore for everyone. The whole country prospered.
Today, however, the United States has become the world’s second biggest importer of goods. Worse than that, even though America still exports billions of dollars’ worth in oil, consumer goods and automotive products, it imports even more. This creates a trade deficit ($471 billion according to recent figures).
So what are all these imports into the US?
Well, they include industrial machinery and equipment ($681 billion), automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($309 billion), miscellaneous private services, primarily financial services ($201 billion), cell phones ($90 billion), travel passenger services ($86 billion), pharmaceuticals ($84 billion), computers ($65 billion), chemicals ($61 billion), other transportation services ($59 billion), computer accessories ($57 billion), telecommunications equipment ($54 billion), royalties and license fees services ($42 billion), apparel ($49 billion), petroleum products ($48 billion), fuel oil ($44 billion), industrial supplies ($29 billion), U.S. Government service imports primarily defense ($25 billion), fish ($18 billion), fruit ($13 billion), and vegetables ($11 billion).
If you are a bit shell-shocked by all those figures let me phrase it a bit differently using as examples the types of goods you would tend to buy.
100% (almost) of the shoes bought in the U.S. come from China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico;
90% of white goods (washers, fridges, etc.) and consumer electronics are imported;
85% of household furniture is imported;
80% of cars on U.S. roads come from Canada (31%), Japan (24%), Germany (16%) and Mexico (12%); and,
65% of U.S. clothing is imported from China (37%), Vietnam (9.4%), Indonesia (7.2%) and Bangladesh (6.7%).
Probably the saddest part is that even things you thought were “American” are now actually made overseas and imported.
I remember while on a business trip to the US many, many years ago I bought a gift for the young son of a friend of mine. He was a big sports enthusiast so I reckoned that one of the most iconic symbols of sport from America would be a baseball. I bought one in Wal-Mart. It was marked with all the different holding positions for the various ways to throw a baseball (fast ball, curve ball and all that). The perfect gift.
I gave it to him on my return feeling ever so pleased with myself. The kid opened it, showed momentary delight, then looked up at me accusingly. “It says ‘Made in China'” he told me.
But it’s not only baseballs. Similar types of product that you would think are all-American, like Converse All Stars, Levi’s, Huffy bicycles, televisions, Monopoly, Etch-a-Sketch, Radio Flyer wagons, Barbie dolls, and last but by no means least, most of those American flags just ain’t American no more.
It really doesn’t have to be this way. Apple, for example, doesn’t have to become the richest company in the world by manufacturing its products in China and storing its vast hoards of cash overseas.
Or does it?
Everything on the lists above could still be made in the US and surpluses exported to other countries. But the US government and its moronic bureaucrats are spending their time and our money thinking up new ways, not to help American businesses, but to add ever-increasing amounts of rules, regulations and bureaucracy on to American companies.
American businesses can no longer compete, because their own government has ensured that the deck is stacked against them.
In the mind of a bureaucrat losing a million productive wealth creating jobs, for example, in the automotive industry, and replacing them with a million more administrative jobs that cost the country money evens things out.
It doesn’t. Simple math will tell you that. Every time it happens things get worse and America gets poorer.
So America just can’t make it anymore, but not because China has stolen the jobs. It’s because the US government bureaucrats gave them away.
They say that nothing is free and in America that is certainly true as regards freedom of religious beliefs.
If you are a Christian, that is.
If you are a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Sikh, or a Buddhist, or even an atheist, the constitutional protections of your civil rights will be upheld and fought for by all and sundry. Silly looking people will hold up even sillier looking signs supporting your point of view.
If you are a Christian, however, you will find you only have the freedom to do what minority groups dictate, not what conforms to your religious beliefs.
Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of a mom and pop bakery they call ‘Sweet Cakes By Melissa’, found that out a while ago when they refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in 2013. They have been ordered by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI-cks for short) to pay $135,000 in damages to the two lesbians for “emotional suffering.”
It makes me wonder if Donald Trump will launch a similar suit against Macy’s for the “emotional suffering” he has been caused by Macy’s refusing to sell his merchandise? I would imagine for a man with that kind of ego the “emotional suffering” would be substantial, at least a billion dollar’s worth, I reckon.
Apparently in Oregon, and probably in other states, it is now illegal for a business to refuse to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Most probably the same applies if you are of a particular race, color, or religion. However, there is no equivalent law to protect the religious beliefs of business owners.
Now I could care less whether you are a lesbian or a Presbyterian, that’s not the issue here. The issue is that you can’t have a law that protects one sector of the community at the expense of another. More to the point you can’t have a ridiculous legal system that is both unfair and illogical.
But you do.
And it’s getting worse.
Just as the Freedom Act took away more freedoms than it gave, the government is stealthily and overtly eroding the individual citizen’s right to live their lives as they want to and as their beliefs dictate.
Sure you have to have rules, like don’t murder people, drive on the correct side of the road, and that kind of thing otherwise there would be chaos. But trying to control and micro-manage every thought and action of the people, which is what the government is now about, is both unnecessary and unwanted.
I’m now wondering what happens if you come into my gun shop and I don’t like the look of you and refuse to sell you a gun or other weapon. Am I within my rights? Or can you sue me for the “emotional suffering” of not being able to kill your family or hold up a bank?
Or can I sue you if you own the gayest cake shop in America but refuse to serve me because I am a Christian? That would be an interesting one in the light of the Oregon decision.
What happens if you are a Christian lesbian? What sort of “emotional suffering” does that cause? And can you sue yourself for damages? I’m sure there’s a judge somewhere stupid enough to grant you a big payout, but of course you would have to pay it to yourself, unless the state would step in because of your sexual orientation and cough up the cash for you.
You see where this is going?
Just as they wrecked the education system in many western countries by teaching the brightest people in the school at the same pace as the dumbest, thereby lowering the level of education of everyone and churning out a multitude of idiots who can barely read, or write, or count, now we have to pander to every minority no matter how few people they represent and no matter how much their minority beliefs offend our own.
Minority rights don’t really matter to the government because they don’t make up enough of the population. If and when the need arises minorities can be brought to heel. The majority is a different matter though and what has been discussed in this blog post is all part of the dumbing down of society and instilling fear in anyone from the majority community who dares to stand up and challenge authority. The threat of a six figure fine, or worse, ensures compliance in most people.
My old late lamented friend George Carlin summed it up so well when he said, “Governments don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. That is against their interests. They want obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept it.”
Protection of minority rights in a society is one thing – and a good thing – and should be defended at all costs. But it should be done for the right reasons AND it should be in addition to the rights of the majority, never at their expense.
Otherwise you might as well throw out the “all men are created equal” bit of the constitution and just let the tail continue to wag the dog.
I ended a post last week that ended with the line, “If you want a liar in the White House there’s always Hillary.”
Some people may have thought it a little harsh, particularly those who were considering voting for her, but harsh or not it is a fact.
Her wayward husband Bill was a liar and he made President and impeachment. Now she is trying to carry on the tradition.
Hillary simply cannot tell the truth.
Everyone knows it.
And everyone includes the representatives from other countries that she would have to interact with, if – God help us – the American people are stupid enough to make her President.
Unfortunately, such is the attention span of people nowadays they only seem to remember the last thing they see and hear. If something happened in the past it is as if it never occurred at all.
With a position as important as the US Presidency at stake it is surely necessary to examine the candidates more closely than that.
Hillary Clinton’s lies are many and they cover almost every aspect of her life. She is an opportunist, always willing to try to enhance her position by lying. Nothing is sacred.
And it isn’t a recent occurrence. Hillary Rodham Clinton has been a liar for her entire political life, probably longer than that.
Take a look for yourselves.
Going waaaaay back to 1974, when Hillary Clinton was 27, she worked for the House Judiciary Committee which at that time was investigating Richard Nixon and Watergate.
Strictly against House rules, she met with Teddy Kennedy’s chief political strategist and then manipulated the system, wrote a “fraudulent legal brief” and “confiscated public documents”.
They had no choice but fire Hillary Rodham. When asked why she was fired, Jerry Zeifman, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate investigation, said in an interview, “Because she was a liar. She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer, she conspired to violate the Constitution, the Rules of the House, the Rules of the Committee, and the rules of confidentiality.”
Zeifman later wrote in a 2006 book titled ‘Hillary’s Pursuit of Power’, that “Hillary Clinton is ethically unfit to be either a senator or president.”
When she made it to the White House as First Lady, she was still a stranger to the truth. Trying to distance herself from another gaff, Hillary said she didn’t know that her staff would fire the travel office staff after she told them to do so.
Staff do what you tell them to do. That’s why they work for you and not you for them. The memorandum relating to the firings went “missing” for two years.
The “missing” lie was a trait that was to continue. Documents regarding Hillary’s work at the Rose Law firm in Arkansas, specifically regarding a savings and loan company run by the Clintons’ business partner in the Whitewater land venture also went “missing” for two years.
Eventually they miraculously reappeared when a White House aide found them, in the White House, in a storage area on the third-floor, which is the private residence of the President and First Lady.
Hillary said that she had no idea the documents were there, which would have been fine except for the fact that the FBI found Hillary’s fingerprints on the documents. Hillary is still the only First Lady in American history to be fingerprinted by the FBI.
Lying to take advantage of national tragedies is also a depth to which Hillary Clinton will gladly stoop.
For example, when everyone else was in shock and sympathizing with the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack tragedy, Hillary tried to take some of the attention for herself. She said her daughter Chelsea was jogging around the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 at the time of the airplanes flew into the twin towers.
Chelsea was in bed watching it on TV.
To try to aggrandize herself on another occasion, Hillary said she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, conqueror of Mount Everest.
Sir Edmund Hillary climbed Mt. Everest five years AFTER Hillary Rodham was born. Nobody knew who he was and therefore wouldn’t have named their children after him.
When she was on a visit to Bosnia, Hillary said she came under sniper fire as she disembarked at the airport.
Video taken at the time shows a girl presented her with flowers and she and Chelsea can be seen on video walking across the Bosnian tarmac smiling and greeting well-wishers. Not a sniper’s bullet in sight. Here’s a nice video report to prove it.
As regards finances, Hillary said she learned in The Wall Street Journal how to make a killing in the futures market.
The Wall Street Journal didn’t even cover the market back then.
Hillary said she didn’t know about the pardons given to members of the violent Puerto Rico nationalist group FALN or that her brothers were being paid to get pardons that her husband Bill Clinton granted.
Her husband and her brothers knew and she didn’t? A likely story! With an ill-advised stroke of a pen President Clinton made a mockery of the pledge to “wage an all-out war against terrorism” by pardoning 14 FALN terrorists.
Still on the subject of pardons, Hillary also said she had nothing to do with the New Square Hasidic pardons that reduced the prison terms of four New York Hasidic Jews convicted of defrauding tens of millions of dollars from the government.
In fact, of all the pardons that President Clinton granted as he was leaving the White House, this one has Hillary written all over it. She attended a meeting at the White House about the pardons and got repaid in votes, 1,400 to 12.
To try to excuse her greed, Hillary said taking the White House gifts was a “clerical error”.
The “error”, clerical or otherwise, was getting caught and she came up with the best excuse she could think of at the time.
To try to make herself look more statesmanlike Hillary said she negotiated for the release of refugees in Macedonia.
They were released the day before she even got there.
In a pathetic attempt to get sympathy where none was deserved, Hillary said her family was broke when they left the White House.
And they only made a paltry $12 million the year after Bill Clinton’s Presidency.
Never noted for her humility, Hillary said she was “instrumental” in the Northern Ireland peace process.
She and President Bill visited Northern Ireland and did some PR work for the deal that ushered terrorists into government in Belfast, but those actually at the negotiating table say Hillary was nowhere to be seen.
Hillary said the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other officials was a “spontaneous protest” gone wrong.
Based on State Department documents we know that, not only was Benghazi a terrorist attack, but that Hillary was well aware of that fact and deliberately misled the public.
Then there is the private email server she set up the day before her nomination as Secretary of State, and used for her entire tenure in that office. Hillary said the whole thing was innocent and that access would be given to scrutinize her emails.
The whole procedure was far from innocent. For one thing it is in direct violation of a 2009 Federal Law. Hillary set up her private email server and used it when she was Secretary of State so that there would be no official government records of those emails. She could pick and choose what to release and what to delete. Her aides also used private email addresses. Actualy both the Clintons loved email for that very reason, because it was so much easier to hide stuff, when she was asked to turn over 1.8 million emails to Judicial Watch, Congress, and federal investigators.
What do you call someone with a record like that except a liar?
How are we supposed to believe that all of a sudden she has had a “road to the White House” conversion and become honest and straightforward, rather than a schemer and a liar?
I’m reminded of that old joke,
Question: “How can you tell when a politician is lying?”
Answer: “When his/her lips are moving.”
It needs to be updated for Hillary.
She can lie even when her lips aren’t moving, or get emails or other people to do it for her.
Even a cursory glance around my blog will confirm that. Every week I try to post some.
Facts are good things. Many other people seem to like them too.
Except for one particular group.
Facts always seem to get in the way of whatever it is they are trying to force us to accept.
Enter Donald Trump into the story.
The Donald has caused a lot of controversy lately with his illegal immigrant pronouncements. Cowards like the management of Macy’s, NBC, Univision etc., have made knee-jerk decisions and run from the controversy without taking any time whatsoever to check the facts.
It’s the way Americans have been conditioned to behave when someone says something controversial about a minority or a minority view point.
The hardly impartial Washington Post has been in the forefront of the media critics and, of course, we have also had media mogul Rupert Murdock chirping in against a political candidate who is too rich to fit into his pocket.
But what did Trump actually say?
And do the facts support him or not?
Unlike Macy’s and the rest, let’s take a little time to have a look.
Trump said that some undocumented immigrants commit crimes in the U.S. and in fact they do. He did NOT say ALL Mexicans and he did NOT include Hispanic U.S. citizens, which is what his detractors are trying to infer. In fact from the reports I have read I do not think he quantified it at all.
Trump did, however, strongly ‘imply’ that undocumented immigrants are more criminal than the average U.S. citizen.
The Washington Post “fact checked” this and found it to be ‘false’. The problem for the Washington Post’s fact-checkers is that some of the data shows otherwise.
For example, a 2011 Government Accountability Office report (GAO-11-187, Criminal Alien Statistics, March 2011, to be precise) opens with the sentence,
“The number of criminal aliens in federal prisons in fiscal year 2010 was about 55,000, and the number of SCAAP criminal alien incarcerations in state prison systems and local jails was about 296,000 in fiscal year 2009 (the most recent data available), and the majority were from Mexico.”
‘SCAAP’, by the way, is the ‘State Criminal Alien Assistance Program’ which means aliens illegally in the United States at the time of their incarceration.
As for federal prisoners, the GAO states, “In fiscal year 2005, the criminal alien population in federal prisons was around 27 percent of the total inmate population, and from fiscal years 2006 through 2010 remained consistently around 25 percent.”
The Government Accountability Office figures also show that in 2009 the total alien – i.e., non-U.S.-citizen – population in the United Sates was about 25.3 million, which included about 10.8 million aliens without lawful immigration status – illegal aliens in other words.
The total population of the U.S. at that time was approximately 306.8 million. Non-citizens comprised 8.25% of the population and illegal aliens about 3.52%.
If you compare the percentage of illegal aliens in the population as a whole (the 3.52% mentioned above) with the percentages of illegal aliens in the prison population, namely 25% in 2009 and almost 39% in 2013, it is clear that their crimes are well in excess of their proportion of the population.
The FBI’s records show that there were 67,642 murders in the U.S. from 2005 through 2008, and 115,717 from 2003 through 2009.
The GAO estimates “criminal aliens” were arrested, convicted and incarcerated for 25,064 homicides. That means they committed 22% to 37% of all murders in the U.S., while being only 3.52% to 8.25% of the population.
Therefore the facts confirm that criminal and illegal aliens commit murder at much higher rates than all inhabitants of the U.S. – at least 3 to 10 times higher.
Although I have not had the time to crunch the numbers further, what you have just read could be a very conservative total because the FBI doesn’t get itself involved in all homicides, most of them are handled at state and local level.
Based on the erroneous research of their misnamed “fact-checkers”, the Washington Post alleged that Trump’s statements were only underscoring “a common public perception that crime is correlated with immigration, especially illegal immigration”.
It went even further, stating that Trump’s repeated statements about immigrants and crime were a “misperception” and that there was “no solid data support it”.
The Washington Post fact-checkers obviously did not take the time to check the facts in the GAO reports, which as we have seen actually do support the perception trump is vocalizing.
Apparently there is no fact-checker like a fact-checker checker.
Where are Ben Bradlee, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein when you need them?
The world breathed a great sigh of relief when the Soviet Union broke apart in 1991, but somehow we’re in the middle of another cold war that nobody wants or needs.
How did that happen?
As most things do, it all started with a huge mistake. That mistake was the West, particularly America, treating Russia like a defeated country after 1991, instead of the formidable nation that it still was despite the breakup of the USSR. Mikhail Gorbachev has acknowledged that fact.
Unfortunately Americans have no clue about foreign affairs and never have had. That, plus a ton of arrogance, led us to the Ukraine which America thought it could more or less capture as an ally to be slotted into NATO. They wanted a fully armed NATO nuclear arsenal on the Russian’s doorstep.
The Americans quite rightly didn’t like it when the Russians tried to do it to them in Cuba way back in the early 1960s, so what idiot thought that the Russians would like it when they did it to them?
Whoever formulated the plan, it was heavily influenced by Zbigniew Brzezinski, former US National Security Advisor during President Carter’s administration. His theory was that the only way to prevent Russia becoming a great power again was to remove the Ukraine from its sphere of influence.
Thus America initiated an eastward expansion of NATO, using the EU to present the Ukraine with a choice between Russia and Europe. Some Ukrainians, like those in the Crimea favored Russia and others in other parts wanted closer ties with the EU.
Like many other countries, the prospect of joining the EU is attractive to a significant proportion of Ukrainians. But the way America tried to bring it about was just a step too far. The Ukrainian President, who had been duly elected, was removed in what would have been called a “coup d’etat” had it happened elsewhere, or had Russia been the culprit.
That is why a lot of the tensions between the West and Russia is centered on the internal troubles within the Ukraine.
If one looks into the history of the Ukraine another significant part of the puzzle presents itself.
In much the same way as stupid English bureaucrats redrew borders in the Middle East without any consideration for the people who lived there, (for example, the Kurds), which resulted in wars and upheaval ever since, when the Soviet Union broke apart somewhere in the region of 25 million Russians were left outside the borders of Russia. A lot of them were in the Crimea in the Ukraine.
But the Ukraine had only been independent for three years in its history (1917-20), after the collapse of the tsarist armies.
The post-December 1991 Ukraine was thus a composite entity, its western regions had belonged to Poland between WWI and WWII; its eastern regions were Orthodox and Russian-speaking; and its Black Sea coast had been Ottoman.
The Crimea had never been Ukrainian until Nikita Khrushchev decreed it should be in 1954.
Thus, for anyone with any degree of understanding of foreign affairs, the troubles now being suffered by the various peoples in the Ukraine were both predictable and avoidable.
But the stupid bureaucrats in power were not able to predict it and thus the mess became inevitable.
Sadly the situation has now deteriorated into what amounts to a civil war in the Ukraine. On one side there is the Ukrainian army plus “volunteer battalions”, supported by the US and its allies, and on the other the “separatist” militias who draw their support mainly from Russian-speakers in the east, and who are supported by Russia.
Outside of what is happening in the Ukraine itself, the US and EU implemented severe sanctions against Russia which have hurt, but not nearly as much as they were supposed to. In turn Russia announced counter-sanctions on food and looked to emerging markets, particularly China, to diversify its foreign trade and industrial cooperation.
And so the Cold War part two has begun and shows little sign of ending just yet.
In fact it looks like the Ukraine will remain in a mess until it gets its act together and decides whether it wants to remain on friendly economic terms with its huge neighbor Russia, or whether it will settle for becoming subservient to the whims of the US, via some kind of economic agreement with the EU.
It has a third option, though, perhaps its best option, and that is not taking sides, but rather remaining on friendly terms with both East and West.
However, they may never get the chance to choose option three. In plain language, I don’t think that the people who arrange assassinations and coup d’etats will let them do that.
I wrote a post on July 3rd posing the question “Are government bureaucrats capable of looking after data they collect about us?” (if you want to read it click here.)
The question was, of course, rhetorical, because we all know that the stupid bureaucrats the government employs aren’t capable of looking after anything.
The figure I quoted in that post, about the number of people whose data had been hacked, was 18 million which was a lot higher than the first government admission that 4.5 million records had been hacked. Now however the figure is well in excess of 21 million. It probably won’t stop there.
The Office of Personnel Management was responsible for losing the confidential information and there have been calls from both Republicans and Democrats for the chief bureaucrat of the OPM, Ms Katherine Archuleta, to do the decent thing and resign.
But as we also know there is no decency in stupid bureaucrats, only self-delusion and arrogance. They are too dumb to do their jobs and too stupid to realize it.
Thus for as long as she could, Archuleta clung on in there, rejecting bipartisan calls for her to resign. She said she had no plans to step down. Worse than that she said she was “committed to continuing her work for the agency”.
I read that to mean more incompetence, more lies and more denial, and more trying to cling on to a position which she is clearly not fit to hold. For example she pig-headedly refused to shut down servers identified by the US Inspector General as unsafe.
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the White House, headed by another incompetent, President Barack Obama, continued to express confidence in the leadership of Ms Archuleta.
However, as the size of the security gaff became greater and greater so did the pressure on chief bureaucrat Archuleta. As the numbers of missing records continued to climb almost daily, the result was inevitable.
Although Archuleta continued to say she had “no intention of resigning and would stay on to sort out the mess” – she handed in her resignation. The President – who supported her and who had complete confidence in her – accepted it immediately.
It was either that or be fired. Everyone knew it but her.
The announcement came along with further emerging details about the pathetic level of security within the OPM. Many of its servers are apparently so antiquated they can’t run encryption and modern security software. Two-factor authentication is almost unheard of and seldom used. In fact things are so bad that the agency isn’t even sure how many computer networks it has!!!
If Donald Trump has done nothing else, apart from entertaining us, he has raised some uncomfortable truths for Americans to face.
For too many years people in America have had the luxury of sitting on the fence, avoiding taking stands on moral issues, or issues affecting minority groups in their country.
Frightened of looking like cranks.
Frightened of pseudo-intellectuals (who really know very little) mocking them.
Frightened of not being part of the herd.
Frightened of not appearing ‘nice’.
Lower that Confederate flag and raise a white one, quick!
Dear help us.
People, and not only in America, have been conditioned to act the same, buy the same gadgets, watch the same TV shows and even dress the same. If it continues they’ll all be dressed in similar suits like China in the days of Chairman Mao, only with little red smartphones instead of little red books.
More importantly than all these, the people are being conditioned to ‘think’ the same. ‘Sheeple’ are easier to control than ‘free thinking people’ and as we know it is all about control.
When I said they’re ‘frightened’, I meant Americans have been conditioned into being afraid to stick their own heads above the parapet.
But when occasionally someone does it for them then they secretly cheer – but not too loud mind you in case someone hears.
That’s why Trump enjoyed a surge in the polls after his remarks about illegal immigrants and how they are not all perfect human beings. Everybody knew it but were afraid to say it.
The political elites, most of them anyway, would never be caught saying what they really think – in public. Admittedly Trump said it in his own brash and loud style, but at least he said it.
You don’t have to agree with him – far from it – but you do have to acknowledge that he said what many thousands of ordinary Americans were thinking yet were afraid to say.
Many of these ordinary Americans are probably living in areas where there have been massive influxes of immigrants. They know how it has affected them. In these areas English has become a second language. Social problems have increased and crime has gone up. And everyone is afraid to say why.
More to the point, they know from first-hand experience that this new ethnic diversity has failed to provide the benefits that the liberal political elites promised it would.
Facts are facts are facts.
Many people have come to America to live the ‘dream’ and better themselves. But many others have come to take advantage of what they regard as a soft target for crime.
Many of Trump’s critics are just as guilty of trying to get publicity for themselves as perhaps Trump is making the remarks in the first place.
But the critics exhibit a sadly familiar and predictable pattern. They see an empty talking head on TV, think it’s smart, and then say the same things or a slight variation thereof. That makes them think they look smart too, except of course it doesn’t, because the talking head on TV was empty, not smart at all.
Many of these detractors have gone so far as to say that Trump’s remarks are not “presidential”.
The big question, that unfortunately is not being asked in blazing headlines in the media, is why in America today is it not ‘presidential’ to tell the truth, or to give a true expression of what you believe?
If that is now really the case then it is a sad reflection of American society and not something to be proud of.
You have another choice though.
If you want a liar in the White House there’s always Hillary.