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Do the Swiss get it?

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 1:18 pm - November 11, 2014.
Filed under: Economy,Politics abroad

We’ll find out on Nov 30th, when the Swiss are set to vote on a citizens’ initiative that will require their central bank to hold 20% of its reserve assets in gold.

As recently as the year 2000, the Swiss National Bank was required by law to hold 40% of its assets in gold. That made the Swiss franc a relatively hard/safe currency. But Swiss voters removed that requirement in a 1999 referendum. Oops.

The SNB soon undertook an orgy of gold-selling, as well as money-printing (keeping the franc pegged to 0.83 Euro). Today, the SNB holds maybe 7-8% of its reserve assets in gold. The new referendum would require the SNB to take it back up to 20% over the next five years. (more…)

A sign of the times?

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 4:29 pm - October 6, 2014.
Filed under: Obama Arrogance,Politics abroad

Zimbabwe tells the Obama administration to ‘go hang’:

THE United States has reportedly warned Zimbabwe about its growing economic dealings with Russia…

According to Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru, who is thought to be President Robert Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba, the Obama administration threatened further sanctions against Zimbabwe over its ties with Russia…

The US imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe in 2003, accusing Mugabe of human rights abuses and electoral fraud…

Manheru said it was ridiculous for the US to refuse to lift sanctions against Harare and then demand support for its measures against Moscow…He wrote…“This is where I am tempted to tell the American government to go and hang, hang on a banana tree, bums up.”

In 2008, left-liberals told me – explicitly and with a straight face – that electing a brown-skinned President would make us more trusted and popular, in the Third World.

The UKIP: Shades of the Tea Party

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 12:01 pm - June 4, 2014.
Filed under: Conservative Movement,Politics abroad,Tea Party

First off, in the UK, a left-wing politician gets surprisingly candid about immigration’s importance:

Stella Creasy, the Labour & Co-operative MP for Walthamstow, said that Britain either needs immigration or a massive baby boom in order to support the growing number of pensioners, or else “our ability to sustain our economy” will collapse. She added that this would leave the NHS in crisis.

In an interview with Progress magazine, Ms Creasy said: “There are now more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 16 in Britain, so unless women like me have a lot of children very quickly, our ability to sustain our economy, to sustain our public services [will come under threat].”

Perhaps her horror at the thought of women “like her” needing to have children feeds into the horror that UK establishment parties feel about the rise of the UK Independence Party?

She said that this made UKIP leader Nigel Farage “deeply unpatriotic” as his party has campaigned for an end to mass immigration. UKIP are “basically talking about managing the decline of Britain” she said.

And it is true that UKIP voters believe that Britain needs tighter border controls. But does that make them “deeply unpatriotic”? Perhaps over-the-top name-calling is a tactic of the Left in the UK, as well as in America.

In reality, the UKIP stands in a libertarian-Thatcherite tradition; hardly unpatriotic, and not even very anti-immigrant. Its leader, Nigel Farage, has explicitly said “We’re not going to join in with extremist-nationalist groups” in the European Parliament. To the extent that Farage is required to ally with parties from other countries, he prefers Beppe Grillo, the comedian who leads Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star movement.

“I met Beppe Grillo last week … I am hoping we can do a deal with him and our group will sit bang in the middle politically of that parliament with a strong Europsceptic agenda,” Farage told the BBC in an interview…

Farage repeated previous comments that he would not work with France’s National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who this week struck a deal with four other Eurosceptic parties. “They come from a different political family,” he said. “We want nothing to do with that party at all.”

Which brings us to the point. To its great shame, the UK’s Conservative Party *is* now going to work with parties that it calls “unacceptable”, against Farage and the UKIP. Because the Conservative establishment is that frightened of Farage’s upstart movement, or of any effective challenge to Big Government.

I am reminded of nothing so much as how the Republican establishment treats the Tea Party (i.e., stab them in the back whenever possible, and even if it means betraying principles). It’s a sad moment for the once-great party of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.

Europeans getting skeptical on Europe?

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 9:20 am - May 27, 2014.
Filed under: Freedom,Politics abroad

Consider these recent items:

Some of these anti-EU folks are extreme nationalists, but more of them (like the UKIP) simply love liberty, democracy and traditional national sovereignty. The EU establishment hates those things, so look for EU media to try to tar them all as extremists, regardless of truth or facts.

Big Government: Always Looking Out for the Citizenry…

Posted by V the K at 12:11 am - March 9, 2014.
Filed under: Politics abroad

From Canada’s National Post. Your porn is not Canadian enough, CRTC warns erotica channels

For failing to broadcast sufficient levels of Canadian-made pornography — and failing to close-caption said pornography properly — a trio of Toronto-based erotica channels has earned a reprimand from the Canadian Radio-television & Telecommunications Commission.

How does one make pr0n more Canadian? Does it involve maple syrup, bacon, and three month delays for health care?

Mass murder in China

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 2:58 am - March 3, 2014.
Filed under: Gun Control,Politics abroad,Second Amendment

30+ dead and 130+ injured…done with knives:

How much do you want to bet this tragedy took place in a “gun-free zone”? (That entire left-wing dictatorship of a country being such a zone, of course. Communist China does not permit its citizens’ gun rights.)

And how much hand-wringing do you think the Chinese people will do over what *they* supposedly did to cause the tragedy? (As opposed to punishing the actual perpetrators.)

Hat tip Zero Hedge.

Obama: Pandering, Politicizing, and Passive-Aggressive Diplomacy

President Obama will not attend the Sochi Olympics, but to appease his wealthy gay liberal donors show the Russians how miffed he is with recent anti-gay statements and legislation, he is sending lesbian tennis player Billie Jean King (because tennis is such a huge Winter Olympic sport), lesbian hockey player Caitlin Cahow, and Janet Napolitano as part of the US Olympic delegation.

[Edit: Deleted a line about Obama hiding behind Bille Jean King's pantsuit because it would have offended the easily offended.]

I love hockey, and amateur sports in general. But I lost interest in the Olympics a long time ago; one reason is because they have become so hyper-politicized; and the coverage doesn’t focus on the competition, it’s just one profile after another of an athlete overcoming something-or-other to compete at the games. Turning the U.S. Winter Olympic Team into an extension of the Obama Permanent Campaign and Minority Victims Perpetual Grievance Coalition just further politicizes sport; which is something we associate with totalitarian regimes, not a Constitutional Republic.

Venezuela: America’s future?

UPDATE: And a few days earlier, there was state-sanctioned looting:

Nov 9 – Thousands of Venezuelans lined up outside the country’s equivalent of Best Buy…President Nicolás Maduro ordered a military “occupation” of the company’s five stores…”I want a Sony plasma television for the house,” said Amanda Lisboa, 34, a business administrator, who had waited seven hours already outside one Caracas store. “It’s going to be so cheap!”

I’m shaking my head at the short-sightedness. If stores are going to be occupied and looted, then no, Amanda: TVs won’t be cheap.

I’m late getting to this, but from Reuters (via ZH):

Nov 15 – Venezuela’s socialist government has arrested more than 100 “bourgeois” businessmen in a crackdown on alleged price-gouging at hundreds of shops and companies since the weekend, President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday.

“They are barbaric, these capitalist parasites!” Maduro thundered in the latest of his lengthy daily speeches. “We have more than 100 of the bourgeoisie behind bars at the moment.”

Inflation is the problem:

Officials say unscrupulous companies have been hiking prices of electronics and other goods more than 1,000 percent…

To spell it out for any lefties reading this: Companies only do what’s needed to stay afloat – and what the market will bear. It’s the Venezuelan currency that has been printed into oblivion. So yes, inflation.

Naturally, the government claims that its interventions help the poor: (more…)

Must be that smart diplomacy about which we’ve heard tell

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The article, Saudi spy chief says Riyadh to ‘shift away from U.S.’ over Syria, Iran

To be sure, the Saudis have their own problems, but if our diplomats were a bit more, shall we say, deft in the dealings with our allies, we might have been able to avoid this.

UPDATE (from Jeff): Lots of irony here. First, the article sort-of-implies that Saudi Arabia was behind Kerry and Obama’s sudden, urgent push in August for a Syria war. (Once again, the Left *is* what it accuses the Right of.) Second, if the Saudis are shifting ‘away from’ U.S. protection, the article ought to state whose protection they are shifting ‘to’. I’ll say it: either Russia or China. Which is not good. Apart from the implied failure of the U.S. to contain Iran, it brings us a step closer to the world’s eventual rejection of the U.S. dollar as the basis of international trade. Whether through policies of insane spending/deficit/debt at home, or flailing incompetence abroad (no grand scheme), Obama is getting the U.S.’ world position to unravel. “Thanks, Obama!”

Non-socialist parties win in Australia, Norway

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 12:17 am - September 10, 2013.
Filed under: Conservative Movement,Politics abroad

Congratulations to Tony Abbott and Australia’s Liberal Party, for their victory in Australia’s elections on September 7!

Note that “Liberal” is considered conservative, in Australia. I suspect it’s something like “classical liberal” (my own preferred political designation), the concept that it is liberal to believe in liberty, that is, in individual rights under a small(-ish or small-er) government.

HotAir has it covered, including links to Tony Abbott’s victory speech, and a Townhall link about how “War on Women” distraction tactics did not work for Australia’s Left.

As a bonus: Center-right bloc takes power in Norway, headed by Ms. “Iron Erna” Solberg, who also deserves our congratulations. Not that she’s perfect – for example, I do not like what I’ve heard of her past stances in favor of Islamic Sharia councils in Norway – but Norway has turned a new leaf, and let’s hope she leads it wisely.

Freedom of Speech: It must be a two-way street…

…or else it’s just a pretense, a lie.

Reporter James Kirchik, known from TNR and The Advocate, was cut off last week on Russia’s RT network for denouncing Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay law. I’m with Kirchik in opposing the law, which puts speech restrictions on Russian gays.

Don’t get me wrong: As RT were ‘paying for his mic’, they had every right to cut off Kirchik. They have no obligation to provide him with a platform. Still, Kirchik deserves our cheers and thanks for publicly thumbing his nose at a State-funded propaganda network and for defending free speech.

Actions to support free speech, yay! But free speech isn’t free speech, unless disagreeable/bad views may also be expressed. The principle is that anyone advocating bad politics is to be answered by more speech; never to be silenced by law.

And that brings us to the case of the Rev. Scott Lively. In a blog thread last week, rusty brought up Lively, who is being sued in Massachusetts at the behest of a Uganda gay group, for his advocacy of the criminalizing of homosexuality in Uganda.

Criminalizing homosexuality is anti-gay (a term that the Gay Left otherwise uses too much) and a violation of individuals’ natural rights. As such, it’s wrong. But natural rights include free speech and conscience. For someone to merely advocate that homosexuality be criminalized is not a violation of human rights; it is an exercise of them.

See the problem? The pro-gay side is out there using the law to restrict opponents’ political speech, in the name of human rights (which ought to include free speech). So wrong!

Sure, Rev. Lively advocates something dumb and bad. But he has the moral right to do it, which means he ought to have the legal right.

That a U.S.-based court presumes to deal with a Ugandan matter seems odd; but that it does so in order to punish anyone’s political advocacy is a disgrace, a sign of how dangerously low our once-great country has fallen.

SMUG (the Ugandan gay group) is wrong to try to silence Lively with a court case. Given that they are, the MA court should have refused to play along, on the grounds that the MA and U.S. Constitutions guarantee Lively his right to free speech in all political issues, even gay issues, even when international law fails to guarantee it and even, or especially, if Lively’s views are objectionable.

It’s the objectionable views – the ones that the government’s Court itself dislikes – that courts are most obligated to protect. By now, we are used to the Gay Left forgetting such basic principles of freedom and justice, but – “et tu, Massachusetts?”

UPDATE: It just occurred to me that the MA court, and others who blame the Rev. Lively for what Ugandan legislators do, might be infected with a racist premise: the premise that the Ugandans are mere children (intellectually and morally), influenced too easily by the white man (Lively), who is thus accountable for their actions. If true, it would support my earlier post on the racism of the Left in 2013.

NB: I had originally said that Lively was being “prosecuted” in MA, when of course I should have said “sued”. Mistake fixed.

News of the Weird

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 5:06 am - August 27, 2013.
Filed under: North Korea,Politics abroad

It was reported in the Wall Street Journal that North Koreans are massively addicted to crystal meth:

North Korea is experiencing a “drug epidemic,” according to a study published in the Spring 2013 edition of the journal North Korea Review.

“A New Face of North Korean Drug Use: Upsurge in Methamphetamine Abuse Across the Northern Areas of North Korea” explains how during the past several years meth production has gone from government-owned factories to privately run underground laboratories and “home kitchens.”

According to the report, it’s not the first time that a drug originally intended for export into China and beyond ended up flooding North Korea’s domestic market.

Throughout the 1990s and into the next decade, opium was the narcotic of choice for both the cash-strapped Kim Jong Il regime and the populace. But by the mid 2000s, the poppy fields began to disappear and meth became pervasive…

Obama ready to strike in Syria…against America’s will?

To borrow a few lines that Bruce re-tweeted, “I’m so old, I remember the press having a healthy skepticism for military involvement in the Middle East…I’m also glad we amended the constitution to exclude that congressional authorization for war…”

I’m so old, I remember that President Bush actually troubled himself to get approval from Congress for the Iraq War, including a majority of Senate Democrats. But President Obama, with Syria? I doubt he’ll try.

According to Reuters this weekend:

About 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria’s civil war, while just 9 percent thought President Barack Obama should act. More Americans would back intervention if it is established that chemical weapons have been used, but even that support has dipped in recent days…

…just 27 percent said they supported his decision to send arms to some Syrian rebels; 47 percent were opposed…

About 11 percent said Obama should do more to intervene in Syria than sending arms to the rebels, while 89 percent said he should not help the rebels…

Obama is considering a range of options. The most popular option among Americans: not intervening in Syria at all. That option is backed by 37 percent of Americans…

If “Obama” (was Reuters disrespectful for calling him that?) intervenes in Syria, he will be doing it without the support of the American people.

There may be no good options in Syria. Just to review: An Iranian-backed dictatorship is fighting rebels who are, basically, al Qaeda. We have claims that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons; and counter-claims that it was the rebels, running a vicious false flag operation.

UPDATE: Kerry says it was the Syrian government. I must be frank: Hearing it from Kerry makes me a little more skeptical than I was before. The man has been a gigantic, shameless liar on public issues ever since he slandered a generation of veterans in testimony before Congress, in 1971.

I realize that Kerry is backed up, in this instance, by hundreds of functionaries in the Obama administration, and that makes deception less likely (or harder to pull off). But not impossible; and because of Benghazi among other scandals, we know that the Obama administration can be untruthful on foreign policy. They may be telling a true story this time; but skepticism is not wholly unwarranted, and should not be faulted automatically.

If President Obama wanted trust to come forth in a more automatic fashion, then he should have (1) not let his administration mislead the American people on Benghazi, and (2) not chosen a figure known for his decades of lying, as Secretary of State. Having said that, could the administration’s version of events be true? I’m keeping an open mind. Kerry has promised more evidence in days to come; we’ll see.

Egyptians…not loving Obama so much?

In case you haven’t seen this already on The Gateway Pundit:

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“Smart Diplomacy” Illustrated

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:33 pm - July 3, 2013.
Filed under: Blogging,Politics abroad

Screen shot 2013-07-03 at 10.30.32 AM

Egyptian street protestors against Obama?

Click here (or equivalently, here) for “15 Photos From the Tahrir Square Protests You’ll Never See In Legacy Media.”

They’re 15 anti-Obama signs/banners, that seem to be placed prominently among the protestors. Now, I don’t know what that means for the protestors’ (or the Egyptians’) overall feelings about Obama. But if you can find a countervailing link – say, 15 pro-Obama banners from the protestors, or current Egyptian poll results where they love him – please post it in the comments.

UPDATE: From Cairo’s Tora prison, Ousted Mubarak says Mursi should resign to ‘save lives’.

UPDATE: Obama against Egyptian street protestors? The key phrases in his otherwise flowery statement about his love of Egyptian democracy:

I now call on the Egyptian military…to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters. Given today’s developments, I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the government of Egypt.

In other words: Obama may cut off aid to Egypt if the Egyptian military dares to crack down on the Islamo-fascists within their midst, the Muslim Brotherhood. From Wiki’s description of them:

The Brotherhood’s stated goal is to instill the Qur’an and Sunnah as the “sole reference point for …ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community … and state.”The movement is known for engaging in political violence, claiming responsibility for the installment of Hamas, a U.S. designated terrorist organization…Muslim Brotherhood members are suspected to have assassinated political opponents like Egyptian Prime Minister Mahmoud an-Nukrashi Pasha…

But, not to fear: Obama left himself room to wriggle in the other direction. He can still say that he only wanted to avoid “arbitrary” arrests (as opposed to, say, arrests necessary to prevent a civil war) and that he only called for a “review” of U.S. aid.

UPDATE: Did you know that Obama was getting ready to deploy U.S. troops to support Morsi against the Egyptian street protestors? (KCEN-TV report, via The New American.) I had missed it.

Perhaps that is part of what precipitated the Egyptian military’s move against Morsi. That, and Morsi’s plans to intervene in Syria for “the rebels”, the Syrian al Qaeda bunch that Obama also supports.

UPDATE: CNN acknowledges that the Egyptian protests were anti-Obama. (Via Zero Hedge.) So, we cynics were wrong on that point: the U.S. official media has indeed admitted it.

President lashes out at protesters in polarized country

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:18 pm - June 9, 2013.
Filed under: Civil Discourse,Politics abroad,Random Thoughts

Sound familiar?

Recep Tayyip Erdogan traveled to two cities where unrest has occurred and again condemned his detractors as “a handful of looters” and vandals.

In the southern city of Adana, where pro- and anti-government protesters clashed Saturday night, Erdogan greeted supporters from the top of a bus before lashing out at his opponents in the highly polarized country

If he wanted to defuse the situation, he might do well to acknowledge the protestor’s grievances rather than insult them.

Another nation’s leader said that Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey, “is one of the few foreign leaders with whom he has developed “’friendships and the bonds of trust.’

Topless protestors to hound Islamists

This article from Femen, the feminist protest group, just came across HotAir’s Headlines section:

For the past five years now, we here at the international women’s movement Femen have been waging an active campaign of resistance to the patriarchy in various corners of the world…

The most obvious illustration of the patriarchy is Islamic theocracy, a symbiosis of political and religious dictatorship…

At the heart of Islamism lies the enslavement of women based on control over their sexuality…

I hereby both promise and threaten to deploy an entire network of Femen activists in Arab countries. We will hound Islamic leaders across the globe, subjecting them to desolating criticism. We intend to hound spiritual leaders who are personally responsible for mistreating women…

Femen stands for “democracy, atheism, and sexuality” (per the article), and famously protested Vladimir Putin a couple of weeks ago (video here).

I do NOT endorse everything they believe or do[1], but what’s interesting here is the phenomenon of a left-wing protest group realizing that Islamism is a major threat to the freedom that they seek to live out, and declaring their intention to confront Islamism. We see that occasionally, but not often enough. Some other leftists go for safer targets (such as Christians who, in reality, pose no great threat to them).

These women may be in for some rough times, if they carry out their declaration. While not necessarily endorsing all that they do, let’s give them some credit for their new-found insight, and wish them health and safety! (more…)

Who are our Hannans?

I first became aware of Daniel Hannan, a British Conservative Member of the European Parliament (MEP), in the spring of 2009 after the video of his speech attacking Gordon Brown went viral.  Over the past few years, he has continued to garner attention here, “across the pond,” for other speeches, and he has been a repeat guest on conservative talk radio and Fox News.

This past weekend, Anne Sorock at Legal Insurrection linked to his recent take down of the Occupy Movement from an appearance at the Oxford Union.

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It is an impressive performance.  Hannan not only delivers a ringing endorsement of capitalism and an indictment of the bailouts, but he also explains the links between what the Occupy crowd says it wants and today’s economic woes, and he does so with a force and a clarity that is thrilling to witness.

Watching it, I was struck by how much Hannan reminded me of some of the clips I’ve seen of Margaret Thatcher’s appearances before the House of Commons during her time as Prime Minister, particularly this one from her last appearance.  I had to wonder if Hannan’s career might in time resemble Thatcher’s and if some day he will be the Prime Minister of Great Britain.

At the same time, though, I have to wonder: who are the Hannans here in the U.S.?   When Romney selected Paul Ryan as his running mate, I had hopes that he would provide such clear-spoken explanations of conservative economics on the campaign trail.  While it’s quite possible he did and the press did its best to muzzle them, I suspect that, in actuality, they were few and far between, as the Romney campaign seems to have been reluctant to hit the Obama administration too hard.  In the past few weeks, many conservatives have been talking about recent statements made by Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Rand Paul, and even the newly-minted Senator Ted Cruz from Texas.  So are any of these men likely to be our Hannans?  If not, then who might be?

Does Benghazi attack aftermath reveal an incompetent administration or one that politicizes with national security?

For the past forty-eight hours or so, I have been printing and reading articles, saving links and collecting notes for a blog post on the Obama administration’s reaction to the terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya and the murder of our ambassador there.  I had a basic notion of my general theme, then last night, reading Michael Barone’s excellent piece on Obama’s campaign from the past, found that he had nicely, succinctly summarized my argument:

Biden’s [denying "that the White House knew that Ambassador Christopher Stevens was attacked by terrorists rather than in a spontaneous demonstration prompted by an anti-Islam video"] statement was either an untruth or a confession of incompetence. If the State Department had the information, why didn’t the White House?

Emphasis added.  And that is the nub of the matter.  The State Department, the intelligence community knew that this was an act of terror  Moreover, State was aware that we needed to beef up security at our consulate in Tripoli.

So, let’s say (for the sake or argument) that no one in the White House was aware of information that was in the hands of other members of the administration.  These members of the administration, at the State Department — and in various intelligence agencies — surely saw other administration officials offering incorrect information to the public.  Didn’t they have a system in place to alert White House officials to their errors?

In this case, to borrow Barone’s expression, Biden’s statement was an incredible “confession of incompetence.”  With his denial, he acknowledge then that officials in the Obama administration failed to communicate important national security information to the Obama White House.

If this is their story, why then haven’t they announced a shake-up in the way the intelligence community communicates with the White House?  Why aren’t they asking the individuals who failed to communicate the information to step down? (more…)