Sunday, October 19, 2014

Scenes of Democrat tolerance

Bobby Jindal used four teeny weeny messages to cut through the noise around the Obama administration's ineptitude.

Here is a screenshot of the first one:

This gave us an opportunity once more to see what happens when minorities in the U.S. do not act in accordance with the wishes of the "liberal" crowd.

According to these people, it is somehow OK to say Go back to India to a U.S. citizen born in Baton Rouge, but not OK to criticize the Federal Government that issued a visa to a person from a country where a dangerous disease runs rampant. According to these people, it is unacceptable to deny subsidized tuition to people who are in the United States illegally, but it is OK to tell the American-born American governor of an American state to go "back" to India.

Here are the four incisive tweets that lay bare our predicament:

Winter is coming … and it is going to be a long one.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Do you think you understand what Iran is doing?

Here are two reports.

One, from Yahoo! News, via AFP:

Iran trying to convince Turkey to save Kobane

Tehran (AFP) - Iran has begun talks with Turkey aimed at convincing it to help stop Islamic State group jihadists from taking the key Syrian border town of Kobane, an official said Thursday.

The person who wrote this report, and the person who are the headline, are illiterate.

Here is what the second paragraph says:

"Iran will take any action to help the Kurdish (people) of Kobane in the framework of the support that it provides to the Syrian government to combat terrorism," Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdollahian said, quoted by the official IRNA news agency.

That means, Iran is telling to Turkey not to even consider intervening in Syria.

If you don't get that, you are not qualified to offer any opinion in any international matter.

The second report, this time from Iran's PressTV, is much more honest:

Iran warns Turkey over military presence in Syria

ran has warned the government of Turkey against possible military intervention in Syria as ISIL Takfiri terrorists close in on the Syrian town of Kobani near the Arab country’s border with Turkey.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Thursday that Tehran and Turkey are in consultation over the situation in the Kurdish city, noting that the Islamic Republic has warned Turkey against ground operations in Syria.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will take any necessary action to help the Kurds in Kobani in line with its support for the Syrian government in its fight against terrorism,” added Amir-Abdollahian.

Both reports are based on the same source and the same words. For some reason, the AFP portrays this as the wonderful and kind Mullahs of Iran begging Turkey to help.

Iran's PressTV accurately portrays the statement as a threat to Turkey to stay out.

And, Mr. President and his botoxed bosom buddy Kerry want Turkey to invade Syria without committing to supporting her when Russia, and Iran make good on their threats.

Democrats' idiocy kills real people

New York Times shouts from the rooftops Turkish Inaction on ISIS Advance Dismays the U.S.. Apparently, Chicken-in-Chief Obama does not like Turkey's stance:

Even as it stepped up airstrikes against the militants Tuesday, the Obama administration was frustrated by what it regards as Turkey’s excuses for not doing more militarily.

And, some anonymous turd in the administration that lost Iraq and Afghanistan, that messed up Libya and Egypt, was frustrated:

“This isn’t how a NATO ally acts while hell is unfolding a stone’s throw from their border,” said the official, who spoke anonymously to avoid publicly criticizing an ally.

Let's deconstruct that, shall we?

First, President Obama abandoned Iraq. This was a move akin to all American military withdrawing from Europe right after Hitler killed himself, and leaving the entire European continent to the Russians. The void in Iraq was filled by Iran where they could, but vast areas remained beyond reach of official Iraqi security forces where bloody-thirsty Muslim terrorists grew in influence, and spread into Syria.

Now, in the aftermath of the killing of two Americans, Mr. President thinks he must do something to save a little bit of the election for his party. Therefore, he wants to appear to be tough enough in the eyes of those stupid enough to have brought his party to power, and those who are even stupider to want to keep it in power. Therefore, with no strategy other than a desire to avoid personal embarrassment, he is using really expensive military hardware to tickle ISIS occasionally.

In this environment, he and his aides are apparently pushing Turkey to unilaterally invade Syria. Let's repeat that: The administration that did not back Turkey up when Syria shot down an unarmed Turkish reconnaissance plane, the administration that did not follow through on their red line against Syria, wants the Turkish military to invade Northern Syria.

Let me remind the Democrats among you about basic geography: Turkey has looong land borders with Syria, Iraq, and Iran:

Both Iran and Syria are supported by Russia.

United States and other supposed NATO "allies" have shown that they do not have the strength to stand up against Russia, neither in Europe, or in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Let's say the Turkish Army invades Syria. What happens then?

To answer that question, we just need to look at the current disorder that, to the untrained eye, seems to have come from nowhere.

For decades, the Assad family provided safe haven to various terrorist groups in Damascus. Throughout the Cold War, the Soviet Union used Syria to undermine the stability of NATO's Mediterranean front. In the late 70s and early 80s, members of various leftist terrorist groups from Turkey found safe-haven in Syria. Among them were the leaders of the PKK, a Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization.

On the one hand, you hear stories that PKK supporters and sympathizers in Turkey are burning buildings with people in them, shooting, beating cops, looting ATMs and shopping centers, because they want the the Turkish Army to violate the territorial integrity of Syria, and help their compatriots.

On the other hand, your logic ought to tell you, if a more effective way to mobilize the Turkish public and government would be not to try to kill people, burn buildings, and destroy other property. After all, most of the Turkish public has no sympathy for crazy Muslim terrorists. What they have less sympathy for, however, is supporters of a terrorist organization which is responsible for deaths of tens of thousands of Turkish citizens.

There is no easier way to create chaos in Turkey than to have PKK supporters start killing, burning, and destroying.

Western press may claim that this outbreak of violence in many Turkish population centers is being created by the concern among Kurds in Turkey for their compatriots in Syria, but that is BS. Turkey has provided refuge to more than 150,000 Kurds since the most recent ISIS offensive started, and allowed him almost two million refugees since the start of the Syrian civil war.

In reality, the current reign of chaos in Turkey is being directed by Putin himself via Damascus. It was Putin's KGB who fed and groomed the PKK, via Assad Sr., and it is Putin who is moving the pieces again.

The purpose is the same as before: Turkey, whose position of controlling Russia's access to the Mediterranean, is a strategic obstacle that must be removed. Outright invasion might be risky, but a Turkish government weakened by internal chaos would still do.

So, let's say a foolish Turkish government decided to do as Obama and Kerry tell them: Let's say the Turkish Army invaded Syria tomorrow. Say, Assad does not appreciate this violation of Syria's borders, and declares that it considers this operation casus belli.

Now, Turkey is at war with Syria.

Putin says he is sending help to Syria via the Turkish Straits.

If Turkey does not allow the Russian ships to go to Assad's aid, Turkey is at war with Russia as well.

If Turkey does allow Russians to send help to Syria, well, Turkey is at war with Russia in that situation, too.

Do you think any NATO member country, including the United States, would risk fighting Russia to help Turkey?

The PKK would also immediately launch a public relations campaign, telling everyone and anyone that Turkey is using the excuse of stopping ISIS' advance to exterminate Kurds in Syria.

Most importantly, the election in the United States would be over, and Mr. President would no longer have any reason to worry about the Middle East.

Many thousands of Turks would end up dying just like the hundreds of thousands others killed as a consequence of Mr. President's choices.

I am not a fan of President Erdogan. But, in this instance, just as John McCain also points out, he is right: Turkey cannot go it alone. She must secure United States' and NATO's commitment before any irreversible action:

Oct 09 2014
STATEMENT BY SENATORS McCAIN AND GRAHAM ON TURKEY AND THE FIGHT AGAINST ISIS

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today released the following statement on Turkey and the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS):

“The growing criticism of Turkey for not acting to save Kobani does not reflect the reality on the ground that both ISIS and Bashar al-Assad must be defeated. We certainly believe Turkey should play a greater role in the fight against ISIS, and we have disagreed in recent years with some of Turkey’s policies and actions in the Middle East, especially on Israel and the management of its border with Syria.

“In this instance, however, President Erdogan has said that we need an international strategy not just to destroy ISIS, but also to force Assad to leave power and end the conflict in Syria – for the former objective cannot succeed without the latter. This strategy, Erdogan has said, must include the establishment of safe zones in Syria for civilians and opposition forces, protected by no-fly zones – a strategy we have long advocated and continue to believe is vital to success in both Syria and Iraq.

“This view is shared by many of our friends and allies in the Middle East. We are confident that if President Obama adopted a strategy took the steps that Turkish leaders are advocating to deal with Assad as well as ISIS, he would have significant support from our regional partners, including Turkish military involvement, which can be so important to success.”

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Turkey did not break NATO

This morning, I woke up to an infuriating editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

It is a pity Bill Clinton and Barack Obama worked so hard to break NATO. It is an even greater pity that they have succeeded.

First, ponder the following questions:

  1. Which European countries would be willing to invoke Article 5 to help Turkey in case of all out war between among Turkey, Syria, and Iran?

  2. Which European countries would actually be able to help Turkey militarily in such a case?

  3. Would President Obama risk a nuclear confrontation with Russia to save Turkey?

In the Middle East, President Obama has been trying to outdo every previous stupid decision with a stupider new decision over and over again.

His first stupid decision was to undermine the U.S. war effort, among with his fellow Democrats, starting almost immediately after the decision to invade Iraq. Once he became president, he immediately decided to undermine the only uprising in the Middle East he should have supported. He immediately followed that with declarations of American weakness, and hightailed it out of Iraq to create a void to be filled by Russians and Iranians.

Having declared and followed through on U.S. weakness, he went on an Arab Spring rampage, demolishing existing systems while the U.S. military was used as a tool to eliminate existing structures in haste. Libyans are now worse off than they had been under Gaddafi. Egyptians are now worse off than they had been under Mubarak. Iraqis are now much worse off than they had been during the worst days following OIF.

This clueless U.S. President's feckless policies are responsible for incredible death and destruction.

In Syria, the Obama administration recruited Turkey to channel support for the rebels. Turkey also shouldered the responsibility of accommodating an incredible number of refugees. According to the UNHCR, there are 850,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey. That is about 1% of the whole population. In border areas, Syrian refugees have been overwhelming local populations.

Of course, there is no reason to assume that only innocent people recorded by humanitarian agencies have made through the border. In fact, a lot of really unsavory characters, representatives of the "Syrian opposition", had been meeting openly with U.S. representatives in Istanbul and Ankara, until the U.S. decided to abandon President Obama's red line last year.

Turkey faces a significant threat of domestic upheaval caused by the fact that it had to absorb a huge flow of humanity created by the fact that Assad decided to call his old American friends' bluff (remember when Democrats supported Assad because he was undermining the Bush administration?)

As the U.S. seemed about ready to intervene forcefully in Syria last year, Putin pulled the reins on Obama, and the U.S. butted out of the Russians' way. Now, Putin is organizing an Assad comeback.

It is not hard to imagine he would try to provide more support to help Assad in the presence of U.S. and allied forces pounding positions in Syria. One way he would do that is by sending ships through Istanbul straits. Would Obama just sit there, and watch the Russian Navy once again kick American forces out of the region?

Or, would the U.S. ask Turkey to try to prevent the Russians from crossing the straits?

Where would that confrontation go?

Could Turkey rely on U.S. and NATO support in the face of Russian aggression even if Putin were to not so subtly threaten use of nuclear weapons?

The answers to none of these questions is heartening.

President Obama, and the Democrats broke the one thing that used to hold NATO together: The credible threat that anyone attacking a NATO country would find the full might of the United States of America bearing down on them.

By declaring at the outset that the U.S. is not willing to do anything other than bomb from air, and maybe say nonsensical things at rallies, Obama has ensured that neither friend nor foe can expect Article 5 of NATO to be upheld.

Given his history of non-committal violent action, it is folly to expect the current U.S. action across Syria and Iraq to lead to anyplace good for the inhabitants of the region.

It is not surprising that others do not want to follow him to the hell he has been creating the moment his ambitions propelled him to the national political stage.

As for the person who wrote the Wall Street Journal editorial: You are clueless, my friend.

When the then freshly elected Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tried to get a resolution to allow 4th ID to be based in Turkey prior to OIF, his efforts were undermined mainly not by Islamists, but the so called "secular" factions of Turkish society. The milder segments of those factions are connected more to the Democrat-voting, Vietnam-abandoning, New York Times-reading crowd in the United States than anything else. The less mild segments of those factions are remnants of various Red groups, fed mostly by the KGB during the 70s.

More to the point, the Turkish opposition to full-fledged Turkish support for Operation Iraqi Freedom was much more closely aligned with Obama's and the rest of the Democrats' view points than anything else. The failure of Mr. Erdoğan government to pass a resolution through the parliament at that point was due to such opposition, fueled also by the propaganda disseminated by 9/11 Truther groups nurtured by the Democrat and liberal establishment in the United States.

Despite the failure of the resolution, then Prime Minister Erdoğan's support for OIF caused a significant segment of Turkish society to label him as a puppet of the U.S. and Israel, and made him vulnerable to the only real political opposition he faced—harder line Islamist challengers.

After working the Obama administration to support Syrian rebels, his government was left to pick up the pieces following Obama's abandonment of Syria at Putin's behest. The Turkish press have been publicizing the ISIS threat for more than a year. Thanks to an Iraqi Army which President Obama abandoned, ISIS is holding quite a few Turks hostage.

Do you think Turkey would remain stable at all if ISIS savages chopped the heads of a few hundred Turks?

In the United States, we have a President who does not take the Cold War seriously. Whose ideology is more in line with Dev-Genç and Dev-Sol, and their derivatives, than Reagan's.

In Washington D.C., we have a President who mocked Romney because he understood the Russian threat.

A President who promised Putin that he would be more flexible after the 2012 election.

A President who stands by as a former KGB source becomes the next NATO general secretary.

Put simply, the current U.S. action in Iraq, and the rest of the Middle East has no hope of success (by any reasonable definition of success). There is no vision, there is no thinking beyond the U.S. elections in November. In the coming months, when Europeans are freezing, when Russia annexes more of Ukraine, when it bullies more former Iron Curtain countries, would a United States of America that has essentially abandoned Israel in the Middle East hesitate to abandon Turkey?

Why would anyone descend into a pit with such a President's rope (as one would put it in Turkish)?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Arctic sea ice extent seems not have reached its minimum for the year, yet

A few days ago, I wondered out loud if Arctic sea ice extent had reached its minimum for this year. The graph up to that point seemed to indicate that.

As if to highlight once again the perils of visual extrapolation, the numbers started decreasing at rates much higher than last year's. The last few days saw sea ice extent in the Arctic decline by 0.71%, 0.97%, and 0.83%, well above the 0.22% average daily decline for the first two weeks in September 2013.

In 2013, ice extent reached its minimum on September 12 which does dampen that rate. If this year's decline continues at a sustained rate of 0.52% per day until then, by September 15 this year's Arctic sea ice extent will be less than next year's.

In the graph below, the orange dots are this year's data, blue dots are extrapolated from the last available data point assuming a 0.52% daily rate of decrease.

Currently, this year's level is 126,397 km² greater than last year's. But, that difference can close fast.

And, if this year's minimum level is even 1 km² lower than last year's, you can bet a number of people will act as if Al Gore was right.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Democrat Effect on Family Incomes

Back before the 2008 election, I challenged the notion that the American middle class has been shrinking. I presented a graph showing the percentage of American families with more than $75,000 annual pretax income in inflation adjusted dollars had been steadily increasing in the previous decades. All dollar amounts are real 2012 dollars.

Census data being what it is, the data set I used for my 2008 post only covered the period before the Democrats took control over both houses of the U.S. Congress, and set us and the world on a disastrous path in pursuit of power.

In 1967, only 9.9 million, that is, 20% of American families had annual pretax incomes above $75,000. By the time Reagan came to office in 1981, that number had almost doubled to 18.7 million, representing 31% of families. In 1993, the year Bill Clinton was sworn in, the number stood at 25.3 million, corresponding to 37% of families. The first year of George W. Bush's first term, the year terrorists launched mass attacks against targets in the U.S., the number was up to 32.9 million (44% of families).

In the subsequent years, the number of families with pretax incomes greater than $75,000 grew to 35.1 million (45% of families). Then came the overreaction to the 2008 crisis, and silly Keynesian interventions, championed by then Senator, and President Obama.

As a result, by 2012, the number of families with pretax incomes greater than $75,000 had fallen to 33.5 million representing 41% of all families.

This matters because despite all the president's talk about soaking the rich, he can't finance his plans that way.

It matters that median real pretax family income in 2007 was $67,944, and it went down to $62,241, declining by 8.4%.

It matters not just because of the fact that most transfer programs determine eligibility in terms of pretax income (i.e. now you need to take more from people who produce more, reducing productive incentives), but it also matters because while money is not happiness, we have the potential to make ourselves and others happier when we have more resources.

Six year of ruinous policies both at home and abroad have painted us in a corner. There are no good alternatives left.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Revisiting the scary DJIA crystal ball

It has been about 6 ½ months since I looked at the scary DJIA graph supposedly making the rounds in Wall Street circles.

I thought this was as good a time as any to update my version of the graph.

In my version, instead of giving me infinite freedom in lining up two separate time series, I choose meaningful 11 year periods, one covering January 1, 1920 through December 31, 1930, and the other covering January 1, 2004 through today to correspond to the depression, and modern eras, respectively, Within those periods, I lined up trading days (again, to remove my ability to move around lines until they matched). This means September 2, 2014 is the 2638rd trading day since the beginning of the modern period, and is matched with December 17, 1928.

At the end of yesterday's trading day, DJIA stood at 17,067.56, about 64% higher than its January 2, 2004 level. In comparison, on December 17, 1928, DJIA closed 150% higher than its January 1, 1920 level.

Back in February, if one expected DJIA to follow the depression era path, it looked poised to soar to amazing heights. Sure, it's kept its upward momentum, but so far has not followed the giant zit like climb predicted by the original "Scary DJIA" graph.

For comparison, here are three graphs: The original "Scary DJIA" graph cited by various news sources, my version of it from February, and the updated version using data up to today:

I do consider the coming months to be fraught with danger and instability. However, war in Europe, and the Middle East will have crippling effects on our, and other economies throughout the world. That means, we may get the crash without the giant bubble. It might also mean the U.S. stock market might be the least bad place for all sorts of money to escape to. At this point, it is pretty difficult to tell what effect the combination of a crippling winter, war & destruction, irresponsible economic policies, and a rock-star-wannabe U.S. president in an election environment will do to U.S. financial markets.

So, don't believe crystal balls, and look to the future.

I do not give investment advice. I am not an investment adviser. Nothing I say should be construed as giving investment advice. All trademarks belong to their respective owners. The McClellan/DeMark chart reproduced to put my comments in context.