Obama's policies ARE Bush's policies--on steroids. And you are right, they have changed nothing for the better. Which is essentially my point. It's time for us to take a less ideologically blinkered look at the causes of anti-American violence and not simply assume that "they" hate us for totally irrational reasons. The vast majority of the world's Muslims don't hate us period. And maybe we would be better off and safer if we took the time to figure out why the others do instead of just assuming that they are driven by mindless fanaticism. Now maybe there is nothing that we can or should do differently from what first Bush and now Obama have done; but I'd like to feel some confidence in that conclusion based on something other than a narrowly bigoted view of Islam in particular and Muslims in general.
I'm not quite sure what your point is. You don't seem to be denying that Arab and Muslim resentment at American support for Israel is a motive for jihadist attacks, which is one of Falk's claims.
As for the idea that Islam is eternally hostile to "the West" I have to say that just isn't historically accurate. Various religions have been dominant in various empires. The Romans, the Greeks, the Chinese, the Mongols, the Ottoman Turks, and the British have all been empire builders and their dominant religions have been pagan, Confucian, Islamic and Christian. Jews prospered for centuries under Islamic rule in various countries and suffered horribly at the hands of Christians in others. Jews in Moorish Spain were accepted; their descendents were expelled from Christian Spain. And so on.
Both early Christianity and early Islam were intensely proslytizing religions that spread like wildfire through their respective parts of the ancient world. It was inevitable that they would come in conflict . Christiantiy was no less eager than Islam to dominate the populations among which it became established, and just as willing to kill and conquer in the name of God.
As the saying goes, "Even the Devil can cite Scripture." You may not like Falk's politics, but his statement that American support for Israel is a motive in many of the jihadist attacks is hard to disagree with. American support for Israel comes at a cost. It's a cost that most of us are quite willing to pay, but there's no point in denying its reality.
Similarly, revenge for American drone strikes is--according to reports in the press--a motive for the actions of the Boston bombers. Whether those press reports are true or not, it is certainly true that some jihadists have that motive.
In other words, you don't have to endorse Falk's politics to agree with at least some of his statements.
As for your remarks about President Obama, they are borderline silly. Even Bibi Netanyahu, who doesn't like Barack Obama, admits that he has been a stauch supporter of Israel. And Obama has been far more aggressive than Bush ever was in in finding and killing jihadist leaders, starting with bin Laden. Indeed, it's the very success of the targeted killing of Al qaida leaders that has given at least some jihadists a motive for trying to strike at us.
Anyone who types a lot knows that keystroke errors are a fact of life. Most of the time it makes no difference. If I type "thimk" instead of "think" in a post'; the typical reader auto-corrects my error unconsciously. No harm, no foul. Of course, there are consequential errors: if your pharmacist types "11 times a day" instead of "1 time a day" the results are not likely to be pretty. In academic publications, the keystroke error rates are really, really low. the researchers are careful, their work is proof-read, and then reviewed by peers. So when a consequential keystroke error surfaces in an academic publication, it's big news.
Harvard Professors Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart now know this very well. In their tremendously influential book "It's Different This Time" (a book that I recommended on this message board shortly after it came out) R&R concluded on the basis of a gigantic amount of historical research, that when a country's sovereign debt reaches 90% of GDP, bad things almost inevitably happen: runaway inflation followed by economic collapse. The only problem is that it's not true. That ominous conclusion is the result of a keystroke entry error in a Microsoft Excel program. The error was uncovered by two economists at UMass Amherst who published their results last week.
It's hard to overstate how influential the R&R 90%-of-GDP conclusion has been. It has been cited over and over as justification for austerity policies around the world including the United States. And now it turns out, when the keystroke error is corrected, that the R&R data show that numerous countries have exceeded that limit without dire consequences.
"It's Different This Time" is still a valuable book that collects an enormous amount of historical data on the relationship of public debt and economic well-being. But unfortunately for its authors, the data, when correctly input, tell a different story from the one they announced.
You and I actually agree more than we disagree. Number 1 among the corrupt regimes that we prop up is Saudi Arabia, and they are also the number 1 source of jihadists (I prefer that name to "terrorist" because it is specific to the small group of radical Islamists who have been behind most of the terror attacks in recent years.). I know nothing about the Saudi allegedly rushed out of the US, not even if the story has any truth to it. You'll recall almost the identical story being told about Bush and one or more Saudi nationals in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. But I woudln't be surprised if it were true.
Where we disagree, I think, is in attempting to fathom the motives of jihadists. Now maybe there isn't one motive, maybe there are many. X wants his family to get the money the kingdom of Saudi Arabia will pay if he becomes a "martyr", Y hates the USA for killing his parents with a drone, Z wants to establish a world-wide caliphate, etc. What I'm suggesting is that our approach of the past 20 years has not worked very well and maybe we could think about an alternate approach, based on a less rigid view of why these people do what they do. The costs of our policy failures, monetary and human, have been gigantic and that fact alone ought to prompt some re-thinking.
Finally, as for Chechens, they are among the most violence-prone people on earth: if you don't believe me, just ask any Russian.
There are more than 1 billion Muslims in the world and more than 6 million of them live in the United States. 99.99 percent of them are not terrorists or radicals who want a global caliphate. Treating all Muslims as potential terrorists is as ridiculous as treating all Irishmen as potential terrorists because the IRA was a terrorist organization. Were these two guys "devout" Muslims? Not judging by their pre-bombing behavior, given what little we actually know of it.
No religion that proslytizes is a "religion of peace". More people have been murdered in the name of Christ than in the name of Mohammed. As the lyrics of "Onward Christian Soldiers" remind us, the cross and the cannon have had a cozy relationship for centuries.
But I digress. Just try to imagine how you would feel toward the Chinese if, for example, they had invaded and occupied this country, deposed our elected leaders, put in their own puppets, and killed or imprisoned any dissenters. You would just love them to pieces, right? Well, that's what we did in Iraq and what we are doing in Afghanistan. And surprise, surprise: they don't love us and neither do their friends and relatives. But we should have expected that response: we watched as the Afghans drove out the Russians for doing the same stuff we're doing, so what made us think the Afghans would like us any better? And Iraq? Yes, Saddam was brutal dictator. Good riddance. Just too bad we had to kill half a milion of his countrymen and send another 3-4 million into exile while getting rid of him. And what replaced him? A Shia head of state who was trained in Iran and who is closer to Ahmadinijad than to Obama.
As I say, we could try doing nothing, it just might work.
(and that is a mighty big IF) the Boston bombers were radicalized by America's invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. For the moment, accept that as a fact. From it flows an entirely different narrative about terrorism, Islam and the appropriate foreign policy response of the United States to upheavals in the Islamic world than the George Bush "they hate us for our freedoms" meme. What if "they" don't hate us for our freedoms? What if "they" hate us for invading their countries, killing their friends and relatives, destroying their infrastructure, propping up their puppet governments, and through our proxies, subjecting them to the rule of feudal monarchs who bleed their countries dry while enriching themselves? If that is why they hate us, then the first and most important thing we could do is stop. Stop bombing and shooting them. Stop supporting their Kings, Emirs, and assorted dictators. Stop demonizing the opponents of these feudal monarchs. The second most important thing we coulde do? Go. Leave those countries, pull out our troops, our advisors, our contractors. Go home.
Might just work.
Here is the holding in Miranda vs. Arizona: 384 U.S. 436 (1966), The Court held that both inculpatory and exculpatory statements made in response to interrogation by a defendant in police custody will be admissible at trial only if the prosecution can show that the defendant was informed of the right to consult with an attorney before and during questioning and of the right against self-incrimination prior to questioning by police, and that the defendant not only understood these rights, but voluntarily waived them.
Your statement "everyone can be questioned" is literally true but so what? All you are saying is that the cops may choose to trample on your rights. Under Miranda, you have a right to the assistance of counsel and you have a right to be informed of your right to counsel before you're interrogated. You can waive that right explicitly and (in 2010) the current Supreme Court held that you can waive it implicitly. But you can't read it out of the Constitution.
As for the claim made by another poster in this thread that the 6th Amendment right to counsel is only available to citizens, that's just plain wrong. Here's the full text of the 6th
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."
Notice:" in ALL criminal prosecutions, the ACCUSED etc". Nothing in there about only citizens having rights.
Any arrested person has a Constitutional right to the assistance of counsel before he is questioned. If public safety requires an exception in this case, the government is going to have to prove it. And because we are talking about overriding a Constitutional right, the standard of proof is going to be high, something like "clear and convincing" rather than "preponderance of the evidence." Tsarnaev is in custody, his brother is dead, and there's little to suggest that they were part of a larger conspiracy. Where is the threat to public safety?
You want to rioting in the streets? Have a judge throw out the case against Tsarnaev because the cops failed to read him his rights. The hysterical responses by people like Lindsay Graham and John McCain, who ought to know better, bring to mind Ben Franklin's remark to the effect that those who are willing to trade essential liberty for a little security deserve neither liberty nor security.
It's funny how people think that public transit has to pay for itself while it's OK that highways get subsidized by the tens of billions of dollars. California's freeway system is enormous, covering endless acres of land with concrete, all of it subsidized by taxpayers. A high speed train will avoid the necessity of building even more highways, move millions of people at a fraction of the cost of having them drive, produce far fewer emissions than the cars that would otherwise be carrying those people, etc.
In evaluating the proposed high speed train, you have to ask: what's the alternative? More highways, more cars, more airports? The population of the state is going to keep growing for the forseeable future so the need for transportation corridors is going to grow right along with it. One way or another, those people are going to continue to travel back and forth between Los Angeles and San Francisco, so doing nothing is not an option.
In that context, the highi-speed train looks like a rational response to a real problem. And the people of California seem to think so, since they voted to tax themselves to build it.
I have to laugh. The first mile of track has yet to be laid and you're already confident that it is a waste of money. Perhaps if you spent time driving between LA and San Francisco, as I do quite often, you might have a different view of the matter. Traffic congestion in both cities is terrible. Air ports are crowded and expensive and when you add in the time to get from, say, LAX to downtown LA, you're lucky if you can make the trip in 4-5 hours.
As for the price, a public subsidy of $100 million a year for a safe, comfortable, relaxing way to go between those cities looks pretty cheap to me.
Great to know you are still around.
I'm sorry you were freezing your tootsies in formerly toasty Florida but weird weather is going to be more and more the rule going forward.
Alas, as much as I like you--and you know I do--you and I are never going to agree about climate change. So what-- there's more to life than CO2 emissions! I assume you are back in Michigan where it will shortly be 98 degrees in the shade....
What is it about scientific data on climate change that brings out the crazies? Do they think we don't know that the earth has long-term climate cycles? Do they think that scientists are just making up the changes in arctic ice melt rates? Do they think that we can't measure the volume of land ice in Antarctica and Greenland and convert it into sea water volumes? Do they think we don't know that when the earth was warmer, the oceans covered large parts of what are now the continental coasts? Do they think we don't appreciate the world's need for energy and the benefits of economic growth in relieving poverty and suffering? More generally, do they think at all? From the evidence on this board, I would have to conclude the answer is "No."
Parts of coastal Virginia are at the highest risk in the continental US from a combination of increased water volume due to land ice runoff, thermal expansion, and land subsidence. A modest sea leve rise would render Newport News and surrounding areas uninhabitable due to flooding.
On April 14, the journal Nature Geoscience published the results of a new study of Antarctic land ice melt. Here is the abstract:
"Over the past 50 years, warming of the Antarctic Peninsula has been accompanied by accelerating glacier mass loss and the retreat and collapse of ice shelves. A key driver of ice loss is summer melting; however, it is not usually possible to specifically reconstruct the summer conditions that are critical for determining ice melt in Antarctic. Here we reconstruct changes in ice-melt intensity and mean temperature on the northern Antarctic Peninsula since AD 1000 based on the identification of visible melt layers in the James Ross Island ice core and local mean annual temperature estimates from the deuterium content of the ice. During the past millennium, the coolest conditions and lowest melt occurred from about AD 1410 to 1460, when mean temperature was 1.6 °C lower than that of 1981–2000. Since the late 1400s, there has been a nearly tenfold increase in melt intensity from 0.5 to 4.9%. The warming has occurred in progressive phases since about AD 1460, but intensification of melt is nonlinear, and has largely occurred since the mid-twentieth century. Summer melting is now at a level that is unprecedented over the past 1,000 years. We conclude that ice on the Antarctic Peninsula is now particularly susceptible to rapid increases in melting and loss in response to relatively small increases in mean temperature."
The newly documented melt rate exceeds the worst-case scenarios of consensus climate models and implies a sea level rise of one foot by 2050.
My crystal ball is notoriously cloudy, but when all the public data are signalling a long period of low to negative inflation, I think I'd be foolish to ignore them and rely on my gut feel instead.
As for the dollar being replaced by another currency or a basket of currencies, wasn't that supposed to happen with the Euro? Oops. Given the long track record of political stability in the United States, and the size of the American economy, it will be hard to find a replacement for the dollar as the basic unit of international trade. Not impossible, I grant you, but difficult.
As usual, I fail to understand your need to be contrary. I pointed out that the 2d Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. So what are you arguing about? As for the DC/Maryland example, as far as I can tell, you're making the same point I did about the proximity of easy access to guns. I agree with you about the rights that citizens have to own guns; the only difference between us appears to be that I think gun ownership is stupid and you don't.
If Congress passes a background check law, it may make people feel good--"See, we did something!" --but, it is unlikely to reduce significantly the rate of gun slaughter. As I've argued before, time and effort would be better spent on an advertising campaign to give people a more realistic understanding of the risks of gun ownership.
As you know if you've read my posts, I don't own a gun and think that people who own guns are, by and large, foolish to do so. But I am also skeptical that state and local gun-control ordinances are going to do anything to reduce the rate of firearms homicides and injuries. The city I live in has a strict gun-control ordinance. It is less than 5 minutes drive from my home to an adjacent city, where there is a gun shop with 100 yards of the city line. Nothing that my city can do prevents somebody from making that 5 minute drive and getting any weapons he is legally entitled to own.
As much as you might want to read the 2d Amendment as conferring only a limited right to bear arms in connection with membership in a militia (or its modern-day equivalent, the National Guard) the Supreme Court has already ruled that the 2d Amendment confers an individual right to bear arms. So there is no national lrgislation beyond background that has anyy chance of survovong a constitutional challenge.
There are actually two decisions to make. (1) Should I stay in gold, given what the market is telling me about long-term interest rates and future demand? Answer: No. (2) Should I invest in stocks, given the same data? Answer: What else is there that will give me a shot at a decent return? If there is another recession stocks will suffer as they did the last time around, but gold won't provide any shelter from the storm. Gold is an inflation hedge, and as I've written, the markets are predicting little to no inflation, together with a non-zero risk of deflation.
Of course, if you hang around long enough, every prediction tends to come true. Even Jim Glassman's infamous DOW 30,000 will happen some day; it's just not likely to be soon. So unless you have an infinite time horizon for your investments, you've got to make decisions based on what is going to happen while it still matters to you. A young investor might therefore make a very different decision from an old guy like me. An investor sitting on a pile of assets that he wants to preserve will likewise make a different decision from an investor seeking to build up his assets or recoup serious losses. But no matter how you slice it, unless you see high and continuing inflation occurring during your personal investment period, you don't want to be in gold.
Gold has lost another 8% in value versus last week as I write these words, completing a drop of more than 25% over the past year. So the relevant question is, Why is gold dropping?
For an answer, look no further than bond yields, public and private. The nominal interest rate you earn on gold, like the nominal interest rate you earn on the money stuffed in your mattress, is zero. The real interest rate, adjusted for inflation, is around -2%. The real interest rate on 10-year Treasuries is negative, the real rate on 20-year Treasuries is 0, and the real rate on thirty-year Treasuries is barely positive. What these rates (together with the TIPS spread and 30-year mortgage rates) are telling us is that the market expects a prolonged, perhaps a very prolonged, period of low interest rates. Put another way, the market is fully discounting the Fed's open market operations and saying they aren't enough to stimulate significantly higher levels of demand. With government spending on a steeply declining curve and the Fed unlikely to get more aggressive, the long term prospect for demand-driven growth looks really iffy.
So you're sitting on an asset that you bet was going to vastly increase in value and it is going in exactly the wrong direction. What do you do, especially as you watch the stock market soar to new heights? You dump gold and move into stocks. QED