Posted by Steve Markowitz on November 6, 2014
A few weeks ago Campus Reform went to Harvard University and asked students who they felt was the greater risk to the world; the United States or ISIS. Some indicated that the US was the greater threat and claimed that American policies were responsible for the creation of radical Islamic movements such as ISIS. Some Harvard students then followed up on this “study” creating their own video questionnaire and found similar responses, videos posted below.
Harvard University is renowned as perhaps the most famous and supposedly intellectual colleges in the United States. The skills exhibited by some of the students in the videos bring into questions these conclusions.
It is remarkable that students from this prestigious University believe the United States responsible for radical Islam and the infighting within its subgroups. Had these students studied world history instead of the phony academics that make up much of today’s college curriculums they would have been taught that the Sunni–Shia divide that is led to so much conflict within the Islamic world began shortly after the death of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed in 632 with infighting over the secession to the Prophet. They would also learned that this conflict began over 1100 years before the founding of the United States.
Posted in Education, Islam | Tagged: Harvard, ISIS, Islam, Peace, Shia, Sunni, UNited States, US | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 18, 2014
According to CNN Money, the number of millionaires in the United States is soaring. Prior to the 2008 economic meltdown there were 9.2 million household millionaires. After the downturn, that number dropped to 6.7 million in 2008. It now exceeds the 2007 bubble economy with 9.6 millionaire households existing in the United States in 2013.
As a capitalist this Blog responds positively to growing wealth when it is a result of productive capitalism. However, the increasing numbers of American millionaires since 2008 has been the result of governmental and central bank interventions that have created bubbles to the benefit of wealthier Americans at the expense of the good of the overall economy.
The 2008 economic meltdown was itself cause by interventions in the economy. The major culprit was the Federal Reserve and its low interest rates policy used any time there was a hiccup in the economy. This thwarted the economy’s ability to rebalance supply and demand and led to bubbles, most significantly in the housing and equities markets. That led to the mother of all hick-ups with the economic calamity of 2008.
The interventionists did not learn from their failures. After the 2008 meltdown they once again flooded markets would liquidity and used historically low interest rates to artificially stimulate economic growth. While those efforts may have kept the downturn from becoming temporarily more significant, they have had consequences that include the increasing wealth disparity in the United States. Those interventions created artificially high equities’ valuations that disproportionately benefited wealthier individuals.
Have the interventionists such as President Obama respond to the disparity problems they helped create? They ferment class warfare by attacking wealthier Americans to deflect blame from their own failed policies. Then they suggest still further interventions to correct the disparity, i.e. higher taxes. The consequences of further interventions will lead to more economic distortions that the interventionists will then come save us from.
It is understandable that political elitists promote governmental interventions. That helps guarantee their employment and power. It is harder to understand why the People continue to allow these folks to exercise such power and authority given their record of failure.
Posted in economics | Tagged: Fed, Federal Reserve, Millionaires, Obama, supply-and-demand, UNited States, US | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 7, 2013
New York’s Mayor Bloomberg is at it again. His past crusades include smoking, fatty foods, salt, baby formula and large soft drinks. Now the good Mayor is out to protect us from our iPods.
The City’s Health Department’s assistant for environmental-disease prevention Commissioner Nancy Clark went after ear-buds saying: “With public and private support, a public-education campaign is being developed to raise awareness about safe use of personal music players ….. and risks of loud and long listening.” This “public-education” campaign will cost taxpayers $250,000. You would hope that Mayor Bloomberg had more important things to do.
As ridiculous as Bloomberg’s ear-bud crusade is, it is but a minor irritant compared to ignorant statement Bloomberg made about the Country’s debt last week when he said:
“We are spending money we don’t have. It’s not like your household. In your household, people are saying, ‘Oh, you can’t spend money you don’t have.’ That is true for your household because nobody is going to lend you an infinite amount of money. When it comes to the United States federal government, people do seem willing to lend us an infinite amount of money.… Our debt is so big and so many people own it that it’s preposterous to think that they would stop selling us more. It’s the old story: If you owe the bank $50,000, you got a problem. If you owe the bank $50 million, they got a problem. And that’s a problem for the lenders. They can’t stop lending us more money.”
It would be curious to understand how Bloomberg defines “infinite”. Using a standard definition one would conclude that the Mayor believes in perpetual motion or alchemy. Countries have over borrowed throughout history. None escaped the laws of supply and demand in the long run. Those that did not put their fiscal houses back in order defaulted on their loan obligations with serious negative consequences. Bloomberg is either ignorant of history or purposely misleading the public. This Blogger concludes it is a little of both.
Posted in Politics, Progressives | Tagged: Bloomberg, Debt, Earbuds, IPod, Mayor, New York, UNited States | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on October 13, 2012
New York Times published an article titled Citing U.S. Fears, Arab Allies Limit Syrian Rebel Aid reporting on the United States withholding support for Syrian rebels. Money and small arms are being sent to Syrian rebels by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. However, heavier weapons are being withheld because of opposition from the United States as explained by Qatar’s foreign affairs minister who stated: “You can give the rebels AKs, but you can’t stop the Syrian regime’s military with AKs“. He indicated that heavier weapons are required: “But first we need the backing of the United States, and preferably the U.N.”
According to the report, that Obama Administration’s reluctance to send larger and more sophisticated arms to the rebels revolves around the fear that such weapons could fall into the hands of anti-western terrorists. While possible, this did not stop the Obama Administration from backing the Libyan rebels. Some of those rebels are now attacking American interests, which included the killing of America’s Libyan Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
While the Obama Administration intervened in the Libyan uprising, it has voted “present” for the carnage in Syria. However, the outcome of the Syrian conflict is of greater significance to United States and the world. Syria’s Civil War is a proxy for the larger conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims that has been ongoing for centuries. This conflict pits Sunni Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries against Shia Iran. Syria, under the al-Assad regime, is a client state of Iran. Its Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shia Muslims, are battling the Sunni rebels. The longer the conflict continues, the greater the danger of not only a regional conflict developing, but that Syria disintegrates into a long-term civil war divided on religious grounds.
Bad policies are made worse by inconsistencies. Foreign policy inconsistencies leads to miscalculation by the adversaries. This is the danger with Obama’s dithering approach to foreign policy.
Besides the dithering on the Syrian civil war, the Obama Administration has not yet drawn a red line on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons has typically focused on the danger such weapons pose to Israel. More significantly, should Iran obtain atomic weapons it will not be long before Sunni Muslim countries obtain the counterbalance, their own nuclear weapons. That is a slippery slope that the world cannot travel down.
Posted in Syria | Tagged: Aid, rebels, Syria, UNited States, weapons | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 23, 2012
The New York Times interviewed Egyptian President Morsi’s just prior to his first visit the United States as Egypt’s leader. The interview was telling on various fronts.
Morsi justified Egypt’s slow reaction to the recent riots at America’s Cairo embassy stating: “We took our time. We can never condone this kind of violence, but we need to deal with the situation wisely”. That is but an excuse for allowing Egyptian thugs to attack and damage American property.
Morsi went on to state that it is America’s obligation to repair relations with Arab countries stating: “Successive American administrations essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region.” While there is some truth to the claim of America’s past actions, the fact that he repeated them even though President Obama has been on a charm offensive to the Arab world for over 3 1/2 years indicates what Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood desire is even still much more. Exactly what it is of the United States and West being demanded was purposely left nebulous by Morsi.
Morsi went on to repeat the often used excuse by Muslims for the dislike of the West blaming the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian matter stating: “as long as peace and justice are not fulfilled for the Palestinians, then the treaty remains unfulfilled”, referring to the Camp David Accord.” This is lame on various fronts. First, how is it America’s responsibility to create a compromise between two Middle Eastern entities and adversaries? Bill Clinton came close late in his second term only to have a permanent solution rejected by Palestinian Pres. Arafat. What Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood really desire is for America to impose a solution on Israel that will basically end Israel as a Jewish majority country.
An indication that the Arab-Israeli conflict is but an excuse for perpetrating violence against the United States and other countries are the many acts of violence perpetrated in or by Muslim majority countries that clearly are not related to this issue. Examples include Iraq invading Iran in the early 1980s, Iraq invading Kuwait in the early 1990s, the Taliban’s brutality in Afghanistan even before 9/11, Pakistan’s backing of terrorists who attack India and other interests, the Muslim-backed conflicts and civil wars in Africa, and the Muslim based attacks and rebellion ongoing in Nigeria. Clearly, if Israel did not exist these conflicts would be ongoing and the West would continue to be considered infidels as they had been long before Israel came into existence.
An indication of the tilted approach towards mutual understanding was indicated when Morsi said : “a shared objective [between Western and Islamic countries], each to live free in their own land, according to their customs and values, in a fair and democratic fashion a shared objective, each to live free in their own land, according to their customs and values, in a fair and democratic fashion a shared objective, each to live free in their own land, according to their customs and values, in a fair and democratic fashion.” These words are hollow as shown by the violent reactions by Muslims worldwide to an obscure and tasteless video. Free speech is a centerpiece of the American Constitution. The call by many Islamic leaders to curtail free speech in the United States if Islam does not like the words indicates an unwillingness to live by Morsi’s words.
President Morsi earned a PhD from the University of Southern California in the early 1990s. Evidently, while Morsi came to the US for an education, his experience did not convince him of the attributes of America’s free society.
Morsi was a leader in the radical Islamic movement, the Muslim Brotherhood. During the interview, Morsi said of the Brotherhood: “I grew up with the Muslim Brotherhood. “I learned my principles in the Muslim Brotherhood. I learned how to love my country with the Muslim Brotherhood. I learned politics with the Brotherhood. I was a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.” A slogan that is at the center of the Brotherhood reads: “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.” The fact that the Brotherhood has not repudiated this goal is a clear indication of the incompatibility between the Brotherhood and Western democracies.
The challenge for the United States is to create policies that allows diverse cultures to peacefully coexist. That approach should begin with a realistic use of Morsi’s own words: “a shared objective [between Western and Islamic countries], each to live free in their own land, according to their customs and values, in a fair and democratic fashion a shared objective, each to live free in their own land, according to their customs and values, in a fair and democratic fashion a shared objective, each to live free in their own land, according to their customs and values, in a fair and democratic fashion.” This solution demands free speech in the United States and this Country abiding by our Constitution. The United States must conversely accept Islamic-based countries have the absolute right for their own self determination, whether this be a free society or one ruled by Sharia law. Those who visit or live in the United States or a Muslim majority country must live by the rules of those countries. Instead of continuing his apology approach, President Obama would do well to state such a clear understanding.
Posted in Egypt, Radical Islam | Tagged: America, Cairo, charm, Egypt, Embassy, Islam, Israel, Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood, Obama, Palestinian, president, Southern California University, UNited States, Violence, West | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 3, 2012
For years the United States has been on a path of fiscal irresponsibility. Irrespective of where the funds went or who benefited from the spending, the Country has spent more than it can afford and has been charging future generations for this greedy behavior. The Country has also made promises for future benefits and payments it cannot afford. This latter issue involves tens of trillions of dollars that are not included in the Country’s published $16 trillion deficit.
Both political parties are responsible for the financial mess that United States finds itself. Barack Obama has only accelerated this problem with even greater deficit spending.
Dogmatic Republicans indicate that there can be no increase in any taxes nor will they stand for spending cuts to their pet projects. Dogmatic Democrats refuse to address the entitlement spending issue, cutting the size of government, and yes also refuse to cut spending on their pet projects.
Ultimately, the bond markets will have their way. At some point lenders will significantly increase their demand for interest received on loans to the United States. When this occurs, taxes will increase and services will be cut severely.
The video below offers a simple and concise presentation of the financial problems of the United States. It helps explain why the politicians in Washington are not able to address the real issues. No one has ever been elected to office for sharing bad news.
Posted in Debt, Deficits | Tagged: Debt, Deficits, Politicians, UNited States | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 4, 2012
The United States Navy has been significantly building up it’s forces in the Mediterranean, a show of force for the Iranians. With most of the media’s attention focused on the European economic crisis, as well as the ongoing tragedy in Syria, little attention has been paid to this naval build up
Yesterday, Kiron Sarkar, wrote about American naval buildup included below. It is hard to predict how the standoff with Iran will play out. While Barack Obama has shown tendencies of Jimmy Carter, he is also shown a willingness to use deadly force. The pressures of the upcoming election will likely also play a part in the President’s decision-making.
“The loopy Iranian regime has threatened to close the Straits of Hormuz. Essentially, the decline in the oil price, together with the impact of sanctions, is seriously hurting the regime. In these circumstances, Iran always makes belligerent threats to force oil prices higher. Diplomatic talks look as if they have failed, though there is private session between Iran’s technical experts and representatives of the major powers today, in Istanbul. The reality is that they really cant close the Straights, other than for a limited period of time. However, Brent is back up to US$98.50, good for my energy shares, but the global economy will sure appreciate a lower oil price.”
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: buildup, Iran, Mediterranean, Navy, UNited States | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 27, 2012
Since the late 1960s the mantra from politicians government bureaucrats, particularly those on the Left, has been that the world with the United States in particular is running out of fossil fuels. This claim, like so many other dire warnings of Progressives, was dead wrong.
One of the earlier manifestations of the United States depleted energy claims came from Pres. Jimmy Carter in the 1970s. Carter claimed that the United States would run out of natural gas in 10 years. Approximately 35 years later not only has the United States not run out of the gas, but we are in the midst of a natural gas glut with prices dropping significantly.
Another of Carter’s infamous calls was for the creation of the US Department of Energy created specifically to lessen America’s dependence on foreign oil, specifically oil from the Middle East. When the Department of Energy was created, the United States imported less than 35% of its oil annually. Three decades later the US imported over 60% of its oil per year. Along the way, Department of Energy wasted tens of billions of dollars and is larger today than ever.
Now, the US is turning the corner on its reliance on imported oil. This has is not occurred due to any action of the Department of Energy, but instead came from advancing technologies that includes fracking, which has unlocked huge reserves of oil and natural gas. For example, these newer technologies have turned North Dakota into a major oil producer, now surpassing Alaska.
The Wall Street Journal published an article about America’s resurgent position in world energy production that reviews the following:
- America’s reliance on Middle Eastern oil will be cut in half by 2020 and may completely end by 2035.
- By the end of this decade half of America’s crude oil needs will be produced in the United States with over 80% coming from the side of the Atlantic. Canada alone has the world’s third largest proven oil reserves. Money spent within the Hemisphere is better for America’s security and economy.
- America currently imports 4 million barrels of oil a day from the Middle East. That amount will decrease to about 2.5 million barrels by the end of the decade.
- During 2011 the United States became a net exporter of refined energy products. Experts predict this will continue for at least another 10 years.
- Between October 2011 and March 2012, US oil production rose by 6% to more than 6 million barrels per day for the first time in 14 years. This remarkable increase occurred after a nearly 40 year decline.
While advancing technologies played a large role in increasing America’s oil and gas production, the action of the free market also played a substantial role. As energy prices skyrocketed in the late 1990s, liberal politicians screamed foul and attacked suppliers suggesting regulating profits to address increasing energy prices. Such regulations would have been exactly the wrong approach and ultimately would have hurt consumers. Instead, the increasing prices made Canada’s oil sands-reserves profitable with investment in extracting this oil skyrocketing. In addition, worldwide investments in oil and gas exploration jumped due to the increase prices. In North America, this investment surged to 48% of global oil investment to $320 billion, up from only 39% of the worldwide investment in 2003. Similar examples can be shown in other Western Hemisphere countries including Brazil.
The increased energy prices that began in the late 1990s is beginning to cause production increases and lower energy prices. Raymond James has recently forecasted 2013 crude prices at $65 per barrel, down from its current $83. Lower demand only explains part of this decrease. Increasing production is a significant issue.
Pres. Barack Obama and the radical environmentalists have thrown many roadblocks in the way of developing America’s vast energy reserves. A recent example is Obama’s decision to shelve the Keystone XL pipeline that would have brought more Canadian oil to the United States. These roadblocks were made to further Progressives’ goal of promoting green energy. They have failed on two fronts. First, solar and wind energy are not ready for prime time and will not be major sources of energy for years to come. The President’s failure to promote green energy over fossil fuels again proves the futility of politicians’ attempts to manipulate markets.
Incredibly, President Obama recently attempted to claim responsibility for America’s fossil fuel boom stating: “We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some.” Now that’s chutzpah!
Posted in Energy, Oil | Tagged: Canada, Department of Energy, Fracking, Jimmy Carter, Middle East, Natural Gas, Obama, Oil, tar sands, UNited States | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 15, 2012
The United States and Pakistan have had a tenuous relationship over the years. While at times acting like an ally, Pakistan often has played a two-sided game that included supporting terrorists. Such double-dealing in diplomatic affairs unfortunately occurs, especially when dealing with dysfunctional countries like Pakistan.
US-Pakistani relations deteriorated significantly in recent years. This degrading relationship came to a head in 2011 when America’s Seal team assassinated Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil without involvement or permission by Pakistan. The relationship has since gotten worse with America’s ongoing and uninvited drone attacks on suspected terrorists on Pakistani soil. In addition, a Pakistani doctor, Shafiq Alfridi, who assisted the US and putting it to bin Laden has been sentenced to over three decades in a Pakistani jail for these efforts. Adding insult to injury, the Pakistanis have refused to allow the United States to use supply lines through its country for the Afghan War.
One theme Barack Obama used during successful campaign for presidency was how he was going to improve United States’ relations with other countries. He blamed his predecessor George W. Bush’s approach to foreign policy as a reason for poor relations with some countries. This naïve approach indicated Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience. Countries pursue agendas and policies that are in their best interests, not because of a relationship with a foreign leader.
One of the first steps Obama took after becoming president was his well-publicized outreach to the Islamic world. This effort has been a failure. Iran is as belligerent is ever, Syria’s regime is killing people by the thousands, and Pakistan-America relations have never been worse. However, disintegrating relations are not limited to Muslim countries. America’s relations with Israel had been frayed under the Obama Administration and a Cold War is heating up between the United States and Russia. If the president is responsible for relationships between United States and other countries as Obama proffered during the campaign, then he receives a failing grade for the current state of relations with various countries.
Posted in Pakistan | Tagged: international relations, Obama, Osama bin Laden, Pakistan, Shafiq Alfridi, UNited States | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 4, 2012
The New York Times reported that a US government’s investigation determined that errors were made by military and civilian employees that led to the Koran burning in Afghanistan. These burnings then led to rioting and the death of six US soldiers recent days.
The destroyed Korans were owned by prisoners held at a US detention center in Parwan, Afghanistan. Afghan civilian interpreters found notes written on the Korans that American officials feared were coded signals to the Taliban. Approximately, 1,600 books of all types including a few Korans were segregated and subsequently sent to an incinerator for destruction. An Afghan employee who saw the at stack included Korans stopped the destruction, however, four were badly damaged.
The Times reported that Afghan religious leaders demanded public identification and punishment of those involved with the Koran burning as the only acceptable remedy for the errors. An Afghan religious leader said: “There are some crimes that cannot be forgiven, but that need to be punished. This is not any book; this is the book of the whole Muslim nation, and if a few people are punished, America will not be destroyed. But if that doesn’t happen, it will create animosity and enmity between America and the Muslim world.”
The unforgiving words of Afghan’s religious leader is too often the reaction within the Muslim community when it believes it has been wronged. This call for revenge is a key cause of the violence and terrorism associated with some Muslim organizations. It is also in conflict with any basic rule of governmental law.
The hard-line position expressed by the Afghan religious leader is also in conflict with the way the Muslim community often reacts to violence perpetrated by its community against non-Muslims. For example, NBC has just reported that the graves in Libya of British soldiers killed in World War II have been desecrated, as well as Italian soldiers’ graves. For this willful act of vandalism by Muslim extremists, the Libyan government offered an apology. The West will appropriately except this apology as the Libyan people should not be held accountable for the acts of some renegades, even if those acts were willful. Contrast this with how the Afghan religious leader responded to an error made by some American soldiers. These opposing reactions show the disconnect between Western and Islam cultures. This disconnect is too often ignored by Progressives like President Obama.
Posted in Afghanistan, Radical Islam | Tagged: Afghanistan, British soldiers, burning, errors, Koran, Libya, Muslim, Obama, UNited States, World War II | Leave a Comment »