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We should begin preparing now for the evacuation of Israel

26 July 2014

Summary:  This article by guest author Franz Gayl (Major, USMC, retired) was posted in March 2012, and remains as relevant today. It looks ahead beyond Israel’s current moment in the sun.  They face a divided Arab people and even more fragmented Islamic societies, which they overawe by their massive military strength — exercised in the shadow of the world’s hyperpower.  But these are ephemeral advantages; meanwhile the tides run against Israel.  Invisibly, quietly, decisively.  Deteriorating demographics, increasingly powerful enemies, and a shrinking roster of friends.  For another perspective on this see The Fate of Israel.

A new Introduction by Franz Gayl

The conflict in Gaza is an increasingly lethal indicator that the U.S. must begin to plan for the evacuation of Israel. Our collective inability to prevent barbarism by military and diplomatic means has become obvious. ISIS gains are just a regional prelude. WMD proliferation also continues, and a broadly nuclear-armed Mideast is not unthinkable in coming years. Concurrently, unconstrained non-state enemies of Israel are becoming destructively super-empowered. The exponential progress of multi-purpose advanced technologies is relentless.

As we approach the middle of the 21st Century the most dangerous weapons will find their way into the hands of the least rational enemies of Israel. Some have called this assessment pessimistic, even naïve. But it it is realistic, based on real trends — historical, current, and forward-projected. The writing is on the wall, and we must plan and prepare a U.S. backdoor for the Israeli people to avoid a second Holocaust.

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The Physical Dilemma
  3. Hasty Implementation of a Thoughtful Vision
  4. Debating U.S. Responsibility
  5. Potential Israeli Objections
  6. Thoughts on Peaceful Alternatives
  7. Preparing a U.S. Home
  8. About the author
  9. For More Information

(1) Introduction

Click here to read the original post.

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The CEO of Boeing enjoys the sight of his workers cowering. It’s our humiliation as well as theirs.

25 July 2014

Summary: We can only guess at our leaders’ plans for the New America they’re building on the ruins of the old. But on rare occasions they speak frankly about how they see us. We should listen. They’re not kidding.

Spirit Of Truth

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Michael Kinsey’s definition of a gaffe “is when a politician tells the truth — some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.” As in this from Thursday’s quarterly earnings conference call with Boeing’s senior management:

Bloomberg News:  Jim, you have a birthday coming up next month. … Will you be at your desk, and has the Board approvide you staying on past age 65?

Jim McNerney, CEO: Yes, the heart will still be beating. The employees will still be cowering (laughing). I’ll be working hard; there’s no end in sight. We’re continuing to build the succession plan … But there’s no discussion of it yet. So you’ll still be asking questions of me.

Boeing has worked hard to demoralize its workers (the most recent round early this year). McNerney exults in his success. In this Boeing joins other leaders such as Amazon, Nike, and Walmart in forging a new corporate-worker relationship. It’s natural that their great success creates contempt for their employees.  They’ve weaken or broken their unions. Converted their workers into contingent, low wage, no benefit peons. Among their results: wage as a fraction of America’s gross domestic income from 51.5% in 1970 to 42.6% in 2012. It’s a victory on scale rare in our history.

Read more…

America enjoys a time of sunshine in Hell. Let’s use the time wisely.

23 July 2014

Summary: I try in these pages to convey the extraordinary oddness of our time, when a great nation carelessly destroying its strength and prosperity. Examples are easily found around us. The disregard for science by both Left and Right. Our mad foreign policy, multiplying enemies while discouraging friends. Our high-risk macroeconomic policies. Our apathy to the rot of both our infrastructure and our political regime. The restructuring of our society to build a New America on the ruins of the old. It’s an exciting time, with great trends buried amidst the trivia of the news! Today we try a new perspective from which to see these things more clearly.

Sunshine in Hell

A powerful and evocative phrase about our time by Michael Hartnett (Chief Strategist at BofA). It’s used in a different context than here, borrowed from his report of 29 May 2014

Sunshine

America is powerful, our military supreme, our hegemony almost unchallenged.
We kill at will around the world.
We overthrow governments and occupy nations at our whim, careless of the consequences.
Our tech is the finest.
Our economy is the largest & among the strongest.
Yet increasing numbers of Americans fear we’re on the wrong path (see polls).

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Here’s one story about America today. Scores more, equally disturbing, can be just as easily told.

The vast majority of economists expect the US economy soon to resume “normal” growth, as they have since the crash. That’s quite astonishing since GDP has been slowing, not accelerating, from its post-crash sluggish trend of 2.2% — despite the third and largest round of quantitative easing. In 2012 GDP rose 2.8%; in 2013 +1.9%; and now economists estimate growth in 2014 to be slower than 2013 (the IMF expects +1.7%, assuming the second half speeds up to 3%+). It’s our slowest recovery ever by most metrics, one in which median real wages have not increased since before the recession began in 2007.

However anemic, the recovery has kept the public quiet while a New America is built around us. But we’re not all participating equally.

For example, consider our passive acceptance to the great looting of American business. First Private Equity firms perfected a new mode of capitalism: parasitism. Acquire businesses — hollow them out by throttling back capex and R&D (see this NYT article, the numbers look worse as % profits) — leverage them up — extract the cash — then sell them off. Now senior corporate executives have learned to do the same with public companies. Cut capex and R&D — leverage the company up — then  extract the cash via the Triangle Trade of executive stock options to stock to buybacks. The result is a rapid increase of inequality, a host of executives in the 1%, and an America incapable of rapid growth.

It’s one of the great engines of inequality in our society, along with the increasingly dysfunctional education system and the flat tax system. For more information see the end of this post.

Looking at the 99%

We see the effects of growing inequality all around us, if we care to look. Not just in the conspicuous spending of the nouveau riche, but in the plight of the 99%. As in these stories from today’s news:

Read more…

Tom Clancy, manufacturer of myths that kept us happy & ignorant

22 July 2014

Summary: We loved Tom Clancy’s fiction because it gave a realistic gloss to our myths about ourselves, about America, and about our military and intel agencies. Unfortunately millions of his readers believed they were seeing an accurate picture. In fact Clancy got the details right, but most of the big things totally wrong. Gorbachev was not a wise leader; Prince Charles was not a great family man; Federal agents seldom feel agonies of guilt when killing people in the line of duty. A full listing of Clancy’s distortions would fill a book almost as long as one of Clancy’s. Here one of our top geopolitical experts paints a picture of Tom Clancy, showing how he gained a place on our bookshelves by giving us what we wanted.

Tom Clancy

David Burnett/GP Putnam Sons via Associated Pres

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Tom Clancy, Military Man

By Andrew Bacevich

The Baffler, #24 2014
“The journal that blunts the cutting edge”

Reposted with the generous permission of The Baffler

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Word of Tom Clancy’s passing in October reached me at a local gym. Peddling away on an elliptical trainer, I welcomed the distraction of this “breaking news” story as it swept across a bank of video monitors suspended above the cardio machines. On cable networks and local stations, anchors were soon competing with one another to help viewers grasp the story’s significance. Winning the competition (and perhaps an audition with Fox News) was the young newsreader who solemnly announced that “one of America’s greatest writers” had just died at the relatively early age of sixty-six.

Of course, Tom Clancy qualifies as a great writer in the same sense that Texas senator Ted Cruz qualifies as a great orator. Both satisfy a quantitative definition of eminence. Although political historians are unlikely to rank Cruz alongside Clay, Calhoun, and Webster, his recent twenty-one-hour-long denunciation of Obamacare, delivered before a near-empty Senate chamber, demonstrated a capacity for narcissistic logorrhea rare even by Washington standards.

So too with Clancy. Up in the literary Great Beyond, Faulkner and Hemingway won’t be inviting him for drinks. Yet, as with Ted Cruz, once Clancy got going there was no shutting him up. Following a slow start, the works of fiction and nonfiction that he wrote, cowrote, or attached his moniker to numbered in the dozens. Some seventeen Clancy novels made it to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, starting with his breakthrough thriller The Hunt for Red October. A slew of titles written by others appeared with his imprimatur. Thus, for example, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Choke Point or Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist Aftermath.

Read more…

Economists forecast a boom soon. The numbers show slowing. Who is right?

21 July 2014

Summary: 2014 was to be the year the US economy reached “escape velocity” from the slow 2.2% GDP growth since the crash. So far, as repeatedly predicted here, that has not happened. What might the second half of 2014 hold for us? The long-awaited acceleration, or more trend growth, or (what few economists expect) further slowing? Nobody expects a recession. Here’s some data that might help you prepare.

Bubbles

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In December 2013 there were widespread forecasts of a boom in 2014. On February 21, half way through Q1, I wrote:

The consensus forecast per Blue Chip Economic Indicators as of February 20 for US GDP: 2.7% in 2014 and 3% in 2015. But years of over-optimistic forecasts have made economists cautious, so their “whisper numbers” are higher than their official numbers. My guess is that 2014 will be another year of slow (2.2%?) growth. But, as always, surprises await us — good and bad.

I was a pessimist about 2014 in December through February. Now it appears I was too optimistic, since the first surprise of the year was Q1 GDP of -2.9%. Then most economists expected a big bounce in Q2. Now forecasts for Q2 look disappointing, but hope remains for the rest of the year:

  • Q2: 3.1% (the Atlanta Fed’s NowCast is 2.7%). There were estimates as high as 5% earlier this year.
  • 2H: 3.0%
  • 2014: 1.6% (from Q4 to Q4)

The basis for economists’ hopes

The four horses expected to pull the economy are export growth, housing, business capex, and consumer spending (especially autos). Three of these are likely to be disappointing. The fourth looks strong, but might prove the weakest later in the year. Let’s take a quick look at each.

(a)  Exports

With slow Q2 growth in both Japan and Europe, export growth might prove weak. The drop in Japan’s economy following the April sales tax increase has been far larger than expected.

(b)  Housing

Hopes for housing were great, looking for growth in new home construction, existing home sales, and rising prices. Purchase mortgage applications are down 17% YoY NSA. Both permits and starts were weak in June, an ugly leading indicator. Worse, there are indicators that the market is weakening. See top-analyst Mark Hanson’s June 8 report (free registration required), far from the consensus opinion. For a specific example see his June 10 report about May activity in Phoenix; confirmed by this July 7 report by the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at AZ State U.

Read more…

Proof pointing to the people guilty of weakening America

20 July 2014

Summary: We, Americans, delight in creative explanations blaming others for our problems. “It’s not my fault” is our mantra. Here are two examples suggesting that we can find the guilty parties can be found in the mirror. We can do better.

Einstein about problems

He didn’t say it, but should have

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In these pages I’ve attempted to convey some of the astonishing aspects of 21st century America. None are more astonishing than our disinterest in learning from our experiences (both Left and Right), and the parallel behavior of Left and Right (about which they’re oblivious). I’ve written scores of posts documenting these phenomena.

The conclusion drawn about these posts by many readers: they accurately describe foolish behavior of the other side (the bad guys), but say I show bias and politicization by pointing out similar behavior by the good guys (which is so obviously different). How sad to see such willful blindness. It’s one of the reasons I wonder about our capacity for self-government. The blind need guides. Perhaps that’s how the 1% see their relationship with us.

Here is an example for each.

Bush = Hitler

The Day of Action protest, 18 March 2006

(1) Bush is Hitler. So is Obama

Many at the Left said that President Bush Jr was like Hitler. Zomblog and Ringo’s Pictures have collected examples. Lied us into wars, illegal government surveillance, indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay without charges or trials. The Right laughed.

Now the Left applauds Obama, with his illegal surveillance programs, most aggressive-ever use of the Espionage Act of 1917. continued use of Guantanamo Bay, expanded assassination programs (including US citizens). Most of the same things they condemned Bush Jr for doing, plus more that Bush Jr did not dare do.

And now the Right condemns Obama as — Hitler. David Neiwert at Orcinus has a few examples. Google Images points to hundreds more.

This suggests that both Left and Right love authoritarians, so long as they are on the correct side of the political aisle. Both are oblivious to the similarity of their behaviors to the behavior of those they despise. No wonder our politics have become so dysfunctional.

Read more…

Frogs and butterfies, important players in the climate wars

14 July 2014

Summary: There is a hidden dynamic at work in the debates among climate sciences (not chatter among laypeople). The reigning paradigm in a field of science services to “provide model problems and solutions for a community of practitioners” (from Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions). It directs research, defines careers, controls access to journals, focuses effort, and provides a common basis for easy communication. The IPCC’s primary view reflects, as it should, the dominate paradigm — but also reflects minority views. But these conflicts are fought on a thousand fronts. Today we look at one of these. Read these in full to understand the debate; it’s a microcosm of larger issues.

Landscapes and Cycles

Excerpt from

Contrasting Good & Bad Science: Disease, Climate Change & the Case of the Golden Toad

Adapted from the chapter “Beating Dead Frogs with CO2″
from Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism
by Jim Steele (2013)

To insure the public does not become complacent as the 16-year hiatus in rising global temperatures continues, the media is spammed with untested models claiming rising CO2 is and will spread death and destruction via food shortages and disease.

As MIT’s world-renowned oceanographer Carl Wunsch warned “Convenient assumptions should not be turned prematurely into “facts,” nor uncertainties and ambiguities suppressed … Anyone can write a model: the challenge is to demonstrate its accuracy and precision … Otherwise, the scientific debate is controlled by the most articulate, colorful, or adamant players. (emphasis added)”1As presented here before, the extinction of the Golden Toad illustrates the great abyss that separates the rigor of good medical science from the opportunistic models trumpeted by a few articulate and adamant climate scientists. The lack of substance in climate propaganda is revealed when we compare the details that led epidemiologists to blame a fungus and modern transportation  for the Golden Toad’s extinction.

It’s nothing I have any expertise in, He makes a good case, amply documented. It’s a common story in the history of science, scientists championing clashing paradigms — with access to leading general science journals and specialty fields in different hands. These things work themselves out over time. Unfortunately climate science today has urgent public policy issues. Allowing these turf wars, with inadequate external review, might have unusually large consequences.

Steele gives another example: “How the American Meteorological Society Justified Publishing Half-Truths” — Excerpt:

Read more…

Comments tell us much about America, its peril and hope

13 July 2014

Summary: One of the major projects on the FM website is acting as a mirror in which we can see ourselves, hoping that clearer understanding of our perilous situation will impel some into action. So the posts since 2007 are markers showing our devolution But the comments show this even more clearly. Here are some of the more horrific examples, along with some eerily forecasts and blindingly brilliant analysis. And trolls, lots of them.

Contents

There are 33,085 comments on the FM website since 2007. These are some of the most interesting threads. They show the war in America’s mind between tribal dogma and reality (e.g., science, history, even reality). Unfortunately, I cannot tell from these which way we’ll choose to go. (Note: only 60% of the FM website’s hits come from America)

About Comments

  1. Terror: the most terrifying thread, ever
  2. Peak oil: fact & alarmism do battle
  3. Climate change: alarmism wins
  4. Economics: faux theory & history wins
  5. American politics: crazy takes center stage
  6. American culture and society
  7. The best threads from last year
  8. The top threads of 2014
  9. For More Information

(1)  Torture finds a home in our souls

The most terrifying thread on the FM website, with so many people auditioning for jobs with an American Gestapo. Five years ago these comments foreshadowed the support for Obama’s assassination programs, the NSA’s illegal surveilance, and the brutal crushing of the Occupy protests. I didn’t see that, blinded by my deluded optimism about America.

  1. So many Americans approve of torture; what does this tell us about America?, 30 April 2009

(2)  Peak Oil — a debate mixing good sense and alarmism to get futility

Peak oil will come. Our plan is to hope for the best.

  1. 97 comments: A look at forecasts for peak oil – and the end of civilization
  2. 77 comments: Peak Oil Doomsters debunked, end of civilization called off

(3)  Climate change

The threads about climate change are among the most fascinating. Watch the Leftist’s scream in horror when confronted with science (they listen only to their alarmist amateurs. Such howls are intermixed with hard sense, some optimistic — some despairing.

  1. 68 comments: A note on the green religion, one of the growth industries in America
  2. 53 comments: The ice caps are melting! Only massive government action can save us!
  3. 52 comments: Watch our world warm! How warm was June? What’s the trend?
  4. 38 comments: Nate Silver goes from hero to goat, convicted by the Left of apostasy — Watch the crazy flow!
  5. 36 comments: Lessons the Left can learn from the Right when writing about climate change
  6. 35 comments: Should we listen to amateurs’ analysis of climate science?
  7. 35 comments: Global Cooling returns to the news, another instructive lesson about America

(4)  About economics

See how faux economics has taken a hold on America’s imagination:

Read more…

Three stories of America’s decline for your weekend reading

12 July 2014

Summary:  Here are three stories about the decline of America. They’re too complex and too good to abstract. Please read them. The Republic is happening on our watch. It need not be so. That is the vital thing we must realize. Everything flows from that.

Liberty cries

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I use Twitter (@FabiusMaximus01) to flag interesting and valuable articles, replacing the weekly posts. But here are three powerful stories about the decline of America, each examining a different facet, that deserve special attention.

(I) Losing Sparta: The Bitter Truth Behind the Gospel of Productivity“, Esther Kaplan, VQR, Summer 2014 — The best reporting I’ve seen in a long time. It’s told in long form, capturing not just the deep dynamics of this event but also its emotional impact on the people involved. It’s about the deindustrialization of America, about the myths we’re told about it, about its madness, about the evil complicity of our political leaders, and the devastation left in its wake.

(II) Oligarchy Blues“, Michael Ventura, The Austin Chronicle, 27 June 2014 — “Without fair elections and a viable legislative process at federal and state levels, the republic no longer exists.” Yes. But couch potatoes are ruled by oligarchs. As we learned as children from Disney films, it’s the great circle of life.

(III) ISIS and Iraq: The T-Shirts, the Cats, the App, the Hasbara“, Lambert Strether, Naked Capitalism, 11 July 2014 — A brilliant forensic analysis of the “news” about ISIS. In addition to useful guide to stories about the latest we must wet our pants in fear threat, it provides powerful evidence about two themes of the FM website.

  1. Yes, we’re among the most gullible people that have ever walked the Earth. We fall for the same propaganda again and again, from the same people.
  2. No, our shiny new tech — instantaneous access to all the world’s knowledge — has not given us the superpowers we need. It has made us neither smarter nor better informed.

Read more…

See the trends shaping our future. Be forewarned, so you can prepare.

11 July 2014

Summary: We cannot reliably see the future. Every decade begins with confident forecasts, usually proven wrong. Too many variables, too many complex dynamics interacting. But we can examine individual trends, the usual work of the FM website. Here we pull together the threads, a mixture of challenges and opportunities that loom over the next ten years. In the comments list the trends you see at work!

Key to bright future

Today we give you a keyhole through which to see the future

Contents

  1. Climate change
  2. Demographics: the age wave
  3. The Debt Supercycle
  4. The new world of work
  5. The great monetary experiment
  6. The results of a low-investment nation
  7. Will growth continue to slow?
  8. Oil prices and new technology
  9. The next industrial revolution
  10. Implications of a technological singularity
  11. There will be war

(1)  Climate change

To see what is coming, I recommend relying on the IPCC’s probability ranges instead of alarmists’ certainties. Remember the uncertainties: the uncertainties in climate science, in the models that make the predictions, in technology (see below), and in the unknowable future public policy responses to climate scientists’ warnings.

The pause in surface temperature warming of the past decade has astonished climate scientists. Now they analyze its causes and forecast its duration. The public policy response might depend on answers to these questions, as the activists’ current strategy of attributing every form of normal weather to increased CO2 — despite the pause in the atmosphere’s warming — might not work if continued through the next decade. And who can say if the next decade will hold equal surprises?

I recommend reading the important things to know about climate change. See all posts about climate change.

(2)  Demographics: the age wave

The coming crash of US consumer spending as Boomers retire with high levels of debt, low savings, and small pension incomes. Experts have warned about this for decades, yet it will catch us by surprise.

Also we’ll confront the consequences, after so many warnings, of underfunded pension plans. Both public plans (see articles by Bloomberg and by CNBC and private plans (see this by Fitch).

(3)  The Debt Supercycle

Read more…

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