In the third paragraph, the Letter asserts: “While our nation has encouraged more stable and inclusive political systems in the Middle East, the regime in Tehran has spread its influence and destabilized its neighbors for its own gain.” To say this is an outrageous distortion of the truth would be an understatement. There is not a sane Iraqi, Syrian, Lybian, Yemeni and most Muslim Arabs who would vouch to such a distortion. In fact, internationally, the US and Israel are viewed as sources of threat to international peace and security; both have boots on foreign grounds but no foreign boots on their grounds. […]
Beyond any conceivable doubts, the Letter was dictated by Israelis or their advocates in Washington, signed and submitted by the 400 congressmen to Trump; the height of hypocrisy. What is dismaying is that hardly any voices of protests were raised in the American society at large or the political or intellectual segments about the fact that four hundred congressmen, who are elected by Americans to serve American interests, at a time when the US is bogged down in the Arab region, sign and submit a letter to the US President concerned almost exclusively with Israel Security.
These congressmen had an opportunity to make a coherent recommendation on US policy in the Arab region in the interest of American National Interest, but instead chose to make recommendations to safeguard the wellbeing and security of a foreign state: Israel.
The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the firestorm created by Ann Widdecombe’s speech before the EU, Strasbourg parliament, where the Brexit Party MEP compared the European Union to oppressors – and that people are rising up against their owners, their feudal masters. Widdecombe also singled out Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator.
My comment: Labour MP David Lammy, in the all too characteristic fashion of the identitarian left, was quick to exploit Widdecombe’s speech to express how offended he was by it; and made it all about race, “his ancestors” throwing off the bonds of slavery. Obviously, Lammy doesn’t know much about European history [European countries subjugating and killing each other in past epochs]. I applaud Ann Widdecombe. She’s a person who says what she thinks, and isn’t bothered if some people dislike her opinions. She’s a non-misandrist feminist and an ardent critic of misandrist ones, which is refreshing. I don’t agree with her on all issues, but if I was pro-exit, which I am, I’d be happy to have her on my side.
Years ago, whenever I saw a comment saying “liberalism is a mental illness,” I would shake my head, bewildered on what such a statement means. But after hearing more and more liberals, I’ve come to the conclusion that some sort of synaptic misfire happens in the brains of these people. I saw a recent material on RT live, sadly, I couldn’t find a link to the particular piece, on gender-neutral uniforms being adopted in some schools in the UK. One of the two guests interviewed on RT, Linda Bellos Obe, confessed to being a lesbian, a feminist, and a grandmother [nothing wrong with these things], said she is in favor of school uniforms [again, nothing wrong with that] and that she supports the ban on skirts in schools – all skirts, not just miniskirts, ALL skirts. Then she stated that girls [in schools] object to boys “fetishizing” them. Come again? And this person is a “equality law specialist.” That’s absolutely frightening… She makes the case for [gender-neutral] school uniforms that children and people in general like to be part of a club; and that the uniform signifies membership to that club. That’s just an argument for mass-conformity, something that the ‘cultural left’ fought against decades ago; but it seems that fight wasn’t about liberalization, or the goal was changed / mutated in the meantime. Hence the label “regressive progressive.”
To quote George Carlin, I wouldn’t want to be part of any group in which you either have to wear a hat, or you can’t wear a hat. In school, I experienced both systems: uniforms in primary school and just a dress code in high school [no obscene or vulgar outfits or offensive messages on outfits]. Obviously, the latter system gives the student a lot more leeway and I prefer it. The liberal feminists of today seem bent on shackling women to their political agenda and political organizations, instead of persuading them via a set of moral principles. The former path takes little brain power expenditures and brings in cash, the latter path requires actual work put into debates – and if we’ve learned anything during the last ten years or so, liberals don’t want debate, because such a forum “allows racist and sexist viewpoints to be heard.” That’s the exact same logic religious fundamentalists would invoke, such a forum “allows heretical and blasphemous viewpoints to be heard.” It’s the same logic the Establishment uses to prevent alternative / reformist POVs to spread among people.
I fully agree with the other person who was interviewed, Chris McGovern from CRE. I believe his position was completely sensible and in the interest of both straight and non-straight students. Whether the school in question has a uniform policy in place or not, girls should be able to wear pants if they want to; girls should be able to wear skirts if they want to. Ditto for boys [ever heard of kilts?]. But Linda Bellos Obe, the so-called “equality law specialist,” labeled dissent on this issue among the left as unwelcome infighting. In other words, we mustn’t work out contradictions, because that diminishes the tribal strength. Promoting ‘gender neutrality’ by opposing the manifestation and expression of the feminine is unjust as it is absurd, and it is unworthy of a so-called free and tolerant society.
Now, to the issue at hand. If the parents are down with gender-neutral uniforms, that’s fine. But don’t tout this particular norm as a great leap in human progress, because, if anything, it’s the exact opposite. It’s a policy that limits free expression.
The communist countries of the 20th century and of the 21st century didn’t ban skirts for girls! Not even the Bolsheviks could come up with such a ridiculous thing as to ban skirts, with the possible exception of China under Mao Zedong. But hey, now we know from whence the contemporary liberal-feminist doctrines stem. The communist regime in Afghanistan [prior to the US-backed Talibans collapsing it] allowed women to wear skirts, including miniskirts! If a liberal feminist from the 21st century would have warned an Afghan woman from the ’80s that a skirt makes men “fetishize” her, she would have said you’re crazy, get out of my way, I need to go to work. Here are some pictures. School girls in the [former] Soviet Union. School girls in Cuba. School girls in North Korea. School girls in Venezuela. Women in the [former] Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.
Today’s liberal ideology, which has nothing to do with classical liberalism, is on some issues more oppressive than Bolshevism. Here’s an excerpt from a BBC interview with Noam Chomsky from 1977, in which he accurately explains contemporary liberalism. I don’t know if Chomsky still feels the same today; regardless, his assessment from ’77 was spot on.
The liberal media has bashed Trump’s desire to have tanks and airplanes show up on the 4th of July to celebrate Independence Day. They labeled it as an example of “militarism,” a way of “politicizing” the event, and compared his desire to that of a dictator. Unsurprisingly, liberal Americans seem to live in a bubble. A great many countries on the globe, be they democratic, less democratic, or totalitarian, show off some of their military units during their respective national day celebrations – this includes armed soldiers, cavalry, tanks, artillery, rocket launchers, ballistic missiles, airplanes, and the like.
Before linking videos in support of this fact, we must stress the staunch hypocrisy of the liberal media and of the Democratic Party. One of the most progressive presidents in terms of economic policy, Harry Truman [a democrat], levied permanent conscription. After WW2, the US took over from where the British Empire left off. The US operates almost 800 military bases in 70 countries around the world. It provides military assistance to most of the world’s dictatorships. During the election campaign, before Trump got into office, the mainstream [liberal] media was deploring Trump’s isolationism [America First policy], fearing Trump would close down military bases and get US soldiers out of foreign conflicts and territories. The liberal media, who is de facto advocating for unlimited immigration and no borders, during Obama’s two terms was praising the President for his administration’s record number of deportations [of illegals]. The same liberal media which produces crocodile tears for the fate of refugees and economic migrants quickly dries up those tears when it comes to foreign policy – when it comes to countries who won’t dance to Washington’s tune. To hell with them. Bomb them. Levy sanctions. Starve them out. They’re no different to their neoconservative counter-parts in the establishment. Under Obama’s presidency, the number of drone strikes increased eightfold compared to the Bush Jr epoch. Seven countries were bombed by the US under Obama’s watch, some of them were dismembered and condemned to ruin and chaos: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, and Syria. We factor in economic warfare [trade sanctions], the giving of intelligence, funds, and arms – either directly or via proxy to terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, and Daesh. And since people are unhappy with the health situation under Trump, let’s not forget that health care premiums under Obama’s turn also rose.
And if we contrast all the war crimes, all the corruption, all the theft, all the injustice perpetrated by US administrations since WW2 up to the present, including Donald Trump’s administration – we see a clear pattern of militarism, hypocrisy, consistent war profiteering, violence, and death. “Fascism” didn’t start with Trump or the GOP. It didn’t stop with Obama or the Democrats. US financial and military hegemony is BIPARTISAN. It always was. Always will be. Liberals, kindly spare us of your hypocrisy, of your false humanitarianism. The World doesn’t believe it.
I used data available from the Russian Federation’s official statistics via the tradingeconomics website to figure out the country’s sectoral balances in the past nine years. First, let’s clarify what the three sectors are.
Government sector = [Government net fiscal position]
(G-T) = Government spending minus Government taxation
Foreign sector = [Russia’s net exports with inverse sign]
-(X-M) = Exports minus Imports
Domestic private sector = [net position of firms + households]
(I-S) = Investment minus Saving
(G-T)= -(I-S) -(X-M)
We can see that the private sector has steadily built equity at a handsome pace. The primary fuel for private sector net savings has been the foreign sector’s back to back high deficits against Russia alongside the Russian Government’s net fiscal deficits. Unfortunately, I don’t have the disaggregated data for the private sector, which would show how those net savings are distributed among financial and non-financial firms and households. If I were in Putin’s shoes, however, I wouldn’t celebrate the Government’s surplus from last year. In fact, I’d strive to put it into deficit again via extra investments in physical and social infrastructure and R&D. I’ll explain why in a bit, but let’s have a look at some of the other indicators…
Private debt is going up, which is unsurprising. Calculated in US dollars, loans to the private sector are at about 445 billion. Unfortunately, we don’t know how many of those loans are for productive purposes [for firms to increase output] and how many are for speculative purposes [designed to inflate asset prices].
Inflation has gone down considerably in recent years. The little bump toward the end of 2018 is nothing to be concerned about. It’s a consequence of labor force participation going up, as we shall see in the next graph.
The labor force participation rate has spiked from below 62 percent to nearly 68 percent. Obviously, there’s still room for employment levels to go up. And the Government should strive to offer jobs for anyone willing and able to work, in order to combat all the socio-economic and psychological ills associated with involuntary unemployment, particularly long-term involuntary unemployment.
Standard economic thinking is to claim that anything below 5 percent unemployment is akin to full employment. Those individuals who happen to be part of that 5 percent unemployed figure don’t count in the eyes of mainstream economists and policy makers. Russian fiscal policy shouldn’t fear unemployment going below the [arbitrary] mainstream threshold.
As we can see from this graph, the economy is still operating with excess idle capacity. That means there’s still room to increase demand in order to employ capacity that is currently unused.
In response to the commercial and financial sanctions imposed by the West, the Russian Central Bank tried to juggle with the key interest rate. Completely unnecessary. This rate represents the cost of liquidity. Banks who are below their reserve minimum have to borrow reserves [numbers in checking accounts at the Central Bank] from banks who have a surplus, or from the Central Bank itself. Personally, I favor permanent zero interest rate policy [ZIRP] and no reserve minimum requirement for banks. Permanent zero interest rate because it minimizes cost pressures on output and investment, thus helping to stabilize prices. And by eliminating Government interest payments to the non-government sector, labor force participation and output are increased. ZIRP indeed hurts savers more than it aids borrowers, so a reduction in fiscal drag would be appropriate to counteract this particular consequence of ZIRP. No reserve minimum requirement because banks do not lend out reserves to their customers when they make loans and they are not constrained by reserves in their ability to issue loans – they are constrained by their capital [the spread between assets and liabilities] and by the actual demand for loans.
Banks use reserves for accounting and settlement purposes, and they use reserves to purchase cash to feed ATMs, in order to satisfy the public’s desire to hold physical liquidity. For a list of asset side regulations for the banking sector, regulations required to combat wealth extraction and systemic risk, see this article.
This graph represents the interbank rate, the price at which banks borrow reserves from each other. The CB rate and the interbank rate are often very similar in terms of figures. Standard practice among most Central Banks across the world is to minimize direct transactions between banks and the Central Bank, that’s why the latter is called ‘lender of last resort’. In truth, however, the interbank market serves absolutely no public purpose and ought to be abolished. Banks in need of reserves should borrow directly from the Central Bank.
Russian Government debt as percentage of GDP is extremely low compared to the norm among most developed countries. Japan, for instance, has a ratio of almost 260 percent and that country’s doing just fine [full employment & no inflation]. Unlike the Euro Zone states, a Government that spends and taxes in its own free floating fiat currency has maximum space to pursue whatever fiscal and monetary policy it desires. With debts denominated in its own currency, the Government can operate with negative financial capital indefinitely without any risk of bankruptcy.
The Russian Central Bank can boast about foreign currency reserves of around half a trillion US dollars in value. Yet, not all of that half a trillion represents foreign fiat. Russia’s gold stocks have hit a 5-year high, accounting for about 19% of its foreign reserves. At the same time, its share of US dollars was cut from 43.7 percent to around 20 percent. Remember that US dollar reserves sit on the Federal Reserve’s ledger, and Euro reserves sit on the ECB’s ledger. If Washington and the EU decide to freeze these accounts, Russia can’t use the funds. Any and all sovereign nations should pursue alternative payment systems to the established hegemonic order [like currency swaps with partner states].
Russia’s macros look very promising. Whenever I watch Putin’s Q&A interviews on national affairs, however, a bunch of stupid proposals ensue about some tax cuts here, some more subsidies there – all of which contribute to bureaucratic overhead and the proceeds end up captured by landlords and money lenders. If Russia would drop its regressive tax code and switch to a [Georgist] quasi-Single Tax system [100 percent land-value tax + pigovian tax], the real economy would experience the highest rate of development on earth, even under sanctions.