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 on: May 26, 2015, 10:38:55 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
"[A]ll speculative politicians will agree, that the happiness of society is the end of government, as all divines and moral philosophers will agree that the happiness of the individual is the end of man. From this principle it will follow that the form of government which communicates ease, comfort, security, or, in one word, happiness, to the greatest numbers of persons, and in the greatest degree, is the best." —John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

 on: May 26, 2015, 10:03:24 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by objectivist1
Note Robert's comments regarding Bill O'Reilly - fool that he is:

 on: May 26, 2015, 08:53:51 AM 
Started by DougMacG - Last post by captainccs
When exchange controls were introduced holding dollars or trading in dollars were made illegal, a move as stupid as banning drugs or alcohol in the USA. It does not work! Not even the Bank of England could protect the pound sterling against market forces, instead it made George Soros rich. Prohibition made the Mafia and Canadian distillers rich. The War on Drugs is making drug cartels, including Venezuelan officials, rich.

Because it did not work, the government set up bond trading schemes that effectively bypassed the bans. Until recently inflation/devaluation was held to around 30 to 35% annually but with the falling oil prices, rising dollar and Maduro's falling popularity (not that he ever was popular even with Chavistas), the bolivar has crumbled and there is nothing that the government can do about it.

I have long held that Venezuela's salvation was bankruptcy, the inability of government to buy votes. That is now coming to pass. The danger is that the uprising can be cruelly violent as was the case of the French Revolution.

Businesses quietly switch to dollar in socialist Venezuela
Associated Press By HANNAH DREIER
18 hours ago

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — It's still possible to buy a gleaming Ford truck in Venezuela, rent a chic apartment in Caracas, and snag an American Airlines flight to Miami. Just not in the country's official currency.

As the South American nation spirals into economic chaos, an increasing number of products are not only figuratively out of the reach of average consumers, but literally cannot be purchased in Venezuelan bolivars, which fell into a tailspin on the black market last week.

Businesses and individuals are turning to dollars even as the anti-American rhetoric of the socialist administration grows more strident. It's a shift that's allowing parts of the economy to limp along despite a cash crunch and the world's highest inflation. But it could put some goods further out of reach of the working class, whose well-being has been the focal point of the country's 16-year-old socialist revolution.

The latest sign of an emerging dual-currency system came earlier this month when Ford Motor Co. union officials announced the company had reached a deal with officials to sell trucks and sports utility vehicles in dollars only.

A few weeks earlier, American Airlines said it had stopped accepting bolivars for any of its 19 weekly flights out of Venezuela. Customers must now use a foreign credit card to buy the tickets online. Virtually all other foreign carriers have made the same switch with the government's consent, according to the Venezuela Airlines Association.

Driving the shift is the crumbling value of the bolivar, which has lost more than half its value this year, plunging to 400 per dollar on the free market as Venezuelans scramble to convert their savings into a more stable currency. Desperate, people are selling bolivars for a rate 60 times weaker than the strongest of country's three official exchange rates.

It's a politically uncomfortable situation for President Nicolas Maduro, who regularly leads chants of "gringo go home" and says currency speculation is one of the main tools used by enemies to try to sow chaos and force him from power.

It's not just businesses chasing greenbacks. Real estate contracts are still drafted in bolivars to satisfy a requirement imposed by late President Hugo Chavez, but in upscale neighborhoods most owners operate outside the law and sell and rent in dollars only. A group of realtors in tony eastern Caracas has established a password-protected website for listings in dollar prices.

Analysts say the administration likely sees a limited dollarization as the only way to prevent multinationals from leaving the county altogether, as Clorox did last year, citing problems brought about by decade-old currency controls, supply shortages and inflation that hit 68 percent last year, and economists believe is now well into the triple digits.

Production at Ford has fallen by 90 percent as the company struggles to gain access to dollars needed to import parts. Customers will now transfer Ford dollars in advance to pay for the import of the parts needed to assemble the cars in Venezuela, according to union officials.

Foreign airlines made their switch to dollars after the government refused to let them convert and repatriate $4 billion in ticket sales held in the country.

Meanwhile, inflation is racing so fast that ATMs have failed to keep pace. Many deliver a maximum of just $1.50 worth of bolivars per transaction. Some shoppers stay away from cash altogether, according to reports in local media, leaning more heavily on credit cards so they can pay for purchases later, when they'll cost less in dollar terms thanks to inflation.

Decade-old price controls make staple items ridiculously cheap for all Venezuelans. A bottle of vegetable oil costs 20 cents at the black market rate, a package of rice costs half that, and a sack of sugar costs even less.

Still, many working-class Venezuelans are looking for ways to accumulate their own stockpile of the U.S. currency by offering services to wealthy or foreign clients.

"It's the only way we can try to stay ahead," said one gym teacher who supplements his $25 a month salary by offering personal training to clients who can pay in dollars. The teacher, who asked that his name not be used to protect his safety, keeps his bills hidden around his home until a friend or obliging client can deposit them in his Miami bank account.

The move toward currency substitution doesn't sit well with hardcore government supporters, many of whom cut their political teeth listening to Chavez's tirades against the "dictatorship of the dollar."

"How is it possible that in the face of the U.S. effort to sabotage the revolution, we are allowing transnational companies to conduct business with the imperialist dollar in our country?" wrote Omar Hernandez, an engineer who works for Chavista community programs, on the influential pro-government website Aporrea.

But outside economists say Maduro would be wise to embrace the dollar outright.

Steve Hanke, a Johns Hopkins University economist who has long advised governments facing currency crises, says replacing the bolivar with the dollar would nip Venezuela's inflation problem almost overnight and become an anchor of economic stability, though it could also force austerity measures. He points to the example of Maduro ally Rafael Correa in Ecuador, who has railed against the U.S. during his eight years in office but has so far shown no desire to bring back the old national currency, which the country did away with in favor of the dollar.

At the Ford factory, workers are optimistic that the new deal will save their jobs, according to union leader Gerardo Troya. In fact, they have an idea for more dollarization: They'd like to be paid in U.S. currency now too, starting at $8 a day.

 on: May 26, 2015, 08:10:31 AM 
Started by captainccs - Last post by Crafty_Dog

By Paul McLeary with Ariel Robinson   

Here it comes. In what may be the biggest test yet of the Iraqi armed forces’ strength -- and the ability of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to wrangle the various Shiite, Kurd and Sunni factions -- Baghdad on Tuesday launched what it says is a major offensive in Anbar province.

Abadi told the BBC over the weekend that the city of Ramadi would be retaken from the Islamic State “in days,” and Ahmed al-Assadi, a spokesman for Iraq's Shiite militias and a member of Parliament, told reporters in Baghdad that the operation will "not last for a long time." He claimed Tuesday that Iraqi forces have almost completely encircled Ramadi.

Word of the day. While the Shiite-led Iraqi Army and some Iranian-backed Shiite militias head deeper into majority Sunni Anbar, the war of words the Obama administration has been having with itself over what happened in Ramadi shows no signs of abating. Over the long weekend, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Vice President Joe Biden sang pretty different tunes over the performance of Iraqi troops.

Appearing on CNN on Sunday, Carter took a shot at the performance of the Iraqi security forces in Ramadi, saying that they “vastly outnumbered the opposing force. And yet they failed to fight.” The situation was much more complicated than a simple failure to fight -- the exhausted Iraqi units had held a portion of the city for months with intermittent government support. But Carter maintained "that says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis."

A White House readout of a Monday call between Biden and Abadi walked Carter's statement back a bit. Biden said that he recognized “the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces over the past eighteen months in Ramadi and elsewhere.”

Baghdad calling. The heat isn’t only coming from Washington. With anger building in Baghdad over the performance of the Iraqi Army, in particular the highly-touted “Golden Division” of American-trained special operations forces who fled, Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq told CNN on Monday that "it's not clear for us why such a unit, which was supposed to be trained by the Americans for years, and supposed to be one of the best units in the army, would withdraw from Ramadi in such a way." Al-Mutlaq -- a Sunni politician -- has long been a critic of Baghdad's Shiite-led governments, and most fiercely of Abadi's predecessor, former Premier Nouri al-Maliki.

War ensemble. The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq lit up dozens of armored vehicles, tanks, and artillery pieces in and around Ramadi over the weekend, destroying what we assume is millions of dollars worth of old American military equipment.

Iraqi forces left hundreds of U.S.-supplied vehicles behind when they “drove” out of Ramadi, but were not “driven out,” in the words of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey.

And now most of them are melted hunks of metal. On Friday, U.S. Central Command announced that airstrikes near Ramadi destroyed “five ISIL armored vehicles, two ISIL tanks, two ISIL vehicles, an ISIL armored personnel carrier...five abandoned tanks, two abandoned armored personnel carriers and two abandoned armored vehicles.”

Quite a haul, and note the emphasis on the word “abandoned.”

Sunday was even more intense, with airstrikes hitting an artillery piece and 15 armored vehicles. We’ve seen pictures of rows of U.S. Army surplus M113 infantry carriers that the Iraqis left behind, many of which -- Defense officials assured the press last week -- were allowed to lapse into such a state of disrepair as to be unusable.

 on: May 26, 2015, 08:06:09 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Something to keep in mind , , ,

 on: May 26, 2015, 07:50:02 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Few people get the point as clearly as we do here, but if we prohibit the building of mosques in the US, not only do we have serious First Amendment issues but also it certainly would persuade a lot of Muslims not at war with us that we would be at war with them.

The US's plate is alarmingly full and we are in the process of losing military superiority.   We have China and Russia, the Arab Middle East (ISIS and AQ in its various manifestations, and Iran is going nuke.   

 on: May 26, 2015, 03:51:57 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by G M

 on: May 26, 2015, 03:13:13 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by G M

 on: May 25, 2015, 11:50:34 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by objectivist1
GM is correct.  We are at war with those who practice orthodox Islamic ideology, as expressed in the Koran.  (If you haven't yet read it, I HIGHLY recommend "A Simple Koran" edited by Bill Warner.)  It is critical to understand that the later verses abrogate the earlier, more peaceful verses, for example.  It's also critical to understand the doctrine of taqiyya - the idea that it is not only OK, it is a true believer's DUTY to deceive - to lie to - non-believers, in order to gain the upper hand.  To the extent that self-identified Muslims are not actively involved in jihad against us, we have no issue with them. 

We must attack those who are actively targeting and attacking us.  ISIS and the government of Iran, for example.  This certainly does not encompass 1.7 Billion Muslims.  Most of them are not actively targeting us.  To the extent that they disavow the many explicit passages in the Koran and Hadith which mandate warfare upon unbelievers - we have no problem with them.  However - those that hold to and act upon this belief system - are our mortal enemies and we must crush them, every bit as ruthlessly and decisively as we crushed Imperial Japan and the Nazis.  There is simply no alternative.  They stand against Western civilization.  Churchill recognized this long before WWII - when he was serving in the British military in India.

 on: May 25, 2015, 10:00:11 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by G M

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