Dog Brothers Public Forum
Return To Homepage
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 25, 2015, 04:53:32 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
86278 Posts in 2275 Topics by 1068 Members
Latest Member: cdenny
* Home Help Search Login Register
+  Dog Brothers Public Forum
|-+  Recent Posts
Pages: 1 ... 6 7 [8] 9 10

 on: May 20, 2015, 03:55:43 PM 
Started by captainccs - Last post by Crafty_Dog

 on: May 20, 2015, 12:35:36 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

 on: May 20, 2015, 12:32:26 PM 
Started by captainccs - Last post by Crafty_Dog
 Disbanding the Venezuelan Mafia
Geopolitical Diary
May 20, 2015 | 03:00 GMT
Text Size

As the price of Brent crude continued its five-day dip, settling at $64 per barrel Tuesday, we can assume the latest slump is extremely worrisome for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The petrodollars he needs to keep the Venezuelan economy afloat are dwindling. He has only $17.8 billion sitting in largely illiquid reserves, most of which are stored in gold, and total reserves are declining by roughly $2 billion every month. Less oil revenue means fewer dollars to fund imports, which in turn means the average Venezuelan with a necessary ID card can shop only on days designated by the government. And on those days, that citizen has to rush to stand in maddeningly long lines patrolled by security guards only to find that basic goods, from toilet paper to milk, are stripped from the shelves.

But the drop in the price of oil is not the only thing Venezuelans can blame for the shortages. Festering within the government are a number of powerful individuals who were propelled into positions of influence during the administration of former President Hugo Chavez and who have used that influence to shape the economy into a mangled instrument that suited their personal interests. These individuals now function less as a government than as a mafia. Military generals and government officials have worked hand in hand to move cocaine from Colombia through Venezuela while gaming the country's purchasing and distribution mechanisms and subsidized exchange rates to realize profits from various arbitrage schemes. So even when the government is able to import basic goods, their partners in crime can hoard products at ports or in warehouses to sit and rot or eventually be sold on the black market.

What is a Geopolitical Diary? George Friedman Explains.

Maduro inherited a government stacked with officials and generals whose primary interest is to maintain the influence and the perks that come with their positions. But Maduro has a problem. Venezuela's shortages are eventually going to reach a critical point as the country's financial cushion deflates, creating the potential for more serious unrest. At the same time, elections are due this year, and the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela is going to struggle to win votes when the government is running on the fumes of the Chavez era. If Maduro has any chance of carrying the country through this crisis, he will have to start by dislodging Chavistas who are distorting critical parts of the economy through their elaborate corruption schemes.

Obviously, this is easier said than done. If Maduro had the power to purge his government, he would have done so by now. The people in question are powerful for a reason, and they have military backing and links to armed groups that can cause trouble if they are crossed. The prospect of messy street protests means he needs the support of his security forces more than ever.

It is for these reasons that we are particularly interested in the growing number of leaks and rumors on U.S. prosecutors and Drug Enforcement Administration members working to build cases against high-level Venezuelan officials complicit in drug trafficking. Following weeks of rumors in Venezuelan media on impending indictments against high-level officials, The Wall Street Journal captured a great deal of attention on Monday with its detailed investigation on this very issue. The report claimed that National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, Aragua state Gov. Tareck El Aissami, head of the National Guard Nestor Reverol, Gen. Luis Motta Dominguez and retired Gen. Hugo Carvajal are under investigation in the United States, giving credence to previous claims in Venezuela that Cabello, in particular, is at the top of the United States' list of targets.

Of course, these cases have been building for some time, particularly after the 2010 arrest of Venezuelan drug kingpin Walid Makled. But it is notable that the rumors are intensifying at the same time the United States is trying to repair its relationship with Caracas. U.S. State Department Counselor Thomas Shannon met with Maduro on May 11, following up an April visit, and is reportedly expected to have more meetings with him in the coming weeks. The investigation of such high-profile Venezuelan officials would be discussed in these meetings. It is also reasonable to believe Cabello would be a central point as well.

Cabello, who participated in the 1992 coup attempt led by Chavez, has served in several powerful positions in the government and has influence over several members of the military. So long as he remains in a position of influence, the members in his criminal network are also protected. For now, as president of the National Assembly, Cabello has diplomatic immunity from any charges that the United States could throw at him. But if he loses his power — either through elections or through a decision by Maduro — then he and his cohorts will be susceptible to arrest and extradition if they leave the country now that he faces an impending indictment. Such concerns may be at least part of the reason we have not yet seen the Venezuelan government follow through in setting a date for the elections, even though Maduro likely knows that canceling the elections would result only in more severe and possibly unmanageable unrest on the streets.

That brings us back to the talks between Shannon and Maduro. Holding charges over the heads of powerful members of the Venezuelan government enables Washington to pressure Caracas into making political concessions, including a power-sharing arrangement with the opposition. But there may be more to the negotiation as well. Maduro may not be able to purge powerful figures such as Cabello and El Aissami on his own, but there is a possibility they could be sacrificed as part of a bargain with Washington — beginning the process of routing the government and the economy of its most destructive elements and delivering a message that the criminal networks distorting the economy are not impenetrable.

One way or another, Maduro needs to mitigate food shortages and secure economic aid. The United States is in no way the whole answer to Venezuela's problems or a substitute for the structural reforms needed to repair the economy, but it may be able to offer Maduro a partial solution. That prospect alone should have Cabello nervous.

 on: May 20, 2015, 12:18:43 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

 on: May 20, 2015, 12:06:41 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

 on: May 20, 2015, 12:05:28 PM 
Started by ccp - Last post by DougMacG
Jindal isn't getting traction yet but this is a long campaign and having a two term Governor speak out with wisdom on foreign poicy is a very good thing for the process.

Instead of rehashing the Iraq War, let’s face today’s much more serious threat from Iran. You have to give the media credit for trying. Last week saw a manufactured debate about a manufactured subject — whether our country should have invaded Iraq in 2003 based on what we know in 2015 about the course of events in the Middle East. But there’s a reason why the phrase “hindsight is 20/20” contains more than a kernel of truth — because Monday-morning quarterbacking, however nice it might make others feel, doesn’t change the past one whit.

In the real world, presidents have to play the hand of cards they are dealt. President Bush did just operating off the information he had, and he did it well. Unlike President Obama — who decided to withdraw our forces in Iraq precipitously, endearing himself to war-weary voters but creating a vacuum for terrorists — President Bush kept our country safe after 9/11, and Americans appreciate him for it. I supported his decision to get rid of Saddam Hussein, and I will not second-guess him now even for one minute.

But if the media are going to play these games, then let me add a few. I’m pretty sure that President Roosevelt would have increased patrols around Oahu on the morning of December 7, 1941. I don’t think King Philip II of Spain would have sent his Armada into the English Channel in the summer of 1588. And I’m fairly certain that Red Sox owner Harry Frazee would not have sold Babe Ruth’s contract rights to the New York Yankees.

But the more important question is not how Hillary Clinton and others have changed their minds on Iraq; it’s how she and the president she worked for have learned the wrong lesson from that conflict. Because this decade’s answer to an Iraqi regime that did not in reality possess large numbers of chemical and biological weapons is not to leave Iran within easy striking distance of a nuclear bomb. RELATED: Iran: Isolated No Longer

Consider for a moment the October 2002 remarks of a then-unknown state senator named Barack Obama. Prior to the Iraq conflict, the future president said he did not oppose all wars, just “dumb wars.” He believed that “Saddam [Hussein] poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military [is] a fraction of its former strength,” and that the international community could contain what he considered a “petty dictator.”

Contrast his comments about Iraq then to the situation in Iran now. Iran refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist; its leaders have talked about “eliminating” the state. Just last week, President Obama himself called Iran a “state sponsor of terrorism” for fomenting rebellion within the Middle East and elsewhere. The Wall Street Journal reported that “Iran could receive somewhere between $30 billion and $50 billion [just for] signing the agreement” — an economic boon and a funding source for more new munitions. Yet as it is, Iran has not lacked for military strength: The Russian military just sold Iran a passel of new missiles — belying the belief that this rogue regime can be easily contained. Iran is much more of a threat now than Iraq was then. But President Obama seems ready to pay any price to get a deal — any deal — out of Iran.

In short, Iran is much more of a threat now than Iraq was then. But President Obama seems ready to pay any price to get a deal — any deal — out of Iran. So unwilling to contemplate a military engagement in the Middle East is he, he appears scared of his shadow. Yet if the shadow of Barack Obama circa 2002 were around today, he would not call Iran a “dumb war.” To the contrary, he might even consider taking the military option off the table to be, well, dumb.

I don’t relish this criticism, nor the thought of armed conflict with Iran. I deprecate war in all its forms and consider it the ultimate last resort. But a last resort it must always remain.

It’s possible to over-learn the lessons of history.  In retrospect, it’s easy to argue that Britain, France, and the United States should have fought German and Italian aggression in Europe well before Hitler invaded Poland. But after the horrors of Verdun, Passchendaele, and the Somme, Neville Chamberlain and his contemporaries so feared the outbreak of another Great War that for years they handsomely rewarded aggression in their midst — setting the stage for an even bloodier global conflict.

That’s why the media hype of the past week hasn’t just been irrelevant; in many respects, the Iraq obsession is dangerous. Every minute we spend arguing about what should, could, or would have happened in Iraq a dozen years ago is a minute our nation is not talking about what must happen about Iran now. We ignore the current threat — and the greater threat — at our peril.

A generation ago, Bill Clinton campaigned in 1992 using the Fleetwood Mac song “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.” The ongoing parlor game over Iraq now echoes a song remade during that era: “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” But our country needs to stop fixating over the debates of the past — and the candidates of the past. The better question is whether we have learned the right lessons from the past, and how they affect the policies of the present. Because if we fail to stop the Iranian regime now, a nuclear arms race in the Middle East could greatly darken our children’s future.

— Bobby Jindal is the governor of Louisiana.

 on: May 20, 2015, 12:00:33 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
"Men, to act with vigor and effect, must have time to mature measures, and judgment and experience, as to the best method of applying them. They must not be hurried on to their conclusions by the passions, or the fears of the multitude. They must deliberate, as well as resolve." —Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

 on: May 20, 2015, 11:57:58 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
BREAKING NEWS   Wednesday, May 20, 2015 10:32 AM EDT

5 Big Banks to Pay Billions and Plead Guilty in Currency and Interest Rate Cases

Adding another entry to Wall Street’s growing rap sheet, five big banks have agreed to pay more than $5 billion and plead guilty to multiple crimes related to manipulating foreign currencies and interest rates, federal and state authorities announced on Wednesday.

The Justice Department forced four of the banks — Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, and the Royal Bank of Scotland — to plead guilty to antitrust violations in the foreign exchange market as part of a scheme that padded the banks’ profits and enriched the traders who carried out the plot. The traders were supposed to be competitors, but much like companies that rigged the price of vitamins and automotive parts, they colluded to manipulate the largest and yet least regulated market in the financial world, where some $5 trillion changes hands every day.

Underscoring the collusive nature of their contact, which often occurred in online chat rooms, one group of traders called themselves “the cartel,” an-invitation only club where stakes were so high that a newcomer was warned “mess this up and sleep with one eye open.” To carry out the scheme, one trader would typically build a huge position in a currency and then unload it at a crucial moment, hoping to move prices. Traders at the other banks agreed to, as New York State’s financial regulator put it, “stay out of each other’s way.”

As part of the criminal deal with the Justice Department, a fifth bank, UBS, will plead guilty to manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, a benchmark that underpins the cost of trillions of dollars in credit cards and other loans.


 on: May 20, 2015, 11:45:04 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by DougMacG
The speech was written by the writers of the teleprompter in chief, IMHO.  What was new was to see that fiery tone coming from this First Lady.  She was clearly auditioning for a future job, maybe social justice crusader, zillion dollar speech-giver, but more likely - future Presidential candidate.  Sounded to me like the Obama answer to Blood Feud.  If Hillary can't do it, Michelle will (as she sees it).  She doesn't need to waste years pretending to be the junior Senator from flyover country (as she sees it).  She already lives in the White House, is perfectly comfortable being flown around by Air Force One, and everyone she knows already accepts the premise that she is fully qualified.

I regret saying all this, but she is considerably younger than Hillary, clearly blacker, slightly more feminine, noticeably stronger, equally qualified (and I mean that as an insult), can deliver a written speech with passion, and comes with about half the baggage.  

 on: May 20, 2015, 10:37:32 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

Harvey Mansfield
May 19, 2015 6:59 p.m. ET

Conservatives have been giving first lady Michelle Obama a hard time over her commencement speech at Tuskegee University on May 9. They denounce her complaints of continuing racism in America while recalling outrages long past. They wonder why she said nothing of the problem of black criminality. They scorn her unwillingness to acknowledge the privilege she enjoyed from attending Princeton and Harvard. Yet the speech had much merit that conservatives should appreciate.

The speech was given at the university founded as a school for teachers in 1881 in Tuskegee, Ala., by Booker T. Washington, the most conservative of black thinkers. Tuskegee University was not built with government funding or private donation but by blacks themselves under Washington’s direction. Michelle Obama paid tribute to him with the story that he pawned his watch to buy a kiln so that the students could fashion the bricks they needed to build the school but couldn’t afford to buy. George Washington Carver, she added, came to Tuskegee to do his research and had to search trash piles to equip his laboratory.

These facts—or legends, it doesn’t matter which—are faithful to Booker T. Washington’s central thesis that blacks should not depend on the white majority to improve their lives. They should rise “up from slavery,” the title of Washington’s autobiography, on their own. They had of course been liberated by the Civil War, but he said they needed also to make themselves fit for freedom, thus freeing themselves, through stages of self-education and hard work. His stirring program was the very antithesis of today’s racial preferences.

Washington’s thesis was opposed by another great black thinker, W.E.B. DuBois, and the two had a grand battle in the early 20th century. DuBois despised the passivity of Washington’s approach, blaming his isolation from politics and lack of outrage. “Demand your rights” was the gist of DuBois’s message, not “earn your rights,” as for Washington.

Here we have the essential, abiding question for black politics facing a white majority: Which is better, the civil-rights strategy of anger and agitation or the quiet, composed policy of pursuing American happiness like everyone else, if with fewer advantages? The first can lead to rioting, the second to accusations of being an Uncle Tom.

Michelle Obama, avoiding the battle, rather skillfully blended the two sides in her speech. She referred to “the bloody clubs and the tear gas at Selma,” bringing drama to her praise for the Tuskegee graduates with their worthy but unexciting accomplishments. She spoke too of the noted black airmen of Tuskegee, trained there during World War II, who went on “to show the world” what they could do.

The airmen, one could say, practiced the Booker T. Washington strategy. Instead of demanding benefits from the government, demand the right to serve in its military. Worthy military service by blacks in World War II prepared the decision to desegregate the military, which in turn led the way to desegregation in civilian life. But of course one can hardly overlook the civil-rights revolution that intervened in the 1960s, an event suggesting that it was necessary for blacks to protest as well as study and work.

Mrs. Obama assumed both outlooks as if there were no problem in doing so: the liberal way of protest and the conservative way of lawful virtue. At least it is clear, though, that she appreciates the conservative way. She wants for her children what the parents at the Tuskegee commencement wanted for theirs. This means, as she proclaimed, that she is “first and foremost a mom.” A prominent and successful woman who talks like that deserves at least a nod of approval from conservatives. Her emphasis on motherhood, she said, may not be “the first thing that some folks want to hear from an Ivy-League-educated lawyer,” but “it is truly what I am.” The “some folks” who might disagree with her are obviously not conservatives.

True, the first lady came to this sensible conclusion after voicing liberal gush about authenticity of the sort that reduces solutions for life’s problems to arbitrary personal choice. It is as if choosing well doesn’t matter. But she chose well to come to Tuskegee to praise its graduates, who also had chosen well so as to be there. She also found a moment of contrast between the graduates at Tuskegee and the rioters in Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo.

The frustrations evident in those places “are not an excuse to just throw up our hands and give up,” she said. Then she added a message worthy of Booker T. Washington: The history of black Americans “teaches us that when we pull ourselves out of those lowest emotional depths, and we channel our frustrations into studying and organizing and banding together—then we can build ourselves and our communities up.”

As for Mrs. Obama’s complaints about racism, who can deny that for blacks, as she said, “the road ahead is not going to be easy”? Liberals and conservatives can argue over whether blacks are helped or hurt by government, but either way she is right. Would it were otherwise, but our black citizens despite their gains still have a harder time of it than the rest of us.

Mr. Mansfield is a professor of government at Harvard University and a senior fellow of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.
Popular on WSJ

    Bob Seger’s ‘Night Moves’
    Bob Seger’s ‘Night Moves’
    Clinton’s State Department Staff Kept Tight Rein on Records
    Clinton’s State Department Staff Kept Tight Rein on Records
    ATM Debit-Card Data Theft Soars
    ATM Debit-Card Data Theft Soars
    Who Is Sidney Blumenthal?
    Opinion: Who Is Sidney Blumenthal?
    Four Cancer Charities Accused of Fraud
    Four Cancer Charities Accused of Fraud


    Rescued Migrants: "It Was Hell"
    Oil From Burst Pipeline Spills Off California Coast
    BASE Jumping Star Dies at Yosemite
    Three Shots You Can’t Take With an iPhone
    Crowd-Sourced Time-Lapse Reveals Changing Earth

Set your profile to public to comment
There are 356 comments.

All comments will display your real name. Read our commenting rules.
NewestOldestReader Recommended
STEPHEN FULTON 1 minute ago

Manfield is actually quite right. The lethal combination of a monopolistic teachers union that has 0% interest in teaching and their liberal lapdogs that fight charter schools at every turn giving those in the inner city no chance to escape + the progressives unwillingness to insist on responsible behavior in return for welfare payments + insane drug laws that ensure that drug distribution remains the best paying job in the hood = no education, fatherless "families" and high rates of incarceration in prisons better thought of as gladiator school where violence and intimidation are practiced and absorbed to the point where 90% recidivism is standard operation procedure. How many of "us" would revert to "lord of the Flies" behavior if we had no education, no role model, no job possibilities except slingin crack and a war like neighborhood? Our inner cities are past the tipping point and the best we can do is keep their pathologies from spreading.
Flag ButtonShare
BOB DENBY 1 minute ago

How refreshing (and honest) it would have been if she had simply stepped up to the lectern and said, "Dear graduates, congratulations on qualifying to attend this momentous occasion.  I'm not going to bore you with a lot of platitudes but I just want you to know this, and know it well -- EVERYONE TALKS ABOUT THE WEATHER BUT NOBODY DOES ANYTHING ABOUT IT!  Now get out there and make your way in this great country.
Flag ButtonShare
Anthony Alfero
Anthony Alfero 2 minutes ago

I don't think that anyone can say that "blacks" will have a more difficult road. Which ones? Some will be accepted to schools, be hired (and not fired) and promoted because of their privilege. Others will suffer from the effects of a perception of fear, created by the outrageous levels of crime and violence in many black communities. Some will still see discrimination but seeing the blatant discrimination today against whites, conservatives and the religious, I feel little empathy. What goes around, comes around.
Flag ButtonShare
Brian Charles
Brian Charles 2 minutes ago

So she continues with legitimizing the frustration of rioters and looters but without correctly assigning blame and we are supposed to applaud her?  Isn't this what Middle East despots do when they blame the West for their economic status without acknowledging they've enslaved their people?

Then she calls America racist despite the fact that in 2008 we elected a rookie Senator from Illinois President in no small part because he is black. 

She and her family have been handed and will be handed millions of dollars (see the Clintons) over the coming years and she still criticizes this country as racist?

If we are racist, how did the Obamas succeed?  Did they act white?  Were they lucky?  Was it the ladder of affirmative action?  Are they "special"?

Lousy piece.
Flag ButtonShare
Thomas Jones
Thomas Jones 2 minutes ago

It's been said here I'm sure, but I will say it again.  If the commencement speech was full of merit why, then, did Ms. Obama have to put racial tension into it?  What is it about this administration that they have to create divides rather than bring people together like true leaders do?
Flag ButtonShare
Stuart Baxter
Stuart Baxter 11 minutes ago

She should kiss the ground that she and her whiny husband walk on every day for the opportunity they have been afforded and proudly hold themselves up as an example that everyone in this country can rise to wherever they want instead of continuing the race baiting and divisive rhetoric they insist on doing almost daily.
Flag ButtonShare
TIM LUKER 15 minutes ago

I recommend for her next inspirational commencement address - she presents a slide show of all her fabulous taxpayer funded vacations.
Flag ButtonShare
Sanjay Saxena
Sanjay Saxena 16 minutes ago

The Asian and Jewish people in US have shown the way to succeeding in US.  It is hard (er) but it can be done.
Flag ButtonShare

Pages: 1 ... 6 7 [8] 9 10
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!