Saturday, June 30, 2018

Monday, June 18, 2018

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Monday, April 9, 2018

Saturday, March 31, 2018

After observing the events of the prior few weeks, I have come to two embarrassingly somber conclusions: 1) many Americans are not knowledgeable of civics as it regards the type of government we function under and 2) people are proud to display such a lack of knowledge for all to see.  America is a constitutional republic.  It is not a democracy.  Democracy is a synonym for mob rule and our founding fathers were very much aware of this principle. So much so that they defined a set of rules for the government to function within (the Constitution) and a treaty between the United States Federal Government and its citizenry called the Bill of Rights.

For as long as I have been alive, I have never seen a march specifically designed to take away a civil right.  I have seen marches pro or for civil rights but never a march for example, to take away the vote, or to take away free speech or any other basic right as outlined in the Bill of Rights.  But the recent manipulated and inorganic march against guns (which it should be called) is a first. Although they are too cowardly to state such openly, it is really a march to obviate the second amendment, since each argument and position taken expresses a semantic desire for some policy action to ‘infringe’ upon the Second amendment – an inalienable right as stated in the Bill of Rights.  Let me attempt to explain.

The general tenor is the suggestion that the second amendment is outdated, and for some 97-year-old liberal, “a relic of the 18th century.” I find this both simplistic and indication of a few lipofuscin granules on someone’s prefrontal cortex. The fact is defending against any tyranny by the government or foreign actor is a constant in the world we live in and to remove the possibility of such never occurring in the USA when we know men are both in good and evil form, would be dumb. Just as idiotic as the assertion that the second amendment is about hunting (which it is not) or that it was speaking about muskets (which it was not since muskets were the assault rifle of the day).

Appears that this self-absorbed and mindless horde of gun grabbers is too thoughtless to comprehend this let alone understand the history behind the genuine fear of government tyranny. Let me try and break it down.  The colonies once were run by the crown in England and as such, the original states were headed by appointed governors by the crown.  In Massachusetts, one of those persons was General Thomas Gage. He operated under several laws established by the British Parliament to exercise control of the colonies one of which was called the Townshend Acts. These four acts enabled the British to extract revenue in the form of taxes and tariffs and more importunately, gave them the power to suspend any form of representative assembly the colonist formed. They carried out enforcement of these functions via the British military by Writs of Assistance. These were documents that allowed for the redcoats to enter, search and seize anything from a private citizen they considered contraband. These were non-specific meaning that they did not require details for the search or where the search would be implemented (reason for the 4th amendment).

As one would reckon, the colonist did not like these actions and rebelled leading to the Boston Tea Party. After the Boston Tea Party in 1773, the British Crown and Parliament were mad as fuck at the colonies.  To show this anger, they passed the Coercive Acts in 1774 which many colonist found upsetting because it restricted town meetings (once a year) making them illegal, closed the Boston Port, made British official immune to prosecution and mandated that colonist by law would have to quarter British troops. Next the British put in place an import ban on firearms and gunpowder which was followed by actual house to house gun and gunpowder confiscation by British troops.

On one occasion, General Gage dispatched a garrison of troops to break up a meeting of citizens in Salem. There they were met by a few thousand-armed Americans young, old, male and female, for all Americans were armed and had plenty of powder to match. Given that there were only a couple thousand British troops in the colonies while Gage was governor, he realized it would be hard to enforce any of the laws aimed and controlling America, since there were many thousands of armed Americans in Massachusetts alone.

He went back to using Writs of Assistance to seize weapons and gun powder.  They could enforce these actions with the gun but failed to comprehend that the colonist considered the confiscation of their weapons through violence as an act of war. As history records, of all the things the British did, the most offensive to the colonist was seizing their guns and powder. This reached a fever on April 19, 1775, when British soldiers under the direction of Major ohn Pitcairn went to Lexington and Concord to seize the guns of the citizenry, starting the American War for Independence.

Therefore, after the Revolutionary War, the first three amendments of the Bill of rights dealt with speech, assembly, protest (1st), no infringements on gun ownership (2nd) and the quartering of troops in private homes (3rd). All of which are granted by God and not the government. Ergo, when the second amendment was written and ratified, its intent was that the civilian population would insofar as much as possible, have the same weapons as the military. Thus, it intentionally reads: “A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” It asserts via the employment of the comma’s, that the Second Amendment was to preserve and guarantee, NOT grant, the pre-existing God given right of individuals to keep and bear arms.

True, the 2nd amendment emphasizes the need for a militia, being a member of any militia (well-regulated or not), was written in such a way to say being in a militia was not a precondition or requirement for citizens to exercise the right to keep arms. This is clarified in Federalist Number 46. James Madison wrote: “Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will and direct the national force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments, and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned despite the legions which surround it.” Thus, individual Americans have a God given legal right of self-defense against the state and/or any foreign invader via the 2nd Amendment.

Alexander Hamilton too noted this in Federalist 29 when he wrote: “That there may happen cases in which the national government may be necessitated to resort to force cannot be denied. Our own experience has corroborated the lessons taught by the examples of other nations; … If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual State. In a single State, if the persons entrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair” He later adds: “As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow-citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their PRIVATE arms.” 

Simply put, the Second Amendment is the fail safe for the citizenry against authoritarianism and political mob-rule tyranny. Now I know the first argument will be this can’t happen today and that only the police/military should have these “weapons of war.”  Maybe, or maybe not is my response.  I grew up in the 1960s and in my life time I have seen tyranny mostly abroad. What if the Vietnamese had not been armed? They surely fought against tyranny albeit from abroad.  On the other hand it can be from the inside, as was the case with the Cambodian genocide carried out by the Khmer Rouge against people who were perceived to be in opposition of the regime. After Pol Pot banned guns, he followed it with the murder of between 1.5 to 3 million people.

Guns were the reason slavery could be carried out flawlessly, they enabled the ability for Leopold of Belgium to inflict genocide on more than 10 million Africans. Then there was Sharpsville in South Africa and the attacks on the Black Panther Party in Chicago and Los Angles in 1969. History shows us that the only African nation that was not colonized by a European power was Ethiopia, which ironically was the only African nation to have guns to fight of the effort to do so by Italy (under Mussolini). The same is true as I write this, in South Africa, the government under the leadership of its new President Cyril Ramaphosa voted to confiscate white-owned land without compensation.

Still albeit historical accurate, I would be vilified if I confronted either David Hogg or Emma Gonzales with this information, which I find strange, for if I were in a classroom I would not.  These are rude children whom think they know everything about everything. I know because I am a parent with 25 years in the game and a teacher of college students with the same amount of years in the game.  I question and confront students daily because they typically repeat what they hear and do not read or engage in critical thinking. This is not by mistake, it is neurological and reinforced by contingencies of reinforcement (habit). Why can’t we ask Hogg, or question his views and correct him when his facts are inaccurate? I do it every day in class. Why can’t we ask Emma Gonzales why she wears a flag of Cuba, a communist nation, from which her family had to flee because upon take power Castro seized all arms and killed more than 100,000 Cuban citizens? Isn’t this fair game? Why not ask them why they resort to bullying and name calling when people have differing yet valid views than theirs? Why not push back when they call all against their wishes simple want to “murder children”? Is what you push collective punishment? Do you think all gun owners should be held up to the shooter of your high school as a standard? Are you comfortable asking to privacy rights should be reduced and that second amendments rights should be infringed because that is what you want but don’t want your right of wearing the book bag you want infringed? Is that fair? Do you know what an assault rifle is or when and AR-15 semi-automatic ever been used on the battle field?

I will tell you why, because it is anatomical.  In the adolescent 14-24, the prefrontal cortex is still developing. Consequently, he rational part of a teen's brain (the prefrontal cortex) isn't fully developed and won't be until approaching age 30. Thus, as opposed of critical thinking, the Limbic system, the amygdala is the part of the brain they rely on to make decisions where as adults think with the prefrontal cortex. The amygdala is associated with emotions, impulses and aggression behavior. This is clearly on display.  For example, they call it a March for Our Lives (which is eerily like the annual Pro-Life “March For Life) yet they do not consider unborn babies lives and are funded by Planned Parenthood (more than 900 black babies are aborted per day- nearly half are repeat abortions) among others while at the same time calls the National Rifle Association “child killers.” They want black people to side with them in the consideration that police and the military should be the only ones to have (long) guns while they gun us down relentlessly in the streets everyday (sure we kill each other daily also but this isn’t the point). The oke seems to write itself - rich white kids and liberal elites have tricked Black Lives Matter to embrace All Lives Mattter and the Police State (only cops should have guns). They want the age of voting to be dropped to 16 yet want the age of gun ownership increased to 21 (another inconsistency).

Last, they are bad at math and citing statistics. If they were truly concerned about saving the lives of kids, Assault rifles would be at the bottom of the list. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 2016 data shows 37,461 people were killed in 34,436 motor vehicle crashes, an average of 102 per day. According to researchers at John Hopkins and the CDC, there are 250,000 deaths per year due to medical error in the U.S., an average of 685 per day. Based on data from the National Vital Statistics System, Mortality, in 2016, there were more than 63,600 drug overdose deaths in the U.S., an average of 173 per day (a sizable number are between 15-20). Data collected by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis reveals that nearly 6,000 teen drivers ages 15-20 died from motor vehicle injuries because of distracted (cell phone use) driving, an average of 16 per day. According to the FBI, 1,604 people are killed by “knives and cutting instruments” annually, an average of 4.4 per day - 374 were killed by “rifles” in 2016, an average of 1.02 per day. But go ahead, you let your teenage child run your household and formulate fender government policy – not me.

I could continue but we all know that any military using AR-15 in battle against fully automatic MPT-76, FN SCAR-H or AK-47 (all fully automatic meaning pull thee trigger once it keeps firing) would be wiped out. What these kids are doing is using anger against law abiding gun owners, for they want all guns outlawed.  They want what Hitler did when he passed major gun control and seizure legislation. They are not progressives, they are totalitarians. They are more like the young generation in Communist China under Mao, who killed the older generation, assisted in his gun confiscation and the deaths of more than 100 million who did not agree with the politics of communism. They are a loud brood, but just because they are the loudest, doesn’t mean they are the largest and they or their handlers are too cowardly to go door to door with a gun to take any gun from a law-abiding US citizen.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Friday, January 12, 2018

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Friday, November 17, 2017

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

As I frequently say, I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  In fact I reckon I take prided in how little I actually know.  But every now and then I am able to string together a couple a few thoughts and sentences in such a manner to express what I honestly and truly believe and this is one of those rare times. When it comes to economics, I am no economist but when I read what is proposed and written by many of the “so-called’ experts in this field regarding the present economic standing of the United States, in particular Paul Krugman and Larry Summers, I always think of what Milton Friedman once said: “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand.”

I would not be surprised if a lot of cats consider Paul Krugman and Larry Sumner’s as overly smart and learned men. I would agree and note there are several reason for this, inclusive of their Ivy league educations and their incessant habit of speaking in technical terms employed to make them seem smarter than they are and/or to confuse the listener when they are proven wrong and/or are just guessing about what they think versus what they actually know. I suggest this because both believe economic theory is ALWAYS right which herein my problem with them is. Let us start with Krugman, who clearly has no clue or understanding of middle and lower class Americans.

If you have ever heard Paul Krugman talk or read anything he has penned to paper, one halcyon observation that can be made is that in his astigmatic perspective, he is always right and never wrong. No matter the topic, especially when the subject is rooted in macroeconomics, if you disagree or refute his propositions, you are often accused of having bad data, reconstructing history or just being plane ole illogical. This unceasing proclivity of Krugman’s to be correct in theory but incorrect based on real world standards would be amusing if it were not so dangerous. For example Krugman frequently invents or pretends to have been the economist who predicted the housing bubble. What he forgets to add is that in 2002 he wrote that the Federal Reserve and Alan Greenspan needed to “create a housing bubble to replace the NASDAQ bubble” in order to combat the recession at the time. When this was pointed out, you guessed it, he explained away the unexplainawayable.

He also has a habit of taking credit for stuff that has nothing to do with him or his words like the fact that the U.S. has yet to experience any real increase in price inflation. This although he had stated and predicted that from 2010 on, the U.S. would experience an extended period of unending “process of disinflation.” One could go on and on: the zillion times he has said the Euro would collapse or how negative interest would never ever happen. Regarding the Euro, he even went as far as to put in writing that many of the peripheral countries of Europe would be unable to remain in the Eurozone, even predicting that Greece would be out along with Spain and Italy four years ago.

I won’t just focus on Krugman, for every slap-stick comedy duo has a sidekick and partner and there is no better person I can slot for this role (casting couch aside) than the one and only Larry Summers. Summers, former Treasury Secretary during the Clinton administration and former Director of the National Economic Council for President Obama has blessed the world with the already disjointed and discredited concept of "secular stagnation." Now to provide a little background, when Barack Obama was elected in 2008, he mounted Summers as head of the National Economic Council. This even after he made remarks suggesting that women were biologically and genetically inferiorto men and more so, had not done such a great job while in the Clinton administration with respect to the dotcom bubble and his advocacy for the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. The CFMA gave us financial derivatives, credit-default swaps and other complex papers which were basically unregulated and brought about the 2008 financial collapse. Although prior to this he regarded these new changes regarding securitization on Wall Street as being positive.

But I digress, back to secular stagnation. Summers believes that the U.S. economy is engaged in a new long-time trend or new normal that he has termed "secular stagnation." In simple terms, he suggests that without the existence of bubbles in any part of the U.S. economy, it is mathematically impossible for the economy to generate enough spending to get to full employment. For him, this is because since interest rates can't go below zero (Krugmanesque) and because the "natural interest rate “has been permanently lowered into negative territory such that real rates can't go low enough to keep the economy out of a protracted slump.

This all sounds good on paper but there are more than a few things wrong with this vision of Summers. The foremost is how one calculates real rates. How do we measure real interest rates or are we measuring real interest rates? When cats like Summers say that inflation-adjusted rates have been falling, most are just subtracting expected inflation from the nominal interest rate. The concern is that the way I see it, real interest rate is entirely different from the natural interest rate, which mean a more tenable explanation other than secular stagnation and the new normal of sub two percentgrowth, could be due to an unusual prolonged business cycle.

My question is how can cats like Krugman and Summers keep getting away with being so wrong so frequently yet venerated as economic Gods by the elite east and west coast press outlets and even many of our current politicians? Until we figure this out, it will be nearly impossible to have intelligent reasoned and fact based discussions or even arguments with such individuals on the topic of economics. I understand completely what Robert Skidelsky meant when he wrote: “Today’s professional economists, by contrast, have studied almost nothing but economics. They don’t even read the classics of their own discipline. Economic history comes, if at all, from data sets. Philosophy, which could teach them about the limits of the economic method, is a closed book. Mathematics, demanding and seductive, has monopolized their mental horizons. The economists are the idiots savants of our time.” 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The pulse of Black America these days appears to be controlled by several issues, none of which have any true impact on improving the present status quo of the African American community. These include Cam Newton's (seemingly innocents) comment regarding route running, the constant displeasure and anger toward President Donald Trump’s oral attacks against multi-million dollar celebrities associated with professional sports (namely Jemele Hill, LeBron James, & Colin Kaepernick)  and others who have decided to make a stand for (or knee) for whatever reason they say. Sure there is the occasional racist confederate statue and promoted albeit unsubstantiated Russian hacking of the US 2016 Presidential election, but anything that involves policy that could possibly actually assist in empowering the black community economically such as US monetary policy, not a whisper.

To be fair, maybe monetary policy or even fiscal policy are areas not to many African Americans take the time to understand, or maybe they feel it is too difficult a subject to comprehend. Whatever the case, you are more likely to see sincerely emotionally based thought-out gobbledygook on some stupid ish LeBron James said, or on how heterosexual black men are the white men of black people, or how Jemele Hill was right, than the previous. I would expect that a lot of cats know the difference between monetary and fiscal policy, but just in case they dont, I will attempt to explain the two, outline how a lack of focused attention on monetary policy is a slow death of the African American community and how can we change our attitudes such that we focus on tangible political issues instead of cosmetic subjects typical of identity politics that do nothing but aid in divide and conquering everybody.

Fiscal policy is a way a government adjusts its spending levels and tax rates to influence a nation's economy. Examples of this can be observed when the government implements tax cuts. Monetary policy is a macroeconomic policy put in place by central banks like the Federal Reserve designed to control and/or manage the money supply and interest rate. By macroeconomic, I am referring to general economic factors, such as interest rates and national productivity, which in theory can aid in dealing with consumption, inflation and even the Gross domestic product (overall productivity). Some common examples of monetary policy deals with regulating the discount rate of borrowing or lending and purchasing of government securities – all of which are ways the Federal Reserve in this instance, can control the country's money supply. Thus use of the noun money.

For all practical purposes, current US monetary policy is crushing the black community. Sure it has the stock markets at all-time highs (which for the record I benefit from) and has so far created the 2nd longest bull market run in history,  but it hasn’t resulted in any improvement in the economic capacity of the average black person in America. For us, it has yielded a period of wage stagnation even with the supposedly reduction in the national unemployment rate producing economic inequality levels we ain’t had since before the Great Depression. This is even after all the stuff Bush and Obama did based on the request of the Federal Reserve, supposedly to help Main Street (Quantitative Easing, TARP, and the bailouts of Bear Stearns, AIG, and GM). Overall, the median household before-tax incomes have fallen from near $55,000 to $53,000 presently, which means it is even worse for African Americans.

So far, Fed monetary policy has widened the employment gap for prime-age African Americans and whites. Plus, Blacks tend to slightly (if at all), participates in the financial markets, which over the past 8 years have served to mostly advantage the upper 10%. All of which is primarily determined by Federal Reserve’s monetary interventions. Although progressives like Obama and the mainstream media’s  assert that Federal Reserve policies thattarget full employment benefits African-Americans, it is not clear to how this can be the case when there is no evidence of this (albeit Obama said it was), or to support that specific unemployment for certain ethnic racial groups are considered when they formulate and implement monetary policy.

Since 2000 the African-American unemployment rate has been double the white unemployment rate with the unemployment rate of African-American teens being more than six times higher than the overall white unemployment rate.  Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve Board Chair even said that the US central bank was basically powerless to do anything specifically to tackle high unemployment rates in the black community. 

More to this point, Former Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota conducted research on the minutes and transcripts of the central bank’s meetings and found no referencesto the African American unemployment. This was in 2010 and searches for 2008 and 2009 detailed a similar result – at a time when African Americans were disparately being hard hit by the foreclosures when the housing bubble burst. The mortgage crisis in concert with the 2008 economic slump devastated 47 percent of black families’ wealth, wealth which has yet to be recovered.

With 80% of Americans on average earning less than $50,000 and one in two making less than $30,000 annually, it appears that US monetary policy is either tone death or designed to serve the top 10 percent. In some places, especially urban areas and major cities, the unemployment rate is for African-American men between the ages of 18 and 37 is nearly 40 percent unemployment and near 50 percent in cities like Chicago, Baltimore and even Atlanta.

Until the Federal Reserve factor in the experience of black economic conditions when developing and implementing monetary policy, nothing will change. But this won’t change until we who suffer by foul and ineffective monetary policy become more knowledgeable of the issue and remove ourselves from the ridiculous and mundane things we claim to be the most outraged with. Sure they recovery is strong, but only for a small segment of the population, for the average African American it has mainly worsened economic inequities. So forgive me if the removal of a statue, or some millionaire paid to play a kids game is mad supposedly due to police brutality aint that important to me.  I’m mad at this too, but I’m equally upset with the 538 murders and 2,913 shootings in Chicago to date (maybe even more) than the  329 whites, 165 blacks,112 Hispanics killed by police thus far according to the Washington Post. The prior of which is more a function of economic reality of actually failed monetary policy than a rebel flag. But that is just me.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Over the past decade many have openly complained about the brutal and authoritarian political moves of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  From his alleged supplying of ISIS jihadist in their effort to assist in the overthrow of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and his helping them to smuggle oil from Iraq and Syria to world markets, to the way in which he dealt with the failed coup attempt against him by arresting his opponents, and closing all their affiliated institutions. There is also the referendum he won to serve both as head of government and the head of state at the same time. However even before this, many came to learn and understand his ruthlessness through his interaction with the Kurdish minority of Turkey, their political representation the Halkların Demokratik Partisi (HDP) and more notably, the Kurdistan Workers, party.

Recently he detained two leaders of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP along with many others accusing them of being supportive of the Kurdistan Workers party (PKK) and spreading propaganda. Instead of addressing the vile hazardous actions of ISIS, Turkey under Erdogan has selected to go to war with the Kurds and has been on a continuous exercise attacking Kurdish militias in Syria and bombing Kurdish villages in the region. This is Turkey and how the Turks and Erdogan express their fear of Kurdish independence and self-determination for an ethnic group that make up between 15 and 25 percent of Turkey’s population (8 to 9 million) with an equally long and storied history

Now let us imagine a similar ethnic group both in number (6 to 7 million) and disposition with an equally long and storied history (1100 ACE), however they comprise 28 percent of the population. Like the Kurd’s they have their own language and seek to be independent, and practice self-rule. Moreover, as in the case with the Kurds, they have faced continuous opposition  for having such a desire and even more so for promoting the use of suffrage to determine such. This group of people since then has had many local elected officials arrested by the state government, with the regional police force under orders to arrest mayors if they refuse to appear for questioning by the state investigating their desire to hold a vote for independence.  In addition, the nation’s constitutional court has suspended the prosecutor of the region and central authorities have taken over all spending. Although this ethnic region of the nation is responsible for more than 20 percent of the more than 1 trillion-euro economy, the state central government has threatened to take away all its spending and budgetary authority.  This is Spain and this is how the central government in Madrid and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy express their fear of Catalonian independence and self-determination.

Historically, Catalonia is not a part of Spain just as Kurdistan was not a part of Turkey or Iraq.  This isn’t a new proposition for as in both cases war dictates who draws the boarders of conquered, occupied or colonialized nations. This was true with Catalonia as it was with Turkey, Iraq and Kurdistan after the Ottoman Empire’s defeat in World War I and both nations’ modern borders being demarcated in 1920 by the League of Nations via the Treaty of Sèvres.  However, just as in Turkey, likewise the Spanish government consider holding an independence referendum illegal and that such a vote would be in violation of the Spanish Constitution. To accentuate his point, the federal authorities have arrested scores of local politicians, seized tens of thousands of ballots and are continuously trying to block the official web site for the independence referendum.

It appears as if Spain under the direction of Prime Minister Rajoy is following the script designed and practiced by Erdogan word for word and action by action. Just this week in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Turkish President Erdogan warned that an independence referendum among Iraqi Kurds would have serious consequences. He stated, “Steps such as demands for independence that can cause new crises and conflicts in the region must be avoided. We hereby call on the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government to abort the initiative they have launched in that direction.”  Not to be out done in dictatorial prowess, Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy and his Constitutional Court has not only suspended the Catalonia and legislature but has also blocked all and any measures taken by the pro-independence Catalan government. These strong-armed tactics of intimidation did not end there. The Constitutional Court also levied fines of up to €12,000 a day on members of the Catalan electoral board and Prime Minister Rajoy defends detaining accused separatist politicians for promoting “civil disobedience” and acting “profoundly antidemocratic.” Rayjoy has also ordered all Catalan mayors to appear before the state to answer questions about the move toward independence, however the majority have declare exercised their right to remain silent before the court.

One consistent perspective presented by the Spanish authorities is that the referendum would be unconstitutional because all Spanish citizens would not be able to voteThis is strange since the Spanish Government along with other western nations supported the 1991 Kosovo, Slovenia and Croatia referendums for independence in which Serbian’s were not allowed to vote, nor did they make this sort of argument when the South Sudan was created without all Sudanese not being allowed to vote. In fact, since this time, the Spanish Government has recognized 26 new states the majority which were established independently (a unilateral referendum) of the input of others since that time.

Then there is the issue of when did this become unconstitutional. Some have advocated that the Spanish Constitutional Court’s decision to strike down key elements of the 2006 Catalan statute of autonomy was the actual unconstitutional action that has resulted in what is happening between Spain and Catalonia presently.  Since then, like the big neighborhood bully, Spain has refused to even talk or discuss anything regarding politics (including possible Catalonian succession) with the people of Catalonia and instead forced its opinions and decisions on the citizenry of Catalonia by fiat (speaking of undemocratic).

I used to believe that one of the foremost tenants of democracy was self-determination. The people of Catalonia think in this vein or else they would not have (through their vote) given the Parliament of Catalonia a mandatefor a Proclamation of Independence. Spain and Rajoy may need to find another path of action, for the more they stay on this road, the more they become the mirror image of Turkey and Erdogan.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

After a few months, it appears that newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron is taking a page or two or three from the Donald Trump platform as well as Trump’s display of vanity. Like a reincarnated but taller version of Napoleon, Macron paraded into the Palace of Versailles a while back announcing extensive new changes to the French political establishment. Macron has broadcast that he plans to reduce the number of delegates in both the upper and lower houses of parliament by a third which for lack of a better phrase is just one phase of him “draining the swamp.” Macron has also channeled his Trumpian policy purview by focusing more and using tougher rhetoric. He is even pushing full steam ahead with his proposed tax cuts even given the $9.1 billion deficit in the French budget. However, the main observable overt behavioral comportment the new French president unfolds is a stuck-up and overbearing arrogance – even more than that of President Donald Trump.

He has other similarities to Trump also including his disdain for and continuous attempts to try and control the press. For example, he seldom speaks to the press and limits his public appearances to staged events in a similar manner as one of his unspoken political idols – Barack Obama. Like Trump, almost immediately after getting into office, he began to focus on fighting terrorism. First Macron created a counterterrorism task force. And has increased spending on fighting terrorism in former French colonies in Africa. But for Macron, all of this is to make him look good and concentrate supreme power and authority, regardless if his actions have substance or not, in his hands alone.

All of this has led some to take note of Mr. Macron of “authoritarian” tendencies.  In an interview, with Le Figaro he described his presidency and himself as the start of “a French renaissance [and] “European one as well,” The 39-year-old former Rothschild banker, has the support of the IMF and EU in his desire to decrease public spending. Then there are his proposed labor reforms, which has turned many of his voting block against him.   If people think that President Trump is arrogant and egotistical, then the same reasoning should fall in line for President Macron. Le Monde has reported that the president believes that his thinking did not "lend itself" to question and answer sessions such as those engendered during press conferences which resulted in him not having one on Bastille Day specifically because his"complex thoughts" may prove too much for journalists, reports say. Thus, in his mind, he Emmanuel Macron is too smart to communicate with, or to the serfs below him who put him in office. This may be why his popularity is even lower than the New USA President.

But if it were just smugness and disdain alone, he may not be perceived as so bad by the French populous.  However, there are other things – policy, that adds to his pomposity. There are his views regarding France’s labor code which he believes destroys jobs. Specifically, Macron’sdesire to harshly restrict payouts from labor boards to fired employees and reduce job protections. This singularly resulted in France’s largest labor unions too take to the streets in protest.  He has also cut social security allowances, housing subsidies, has proposed a partial lifting of the wealth tax and wishes to end local property taxes for 80 percent of those currently paying them starting in 2018. These events also led to widespread protest and this is just on the domestic side. His actions with respect to politics in France are also being severel ridiculed because from afar (not including spending $30,000 on make-up), he appears to put the desires of the EU, like reducing the budget deficit to 3% than for what is best and wanted by the citizens of France. Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin recently announced that the macron administration would cut 13 billion euros in funding for towns, departments and regions by 2022 to meet the EU goals.

There is a growing group of government officials upset by the president. Some say he blames them when policies he has approved are observed as unpopular by the populace. Others feel that he (through his interior minister Gérard Collomb) ignored the needsof migrants when they refused to open a new reception center at Calais for them. Others opposition party members have gone on the record to describe Macron as having "absolutist tendencies." National Front Leader Marine Le Pen said that" the ruling party is "choosing its opposition."

Macron has guaranteed to change by decree (without any input or resistance from the French Parliament) to permanently make the antiterrorism state of emergency standard rule and to reduce the military budget by €850m which some believe led to the resignation of Pierre de Villiers, the head of the armed forces. His decision to address the Congress of the French Parliament ahead of the prime minister'spolicy statement was also viewed as condescending.

The Republicans accuse Macron’s party of ignoring opposition when they appointed Thierry Solère of the majority, got an appointment (by secret ballot) that many say should have gone to the candidate of the largest opposition group, Republicans MP Eric Ciotti.  Macron is also rubbing other European leaders the wrong way. Just this past week he questioned the EU’s labor rules which allow firms to send temporary workers from low-wage countries to richer nations without having to pay social charges, causing Poland’s foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski to suggest that the reason why Mr. Macron was attacking other nations was because the French economy under Macron was not as strong as Poland’s economy.

Macron’s ego has lead him to put civil security above liberty. Only Macron’s Interior Ministry, with little review from the judicial branch has any say in searches and seizures and house arrests and the Macron administration can decide to close mosques if what is being said in them is not to their liking subjectively. Then there is way he talks about his populous as Italian psychiatrist Dr. Adriano Segator noted “When he talks about the poor or insults the workers of northern France, reducing them to smokers and alcoholics, when he denigrates women, lowering them to the level of the ignorant.” But this only makes sense. From an economic perspective, he is the classic neoliberal. He wishes to want to lower corporatetaxes and the cost of labor and reduce the amount of regulations that he believes prevents French business from be competitive on the international stage. And like neoliberals in the US, Macron advances fiscal policy that place the needs of public interest and government privatization over the needs and rights of the people.  If Macron isn’t the perfect example of arrogance, no one is.
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