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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pakistan and the Gandhi Nobody Knows

Pakistan should scare us all a little more than it actually does.   If it weren't for Iran hogging all the attention, it probably would.  (For some reason, Americans never remember the US Embassy burning in Islamabad that occurred in 1979--an event at least as scary as the Tehran hostage crisis.)  After all, it is a huge country with unstable governance, nuclear weapons, and a permanent chip on its shoulder.   Pakistan always has to be "managed" by us.  Many people believe its intelligence service was wittingly harboring Osama Bin Laden.  The Maya character summed up Pakistan pretty succinctly in "Zero Dark Thirty," if you'll recall. 

So, what went wrong since 1947?    Here's a pretty good article from FP explaining that Gandhi and the Congress Party set it up to fail:  Why is Pakistan Such a Mess   This might be a good book to read.  Pakistan might be "exhibit A" to the argument that breaking up countries is not always a good idea.  (Unless of course you break up Pakistan:  see Bangladesh.)  

It is unusual to read a piece in the western English press that doesn't describe Gandhi as a Perfect Human Being.  Our image is of the saintly Ben Kingsley in the movie Gandhi.  He was a Hindu nationalist his whole life and a proud member of a caste system.   (Cognitive dissonance:  We worship Churchill in America, and we admire Gandhi, but Churchill hated Gandhi....?!?!)

This took me on a trip down memory lane to a piece written by the late Washington Times columnist Richard Grenier, which I consider to be a classic:  the-gandhi-nobody-knows  It's long, but it's worth the read.  You will never think about Gandhi in the same way.  It may even lead you to question the reality of other secular saints. 

Personal note:  I had a enjoyable evening chatting with Grenier years ago, which later prompted me to read his interesting book "Capturing the Culture."  That night I gave Grenier a lift home because his shoe had literally fallen apart and he couldn't walk.  Obviously a man more focused on other things than quality footware.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Oil Prices and End of Cheap Money

This piece in Oil Price explains how the end of the Fed's cheap money policy--"quantitative easing"--led to the drop in world oil prices.   He provides a useful chart too:  The-Simple-Reason-For-The-Oil-Price-Drop

I don't know why more analysts haven't recognized this:  the surplus in production only contributed to the price drop in part, but certainly not a 60 percent drop!

For some reason, the press is reluctant to explain the Fed's impact on world events.


The Clinton Cash Nexus

The true scandals in America are about what is legal.

The Clinton Foundation may be doing everything legally, but doesn't it look like influence peddling?

If American companies give money to foreign officials in exchange for favors, they can be indicted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.   But if foreign companies give to American officials (former SecState Clinton) through the Clinton Foundation, that's totally okay.

Here's a review of the new book "Clinton Cash" which details how their system works.  clinton-cash-is-a-blistering-indictment-of-hill-and-bills-behavior/   Businessmen donate heavily to the foundation to get a political favor or access, and the Clintons live off the proceeds.   The Foundation itself is akin to a self-licking ice cream cone: apparently 90 percent of what it takes in is eaten up by operating expenses.

Finally we are starting to see some exposes on how their system works.  Here's the NY Times's takedown of the Foundation back in 2013.  Unease-at-clinton-foundation-over-finances-and-ambitions  The New Republic also weighed in with this:  How a gofer stated the Clinton Global Initiative

Friday, May 1, 2015

America's Dark Day: The Fall of Saigon

Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese communists.  Here's a good summary of that dark day:  The Fall of Saigon

Bob Turner of the University of Virginia has made it his life's work explaining to Americans what actually happened in Vietnam.  See:  Still Echoes Today  James Webb also has contributed a lot to this over the years.

Bob points out the many myths about the war, among them that LBJ duped Congress on the Gulf of Tonkin attack, which led to the war's escalation.  The attack happened.   Other things that people need to know:
  • Our conterinsurgency strategy was succeeding.  See Lew Sorley's "A Better War."
  • The domestic protests ended once Nixon ended the draft. 
  • North Vietnam broke the terms of the Paris Peace Accords when it invaded South Vietnam.
  •  There was a domino effect:  in the end, South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia were all lost to communism. 
We certainly made a lot of bad mistakes in the war.   Perhaps the worst was tacitly supporting the coup that overthrew and murdered President Diem in 1963.