He Said That? 2/17/18

From Joseph Sobran (1946–2010), American journalist, formerly with National Review magazine and a syndicatedcolumnist

By today’s standards King George III was a very mild tyrant indeed. He taxed his American colonists at a rate of only pennies per annum. His actual impact on their personal lives was trivial. He had arbitrary power over them in law and in principle but in fact it was seldom exercised. If you compare his rule with that of today’s U.S. Government you have to wonder why we celebrate our independence..

Advertisements

Sessions vs. Trump . . . vs. Us, by Eric Peters

Sessions and Trump are engaged in a doobieous, disjointed, battle. Sessions keeps reefering to a 2014 law he doesn’t like, and has asked Congress to rescind it. From Eric Peters at theburningplatform.com:

Without consent, what have you got?

Just force.

The Constitution articulates the principle of consent – that “the people” agree to its terms and conditions – to be governed by it – and that without their consent, the government has no legitimate claim to govern them.

This is the principle at the bottom of the debate over medical marijuana – as well as the debate over recreational marijuana. If the people of a state consent to it, by what right does the federal government oppose it?

And it’s actually just one Fed – the attorney general of the United States, Jeff Sessions. He has personally decided to hurl thunderbolts and lightening at any state which dares to abide by the will of its people by decriminalizing the possession, sale and use of marijuana – whether for medical or recreational purposes. He has decreed that he – personally – will send federal hellhounds to prosecute those who legally – insofar as the laws of their state are concerned – defy his personal anti-pot animus.

But, he needs the funds to do so.

Mao was wrong. Power does not flow from the barrel of a gun. It emanates from the pockets of those with the money to buy the guns.

Take away the money and – effectively – you take away the guns.

That’s what Libertarian leaning Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California did back in 2014, when he put a rider in a funding bill that prohibits the DOJ’s inspector Javerts from going after marijuana users and sellers in states that have legalized the same – by denying them the funds to jihad.

Cue the angry ululations from Sessions. He is stomping his feet, demanding that the funding restriction be rescinded. He believes in the consent of the governed as much as another Republican – Abe Lincoln did.

And like Abe, he is determined to use force to impose his will upon those who do not consent.

But what gives the attorney general – or any other person – the moral right to deny consenting adults access to marijuana for medical or any other reason?

To continue reading: Sessions vs. Trump . . . vs. Us

Doug Casey on Why Gold Could Go “Hyperbolic”

Precious metals may be the only refuge from systemic risk. From Doug Casey at caseyresearch.com:

Justin’s note: Volatility has come storming back.

Just look at the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), which measures how volatile investors expect the market to be over the next 30 days.

It’s up 89% since the start of the year. Last week, it hit the highest level since 2016.

Investors aren’t used to this. After all, last year was the least volatile year ever for U.S. stocks. That lulled many investors to sleep. It led them to take risks they would normally never take.

Now, those same people are wondering what to do. They aren’t sure if this is just a run-of-the-mill pullback…or the start of something much worse.

To help answer this question, I called up Doug Casey. I knew he would have an interesting take on this matter…


Justin: Doug, U.S. stocks took a beating recently. Where do you see things going from here?

Doug: Well, I hate to make a firm prediction of timing. The fact that things have held together, against all odds, since 2009, has underlined the old saying about just because something is inevitable doesn’t mean it’s imminent. Predictions of disaster, and all these things unwinding, have been wrong over the last half a decade. And the smart bet is always for muddling through, in the direction of progress. But it seems that we’ve finally reached a peak, a major turning point.

Justin: So, what have you done to protect your wealth?

Doug: At the beginning of the year, I took all my original capital out of cryptos, plus 150% profits. I also took profits on crypto stocks. I got in late, and out a bit late. But it was a happy experience.

They were bubbly. Every company that could possibly do so has gotten into this game. Now XYZ ice cream company is XYZ blockchain company. That was one tipoff.

To continue reading: Doug Casey on Why Gold Could Go “Hyperbolic”

On Closer Inspection, Debt of Bankrupt Spanish Construction Firm Grows Four-Fold, by Don Quijones

You often don’t know how indebted a struggling company is until it files for bankruptcy and creditors come crawling out of the woodwork. From Don Quijones at wolfstreet.com:

Spain appears to have a brand-new Abengoa — the imploded energy giant whose fabulous accounting tricks pushed creditors into a black hole — on its hands: Isolux was until recently a fairly large privately owned infrastructure company with operations spanning the globe.

When the group declared bankruptcy last July, its cash flow in Spain was barely enough to cover a month’s operating costs. The group had a a total workforce of 3,884 and 119 infrastructure projects under development of which 39 were still operational and the remaining 90 had been halted.

The company tried to reduce its debt addiction through agreements with investment funds but they fell through. It also made two attempts to go public, in Brazil and Spain. Both failed.

The bankruptcy proceedings affected seven subsidiaries. At the time, the company stated that it owed €405 million to suppliers, that its total financial debt — including those companies not included under the Spanish Insolvency Act filing — was €1.3 billion, of which €557 million was associated with project financing, and that the total deficit on the group’s balance sheet was about €800 million.

Turns out, according to the bankruptcy receivers, the shortfall is actually €3.8 billion — four-and-a-half times the company’s original estimate — and the group’s total debt, at €5.7 billion, is over €4 billion more than the amount stated by the company 10 months ago.

This amount does not include the group’s dual or contingent liabilities. The receiver’s report concludes that the current situation will probably culminate in the liquidation of the entire group.

How did all this come to pass? According to the receiver’s report, the collapse of the real estate bubble in Spain and the drastic reduction in public work tenders during the crisis led Isolux to massively expand its international operations, as many large Spanish companies did in the aftermath of the housing bubble collapse.

To continue reading: On Closer Inspection, Debt of Bankrupt Spanish Construction Firm Grows Four-Fold

Does Mueller Indictment Mean Clinton Campaign Can Be Indicted for Chris Steele? by Robert Barnes

This article is repetitive, perhaps annoyingly so, but the author makes a very good point. From Robert Barnes at lawandcrime.com:

Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted foreign citizens for trying to influence the American public about an election because those citizens did not register as a foreign agent nor record their financial expenditures to the Federal Elections Commission. By that theory, when will Mueller indict Christopher Steele, FusionGPS, PerkinsCoie, the DNC and the Clinton Campaign? Mueller’s indictment against 13 Russian trolls claimed their social media political activity was criminal because: they were foreign citizens; they tried to influence an election; and they neither registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act nor reported their funding to the Federal Elections Commission.

First, if Mueller’s theory is correct, three things make Steele a criminal: first, he is a foreign citizen; second, he tried to influence an election, which he received payments to do (including from the FBI itself); and third, he neither registered as a foreign agent nor listed his receipts and expenditures to the Federal Election Commission. Also, according to the FBI, along the way, Steele lied…a lot, while the dossier he disseminated contained its own lies based on bought-and-paid for smears from foreign sources reliant on rumors and innuendo.

Second, if Mueller’s theory is correct, three things make FusionGPS a criminal co-conspirator: it knew Steele was a foreign citizen; it knew, and paid, Steele to influence an election; and it knew, and facilitated, Steele neither registering as a foreign agent nor reporting his funding from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign to the Federal Election Commission.

Third, if Mueller’s theory is correct, then three things make PerkinsCoie a potential target: it knew Steele was a foreign citizen; it knew, and paid, Steele to influence an election; and it knew, and facilitated, Steele neither registering as a foreign agent nor reporting his funding from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign to the Federal Election Commission, by disguising its receipt of payments from the Clinton campaign as a “legal expense.”

To continue reading: Does Mueller Indictment Mean Clinton Campaign Can Be Indicted for Chris Steele?

For the Dreamers: No Deportation, No Citizenship, by Ryan McMaken

Here’s an idea that because it calls on the government to do essentially nothing might just work. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

The current wrangling on Capitol Hill over the so-called Dreamers has come down to the usual political deal-making. Trump has signaledhe’s willing to compromise on deportations — that is, initiate fewer of them — if he can get funding for his border wall.

Also at issue is whether or not Dreamers already in the US ought to be able to sponsor their parents for legal residency or for citizenship.

Dreamers are current illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

Opposition to deportation of the Dreamers — especially those who are still minors — has been significant, with much of the opposition geared around the idea that some minors are being deported to foreign countries where they don’t even know the language or local culture after having been in the US for most of their lives.

On the other hand, support for deportations has centered on fears that allowing the Dreamers to stay in the US will encourage a new influx of immigrants who will in turn become citizens quickly and unduly influence the political system. Also at play is the concern that some immigrants are a net drain on social welfare benefits and on other government-provided amenities such as public schools.

Is There a Laissez-Faire Approach to the Dreamers?

For many Americans who are concerned with freedom and free markets, the solution to this situation has sometimes not necessarily been clear. Is there a way to address immigration issues without doubling down on more government power and more government spending?

On the issue of welfare, of course, the issue is not complicated, and has already been summed up by Ron Paul:

How to tackle the real immigration problem? Eliminate incentives for those who would come here to live off the rest of us, and make it easier and more rational for those who wish to come here legally to contribute to our economy. No walls, no government databases, no biometric national ID cards. But not a penny in welfare for immigrants. It’s really that simple.

No deportations are required to enforce this measure. In practice, all that is needed is for governments to take no action. That is, they don’t offer services to non-citizens.

 

To continue reading: For the Dreamers: No Deportation, No Citizenship

Brazilian Army Ordered To “Restore Order” In Rio De Janeiro, by Tyler Durden

Things have been dicey in Brazil for quite some time, and they may be getting dicier. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

With public spending on police and social services collapsing amid Brazil’s worsening economic crisis, violent crime has crept back up in Rio de Janeiro, a city widely recognized for its favelas – urban hillside slums teeming with violence, drugs and prostitution, according to Bloomberg.

And ahead of an October election where President Michel Temer will try to win his first full term in office, the president is trying to send in the army to seize control of the city’s streets and restore order to an increasingly lawless town.

President Michel Temer issued a decree on Friday putting an Army general in charge of Rio’s security forces, including the state’s civilian police. The intervention, which requires congressional approval, will last until the end of the year, according to the decree.

“Our prisons will no longer be offices for thieves, our public squares party halls for organized crime,” Temer said after signing the decree.

“I know it’s an extreme measure but many times Brazil requires extreme measures to put things in order.”

But as is often the case with Brazilian politics, Temer has a plausible ulterior motive: By sending in the army, he might create enough of a distraction to avoid voting on an unpopular pension bill because Brazilian law conveniently prohibits making constitutional changes during times of military crisis.

Temer told Reuters that the intervention wouldn’t halt negotiations over pension reform or stop a vote on the plan, which is deeply unpopular with the country’s retirees, who stand to see their benefits cut.

Meanwhile, crime in the city has erased nearly a decade of progress, climbing back to its highest level since 2009. Temer’s decision is the first time the military has intervened in public affairs since the former military dictatorship ended in the mid-1980s and the country returned to democracy.

To continue reading: Brazilian Army Ordered To “Restore Order” In Rio De Janeiro