Turkey Talk

A couple points about Turkey, first from  Monty L. Donohew at American Thinker.

When there is war, conflict, or instability, vulnerable human beings flee, seeking refuge in safer countries. […]

When there is war, conflict, or instability, vulnerable capital and wealth also flee. The “problem” of fleeing capital is different, however. Because capital and wealth are not as encumbered and physically restricted as are human beings, especially in the modern electronic age, capital moves far from the source of instability. Capital flight makes support of human refugees even more difficult, as capital often flees nations burdened with the obligation of support, nations in close proximity to the underlying cause of flight.

Unlike human refugees, who consume resources and capital, fleeing capital is welcome with inviting arms by safe havens. Capital and wealth must “go somewhere,” and if they land in the banks and markets of a particular nation, that nation reaps the reward of that investment.

Pretty much common sense to my mind, although it is anything but common these days.

And who is the strongest of all these days? I’d be inclined to say the United States, and it has the other advantages of being a known safe haven for money and people, with perhaps the strongest rule of law tradition in the world, the largest and most active markets, and by far, the strongest military (which it is strengthening) to back it all up.

Think some Turks (and Iranians, for that matter) are looking to get themselves and their money into America. Yep. Me too. And that also strengthens America, and against all comers.

Consider the many causes of the flight of capital in recent years. Are competing markets as strong and stable as they were seven years ago, and more importantly, are they as strong and stable as is the U.S. market? Capital is fleeing Canada. Capital is fleeing China (strange — people who command wealth get a bit skittish when several hundreds of their kind simply disappear). EU instability has caused capital to flee Europe (link behind subscription wall). Capital has flown from India. Capital has flown from Russia, although early indications are that new Trump sanctions may not encourage additional capital flight. Capital is fleeing Latin America. There are a multitude of examples, but the point is, too, that capital is not fleeing the U.S.

Not all capital flight winds up in the U.S., of course, but it’s safe to say that a good percentage is winding up here. Simple economics: more money chasing the same goods or investment opportunities causes prices to increase. With share prices high, companies can grow, expand, modernize, and invest. The investment increases the value of companies, generates returns for investors, and generates revenues for the U.S. government.

And this may well be where the conventional wisdom on tariffs and economics falls down, not my field, but it sounds rational, and people with money are usually somewhat rational.

Jed Babbin writing in The American Spectator also had a few things to say about the Sick Thug of Europe.

It [The Wall Street Journal] wonders why the United States, which usually intervenes to calm global markets, isn’t doing so to save Turkey from itself.

The answer is so simple that even the media ought to understand. Turkey, a NATO ally, has for over a decade treated us as an enemy instead of a friend. President Trump is beginning to return the favor. What Turkey has done, and Mr. Trump is starting to do, is all the result of the actions of Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan who has created an Islamic quasi-dictatorship where a secular democracy once stood. […]

Erdogan’s New York Times article concludes that, “Before it is too late, Washington must give up the misguided notion that our relationship can be asymmetrical and come to terms with the fact that Turkey has alternatives. Failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies.”

Erdogan has already done so. His alliance with Russia and Iran to save Assad demonstrated conclusively that he is no longer America’s ally. It is entirely inconsistent with Turkey’s obligations as a NATO member.

President Trump has, so far, neither knuckled under to Erdogan’s demands nor taken all of the actions that he could to force Erdogan to stop acting as our enemy. That may be changing.

The Turkish economy is in shambles, almost in as bad a situation as Iran’s and Venezuela’s. The Turkish lira fell in its value against the dollar by about forty percent earlier this year. Last week, Trump announced that he was doubling the tariffs on steel (to 50%) and aluminum (to 20%) imported from Turkey, which caused the lira to sink by another twenty percent and made international banks that hold Turkish debt very nervous.

I don’t need to add too much to that although you should read all of both articles, they are excellent. But Erdogan would be well advised that one of the quickest ways to ruin a nation is to attempt to tell the United States what to do. Even King George, a quarter millennium ago, found that to be a bit more than the British Empire could accomplish. That’s a history lesson Erdogan could contemplate to the benefit of his citizens.

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The Saturday Roundup

There is so much floating around out there, that one can barely do it justice. It really hit me yesterday, I ran across three articles in a row that I wanted to feature here. That’s good – right? Sort of, what about the ones that I already have, or will show up tomorrow? Which they always do.

So something today that I used to do once in a while. A paragraph more or less from several articles and their links, and perhaps a sentence (or less) from me.

It is normal for people to have a little resentment at those who have/had more than they do/did. Everyone feels this.

Envy and jealousy are routine, even daily foibles.

What is abnormal — or rather, has become the New, Awful Normal — is for them to publicly shriek about it.

To, as David Niven once wryly put it, put their shortcomings on public exhibition.

We used to learn, as children, to restrain our pettier, nastier, more childlike emotional outbursts.

From Ace’s An Observance of the Decay of Learned Restraint


Yet in the end, Gilder makes a compelling case that the information revolution is moving into an age of decentralization and greater freedom both for entrepreneurs and for those of us who just want to use information technology to make our jobs and lives easier or better. In Gilderian oracular fashion, he calls this process “The Great Unravelling.”

About the end of the age of ‘Big Tech’ from The Federalist’s Review: Big Tech Is Sowing The Seeds Of Its Own Destruction


[A]t this moment, Ohio Democrats and their Beltway masters are diligently working to steal the state’s 12th Congressional District from Republican Troy Balderson. Balderson’s Democratic opponent, Danny O’Connor, refused to concede after narrowly losing the special election and a few hours later — the county where he works — miraculously “discovered” 588 uncounted votes in a “routine audit.” When they were counted, Balderson’s lead shrank by 190. Similar skullduggery will accompany the count of provisional and absentee ballots, which will inevitably lead to an automatic recount, which will ultimately lead to an O’Connor “victory.”

What does this have to do with conservative confusion?

From An Ohio reminder: The worst Republican is better than the best Democrat.In the American Spectator.


Ever since Trump’s election, the increase in deplorable whites identifying with the GOP is frequently denounced as tribalism by pundits, such as David Brooks and Thomas Friedman, who, ironically, tend to be “Members of the Tribe.”

For instance, Brooks ended his fourth of a series of columns lamenting your “tribal emotions” by admitting that he, personally, was totally stoked to find out from a genetics testgiven by a Jewish magazine that he was closely related to the brilliant cognitive scientist Steven Pinker.

From Steve Sailer’s A Half Century of Amnesia in Taki’s Magazine via a review in The American Spectator, itself a valuable article.


Any or all open for discussion

California Burning

Steven Greenhut has an interesting article up at The American Spectator, let’s look in.

During one of my first fire seasons in Southern California nearly two decades ago, my neighbors and I received a notice from the county fire department warning us to keep our lawns cut and watered and to clear vegetation away from around our houses. We all had a vested interest in not having our properties burnt to a crisp, so we maintained them pretty well. But the notice caught my attention because my street backed to undeveloped acreage, which was the county’s responsibility to maintain. The dried weeds were as tall as corn stalks, thus leaving fields of tinder.

On behalf of my neighborhood, I contacted the fire department. Nothing happened. I stopped by the firehouse. No one ever showed up at our neighborhood. I called the county’s weed abatement agency, which assured us they’d handle it (but never even asked for the address). I made many calls to the fire department’s offices, but to no avail. Finally, I called my county supervisor and within 24 hours the property was crawling with fire officials. Within a week, the property was cut thanks to getting a powerful elected official involved.

This story is a reminder of how government “works.” It has many well-paid employees. (Los Angeles County fire captains and battalion chiefs can earn total compensation packages that top $600,000 a year. The median county and city firefighter compensation in California is just under $200,000 a year.) It has no “customers.” It is adept at handing out notices and fines, but has no incentive to properly manage its budgets or property. It rewards bureaucracy and inaction. The only way to get it to do anything constructive is to apply pressure from politicians.

Is there an American, anywhere who hasn’t had this experience. Back during the reign of Hizzoner, the original Mayor Daley, we referred to it as honest graft, a reasonable size contribution to the Democratic Party could accomplish nearly anything, and nothing else would. It wouldn’t allow one to sell heroin on the corner of State and Madison, but if what you wanted to do was at least possibly constructive, it usually would.

The natural state of a bureaucrat is doing nothing – don’t rock the boat – hang in for the pension. Nothing (usually) that a private citizen can do can blast him out of this state, but the politicos can, because they control the purse strings. With fairly rational politicoes, it doesn’t work all that badly, witness Chicago history, but when the politicoes themselves become part of the system, like Rahm Emmanuel, we get the war zone we call Chicago, or the fire scene we call California. That’s why you can sell heroin in the Loop now or kill all the people you want, this is real corruption.

About those fires:

“It’s unclear exactly which ‘bad environmental laws’ Trump is referring to,” explained a CNN report. “Experts assume he’s talking about the age-old fight for water rights in California, which pits farmers in the state’s conservative Central Valley against big cities and against environmentalists, who want to see some water left in rivers and streams to support populations of salmon and wildlife.”

Actually, it’s not that hard to find the laws he’s talking about. California’s nonpartisan watchdog agency, known as the Little Hoover Commission, released a report (“Fire on the Mountain: Rethinking Forest Management in the Sierra Nevada”) earlier in the year that echoed some of these points: “California’s forests are reaching a breaking point. Poor management policies that interrupted the natural and historical cycle of fire, combined now with a changing climate, have led forests vulnerable to disease, insects, catastrophic fire and drought.”

Wall Street Journal editorial, which referenced the report, noted that “Nearly 130 million trees in the state have died from drought, providing fuel for fast-spreading fires, and about half of the state’s 33 million acres of forestland needs restoration.” Instead of better managing the state’s forests, the editorial noted, the Brown administration is moving forward with a bullet train that could cost $100 billion. Our government — every government — has odd priorities.

And that’s a big part of it, if you don’t manage woodlands, you end up with a tinderbox, of dead trees, fallen branches, leaves, all sorts of the detritus of plant life. Nature controls it by burning, eventually. That can be catastrophic for neighbors as we are seeing now. So how can that be relieved? With chainsaws, men, trucks, and yes, controlled fires. Just the way farmers have controlled weeds in ditch banks for generations, by burning them once a year or so. Common sense, in other words.

But common sense is anathema to the bureaucratic mind, and so Steven gets the last word:

This is government. It’s how all government works. Please consider that fact before calling on government to do anything else.

“Well Roared, Paper Tiger “

And so the EU has passed a law prohibiting European companies from following the US sanctions on Iran. They’re so cute sometimes.

The sanctions target the use of US dollars in any transactions, as well as autos, civil aviation, coal, industrial software, and metals. The ones scheduled for November are more far-reaching.

According to Soeren Kern

In a joint statement, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the UK openly admitted that for the EU the Iran deal is all about money and vowed to protect European companies from US penalties:

“We are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran, in accordance with EU law and with UN Security Council resolution 2231. This is why the European Union’s updated Blocking Statute enters into force on 7 August to protect EU companies doing legitimate business with Iran from the impact of US extra-territorial sanctions.

“The remaining parties to the JCPOA have committed to work on, inter alia, the preservation and maintenance of effective financial channels with Iran, and the continuation of Iran’s export of oil and gas. On these, as on other topics, our work continues, including with third countries [China and Russia] interested in supporting the JCPOA and maintaining economic relations with Iran.”

Well, as an aside, that’s a goodly share of the problem with the EU generally, it’s all about money, just listen to project fear in the UK compared to the love of Britain coming from leave. Greed is not the most important thing in the world. In any case, Most European businesses aren’t buying this horse dung.

The document, riddled with EU jargon, states:

“The Blocking Statute allows EU [economic] operators to recover damages arising from the extra-territorial sanctions within its scope from the persons causing them and nullifies the effect in the EU of any foreign court rulings based on them. It also forbids EU persons from complying with those sanctions, unless exceptionally authorized to do so by the [European] Commission in case non-compliance seriously damages their interests or the interests of the Union.”

In other words, the EU is prohibiting EU citizens and companies from complying with US sanctions and is authorizing EU companies hit by US sanctions to sue the US government for compensation in European courts.

In addition, European companies that do pull out of Iran without approval from the European Commission face the threat of being sued by EU member states.

Even the European press isn’t buying this nonsense. It’s a vanity project to show themselves they aren’t dependant on the US and guarantee their legacy. Well, Obama tried that, how did it work out?

Radio France Internationale (RFI), a French public radio service, said that the effects of the Blocking Statute would be “more symbolic than economic.” It added:

“The law would be more effective for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) doing business in Iran. For large corporations, the solution lies in negotiating waivers or exemptions with the United States. But such requests from France, Germany and the United Kingdom have already been rejected by Washington.”

La Croix wrote:

“Suffice to say that the implementation of this blocking law remains very hypothetical, as it goes into uncertain legal territories.

“Total, Maersk and Peugeot have already decided to leave Iran. Moreover, companies investing in Iran do not seem to believe much in the effectiveness of the regulation. The oil group Total, the ship-owner Maersk or the automaker Peugeot have already decided to leave. German group Daimler announced its withdrawal from Iran yesterday. These groups are more afraid of the US’s ability to implement sanctions than the EU’s wrath.”

In Germany, the public broadcaster ARD published an opinion article by Brussels correspondent Samuel Jackisch titled, “Well Roared, Paper Tiger — EU Defenseless against US Sanctions.” He said that the EU’s new policy was “logical, but largely meaningless,” and an attempt by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to “defend her political legacy.” He added:

“The EU can try to turn the tables on transatlantic relations, but in the end the US still comes out on top.

“The German export industry’s business with Iran may not be small at around three billion euros. However, the bottom line is that the same companies export 35 times as much to the USA. The EU is demanding that its largest corporations risk the entire cake for a few more crumbs.”

German public broadcaster ZDF wrote:

“The peculiar construction of the EU Blocking Statute remains: Ordinarily, regulations and laws prohibit something. For example, an anti-dumping law prohibits companies from price dumping in order to force competitors out of the market. But the EU Blocking Statute is a call to action: Do trade with Iran and do not let threats from the US president dissuade you!

The newspaper Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung quoted the Chief Executive of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), Martin von Wansleben, who described the EU’s measure as a “helpless political reaction.” He said that its purpose was to show that the EU does not bow to US sanctions. For individual companies, he said, the blocking regulation has “no relevance.”

In Austria, Der Standard wrote:

“The Blocking Regulation is not an effective antidote to US sanctions, as the historical example suggests…. Although Washington should refrain from extraterritorial sanctions, the US market is too important for corporations to expose themselves.”

In Italy, Südtirol News quoted stock market expert Robert Halver of Baader Bank:

“Due to the US sanctions against Iran, German industry will not touch Iran. If you realize that German industry is doing a hundredfold business in America, you will not do business with Iran, because then sanctions against German companies will exist. Therefore, Iran is certainly going to bleed very heavily at the moment.”

As John Bolton noted:

“Now there may be some small European companies that continue to do business, but they will be insignificant,” John Bolton said during an interview with FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Tuesday. “Russia and China may continue to do business, but I don’t think they’re enthusiastic about this. They’re not going to be stepping up their efforts.”

Who’s out? These folks, for a start. Some familiar names there.

Daimler follows similar decisions by: Adidas (Germany); Allianz (Germany); AP Moller-Maersk (Denmark); Ciech (Poland); Citroen (France); CMA CGM(France); DZ Bank (Germany); Engie (France); ENI (Italy); Lloyds (UK); Lukoil (Russia); Maersk Tankers (Denmark); Oberbank (Austria); Opel(Germany); Peugeot (France); PGNiG (Poland), Renault (France); Scania(Sweden); Siemens (Germany); Swiss Re (Switzerland); and Total (France).

In other words, as both Bolton and the President have noted, you can trade with the US or you can trade with Iran. You can no longer trade with both. Pick one.

In one corner is a failed state, the world’s largest promoter of terrorism, and a country that appears to be on the verge of a revolution.

In the other corner is the world’s largest economy backed by the world largest military, which has guaranteed your freedom and security for generations.

You choose. Choose wisely.

 

Who’s Fish Is It?

Greg Walcher from The American Spectator wants to know. So do I, So does President Trump. Here’s why.

[R]estaurant owners may know that open-faced sandwiches are regulated by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), part of the Department of Health and Human Services. But if a second piece of bread is added on top, it is regulated by the Department of Agriculture (USDA). That’s because the USDA has a very specific definition of a sandwich: two slices of bread with the meat in the middle. So, is a hot dog a sandwich? The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council says no, but the State of California says yes. How about a burrito? Massachusetts ruled that a burrito is not a sandwich, but New York says it is. A cheese pizza is regulated by the FDA, but add pepperoni and it becomes a USDA matter. When you make an omelet, FDA regulates the eggs you crack, but if you pour liquid eggs from a carton, it’s USDA.

Regulations can be confusing, sometimes because of vague wording, but often because of overlapping jurisdictions. It is not always obvious who is in charge. Clean water rules are under the jurisdiction of the EPA, but projects that might affect stream water require permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A salmon or sturgeon swimming in the ocean is under the jurisdiction of the National Marine Fisheries Service, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce. But if the same fish swims upstream into a river, it becomes province of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, part of the Interior Department.

Pundits have made fun of such regulatory silliness for years. Hillary Clinton joked about the sandwich rules when running for the Senate 18 years ago. At least two presidents have cited the weird pizza rules, yet nobody did anything about the regulatory mess.

That is the impetus behind a new Trump Administration government reorganization proposal, which could have a dramatic effect on management of Interior, Commerce, USDA, and HHS, among others. In some areas, jurisdictional lines would become much clearer. For instance, all agencies that regulate food safety would be consolidated under the USDA, covering virtually all the foods we eat.

The “civil works” programs at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would be moved to the Transportation and Interior Departments, which would better align those missions and eliminate much duplication. The Corps of Engineers is an unusual creature, a military agency headed by a general, which reports to a civilian at the Pentagon (Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works), and regulates economic activity that has nothing to do with the Army. The Corps owns and operates dams and water infrastructure, exactly like Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation does.

As an example, in my home State of Colorado, the Corps has Chatfield and Cherry Creek reservoirs, but Reclamation has Blue Mesa, Granby, McPhee, Ridgway, Rifle Gap, and a couple dozen others.

It’s just silly. Yes, I can understand how it got that way, but just because there is a reason for silliness is not a reason why silliness must go on forever.

And it can lead to real costs, even jail. We’ve all heard the stories about how being forced to comply with one regulation, law, whatever, requires one to break another. Some say that it is a feature, not a big, of the big state, that they can arrest anyone at any time. Well, that might be a feature for the denizens of the stagnant swamp, it is decidedly a hindrance on anyone trying to accomplish anything.

The President has a plan to reorganize government, consolidating a lot of the programs. It probably doesn’t go far enough, and many of them should likely be simply eliminated, and their powers cease, but half a loaf is better than no bread at all. I’m not sure there has really been progress on this front since Coolidge was president.

And the real problem is this, with all the overlapping authority, the ability to hide responsibility and make people spend years running around in the maze has likely done more damage to our economy than China could do in a century. Time to clean the stables.

My grandfathers lived in a world where what was said in Minneapolis was much more important than what anyone said in Washington, at least in peacetime. That was what the founders envisioned, in most things other than defense, government should be close enough to home for the citizens to slap it up the side of the head with a two by four, not so far away that we need an ICBM to get their attention.

Pictures: Crossing the Swamp Edition

Crossing the Swamp

(h/t Jon McNaughton) Still some available!

List of figures from left to right: Nikki Haley, James Mattis, Ben Carson, President Trump, Jeff Sessions, Mike Pence, Melania Trump, Mike Pompeo, Sarah Sanders, Ivanka Trump, John Bolton, Kellyanne Conway, John Kelly.

No man left behind.

Russians are the least of our problems

Lunch Time? Sure!

Relevant to my interests, as they say!

Mostly from PowerLine, and elsewhere

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