If you recall, Winston Smith’s job in George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 was to go into historical records and literally change history. He would alter photographs and text in the archives so that history would always portray “The Party” in a positive light and as omniscient. Well folks, this behavior has arrived in America and we better nip it in the bud fast before one of these drones is flying right over our heads. "As scrutiny and debate over the use of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) by the American military increased last month, the Air Force reversed a policy of sharing the number of airstrikes launched from RPAs in Afghanistan and quietly scrubbed those statistics from previous releases kept on their website. On Sunday, U.S. Central Command said in a statement that the decision was made to remove the statistics because the data disproportionately places emphasis on the airstrikes. The majority of the RPA missions are for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, with a small percent involving airstrikes."
The beast is howling - and Krugman thinks it's his cat purring.
The Dow is at a record high and so are corporate profits - so why does it feel like most of the country is deeply suffering right now? Real household income is the lowest that it has been in a decade, poverty is absolutely soaring, 47 million Americans are on food stamps and the middle class is being systematically destroyed. How can big corporations be doing so well while most American families are having such a hard time? Isn't their wealth supposed to "trickle down" to the rest of us? Unfortunately, that is not how the real world works. But now we have replaced capitalism with something that we like to call "corporatism". In many ways, it shares a lot of characteristics with communism, and that is why nations such as communist China have embraced it so readily. Today, most big corporations are trying to minimize the number of "expensive" American workers on their payrolls as much as they can. Right now, the system is designed to continually funnel more money and more power to the very top of the pyramid. The global elite are becoming more dominant with each passing day. The idea of a very tiny elite completely dominating all the rest of us goes against everything that America is supposed to stand for. In the end, it will result in absolute tyranny if it is not stopped.
Holder’s Letter Raises More Questions Than It Answers
The United States desperately needs to formulate a grand strategy that reinforces the domestic foundations of American power while providing strategic guidance and direction to the nation’s actions in foreign policy. America must adapt with new ideas, tools and innovations if it is going to meet the opportunities and challenges of a rapidly changing world. To be successful, this strategy must embrace several overarching themes: first, the United States must remain committed to playing a leadership role; second, American grand strategy must promote a positive, hopeful, and optimistic vision for the world that it seeks to build; third, a grand strategy will be effective only if it commands broad and unequivocal support from the American public and their policymakers; and finally, the nation is long past the age when American grand strategy can pursue “cookie-cutter” or “school solutions” to challenges. What we are proposing is the hardly radical but often overlooked principle that American grand strategy should be, above all else, agile and flexible as it responds to the demands of the American people and the challenges of a rapidly evolving world.
In light of today's enormous domestic and international challenges, the United States today needs, more than ever, an effective grand strategy. Without one, the nation is in a dangerous state of drift. In the aftermath of the recent U.S. presidential elections and in the midst of grueling battles over spending and deficit crises, American politics is highly polarized with the electorate and their policymakers deeply divided on domestic issues. Turning to foreign policy, the picture is equally troubling. The United States struggles without a coherent grand strategy, while the American people, its friends and allies, and competitors wonder what principles guide Washington's foreign policy. What, they must ask, does the United States want to achieve in its foreign policy, and what leadership role does it seek to play in this rapidly evolving world order. Simply put, grand strategy is a broad set of principles, beliefs, or ideas that govern the decisions and actions of a nation’s policymakers with public support on foreign policy.
It wasn’t exactly a propitious start for new US Secretary of State John Kerry on his first foreign trip when he referred to “Kyrzakhstan”, where US diplomats are ostensibly working to secure “democratic institutions”. Getting all those Central Asian “stans” right can be confusing - even more so when things get muddled in the “Great Game”. And it’s no easy thing following in the footsteps of Hillary Clinton. Later - after the State Department took the liberty of omitting the mention of “Kyrzakhstan” from the official transcript - it became clear that Kerry was actually referring to Kyrgyzstan (not Kazakhstan and indeed not Kyrzakhstan). So let’s look at these two countries that Kerry has inadvertently combined.
Washington is laying on the malaise pretty thick lately over automatic budget cuts set to take effect in March, with admonitions and partisan attacks galore. Of course, those of us who are educated in the finer points of our corrupt puppet government are well aware that the public debate between Democrats and Republicans amounts to nothing more than a farcical battle of Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots with only one set of hands behind the controls. The reality is, their decisions are scripted, their votes are purchased, and they knew months ago exactly how America’s fiscal cliff situation would progress. The drama that now ensues on the hill is meant for OUR benefit and distraction, and no one else. There are plenty of irrelevant federal appendages out there that could be amputated, but probably won’t be, while other more useful programs will come under fire. In the end, the budget cuts are not about saving money; they are about social maneuvering and political gain. They will be used as an excuse for everything, and will produce nothing favorable, not because cuts are not needed, but because the people in charge of them are not trustworthy.
- Grillo kills move to break Italy deadlock (FT)
- Abe nominates Kuroda to run BoJ (FT)
- More WMT bad news: Wal-Mart Chief Administrative Officer Mars to Leave: WSJ (BBG)
- Japan's Abe: Islands Are Indisputably Ours (WSJ) - Except for China of course
- Low-key departure as pope steps down, to enter the final phase of his life "hidden from the world" (Reuters)
- Cuts unlikely to deliver promised budget savings (Reuters)
- European Union caps bankers’ bonuses (FT)
- White House, Republicans dig in ahead of budget talks (Reuters)
- Jockeying Stalls Deal on Cuts (WSJ)
- Argentina Says It Won’t Voluntarily Comply With Bond Ruling (BBG)
- Italian president says forming new government cannot be rushed (Reuters) - or happen at all
- Central Banks Spewing Cash Must Plan Exit Timing, Rohde Says (BBG)
- China Regional Targets Cut in Sign Debt Concerns Heeded (BBG)
- RBA Says Up to 34 Central Banks Holding Australian Dollars (BBG)
The Obama drone program has been shrouded in secrecy, but after the leaking of the 'kill list' white papers, Russia Today notes, many critics are demanding transparency from the administration when it comes to the exact number of causalities. Due to the confidentiality of drone strikes abroad, it has proven difficult to get an accurate figure - until now. As Wired.com reports, US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has estimated that 4,700 people have been killed. As of now it is unclear how he obtained that figure, but his 'approving' comments raise questions about the accuracy of these attacks: "Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we're at war, and we've taken out some very senior members of al-Qaida." Graham did not offer an estimate of how many innocent people the drones have killed. Given the 430 or so strikes known about, this would imply around 10 kills per strike - but judging from the context of his remarks, Wired.com suspects, he's not counting the strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan. It wouldn’t be the first time that a U.S. senator has offhandedly revealed specific and unacknowledged information about the drones, following Diane Feinstein's 2009 gaffe, but Graham’s disclosure underscores the extraordinary secrecy around the centerpiece of U.S. counterterrorism efforts - a military action in all but name, operated by an agency that need not explain to the public how it carries out the program.
- Here comes the replay of 2011 as China starts the counter-reflation moves: China Central Bank Reverses Cash Pump (WSJ)
- Security group suspects Chinese military is behind hacking attacks (Reuters)
- Iceland Foreshadows Death of Currencies Lost in Crisis (BBG)
- China Allows More Firms to Sell Mutual Funds to Bolster Market (BBG)
- Uncertainty looms for Italians (FT)
- Forget the big comeback; Detroit focuses on what can be saved (Reuters)
- SAC’s Cohen May Face SEC Suit as Deposition Hurts Case (BBG)
- Hollande wrestles with austerity demands (FT)
- Obama Golf With Woods in Florida Risks Muddling Messsage (BBG)
- Simpson and Bowles to Offer Up Deficit (WSJ)
- Aso Says Japanese Government Not Planning Foreign Bond Buys (BBG) - ... until it changes its tune once more
- Abe to Decide on Bank of Japan Governor Nomination Next Week (BBG)
Jobs! President Obama has set a record. In his speech to Congress on Tuesday, he uttered the word "jobs" more than in any of his previous four State of the Union addresses. His 45 mentions were more than double the references to any of the other policy ambitions encapsulated in his speech by such words as health, education, immigration, guns, deficit, debt, energy, climate, economy, Afghanistan, wage, spend or tax (the runner-up). If only the president's record on unemployment were as good. After four years America remains in a jobs depression as great as the Great Depression.
TrimTabs' CEO Charles Biderman finds it hard to hide his disdain for the omnipotent reality that President Obama espoused of a non-deficit increasing State of the Union solution to all our ills (from climate, income inequality, opportunity, and health) as he notes the politicians "do not seem to understand is that big government is, in fact, the problem, not the solution." The problem is it is hard to find one service the government provides that is effective, other then writing checks. We have not won the federal wars on poverty, or drugs, nor overseas wars in Iraq, and Afghanistan - so although governments have rarely successfully provided services, we have a government committed to doing just that. This faith in government omnipotence is now bleeding over into stocks, as Biderman notes "since January 1, investors are pouring billions into the markets in the mistaken belief that the “fake” money created by central banks is just as good as previously existing money, and the markets will keep soaring. But for how long?" He is clear on the implication of this "magical thinking" At some point "the markets will have an “aha” moment and stop allowing central banks to use newly created money with which to pay government bills. When that happens the markets will crash."
America and China are on a collision course and the battleground is Asia. The new Cold War will impact U.S.-China trade as well as intra-Asian trade.
5% fewer words, slightly shorter than last year but just as hope-full. From a hike (and inflation-indexed) in the minimum wage to a 140x multiplier of genome sciences investment (now that is Keynesian awesomeness); from extending homeownership (and refinancing plans) even more to energy independence; from Apple, Ford, and CAT's US Manufacturing to Bridge-Building and infrastructure spending; and from Trans-Pacific and -Atlantic Trade to cyber-security; it's all gonna be great - because as President Obama reminded us at the start... "Our housing market is healing, our stock market is rebounding," and this won't add a dime to the deficit... oh and that Student loan bubble - no worries, there's a college scorecard so now you know where to get the biggest bang for your credit-based buck. Summing it all up: Guns 9 : 3 Freedom ; Jobs 31 : 17 Tax ; Congress 17 : 40 Work ; Recovery 2 : 0 Unicorns ; Spending 3 : 2 Cutting