The U.S. government and the Russian government have both been forced into positions where neither one of them can afford to back down. If Barack Obama backs down, he will be greatly criticized for being "weak" and for having been beaten by Vladimir Putin once again. If Putin backs down, he will be greatly criticized for being "weak" and for abandoning the Russians that live in Crimea. In essence, Obama and Putin find themselves trapped in a macho game of "chicken" and critics on both sides stand ready to pounce on the one who backs down. But this is not just an innocent game of "chicken" from a fifties movie. This is the real deal, and if nobody backs down the entire world will pay the price.
One of the critical steps in President Obama's "off-ramp" de-escalation plan for the crisis in Ukraine was a so-called 'observer mission' by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to ensure that all citizens were being treated fairly. That 'plan' has hit a wall this morning as PTI reports that pro-Kremlin gunmen blocked the obersver entry. Seems like another red line just got crossed.
A week after Obama held his first crisis photo op holding a phone while supposedly talking to Putin, he has followed up with another, hour-long conversation. Below is the official White House statement on what was said.
The following charts are a summary taken from the "Money as you Grow" presentation prepared by the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability (created by executive order). What it highlights are "20 Things kids need to know to live financially smart lives" and is Barack Obama's personal advice to children ages 3 through 18+ on how they should spend their money. The list, which includes among it such brilliant advice as "you may have to wait before you can buy something you want", "it can be cost and dangerous to share information online" (with the NSA), "putting money in a savings account will protect and pay you interest", "the sooner you save, the faster your money can grow from compound interest", "your first paycheck may seem smaller than expected since money is taken out for taxes", "you should use a credit card only if you can pay the money owed in full each month", and of course "you need health insurance" has been pulled straight from Bizarro Day, and literally redefines New Normal humor since everything it recommends is the opposite of how the real world now works.
There are days when it seems that the Nobel Peace Prize should just go home and put their feet up, ask the home-help to make them a cuppa and to bath them and then they can be put to bed and tucked in
As newswires reported the comments from Putin’s senior aide Glazyev, the USD Index fell marginally to session lows and broke below 80.00 before recovering. If diplomacy does not prevail, then trade wars and currency wars will ensue with attendant consequences for the already vulnerable financial system and global economy.
With the world distracted by Putin and ICBM launches, The White House, according to the WSJ, is about to extend Obamacare deadlines by another year:
*U.S. MAY GRANT 1-YR EXTENSION ON HEALTH LAW REQUIREMENTS: WSJ
*WSJ CITES INDUSTRY OFFICIAL ON INSURANCE COS., HEALTH CARE LAW
Allowing insurers to keep selling policies that do not meet standards for another year. It seems, if you like your healthcare policy, you can keep it for one more year... (most importantly past the Midterms)
Having destroyed any credibility that this budget could possibly have yesterday, President Obama has outdone himself with the predictions in this $3.9 trillion budget...
- *OBAMA BUDGET PREDICTS FASTEST GDP GROWTH THIS YEAR SINCE 2005 (US GDP estimates collapsing)
- *OBAMA BUDGET SAYS ECONOMY MOVING FORWARD, HOUSING `COMING BACK' (home sales plunge at fastest pace since 2011)
- *OBAMA BUDGET CITES 'ENCOURAGING SIGNS' ACROSS INDUSTRIES (US Macro worst start to year since 2008)
But apart from that, yeah, "nailed it"
Russia’s seizure of Crimea is the most naked example of peacetime aggression that Europe has witnessed since Nazi Germany invaded the Sudetenland in 1938. It may be fashionable to belittle the “lessons of Munich,” when Neville Chamberlain and Édouard Daladier appeased Hitler, deferring to his claims on Czechoslovakia. But if the West acquiesces to Crimea’s annexation – the second time Russian President Vladimir Putin has stolen territory from a sovereign state, following Russia’s seizure of Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions in 2008 – today’s democratic leaders will surely regret their inaction. When Chamberlain returned from Munich, Winston Churchill said, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.” Obama and other Western leaders face a similar choice. And if they choose dishonor, one can be certain that an undeterred Putin will eventually give them more war.
The Cold War being back with a bang and somehow the world again finding itself on the verge of World War got you down? Don't worry, there an insurance policy for that. Because life is unpredictable...
The phone-calls are flying. On the heels of yesterday's Obama-Putin "discussion", today has seen Merkel drop him a line (with the resultant claim that Putin has accepted a "fact-finding mission" despite all evidence to the contrary); and then Merkel, Obama, and Cameron got on a party-line to discuss "sanctions". In the face of this seriousness, we suspect, however, any of the calls to Putin all had a similar dialogue...
Just in case Obama's Friday message of "costs" should Russia invade Ukraine, which it did, was lost in translation, here is NATO with the clarification, and more harsh language: Russia "threatens peace and security in Europe. Russia must stop its military activities and its threats." And just in case both Obama and NATO were misunderstood, here is Kerry appearing on CBS' Face the Nation laying down the law, and even more harsh language: John Kerry on Sunday condemned Russia's "incredible act of aggression" in Ukraine and threatened "very serious repercussions." "It's an incredible act of aggression. It is really a stunning, willful choice by President (Vladimir) Putin to invade another country. Russia is in violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia is in violation of its international obligations." Russia's response? "No comment at the moment," Peskov said.
"On the initiative of the US, a phone call took place between Vladimir Putin and the President of the US, Barack Obama. Under discussion were the various aspects of the extraordinary situation in Ukraine. In response to the concern expressed by Barack Obama regarding the possible use of Russian armed forces in the Ukraine, Vladimir Putin drew attention attention to the provocative, criminal acts of the ultranationalist elements, in effect encouraged by the present authorities in Kiev. The Russian president stressed the existence of real threats to the lives and well-being of Russian citizens and numerous compatriots located in the Ukraine. Vladimir Putin underscored that should the violence spread further to the eastern regions of the Ukraine and the Crimea, Russia reserves the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population living there."
Current US foreign policy in a nutshell: Barack Obama tells Vladimir Putin "there will be costs" if Russia invades Ukraine. What does Putin do? He invades Ukraine. Only this time it's official: AP reports that the Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked parliament for permission to use the country's military in Ukraine. Putin says the move is needed to protect ethnic Russians and the personnel of a Russian military base in Ukraine's strategic region of Crimea. RIA further adds, the military use is virtually assured as it was leaders of Russia’s upper and lower houses of parliament who first called Saturday on President Vladimir Putin to stabilize the situation in Crimea and protect Russian citizens. The leader of Federation Council, Russia’s upper house, said the use of military force in the former Soviet nation could be justified after the opposition swept into power in Kiev last weekend.
The following remarks by John Kerry, borne out of his humiliation over the complete fiasco that was the US intervention in Syria last year and the even greater fiasco that was this year's attempt to get all feuding parties on the table in Geneva, only to see that outcome obliterated as well, appear to be borne out of his disgust at the defunding of the US defense budget, which for Kerry, more than his gross incompetence, is the reason why the US now finds itself in a "new isolationism" leading him to conclude that the US is "beginning to act like a poor nation." One wonders what tipped him off: the fact that the US debt just hit a record high $17,419,220,117,766.69 or that the biggest monetizers of US deficit spending are the Fed, China and just as insolvent Japan?