Friday, December 2, 2016

CHINA WILL GO NUTS: Trump Calls Taiwan

I have no idea of where to put this on the scale between recognition of separatist efforts and insanity.

FT reports:
Donald Trump risks opening up a major diplomatic dispute with China before he has even been inaugurated after speaking on the phone on Friday with Tsai Ying-wen, the president of Taiwan.

The telephone call, confirmed by three people, is believed to be the first between a US president-elect and a leader of Taiwan since diplomatic relations between the two were cut in 1979.

Although it is not clear if the Trump transition team intended the conversation to signal a broader change in US policy towards Taiwan, the call is likely to infuriate Beijing which regards the island as a renegade province.

The US has adopted the so-called “One China” policy since 1972 after the Nixon-Mao meetings and in 1978 President Jimmy Carter formally recognised Beijing as the sole government of China, with the US embassy closing in Taipei the year after.

The Trump team did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

“The Chinese leadership will see this as a highly provocative action, of historic proportions,” said Evan Medeiros, former Asia director at the White House national security council.

“Regardless if it was deliberate or accidental, this phone call will fundamentally change China’s perceptions of Trump’s strategic intentions for the negative. With this kind of move, Trump is setting a foundation of enduring mistrust and strategic competition for US-China relations.”

Like the Israel settlement question, the U.S. should really stay out of this stuff. If Trump makes clear that he just wants to be a good friend to all nations that is fine, but if he doesn't make this absolutely clear to China it is remarkably provocative.

-RW

UPDATE

A neocon cheers Trump for his Twain move because he sees it as dissing China!

Confusion Amongst the Trump Fan Boy Set

In support of Trump at the post, Learn How to Fight the Statists..., a commenter writes:
Who is more knowledgable. Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? Skill in persuasion trumps knowledge. Read Scott Adams and learn persuasion to fight and defeat the bad guys.
I have never said that Trump wasn't more persuasive. In fact, I have written many times the exact opposite that "Hillary couldn't get a wave going at a baseball park."

The fact that he is much more capable of being persuasive as a leader is what makes him more dangerous---given that he seems to have no appreciation for liberty.

Lot's of people can get crowds going, that should not be the defining characteristic we look for in a leader (to the degree we look for a leader at all).

 

Give me boring, plodding, non-creative, non-persuasive Hillary any day.

-RW

Hey Libertarian Trump Fanboys, What Do You Think About This?

Eric Margolis writes:
Iran, which has closed important nuclear facilities, shut down half its centrifuges, and neutralized its stores of nuclear material under the international agreement, must be wondering if it’s nuclear deal was not really, really disastrous.

In his rush to condemn the Iran deal, Donald Trump seems to be forgetting that the pact was co-signed by Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and the UN. Backing out of the pact will be no easy matter and sure to provoke a diplomatic storm.

The outgoing CIA director, John Brennan, calls Trump’s plan to junk the Iran deal ‘the height of folly.’ Brennan warns that doing so would further destabilize the Mideast and embolden hard-liners on all sides. He could have added that if Iran resumes nuclear enrichment, Israel’s far-right government will likely go to war with Iran in order to preserve its Mideast nuclear monopoly.

An Israeli attack on Iran could quickly drag in the United States and become a major Mideast conflict. The Pentagon is not anxious to get involved in yet another war in the Muslim world. Interestingly, some Iranian hardliners actually hope the US will attack Iran: ‘America will break its teeth on Iran, and that will be the end of its Mideast empire,’ as one overconfident Iranian told me.

As far as I can determine, every Cabinet member and senior staff member named by Tump so far is a serious war hawk when it comes to Iran.

As Trump's newly named Defense Secretary nominee James Mattis put it when asked about his top concerns as head of US Central Command, "Iran, Iran, Iran."

I am being optimistic and hope that under Trump the U.S. will "only" attempt to destabilize the Iranian government, but this thing could very quickly get way out of hand.

-RW

Is It Moral for Libertarians to Invest in Defense and Bankster Stocks?

A couple of weeks prior to the U.S. election, in the EPJ Daily Alert,  I recommended the purchase of bankster stocks. After the Donald Trump election victory, I recommended the purchase of  defense stocks.

An ALERT subscriber has emailed me this question:
Do you have any moral qualms about investing in stocks such as the big banks, US treasuries and the merchants of death? The fact that I would be helping to fund the evil things these entities do is giving me pause. As a Rothbardian, how do you reconcile this with the NAP?
My response:

As is clear from my writings at EPJ and Target Liberty, I am not in favor of bankster operations or military adventures of the Empire.

I would never promote them and I certainly wouldn't fund them. So how can I justify making recommendations to BUY stocks in such operators?

I see such purchases as merely accumulating capital that I expect to increase in value. By purchasing such stocks, I am simply acquiring rights to capital that already exists. This would be different if I were to buy new issues of stocks issued by banksters or military contractors. That would most often be directly funding the purchase of new capital for these operators. (For a detailed explanation of when direct funding really occurs and when it doesn't see  The Stock Market, Credit, and Capital Formation by Fritz Machlup.)

Note: I am not making the argument "Well, someone is going to do it." My argument is, "By buying stocks in a secondary fashion on exchanges (as opposed to initial offerings and other direct corporate offerings), I am not directly increasing the amount of capital going into any of these companies."

Because buying an initial offering and other direct company offerings could result in the direct expansion of capital in these sectors I would never buy bankster or defense stocks offered directly by the companies.

By buying on the secondary market, I am merely observing the world and accumulating assets that I expect to climb---but not climb because of anything I am actively doing to promote their advance in the sense of calling for operations in these areas to continue or expand. In fact, I am doing the opposite and would hope they would shut down.

In the same way, I buy gold assets because I expect central banks to madly pump more money into the world. I don't want the banks to do so and it would be wrong to advocate such but by owning gold  and gold stocks I am only protecting my wealth in a crazy world---without violating NAP.

It's the same with buying bankster and defense stocks in this crazy world. I am not expanding their funding and I am certainly not advocating for bankster operations or military spending but if others are going to set up an environment where these capital assets will climb, there is no violation of NAP to purchase them.

Indeed, I note that central banks could pump more money to fund wars so that my gold could climb because of such war funding. But if I am not advocating such wars, or the funding of such wars, then I see no problem with owning gold that will climb in a war environment that I have nothing to do with creating.

As for U.S. Treasury securities, things are a little more tricky here.

It should first be noted that we live in a world that is not designed by us. We use U.S. paper dollars that have been created and are controlled by the government to promote the government's agenda. Because dollars are the generally accepted medium of exchange, it would be very difficult to live a modern day life if we didn't use this government creation. We should never advocate a government controlled monetary system but the government really has us boxed in when it comes to the real world and its use of its money.

It is pretty much the same thing with our savings. If we put cash in a bank, it expands that bank's reserves which will allow it to add loans via the fractional reserve system that results in the boom-bust cycles. But what are we to do, not use the banking system at all? The government has us boxed in again. The same way they also do with roads, public transportation etc. that are built with taxpayer money.

Things would be much different in a Private Property System, but we aren't there yet---not even close.

Getting back to the banking system, because the Federal Reserve manipulates interest rates and money supply, there are no 100% safe investments. This would be significantly different in a PPS, where many things would be much more stable, but we aren't there. Booms occur and busts occur making almost any investment (even triple a rated commercial paper) susceptible at times to total loss.

But like dollars, sidewalks and roads, the government does offer its edgy alternative: Treasury securities.

I would never advocate government debt funding, any more than government currencies, sidewalks etc. but when it comes to the safety of principle (setting aside losses via price inflation) the government has us boxed in here also, by creating an environment where nothing else is as stable in comparison.

When it comes to your money and its safety, the system is really government rigged. Putting cash in the bank or buying Treasury securities will benefit the government or its benefactors. There is nothing you can do about that.

But here is the kicker with Treasury securities. The government is going to fund its operations one way or another. but by your buying Treasury bills you are actually preventing the funding of the debt via inflation, since if there are no buyers for securities at a given interest rate, the Federal Reserve will step in to buy the securities (via a complex bankster route).  So when you have no alternatives when you are looking for safety and  buy Treasury securities, just know that you are doing your very tiny part to fight money printing by buying the securities instead of the Fed.

As far as being Rothbardian on the subject, according to Murray's wife, Joey, Rothbard once invested in some deeply discounted government bonds on anticipation of a bailout of the bonds. The bailout didn't come but it suggests that Murray's thinking was in line with mine: If you are buying assets that already exist, you are not in any way promoting the state or its opportunists but simply aligning capital investments in line with the anticipated environment.

-RW

Thursday, December 1, 2016

DONE Trump Picks Mad Dog Mattis for Secretary of Defense

"Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet." -James Mattis
President-elect Donald Trump has chosen retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as his secretary of defense, reports CNN.

Another crazed nut job who worries about a country, Iran, that couldn't possibly seriously threaten the United States.

Notes CNN, he was a critic of the Iran nuclear deal and said at the Aspen Security Forum in 2013,
when asked about his top concerns as head of US Central Command, "Iran, Iran, Iran."

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., has praised Mattis as "one of the finest military officers of his generation and an extraordinary leader."

According to The Military Times, in August, the general co-authored a report blasting the last three administrations for a perceived lack of national security vision, saying those leaders have largely ignored threats posed by Russia, China and terrorist groups worldwide.

The warmongers love this guy, see: Neocons Panting for President 'Mad Dog' Mattis

-RW

UPDATE


Learn How to Fight the Statists...

...from one of the most knowledgeable and best communicators in the libertarian movement, Tom Woods.



To join or learn more about Tom Wood's Liberty Classroom, click here.

French President Francois Hollande Will Not Seek Re-Election

France's Socialist President Francois Hollande confirmed today that he will not seek a second term in office, reports CNN.

"I am speaking to you this evening to inform you of the decision I have taken in view of the forthcoming presidential election," he said. "I have decided not to be a candidate in the presidential election."

Hollande's Socialist Party will now have to find a candidate to run against the free market leaning Francois Fillon, of the center-right Republican Party, and Marine Le Pen, of the far-right Front National, in the 2017 election.

  -RW

Ohio State Knife Attacker Abdul Artan Was Taking a Class About Microaggressions

Reason reports that Ohio State Knife attacker Abdul Arta was enrolled in a class called "Crossing Identity Boundaries."

According to the magazine, he had a group project on "microaggressions" due later this week. The assignment, worth 15 percent of his grade, required students to find a dozen examples of microaggressions on social media and explain which identity groups were the victims, according to the syllabus.

The purpose of the class is to promote "intercultural leadership" and transform students into "actively engaged, socially just global citizen/leaders."

One of Artan's classmates who was part of his microaggressions group tweeted a screenshot of the assignment and the names of her group's members, which included Artan.


Trump Will Meet With John Bolton on Friday

It keeps getting worse and worse.

Transition officials report that Donald Trump will meet with former Ambassador and super neocon John Bolton on Friday.


HOT New Roger Stone Book: 'The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution'

Donald Trump insider Roger Stone is about to release a new book just in time for the inauguration, The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution.

Reports the East Orlando Post:
Stone also enumerates how and why the mainstream media got it so wrong, including how the polls were loaded and completely misunderstood who would vote. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Suckers

A third Goldman man to Trump's team?

Is Trump "The New Boss Looking a Lot Like the Old Boss"?

Now that Donald Trump has named a number of establishment figures to his Cabinet and White House staff I am seeing a lot of comments like this: "The new boss looking a lot like the old boss," from those who recognize that he is not a libertarian panacea.

But Trump appears to be much worse than this.

I still don't think most get it. Om the domestic front, Trump is going to be much more authoritarian than any president in recent memory.

Further, the U.S. is going to crank up its military efforts overseas, at least in Iraq/Syria and Afghanistan. It is going to, at a minimum, intensify destabilization efforts of the current regime in Iran.

And unfortunately, he will have a percentage of the population who will be rabid supporters.

I can see the support here in the comments. Trump apologists are many. There is nothing he can't do that isn't excused.

If he calls for the stripping of citizenship for those who burn the flag, he is "shrewdly setting the conversation."

If he names a warmongering individual to his Cabinet, again he is being "shrewd."

This is all very scary.

Trump is an out of the box thinker, with much energy. BUT he has no understanding of how a free society would work.

It is not going to be pretty. Trump is not Obama 2. Things are going to get serious.

  -RW

The Most Interesting Endorsement of "Crisis and Leviathan" by Robert Higgs

Murray Rothbard called the 1987 book Crisis and Leviathan by Robert Higgs "a blockbuster of a book."

He went on to say that it was "one of the most important of the last decade. It is that rare and wondrous combination: scholarly and hard-hitting, lucidly written and libertarian as well."

Nobel laureate James Buchanan said of the book, "an important, powerful and profoundly disturbing book."

But the most interesting comment about the book may now be this one. The comment appears on the inside cover of the 2012, 25th anniversary, edition. :

"I just read Crisis and Leviathan. Wonderful Work! I will try to stem the tide of emergency on Capitol Hill with your inspiration!"

It is signed: Mike Pence, Governor of Indiana and former U.S. congressman.



 -RW

The Iranian Situation Will Turn Real Bad Under Donald Trump

Michael S. Rozeff writes:
Anti-Iranism in the U.S. government has been strong for years and years. It is still strong. The latest evidence of this is that Trump has surrounded himself with several rabid anti-Iranites...
At long last, Obama and five other world powers (the governments of Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany) “have agreed to lift all UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic— once Iran abides by a set of nuclear-related commitments.” And it has.
Trump and his crew of anti-Iranites threaten to torpedo the agreement in one way or another, as opposed to building peace upon its foundation.
There is no need to worry about Trump being anti-Semitic. What’s of far more urgency is that his administration is much more anti-Iranite than Obama’s, and that Congress remains firmly a bastion of anti-Iranism.
Any talk of war against Iran in order to prevent its ever developing a nuclear weapon or to prevent its being a threat to Israel or its neighbors reeks of a kind of hatred and hostility that is far, far from rational and that would be willing, under certain conditions and stimuli, to make war against Iran...
For Trump to jettison the work of Iran in conjunction with the six major powers because he thinks it’s a “bad deal” for not tying Iran’s hands 10 years down the road is wrong. The right way to proceed is to use these 10 years to build conditions that defang the warmongers on both sides, within Iran and within the U.S. The main work to be done by the U.S. government in this respect has to be within this country, because this is where it governs. There is no evidence that this is what Trump intends. Taking us back to square one will prove impossible. The Iranians will likely bolt any re-opening of talks so soon after the agreement has been erected and it has abided by its terms. The situation in that case will end up worse than it ever was, and U.S. warmongers will be riding high.
Rozeff is correct. At a minimum I expect the Trump administration to attempt to destabilize the current Iranian regime if not launch an outright war.

This is in addition to Trump putting U.S. combat troops in the Syria/Iraq region to fight ISIS and adding reinforcements in Afghanistan.

In the EPJ Daily Alert, I am telling readers to prepare for a War Economy.

 -RW