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October 25, 2016 / 23 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘strategy’

Monetizing Debt: A Historically Disastrous Policy

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

As European nations seek economic lifelines, the Germans have a financial history lesson for Europe, America and the rest of the world. It’s found in a revealing self-critical painting, “Eclipse of the Sun,” created by a 1920s Berlin artist, George Grosz, which hangs at the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington.

Few understand better than the Germans how economic self-destruction can bring a nation and the world to the edge of abyss. The crushing debt imposed on them at the end of World War I led to unprecedented hyperinflation as they monetized their obligations, running their printing presses to create millions of worthless marks.

Middle-class Germans became destitute as their life savings could no longer buy so much as a loaf of bread, much less secure their retirement. So corrosive was this monetized debt that the marginal Nazi Party, initially dismissed as a group of anti-Semitic street thugs, was voted into office by 1932. That is why Grosz’s post-World War I painting remains so powerful almost a century later. His contorted caricatures capture the revealing self-loathing of an economic and political landscape that would ultimately lead to the rise of the Third Reich.

“Monetizing debt” may sound like economists’ jargon, but it is an economy’s ultimate poison pill when politicians print money to cover government deficits rather than engage in difficult policy decisions. Argentina, Thailand and Zimbabwe have all used this strategy, and it consistently led to chaos. In the America of 2012, far too few appreciate the perils to our citizenry from a national debt in excess of $15 trillion and more than $60 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Some, such as former presidential hopeful Ron Paul, have suggested we return to the Gold Standard, a proposal that would be a difficult strategy to even consider, given our limited gold reserves. A far more rational idea is for us to get off the Debt Standard, but Washington can’t seem to agree on any course of action.

Economic policy has become a captive of politics, particularly in the House of Representatives, where a two-year term guarantees distraction by a constant campaign for re-election.

There was a time when if you were a Democrat, it was a given that you favored significant deficits for “pump priming” and expanded social programs. If you were a Republican, you advocated for lower taxes and the forces of a free market to create jobs and power the economy. There was room for compromise and negotiation. Our current political environment has become so venomous that an ideological holy war is holding hostage a bipartisan resolution of the debt crisis. We have become incapable of governing through compromise.

There needs to be a dramatic and strategic response to this institutional paralysis. History has repeatedly taught us that otherwise rational people have turned to monetizing debt to achieve a political “quick fix” — an action the Federal Reserve has undertaken since 2008 by printing new currency to buy up bonds. Voters need to alert elected officials on both sides of the aisle that they will judge them on their ability to resolve this emergency.

Meanwhile, though the ongoing European debt crisis seems irrelevant to our own lives, were Europe’s economy to freeze, the results would be immediate and devastating here. Unlike the Germans who now practice budgetary austerity with the pursuit of a converted zealot, there is little in our collective experience that allows us to appreciate the depth of the danger.

History has taught that the collapse of strong nations has traditionally occurred from strategic failures within. It’s a powerful lesson that our founders tried to instill in future generations when Patrick Henry offered, “I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.” Consider it a warning that our nation is in danger from a runaway debt that has the power to eclipse the sun.
Originally published by Newsday and the Gatestone Institute  http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org 

Lawrence Kadish

Rubin Reports: Will the Rebels Win Syria’s Civil War and What That Means

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012


The tide seems to be turning in Syria. While the civil war is far from over, the regime is clearly weakening; the rebels are expanding their operations and effectiveness. There have also been more high-level defections. What does this mean and why is this happening? There are three main factors that are making a rebel victory seem more likely.

First, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with Turkey’s facilitation and U.S. coordination, are sending arms to the opposition.

Second, the regime has been rushing the same trusted units around the country to put down upsurges and these forces are getting tired and stretched thin.

Third, President Bashar al-Assad really has nothing to offer the opposition. He won’t leave and he can’t share power. His strategy of brutal suppression and large-scale killing can neither make the opposition surrender nor wipe it out. Even if he kills civilians and demonstrators, the rebel military forces can pull back to attack another day.

Even though the fighting may go on for months, then, it is time to start assessing what outcomes might look like. Here are some suggestions:

–Ethnic massacres? While there have been reports of such actions — the regime killing Sunni Muslims; the opposition killing Alawites and Christians — what we’ve seen already might be nothing compared to what is to come. Such murders might take place during the civil war or after it ends.

–An Alawite fortress? Assad has built up his defenses in northwest Syria where most of the Alawites live to make a last stand or to try to hold out. How would such a final phase in the war go and could Assad keep the rebels from taking this stronghold?

–Obama Administration bragging rights? We’ve already had leaks about U.S. covert involvement in the anti-Assad effort. If the rebels seem to be winning or do in fact win the war before November, the White House will claim Syria as proof of its tough, triumphant foreign policy (The elections in Libya, in which reportedly the Islamists were held off by a U.S.-backed government, will be cited as another example of success).

–But at great risk. What if the Obama Administration increasingly claims credit for regime change in Syria and then has to take blame for massacres or an Islamist takeover?

–The Kurdish factor. Syria’s Kurds have essentially walled off their northeast section of the country. Their armed militia, helped by their compatriots in Iraq, can hold out against all but the most concerted force. The Kurds generally view the regime as repressive Arab nationalists while they see the opposition as Islamists and Arab nationalists. Would a new regime in Damascus make a deal with them for autonomy, or would it be tempted to try to conquer the area? If so, how would the opposition’s Western backers react to such an assault?

–And then there’s the biggest question of all: Who among the opposition forces would take power? Syria is quite different from such relatively homogeneous countries as Egypt and Tunisia. Let’s just list the different groupings:

Alawites now rule and in general support the regime. The treatment of the Alawites—who pretend to be Shia Muslims but really aren’t Muslims at all—would be a key indicator for a new regime. Would it seek conciliation or would it massacre large numbers of them? Unless Assad can hold out in the northwest, the Alawites will have little role in a post-Assad Syria.

Christians also generally support the regime because they fear Islamists taking power. Will they face massacres and flee the country or will the new regime work to accommodate them?

Alawites and Christians together number more than one-fourth of the country’s population.

The Kurds have been discussed above. Their goal is autonomy, one that a new central government could meet but will it want to grant them such status?

The Druze, who live in the southwest of the country, have not played a major role in the rebellion. They tend to accommodate themselves to the status quo. Will they organize communally and seek some autonomy? The Druze strategy is of special interest to Israel since they live closer to the Golan Heights and, indeed, Israel rules a Druze population there most of whose members identify as Syrians. Would a new regime’s treatment of the Druze make the Golan Heights’ residents more rebellious against Israel or more eager to remain under Israeli rule? Israel’s military intelligence commander has already warned of the danger of jihadists infiltrating into the border area, though one might add that Israel already has strong defenses in place there that would stop any cross-border attacks, a contrast of course with the Sinai.

Barry Rubin

Who Told You to Buy Gold?

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Have you ever dreamed of being like the mythical King Midas whose touch turned everything into gold? There is no question about it – gold symbolizes wealth and riches. Even though the Gold Standard is no longer the world’s main monetary system, this precious metal still carries a certain mystique.

Today plenty of people are looking to invest in gold. But is it really such a good idea? Many people got the “gold bug” over the past year, only to get shaken by its volatility. This may be because in January 2012, the London Bullion Market Association published a survey that predicted a rise in gold prices to $2,000 per ounce. However, since then, gold prices have oscillated sharply, only reaching $1600 at the end of May, having fallen as low as $1540 in the preceding days.

Despite its volatility, there are various reasons why people want to buy gold. Some investors have little faith in hard currency and prefer to invest in a commodity such as gold, which they believe will always have value. Indeed, the value of the precious metal often rises when other currencies fall, and in today’s shaky economy may be more dependable. History also works in favor of the gold investor. The gold rushes of yesteryear have left supplies depleted, and this scarcity adds significantly to the value of this precious metal.

However, not all is plain sailing. The scarcity of gold that makes it such a sought-after commodity also means that it may never again hold the currency value that it possessed in the past. Many people also argue that gold has no intrinsic value that can be measured logically. More to the point, unlike stocks and bonds, if you invest in gold bullion you will not receive any dividends or interest. Additionally, gold bars or jewelry may look very beautiful, but if they are extremely valuable, they shouldn’t be kept in an unprotected jewelry box. Safe storage and insurance policies come at their own costs.

If you are considering owning gold as part of a diversification strategy, make sure you believe in its inherent value, and aren’t blinded by its shine. For those folks who invest in gold and silver coins, remember that you can lose money in the gold market.

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

The David Project Takes a New Direction

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

The David Project wants you to stop reacting. No more counter-protests, counter-programs, or counter-anything. No more of this ‘ARM’ business, with its focus on addressing and reframing; it’s all about the M, the message. Nothing negative. The David Project is all about the message.

It’s a perspective that is new for an organization that has been known as an aggressive force on campus. But as campuses empty for the summer, The David Project is reflecting on a year of new beginnings.

The Boston-based group took the pro-Israel community by surprise this year when it released a report in February titled “A Burning Campus? Rethinking Israel Advocacy at America’s Universities and Colleges.” The report, or “white paper,” outlined a significant departure from the organization’s divisive and hard-line history.

Under the leadership of Director David Bernstein since 2010, the organization has made an about-face on the issues that defined its past strategy: No more aggressive tactics against anti-Israelism on campus because, the group now says, it is counterproductive.

“In the past a ‘win’ was viewed as a perceived defeat of the … Israel detractors on campus,” said Bernstein. “Today, we don’t define our success in terms of the detractors but in terms of moving the discourse in a positive direction. That is definitely a major change in paradigm.”

For example, if confronted with a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions conference, The David Project of old would probably publicly challenge the organizers, said Bernstein. But doing so, he explained, only would serve to ratchet up the conference’s exposure. “We’ve learned from the past,” he said

It’s a change that took hold of The David Project a year prior to the release of “Burning Campus,” said Bernstein, pointing out that when it comes down to numbers, true anti-Israelists represent a tiny, dedicated minority of students who exert little influence on the general student body.

“Attacking the other side will do very little to bring [anti-Israelists] down, their numbers are already low. Our real task was building Israel’s reputation up,” he said.

Evan Herron, a junior at Temple University, exemplifies The David Projects new strategy. With an organized and strong Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) presence, Temple University plays host to a number of anti-Israel events per year.

But while at a David Project retreat in February, Herron was educated not in bringing the fight to SJP; rather, he learned skills in networking and relationship building. He went back to campus and organized a leadership dinner attended by the presidents or representatives of over 20 student groups; they went on to sign letters of support for a strong relationship between the U.S. and Israel.

“We put on the leadership dinner as a response but not in a responsive manner,” Herron said, echoing the David Project’s newfound sense of nuance when it comes to dealing with Israel’s perception on campuses.

It’s this type of subtle strategy that Bernstein hopes will signal a shift in how students view Israel’s image on campus: The best way to help Israel is to reach out to “diverse segments of the campus community,” Bernstein said.

“It’s got to be systematic,” he said. “It starts with students mapping out their campuses to understand the diverse sources of leadership, and then reaching out to them and finding ways of building long-term ties that raise understanding of Israel. There’s no one size fits all, but engaging the process in the long term can produce great results.”

Spreading the David Project’s new gospel are individuals like Jason Horowitz, the organization’s Midwest coordinator. One initiative he witnessed succeed is the distribution of coffee gift cards to pro-Israel students — the goal is to spur pro-Israel groups to take members of other student organizations out for coffee and, hopefully, build relationships between the groups.

He recalled that a student at Michigan State University used just that strategy to take the president of the black student union out for coffee, eventually co-sponsoring a Jewish Hearts in Africa event together.

“I think what we’re doing is really dynamic,” Horowitz said. “We’re taking things in a really positive direction.”

Daniel Wicentowski, Israel Campus Beat

Tibbi Singer’s Daily Roundup: Be the Best Sheigetz You Can Be…

Monday, May 7th, 2012

This Jewish guy gets to a small town out in the hinterland, and in his kosher traveler’s guide he finds a motel that’s run by a Jewish lady. Sunday morning the church bells are ringing and he hears the motel owner yelling out: Jimmy, the bells are ringing, time to go to church!

So the guest knocks on her office door and asks, What’s it to you if Jimmy goes to church or not?

So she wipes a tearful eye and says, Jimmy is my only child, and, God forgive me, he converted to Christianity. So I’m thinking, if I didn’t merit to have a God fearing Jewish son, at least let him be a God fearing sheigetz.

Reading Menachem Lipkin’s entry (see below) about Ami magazine and their coverage of things non-Haredi reminded me of that story. In a sense, we, Haredi, stam frum, and secular, are wishing for the other to be the best God awful misguided fool they can be.

Better than violence..


What an awesome article by Sultan Knish! And, incidentally, you can apply everything he wrote about GW’s and Obama’s fundamental failures in Afghanistan to Israel’s failures with the Palestinians. It comes down to politicians doing stuff because it made sense at the time. It’s the stuff that spawns all human tragedy.

My recommendation to all political leaders is to follow the example of Seinfeld’s George Constanza, who knew the value of doing the opposite of what made sense to him.

Winning the War

The Afghanistan victory lap is as much about disguising the ‘cut and run’ phase; as it is about reminding the folks in Virginia and Iowa that the man on television parachuted in, cut the throats of all of Osama’s guards, shot him in the face and then made a topical quip. Waving around Bin Laden’s head is a good way to distract them from the fact that the United States has lost the war in Afghanistan, that Obama’s own strategy there failed badly and cost numerous American and British lives, and that we are turning the country over to the Taliban.

Afghanistan and Iraq were part of a strategy for containing and draining the fever swamps of terrorism. That strategy failed for a variety of reasons, not the least of them being that we failed to learn the lessons of Vietnam. The Obama Administration alone managed to roll out a “hearts and minds” strategy and a brief push to intimidate the other side into coming to the negotiating table for a face-saving withdrawal. It’s almost a pity that Obama wasn’t old enough to have to dodged the draft. At least that way he might have actually known something about the Vietnam War. Daniel Greenfield, Sultan Knish


I’m waiting for the day when the media offer this headline:

Secular People Stole a Million Dollars

Agnostic Molested Children

Religiously Ambivalent Guy Cheated the IRS

It’s only fair. If we’re so happy to point out that this or that individual who just robbed the public treasure is a shomer Shabbat, we should also mention that the guy who did the hit and run eats traif.

With that in mind, here’s a juicy Jewsy:

Again: Haredim Stole Millions From Government In New Yeshiva Fraud, Cops Say Israel police raided several haredi yeshivas earlier today and arrested five school principals in what police say is a multimillion shekel fraud scheme. Failed Messiah

And, speaking of folks who won’t publish the picture of a woman, here’s a gripe against the Haredi Ami magazine.

Yom Ha’Atzmaut Through Charedi Eyes Ami’s CEO and Editor In Chief, Rabbi Yizchok Frankfurter, penned an editorial that was very troubling.  It represents much that is wrong with this type of publication today. Make no mistake, while Ami pretends to be an opened-minded publication, throwing out a few bones here and there to unsuspecting readers, at its core, as proven by this editorial and the fact that they won’t publish pictures of women among other things, they are solidly in the Chareidi camp. Menachem Lipkin, Emes Ve-Emunah


The difference between knowing and being…

My Children Live a Mixture of America and Israel. Today, my husband mentioned Shirley Temple and my children were oblivious to who she was. It happens quite often and is, for many people, unexpected. For the most part, their English skills are quite good. They are, most definitely, all bilingual. They understand English, read it, and speak it quite well. But where they “fall” – is with the culture and the sayings related to it. Paula R. Stern, A Soldier’s Mother


Leslie Stein (“The Making of Modern Israel: 1948-1967”) is tackling the familiar question: Can one be an anti-Zionist without being an anti-Semite? But don’t assume you know what she’s about to say. Read, man, read, she’s really good.

Tibbi Singer

Obama to Speak at Holocaust Museum April 23

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

President Obama will commemorate the Holocaust at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

Obama will speak at the museum on April 23, less than a week after the official Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“He will give remarks commemorating the Holocaust and discuss how the United States is honoring the pledge of ‘Never again’ by developing a comprehensive strategy to prevent and respond to mass atrocities,” said a White House statement issued Tuesday.

Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom Hashoah, will be marked this year on Thursday. Tim Geithner, the secretary of the treasury, will represent the Obama administration at the Capitol’s commemoration.


Rubin Reports: Romney’s Road – Blast Obama’s Failures and Policy, Expose the Lies, Seize the Mainstream

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012


I wrote this article before Mitt Romney made what might be called his first speech directed at the general election (see the end of this article for the link). And I was pleasantly surprised that he seems to be following the strategy I’ve outlined below. It appears that Romney is changing gears after being bland, centrist, and nasty to win the Republican nomination. This is a superb speech full of sharp and clear points, and I urge you to read it.

What are the weaknesses of Obamaism that my “Marxist-style” analysis highlighted, and how do they suggest the way in which the presidential and congressional electoral campaigns should be conducted?

1. The current policies don’t work for a basic structural reason. You cannot apply highly statist, left-wing socialist policies to the American system and have them work. It is like beating your automobile with a buggy whip to make it go faster or, alternatively, buying a Leaf.

There is no way that Obama’s policies can  revive the American economy precisely because they are based on an ideology that doesn’t fit the system it is supposed to govern. And if he’s reelected, things will become far worse. Mitt Romney and others must highlight this total mismatch.

Obama ignores the facts and doubles down on applying failed strategies, as he did by refusing to increase drilling in the face of high prices or as he continues to do by investing in “green energy” when the green in it is the mold growing on bankrupt facilities.

2. The philosophy and policies of the Obama administration run counter to all previous American thought and practice. Obama can reach to find precedents, but they are very unpersuasive. When he does come up with something, it is either taken out of context or argued as if the America of today hasn’t changed in a century, with cigar-smoking, top-hatted capitalists oppressing workers that have no unions.

Romney should highlight Obama’s departure from the Constitution and consensus. He is the mainstream candidate, Obama is the extremist.

3. Obamaism throws the American system out of balance. There is nothing wrong with having a state capable of balancing big business and the banks from having unbridled power, but that is nowhere close to reality. Instead, the federal government has grown to ridiculous proportions, to the point where it is dictating to society and the individual. Romney should be the candidate of reasonable balance, explaining why the government, taxes, and regulation must be scaled back to reasonable proportions.

4. The Obama approach is not some social justice system protecting the masses, but rather the instrument of a privileged class trying to enrich itself and accumulate power. It is a bid for power by wealthy and upper middle class people who benefit from their relationship to the state to enrich themselves, rather than produce jobs, products, and wealth.

They pretend to serve most Americans, but actually steal the property of the people to benefit parasitical crony capitalists and non-productive upper middle class sectors. Romney must show how government programs that pretend to be altruistic are actually forms of greed that hurt the voters.

5. Romney needs to wage an old-fashioned anti-Washington campaign against big government, high taxes, and excessive regulation, and against a swollen government full of waste, fraud, and abuse.

When they call him rich, he must respond by calling them arrogant, power-hungry, and liberty-stealing. He must provide case after case of massive government waste and fraud to trash the lie that money to the federal government merely keeps the water and air clean, clothes the poor, and does assorted other good deeds. He and the congressional candidates need to show the waste and corruption involved in funding crony capitalism and the turning of government into a foundation that uses tax money to make left-wing groups rich.

He needs to talk about big cuts in spending as ejecting non-productive — indeed, anti-productive — bureaucrats rather than worthy programs. He needs to expose how institutions like the departments of Energy, Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, and others are counterproductive.

How should this strategy be implemented? First and foremost, Romney and congressional candidates should aggressively denounce Obama’s policies. Let me put it clearly: Romney must do to Obama what he did to Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. If he pulls punches and tries to be too restrained, he will repeat the mistake of John McCain and make a humiliating defeat inevitable.

Second, Romney should not try to get the media or the statist-oriented elite to like him — that’s the kryptonite of the opposition — but should appeal over its head to the people. Nothing Romney can do besides going soft on Obama, minimizing the difference, and ensuring his own defeat will get the media to say anything nice about him.

Barry Rubin

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/rubin-reports-romneys-road-blast-obamas-failures-and-policy-expose-the-lies-seize-the-mainstream/2012/04/17/

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