Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Housing Affordability is Falling at the Fastest Rate since the Real Estate Bubble Peak

As you can see from this chart from FRED, thanks to both increased housing prices and higher mortgage rates, housing affordability is crumbling.  The last time we saw a year-over-year decline of this magnitude was July 2006.  Just saying:

A must watch interview on the state of the economy(h/t ZeroHedge):

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Map of What Israel Would Look Like Post Land Swaps with the Palestinians Shows Why the Talks with Fail

I posted this chart back in 2011, it is a map of the Judea and Samaria with the pieces of land that will remain Israel in gold and those parts of Israel given to the Palestinians in red.  See any problems?:

As I wrote before I have two major problems with this map:
  1. It does nothing to change the fact that Israel is 9 miles wide at its narrowest.  Downtown Tel Aviv will still be seen from the hills of Palestine and could easily be targeted by missiles and rockets (with little to no warning given to civilians before they hit).  Nobody can live like this.
  2. Those rivulets of Israeli territory carved out of the West Bank are a disaster waiting to happen.  Terrorists from Hamas or the PFLP or Islamic Jihad could take pot shots at settlers all day every day.  And if there were ever a conflict between Israel and Palestine (which is probably likely, especially if Hamas stays in or runs the government), those armed gangs could easily cut off those settlements from the rest of Israel.  If you thought a territory 9 miles wide was not defensible, how about 1 km wide (or less).  You could easily have a bloodbath/massacre on your hands which will make Itamar look like youthful vandalism by comparison.

Israeli PM: Not a Single Arab Shall Live in the Land of Israel

Of course Bibi didn't say that.  Can you just imagine the uproar?  Presidents and Prime Ministers from all over the globe would be calling Netanyahu a racist and a Nazi, proposing ethnic cleansing.  The horrible thing is that the Palestinian Authority President Abbas said the equivalent and my guess is that the Obama administration will completely ignore it and still force Israel to negotiate with that anti-semitic terrorist thug (as well as continue to free convicted murderers to placate that anti-semitic terrorist thug).  Here is what Abbas said:

"In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli - civilian or soldier - on our lands".

Israel should stop wasting time negotiating with the Palestinians until they find a real partner for peace.  Not just an Arab Nazi promoting Judenrein.

Rand Paul: Chris Christie is "Sad & Cheap" For Using 9/11 Victims

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The EU is Officially Friendlier to Hezbollah than the United Arab Emirates

The Gulf Cooperation Council just blacklisted ALL of Hezbollah, not just the "military wing" like the EU:

Six days after the European Union placed Hezbollah’s military wing on its list of terror organizations while leaving cooperation with the party’s political branch unaffected, a union of six Arab Gulf states has begun officially blacklisting all of Hezbollah. 
The Gulf Cooperation Council, a political and economic umbrella organization encompassing Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait, has begun implementing a decision adopted by its foreign ministers on June 2 to place financial and security restrictions on Hezbollah, “making no distinction whatsoever between its military and political arms,” the Saudi daily Al-Watan reported on Sunday. 
The Gulf measures against Hezbollah began in early July through the restriction of all financial transactions emanating from Hezbollah bank accounts in the Gulf. The main reason cited for singling out Hezbollah was its military support of Bashar Assad in Syria. The Arab League, based in Cairo, on June 5 strongly condemned Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria, but fell short of dubbing it a “terror organization.” 
Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah ridiculed the European distinction between his party’s armed and political wings. 
“This invention of a military wing, a political wing; this is a British act. They usually try to find such ways out,” Nasrallah said at dinner marking the end of a Ramadan fast day on July 24. 
“Despite my disagreement with this division and distinction, I propose that our ministers in the next Lebanese government come from Hezbollah’s military wing,” Nasrallah joked.

Friday, July 26, 2013

How Crazy is the Turkish Government? They Just Accused a Bird of Spying for Israel

Yes, I'm serious:

Turkish authorities detained a bird on suspicion it was spying for Israel, but freed it after X-rays showed it was not embedded with surveillance equipment, newspapers said on Friday. 
The kestrel aroused suspicion because of a metal ring on its foot carrying the words "24311 Tel Avivunia Israel", prompting residents in the village of Altinayva to hand it over to the local governor. 
The bird was put in an X-ray machine at a university hospital to check for microchips or bugging devices, according to the Milliyet newspaper, which carried a front-page image of the radiogram with the title "Israeli agent".

And here is a picture of a kestrel.  Damn Jewish spy:

Note that this isn't the first time that an animal has been accused of spying for Israel.  Just a few years ago, a Regional Governor in Egypt said it was possible that a killer shark was sent to the Sinai by the Mossad (no word on whether it had frickin laser beams attached to its head).  And sadly this isn't even the first time that someone from Turkey has accused a bird of spying for Israel.  Just last year, a dead European Bee-eater was accused of espionage.  Here is a picture of a Bee-eater, another Zionist bird species with what looks like a sinister stare:

Seriously, some people are nuts.

Monday, July 22, 2013

When the NAACP was okay with an unarmed teen being killed

Jonah Goldberg points out that race baiters like Sharpton and the NAACP were not always upset about unarmed teens being killed or were clammering for justice to be served. Back in 2006, an unarmed White teen, Daniel Cicciaro was killed by John White:

A drunken Cicciaro was killed at the foot of White's driveway after he went to the home with four friends late at night, bent on fighting Aaron White [son of the defendant] over a bogus rape threat, police said.

They yelled racial slurs and threatened to rape Aaron White's mother, according to cops.

White testified he grew up in Brooklyn hearing stories about how the Ku Klux Klan torched his grandfather's business in Alabama. He said wanted to scare the mob away and that his gun accidentally went off when Cicciaro lunged at him.

Prosecutors said that instead of calling the cops, White went out to confront the teens and shot Cicciaro in the face from three inches away.

So here is a case where the defendant admitted that he racially profiled the victim and did not even bother to call the police (unlike Zimmerman), I'm sure the NAACP was screaming at the top of their lungs for justice to be served and White to be punished severely.  Well not really, they actually were seeking a full pardon from Governor David Patterson and eventually did receive it.  

Now imagine the uproar if a Zimmerman was found guilty and then a white Governor pardoned him?  There would be riots.

And to Obama, who said that things would have been different if Travyon was white, I call b___ s___.

Why There Probably Won't Be a New Islamic Caliphate

Daniel Pipes uses the humor of Emo Philips to point out why Islamists are likely doomed:

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump.

I said, "Don't do it!" He said, "Nobody loves me."

"God loves you. Do you believe in God?" He said, "Yes."

"Me, too! Are you a Christian or a Jew?" He said, "A Christian."

"Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?" He said, "Protestant."

"Me, too! What franchise?" He said, "Baptist."

"Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?" He said, "Northern Baptist."

"Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist."

"Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region."

"Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879 or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912."

I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over.

Perino: Where is Obama's Speech About the Toddler Shot in the Face by Two Black Teens?

The point is maybe a President shouldn't weigh in on local crime issues, because the question then is why this one and not this other one?:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

David Stockman Reason Interview

A must watch video of David Stockman talking about his latest book, The Great Deformation:

Monday, July 8, 2013

Do We Really Have a Choice Other Than to Support the Military in Egypt?

Things are starting to get really serious in Egypt, as if the initial military coup wasn't serious enough.  It sounds like 51 people were killed and hundreds injured as the army fired on Muslim Brotherhood members protesting outside the Army barracks where Morsi currently is under house arrest.  There are calls from both the left and the right to cut off aid or at least use the threat of a cutoff to force the military to transfer power to a civilian government as fast as possible.

I was saying that we should cut off aid to Egypt pretty much as soon as Mubarak fell.  I just didn't see why we would be arming a country headed by a guy (Morsi) with a long history of vile anti-semitism, who has openly threatened Israel with war, usurped power from other branches of government and even had pro-democracy NGO workers convicted in court.  Throughout Morsi's Presidency, this administration continued to give him billions of dollars of taxpayer funds ignoring all of his inflammatory statements.  When Secretary of State John Kerry was asked about Morsi at his confirmation hearings he stated that just because we don't agree with someone who is an elected head of a country doesn't give us the right to walk away.

What I don't get is this.  Now that Morsi has been replaced by the relatively pro-Western military, which is being helped by our other allies in the region and has a history of cooperation with Israel, this is when we are talking about cutting off aid. Have we completely lost our minds?  We should be doing what we can to help the Egyptian military, not trying to pressure them to give up power.  Seriously, what other choice do we have but to support them?  During the last parliamentary election for the Shura Council, the Muslim Brotherhood + the Salafists got almost 74% of the vote.  It wasn't even close.  We might want to believe that it was a close race, one winnable by pro-western parties next time around, but it wasn't.  Sure, the Muslim Brotherhood might not be as strong in the next election, but what if their voters just go to the even more radical Salafists?  US interests, Copts and Israel would not be very well served by that.

And now imagine if Morsi is able to come back to power through a counter coup thanks to a collapse in support for the Army in the coming days and weeks.  Can you imagine how bad the purge of the military would be?  It will cease to be a relatively pro-western force and would just be a Sunni version of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.  We thought Morsi was bad before, just wait until he lusts for revenge.

Having a military coup in Egypt isn't my idea of an ideal situation but unfortunately the universe isn't keen on providing those too much.  We shouldn't let perfection stand in the way of us supporting those in Egypt with a history of helping our interests.  This kind of perfectionism is what led us to abandon Nicaragua and Iran in the 1970's and we know how disastrous both of those decisions have been (especially the abandonment of the Shah).  

We need to come out clearly in favor of the military and do whatever we can to make sure they do not fall.  If they do fall, we and our allies in the region will be seriously screwed.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Does John Kerry Know He is the Head of the State Department?

Maybe I've seen too many movies but I always thought Secretaries of State should be laboring away in their offices during times of crisis, like when a major ally has a military coup and there is fighting in the streets.  John Kerry doesn't seem to think so apparently.  He has spent time on Wednesday (during the coup itself) and Thursday on his yacht with pictures to prove it:

Seriously.  What an entitled prick.  He probably views his appointment as something he "deserves" for years of service with the ultimate goal to be something to finish off his memoirs with, not as a job to actually do.  One could argue the coup is "done" but today's demonstrations and violence would pretty much fly in the face of that.  Also, didn't Obama essentially put Egypt on notice in his statement on the coup that the US might cut off aid?  Wouldn't a good Secretary of State be there to talk things over with the Egyptians and unruffle any feathers? I guess spending time on his yacht is more important to him.

Thank G-d he lost in 2004 (I just wish he lost to a better Republican).

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hirsi Ali: It is the Palestinian's fault there is no peace agreement

Just in case their prior rejection of 93-100% of what they have asked for didn't convince you, maybe Hirsi Ali will:

Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian context, the main problem is that you may speak of a peace process, but what you get is a process, not peace. And why is this process so prolonged? Because for the Israelis this issue is a territorial problem. For the Palestinian negotiators, on the other hand, it is not a territorial problem but a religious and ethnic one, It is not only about Palestinians but about all Arabs. Most of all, it is a religious problem.

From the perspective of the Arab leaders, reaching a two-state solution is to betray God, the Koran, the hadith and the tradition of Islam.

Israel Hayom: Even though they are portrayed as secular?

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: The presumption that the Palestinian negotiators are secular is not supported by facts. Were they secular, there would already be a settled territorial agreement of some kind. But there is no agreement as of today, because on one side it has become religious jihad of all or nothing, while on the other side it is still a territorial issue. Of course I know that there are Israelis who also perceive this as a religious problem; but their numbers pale in comparison to the Muslim side. Reaching a settlement that brings about two states is a religious betrayal -- not only for the leadership but for most Muslims today. The West does not understand this.

Israel Hayom: Why? After the many years you have lived in the West, how can you explain this?

The conception of religion in the West in the 20th and 21st century differs from that of Middle Eastern Muslims. The West successfully separated religion and politics, but even in places in the West where there is no distinct separation, still the concept of God and religion, even in the 13th or 15th century, differs to the current reality in the Middle East.

Islam is an Orthopraxy, Islam has a goal. So if you are a true Muslim, you must fight for that goal. You can achieve a temporary peace or truce, but it is not ultimate, not everlasting. It is not just about the territory. Because the territory does not belong to the people; it belongs to God. So for a Palestinian leader -- even if he is secular, even an atheist -- to leave the negotiating room with the announcement of a two-state solution would mean that he would be killed the minute he walks out.

Why Has the Fed's Money Printing Not Stimulated the Economy? Over 80% of Those Dollars Are Sitting in Banks and Not Being Lent Out or Invested

A pretty good explanation as to why Bernanke's massive money printing has failed to produce the desired effect:

Although the Bernanke Fed has disbursed $2.284 trillion in new money (the monetary base) since August 1, 2008, one month before the 2008 financial crisis, 81.5 percent now sits idle as excess reserves in private banks. The banks are not required to hold excess reserves. The excess reserves exploded from $831 billion in August 2008 to $1.863 trillion on June 14, 2013. The excess reserves of the nation's private banks had previously stayed at nearly zero since 1959 as seen on the St. Louis Fed's chart. The banks did not leave money idle in excess reserves at zero interest because they were investing in income earning assets, including loans to consumers and businesses.

This 81.5 percent explosion in idle excess reserves means that the Bernanke Fed's new money issues of $85 billion each month have never been a big stimulus. Approximately 81.5 percent (or $69.27 billion) is either bought by banks or deposited into banks where it sits idle as excess reserves. The rest of the $85 billion, approximately 18.5 percent (or $15.72 billion) continues to circulate or is held as required reserves on banks' deposit accounts (unlike unrequired excess reserves).

One reason that the excess reserves grew to an extraordinary level is that in October 2008, one month after the financial crisis when Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, the Bernanke Fed began paying interest on bank reserves. Although it has been 1/4 of 1 percent interest, this risk free rate was not low compared to the Fed's policy of keeping short-term market rates near zero. The interest banks received was and is an incentive to hold the excess reserves rather than lend to consumers and businesses in the risky environment of the major recession and the slow recovery.

The Bernanke Fed is now facing a $1.863 trillion time bomb, they helped to create, of excess reserves in the private banking system. If rates of interest on income earning assets (including bank loans to consumers and businesses) rise, the Fed will have to pay the banks more interest to hold their excess reserves.

At the current level of the time bomb, raising interest paid to banks on excess reserves would give the banks $18.6 billion a year at 1 percent interest, $55.9 billion a year at 3 percent interest and $93.2 billion a year at 5 percent interest. Because of concentration in banking, it is unlikely that much of the interest would be passed on to depositors. Bank stockholders would receive much of these large bonuses from the government.
Eighty five billion a month will seem tiny compared to the avalanche of the $1.863 trillion excess reserves exploding rapidly into the economy. That would devalue the currency, cause more rapid inflation and worry investors about a coming collapse.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

In case there was any doubt, the Egyptian military is threatening a coup

Details of the Egyptian military's roadmap in case Morsi doesn't accept their ultimatum have leaked:

Egypt's armed forces would suspend the constitution and dissolve an Islamist-dominated parliament under a draft political roadmap to be pursued if Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and the liberal opposition fail to agree by Wednesday, military sources said.

The sources told Reuters the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was still discussing details and the plan, intended to resolve a political crisis that has brought millions of protesters into the streets, could be changed based on political developments and consultations.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Egyptian Military Sends Morsi Ultimatum

While I have little faith that anyone who replaces Morsi will be pro-Israel or even not inflicted with blind hatred of the Jewish state, I am enjoying what I am seeing coming out of Egypt.  The latest is an ultimatum from the Egyptian military for Morsi to share power with the opposition in 48 hours or else they will provide a "roadmap".  Of course Obama is nowhere to be found.  I seem to remember this administration being much more vocal (and ready to give a bit of a push) when it was one of our long-term allies in trouble.  When Morsi, who has a well documented hatred of our closest ally in the region Israel, is in trouble?  Crickets.  Maybe they feel bound by the fact that Morsi was democratically elected?  So was Hitler.  Democracy isn't everything.