Friday, September 27, 2019

Maryland's Woke Classrooms...

Social Capital, Generating Human Capital, Generating Cultural Capital, Generating Financial Capital

The Virtuous Cycle

from Wikipedia
Cultural reproduction is the transmission of existing cultural values and norms from generation to generation. Cultural reproduction refers to the mechanisms by which continuity of cultural experience is sustained across time. Cultural reproduction often results in social reproduction, or the process of transferring aspects of society (such as class) from generation to generation.
1.Groups of people, notably social classes, act to reproduce the existing social structure to preserve their advantage

2.The processes of schooling in modern societies are among the main mechanisms of cultural reproduction, and do not operate solely through what is taught in courses of formal instruction.
Reproduction as it is applied to culture, is the process by which aspects of culture are passed on from person to person or from society to society. There are a number of different ways in which this has happened. Historically, people have moved from different countries taking with them certain cultural norms and traditions. For centuries cultural reproduction has occurred in a profound way through a hidden agenda. Cultures transmit aspects of behavior which individuals learn in an informal way while they are out of the home. This interaction between individuals resulting in the transfer of accepted cultural norms, values, and information is accomplished through a process known as socialization.

What Real Treason Looks Like

...for all you Never-Trumpers who have forgotten.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Iranian or Yemeni Drones?

The attacks targeted Abqaiq - run by the Saudi state oil company, Aramco - and the Khurais oilfield.

Khurais is the closest of the targets to the Yemen border, but is still a considerable 770km (480 miles) away.
Drone Damage

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Start of WW III?

Yemen's Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for drone strikes on two Saudi Aramco oil facilities early Saturday, according to a statement by a Houthi spokesman.

Reuters and The Wall Street Journal report that about half of the country's oil production has been disrupted, or 5 million barrels a day. Saudi Arabia produces approximately one-tenth of the world's crude oil, but for now, the impact on global oil prices is unknown, as markets are closed for the weekend.

According to the website of Al-Masirah, a Houthi-run satellite news channel, spokesman Yahya Saree vowed additional attacks if Saudi coalition forces did not withdraw from Yemen.

Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry confirmed the strikes on the oil-processing facility in Abqaiq and an oil field in Khurais, both owned by state-owned Saudi Aramco. Abqaiq is about 230 miles away from the Saudi capital of Riyadh, and the field in Khurais is 100 miles away.

According to Aramco's website, the facility in Abqaiq is both the company's largest oil processing facility and the largest crude oil stabilization plant in the world, playing a "pivotal role" in the company's operations.

Bob Tippee, editor of the trade publication Oil and Gas Journal, said that the facility in Abqaiq held light crude oil as opposed to heavy crude oil, which requires more intense refining to remove sulfur and other impurities. He said that factories that are built to refine only light crude oil may not be able to find another crude exporter to fill the gap during the disruption.

"If the light crude that's been disrupted cannot be replaced with light crude of similar grade and similar quality immediately, which it probably cannot, there will be some problems in the market," Tippee said.

The attack also throws into question a rumored initial public offering of 5% of Aramco's stock, for which the company had hired nine banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley, Reuters reported. Tippee said the offering, which is expected to raise $100 billion, is part of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's Vision 2030 plan to reduce the kingdom's dependence on the price of crude oil.

Videos posted online showed several large fires and plumes of smoke presumably at the Abqaiq facility, as well as the sounds of apparent gunfire in the area surrounding the plant. The Saudi Press Agency reported that Aramco security had controlled the fires at both facilities. No casualties have been reported. The Abqaiq plant was attacked in 2006 by al-Qaida in a failed suicide bomb attack, NPR reported.

Houthi rebels, partnered with Iran, have clashed with a Saudi-led coalition since March 2015, after the rebels ousted Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in January of that year. The Houthi rebels now control large parts of northern Yemen and have launched similar strikes on oil facilities and airports in Saudi Arabia this year. A cease-fire between the Houthis and Saudi-backed government forces was agreed to in December, but has not held.

The Saudi coalition is bolstered in part by the United States, through logistics and intelligence support, as well as weapons sales and aerial refueling.

In the aftermath of Saturday's drone strikes, President Trump spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman "to offer his support for Saudi Arabia's self-defense," the White House said in a statement. "The United States strongly condemns today's attack on critical energy infrastructure. Violent actions against civilian areas and infrastructure vital to the global economy only deepen conflict and mistrust," the statement read.

In a separate statement on Twitter, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed the attack on Iran and accused the nation's president, Hassan Rouhani, and Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of duplicity.

"Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen."

The war in Yemen has strained relations between Congress and President Trump, after Trump vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have ceased U.S. involvement in the coalition by invoking the 1973 War Powers Act. A measure to override the veto failed by 14 votes.

The political clash came after the October 2018 dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, which the Senate blamed on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in another resolution introduced in December 2018. The Trump administration has declined to confirm or deny a CIA report concluding that the crown prince had ordered Khashoggi's assassination, and vetoed resolutions to halt the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia in July.

Tehran's support for the Houthi rebels could escalate the confrontation between the U.S. and Iran over the 2015 nuclear deal, which Trump pulled out of in 2018. Immediately after the withdrawal, the U.S. put in place a campaign of "maximum pressure," blocking most of Iran's crucial oil exports. NPR reported that the July seizure of an Iranian oil tanker by British authorities in Gibraltar sparked an international diplomatic crisis, as the U.S. pushed to keep the ship detained under suspicion that it was headed to supply Syria. The ship was eventually released.

Andrew Murrison, a British foreign affairs minister with oversight of the Middle East, tweeted that "the Houthis must stop undermining Saudi Arabia's security by threatening civilian areas and commercial infrastructure."

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Why Did the 2019 Deficit Just Hit $1 Trillion?

from Issues & Insights
The Congressional Budget Office reported on Tuesday that, with one month to go, the federal deficit for fiscal year 2019 has already topped $1 trillion. As night follows day, Trump administration critics blamed the tax cuts.

And once again, the data prove them wrong.

The CBO report says that the federal deficit reached $1.067 by the end of August. That’s up $168 billion from the comparable period in fiscal year 2018. The deficit this year will be larger than the entire budget was in 1987.

Where did the increase come from? Why, tax cuts, of course.

But the report shows that revenues climbed 3.4% so far this fiscal year – a growth rate that’s faster than GDP. Spending, however, shot up by 6.4%.

Look within the data, in fact, and you see that the tax cuts are working as promised – by accelerating economic growth, they’re at least partially paying for themselves.

Take corporate taxes. Ask any Democrat running for president and they will bemoan the tax “giveaways” to giant corporations. What they won’t tell you is that corporate tax revenues are up 5%.

In fact, corporations paid $8 billion more in the 11 months of this fiscal year than they did in the same period of fiscal year 2018. That increase alone is enough to fully fund the Environmental Protection Agency for an entire year.

What’s more, the CBO notes that corporate income tax payments through May were on 2018 activities. When you compare corporate taxes from June through August to same months last year, they are already up $18 billion – a 48% increase!

Meanwhile, individual income and payroll taxes are up $82 billion – a 3% increase over the prior year. Payroll taxes alone, which are a good indication of how well the job market is because they are automatically deducted from every worker’s wages, are up 6.4%.

Now look at the spending side of the equation.

The CBO report shows that while revenues have climbed by $102 billion, spending shot up by $271 billion.

The entire increase in the deficit over last year is due to rampant spending increases, not the Trump tax cuts.

Spending increases were across the board.

Social Security costs climbed 5.7%; Medicare, 6.5%; Medicaid, 4.6%.

Defense spending is up 7.9%, but spending on everything else in the budget has climbed by 4.5%.

Here’s the really worrisome figure: Interest payments on the national debt is up 14% over the prior year.

It should go without saying that these levels of spending growth are unsustainable. Yet instead of confronting them, lawmakers and the Trump administration are aggravating them. Entitlement reform is a non-issue at the moment. Every increase in defense spending has to be matched with a hike in spending on domestic programs. The national debt continues to explode.

And while Republicans appear indifferent to the debt explosion, Democrats are eager to more than double the size of the federal government, without saying how they’d pay for that increase let alone bring existing annual deficits down to earth.

To paraphrase Herbert Stein, something that can’t go on forever, won’t. The only question is when it won’t.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Uncovering Wall Street's Dragon Eggs

"You cannot have free trade with a dictatorship that is harvesting the prosperity of an American Democracy."
- Marty Davis