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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chuck Hagel: Secretary Of Prevent Defense?

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President Obama's selection for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has certainly received wide-ranging endorsements.

Colin Powell"To show you the kinda courage this guy has, he quit after one year because he felt the Veterans Administration was not doing a good job for veterans. He knows what war is, and he will fight a war if it's necessary. But he's a guy who will do it with great deliberation and care. He is a fellow who speaks his mind. He sometimes gets in trouble with those who thinks he should not speak his mind, but he says what he believes and he sticks with it."
Declaring Hagel to "superbly qualified" as the next secretary of defense, a staunch advocate for those in uniform, Powell implicitly contrasted Hagel with neoconservatives as he pointedly declared: "This is a guy who would be very careful about putting their lives at risk because he put his life at risk."
On Hagel and Israel: Powell called Hagel a "very, very strong supporter of Israel. But that doesn't mean you have to agree with every single position that the Israeli government takes."
That sounds pretty good.
Chuck Schumer"When Sen. Hagel’s name first surfaced as a potential nominee for Secretary of Defense, I had genuine concerns over certain aspects of his record on Israel and Iran," Schumer said in a statement Tuesday, a day after meeting with Hagel for an hour and a half at the White House in a private session to hash out Schumer's concerns.
"Sen. Hagel could not have been more forthcoming and sincere," Schumer said.
"On Iran, Sen. Hagel rejected a strategy of containment and expressed the need to keep all options on the table in confronting that country," Schumer said, referring to comments that Hagel's opponents pointed to as evidence he could be soft on Israel's arch enemy. "But he didn’t stop there. In our conversation, Sen. Hagel made a crystal-clear promise that he would do 'whatever it takes' to stop Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons, including the use of military force. He said his 'top priority' as Secretary of Defense would be the planning of military contingencies related to Iran."
That sounds pretty good.
Sayyid Ruhollah Mostafavi Musavi Khomeini - Iran's Foreign Ministry says it is hopeful the appointment of former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon would improve relations between Tehran and the U.S.
Asked about Hagel's nomination, ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tuesday thatTehran was hopeful that there would be "practical changes" to U.S. foreign policy, and that nations would change their attitude towards the U.S. if it respected their rights.
Well, how much better could that be?

Chuck Hagel is evidently a man who is reluctant to use military power, will prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and is preferred by Iran because they definitely do not want to obtain nuclear weapons and want to improve relations with the U.S.
Iran says a religious decree issued by the country's supreme leader banning nuclear weapons is binding for the Iranian government. 
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast says the West must understand the significance of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's fatwa for the Islamic Republic, and that the edict should end the debate over whether Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons. 
Khamenei said last year that Iran is not seeking atomic arms. He called possessing such weapons a "sin" as well as "useless, harmful and dangerous." [source]
Well, that seals the deal.  We can have a Secretary of Defense who will use a "prevent" defense strategy of soft containment or anything else, but not unwisely and after a lot of negotiations, to ensure that Iran will not obtain nuclear weapons ... which they promise [cross their hearts and hope to die] they will not pursue ... while President Obama pursues a nuclear disarmament effort.

There are no enemies in this world... only friends we haven't made -- anonymous, dead optimist.
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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
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Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates

FEDERAL RESERVE & HOUSING

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February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
November 28, 2007 FED VICE CHAIRMAN DONALD KOHN
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."
http://www.reuters.com/

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
fed_rate_moves_425_small.gif
[Image from: CNNMoney.com]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com. "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)