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American Political Scandal

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As a young reporter for the Dallas Times Herald, I covered the trials of two of the smaller fry in Watergate. What’s going on now makes me wonder what all the fuss was about back then.

The Clinton Foundation and associated email scandals dwarf Watergate – and every other political scandal in American history.

Besides Watergate (1973-74), the other biggies are Iran-Contra (1985-87), Teapot Dome (1921-22), the Whiskey Ring (1875), and Credit Mobilier (1872-73).

These five combined together don’t come remotely close to the massiveness of the Crooked Clinton Foundation.  Why then was all we heard about it in the debate last night was… crickets?



Basic EconomicsIt is always disheartening to hear politicians propose policies that will not make citizens richer with more opportunities as claimed, but make them less wealthy with fewer options.

Politicians who advocate for higher capital gains tax rates, higher taxes on the “wealthy,” higher inheritance tax rates, higher tariffs, more government spending and more regulations, fail to recognize, or admit, that all of this has been tried many times before, with disastrous results. They are either ignorant of economic history or are relying on the ignorance of the press and the people to buy such claptrap.

Even more disconcerting are those economists who try to make an argument of why this time the outcomes from bad policies are going to be different — apparently to curry favor with the political and media class.

The high priests of many academic disciplines, with the intent of making it seem more difficult, create many unnecessary new words, when simple, commonly understood words in the English language will suffice in most cases.

Here’s how to easily acquire basic economic literacy without the jargon, so that you’ll know more about economics than many in academia and most anyone in politics.



So he finally did it. Moments ago, Ted Cruz endorsed Donald Trump for President.

In a public Facebook post, the Texas Senator and conservative lion wrote...

Ted’s endorsement comes just before Monday night’s first-ever debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, a cage match if there ever were one.


Egypt was not Illery’s only foreign policy embarrassment this week. Former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda declared...


If that weren’t bad enough, Nation of Islam founder Louis Farrakhan dismantled Barack Obama this week. You just have to watch it to believe it (SEE THE VIDEO)


Kaepernick’s story is not merely glass-half-full: it’s close to brimming over. The NFL’s ratings are tanking, with the opening game down 8% from 2015, and Sunday’s numbers down a whopping 13%.


The left needs to distract us with looming, future disasters. The real disasters – riots in Charlotte, “rapefugees”, Iran and North Korea getting the Bomb – are all their own doing.

Worst example of the week: “Democratic Socialist” Venezuela


Will it end like 1980?  Let's see! Here we go with this week's Half-Full Report!



Marcus Aurelius – Hapsburg Palace, Vienna

Marcus Aurelius – Hapsburg Palace, Vienna

Vienna, Austria.  This is a particularly apt place to discuss the world’s oldest war.  It’s been continuously running for almost 14 centuries, and it’s getting worse today.

First, however, let us note that Vienna has more history, beauty, charm, class, and friendly people than just about any city in Europe.  It leaves Paris in the dust. 

Just one example.  Vienna was founded by the Romans as Vindobona in 15 BC on the south bank of the Danube.  On March 17, 180 AD, Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius was in his ornate tent in the center of the Vindobona fortress, having just won a victory over marauding Germanic tribes.

For many centuries, the street in Vienna along the traditional location of that tent has been called Schwertgasse – Sword Street.  That’s because on that day in 180, the Emperor’s son, Commodus, murdered his father with a sword thrust.  In the movie, Gladiator, Commodus smothers him – but nonetheless, the movie depicts real history.

Aurelius to this day is revered by Austrians.  That’s why there’s a huge statue of him in the courtyard of the Hapsburg Palace or Hofburg in the center of Vienna.

For the next thousand years, the people south of the Danube adopted and lived by Christianity, oblivious to the war that had emerged in the Middle East, Asia Minor, North Africa, and Spain between their fellow Christians and people calling themselves Moslems. 



ClintonsCorruptIncOn a visit to Bombay (aka Mumbai) in April, 2013, Bill Clinton praised Indian generic drug companies Ranbaxy and Cipla for their “stellar contribution in the fight against the HIV/AIDS scourge.” Their cheap drugs saved millions of lives, the former president said.

Surely Mr. Clinton knew by then – if he hadn’t from the beginning – the antiretroviral (ARV) drugs Ranbaxy sold were cheap because they were frauds. Their useless medicines did little to help HIV/AIDs patients.

The beginning was in 2002, when Clinton aide Ira Magaziner approached Ranbaxy with a proposition.

“They could put the developing countries together to form a sort of ‘buying club’ that could ramp up economies of scale and lower cost,” said Profs. Ethan Kapstein and Joshua Busby in their 2013 book, “AIDS Drugs for All.”

The World Health Organization had suspicions about Ranbaxy in 2004. A whistleblower told the Food and Drug Administration in 2007 how the company fabricated data to win FDA approvals. The fraud was made public in a Justice Department filing in 2008.

In 2012, the Justice Department banned Ranbaxy from selling in the U.S. drugs manufactured at several Indian plants. A month after Mr. Clinton’s lavish praise for the firm in 2013, Ranbaxy pled guilty to criminal counts of selling adulterated drugs with intent to defraud.

“Who cares? It’s just blacks dying.” That’s how a senior Ranbaxy executive dismissed concerns expressed by other executives the company was manufacturing defective medicines, Fortune magazine reported in a lengthy expose that month (May, 2013).



The Great Wall is Crumbling

China has failed to curb excesses in its credit system and faces mounting risks of a full-blown banking crisis, according to early warning indicators released by the world’s top financial watchdog.

A key gauge of credit vulnerability is now three times over the danger threshold and has continued to deteriorate, despite pledges by Chinese premier Li Keqiang to wean the economy off debt-driven growth before it is too late.

The Bank for International Settlements – the central bank of central banks, based in Basel, Switzerland – warns in its September 2016 quarterly report that China’s "credit to GDP gap" has reached 30.1, the highest to date and in a different league altogether from any other major country tracked by the institution.

It is also significantly higher than the scores in East Asia's speculative boom on 1997 or in the US subprime bubble before the Lehman crisis.

Studies of earlier banking crises around the world over the last sixty years suggest that any score above 10.0 requires careful monitoring.  The credit to GDP gap measures deviations from normal patterns within any one country and therefore strips out cultural differences.

China is now the epicenter of global financial risk.  Why?  Because the Chinese banking system is an arm of the Communist Party.



[TTPer Mike Ryan wrote a thoughtful commentary on the Forum regarding China Is Now the Epicenter of Global Risk by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.  Several TTPers suggested we publish it as a full article.  We are happy to comply.  Thanks, Mike.]

This is in response to a question asked on the Forum, “Can anyone explain the repercussions of the global risk of China to our economy?”  Here are my thoughts.

It is risky to predict the reactions of complex systems that are actively influenced by government, especially when the primary goal of government is power for insiders and the fleecing of outsiders. 

Example: The Clinton Global Initiative and its DOJ support.  Governments spend more on power and control every time there is a financial crisis. 

Some thoughts:



RonaldReaganGovernment spending and borrowing are once again growing as a percentage of GDP. The federal debt held by the public was 35 percent in 2007. It is 74 percent today, and is projected to be 140 percent in 2046 — provided nothing goes wrong.

Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump have presented a comprehensive plan of what they intend to do about this problem that will sink America many decades before rising sea levels (even if the global alarmists are right, which is unlikely).

The candidates promise not to do anything serious about “entitlements” even though it is the major problem. But it probably doesn’t matter what they say until after Election Day — at which point they will be confronted by reality and have to start dealing with it.

Both Bushes, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama all largely abandoned their tax and spending promises shortly after winning election — so why should we expect anything different this year?

Ronald Reagan was the last president who was not only serious about his campaign promises regarding taxing, spending, and regulation, but was the last one to actually do something close to what he promised, particularly the tax rate cuts — and the economy boomed.

Which brings us back to Hillary and the Donald.



Ascension Island

Alien greenery on Ascension Island – photo by Jack Wheeler

In July, the New Zealand government announced its intention to eradicate all rats, stoats and possums from the entire country by 2050 to save native birds such as the kiwi.

It’s an ambitious plan, perhaps impossible to pull off with the methods available today, but it’s a stark reminder that invasive alien species today constitute perhaps the greatest extinction threat to animal populations world-wide.

The dodo on Mauritius, emblematic of extinction, was wiped out less by hungry sailors than by the rats, pigs, dogs and cats they brought with them. Hawaii once had 55 species of honeycreeper; today just 17 remain, thanks largely to rats and avian malaria, transmitted by alien mosquitoes brought by people. Guam has lost nine species of bird to an introduced snake.

In the Mississippi River, it is Asian carp; in the Everglades, Burmese pythons; in the Great Lakes, Russian zebra mussels; in the South, Indochinese kudzu vine.

In Australia, cane toads from South America; in Lake Victoria in Africa, water hyacinth from the Amazon; in Germany, Chinese mitten crabs; in the Caribbean, lionfish from the Pacific. A fungus spread by African clawed toads (used in laboratories) has wiped out frogs in Central America.

But it turns out there’s a flip side.  None of this is to say that invasive species are always a threat. They can bring positive effects, too, by increasing biodiversity within a region.


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