Sydney M. Williams
March 2, 2015
The Month That Was
“February is merely as long as is needed to pass the time until March.”
Dr. J. R. Stockton
For those of us in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast states, February seemed longer than twenty-eight days. March, which in three weeks will welcome spring, arrived just in time. Temperatures in the single digits, with piles of snow that while beautiful appear will never melt, defined our days and nights. The wind whistling across the river left drifts as high as the stockade fence that separates us from our neighbor.
But the world does not center on Old Lyme. It was – dare I call them what they are? – Islamic terrorists that dominated the news this month. Boko Haram, which persists in abducting and killing, has found a use for the school girls taken last spring – remember those ridiculous hashtags “Bring back our girls?” In northeastern
several girls as young as ten were fitted out with explosive vests and made to
walk into crowded markets. The vests were detonated, disintegrating the child
and killing many others. A Jordanian pilot, captured last December by ISIS in Nigeria , was
caged, doused with gasoline and then burned alive. Two people in Syria were killed by
an Islamic “lone wolf,” one at a “free-speech” symposium and the second outside
a synagogue. The killer was shot. Knife-wielding, 6’5” ISIS Insurgents in Copenhagen marched
twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christians along a beach preliminary to sawing off their
heads. The victims were killed solely for their religion. Toward the end of the
month, Libya ISIS kidnapped 70 Assyrian Christians,
including women and children. Their fate is unknown, but the likelihood is that
they are already dead, either burned or crucified. The month ended with some
good news as well as bad. Three Central Asians (residents of the U.S.) living in Brooklyn were arrested for
conspiring to join ISIS, the purpose being to carry out terrorist plots against
passed a law which would ban the use of foreign funds for financing mosques,
Imam’s and Muslim organizations. The law would also require that Muslims living
submit to Austrian law, not Sharia law. That law should become the standard for
the West. On the other hand, al Shabaab threatened to blow up the Mall of
America outside Austria .
The refusal to call these killers Islamists reached a level of ridiculousness when Jeh
Johnson, Secretary of Homeland
Security, stated that “violent extremists” operating in Syria and Iraq wanted
to build an Islamic state; but, loyal to his President, he would not place the
adjective Islamic before the noun terrorists. People can be smart without
having good judgment. Mr. Obama may be smart, but he displays little wisdom and
he exercises poor judgment. If his disastrous policies persist, he will leave
his successor a mess that will take years to repair.
Elsewhere overseas, the alleged peace treaty in
was almost immediately
violated. The outcome was not surprising, as Vladimir Putin is seemingly
operating without any opposition from the West – fear of Mr. Putin seemingly exceeds
European leaders’ confidence in Mr. Obama. (At home, Mr. Putin has a more
direct way of dealing with adversaries, as Boris Nemtsov discovered.) Mr.
Obama’s desired treaty with Ukraine ,
and Benjamin Netanyahu’s disagreement with it, is the real issue behind the
rhetoric about Mr. Netanyahu’s speech before a joint session of Congress this
week. The presidential election in war-torn Iran , which pits the current
President Goodluck Jonathon against the former military dictator Muhammadu
Buhari, was delayed for six weeks. Markets responded positively when Nigeria ’s international
bailout was temporarily extended. The key words were “temporarily extended.” “Having
your cake and eating it too” is a proverb not limited to the English. Satellite
images obtained by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a
Washington-based think tank, show the size and scope of Greece China’s building and land reclamation projects
in the Spratly Islands,
a contested area of the South China Sea.
Buildings and airstrips can be clearly seen. Estimates are that the facilities
on Fiery Cross Reef alone could become a military base twice as large as Diego
Garcia in the Indian Ocean where the U.S. Navy
operates a Naval Support Facility. The world remains a “hairy” place.
As Islamic terrorists where busy burning some captors alive and decapitating others and while young girls were blowing themselves to kingdom come, President Obama hosted a three-day White House seminar: “Combating Violent Extremism.” He would like, he claims, a holistic approach that attempts to understand the psychology that causes young people to become terrorists – a lack of job opportunities perhaps? Earlier he had equated Islamic terrorism with the Crusades and the Inquisition. He blamed Christianity for slavery and Jim Crow laws. However, Christians, for the most part, admit that harm has been done in the name of Christ. But the Crusades were a defensive (and ineffectual) war, an attempt to wrest back land that had been taken over by Muslims. Inquisitions, which were a terrible violation of human rights and lasted a long time, did not result in that many deaths. And it was Christianity, not Islam, which undid slavery. In fact, estimates are that there are about 30 million slaves in the world today, many of whom live in Muslim nations.
At home, President Obama, as promised, vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline. The FCC adopted utility-style rules to ensure “net neutrality” – the classification of broadband internet access as a telecommunication service, giving the FCC the same regulatory authority they now hold over telephone calls. The FCC said they needed the authority because they claimed that most American households have only one choice, which is most often a cable company. Yet, according to Akamai Technologies and the FCC, 74% of
households have at least two
providers with speeds of at least 10 or more megabits per second. As Republican
candidates vie for the Presidential nomination (Democrats are preparing for a
coronation), the Leftist media, in their role as publicists for the Democrat
Party, focused on “gotcha” moments – attempts to embarrass Republican
candidates, especially when they show signs of strength. Scott Walker, who has
done well in recent polls, has been exhibit A. U.S.
The Clinton Foundation, with its acceptance of donations from foreign governments, has raised eyebrows. Most damaging have been reports that the Foundation accepted funds from governments that had been recipients of American aid while Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State –
and the .
While the funds were surely segregated, the transactions smack of Dominican Republic taxpayers
funding a private Foundation run by a former President and a potential future
President. Janet Yellen received a grilling from some Republican members of
Congress, particularly in regard to a speech on inequality Ms. Yellen had made a
few weeks before last November’s election – a subject not to the liking of Republican
House members Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina. U.S.
Stocks had a good month. The Dow Jones Industrial Averages made a new high on February 25th, closing at 18,224.57 – up 5.6% for the month. The NASDAQ, up 7.1% for the month, is now within 1.2% of its all-time closing high, made on March 10th, 2000. Fourth quarter earnings have generally bettered expectations. Volatility declined, with the VIX falling 36% during the month. However, volume remained muted, in fact declining during the month. Markets overseas were generally higher. Concerns regarding
’s debt eased and oil
stabilized. After seven consecutive months of declines, the price of oil firmed
and was actually up nominally in February. Gold, which rose in January,
declined for the month, as investors switched to a risk-off mode. That
willingness to assume more risk could be seen in the Ten-year Treasury, which
saw the yield rise 20%, from 1.68% to 2.02%. The Dollar rose modestly.
Nevertheless, fourth quarter GDP was revised down to a 2.2% annual rate from
2.6%, and the New York Times reported that the Chicago Business
Barometer fell to its lowest point since January 2009. Greece
Government creep is a given. Consider the consequences of the Affordable Care Act where annual health insurance premiums have risen 22.5% since 2010, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, with deductibles up 32.7%. Or look at free checking at banks since Dodd-Frank. In 2009, 76% of banks offered free checking; today 38% do. Now Mr. Obama wants to look into 401Ks, a $4.2 trillion market. Are his (and Elizabeth Warren’s) intentions honorable, or do they want to insert government into this critical, generally well-run, low-cost industry?
The month was not without its odd moments. A Dutch non-profit Mars One, which hopes to colonize Mars beginning in 2025, said it had received more than 202,000 applications for the 100 spots on what they hope to be the 21st Century’s version of the Mayflower, whose passengers, interestingly, had spent time in
These are to be one-way tickets to the red planet. While I have no interest in
this venture, which seems based more on dreams than reality, there are those I
would like to see go. Holland
There is a natural bias toward bad news. Good news doesn’t sell as well. For example, Jon Stewart’s voluntarily leaving the Daily Show at the top of his game generated no where near the press as Brian Williams received after being forced out of NBC News for being a Pinocchio. It is perhaps not the mark of a gentleman, but I did get a certain amount of joy from seeing that Leftist, sanctimonious, over-paid narcissist being chased out of his news seat. It is amusing to watch the Left now try to coat Bill O’Reilly with the same brush that tarnished Mr. Williams. Of course, Rudy Giuliani’s gaffe that Mr. Obama may not love his country, whether true or not, hurt the former Mayor more than the current President.
The month ended in
cold, but at least it was not snowing. New York