As misguided politicians and regulators continue to target short-term lenders, which provide American…
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Image of the Day: Sure Enough, Credit Card Balances Are Exploding

As misguided politicians and regulators continue to target short-term lenders, which provide American consumers with vital financial lifelines when the only alternatives are skipping payments, bouncing checks, running up credit card debts or even going to dangerous loansharks, we've consistently noted how short-term lenders' role becomes increasingly important as the U.S. economy deteriorates and credit card reliance skyrockets.  Sure enough, the New York Fed numbers provide an alarming illustration:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="546"] Credit Card Debt Skyrocketing[/caption]

All the more reason to protect consumers' access to legal, reliant, efficient short-term lending rather than irrationally target it.…[more]

December 05, 2022 • 02:38 PM

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Biden’s Weakness Invited Putin’s Aggression Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, July 28 2022
President Trump’s foreign policy strength in Syria and elsewhere deterred Putin from broader aggression. Since Trump’s departure, however, Joe Biden’s foreign policy weakness and incoherence have emboldened aggressors like Putin.

Joe Biden’s shopworn habit of scapegoating Vladimir Putin for consumer inflation and higher gas prices has by now reached the point of farce.  

Americans rightly reject Biden’s tiresome alibi, since inflation ascended from 1.4% in January 2021 to 7.9% during the 13 months of his presidency before Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.  Today inflation stands at 9.1%, a mere 1.2% increase since the invasion.  The simple reality is that inflation accelerated sharply the moment Biden entered the White House, and hasn’t stopped.  

Even to the extent that we accept Putin’s impact on inflation, however, that doesn’t necessarily offer Biden the excuse that he thinks it does.  That’s because Biden’s foreign policy weakness and the signal it sent to potential aggressors like Putin helped invite Putin’s aggression.  

To understand why, recall the conveniently underreported events of February 7, 2018.  

In a fierce four-hour firefight in Syria that night, outnumbered American troops slaughtered hundreds of Russian mercenaries who foolishly attacked despite multiple U.S. warnings to stand down.  

According to military analysts, Vladimir Putin personally approved the Russians’ disastrous attack, which ended up bringing him only humiliation.  

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, openly bragged about the lopsided victory, and Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo triumphantly confirmed to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee that, “In Syria, now, a handful of weeks ago, the Russians met their match.”  Pompeo added, “A couple hundred Russians were killed.”  That borders on rubbing Putin’s face in his defeat.  

Yet Putin didn’t utter a defiant peep in response.  Instead, he kept his head down and his mouth shut, understandably wary of further testing President Trump.  

What does that humiliating event have to do with the price of rice in China, or in more contemporary terms, with the price of Ukrainian grain on world markets?  

Arguably a lot.  

President Trump’s foreign policy strength in Syria and elsewhere deterred Putin from broader aggression.  Since Trump’s departure, however, Joe Biden’s foreign policy weakness and incoherence have emboldened aggressors like Putin.  

And now we’re witnessing global consequences.  

The Syrian firefight wasn’t President Trump’s only show of international force.  Recall that he ordered the January 2020 killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, commander of the murderous Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force.  According to the Pentagon, Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, and planned additional attacks on American diplomats and troops.  

Naturally, the same Washington, D.C., “smart set” of establishment voices clutched their pearls at Trump’s aggressive action and predicted doom.  Candidate Joe Biden, maintaining his perfect record of misjudging every foreign policy and national security question, warned that killing Soleimani could trigger conflict in the Middle East:  

President Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox, and he owes the American people an explanation of the strategy and plan to keep safe our troops and embassy personnel, our people and our interests, both here at home and abroad, and our partners throughout the region and beyond.  

Instead of unleashing Middle East chaos, as wiser observers anticipated, Iran learned the same swift lesson as Putin and avoided escalation.  

Among other bold measures, President Trump also moved the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, making good on decades of previous presidents’ promises.  Once again, establishment voices predicted doom, but what followed instead was unprecedented Arab-Israeli rapprochement.  Trump even warned Europe years ago of their need to reduce dependence upon Russian petroleum and boost military spending, only to be mocked by the “adults in the room.”  

In contrast, Joe Biden reversed course and signaled instant weakness upon taking office.  He began courting the same murderous Iranian regime that Trump humbled, hoping to revive the disastrous nuclear accord forged during the Obama Administration.  

Then came Biden’s disastrous and incompetent withdrawal from Afghanistan, which stands as the worst display of American weakness in generations.   Biden’s foreign policy mismanagement reached such depths that our longtime allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates refused to accept his call.  Which was understandable, given Biden’s prototypically foolish off-the-cuff remark during the 2020 campaign that he aimed to isolate Saudi Arabia and its royalty as international pariahs.  

Less than two years into his presidency, as many predicted, Biden has demonstrated such incompetence and weakness that global malefactors like Putin naturally feel emboldened.  

Does Joe Biden bear primary responsibility for the Russian invasion of Ukraine?  Of course not.  But by the same token, his foreign policy weakness and incompetence made the invasion more likely.  

Accordingly, blaming Putin for inflation doesn’t provide Biden the “get out of jail free” card he assumes it does.  Weakness invites aggression, and the Biden Administration must internalize that lesson quickly, lest China, Iran, North Korea or other rogue nations follow suit.

Quiz Question   
Which of the following Presidents replaced the traditional candles with electric lights on the White House Christmas tree?
More Questions
Notable Quote   
 
"The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this week in the biggest sleeper case of its 2022-23 term.The justices already have before them the blockbuster dispute of whether government-funded or -run colleges and universities can continue to use race in making admissions decisions, testing whether the court will live up to the Constitution's promise of equal protection of the laws and that the government…[more]
 
 
—John Yoo, Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley, and Robert Delahunty, a Fellow of the Claremont Institute's Center for the American Way of Life in Washington, D.C.
— John Yoo, Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley, and Robert Delahunty, a Fellow of the Claremont Institute's Center for the American Way of Life in Washington, D.C.
 
Liberty Poll   

Congress is debating adding $45 billion more than requested to defense spending for 2023. Considering a fragile economy and geopolitical threats, do you support or oppose that increase?