The Most Popular Postings on this Site
Monday, June 27th, 2016 | Author:

These are some of the most visited and popular postings on this dzsokol.com web site:

Is Greece the “Canary” for Economic Decline?

Republicans Without Principles

Aircraft Bone Yard in Tucson

What is Chanukah?

Gardening Experiment with Cucumbers

How to Know if You’re a 21st Century Liberal

Cracked Bicycle Rims

Category: General  | Leave a Comment
Is Greece the “Canary” for Economic Decline?
Sunday, October 15th, 2017 | Author:

The continuing saga of economic decline in western democracies…  Is Greece the “Canary in the Coal Mine” for how these events unfold?

 

Update

It appears that Greece is entering the period of financial fudging:

Indeed, figures for the second quarter have been promising, mainly thanks to tourism. The finance ministry released figures showing a primary surplus slightly above the one projected. 

In addition, despite Tsipras’ boasting of lowering the unemployment figures, the truth is that more and more people work part-time or at temporary jobs, and get paid third-world wages… In the last week of September, Greece’s largest ice cream factory, Froneri Hellas, shut down, adding 102 people to the unemployment line. Froneri is the latest addition in the long list of once flourishing companies, that has succumbed to the crisis.

Source: Despite Gov’t Boasting over Growth, Greeks Get Poorer

 

July 11, 2017

From today’s US Today, an update on the situation in Greece:

Two years after an international bailout that was supposed to lead to an economic revival, conditions here have only worsened and life for Greeks has become one of constant misery.   

The economy is stagnant, unemployment hovers around 25% and is twice as high for young adults, taxes are rising, and wages are falling. Half of Greek homeowners can’t make their mortgage payments and another quarter can’t afford their property taxes, according to the Bank of Greece.

On July 5, 2015, voters soundly rejected the terms of a proposed bailout with international lenders because the plan demanded too much austerity. Yet, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his left-wing Syriza Party ignored the referendum results and signed a third bailout deal that would provide nearly $100 billion in loans the country desperately needed to avoid collapse.

Interestingly, I just had a good friend of mine return from Greece and share his thoughts on the situation in Athens… While tourism is still relatively strong, it’s not a very pretty economic environment for growth.

 

June 6, 2007

I suppose it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a recent Pew Research poll showed that 98% of the residents of Greece view their current economic situation as “bad.”  As a contrast, 40% of Americans consider the current economics as bad.

 

May 3, 2017

It’s a never-ending story.  It appears to be the proverbial “kicking the can down the road”.  They’re throwing more money at Greece once again for the promise of more austerity measures:

The preliminary deal with international creditors would allow Athens to receive emergency funds in exchange for promises of higher taxes and lower social spending.

As far as I know, the real solutions are: a) a major write-down of the debt, b) significant steps for economic growth.  I haven’t seen either of these in the plans for the Greek empire.

 

February 7, 2017

It’s now 2017 and there is still no clear path to stability for Greece… and no one appears to have an answer. The economists are now saying that Greece cannot ‘grow’ out of their economic malaise:

The new report was prepared by IMF staff ahead of a February 6 board meeting to discuss the fund’s participation in an EU-led €86bn bailout of Greece and signals the continuing hard line the IMF is taking on debt relief for Athens. It offers a bleaker view of Greece’s economic dilemmas than an analysis prepared last year, warning that the debt load is “highly unsustainable” and would not improve even if it implemented further reforms recommended by the fund. . . .

“Even with these ambitious polices in place, Greece cannot grow out of its debt problem,” IMF staff warned in the report, seen by the Financial Times and drafted as part of the fund’s annual review of member economies. “Greece requires substantial debt relief from its European partners to restore debt sustainability.”

This is a good assessment of the real challenge:

The deeper problem is that Greece does not produce like a developed country, but its citizens expect the level of services and pensions normally associated with a developed country.  That’s why there is so much hostility to Greece in the middle-income countries of Eastern Europe, where benefit levels are lower.

 

June 25, 2016

From the Wall Street Journal, there is no end in sight for the economic decline in Greece…

Mr. Tsipras’s statist ideology is as hostile as ever to the supply-side reforms Greece needs, and both the IMF and other creditors seem to be giving up hope that any other Greek politician could enact such reforms. Which means Greece’s crisis will drag on no matter what happens next with Greece’s debts.

 

May 8, 2016

The drama continues as the government of Greece passes additional austerity measures:

Greece’s parliament has passed a package of tax and pension reforms, ahead of a crucial meeting of Eurozone finance ministers… Before the vote, protesters in Athens threw petrol bombs at police, who responded with tear gas.  Trade unions say the country cannot bear another round of austerity… Three days of a general strike paralysed public transport and slowed the public sector and the media.  Speaking before the vote, the leader of the Greek Communist Party, Dimitris Koutsoubas, said the Greek people would “not tolerate nor accept” the measures and would “show their true power” in the event of a yes vote.

 

April 16, 2016

This article in the Daily Mail should give you an idea of the recent economic progress (or lack thereof) in Greece:

The Greek government fears it could be subjected to terror attacks if a taxpayer-funded mosque is not constructed in Athens.  Officials claim it would allow Muslims to practise their religion under the auspices of a centrally-appointed imam that would ensure it does not stray into extremism.

Hmmm… the country is broke, yet it’s using ‘taxpayer’ (in Greece, the word taxpayer should always appear in scary quotes) money to payoff potential terrorists.

 

January 25, 2016

From the analysts at investors.com, the latest status and outlook:

In protracted and bitter negotiations last summer, the country promised to raise the retirement age, cut pensions, liberalize the energy market, open up closed professions, raise taxes and sell government assets.

There have been encouraging signs. In December, the Greek Parliament narrowly passed overhauls needed to get the next $1.1 billion segment of the bailout negotiated over the summer with the IMF, the European Central Bank and European Commission, known as the troika.

Standard & Poor’s raised its long-term sovereign debt rating to B- from CCC+ with stable outlook, citing the country’s compliance with its economic program.

But the country is a long way from recovery. Third-quarter unemployment was 24% and the economy contracted 0.1% from a year earlier.

Analysts with Deutsche Bank said earlier this month that they expect Greece to slip into deep recession later this year.

 

September 21, 2015

The malaise continues… a good analysis from Strategy Page:

We know how Greece got here. Greek productivity could not pay for the lifestyle its citizens desired. The productivity of other Euro-zone nations financed Greek good times and kept Greek politicians in power.

Greece lied to obtain the largesse. When the Euro-zone officially formed in 2001, Greece claimed it had a GDP deficit of 1.5 percent. In 2012, former Greek budget minister Peter Doukas said the real 2001 figure was 8.3 percent. Over the years, Greek governments violated fiscal agreements, borrowed money they could not repay and managed to hide the lies. European Union monitoring systems failed to detect the buildup in Greek debt.

The Greek people, who supported these lying governments, enjoyed “other people’s money.” Now German, French and even Italian workers say no more. Italians complain that Greek government worker pensions are far more lavish than theirs. No la dolce vita on our euros.

As for selective law enforcement: Systemic crookedness stymies economic growth. Greeks know it. A June 2010 poll found that 78 percent of the Greek people “accept the view that many or all in government are corrupt.” That same year, a Greek finance ministry investigation uncovered extensive tax evasion, corruption and bribery in its tax collection offices. Greek tax evaders cost the country an estimated $27 billion to $30 billion a year.

Here’s the big story. In Greece, we witness another hard example of an old lesson. Economic reality shakes and eventually shatters political fantasy. Fantasy may fade, but denial tends to die hard. All too often, it dies violently.

 

June 28, 2015

The saga continues… The Greeks elected a Communist leader that promised economic miracles for the citizenry (sound familiar?); and everyone has discovered the harsh reality of running out of other people’s money.  It’s now widely reported that the Greek government is shuttering the banks for a week:

Greek leaders planned to shutter their banks on Monday amid last-ditch discussions about their nation’s economic future, as panicked citizens tried to pull their money from their accounts while they still were able.

I still don’t know enough about macroeconomics to predict the eventual end game…  I suppose the other EU countries will be coming to Athens to repossess the Parthenon.

greek-economy

 

January 6, 2015

Well, three years later and we have not yet closed the loop on the outcome…  Today’s BusinessWeek discusses Greece considering its options:

The current Greek situation is particularly troubling since by as early as mid-year it could constitute Europe’s Lehman Brothers moment. Whatever the outcome of the Jan. 25 parliamentary election, it is difficult to see how Greece can avoid a major policy collision with its European partners. Greece is showing every sign of austerity and economic reform fatigue as its economy remains mired in the deepest of depressions.

 

February 3, 2014

Yes, the story continues more than two years later, but the plot and results remain the same… As noted at ZeroHedge, Europe pretends to bail out Greece… and Greece pretends to reform and comply with austerity reforms when it merely continues to spend as before until the money runs out…

At this point, I would be willing to say that Victor Davis Hanson has been the best prognosticator (see earlier posts below)

 

May 9, 2013

The Greek government began its first mass-firing of public-sector workers in more than 100 years this week, part of an effort to lay off 180,000 by 2015 under Europe-imposed austerity.

via Greece starts firing civil servants for first time in a century.

 

August 20, 2012

More bad news about the Greece economy…  They have debt coming due and the country needs to issue more bonds.  The Greek GDP shrank by more than 6% over the last 12 months.

I still have that lingering question:  How does Greece break out of this continuous decline?

 

July 24, 2012

The Prime Minister of Greece declares that his country is in a depression (any surprises here?):

Greek GDP is expected by the end of this year to have shrunk by about a fifth in five consecutive years of recession since 2008...

 

May 11, 2012

You may have missed the Greek elections, but the results are foretelling — the citizens cast quite a few ballots for the Communist and the Nazi parties…  the real takeaway that can be generalized for many western countries is that nobody wants to hear about austerity measures.  Given a choice between a leader who says “you’ll have to tighten your belt and go to work” versus a prospective leader who proclaims “the government should continue to support your lifestyle”, well, the answer is pretty obvious.

The saga about bankrupt western countries continues to unfold…

 

May 2, 2012

It’s not getting any better in Athens…

image

 

April 5, 2012

It appears that the financial markets are not convinced that Greece has overcome its problems.  The Greek 10 year bonds are now hovering around a 20% yield rate (in contrast, US 10 year bonds are approximately 2%).

 

February 13, 2012

A prognostication from Victor Davis Hanson:

There are only three scenarios likely for Greece: (1) In exchange for debt relief, a liberated Greece changes its ways, opens up its economy, redefines labor and capital markets and becomes a sort of Spain (unlikely). (2) It defaults and its drachma-based country reverts to what one remembered in the old days and what one would expect from a top-heavy, unproductive socialist state (somewhat likely). Or (3) it gets some half-relief, but soon reneges on its promised reforms and austerity, and thus like Greek cities in the 2nd Century AD, life goes on as weeds grow among the impressive, but crumbling infrastructure of the past (very likely).

 

February 5, 2012

The saga continues… Is the situation in Greece a microcosm of the western democracies and economic decline?  A recent issue of the Washington Times discusses how the Greek bailout cycle continues unabated:

The latest examination by international debt inspectors found Greece in such dire straits that it requires another $20 billion cash infusion. This would be on top of the $171 billion promised in October, which was on top of the $145 billion Greece received in 2010…

Greece is not going to escape this repeating cycle of near-collapse and bailout without doing something that sparks sustained economic growth and private-sector job creation. It’s well past time to try something new. The last two years of bailouts and broken promises to cut back on spending have resulted in a shrinking economy and what seem to be daily news of rioting on the streets of Athens. That’s not exactly the best advertisement for Greece’s most significant industry: tourism.

 

January 31, 2012

The German news organization, Spiegel, is sharing its thoughts on the situation in Greece…  They exclaim that European politicians are not facing reality:

Once again, Europe is arguing over a bailout for Greece, and it looks as though the result will be no different that it has been in the past… Europe’s politicians continue to battle reality. Everyone knows that Greece cannot repay its massive pile of debts, now at more than €350 billion ($459 billion). But instead of effectively reducing the financial burden, European politicians intend to approve new loans for the government in Athens and go on fighting debt with new debt.

 

January 29, 2012

The latest discussion is about Greece changing from using the Euro as its currency:

Germany and the rest of the eurozone can’t actually kick a country out of the euro for fear of investor panic and speculation against Portugal, Italy, Ireland, and Spain. But if Greece were to leave on its own…

 

January 25, 2012

The situation in Greece has many economists around the world concerned:

The rest of the world needs to sit up and take notice of what is going on in Greece right now. This is what can happen when you allow government debt to spiral out of control. Once it becomes clear that you can’t pay your debts, a financial collapse can happen very suddenly and you start losing your sovereignty to those that you must turn to for financial help.

 

January 15, 2012

I’ve been watching the situation in Greece with great interest.  It possesses all of the leading indicators of great decline associated with a western culture that has embraced Socialism.  These indicators include a very low reproduction rate among the indigenous population; huge amounts of entitlements showered among the citizens; and a government expenditure rate well out of line with the country’s gross domestic product.

When a country gets to this point what happens?  Do they declare bankruptcy and the creditor nations repossess the assets? Do they hyper-inflate their way out of debt by using their own currency?

Over at the Calculated Risk blog, they talk about the fact that everyone knows that the Greeks are not willing to adopt austerity measures.

At this point, it all sounds like a huge game of “kick the can” as a means to delay the inevitable…  of course, I still don’t have a clear picture of the eventual outcome.

 

Category: Business, Politics  | Tags: ,  | 4 Comments
The Leftist Brand of Morality
Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 | Author:

As usual, some great comments from Mark Steyn:

Once upon a time, the elites chafed under middle-class morality, and found sly workarounds for their darker appetites. Then came liberation. And in the ruins of bourgeois society a new moral hierarchy arose: Dreamers trump citizens, sexual identity trumps religious faith, female empowerment trumps the manly virtues

And yet, as the case of Harvey Weinstein suggests, in the end nothing much has changed: As the old elite declined to be constrained by middle-class morality, the new elite decline to be constrained by their own purported morality. In the end, it’s still about who has power, and who is disposable. As Lee Smith points out, the truth about Weinstein is only in the papers because Hillary lost. Were President Rodham in the Oval Office, this story could not run – because the First Gentleman has done everything and more that their longtime donor has done.

Source: Contradictions and Condescension

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Football and Honor
Sunday, October 08th, 2017 | Author:

There have been more interesting comments about the NFL than you can shake a stick at, such as here, here, and here… It doesn’t surprise me that the most cogent observations come courtesy of Victor Davis Hanson:

Meanwhile, the NFL has successfully lobbied for exemption from federal antitrust regulations. NFL owners are crony capitalists who want the state both to subsidize them and leave them alone.

Racial politics in the NFL have become increasingly problematic. The mega-wealthy franchise owners are almost all white businesspeople. Their multimillionaire players are about 70 percent African-American. So there is little diversity among the players, but even less among the owners.

Politically correct orthodoxy dictates that even quasi-public entities like the NFL should “look like America.” But instead, the NFL apparently sees itself as an old-fashioned meritocracy where athletic skills and corporate success alone determine who plays and who owns.

The progressive notions of “proportional representation” and “disparate impact” that sometimes govern universities and government mysteriously do not apply to the NFL, where few Latinos or Asians are included.

But most importantly, the league has entirely forgotten the fundamental rule of business: Never ignore, insult or talk down to the loyal consumers who provide the leagues’ support and income.

 

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Are They Starting to See the Light?
Monday, October 02nd, 2017 | Author:

An interesting article in an Australian Newspaper about some people waking up to realities in the world:

Upon meeting a Jewish person, says Dean, you should “reach out, shake their hand and say, I’m sorry for a long list of shortcomings: Failing to mourn the Israeli athletes killed at the 1972 Olympic Games, dismissing Palestinian terrorist attacks, blaming the lack of Middle East peace solely on Israel, ignoring the BDS movement, and refusing to see the connection between radical Islamic terrorism against Israel and its attacks on the rest of the world.”

Today, however, things are beginning to change:

The other day, Norway’s Minister for Migration and Integration, Sylvi Listhaug – one of that country’s most popular politicians – linked terror in Europe to what Israel endures.

Speaking to an Israeli media outlet, she said: “We are experiencing now the fear that you have experienced for decades. Many people now understand the situation you live in. We see what is happening in Sweden, in Britain and in France.”

Ms Listhaug added that Europeans “need to understand the situation in Israel better.” This may sound like common sense, but it is completely at odds with the one-sided approach most European politicians and other nations instinctively take against Israel.

Source: Australian Columnist: We Should Apologize to the Jews 

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Kasich is Planning to Join the Democrats
Sunday, October 01st, 2017 | Author:

These rumors are ironic…  Kasich already left the Republican party years ago.

Kasich has been one of President Trump’s most vocal opponents within the party, and some point to him as a likely primary challenger in 2020. But Kasich seems to be toying with the idea of leaving the GOP entirely

Source: Kasich: If GOP “can’t be fixed,” I can’t support it

I’m certainly no fan of the Republicans, but Kasich never took the more principled position of a classical liberal.  Instead, he used the duplicitous Democrat playbook in Ohio for many years.  Namely, he embraced Obamacare and he kicked the economic-can-down-the-road.  In standard political fashion, we’ll discover after he leaves office that his decisions were not in the best interests of Ohio citizens.

Instead of being a primary challenger, I can foresee Kasich joining the Democrats to run for President as a Democrat (challenging Oprah for the position of ultimate leftist)… Once you become an egotistical politician, the sky is the limit.

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Does Reality Matter Anymore?
Tuesday, September 26th, 2017 | Author:

We are supposed to be living in this golden age of technology where it provides us with great insights — artificial intelligence, machine learning, and business analytics.   These are activities that are all based on dealing with large amounts of fact-based data.

Yet it seems that every day there are journalists and pundits yammering on about light-weight anecdotal observations or even ‘fake news’.  It stimulates the obvious question: Does reality, empiricism, and cold hard facts really matter to anyone anymore?  As an example, here is a recent excerpt on crime statistics disclosed by the US federal government, which is very germane to many of the ‘social scientists’ running around Washington and large US cities:

The FBI released its official crime tally for 2016 today, and the data flies in the face of the rhetoric that professional athletes rehearsed in revived Black Lives Matter protests over the weekend.  Nearly 900 additional blacks were killed in 2016 compared with 2015, bringing the black homicide-victim total to 7,881.

Who is killing these black victims? Not whites, and not the police, but other blacks… Contrary to the Black Lives Matter narrative, the police have much more to fear from black males than black males have to fear from the police. In 2015, a police officer was 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male was to be killed by a police officer. Black males have made up 42 percent of all cop-killers over the last decade, though they are only 6 percent of the population. That 18.5 ratio undoubtedly worsened in 2016, in light of the 53 percent increase in gun murders of officers—committed vastly and disproportionately by black males. Among all homicide suspects whose race was known, white killers of blacks numbered only 243.

Four studies came out in 2016 alone rebutting the charge that police shootings are racially biased. If there is a bias in police shootings, it works in favor of blacks and against whites. That truth has not stopped the ongoing demonization of the police—including, now, by many of the country’s ignorant professional athletes. The toll will be felt, as always, in the inner city, by the thousands of law-abiding people there who desperately want more police protection.

It makes you wonder if people really want to solve these unfortunate crime problems…  Or perhaps that have another (political) agenda.

 

Why is OPM So Important?
Monday, September 25th, 2017 | Author:

A simple experience highlights an economic effect that greatly affects us all, and will continue to curse our nation into oblivion:

I speak of two tenants who recently moved into a rental unit I own. I made the mistake of renting the unit for one flat rate that included “free” utilities. Since the tenants didn’t have to pay directly for their electricity usage, they cranked the air conditioner day and night. There was no incentive for them to turn it off when they were at work during the day or away for the weekend. Whereas the electric bill for that unit averages about $50 per month this time of the year, their electric bill came in just under $200 per month – for the simple reason that someone else (that would be me) was footing the bill.

I got to thinking about this concept recently. It is the reason our government is so bloated and our deficit and debt (we just exceeded $20 trillion in debt a few weeks ago) are so high.

This is because millions of Americans like the concept of spending other people’s money [OPM] to benefit themselves – or, to be more precise, they vote for politicians who promise to give them things using other people’s money.

Source: Spending Other People’s Money

Obamagate vs Watergate
Wednesday, September 20th, 2017 | Author:

Update

Well, well.  I’m certainly not surprised.  The Obama administration behaved like a banana republic and operated with impunity.

It’s now become public that most of the Obama enablers lied to Congress and the American citizens:

Last week, CNN revealed (and excused) one phase of the Obama spying operation on Trump. After lying about it on MSNBC, Susan Rice admitted unmasking the identities of Trump officials to Congress.

Desperate Obama cronies had figured out that they could bypass many of the limitations on the conventional investigations of their political opponents by ‘laundering’ them through national security.

When we learn the whole truth (if we ever do), we will likely discover that Obama Inc. assembled a motley collection of different technically legal pretexts to spy on Trump’s team.  Each individual pretext might be technically defensible. But together they add up to the crime of the century.

Do you think that there will be any repercussions?  Don’t hold your breath…

 

May 26, 2017

It’s interesting that none of the mainstream media outlets has elected to say a word about this emerging story:

A new report by Circa News details how the National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely spied on Americans, violating their privacy protections and the agency’s own database safeguards.

On Monday, Circa also reported that under Director John Brennan the CIA became the largest consumer of unmasked intelligence on Americans of all of the intelligence agencies, even though its charter prohibits it from spying on U.S. citizens.

 

May 7, 2017

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that the mainstream media is ignoring this story.   Nevertheless, Sheryl Attkinsson has done a nice job putting together the timeline of the Obama administration’s involvement in the unlawful targeting of Americans.

 

April 6, 2017

Is this a surprise to anyone?

The Rice story strengthens the assessment that for eight years, Obama and his associates weaponized the federal government to wage a political war against their domestic political opponents in a manner that is simply unprecedented.

 

April 2, 2017

The emerging story about the Obama administration, and its use of the federal bureaucracy to spy on Republicans, is going to make Watergate seem like child’s play.  Naturally, there is nothing but obfuscation and diversion being played by the mainstream media and the Democrats:

Once you wave away all the smoke created by our dishonest media, the story of this past week was pretty simple. The Trump-Russia-Conspiracy narrative is falling apart. The Obama-Spied-on-his-Political-Opposition narrative is coming together

But in a stunning piece of video, a former Obama official who went on to advise the Hillary Clinton campaign essentially confirmed that she was urging the previous administration to abuse intelligence on the Trump people. Evelyn Farkas, former deputy assistant secretary of defense, told Mika Brzezinski earlier this month: “I was urging my former colleagues and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill, it was more actually aimed at telling the Hill people, get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration. Because I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior [Obama] people who left, so it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy. That the Trump folks – if they found out how we knew what we knew about… the Trump staff dealing with Russians – that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we no longer have access to that intelligence.”

Source: Obama Spied, Media Lied

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The Pursuit of the American Dream is Still Alive
Tuesday, September 19th, 2017 | Author:

An excerpt from a great commentary…  The author is pointing out that America still offers great opportunities found nowhere else in the world. He uses the self-reliance of the Jews to present his example that you have to take personal responsibility to get ahead:

The most beleaguered people on the planet, the Jews, who have faced persecution since their birth as a people, are a living refutation of your claim. When they labored in slavery in Egypt, clamored in Palestine, made magnificent contributions to human civilization in European capitals, sojourned in Africa and Asia, and founded the modern State of Israel, no one gave these heroic people an affirmative-action plan to work anywhere. In spite of vitriol and invidious comparisons to vermin and pigs, and despite being subjected to countless pogroms and mandated ghettos, they thrived and flourished because not for one moment did they ever believe that their struggle for liberation lay in any hands other than their own.

Source: An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Freaky Felon Fellow
Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 | Author:

It’s not the Onion… You can’t make this stuff up:

The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University has named convicted felon and transgender activist Chelsea Manning as a visiting fellow at its Institute of Politics for the 2017-18 academic year.

It’s a continuation of the Obama world view on “what’s wrong is now right”… Amazing.

Source: Chelsea Manning Named Visiting Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics

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