Celebrating the Occasional Posts of Mr. Cook!

Trump First Week Delights and Worries

There are a lot of pleased voters in the US right now. Many commentators and anyone who has lived through an American Presidential term knows that politicians promise a lot while campaigning and then walk back those promises once in office. Those who voted for Donald Trump were promised he would not only get tough on immigration, but include a southern border wall and large-scale deportations. Those who were skeptical thought he would be more hesitant once in office, and focus on expanding background checks, increasing the size of the border patrol, and cracking down on illegal immigrants who commit crimes (other than being here). Well, it seems Trump is determined to do what he said he would.

He has already issued an order for a physical wall to be built and ordered “sanctuary cities” stripped of federal funding. He also insists he will make Mexico pay for the wall. This was an act of pandering idioticy during the election; now, I do not even know what to call it. No self-respecting nation would pay for a wall in another country to keep its own people out of that country. Mexico will never agree to do such a thing. No one would. I suspect we as citizens are supposed to accept this inflammatory declaration as part of Trump negotiating with Mexico???

I am not even certain what part of this makes me angrier. I am a conservative, and though I did not support Trump I was prepared to be surprised and pleased once he was in office. There are plenty of things Trump and I would agree on. Trump could be focusing on the US economy, cutting US corporate taxes from their far-too-high 35% to a much more sensible 15%. He could be endorsing legislation for a tax amnesty to bring US corporate profits back to invest in this country. He could be rewriting the tax code with sensible rules reducing loopholes, eliminating the “double-dipping” tax rules that see US corporation’s overseas profits taxed twice if brought into this country, or adjusting the simply foolish bracket system that means that workers can lose money by earning more money based on an arbitrary income level. He could be cutting red tape. He could be investing his energy into getting his cabinet confirmed. He could be creating a successor to the Affordable Care Act before some over-enthusiastic fool in Congress repeals it without anything to replace it for the 30 million Americans who use it. He could be figuring out how he is possibly going to grow the military, border protection, a $15-25 billion dollar wall, massive infrastructure spending, and a big tax cut, without leaving America’s future generations in debt up to their eyeballs. These are the big issues. These are what he needs to solve. So why oh why is he spending his time influencing Mexico without making friends and insisting that three to five million votes in the Presidential election were fraudulent?

There are some people who think the border issue is critical, and those people will be very happy he is making it a priority. I also imagine there are a few people who believe, in spite of every bit of evidence being to the contrary, that there is massive voter fraud taking place, and those people will also be very happy. The rest of the country is going to fall into the “worried” category. Even if one believes that Trump had the right of it on every issue, the question of “priorities” must spring to mind.

I also cannot help but notice that the federal scientific community is being muzzled. It seems that the man who brought “alternative facts” into the mainstream is taking action to keep opposition to his policies from being able to use government-funding science and facts against him. It seems likely that Trump’s actions are either preparatory to either muzzling inconvenient scientific evidence or to a massive cut in US non-defense spending, including the gutting or elimination of multiple US federal agencies.

Well, it is just the first week. For everyone who is worried, I encourage you to internalize your concerns. That is probably the opposite of what modern sensibilities would espouse, but we all need to remember that what is happening is our responsibility as a people. It is not okay to dismiss it, or just try to forget about it, or to move away for four years until the country is “comfortable” or a “safe space.” Responsibility for the direction of this country belongs to every citizen. The same goes for picking a chief executive who can lead effectively. I am not ready to give up on supporting Trump as a President after less than a week, but I will be watching very closely. There are so many things that need to be done, and he could be the man to do it if he has his head on straight.

Here’s hoping.

Trump Wins

November 9, 2016. I doubt it will rise to the significance of the same day in 1799, which saw Napoleon Bonaparte declare himself the ruler of France, but the next four years have the potential to be significant for America and the world. Today we learned Donald Trump has won the Presidency of the United States and he is not inclined to have a quiet term in office.

There is going to be a great deal written in the next few weeks about what the election of Trump means about where Americans want to go as a nation. Obviously Hilary Clinton was not an inspiring candidate. That certainly did not help. However, I don’t think this election was about Clinton losing. Trump’s use of the media to remain in constant public sight was probably more significant. However, the real story of this election, to my mind, is about Trump holding the same beliefs about what is wrong with the direction of this country as the average American, or at least the average working-class white American.

There are clear social and economic dimensions to the election of Trump. Americans (or a large subset of Americans) are tired of liberals making anyone opposed to their ideas out to be a bad person. Social Justice Warriors are annoying to many Americans. The transgender push has concerned and alienated many people who would probably be fine with tolerating transgender people, but will and have pushed back against the notion that anything less than a full embrace of transgender principles makes a person an evil bigot. No one is going to put up with that attitude forever, and November 8th was the day Americans said enough.

The economic issue is equally simple. Most people don’t have degrees in economics or history. It is well known that many American manufacturing jobs have been shipped overseas. Those jobs formed the basis of the industrial economy that many American working-class people relied upon for good, relatively high-paying jobs. If global trade takes those jobs away, then it is bad. People want an industrial economy again.

There could be some good things that come from an effort to rebuild the industrial base. America should be a better place to do business than it is. Lowering the corporate tax rate is essential, and cutting red tape is very good. The plan overall sounds very good. The biggest problem with his economic plan is still how to pay for it. Tax cuts are great, more spending is great, but balancing the books via magic? That never works out.

Regarding foreign policy, it is never important to an election. Trump could do well in reconciling with Russia, and beyond that I hesitate to guess. Economic power drives military power, so I consider growing the economy a priority. American soft power will survive Trump. America will manage.

It is time for Americans across the political spectrum to join together and try to make the next four years a success. That has been my biggest knock on Trump: his limitations as an executive. That means that other people will need to take up the slack. More citizens should get involved in politics and make their own contributions. People who are skilled in policy and the economy should be looking to see if they can get involved with the Trump economic plan in some way. Regardless of whether or not you supported or opposed Trump, Hilary Clinton had it right when she said his success is our success. The next four years will be a high-risk, high-reward historic opportunity. Don’t waste it.

Update: Coup in Turkey Fizzling

Reports coming out of Turkey suggest the army units behind the coup are being defeated. It now appears the coup was more of a mini-coup, a couplette as it were, and doomed to failure. Soldiers surrendering to police is not exactly a positive sign for these would-be rebels. One must wonder what they were thinking, given that many of them will undoubtedly pay for this mini-coup with their lives. I can only imagine they thought that their insurrection would inspire many others to join them. However, there is still a lot more information we don’t have and always the possibility that there could be more to the coup plot than we have seen.

Coup in Turkey

At the time of this post, the situation is Turkey is very unclear. We know that elements of the Turkish military have launched coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP Islamist conservative party. President Erdogan has been, as the coup correctly claims, undermining Turkey’s democratic and secular foundations since he came to power in 2002. He has most recently made headlines for his crackdowns of freedom of the press in Turkey, suspected support of ISIS through illegal oil purchases, and his opening of a war on Kurdish nationalists. All this has not made him a popular figure in the West, nor with Russia following his shoot-down of a Russian strike fighter via Turkish F-16.

However, his crackdowns have not been limited to the press. He also attacked the military in 2011 and 2013. The military has traditionally seen itself as the protector of Turkey’s democratic and secular republic as founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923. It has led four coups since 1960. Thus as the AKP began to increasingly Islamisize Turkey some have looked to the military to counter it. However, the crackdowns in 2011 and 2013 seemed intended to forestall such a move. The Turkish military did not revolt in response. Most observers have since considered the military to have neutralized as a pro-secular and pro-democratic political force. This coup shows that this assessment was incorrect.

The question now is simply to find out which side wins. Erdogan can be trusted to be ruthless in his response if he wins, so the coup members are not going to just give up. Nor is Erdogan going to back down. A lot is going to depend on just how much of the military is behind to coup. Reports indicate that at least many army units in the vicinity of Ankara are part of the coup. However, the only report involving the Turkish air force suggests a pro-government F-16 taking out a rebel Blackhawk army helicopter over Ankara. The rebels will find themselves in a difficult position if the government can secure the loyalty of units outside of Ankara. Reports of the head of the Turkish army being held by the rebels suggests the coup is not being led from the top of the military, but I think it is safe to say that the rebels and the government are both going to be stretching the truth in their reports in an effort to win support. Daylight will bring more clarity as well as ordinary citizens seeking to make their opinions felt. Neither side is going to control a city the size of Ankara without some level of popular support.

If the coup is not over one way or the other within a few days I fear this will become another protected conflict. If the military is solidly behind the coup it will succeed. If this is an act of desperation by a group of local army units without air force or wider army backing it will fail. The worst outcome will be if the sides are balanced, in which case the outcome could be so bad that I could really see an international intervention occurring. Currently it looks like a part of the military is doing the wrong thing (coup) for the right reasons (protecting secularism and democracy). The role of Fethullah Gulen, former ally-turned-exiled-opponent of Erdogan with many supporters in Turkey is also open to speculation.

The outcome will become much easier to predict in another 24 hours, by which time the balance of forces and popular support for both sides becomes known. The Middle East has been keeping things interesting for the world. That is not a good thing.

Struggling With Trump vs Clinton

Don’t blame me for Donald Trump getting the Republican Presidential nomination. I said the man was a idiot. But he did win and now American voters have a choice: Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton. Joy.

Many (conservative) Americans are convinced that another Democratic Presidency would be a disaster for America. I believe that both liberals and conservatives bring important ideas and convictions to the political table. Thus my own feeling has been that after Obama a Republican President would be best for correcting the mistakes, excesses, and missteps of Obama, just as Obama in his first term did a good job doing the same vis a vis his predecessor in international affairs. I had hoped this person would be John Kasich. However, the Republican voters of this country have deemed that Donald Trump is the best man to represent them and their interests. So is Trump the right man for the job? Would Clinton really be a disaster if he is not?

Clinton first. The last thing this country needs is a Clinton agenda on gun control. Or Clinton stacking the Supreme Court with liberal judges. Or another dysfunctional relationship between the White House and Congress. She of course holds liberal views on abortion, LGBT issues, discrimination, and associated issues that can be broadly lumped together as the American Culture Wars. That is fine to some extent, but will be at best unhelpful in trying to protect freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. Liberal victory in the current iteration of the Culture Wars has meant that those freedoms are under attack by a portion of the victors, and Clinton is not going to defend those freedoms. She will not help business much, but is also unlikely to harm it significantly. She is overly harsh on fossil fuels without having good alternatives yet.

More seriously, she is fit to be a reasonable but not brilliant leader of US foreign policy. She is experienced in this regard. However, she is opposed to free trade, which means that she would undermine the TPP, which is the new cornerstone of US free trade and Pacific economic policy. This opposition is a populist pander, though her liberal inclinations almost certainly weigh in and will in the future. It will harm the economy and American foreign policy.

Clinton will almost certainly raise taxes and increase money for education, equality initiatives, Social Security, healthcare, and other domestic spending targets. I would characterize her as a reasonable candidate who will fail to implement needed reforms to healthcare, Social Security, and other domestic expenses in favor of throwing money at them at the expense of businesses and the military. Her gun control position is most problematic, but her likelihood to preside over stifling of freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and economic growth are also troubling.

Donald Trump is harder to nail down on the issues. As a naked populist, he appeals to the fears of the lowest common denominator of the electorate in order to accrue power. In my opinion, he is the closest thing to the opposite of George Washington to ever have a good shot at the White House. When considering Trump, it is most useful to examine his worldview and inclinations in order to understand his responses to issues and potential situations. He is very much a zero-sum believer and a practitioner of identity politics. His group is pro-choice so he is pro-choice and everyone who disagrees is an outside and an idiot and will see themselves subjected to identity politics and the sort of loathsome ideology of dehumanization that drives genocide. In Trump’s case the result is less dehumanization than a devaluing of the Other as meaningful contributor to the discussion or political debate, but the thought process is not dissimilar. Trump would be better placed in a therapist’s office than an oval one.

His foreign policy approach is execrable. He would do just fine playing the “Great Game” in Europe over a century ago, or as a king having his servants fawn over him, his domestic enemies beheaded, and his soldiers used as gambling chips to expand the territory under his personal rule. And by “fine,” I mean he would be comfortable with the situation. I do not claim he would do it with any skill or success. In the modern era, he has promised to destroy the international liberal order America has fought for over the course of over a century and replace it with some sort of mercantilist system. He has alienated every nation south of Texas with his attacks on Hispanics and Mexicans. He is about as subtle as a 9-year old throwing a temper tantrum, and his policies might as well have came from the same place. He promises everything to his insiders while being able to deliver nothing, save by claiming Mexico will pay to build a big, big wall – essentially, it is a magic wall, paid for by magic. Because if I was Mexico there is one thing I would never do, and that is pay for Trump’s wall. And Mexico, or at least its president, agrees.

Businesses would presumably benefit from a Republican business-background president, but Trump’s populist stance, anti-free trade positions, alienation of Muslims and Hispanics, and predatory intent towards America’s allies combine to convince me that a Trump victory would harm the American economy far more than it could help. Nor was he a particularly good businessman, though he is a skilled showman. His tribal and micromanaging approach to business would also prevent him from using good management practice to run the country. He can also be relied upon to utilize every tool at his disposal to punish his enemies and reward his insiders. At times it seems as if a crackpot would-be dictator has parachuted in from some Central European reality television show and Americans are too mesmerized by his total lack of self-conscience and commitment to saying whatever his first thought is to realize what an appallingly poor leader he would be.

However, he is the conservative candidate and there is no way around it. So Americans are given two mediocre choices to be President. Most Republicans have been falling into line. I have been considering it. Trump would be a horrible President in my opinion, but I have to acknowledge I could be wrong. Maybe the millions of Republicans who voted for him know something I don’t. Maybe he will be a savior for the party and put America back on the right path where individual rights and responsibility are maintained as core American values. Or decades of learning and observation are correct and he would be everything I fear him to be. Hilary Clinton will mean four years of pain for conservative values, to be sure. But I think there is a reason Trump is popular in Russia and North Korea. It is not because they think he is someone they can talk with, though – it is because he could wreck the global order of trade and rules and law. Maybe they could talk to him, but I doubt it.

So I am going to follow my conscience and reject Donald Trump. He is a populist, racist, egotistical blowhard who does not belong in the White House. I don’t want Clinton in there (again) either. I will vote for a third-party candidate. Yes, it will be “throwing my vote away.” Or will it? If it sends a message of rejection of Trumpism, then it will be worth it. If I had a 35-year old turtle and got it registered as a national candidate it would probably beat either Trump or Clinton. Over the next four years, I want to work on electoral reform. People deserve the government they get, and I very much hope the party of Lincoln is better than Trump.

A Plea To Republicans

Please stop voting for Donald Trump. The man is an idiot. He is hot-tempered, abrasive, vindictive, and a mediocre businessman. He is running well based on his ability as a showman. That is pretty useless once in office. His only real asset, in my opinion, is his ability to negotiate. That skill is of limited value to a President. Negotiations at this level last years, typically. No President is going to have much of anything to do with direct negotiations unless he cloned himself. In other words, he would be a bad chief executive.

Fortunately there is one man still running on the Republican side who combines praiseworthy leadership experience with sensibility worthy of an American President: John Kasich. Marco Rubio does not have the leadership experience; Ted Cruz is little better. Hillary Clinton would easily lead a government better than either. Where she would lead it is another question, but at least she would do so with reasonable success.

In my opinion, every primary vote for Trump and Cruz is a vote for Clinton in the general election. Rubio may be electable. But Kasich definitely is, and he is the best standing candidate with the skills to govern America. He is certainly the only one with a chance at reducing the partisanship that currently plagues the country, long shot that that may be.

However, just because John Kasich is the best person to govern the country in my opinion does not mean you ought to vote for him. I have not laid out a full analysis to support that.

But please, please stop voting for Trump.

Apple’s Scars and FBI Overreach

The controversy over Apple’s refusal to help unlock the San Bernardino killer’s iPhone is not surprising. Ever since Edward Snowden revealed that the agencies that America pays to keep tabs on what is going on in the world actually do their jobs, technology companies have been at pains to divorce themselves from any involvement with these agencies. There is a simple rationale: if a company is shown to assist the US government, it is exposed to backlash from those who do not want the US government to have access to their information or who do not like the idea of the government having such access. There are also additional concerns about having any sort of backdoor in a system. The more doors in a system, the more vulnerable that system is. Either concern could cost a company. If competitors arise that protect consumer information significantly better than others, it will certainly be at an advantage compared to those that permit a group like the FBI information access.

So now we are at a point where the major tech companies are choosing to refuse to help the US government in any way in the search for consumer data. Specifically Apple, obviously, but this case could set the new paradigm. Apple is already working on an OS update that will block even itself from any data access. Others will follow.

It is important to point out at this point that the actual FBI request is flawed severely, and should not be acceded to. I suggest reading this post by Jonathan Zdziarski for the details of why what the FBI requests and the way they want it is probably very dangerous. However, let us pretend for the sake of the privacy vs security concept that what they are requesting was not flawed and disingenuous. What then?

The issue then would be if Apple helps now, they will be expected to help in the future. Other governments in other countries will know the FBI OS version exists and may order Apple to provide it to them too. But Apple and the big tech companies don’t want to help the government at all. They don’t want to have to deal with this issue ever again. One Snowden revelation was enough trama to their public image. Additionally, they don’t want ANY government to ask for their help. Thus, the line in the sand by Apple.

I think that sand has more imagery to use in this public debate. That of burying one’s head in the sand. That is what I think Apple and the tech world is trying to do here. They want out of being involved. But they are involved and always will be involved. Government needs to be a part of wherever the people who elect it are. Today, that includes the interconnected internet of things and phones and PC’s and just about everything else. I like making individuals more responsible for their own lives, but some things we as a nation need to work together and share burdens in a universal and organized manner, and so we make those organizations and keep them regulated and we call the whole bunch of organizations we have done this with our government. And if Apple or any other company thinks they get a free pass to duck civic involvement they are wrong. We accord corporations extensive rights and liberties; the corollary is the responsibility that goes with it.

What if we favor the privacy side? If all communications and digital information becomes locked off from the reach of the law and government as privacy outpaces decryption, will those who won the debate take responsibility for the results? Terrorist attacks coordinated in perfect secrecy? Child pornography shared without significant risk? And when the incidents and the deaths and the tragedies accumulate, people will shout at the agencies they entrusted to fight such things and they will just shrug and say, “you took away our ability to do our job. Too bad.”

Then there is the security side. We could also go and say that, well, gee, that sounds awful, so give these agencies anything they want. And then you have 50 devices you use in your home every day 20 years in the future – and every one of them is monitoring your every waking minute. Clearly that is not good either. Absolutely not, no thanks.

The best solution is somewhere in the middle. A company like Apple should engage with the FBI to bring justice for a killer’s victims. It should also not be subject to fishing expeditions from zealous agents. Apple should not compromise the security of every Apple user to make an agency’s life easier. But it should also not pretend it can say “we’ve made our OS so secure no one can ever find out anything stored on an Apple product. Oh, there’s a nuclear bomb hidden in the city strapped to an iPhone? Let’s put our hands over our ears, la la la, we can’t hear these bad things, la la la…”

I invite you as a reader to do a similar thought experiment. Go ahead and think of the things that a tech company ought to be able to, whether every day or in extremis, with the products it makes. Think of what the FBI ought to be able to access and not access. Consider those lists. Think of where they clash. Think of where they harmonize. Then compare that to the future alternatives outlined above. I would imagine that, like me, you will lean more towards a middle path. I like privacy, but closing the tech world off from government is a bridge too far. When it is suggested that this issue needs to be settled in Congress, well, that sounds about right. The FBI has not helped themselves with the details of their request. In fairness, they seem at a loss for another way to get at the phone data, even though the legal requirements that accompany what they want torpedo its reasonableness. But Apple is not doing itself many favors with an “absolute privacy” stance either. This is a national issue, and needs to be settled by Congress.

US Approach to Syria: Wait, What?

The United States approach to the Syrian conflict is not one that anyone should look back upon with pride. At best, it will be noted that no one has really done much of anything to help end the Syrian civil war, thus spreading the blame, such as it is. Ultimately the right to determine the future of one’s people – even at the cost of war – is fundamental and the right of the Syrian people, but even something as simple as setting up a border security zone near NATO member and aspiring EU member Turkey has yet to be done. And when Turkey does anything, its actions appear to be more about self-interested bombing of the Kurdish PKK than actually helping Syria. Regional support inside Syria has thus far had a decidedly sectarian motivation: Iran and Hezbollah support Assad and Shiites, Saudis and other Sunnis support Sunnis. And when the US made a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons and Assad broke it, Obama happily stepped down on the ladder placed by Mr. Putin and Assad. While the removal of chemical weapons from Syria was a wonderful thing, one is fully justified in questioning if Obama going back on the word of the United States to do so will ultimately do more harm in the world than good.

There have been many proposals over the past years of conflict for America to do something. Arm Syrian rebels. Bomb Assad. Suppress Islamic extremists in Syria. Provide air support. Establish a no-fly zone. Each has been firmly resisted by the White House. In the meantime, Assad has been carrying out a rather good plan. He focused on the Syrian moderates that could potentially receive Western backing while allowing Islamic extremists that would never pose that threat to thrive. Thus, ISIS. Once ISIS became a threat, he has enjoyed the development of a de facto partnership between his regime and the West in which Western powers and their allies bomb Islamic extremist groups (primarily ISIS, but also groups that sometimes cooperate with moderate Syrian rebels against Assad). Assad does his part. The Pentagon has pointed out before that use of American air power against Assad would require the elimination of Syrian air defenses. This was cited as the reason not to bomb Assad’s forces or impose a no-fly zone to prevent him from bombing Syrian rebels and civilians. Of course, when the targets in question are in fact Assad’s enemies, he has no reason to use his missile batteries.

This all makes sense. No necessarily intelligent for those objecting to Assad, but at least things have gone according to some plan. Assad’s plan, but still, it is something that makes sense. Except…

The Pentagon has announced that a vetted force of Syrian rebels has been through a program to train and equip them to fight ISIS, and they will be backed by the US, including receiving US air cover and close air support against ISIS and any group that attacks them, including the forces of the Assad regime. Wait, what? What happened to not risking US planes against Syrian air defenses? Or escalating? Isn’t this inserting a proxy army into Syria? Before the air support announcement it was simply a program to help the rebels, but if we are going to defend them as well, some people will argue this is now a proxy army. To fight ISIS, sure. I think everyone against ISIS can agree that is a good thing. But it is still a major policy shift.

Additionally, if these fighters are actually well trained and well equipped then they should enjoy good success against ISIS with close air support. And then? I rather doubt that they have forsaken their rebellion against Assad. Unless Assad is confident that the New Syrian Forces army will be stalemated against ISIS or be willing to come to terms with him after pushing ISIS out of Syria, he cannot help but see this as the threat he schemed so hard to forestall.

On the other hand, the “New Syrian Forces” army apparently consisted of 60 guys. The target number is 5,000, but obviously they have a long way to go. I am not sure which is more shocking, that the US is suddenly abandoning years of non-interventionist arguments and risking an air war against Assad’s army by supporting a de facto proxy army in Syrian, or that that army is so pathetically small? Sure, call it a cadre, but it still started out with 60 guys. Reports are that this number has been cut in half with their commander captured by al-Nusra, so one must question the training this program is providing. One would think that such a tiny “army” would have focused on securing its own headquarters, knowing that Islamists would consider it a prime target. So perhaps Assad won’t consider this a threat after all.

Perhaps the saddest thing is to imagine if this program was started three or four years ago. Before Syrian moderates had been so heavily targeted and there were still many thousands of moderates without disqualifying exposure to the most effective fight forces in Syria, which are the extremist organizations. Of course, that was before ISIS rose to take over vast parts or Syria and Iraq, and without such a malign organization to compel some sort of action this program would never have made it out of the White House. In its current form, it will be surprising if enough “vetted” Syrians can even be found to make this program accomplish much. Too bad.

Listen to this Speech to Tsipras by MEP Guy Verhofstadt

This speech by Liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt is an absolute standout, and I encourage everyone interested in what is happening in Greece to listen to it.

Greece’s Ongoing Crisis

Short Observation:

I find it amusing that back in June I was of the opinion that Grexit was going to happen and most felt it would not. Now that the majority of political and economic leaders asked by the media are quick to opine that Grexit is likely to happen, I am more inclined to believe it will not. In any event, the story of the Greek financial crisis has been one of mismanagement and interesting shifts in political opinions and calculations. Thus, nothing should be ruled out. If the Greek government of Alexander Tsipras decides to play hardball and stick to its guns, so to speak, it will find itself with little to show for all the drama the world has seen these past weeks. However, if the proposal expected tomorrow is focused on economic growth and not simply a rejection of austerity and reform, I expect an agreement. My only fear against an agreement at this point is that stupidity could once again rear its head, as it so often does. While I still feel Greece would be better off in the long run with its own currency, I cannot recommend the pain of adjustment that such a move would entail. Especially when other countries are willing to lend one money to reform – assuming a growth-oriented proposal comes out tomorrow. Fingers crossed, eh.