Dog Brothers Public Forum
Return To Homepage
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 28, 2015, 03:15:49 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
86352 Posts in 2276 Topics by 1069 Members
Latest Member: ctelerant
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 197 198 [199] 200 201 ... 250
9901  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 20, 2009, 11:04:11 PM
http://www.financialsense.com/transcriptions/2007/0310.html

An interview with the author from 2 years ago. Too long to paste here.
9902  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 20, 2009, 08:30:38 PM
Will they be wearing brown shirts, like the asshat in the video?
9903  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mother of all bells on: March 20, 2009, 07:52:42 PM
http://europac.net/#

March 20, 2009

The Mother of All Bells


There is an old adage on Wall Street that no one rings a bell at major market tops or bottoms. That may be true in normal times, but as many have noticed, we are now completely through the looking glass. In this parallel reality, Ben Bernanke has just rung the loudest bell ever heard in the foreign exchange and government debt markets. Investors who ignore the clanging do so at their own peril. The bell’s reverberations will be felt by everyday Americans, whose lives are about to change in ways few can imagine. While nearly every facet of America’s economy has been devastated over the past six months, our national currency has thus far skipped through the carnage with nary a scratch. Ironically, the U.S dollar has been the beneficiary of the global economic crises which the United States set in motion. As a result, our economy has thus far been spared the full force of the storm.

This week the Federal Reserve finally made clear what should have been obvious for some time – the only weapon that the Fed is willing to use to fight the economic downturn is a continuing torrent of pure, undiluted, inflation. The announcement should be seen as a game changer that redirects the fury of the financial storm directly onto our shores.

In its statement, the Fed announced its intention to purchase an additional $1 trillion worth of U.S. treasury and agency debt. The purchases, of course, will be made with money created out of thin air through the Fed’s printing presses. Few can doubt that they will persist with these operations until the economy returns to its former health. Whether or not this can ever be accomplished with a printing press alone has never been seriously considered. Bernanke himself admits that we are in uncharted waters, with no map or compass, just simply a hope that more dollars are the answer.

Rather than solving our problems, more inflation will only add to the crisis. Falling asset prices, the credit crunch, declining consumer spending, bankruptcies, foreclosures, and layoffs are all part of the necessary rebalancing of our economy. These wrenching movements, however painful, are the market’s attempts to resolve the serious problems at the root of our bubble economy. Attempts to literally paper-over these problems will lead to disaster.

Now that the Fed has recklessly shown its hand, the mad dash to get out of Treasuries and dollars should not be far off. The more the Fed prints to buy bonds the less the dollar is worth. Holders of our debt (read China and Japan) understand this dynamic. We must expect that they will not only refuse to buy new bonds, but they will look to unload those bonds they already own.

Under normal circumstances, if creditors grew concerned that inflation was eating into their returns, the Fed would raise interest rates to entice them to buy. However, the Fed will avoid this course of action as it fears higher rates are too heavy a burden for our debt laden economy to bear. To maintain artificially low rates, the Fed will be forced to purchase trillions more debt then it expects as it becomes the only buyer in a seller’s market.

Just last week, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao voiced concern about his country’s massive investments in U.S. government debt. In the most unequivocal statement yet by the Chinese leadership on this issue, Wen made it plain that he was concerned with depreciation, not default. With his fears now officially confirmed by the Fed statement, we must wonder when the Chinese will finally change course.

There is a growing consensus that if China no longer wants to buy our bonds, we can simply print the money and buy them ourselves. This naïve view fails to consider the consequences implicit in such a change. When the Treasury sells bonds to China, no new dollars are printed. Instead, China prints yuan which it then uses to buy treasurers. This effectively allows America to export its inflation to China. However, now that we will be printing the money ourselves, the full inflationary impact will fall directly on us.

With such a policy in place, America has now become a banana republic. It won’t be too long before our living standards reflect our new status. Got Gold?

For a more in depth analysis of our financial problems and the inherent dangers they pose for the U.S. economy and U.S. dollar denominated investments, read Peter Schiff’s book "Crash Proof: How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse".
9904  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / This should kill off what's left of our economy on: March 20, 2009, 06:59:29 PM
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4ff2f77e-1584-11de-b9a9-0000779fd2ac.html

Banker fury over tax ‘witch-hunt’
By FT reporters

Published: March 20 2009 19:39 | Last updated: March 20 2009 23:32
Bankers on Wall Street and in Europe have struck back against moves by US lawmakers to slap punitive taxes on bonuses paid to high earners at bailed-out institutions.

Senior executives on both sides of the Atlantic on Friday warned of an exodus of talent from some of the biggest names in US finance, saying the “anti-American” measures smacked of “a McCarthy witch-hunt” that would send the country “back to the stone age”.


There were fears that the backlash triggered by AIG’s payment of $165m in bonuses to executives responsible for losses that forced a $170bn taxpayer-funded rescue would have devastating consequences for the largest banks.

“Finance is one of America’s great industries, and they’re destroying it,” said one banker at a firm that has accepted public money. “This happened out of haste and anger over AIG, but we’re not like AIG.”

Pandit memo to Citi employees on bonus clawbacks

Lockhart letter to Frank on Fannie/Freddie bonuses

The banker added: “It’s like a McCarthy witch-hunt?.?.?.?This is the most profoundly anti- American thing I’ve ever seen.”

Vikram Pandit, Citigroup’s chief executive, told employees in a memo that some anger about executive compensation was “warranted”. But he hit out against the idea of a special tax. “The work we have all done to try to stabilise the financial system and to get this economy moving again would be significantly set back if we lose our talented people because Congress imposes a special tax on financial services employees,” he wrote.

Some policymakers expressed concern that banks may try to break out of the government’s embrace by paying back public capital even if the price is a more severe credit squeeze.

They also fear that financial institutions may decide not to take part in public-private partnerships to finance credit markets and acquire toxic assets.

The outcry followed Thursday’s approval by the House of Representatives of a bill that would impose 90 per cent tax on bonuses to employees whose gross income exceeded $250,000 at bailed-out firms.

Next week the Senate will also consider a hefty tax on bail-out bonuses amid calls for an investigation into who was responsible for allowing the pay-outs. Some senators are calling for a committee hearing on a bill that would impose a 70 per cent tax at bailed-out institutions, half paid by employees and half by companies, arguing that a delay would help cool political anger.

“There are three big industries where the US has global leadership: financial services, media and technology. Introducing this 90 per cent tax is like taking one of those industries out the back and shooting it,” said a top Wall Street executive.

In Frankfurt one employee at a US investment bank said the new tax measures would “send [the US] back to the stone age”.

“Commodity traders are already moving to companies like BP where they can make as much money as they used to,” said another banker at a US firm.

Reporting by Lina Saigol in London, Julie MacIntosh and Saskia Scholtes in New York, Tom Braithwaite in Washington and James Wilson in Frankfurt
9905  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Posse Comitatus Act on: March 20, 2009, 05:20:51 PM
The Effect of the Posse Comitatus Act

Before speculating on why this act is so misunderstood, it is useful to spell out exactly what the act as it is written does and does not do. The Posse Comitatus Act

Applies only to the Army, and by extension the Air Force, which was formed out of the Army in 1947.

Does not apply to the Navy and Marine Corps. However, the Department of Defense has consistently held that the Navy and Marine Corps should behave as if the act applied to them.

Does not apply to the Coast Guard, which is part of the Department of Transportation and is both an armed force and a law enforcement agency with police powers.

Does not apply to the National Guard in its role as state troops on state active duty under the command of the respective governors.

May not apply to the National Guard (qua militia) even when it is called to federal active duty. The Posse Comitatus Act contains no restrictions on the use of the federalized militia as it did on the regular Army. [9] It is commonly believed, however, that National Guard units and personnel come under the Posse Comitatus Act when they are on federal active duty, and this interpretation is followed today.

Does not apply to state guards or State Defense Forces under the command of the respective governors.

Does not apply to military personnel assigned to military police, shore police, or security police duties. The military police have jurisdiction over military members subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. They also exercise police powers over military dependents and others on military installations. The history of the law makes it clear that it was not intended to prevent federal police (for example, marshals) from enforcing the law.

Does not apply to civilian employees, including those who are sworn law enforcement officers. The origin and legislative history of the act make it clear that it applies only to military personnel. In those days, there were no civilian employees of the Army in the sense that there are today. In particular, no one envisioned that the Army would hire civilian police officers to enforce the laws at its facilities.

Does not prevent the President from using federal troops in riots or civil disorders. Federal troops were used for domestic operations more than 200 times in the two centuries from 1795 to 1995. Most of these operations were to enforce the law, and many of them were to enforce state law rather than federal law. [10] Nor does it prevent the military services from supporting local or federal law enforcement officials as long as the troops are not used to arrest citizens or investigate crimes.
In recent years, several laws have been enacted that grant specific exceptions to the application of the Posse Comitatus Act.

Title 18 U.S. Code, Section 831, provides that if nuclear material is involved in an emergency, the Secretary of Defense may provide assistance to the Department of Justice, notwithstanding the Posse Comitatus Act.

Title 10 U.S. Code, Chapter 18, authorizes military support for civilian law enforcement agencies for counterdrug operations and in emergencies involving chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction. The Secretary of Defense may provide information, allow the use of military equipment and facilities, train law enforcement officials in the operation and maintenance of military equipment, and maintain such equipment. Support for law enforcement agencies may not impair military readiness, and military personnel shall not participate in searches, seizures, arrests, or similar activities unless such participation is otherwise authorized by law. (Military police personnel, for example, may enforce the law within their jurisdictions.)

If there were violations of the act, the culprits would not be members of the Army and Air Force who assisted local law enforcement agencies but rather the local law enforcement officials who required the troops to assist in the enforcement of laws or local military commanders who did so without obtaining Presidential authority. It is no wonder that there have never been any prosecutions under the law.


Why Is This Erroneous Interpretation Widely Believed?

It is worthwhile asking why the original meaning of the Posse Comitatus Act has been transformed into its almost exact opposite. It is not the purpose of this article to solve this mystery, but it is useful to speculate on some of the motives of the people who have been involved.

Some cynics believe that the Department of Defense and the military services support the erroneous application of posse comitatus because they do not want to get involved in domestic emergencies. This appears to be the position of many active-component officers. In an address to the Fletcher Conference on 15 November 2001, General William F. Kernan, Commander in Chief, Joint Forces Command, presumably referring to the Posse Comitatus Act, said that there were limitations on the active components that restricted them from “doing those kinds of things, and rightfully so.” [11] General Kernan went on to propose an order of response to domestic emergencies that starts with the first responders, then the National Guard, and finally the Reserves and active components. This may be a logical order, but it is based on a flawed understanding of history. The military services, and the Army in particular, have been used on numerous occasions to enforce the law, notably in federal efforts to desegregate public schools and quell riots. One recent example of this was the use of active-duty Army troops, Marines, and federalized California National Guard troops to deal with the 1992 riots in Los Angeles prompted by the acquittal of police officers charged with assaulting Rodney King. Now that the Quadrennial Defense Review for 2001 has declared homeland security to be the primary mission of the Department of Defense, this aversion to the use of active components for domestic security may be weakened. In the meantime, however, some elements of the Department of Defense continue to hew to the line that it is improper for any element of the department, military or civilian, to enforce the laws in any fashion.

Americans have a general antipathy to the use of troops as police. This stems from British practice during Colonial times. There is a general feeling in the nation that policing is a local matter best done by police forces whose members are trained in law enforcement. Until recently there was also general opposition to a national police force as exists in most Western European nations. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was until recently quite small and worked on cases that clearly were federal crimes. In recent years, the number of federal crimes has increased, particularly in the field of civil rights violations, and now the FBI seems to be involved in many cases that formerly would have been handled under state law by local law enforcement agencies. The threat of imminent terrorist attack can only reinforce the trend to more and more federal laws and more and more federal police officers and prosecutors to deal with them. Americans appear to accept the increase in FBI jurisdiction but are unsympathetic to the habitual use of military personnel as police officers. In support of this feeling, persons writing on the Posse Comitatus Act may have addressed it as a legal bar to an unpopular possibility.

The lawyers have had a hand in transforming the Posse Comitatus Act from its original intent to what it may or may not be today. A substantial body of case law and judicial decisions pertaining to the use of military personnel to enforce the laws has been created. A casual review of these cases reveals confusion, inconsistency, and downright perversion of the original intent of the law. Much of this litigation has been prompted by persons averse to any role for military forces in law enforcement. Moreover, a significant body of policy and regulation has been created extralegally in the form of Department of Defense directives and military service regulations. These attempts to clarify the situation only add to the confusion. Most of them are based on a presumption significantly at variance with the law itself.

Finally, another reason for the misunderstanding and misapplication of this law is simply sloppy scholarship. It is apparent that many of the numerous authors who have written about this matter did not read the U.S. Code, studied the legislative history of the act, or consulted the two official histories prepared by the Center of Military History before airing their erroneous opinions. This appears to be one of those academic chain letters in which one set of unfounded conclusions is used as a source for derivative sets, which are accepted and passed along containing the original errors. In effect, the misinterpretation of the Posse Comitatus Act has become an urban myth that is widely believed without substantiation. This need not be. The topic has been covered well in many of the standard U.S. history books, and people who want to pursue the historical record in enough detail to get to the real story can consult three sources:

Robert W. Coakley, The Role of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Disorders 1789-1878, Center of Military History, U.S. Army, Washington, DC, 1988.

Clayton D. Laurie and Ronald H. Cole, The Role of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Disorders 1877-1945, Center of Military History, U.S. Army, Washington, DC, 1997.

Eugene P. Visco, More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Posse Comitatus, unpublished, available by request from gvisco@bellatlantic.net


Summary and Recommendation

The Posse Comitatus Act is not a general and universal proscription of the use of federal military forces to enforce or execute the law. The military services may do so and have done so when ordered by the president and pursuant to the authorization of Congress. Although the current interpretation of the act is the opposite of its original intention, it does discourage the military services from being used as a national police force-something we have wisely avoided up to now. The Posse Comitatus Act does not prevent the military services from supporting the police, nor does it preclude them from enforcing the law when so ordered by the president. It does preclude them from being the police in normal times.

It is time to rescind the existing Posse Comitatus Act and replace it with a new law. The old law is widely misunderstood and unclear. It leaves plenty of room for people to do unwise and perhaps unlawful things while trying to comply with their particular version. It certainly does not provide a basis for defining a useful relationship of military forces and civil authority in a global war with terrorism. The Posse Comitatus Act is an artifact of a different conflict-between freedom and slavery or between North and South, if you prefer. Today's conflict is also in a sense between freedom and slavery, but this time it is between civilization and terrorism. New problems often need new solutions, and a new set of rules is needed for this issue.

President Bush and Congress should initiate action to enact a new law that would set forth in clear terms a statement of the rules for using military forces for homeland security and for enforcing the laws of the United States. Things have changed a lot since 1878, and the Posse Comitatus Act is not only irrelevant but also downright dangerous to the proper and effective use of military forces for domestic duties.


1. Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 1971.

2. I am deeply indebted to my friend and colleague Eugene P. Visco for allowing me to rely greatly for this section on his excellent paper "More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Posse Comitatus" (2001). Gene Visco is a master operations research analyst and a scholar who does good work.

3. The white militia units were disbanded in 1867, and black militia units formed under Reconstruction state governments were not used to confront ex-Confederates. Visco, op. cit., p. 18.

4.By 1870, all of the former Confederate States had completed the Reconstruction process and were readmitted to the United States.

5. Visco, op. cit., p. 18.

6. Visco, op. cit., p. 20.

7. Visco, op. cit., p. 21. The primary purpose was to protect the freedmen from the Ku Klux Klan.

8. Coakley, cited in Visco, op. cit., p. 24.

9. Coakley, cited in Visco, op. cit., p. 23.

10. Courtesy of Gene Visco, who has done extensive research on this topic and teaches a course on military operations other than war at George Mason University.

11. General William F. Kernan, address to the Fletcher Conference, "The Military's Role in Homeland Security," 15 November 2001, DefenseLink, Joint Forces Command website.
When I was a kid, the term "federal offense" was a big deal and awed us by its implication of something really wicked. Today, it seems as if everything is a federal offense.
9906  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Posse Comitatus Act on: March 20, 2009, 05:20:14 PM
http://www.homelandsecurity.org/journal/Articles/brinkerhoffpossecomitatus.htm

The Posse Comitatus Act
and Homeland Security

John R. Brinkerhoff
February 2002

As acting associate director for national preparedness of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from 1981 to 1983, Colonel John R. Brinkerhoff, US Army Retired, was responsible for policy formulation and program oversight of the Civil Defense Program, National Mobilization Preparedness Program, Continuity of Government, and the National Defense Stockpile. During that time the United States had a program to Defend America against a massive nuclear attack as well as attacks by communist agents and special forces troops. Colonel Brinkerhoff was also deputy executive secretary of the Emergency Mobilization Preparedness Board (EMPB), the senior level inter-agency forum to coordinate all aspects of national preparedness. The EMPB was chaired by the National Security Advisor and consisted of the deputy secretaries of the departments and the heads of several independent agencies. During the EMPB era, a national plan was prepared and approved by President Reagan, and actions were taken to implement it.

Prior to joining FEMA, Colonel Brinkerhoff was a career senior executive in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. His last position before leaving OSD to joint FEMA was as acting deputy assistant secretary for reserve affairs. He was also director of manpower programming, director of intergovernmental affairs, and special assistant to the deputy assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs. Before joining the civil service, Mr. Brinkerhoff was an Army officer for 24 years. He retired in 1974 after 24 years of active commissioned service in a variety of troop assignments in Korea, Germany, Vietnam, and the United States. While on active duty he served two tours on the Army Staff and two tours in OSD. For the past seven years he has been an adjunct research staff member of the Institute for Defense Analyses working on a variety of issues including Homeland Defense.

Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

-Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1385


The quotation above is the much-discussed Posse Comitatus Act in its entirety. That is it! That is all there is to it. Seldom has so much been derived from so little. Few articles written about the act and its implications cite the law as it is written, leading one to believe that the authors have never taken the trouble to go to the U.S. Code and see for themselves or to look up the legislative history of the act or to read the exceptions in the law. As a result, much of what has been said and written about the Posse Comitatus Act is just plain nonsense.

The Posse Comitatus Act is often cited as a major constraint on the use of the military services to participate in homeland security, counterterrorism, civil disturbances, and similar domestic duties. It is widely believed that this law prohibits the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps from performing any kind of police work or assisting law enforcement agencies to enforce the law. This belief, however, is not exactly correct.

What is correct is that new rules are needed to clearly set forth the boundaries for the use of federal military forces for homeland security. The Posse Comitatus Act is inappropriate for modern times and needs to be replaced by a completely new law.

The law was enacted originally on 18 June 1878. It was amended in 1959 to make it applicable to Alaska. It was amended in 1994 to remove an upper limit of $10,000 on the fine that was in the original act. As shall be noted later, in recent years Congress has enacted other laws that specify when the Posse Comitatus Act does not apply.

The biggest error is the common assertion that the Posses Comitatus Act was enacted to prevent the military services (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps) from acting as a national police force.

Colonel Richard Hart Sinnreich, in an otherwise admirable piece, opined thusly in an article in the 12 December 2001 Washington Post:

The American aversion to a military gendarmerie was formalized after Reconstruction in the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which severely restricts the use of active military forces in domestic law enforcement.

Reconstruction was the 12 years from 1865 to 1877 when the U.S. Army occupied the defeated Southern states. Major Craig T. Trebilcock, U.S. Army Reserve, in his Journal of Homeland Security article “The Myth of Posse Comitatus,” does a good job at pointing out that the use of military personnel to enforce the law is in fact allowable, but makes a mistake when he says:

The Posse Comitatus Act was passed to remove the Army from civilian law enforcement and to return it to its role of defending the borders of the United States.

Another gross misinterpretation of the Posse Comitatus Act was made on 13 December 2001 in the Washington Times, which reported that Provost Marshal William J. Bolduc of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center reduced the police powers of the civilian police force at that facility because they were bound by the Posse Comitatus Act. The story said:

The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prohibits members of the U.S. armed forces or employees of the U.S. military from enforcing laws on civilians [emphasis added].

Sinnreich, Trebilcock, Bolduc, and most commentators who opine on this law are wrong. The Posse Comitatus Act was not, as they assert and as most people believe, enacted to prevent members of military services from acting as a national police force. It was enacted to prevent the Army from being abused by having its soldiers pressed into service as police officers (a posse) by local law enforcement officials in the post-Reconstruction South.


The Story of the Posse Comitatus Act

The law was enacted as a result of the election of 1876, which was the event that ended the period of Reconstruction after the Civil War. The law was enacted to overturn an 1854 opinion of the attorney general. The story is bound up with the conflict within the United States about slavery and the Union.

The posse comitatus doctrine comes from English common law. Posse comitatus means, literally, the “force of the county”; the posse comitatus is that body of men above the age of 15 whom the sheriff may summon or raise to repress a riot or for other purposes. [1]

In 1854, Caleb Cushing, attorney general for President Franklin Pierce, blessed the posse comitatus doctrine and opined that marshals could summon a posse comitatus and that both militia and regulars in organized bodies could be members of such a posse. [2] This was done to improve the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Among other things, this meant that the United States was responsible for expenses incurred by U.S. marshals in employing local police, state militia, or others in apprehending and safeguarding fugitive slaves. The Cushing Doctrine meant that even though the armed forces might be organized as military bodies under the command of their officers, they could still be pressed into service by U.S. marshals or local sheriffs as a posse comitatus without the assent of the president. This doctrine was merely the opinion of the attorney general and was not subjected to judicial or legislative review prior to its enunciation. The Cushing Doctrine encouraged the use of the Army and Navy as police forces, and it was used widely in the West, where the Army was the only armed force available to assist local officials to enforce the law along the turbulent frontier. It had little effect in the South during the period before the Civil War and came into prominence there only during Reconstruction.

During Reconstruction, the Army exercised police and judicial functions, oversaw the local governments, and dealt with domestic violence. In effect, the Army governed the 11 defeated Confederate States and was the enforcer of national reconstruction policy during all or part of the period. Before the Civil War, the militia under state control was used to control local disorders throughout the United States, but during Reconstruction, there was no effective militia in the defeated states, so the Army protected the people (especially the newly emancipated slaves) and dealt with disturbances. [3] This use of the Army was validated by the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which empowered U.S. marshals to summon and call to their aid the posse comitatus of the counties, or portions of the land or naval forces of the United States, or of the militia. As the former Confederate States were readmitted to the Union, the status of the Army changed, but its role remained much the same.

After 1868, when all but three of the Southern states had reentered the union, the problem became one of how to obtain assistance from the Army to enforce the law. [4] In response to a desperate plea from a U.S. marshal in Florida, the Attorney General of the United States, William M. Evarts, cited the posse comitatus doctrine that gave U.S. marshals and county sheriffs the right to command all necessary assistance from within their districts, including military personnel and civilians, to serve on the posse comitatus to execute legal process. [5] Evarts' decision led to numerous requests by marshals and county sheriffs for troops to use in enforcing the law, all without presidential approval. This met with some resistance from the Army, and the War Department said that the obligation of individual officers and soldiers to obey the summons of a marshal or sheriff must be held subordinate to the paramount duty as members of a permanent military body. The troops were to act only in organized units under their own officers and would obey the orders of those officers. [6]

In 1871, President U. S. Grant sought to provide a basis for the use of troops other than posse comitatus. In accordance with Grant's policy, the War Department issued general orders saying that the forces of the United States may be committed and shall be employed to assist the civil authorities in making arrests of persons accused of crime, preventing the rescue of arrested persons, and dispersing marauders and armed organizations. [7] By the end of Grant's second term, the South was ready and able to end U.S. Government control over their states.

In the election of 1876, the Democratic candidate, Samuel J. Tilden, won a majority of the popular vote, but the Republican candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes, ended up with a majority of one vote in the Electoral College. The election was disputed and finally determined by a deal in which Tilden would concede the election if Hayes agreed to end Reconstruction. Accordingly, Reconstruction ended in 1877 with the inauguration of Hayes as the 19th president. Federal troops in the South were no longer used to enforce the law, and the Southerners became masters in their own states for the first time since the end of the Civil War.

Congress passed the Posse Comitatus Act in 1878 in a dispute over the use of federal troops by U.S. marshals in the South. Based on precedent, Attorney General Charles Devens took the position that the U.S. Judiciary Act of 1789 authorized U.S. marshals to raise a posse comitatus comprising every person in a district above 15 years of age, “including the military of all denominations, militia, soldiers, marines, all of whom are alike bound to obey the commands of a Sheriff or Marshal.” However, Congress had become disenchanted with the habit of U.S. marshals and sheriffs to press Army troops into their service without the approval of the commander in chief. The Southerners in particular questioned this policy. Ironically, the posse comitatus doctrine had been postulated in 1854 by Attorney General Cushing to help Southerners enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. Now it was being used to contest the Ku Klux Klan. On 27 May 1878, Representative J. Proctor Knott of Kentucky introduced an amendment to the Army appropriations bill; the amendment eventually became the Posse Comitatus Act. In passing the act, the Congress voted to restrict the ability of U.S. marshals and local sheriffs to conscript military personnel into their posses. They did not vote to preclude the use of troops if authorized by the president or Congress.

Somehow, in the past 125 years, the meaning of the Posse Comitatus Act has been stood on its head. Clearly the exposition above demonstrates that the intent of the act was not to preclude the Army from enforcing the law but instead was designed to allow the Army to do this only when directed to do so by the President or Congress. The official history of the use of the military services to enforce the laws says:

Some of those who opposed it [the Posse Comitatus Act] in the Congress charged that [it] was taking away from the president entirely the power to use troops to repress internal disorders except on request of a state governor or legislature, that President Washington could not even had dealt with the Whiskey Rebellion under its terms. This interpretation of the Posse Comitatus Act has often been raised by those protesting against federal troops intervention in the many instances it has occurred since 1878. And indeed the question of what the real meaning of the Posse Comitatus Act was has been the subject of some dispute ever since its passage … however ... all that it really did was to repeal a doctrine whose only substantial foundation was an opinion by an attorney general, and one that had never been tested in the courts. The president's power to use both regular and military remained undisturbed by the Posse Comitatus Act, and by the law of 1861 and the Ku Klux Klan Act that had in fact been substantially strengthened during the Civil War and Reconstruction Era. But the posse Comitatus Act did mean that troops could not be used on any authority than that of the President and that he must issue a cease and desist proclamation before he did so. Commanders in the field would no longer have any discretion but must wait for orders from Washington.

The immediate impact of the Posse Comitatus Act was not felt very much in the Southern states because President Hayes had withdrawn the troops that had been occupying them. However, there was great impact in the West, where the Cushing Doctrine had been used a great deal by marshals and local sheriffs to call on local military commanders for assistance. Having to wait for presidential approval before troops could be used was disadvantageous given the turbulence common on the frontier. [8]


9907  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: March 20, 2009, 05:15:32 PM
If you need intel, you use whatever works, including enhanced interrogation. They aren't honorable warriors. They deserve nothing but to be crushed.
9908  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: March 20, 2009, 03:17:35 PM
Here is the problem with this theory. Many jihadists have lived in our nations, gone to our schools, enjoyed humane treatment in our lands and still gone on to wage jihad, often with a western passport in their possession.
9909  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 19, 2009, 09:32:12 PM
**He'll get right on this, after Leno....**

http://formerspook.blogspot.com/2009/03/standing-by-for-orders.html

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Standing By for Orders?

According to our senior commanders in the Pacific, the U.S. military is prepared to shoot down North Korea's Tapeodong-2 missile when it is launched next month.

If it is called upon.

That's an important caveat, because there is no indication (yet) that President Obama has given that order. At this point, we're roughly two weeks away from the DPRK's planned launch window, and comments from Admiral Timothy Keating, the Commander of U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) suggest the shoot down directive has not been issued.

More from the AP via Breitbart:

Admiral Keating told senators at a hearing that there was a "high probability" that the United States could knock down a North Korean missile. Gen. Walter Sharp, the U.S. commander in South Korea, said the threat "is real."

[snip]

Keating said the United States is getting "reasonable intelligence" reports that give a close look at North Korea's activities.

"We'll be prepared to respond," he said, adding that "the United States has the capability" to shoot down any missile.

In terms of "reasonable intelligence," Admiral Keating means the U.S. has some idea of Pyongyang's plans, in terms of an actual satellite launch, or a long-range missile test masquerading as a satellite shot. We may not have conclusive data, but through the use of advanced imagery techniques and MASINT (Measures and Signatures Intelligence) sensors, the intel community has probably made a preliminary call, favoring one scenario over the other.

Put another way, the Obama Administration (at this point) should have enough information to make a call, and issue a warning to the DPRK. Prior to the last TD-2 test in 2006, the U.S. put land and sea-based missile defenses on higher alert, and publicly promised to shoot down the missile, if it threatened our interests, including American allies in the region. The intercept became unnecessary when the long-range missile fell apart, roughly 100 seconds into its flight.

So far, Mr. Obama has refrained from making a similar vow, creating some confusion among military leaders and our Asian partners. Keating made similar remarks a couple of weeks ago, earning a verbal rebuke from White House aides, who claimed that the admiral's comments were unhelpful and could upset diplomatic overtures to North Korea.

As we noted previously, the logic of this approach is apparently lost on Japan as well. Tokyo has threatened to intercept the TD-2 if it threatens Japanese territory--a virtual certainty--using its Kongo-class destroyers, equipped with the same Aegis radar system and SM-3 interceptor missiles found on U.S. naval vessels.

Without better coordination, we could well witness a Japanese combatant knock down the North Korean missile while we stand by and watch. While the Japanese have the inherent right of self-defense, the ramifications of that intercept would be felt throughout Northeast Asia and beyond. Even South Korea, the most likely target for any North Korean military action, would be uneasy over Japanese forces taking defensive action against the DPRK.

Reading between the lines of Admiral Keating's testimony, he appears to be prodding Washington for some kind of guidance on the pending TD-2 launch. His assets include several ballistic missile defense ships assigned to the 7th Fleet (home ported in Japan), as well as land-based interceptor missiles in Alaska and tracking radars across the region, all designed to deal with this type of threat.

These resources can be rapidly deployed, placed on heightened alert and respond to the North Korean test. All that's required is an executive decision. Based on his testimony before Congress, it sounds like Admiral Keating is still awaiting orders, even at this (relatively) late hour.
9910  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Confirmed: DVDs that Obama gave Gordon Brown are the wrong format on: March 19, 2009, 05:55:48 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/03/19/confirmed-dvds-obama-gave-gordon-brown-are-the-wrong-format/

Confirmed: DVDs that Obama gave Gordon Brown are the wrong format
posted at 4:50 pm on March 19, 2009 by Allahpundit   

Via Media Blog, one final cringeworthy indignity from the gifts that keep on giving. Until now I thought Obama’s team had spent about five minutes brainstorming on what to get Brown. I was wrong. It was more like two minutes.

What’s that term The One’s been using for his foreign policy? Ah, right. “Smart power.”

Alas, when the PM settled down to begin watching them the other night, he found there was a problem.

The films only worked in DVD players made in North America and the words “wrong region” came up on his screen. Although he mournfully had to put the popcorn away, he is unlikely to jeopardise the special relationship – or “special partnership”, as we are now supposed to call it – by registering a complaint…

A White House spokesman sniggered when I put the story to him and he was still looking into the matter when my deadline came last night.

By the way, when Obama’s unlikely gift was disclosed, a reader emailed me to ask if Clueless was among the films. Funnily enough, it was not.

What’d he get the Irish PM for St. Patrick’s Day, a kilt? Exit question: Seriously, as minor as this is, doesn’t someone deserve to be fired for it?

Update: Iowahawk e-mails to remind me that he called this 10 days ago, but, he says, “In Obama’s defense at least they weren’t Betamax.”
9911  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion on: March 18, 2009, 08:00:43 PM
- Pajamas Media - http://pajamasmedia.com -

Jihad, Martyrdom, and the Torments of the Grave
Posted By Raymond Ibrahim On March 14, 2009 @ 12:00 am In . Positioning, Books, Culture, History, Middle East, World News | 27 Comments

Why do some Muslims become suicide bombers or “martyrs”? In fact, these two near antithetic words — on the one hand, broken, desperate suicides, on the other, heroic martyrs — intrinsically demonstrate the radically different epistemologies the average Westerner and Muslim will articulate their answer through. In other words, that Westerners consider them suicides while Muslims consider them martyrs in and of itself speaks volumes on motivation.

To the secular Western mind, such Muslims are simply frustrated: oppressed and depressed, and with nothing to lose, these Muslims (so the logic goes) end their suffering in the name of some “noble” cause — be it the “liberation of al-Aqsa” or the razing of U.S. skyscrapers. All their talk about Islam, “obligations,” or 72 dark-eyed virgins is but a cover for their true motivation: “revenge” on the one hand, escape from an oppressive existence on the other. Most recently, “shame” has been cited as another culprit: al-Qaeda has been raping and thereby shaming [1] women — and [2] men — into becoming “martyrs.”

Conversely, from a purely Muslim point of view, becoming a martyr is not only a guarantee to eternal paradise — which, if many secular Westerners deem “silly,” the devotees of Allah take very seriously — but a paradise that may appeal to some of man’s most libidinous desires. Thus, whereas the Christian heaven is purely spiritual — “they shall neither marry nor give into marriage” (Matthew 22:30) and not necessarily “enticing” — some Muslim accounts of paradise are downright hedonistic.

Scriptural references demonstrative of this are many. Consider Koran 36:55-56: “For the inhabitants of paradise on that day shall be engaged in joyous activities [shughlin fakihun] — they and their wives, reclined on raised cushions.” A number of the most authoritative exegetes, such as Ibn Kathir (see [3] here), have interpreted “engaged in joyous activities” as meaning “they will be busy deflowering virgins.” (See also [4] al-Jalalayn’s tafsir, where he concurs.)

That said, it is of course difficult to accept that any Muslim man would become a suicide bomber primarily because he wants to copulate in perpetuity — even if Islam’s prophet is on the record saying that men in heaven will have the sexual potency of 100 men (to better handle the countless maidens). Also, what about women, who have increasingly taken to becoming suicide bombers? Surely sex is not their motivation.

However, before concluding that Muslims become suicide bombers purely out of desperation, frustration, or shame, it should be borne in mind that, aside from the theological guarantee of a hedonistic paradise, there is yet another, antithetical reason that may subtly compel Muslims to seek martyrdom.

This is the little-known doctrine of ‘adhab al-qabr, or the “torments of the grave.” Anyone familiar with Islam’s texts has repeatedly come across this curious phrase; anyone who has listened to Muslim sermons has been severely warned against it. The torments of the grave are a very real doctrine that has the tendency to drive believers to despair — I have watched grown men and women on Arabic satellite relay the terror this doctrine has worked in their lives — making them eager to do whatever is necessary to avoid it.

Based on a close reading of Islam’s texts, the following account represents Sunni Islam’s standard teachings of after-death experiences:

First, the soul is said to return to the corpse while it is interred. As the pallbearers carry the body to the grave, its soul follows behind crying, “Oh my, wherever are they taking me?!” — all while the gaping grave moans, “I am the house of strangeness; I am the house of loneliness; I am the house of dust; I am the house of worms.”

After being laid to rest by the gravediggers, the dead “hear” the gravediggers as they walk away — implying, as the forthcoming torments suggest, and ulema maintain, that the dead experience “physical” sensations. (Perhaps this is why Muslims are in the habit of offering audible “greetings” to the dead — who “hear” — whenever they pass their graves?)

Every soul, once entombed along with its body, is tried by two angels. The hadith states: “His [the dead's] soul returns to his body; then two angels arrive and sit him up for questioning” — specifically, “Who is your lord, what is your religion, who is your prophet?” If he answers Allah, Islam, and Muhammad, respectively, he is granted paradise; if not, the torments begin.

While these questions appear deceptively easy to answer, and thus even the most nominal Muslim should be able to pass this ghoulish inquisition unscathed, the reason Muslims fear failing the test may be associated with Islam’s infamous fatalism: “Those who believe, Allah will strengthen with a firm word, in this world and the hereafter; but the unjust he leads astray [in this world and the hereafter]. Allah does what he will” (Koran 14:27). Ulema have interpreted this verse as revolving around the angels’ interrogation and the ability of the dead — or rather, Allah’s desire for them — to answer right or wrong.

As for infidels and nominal Muslims (al-muslim al-‘assi), their response to each of the angels’ questions is inevitably: “Uh, uh … I don’t know.” After being verbally chastised by the angels and a “voice from heaven,” the torments begin in earnest.

First, the angels pulverize the body with a “massive iron hammer” — one that “has no equal [in power and size] in the world.” In the process, “he [the dead] cries out in such a manner that all creation — minus humans and jinn [supernatural beings] — hear him.” Another hadith states that this hammer is such that “if a mountain was struck by it, the mountain would crumble into dust; the dead [man] is struck such a blow that he crumbles into dust — but Allah reassembles him, and he is struck again,” apparently in perpetuity.

Next, the grave is said to “tighten” around the corpse, till its bones pop and crack — all while the soul is still trapped inside, suffering, suffocating. Some ulema maintain the dead — with their souls experiencing these travails — stay in this position till judgment day.

Then comes the turn of the tomb-snake, known as al-shaja‘ al-aqra’ (roughly translated as the “bald brave one”); designed by Allah to torment the dead, this snake “eats his [the dead's] flesh, from head to toe; then his flesh returns, and it [the snake] eats his flesh from toe to head, and so on.” Yet another hadith has not one snake, but 70 dragons: “Allah shall set upon him 70 dragons, such that if one of them were to blow upon the earth, the earth would fail and wither away. They will rend and tear, maul and mull upon him until the day of reckoning” — all while he continues screaming, though no human or jinn hears. Still another hadith declares that the dead will be attacked by 99 dragons; each dragon will consist of 70 serpents; each serpent will have nine heads — for a total of 62,370 serpent heads tormenting the corpse in perpetuity.

[5]

At this point, the (especially) Western reader may think all this absurd, that no Muslim can truly believe such things, that this is all moot and can hardly ever drive anyone to action, much less suicide. That (according to Muhammad) one of the greatest “sins” responsible for sending people to the torments of the grave is failing to properly clean oneself after urinating may further lead to the conviction that this is all farcical, hardly a reason to bring Muslims to despair.

Yet here again we are entered into the tricky realm of epistemology: every civilization has its own particular sources, physical or metaphysical, whence knowledge, and thence “truth,” is articulated. For mainstream Islam, the Koran first, followed by the vast corpus of hadith — particularly the “canonical six,” which the aforementioned account of graveyard torments is mostly based on — form the basis of all truth and reality.

Moreover, everything written in these sources is generally taken literally. Thus the same literalism that compelled Islam’s most authoritative institution, al-Azhar, to issue a fatwa prompting [6] women to “breastfeed” strange men, compels Muslims today to accept the torments of the grave literally — pounding mallets, 62,370 snapping serpents, and all.

Anyone who closely follows Arabic-Islamic TV will further know that the torments of the grave, as described, have instilled fear and terror in the lives of Muslims. I have personally watched an al-Haya TV episode where a young Muslim woman, in tears and almost hysterical, was describing her morbid fear of the torments. I have also seen the ulema on Iqra TV, also in tears, lament the fate of those (”moderate”) Muslims who are destined to experience the torments of the grave. Other recovering Muslims maintain that sheikhs regularly cultivate fear of the torments of the grave in the lives of the youth.

The fact is, Muslims, even the most pious among them, have good reason to be fearful of the torments of the grave: Talking about his pious dead companion, Sa‘d ibn Mu‘adh, Muhammad observed, “The grave has an oppressive tightness, and were [it possible for] anyone to escape this, Sa‘d ibn Mu‘adh would have done so, for he is the one for whom the Throne of the All-Merciful shook.” Moreover, there is the famous hadith where Muhammad said, “My umma shall be split into 73 sects — all of which will go to the fire [hell], except one which shall be saved.” In other words, few Muslims have any guarantees that they will not visit the torments of the grave.

Still, what does any of this have to do with the jihad in general, or suicide bombing/martyrdom operations in particular? Plenty. Inasmuch as the torments of the grave clearly terrify Muslims, so too are there clear-cut ways of evading them. Three have been ascertained. The first two are quite haphazard: Muslims who happen to die on Friday (al-jum‘a, the day of Muslim congregation) and Muslims who happen to die of stomach aches are exonerated from the torments. Why? The prophet said so.

However, the ulema have been quick to point out and stress a third way — dying as a “martyr” fi sabil Allah (in the cause of Allah), i.e., during the jihad. In fact, in a hadith I first encountered when translating al-Qaeda texts for [7] The Al Qaeda Reader, Muhammad said:

The martyr is special to Allah. He is forgiven from the first drop of blood [that he sheds]. He sees his throne in paradise, where he will be adorned in ornaments of faith. He will wed the ‘aynhour [wide-eyed virgins] and will not know the torments of the grave and safeguards against the greater horror [hell]. Fixed atop his head will be a crown of honor, a ruby that is greater than the world and all it contains. And he will copulate with seventy-two ‘aynhour and be able to offer intercessions for seventy of his relatives.

And here one sees that, alongside the enticement of celestial copulation, the torments of the grave have the potential to terrify Muslims into “martyrdom.” This also begs the question: if these torments of the grave have the capacity to terrorize Muslims into considering a premature death fi sabil Allah, how much more can fear of Islam’s hell — the “greater horror” — goad Muslims to seek out martyrdom, which not only safeguards against the torments of the grave but hell itself?

The torments of the grave are a reminder of how important it is to take Islam’s doctrines — no matter how quaint or esoteric — seriously; dismissing them out of hand, since they seem silly to “us,” is arrogance. Anyone who truly wishes to ameliorate the phenomenon of Muslim suicide bombings, while taking into account all those “secular” reasons — poverty, frustration, desperation — should also, to be thoroughly holistic, take into account the psychological damage created by such arcane doctrines.

Finally, it is well to observe that, if little-known doctrines such as the torments of the grave have the capacity to goad Muslims into seeking martyrdom, how much more can be expected from the very well-known doctrinal obligation of jihad itself?

Article printed from Pajamas Media: http://pajamasmedia.com

URL to article: http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/jihad-martyrdom-and-the-torments-of-the-grave/

URLs in this post:
[1] women: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article5661466.ece
[2] men: http://www.edgeboston.com/index.php?ch=news&sc=&sc2=news&sc3=&id=86894
[3] here: http://www.islamqa.com/en/ref/10053
[4] al-Jalalayn: http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=1&tTafsirNo=74&tSoraNo=36&tAyahNo=55&tDi
splay=yes&UserProfile=0

[5] Image: http://pajamasmedia.com/files/2009/03/torments.jpg
[6] women to “breastfeed” strange men: http://memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=IA35507
[7] The Al Qaeda Reader: http://www.amazon.com/Al-Qaeda-Reader-Raymond-Ibrahim/dp/076792262X/
9912  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 18, 2009, 06:48:18 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/03/18/video-busy-president-takes-break-from-economic-catastrophe-to-make-ncaa-picks/comment-page-1/#comments

Fiddling while Rome burns.
9913  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: March 18, 2009, 05:10:51 PM
It's so tragic in so many ways. I can't believe any working cop would do this.

The proper response to this call:

1. Once the gun is in your possession, you run the gun, verify the Ohio CCW, verify the military ID and orders. Once it comes back clear and valid. You load the Marine and his wife and their baggage into your patrol car.

2. You take them to Walter Reed.

3. You thank the Marine for his service, shake his hand and give him your business card with your personal cell number is he or his wife need anything while in DC.

4. Clear from the call and go back into service.
9914  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: March 18, 2009, 08:52:49 AM
**I read this yesterday, and i'm still pissed off. WTF?Huh??**

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/13/AR2009011302840_pf.html

Marine Amputee Acquitted On Gun Possession Charges
By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 14, 2009; B01

After being deadlocked twice, a D.C. Superior Court jury yesterday acquitted a Marine amputee on felony charges of gun possession stemming from an arrest while he was on the way to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

In the 2006 incident, Cpl. Melroy H. Cort, 24, and his wife, Samantha, were en route from their home in Columbus, Ohio, to Walter Reed. Cort's legs had been amputated above the knees when he was wounded by a makeshift bomb in Ramadi during his third tour of duty in Iraq.

The couple's car got a flat tire, forcing them to pull over at a car repair shop in the 5000 block of Georgia Avenue NW. While there, Cort said, he reached into the glove compartment, removed a 9mm pistol and put it in his jacket pocket.

A witness who noticed Cort handling the gun called police, who arrested and handcuffed Cort while he was sitting in his wheelchair. He was charged with three counts of carrying a pistol without a license, possession of an unregistered firearm and possession of ammunition. He spent the night in the D.C. jail before returning to Walter Reed.

He was assigned a public defender, who encouraged him to plead guilty. But Cort refused, because a felony on his record could cost him his military benefits. So he decided to represent himself.

"I had to fight for myself," he said yesterday. "I wasn't going to plead guilty and lose everything."

During his trial, which began Friday before Judge Lynn Leibovitz, the two arresting officers testified that Cort had thrown up his hands and told them he had a gun in his pocket when they approached him.

Taking the stand in his defense, Cort tried to tell his personal story: How he enlisted in the Marines in 2004 after graduating from Ohio's Wright State University with a business degree. How he went to Iraq in 2004 and 2005, when he was was critically injured. How he was fitted with prosthetic legs and honorably discharged in 2007.

But Leibovitz ordered him to discuss only the case at hand.

Cort, who said he had a permit to carry the gun in Ohio, said he had it with him because he had moved out of his house in anticipation of an extended stay at Walter Reed.

He said his commanding officer had advised him to take the gun to the armory on Walter Reed's base as soon as he arrived.

Cort said 12 rounds of ammunition were in his car trunk, but police said the ammunition was in the gun's clip.

Although acquitting him of the gun charges, the jury found Cort guilty of possessing ammunition, a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to time already spent in the D.C. jail.

Cort, his wife and their 3-month-old daughter, Charlott, now plan to drive home to Columbus, where Samantha Cort is in real estate. Cort said he plans to appeal the verdict and tend to his family.

"I just plan to take care of my daughter," Cort said.
9915  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama to wounded vets: Drop dead on: March 17, 2009, 06:56:43 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/03/17/flashback-video-obama-on-sacred-trust/comment-page-1/#comments

Bush, for his flaws was a good man. Obama is a piece of lying garbage.
9916  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 17, 2009, 02:38:01 PM
An interesting read, but some of it leaves me wondering-- e.g.

"—Islam is fully compatible with the principles of democracy" 

Is this really so?

Look at all the islamic democracies across the planet. There is your answer.
9917  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Money for ACORN, HAMAS but not for wounded vets..... on: March 16, 2009, 08:53:50 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/03/16/american-legion-commander-angered-after-meeting-obama/comment-page-1/#comments

American Legion commander “angered” after meeting Obama
posted at 7:00 pm on March 16, 2009 by Ed Morrissey   


Apparently, the Obama administration hasn’t backed away from its plans to start offloading costs for wounded veterans to third-party insurance, which will make acquiring such insurance nearly impossible.  The commander of the American Legion emerged from a meeting with President Obama “angered” at Obama’s insistence on generating revenue from those who sacrificed for American security:

The leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization says he is “deeply disappointed and concerned” after a meeting with President Obama today to discuss a proposal to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries. The Obama administration recently revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in such cases.

“It became apparent during our discussion today that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan,” said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. “He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it.”

The Commander, clearly angered as he emerged from the session said, “This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate ‘ to care for him who shall have borne the battle’ given that the United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm’s way, and not private insurance companies. I say again that The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America’s veterans!”

Commander Rehbein was among a group of senior officials from veterans service organizations joining the President, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Steven Kosiak, the overseer of defense spending at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The group’s early afternoon conversation at The White House was precipitated by a letter of protest presented to the President earlier this month. The letter, co-signed by Commander Rehbein and the heads of ten colleague organizations, read, in part, ” There is simply no logical explanation for billing a veteran’s personal insurance for care that the VA has a responsibility to provide. While we understand the fiscal difficulties this country faces right now, placing the burden of those fiscal problems on the men and women who have already sacrificed a great deal for this country is unconscionable.”

The Obama administration explains that it wants private insurers who sell coverage to vets to pay their fair share, but there are two things wrong with that argument.  First, the United States has a moral obligation to provide treatment for those wounded in the service of their country. That’s a commitment we make to the people who enlist in military, and should not get outsourced.

Second, vets with service-related injuries and illnesses can only get third-party insurance because insurers know the US will cover all service-related medical treatment through the VA.  If the government reneges on that commitment, it will put insurers on the hook for veterans already enrolled — but it will make it a lot harder for the next set of veterans to get insured.  It will also raise costs to the rest of the insured by those companies, when the burden should fall on all Americans equally.

If the country needs more revenue streams, it should find some other way to find them than the backs of our wounded veterans.  They’ve sacrificed enough.  Shame on the Obama administration for attempting to weasel out of our commitment.

Update: This Ain’t Hell wonders when General Eric Shinseki will resign in protest.
9918  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 16, 2009, 02:27:34 PM
http://news.aol.com/political-machine/2009/03/13/obama-breaks-own-signing-statements-standard/

Does he even understand what he reads off of the teleprompter?
9919  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 16, 2009, 02:22:59 PM
Well, Carter actually had a resume. Captain Teleprompter on the other hand....   rolleyes
9920  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Even Obama supporters worried about White House incompetence on: March 16, 2009, 01:16:13 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/03/16/even-obama-supporters-worried-about-white-house-incompetence/

Even Obama supporters worried about White House incompetence
posted at 9:37 am on March 16, 2009 by Ed Morrissey   
Send to a Friend | Share on Facebook |    printer-friendly

I guess we can officially say that the honeymoon’s over.  The New York Daily News, not exactly a pillar of conservative thought, finds itself wondering aloud about whether Barack Obama and his team have the competence to lead the nation.  The whispers have grown into a chorus:

Not long ago, after a string of especially bad days for the Obama administration, a veteran Democratic pol approached me with a pained look on his face and asked, “Do you think they know what they’re doing?”

The question caught me off guard because the man is a well-known Obama supporter. As we talked, I quickly realized his asking suggested his own considerable doubts.

Yes, it’s early, but an eerily familiar feeling is spreading across party lines and seeping into the national conversation. It’s a nagging doubt about the competency of the White House.


Well, what did people expect?  For the first time in decades and perhaps ever, America chose a President without executive experience in the public or private sectors, and without military command experience.  If people expected smooth performance and cool competence from that kind of resume, then the best that can be said about them is that they indulged in self-delusion on a massive scale.

For the rest of us, this comes as no surprise at all.  The failed appointments have managed to be less embarrassing than the ones that “succeeded”, such as Tim Geithner and Vivek Kundra.  The administration keeps promising plans that never get delivered, and Obama all but abdicated to Nancy Pelosi during the Porkulus debacle.  And that doesn’t even begin to cover Obama’s embarrassing performance during Gordon Brown’s visit, and Hillary Clinton’s shameful “I don’t understand multiparty democracy” tour at the EU.

Obama is in over his head, and so are his closest aides, such as Geithner, Hillary, and the entire team.  The best we can hope is that on-the-job training can work quickly.

Update: Worse than Bush? Kevin McCullough makes that argument in his weekly column.
9921  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How do you say "empty suit" in Russian? on: March 14, 2009, 10:16:32 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/03/14/russia-takes-the-biden-challenge/

Russia takes the Biden Challenge
posted at 10:02 am on March 14, 2009 by Ed Morrissey   


Joe Biden warned us that Barack Obama would get tested by unfriendly nations in the first six months of his administration because of his inexperience.  That prediction now looks like sunny optimism.  Just days after China aggressively challenged the US Navy in international waters in the South China Sea, Russia now says they may start basing bombers in Venezuela — and Cuba:

A Russian Air Force chief said Saturday that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has offered an island as a temporary base for strategic Russian bombers, the Interfax news agency reported.

The chief of staff of Russia’s long range aviation, Maj. Gen. Anatoly Zhikharev, also said Cuba could be used to base the aircraft, Interfax reported. …

Zhikharev said Chavez had offered “a whole island with an airdrome, which we can use as a temporary base for strategic bombers,” the agency reported. “If there is a corresponding political decision, then the use of the island … by the Russian Air Force is possible.”

Interfax reported he said earlier that Cuba has air bases with four or five runways long enough for the huge bombers and could be used to host the long-range planes.

It took John Kennedy more than a year to precipitate a military standoff with the Soviet Union over Cuba in the 1962 missile crisis.  It’s taken the Obama Amateur Hour less than two months.

Recall that Barack Obama ran in part on a campaign to “restore diplomacy” in foreign relations.  Hillary Clinton made a big show of bringing a “reset button” to her first meeting with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, in which the button was labeled incorrectly and not spelled in Cyrillic.  This followed her bumbling show at the EU, making it clear to the Russians that our foreign service was in complete disarray, run by imcompetents.

Can you imagine Russia trying this with George Bush?  For that matter, can you imagine Bush losing Kyrgyzstan — and a vital military route — to Putin?  Russia is doing this now because Putin and Medvedev understand that they can get away with it.

The Kremlin later said that Zhikarev spoke “hypothetically”.  We’ll see.  I’d guess that it won’t take long for Moscow to start landing bombers 90 miles off our coast if the Obama administration continues the feckless performance we’ve seen thus far.
9922  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: March 14, 2009, 10:13:36 PM
Probably to be replaced by someone just as bad, but less visible....   rolleyes
9923  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: March 13, 2009, 08:53:57 AM
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article5898650.ece

From The Times
March 12, 2009
US warships head for South China Sea after standoff
Tim Reid in Washington

A potential conflict was brewing last night in the South China Sea after President Obama dispatched heavily armed American destroyers to the scene of a naval standoff between the US and China at the weekend.

Mr Obama’s decision to send an armed escort for US surveillance ships in the area follows the aggressive and co-ordinated manoeuvres of five Chinese boats on Sunday. They harassed and nearly collided with an unarmed American vessel.

Washington accused the Chinese ships of moving directly in front of the US Navy surveillance ship Impeccable, forcing its crew to take emergency action, and to deploy a high-pressure water hose to deter the Chinese ships. Formal protests were lodged with Beijing after the incident.

On a day that Mr Obama and his senior officials met the Chinese Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, in Washington, Beijing showed no sign of backing down. Its military chiefs accused the unarmed US Navy ship of being on a spying mission.

The US keeps a close eye on China’s arsenal, including its expanding fleet of submarines in the area. Washington says that the confrontation occurred in international waters, but Beijing claims nearly all the South China Sea as its own, putting it in conflict with five other nations that have claims over different parts of the waters.

The episode complicated fragile military relations between the US and China, which appeared to have improved after the two held defence talks in Beijing last month.

Mr Obama yesterday urged more military dialogue with China to avoid similar incidents after talks with Mr Yang, the White House said. “The President also stressed the importance of raising the level and frequency of military-to-military dialogue,” it said.

A hotline was established between the Chinese Defence Ministry and the Pentagon in April last year, but it was not used during or after Sunday’s standoff, defence officials said. The US Government immediately protested to Chinese authorities after the incident, about 75 miles south of Hainan Island.

Beijing has rejected the US account and demanded that the United States cease what it calls illegal activities in the South China Sea. The Chinese maintain the area is part of the country’s exclusive economic zone.

Washington insists that the area is part of international waters and that US ships have a legal right to operate there.
9924  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Soak the rich? Not when they leave. on: March 12, 2009, 02:25:10 PM
And take their jobs with them. Right Miguel?
9925  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: March 11, 2009, 12:11:14 PM
What we know:

Obama has, and has had a US passport issued by the State Dept.

To be issued a US passport, one must give proof of US citizenship by birth or naturalization.

No one has come forward claiming Obama was naturalized as either a child or adult.

Therefore: It is reasonable to assume the US State Depertment accepted his birth cert as proof of his US citizenship.

How long are we going to keep flogging this horse? I'm seeing signs of rigor mortis.....  rolleyes
9926  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Now THIS IS a threat on: March 10, 2009, 07:48:45 PM
http://chronicle.com/news/article/6092/clinton-announces-million-dollar-scholarship-program-for-palestinian-students

March 9, 2009

Clinton Announces Million-Dollar Scholarship Program for Palestinian Students

Ramallah, West Bank — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has announced a new million-dollar scholarship program to help Palestinian students enroll at Palestinian and American universities.

Mrs. Clinton announced the Middle East Partnership Initiative during a visit to this Palestinian town last week. The four-year program will support about 10 scholarships each year for disadvantaged students to attend four-year courses at Palestinian universities. The program will also offer 25 “opportunity grants” to enable promising but disadvantaged young Palestinians to apply to American-accredited institutions in the United States or the Middle East, a State Department official told The Chronicle.

Once funds are approved by Congress, Mrs. Clinton hopes to begin the program in the 2010-11 academic year. The money is in addition to $900-million in aid to the Palestinian Authority announced by the secretary last week at the donors’ conference, in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.

During her visit to an American-sponsored English-language teaching program in Ramallah, Mrs. Clinton said the opportunity grants would create “a larger pool of capable young men and women from places like the West Bank and Gaza” who can “compete along with students in other countries for the opportunity to further their academic training in America.” The secretary spoke on a youth program aired by Palestinian Authority TV.

Last year several Palestinian students from Gaza who were awarded Fulbright scholarships ran into difficulty entering Israel to complete the application process, and two of them were subsequently denied entry visas to the United States on security grounds.

Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, said efforts were being made to enable Gazans to participate in American-sponsored projects despite the security challenges.

“We’ve had several dozen Gazans participate in our programs over the last few months, both educational and professional,” said Ms. Schweitzer-Bluhm.

“It is difficult,” she said. “It’s a challenge to bring Gazans to participate in these programs, but we go through great lengths to try and facilitate their participation, and we have advance coordination with the Israelis to get them the necessary permits.” —Matthew Kalman
9927  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 09, 2009, 01:41:20 PM
- Works and Days - http://pajamasmedia.com/victordavishanson -

Oh, the Debts We Will See!
Posted By Victor Davis Hanson On March 8, 2009 @ 11:12 pm In Uncategorized | 40 Comments

 

Going broke without style…

$3.6 trillion budget. $1.7 trillion annual deficit. $800 billion plus borrowing stimulus.  $600 billion plus in outlays for new nationalized health care, and then another $600 billion again for cap-and-trade.

These numbers are so fantastic, so absolutely crazed, that the thought of ever paying them off boggles the mathematical senses. (I have surreal nightmares that as we haggle with the Chinese for another $500 billion dollar note to fund cap-and-trade, or another DMV-like national health care center, the USS Carl Vinson radios that it is broke and has no credit to buy supplies off Dubai, or its F-18s sit in rows on its deck, gathering brine for want of parts to take off).

 “They” will pay

How many of those diabolical rich making $250,000 and above are there left to gouge to pay for this all? It simply doesn’t compute. One is left with the only possibility that we slash defense, or we will inflate our way out, since no foreign debtor will want to supply those staggering sums of cash.

 

Athens in the fourth century B.C. chose to mint “redheads”, silver coins with bronze cores that  were quickly exposed once the patina around the coins’ imprinted busts wore off. Rome did the same thing, and by the fourth century AD simply flooded its provinces with money of little real value. Germany paid off its war debts to France in the 1920s, with deliberately inflated German marks. I lived in Greece during the oil-embargo hyperinflation of 1973, and remember buying individual eggs with three or four inked-in price figures crossed out, as the store-keeper kept upping the price each day. (And I remember farming in the early 1980s when full-strength Roundup herbicide seemed to go from $60 to $70 to $100 a gallon in a single year).

 What, me worried?

I don’t think any one knows what is quite going on. I recently gave a lecture, and a Wall Street grandee afterwards approached the dais, asking me for advice (me, who could not even turn a profit growing raisins, and was a lousy peddler of family fruit for years at Farmers’ Markets), saying in effect something like the following: “Mr. Hanson—Consider: Real estate bad—not going to put money there when I’m not sure where the bottom is. Stocks worse—had I got out at New Year’s, I’d have thousands more than I do now. Cash pathetic—the interest doesn’t even cover what’s lost to inflation. So what’s left—the dole?”

 

I had no advice, of course, other than some vague warning that we are in a war against capital, sort  of similar to what Sallust and Cicero claim that Catiline and his band of dissolute and broke aristocrats were planning, with his calls for cancellation of debts and redistribution of property.

 

 

Here are the possible exegeses.

 

(a) Clueless. Obama, the community organizer from Chicago with a mere two years plus in the Senate, is clueless. He has never run a business, never served as an executive, never done anything in matters of commerce other than speak and write and authorize spending bills as part of his government job. The result is that he listens to the last person he speaks with—and with dozens of advisors with dozens more agendas, we are seeing a herky-jerky, now this, now that, everything but the kitchen sink, sort of governance. This version of the President is a nice guy who wants to please everyone and will please no one.

 

(b) Not so clueless. Or Obama has a pretty certain, calculated European objective of high taxes, big-spending programs, utopian foreign policy initiatives, and a therapeutic sense of ensuring we are all going to be equal by result. In that sense, the recession was a godsend, since he has a brief window of about six months of fright and uncertainty to ram through programs that will last a lifetime, and whose expense will ensure a vast redistribution of income. His closest advisors are life-long government technocrats who are inured to spending others’ money and can use tax-free public appurtenances (salaries, perks, benefits, travel, etc.) to emulate the grand lifestyles of those they detest in corporations and on Wall Street. So we will get a new technocrati overseer class to replace the now disgraced masters of the universe on Wall Street. This manifestation of Obama is a hustler of the first order, and almost everything he says from FISA and earmarks to raising the ethical bar on appointments and limits on spending is, well, made up as he goes along, with the assurance that the media is still ga-ga.

 

(c) A Mean streak. Or there is not so much chaos or European utopianism at work as a sort of primeval dislike of capitalists and those who have access to money—an angry President Obama whose furor now and again peeks through (remember the clingers’ speech, the accidental middle finger scratches, and the Robespierre rhetoric). Never mind the hypocrisy involved, or the mega-fortunes at play in the rise of Obama’s candidacy. Instead concentrate on the effects, both direct and insidious, of his initiatives on capital of the near-do-well. This is a quadruple whammy:

 

1)    Aggregate tax rates are going to approach 70% in some states, effectively destroying the idea that anyone from the lower classes can ever achieve wealth in a single lifetime, and pass some of it on to his children (increases in estate taxes will be next).

2)    The pulverizing of the Dow (cf. Obama’s flippant talk of gyrations and advice to invest now at rock bottom prices, as if those who were wiped out have disposable cash to buy more stocks) means that the aggregate wealth in 401(k)s and stocks for millions—along with equity in homes— of the upper middle classes has effectively vanished. In some cases, the lawyer or contractor who a year ago had $400K put away in retirement funds and $300K in home equity has effectively lost half, if not more, of his hard-won wealth. And when one computes the additional taxes on future income he will pay, it will be almost impossible in his remaining lifetime to make it back.

3)    The promises of free health and free education for everyone most surely will come with salary considerations and mean-testing (we are seeing that already with ideas floating about charitable contributions). In other words, the more you of the upper middle class will pay for new expansive entitlements, the more likely you will not be eligible to use the full extent of them.

4)    The power of anti-“rich” rhetoric is already beginning to demonize the wealthy as those who have somehow done something wrong in paying the full ticket for their children’s’ educations, or their own health care, or their full mortgage payments. Of all the things that worry me about Obama, the most troublesome is his conflation of the super wealthy—who are so rich that even Obama cannot touch them and who often are his most fervent supporters—with the entrepreneurs, the scramblers of the small business class who make between, say, $250,000 and $600,000.

These already pay over 50% in various taxes, are eligible for almost no government support, do not have access to insider government breaks and special legislation, pay their own way—and create both jobs and new innovations critical to  the performance of the U.S. economy. Yet between Wall Street and DC they have been targeted for extinction.

 

 

Target Limbaugh

 

Recently David Frum contrasted what he thought was the ungainly (both physically and morally) image of Rush Limbaugh with that of the suave Barack Obama to underscore how the Republicans must change and assume new leadership. I replied to that charge in a recent corner posting on nationalreview.com, and thought it was rather incoherent in that Limbaugh never claimed to be a national political leader and middle-way conservatives were simply following White House talking points.

 

Rumors also circulated that Rahm Emanuel, with Clinton emeriti, like Paul Begala and James Carville, are coordinating attacks on the talk show host from the White House. Now the New York Daily News prints a derivative hit piece by a senior correspondent David Saltonstall (note the melodramatic reference to Limbaugh’s four-part name)  that has quips like:

“Rush Hudson Limbaugh 3rd, 58, is a thrice-divorced, formerly drug-addicted college dropout who casts himself as a working class hero, yet drives his $450,000 Mercedes-Benz Maybach 57S home to a 24,000-square-foot [1] Florida mansion every night (one of five houses on the property).”

 

Questions, however, arise. Do we really wish to go after the personal lives of entertainers and commentators, who are not in public office, as is true of say, a Bill Clinton, Larry Craig, or Ted Kennedy?  Won’t this also open up a can-of-worms—such as ‘If Limbaugh abused prescription drugs, what about the President of the United States who admitted to using illicit drugs like marijuana and cocaine (“blow”)?’ Or “Is Limbaugh more honest for being rich and fiscally conservative or a John Kerry for being even richer and liberal”? Or “Is it worse for Limbaugh to use his own money to fly in his own jet, or for a Nancy Pelosi to use ours to fly in ours (and whose is the bigger anyway?).

 Working-class hero?

 I don’t recall Limbaugh ever saying he was a “working class hero” and worry more about how Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd got his various houses than I do the five homes of private citizen Rush Limbaugh. I think this invective all started because Limbaugh gave a speech to some conservatives and reiterated that he wished Obama’s socialist program initiatives to fail—from that point on, he morphed into the supposed lead target of the Obama hit team, that is rapidly becoming Nixonian in its attack on “enemies” like Hannity or Limbaugh. Wanting the Congress to say no on the President’s proposals for socialized medicine, in preference for refining the present system, is not the same as declaring America’s war in Iraq as lost (or hoping it so).

 

My take? If the multilateral White House insults the visiting British Prime Minister by a less than formal reception ceremony, and sends him packing with a gift box of CDs, and then pleads in its defense it is frazzled and overworked, what is it then doing spending hours to focus on and demonize a talk show host?



Bottom Line

I’ve come rapidly to the point where I simply do not believe (cf. the claim that all those companies every thirty minutes are going broke due to the lack of federal health care) that what our President says is at all accurate. And worse have come to think that he knows it is not, and, worse still, knows that the media largely know too but will do their part as disciples must. In short, we are soon to see an end to things as they once were for the last quarter-century.

 

 

 

 

Article printed from Works and Days: http://pajamasmedia.com/victordavishanson

URL to article: http://pajamasmedia.com/victordavishanson/oh-what-a-debt/

URLs in this post:
[1] Florida: http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Florida
9928  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: March 09, 2009, 01:17:06 PM
"U.S. Hegemony Ends"   
By William R. Hawkins
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, March 09, 2009

The United States and the People’s Republic of China resumed military-to-military talks February 27-28 in Beijing. The tone of the Defense Policy Coordination Talks (DPCT) showed the same American desire to accommodate China’s rise to peer power status that was shown a week earlier by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trip to the Chinese capital.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense David Sedney, a hold over from the Bush Administration, led the U.S. delegation that included officials from the Defense Department, the State Department, the Pacific Command and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Among the Chinese participants were mid-level officers from the People’s Liberation Army, navy and air force as well as some civilians termed “military scholars.” Sedney held 13 hours of talks on Feb. 27 with a delegation led by Maj. Gen. Qian Lihua, the Chinese Defense Ministry's head of foreign affairs. A shorter meeting took place the next morning with Lt. Gen. Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the General Staff for the PLA.

This was the fifth meeting of the DPTT since its inception in 2005. China had suspended most military contacts last October over Washington's agreement to sell $6.5 billion in advanced weaponry to Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy that the mainland Communist regime claims is a renegade province. When Sedney journeyed to Beijing last December to ask that the DPCT meetings resume, he was turned down. China’s leaders were clearly waiting for the Obama Administration to take office.

Beijing took a hard line towards the talks. China’s state-run news agency Xinhua quoted Maj. Gen. Qian as saying that contacts would remain tenuous unless the U.S. removes remaining obstacles to improvement. “China-U.S. military relations still stay at a difficult period. We expect the U.S. side to take concrete measures for the resumption and development of our military ties,” said Qian.

The Obama administration seems in the mood to make concessions. After the DPCT meeting, Sedney told a news conference, “The focus was not at all on obstacles. The focus was on how we can move forward, how we can make progress, and how we can try to make joint efforts...to achieve common goals.” On major points, it was Beijing’s goals of expanding its influence in key regions that were advanced with American blessings.

Sedney thanked Beijing for hosting the Six Party Talks on North Korea, as had Secretary Clinton during her visit. Yet, two days before the DPCT, China had hosted a delegation from North Korea as part of the celebration of 2009 as the “Year of China-DPRK Friendship” marking 60 years of their alliance. Just as China sent the PLA to fight against the U.S.-led UN forces during the Korean War, China has used the Six Party Talks to diplomatically protect the Pyongyang regime from any concerted action that could endanger its rule. According to the official newspaper The People’s Daily, “Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), told a delegation from the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) that Sino-DPRK relations, fostered by leaders of older generations, had been continuously developed…but also looking into the future.”

Sedney praised China's contribution to the anti-piracy flotilla patrolling the Gulf of Aden off the Somali coast. Beijing sent two destroyers and a supply ship to the region in December. This naval deployment into the Indian Ocean marks a significant projection of Chinese influence towards East Africa where Beijing has been supporting the Sudan regime’s genocidal rule in exchange for control of its oil fields. The deployment also puts Chinese forces closer to the Persian Gulf and its ally Pakistan as tensions increase in Afghanistan and with India.

Sedney said he discussed possible Chinese contributions to non-military programs in Afghanistan. For what possible reason would the U.S. want to encourage any direct Chinese participation in Afghanistan? When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, China was working with the Taliban regime building its infrastructure and an air-defense system.

The Taliban was the creation of Pakistan in an attempt to conquer Afghanistan so as to cover its western flank in its confrontation with India to the east. China supported its ally because of its own strategic rivalry with India. As the U.S. has tried to exert more pressure on Islamabad to take action against Taliban sanctuaries on its soil, Beijing has stepped up its diplomatic support for Pakistan, along with investment funds and arms.

President Barack Obama warned Islamabad that it would he held accountable for security along the Pakistan-Afghan border on February 10. The next day, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi reaffirmed his country’s "all weather" alliance with China. Last October, newly elected Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari made as his first foreign trip a pilgrimage to Beijing. Just before he left, he told a press conference, "China is the future of the world. A strong China means a strong Pakistan.”

In a February 23 editorial, The People’s Daily addressed U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, with a focus on improving Pakistan’s position against India. “It is clear that without Pakistan's cooperation, the US cannot win the war on terror. Therefore, to safeguard its own interests in the fight against terrorism in South Asia, the US must ensure a stable domestic and international environment for Pakistan and ease the tension between Pakistan and India.” This means supporting Pakistan’s position on Kashmir, the Indian province against which Pakistan-based terrorists have operated for decades. India-Pakistan tensions have been high since the November 26 terrorist attacks in Mumbai which killed 179 people.

Afghanistan's foreign minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta said on January 21 that India and Afghanistan were both victims of terrorism. “Afghanistan believes there are some entities in our region that are using terrorism as a tool for foreign policy. We have to end this. We share your pain, the pain of the Indian people because Afghanistan is the victim of same terror with same sources," Spanta said after a meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Kabul.

China, of course, does not want the U.S. to take this view of the situation, as it would further what Beijing fears most; closer U.S.-Indian ties against a common threat from the Pakistani-Chinese alignment. The Chinese line is that Washington must support Pakistan against India in order to win Islamabad’s cooperation against the Taliban. This would isolate India, a primary goal of Chinese strategy. 

The editorial declared, “the US must make sure that Russia is appeased. The Central Asia region, where Afghanistan lies, used to be Russia's backyard. Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the US raised its anti-terrorism war banner to move deep into this region and revoked the color revolution in Kyrgyzstan. To Russia, all this feels just like a thorn in the flesh.” The editorial noted that Kyrgyzstan has expelled the U.S. from its Manas air base. 

So, again, why would the Obama administration want China to become more involved in Afghanistan? Larry Wortzel, Vice-Chairman of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a bipartisan panel of experts created by Congress, asked Sedney this question at a hearing on March 4. Sedney’s response was that the U.S-NATO mission in Afghanistan is short on resources, and the Chinese could help by providing economic assistance and expanded trade. The Chinese model of trade would not help the Afghans, and any economic assistance would be used to buy influence with government and tribal elites that would undermine American objectives. Inviting China into Afghanistan is an act of desperation that has not been thought through. 

The day after the Afghanistan editorial (and two days after Secretary Clinton left China), The People’s Daily ran another opinion piece entitled,” The U.S. Hegemony ends, the era of global multipolarity enters.” It started by reveling in the economic crisis that has swept America and “signals a swift reduction of U.S. strength as a unipolar power.” Its conclusion was stark. “Does the decline of U.S. geopolitical hegemony make multilateral global governance more likely? Perhaps it is still too early to rush any conclusion, but at least one thing is certain: the U.S. strength is declining at a speed so fantastic that it is far beyond anticipation. The U.S. is no longer 'King of the hill,' as a new phase of multipolar world power structure will come into being in 2009, and the international order will be correspondingly reshuffled.” 

The opening hands played by the Obama administration with China would indicate that Washington agrees with Beijing’s assessment.

William Hawkins is a consultant on international economics and national security issues.
9929  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: March 09, 2009, 12:52:54 PM
China knows that they can push Obamerica around. I wonder what the button Hillary gave them said....

Sorry Taiwan, Hong Kong. You are on your own now.
9930  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: March 09, 2009, 12:33:18 PM
Clinton Urges Continued Investment in U.S.
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 23, 2009; A12

BEIJING, Feb. 22 -- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday urged China to keep investing its substantial foreign-exchange reserves in U.S. Treasury securities, arguing that "we are truly going to rise or fall together."

China is the biggest foreign holder of U.S. debt, which helped finance the spending binge the United States went on before the current economic crisis. Some experts have expressed concern that China's substantial holding of U.S. debt gives it increased leverage in dealings with Washington because any halt in Chinese purchases would make it more difficult to finance the government bailout and stimulus packages.

Clinton, in unusually direct comments during an interview with China's Dragon TV before returning to Washington, said that reality made it an imperative for China to keep purchasing U.S. Treasury bonds, because otherwise the U.S. economy would not recover and China would suffer as well.

"Our economies are so intertwined," she said. "The Chinese know that in order to start exporting again to its biggest market . . . the United States has to take some drastic measures with the stimulus package. We have to incur more debt."

"The Chinese are recognizing our interconnection," Clinton added. "We are truly going to rise or fall together. By continuing to support American Treasury instruments, the Chinese are recognizing" that interconnection.

At a joint news conference with Clinton on Saturday, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi sidestepped a question about whether China was looking for alternative investments for its foreign exchange reserves. He said China looks for safety, good value and liquidity for its investments.

Treasury bonds are "a good investment [and] a safe investment," Clinton told the interviewer Sunday.
9931  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The PLAN probes Barry for signs of a spine on: March 09, 2009, 12:05:59 PM
http://www.nypost.com/php/pfriendly/print.php?url=http://www.nypost.com/seven/03092009/news/worldnews/pentagon__chinese_ships_harassing_us_ves_158763.htm

PENTAGON: CHINESE SHIPS HARASSING U.S. VESSELS
By CLEMENTE LISI


March 9, 2009 --
WASHINGTON - Five Chinese vessels "shadowed and aggressively maneuvered'' towards a US Navy ship in the South China Sea -- at one point closing to within 25 feet of the boat, the Pentagon said today.

The US ship was operated by a civilian crew under contract with the Defense Department.

The Chinese vessels "shadowed and aggressively maneuvered in dangerously close proximity" to the USS Impeccable, which was conducting routine operations Sunday in international waters, the Defense Department said.

The Defense Department identified the Chinese vessels as a Navy intelligence ship, a bureau of maritime fisheries patrol vessel, a state oceanographic administration boat and two other small patrol vessels.

Two Chinese vessels surrounded the Impeccable, while two closed to within 50 feet waving Chinese flags and telling the US Navy ship to leave at once. The Navy ship responded by spraying one of the vessels with its fire hoses, but the Chinese ship responded by closing in further to within 25 feet.

US officials said the Impeccable informed the Chinese ships by radio that it was leaving the area and requested a safe path to navigate. That's when two of the Chinese vessels stopped directly in front of the American ship and dropped pieces of wood in its path, according to the Defense Department.

The US ship was eventually allowed to leave.

"We will be certainly letting the Chinese officials know of our displeasure with respect to this careless and reckless, unprofessional ... maneuver," said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.

U.S. officials said a protest was to be delivered to Beijing's military attache at a Pentagon meeting today.

"The unprofessional maneuvers by Chinese vessels violated the requirement under international law to operate with due regard for the rights and safety of other lawful users of the ocean," said Marine Maj. Stewart Upton, a Pentagon spokesman.

The incident came just a week after China and the U.S. resumed military-to-military consultations following a five-month suspension over American arms sales to Taiwan.

It also comes as Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi is due in Washington this week to meet with U.S. officials.

And it brings to mind the first foreign policy crisis that former President George Bush suffered with Beijing shortly after he took office - China's forced landing of a spy plane and seizure of the crew in April of 2001.

The Pentagon said the incident came after several other incidents involving the Impeccable and another U.S. vessel Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

It described those as the following:

- On Wednesday, a Chinese Bureau of Fisheries Patrol vessel used a high-intensity spotlight to illuminate the entire length of the ocean surveillance ship USNS Victorious several times as it was operating in the Yellow Sea, about 125 nautical miles (231 kilometers) from China's coast, the Pentagon said, adding that the Chinese ship Victorious' bow at a range of about 1400 yards (1,280 meters) in darkness without notice or warning. The next day, a Chinese Y-12 maritime surveillance aircraft conducted 12 fly-bys of Victorious at an altitude of about 400 feet and a range of 500 yards. (457 meters)

- On Thursday, a Chinese frigate approached USNS Impeccable without warning and crossed its bow at a range of approximately 100 yards (91 meters), the Pentagon said. This was followed less than two hours later by a Chinese Y-12 aircraft conducting 11 fly-bys of Impeccable at an altitude of 600 feet (183 meters) and a range from 100-300 feet. The frigate then crossed Impeccable's bow yet again, this time at a range of approximately 400-500 yards (366 meters-457 meters) without rendering courtesy or notice of her intentions.

- On Saturday, a Chinese intelligence collection ship challenged USNS Impeccable over bridge-to-bridge radio, calling her operations illegal and directing Impeccable to leave the area or "suffer the consequences."

With Post wire services
9932  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What will Barry do? on: March 08, 2009, 08:28:46 PM
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D96Q4L200&show_article=1

N. Korea warns intercepting 'satellite' will prompt counterstrike+   

Mar 8 05:45 PM US/Eastern
                  
PYONGYANG/BEIJING, March 9 (AP) - (Kyodo)—North Korea warned Monday that any move to intercept what it calls a satellite launch and what other countries suspect may be a missile test-firing would result in a counterstrike against the countries trying to stop it.
"We will retaliate (over) any act of intercepting our satellite for peaceful purposes with prompt counterstrikes by the most powerful military means," the official Korean Central News Agency quoted a spokesman of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army as saying.

If countries such as the United States, Japan or South Korea try to intercept the launch, the North Korean military will carry out "a just retaliatory strike operation not only against all the interceptor means involved but against the strongholds" of the countries, it said.

"Shooting our satellite for peaceful purposes will precisely mean a war," it added.

North Korea earlier announced it is preparing to put a communications satellite into space, but outside observers suspect it may in fact be a test-firing of a long-range ballistic missile.

The United States, Japan and South Korea have said that even if Pyongyang calls the launch a missile test, it would violate existing U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The same North Korean statement said the country's military will cut off communications with its South Korean counterparts during the U.S.- South Korean exercises for the duration of the exercises beginning Monday.

A separate, more rare statement by the KPA's Supreme Command was quoted by the KCNA as saying that its soldiers are under orders to be "fully combat-ready" during U.S.-South Korean military exercises beginning Monday.

The North's armed forces have been ordered to "deal merciless retaliatory blows" should there be any intrusion "into the sky and land and seas of the DPRK even an inch."

DPRK stands for Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name.

North Korea has demanded a stop to this month's U.S.-South Korean exercises, and said earlier it cannot guarantee the security of South Korean civilian airplanes flying through its territorial airspace while they are under way.
9933  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gee, being president is HARD on: March 08, 2009, 08:18:19 PM
http://formerspook.blogspot.com/2009/03/scary-stuff-indeed.html

Sunday, March 08, 2009

"Overwhelmed"

From Jim Geraghty at NRO's Campaign Spot. Every new administration--and president--goes through an adjustment process, but this is ridiculous. Mr. Geraghty notes that President Obama is "overwhelmed" by the demands of his new office, as reported by the U.K. Telegraph:

Sources close to the White House say Mr Obama and his staff have been "overwhelmed" by the economic meltdown and have voiced concerns that the new president is not getting enough rest.

British officials, meanwhile, admit that the White House and US State Department staff were utterly bemused by complaints that the Prime Minister should have been granted full-blown press conference and a formal dinner, as has been customary. They concede that Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister.

But Washington figures with access to Mr Obama's inner circle explained the slight by saying that those high up in the administration have had little time to deal with international matters, let alone the diplomatic niceties of the special relationship.

Allies of Mr Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president's surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk.

Equally disconcerting, the Telegraph goes on to say that the commander-in-chief has failed to "even fake an interest in foreign policy." That assessment came from a Washington "insider" with close ties to the administration.

This account is troubling, on a couple of levels. First, in regard to Obama's meeting with Gordon Brown, there is no excuse for the diplomatic faux pas. Both the White House and the State Department have permanent, professional protocol staffs who work these events on a daily basis. If the Obama team was unsure of how to "handle" a meeting with a British Prime Minister, all they had to do was ask.

Apparently, no one did, since Mr. Brown was not afforded the press conference or formal dinner that normally accompany a U.S.-British summit. Additionally, protocol experts could have prevented the embarrassment over those cheesy DVDs given by Mr. Obama to the British leader.

More disturbing is the notion that Mr. Obama is exhausted by his new job--only two months after taking the oath of office. True, the president entered the Oval Office during trying times, but he is not the only chief executive to face such circumstances. FDR inherited the worst economy in U.S. history; Ronald Reagan faced a severe economic downturn and an expansionist Soviet Union; George W. Bush confronted the twin challenges of 9-11 and war only nine months into his administration.

While each man used different approaches in facing their respective crises, all had something in common. To our knowledge, none complained about the burdens of office so early in their tenure. Each man understood that such comments would do nothing to resolve the challenges they faced, or enhance their reputation as a leader.

To be fair, none of these complaints have come directly from President Obama. But the Telegraph's sources are well-placed, lending credence to their account. So, it's not hard to imagine a new president and administration discovering that governance is far harder than campaigning.

It also seems clear that Mr. Obama and his advisers are focused on the economy, at the expense of everything else. But we also recall a famous maxim from President George H.W. Bush, who observed that "what you don't know about domestic policy can prevent your re-election; what you don't know about foreign policy can get a lot of people killed."

As President Obama is about to discover, his sabbatical from international issues will soon come to an abrupt end, with potentially disastrous consequences. His recent decisions on Iraq and Afghanistan were comparatively easy, following courses already established by the Bush Administration.

Now comes the hard part. North Korea is about to launch a long-range ballistic missile over South Korean and/or Japanese territory. Will he order U.S. forces to shoot it down, or allow the test to proceed and (possibly) jeopardize relations with our most important regional allies?

Mr. Obama also faces tough choices on Iran. Recent assessments indicate that Iran has the material and the technical know-how to build an atomic bomb within the next two years. Does he stick with the diplomatic track--despite years of failure--consider U.S. military options, or give Israel a green light to strike Iran's nuclear facilities?

But the list of potential crises doesn't end there. Is the administration prepared for a possible energy crises, in response to the Iranian nuclear issue, or as a separate issue? With oil still trading below $50 a barrel, countries like Venezuela, Iran and Russia would welcome a run-up in prices, generating billions more for their economies. Iran in particular could "manufacture" a crisis, leading to months of higher oil prices, at a time when our economy can least afford it.

If Mr. Obama is already overwhelmed by the requirements of his office, just wait a few months. His learning curve is just beginning.
9934  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why Israel can't negotiate peace on: March 08, 2009, 04:08:48 PM
http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/2009/03/025130print.html

March 6, 2009

Egyptian cleric: The Jews "are enemies not because they occupied Palestine. They would have been enemies even if they did not occupy a thing."

They keep telling us that it isn't about "stolen land," and that land concessions and even the creation of a Palestinian state will not end the conflict. And we keep refusing to believe it.

"Egyptian Cleric Muhammad Hussein Ya’qoub: The Jews Are the Enemies of Muslims Regardless of the Occupation of Palestine," from MEMRI TV, January 17 (just posted), with thanks to Sr. Soph:

Following are excerpts from a speech delivered by Egyptian cleric Muhammad Hussein Ya’qoub, which aired on Al-Rahma TV on January 17, 2009.
Muhammad Hussein Ya’qoub: If the Jews left Palestine to us, would we start loving them? Of course not. We will never love them. Absolutely not. The Jews are infidels – not because I say so, and not because they are killing Muslims, but because Allah said: “The Jews say that Uzair is the son of Allah, and the Christians say that Christ is the son of Allah. These are the words from their mouths. They imitate the sayings of the disbelievers before. May Allah fight them. How deluded they are.” It is Allah who said that they are infidels.

That's Qur'an 9:30.

Your belief regarding the Jews should be, first, that they are infidels, and second, that they are enemies. They are enemies not because they occupied Palestine. They would have been enemies even if they did not occupy a thing. Allah said: “You shall find the strongest men in enmity to the disbelievers [sic] to be the Jews and the polytheists.”
Qur'an 5:82.

Third, you must believe that the Jews will never stop fighting and killing us. They [fight] not for the sake of land and security, as they claim, but for the sake of their religion: “And they will not cease fighting you until they turn you back you’re your religion, if they can.”
Qur'an 2:217.

This is it. We must believe that our fighting with the Jews is eternal, and it will not end until the final battle – and this is the fourth point. You must believe that we will fight, defeat, and annihilate them, until not a single Jew remains on the face of the Earth.
It is not me who says so. The Prophet said: “Judgment Day will not come until you fight the Jews and kill them. The Jews will hide behind stones and trees, and the stones and tree will call: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him – except for the Gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews.” I have heard that they are planting many of these trees now. [...]

That Hadith can be found at Sahih Muslim 6985.

As for you Jews – the curse of Allah upon you. The curse of Allah upon you, whose ancestors were apes and pigs.
That's Qur'an 2:62-65; 5:59-60; and 7:166.

You Jews have sown hatred in our hearts, and we have bequeathed it to our children and grandchildren. You will not survive as long as a single one of us remains.
[...]

Oh Jews, may the curse of Allah be upon you. Oh Jews... Oh Allah, bring Your wrath, punishment, and torment down upon them. Allah, we pray that you transform them again, and make the Muslims rejoice again in seeing them as apes and pigs. You pigs of the earth! You pigs of the earth! You kill the Muslims with that cold pig [blood] of yours.

And now the learned analysts will turn to one another and repeat once again that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has nothing to do with theology, nothing to do with Islam.
9935  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Strangely Silent on: March 08, 2009, 03:48:53 PM
I have certainly been one of the chief defenders of President  Obama's relationship to Israel here so  it it would be inconsistent  not to criticize him when there  is cause. 

**Agreed.**

I am deeply disturbed by recent comments from the Hill especially some of Hillary Clinton's comments(clearly  a member of the Obama administration so he would bear the blame as well) Taking to Iran is useless.

**Yup.**

I am not a fan of giving Hamas money  and I fully support  Shelley Berkley wanting to put conditions on the money

**How about NO MONEY? Would you give money to fund a local KKK chapter, hoping it would moderate their hatred?**
 
However  addressing your complaints about President  Obama giving the Palestinians money. Do you really think Senator  McCain would have watched the Palestinians starve to death on the front page on the NYT?

**I gurantee that the "Palestinians" would not starve if we didn't so much as one cent.**

It is a politically untenable situation.  The fact that it would  be better if we didn't hear about Palestinians is a different story.  No one deserves to starve to death but I would  put those who didn't provide so much  succor to mass murder higher  on the list to help. Gaza is a  million welfare victims who do  you think has been paying for them all along. I notice you specifically didn't mention Israeli aid is being doubled.  Do you really expect Obama to be to the right of Aipac and JPOST on Aid?


**I expect Obama to look out for our (America's) best interests. Funding HAMAS isn't part of that.**

When the conversation is intelligent, respectful, and about ideas I actually really  enjoy arguing. I would have picked another site if I was  always  looking for agreement.  I think arguing about ideas gives them a strength that agreeing about ideas does not.  It does get exhausting though.  Thank you all for many intelligent conversations.
 
However, Lately  for a variety of reasons that  I am not interested in discussing further  every time I visit this forum I have a negative response. Every time I go to post all I seem capable of writing is snarky comments or a harangue. I deleted these kind of  comments before they were posted.  I'm sure you all  could handle my negatively but that is not the person I want to be.    Normally when I get upset I calm down eventually.  However it has been  over a month and I haven't calmed down. If and when  I feel capable of posting like a reasonable human being I will return.   I will be taking a vacation until then. I have a lot of reading  and other projects I want to catch up  on anyway.  This forum needs to enhance and not detract from the rest of my life. As Long as it is still being read  I will continue to post in in  The Power of the Word Thread.

I  do understand that I started   lot of these fights and I didn't mean to start fights I couldn't handle. I apologize for that and for any pain any  my comment caused to anyone.    I am not looking to stir up  trouble right now.  I am NOT fishing for compliments or looking to be persuaded. Usually reasoning with a crazy person doesn't work anyway. I had  originally planned on just doing a slow fade out but I am fan of closure. My Mother refers to this  place as the forum I can't leave so....

Best Wishes,
Rachel

**I look forward to your return when you are ready.**
9936  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 08, 2009, 10:30:49 AM
Amazing how quiet the Obots are these days. The kool-aid must be getting bitter.
9937  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 08, 2009, 10:28:05 AM
- Pajamas Media - http://pajamasmedia.com -

Obama Just Doesn’t Get It
Posted By Jennifer Rubin On March 8, 2009 @ 12:03 am In . Feature 01, . Positioning, Politics | 24 Comments

George W. Bush, his critics said, was isolated and unaware of how badly things were going in Iraq. He was caught up in a messianic vision to bring democracy to the Middle East. Meanwhile, he stubbornly clung to grandiose domestic policy proposals (e.g., social security reform and immigration reform) when the timing was simply not right. Some of that has been disproved by subsequent events (e.g., we did bring democracy to Iraq) or revelations about his own intimate involvement in reworking a failing Iraq strategy. But the image remained of an isolated and out-of-touch president.

As queasy as it might make us feel, we might consider that we have gone from the frying pan into the fire. Obama does not perceive things are substantially worse or that his “strategy” is failing. He also seems to have the timing terribly off as he discusses an onslaught of taxes and regulation while the economy is staggering. And to make matters worse we have no General Petraeus to help guide us back from the brink of ruin. We have instead Tim Geithner.

In a [1] brilliant posting, small business owner Jim Prevor makes clear that the president is frightfully oblivious to the real world impact of the stock market crash on the lives of ordinary Americans (and hence on our prospects for recovery). Prevor explains:

Every stock market investor quickly learns that the math of markets is forbidding. After all, if stock prices go down by 50 percent, they have to rally by 100 percent to get one back to even.

Yet this doesn’t begin to explain the problem. In political polling, all’s well that ends well. But this is most decidedly not true in the stock market.

If a family needs $25,000 to pay tuition and it sells stocks to raise the money, that money is not available to benefit from any future upswing in market values. So even if Obama orchestrates a miraculous rebound, countless millions of people will have been permanently hurt.

And for individuals and businesses who tried to use prudent margin, Obama seems oblivious to people sitting at their desks desperately trying to navigate not only margin calls but announcements that their brokerage firm has decided the maintenance requirement on certain stocks has been raised and, suddenly, people have to sell anything of quality because they need to raise cash. They get stuck with illiquid portfolios and the selling pressure on anything of quality is immense.

These people and businesses are wiped out, whatever the long term effect of the President’s policies.

And yet the president flicks away the real world news, while his supporters point to poll numbers. That’s right– we have 8.1% unemployment and a stock market crash; they take refuge in a popularity poll more than three and half years before the president would again face the voters. (To its credit the Bush team never boasted about polls numbers or showed much concern when their fortunes changed.) And in their spare time they devise a juvenille plot to attack a radio talk show host.

Rather than ruminating on the worsening economy, Obama is cheered by polls and fixated on redesigning America. The cratering economy doesn’t give him pause. Instead it encourages him to speed up before the voters catch up with him.

And he seems intent on running  “victory laps” over the stimulus bill passed weeks ago. Surely [2] campaign-style events touting his handiwork don’t do much to improve the economic outlook going forward. And his cheesy [3] recovery logo only reinforces the sense that he is obsessed with garnering credit, keeping his poll numbers high and reinforcing awareness of government’s growing presence in citizens’ lives. None of this has much to do with improving the climate for job development, economic growth and private sector confidence.

Defenders of the president dismiss the notion that Obama’s policies and rhetoric are in any way responsible for our current plight. It happened on Bush’s watch! Of course it did.  But they misstate their opponents’ criticism — another straw man in a growing army of them. The question is not whether Obama caused the recession, but whether he is making it worse. Even the [4] AP spots the fallacy of the Obama administration’s defense: “Although the administration likes to say it ‘inherited’ the recession and trillion-dollar deficits, the economic wreckage has worsened on Obama’s still-young watch.”  And it is simply folly to deny that the devastation of wealth in the stock market has made things worse and further unnerved Americans. The stock market crash is the greatest anti-stimulus development of his presidency. Obviously, consumers and homeowners feel even less financially secure than they did when the Dow was 3000 points higher.

[5] Donald Luskin writes:

What will our world look like when President Obama “reforms” health care by nationalizing it given that it represents about one sixth of U.S. economic activity (and the part that’s still working)? What will happen to the cost and availability of electricity when he puts in place a “cap-and-trade” tax on carbon emissions? What will happen to Wall Street when taxes are raised on hedge fund and private-equity managers? What will happen to all of us when all our taxes go up and our deductions go down?

I have a pretty decent idea that none of that will lead to anything good at least not economically. You may disagree. But can’t we at least agree that President Obama is stirring the pot by ramming all these things through now, at a time when he ought to be calming things down so we can all catch our breath and the economy can get back on its feet?

Perhaps if the Treasury Department was fully staffed or if Paul Volker was not apparently banished to an undisclosed location, the president might have a better grip on why his anti-business, anti-wealth-creating policies and rhetoric have sent the markets skidding. Maybe if the national press were less invested in his New Deal II vision, he would confront daily criticisms and aggressive questioning about his schemes. And if he spent more time talking to agitated wealth creators, investors, retirees and middle class parents and less time at photo-ops and campaign-style rallies with handpicked fans, he might internalize what it means to lose half or more of your retirement or college fund.

But on he strides, into the Brave New World of a government-directed economy. (Incidentally, if Tim Geithner is not the best advertisement for limited government I don’t know what is.) And the scariest part of the first six weeks of this administration? The realization that, contrary to his defensive remark in his joint address to Congress, he really doesn’t “get it.”

Article printed from Pajamas Media: http://pajamasmedia.com

URL to article: http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/obama-just-doesnt-get-it/

URLs in this post:
[1] brilliant posting: http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2009/03/when_it_comes_to_real_life_exp.asp
[2] campaign-style events: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/rubin/57672
[3] recovery logo: http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2009/03/04/stimulus-logo-branding-the-us-recovery/
[4] AP: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090307/ap_on_an/the_obama_economy_analysis_1
[5] Donald Luskin: http://www.smartmoney.com/Investing/Economy/Even-Worse-Than-the-Great-Depression
9938  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: March 08, 2009, 10:10:44 AM
http://formerspook.blogspot.com/2009/03/airliner-threat.html

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Airliner Threat

It its latest attempt at sabre-rattling, North Korea has threatened to shoot down a South Korean airliner during next week's exercises between ROK military forces and their American counterparts.

Reuters has the warning, issued by the official Korean Central News Agency:

"Security cannot be guaranteed for South Korean civil airplanes flying through the territorial air of our side and its vicinity ... above the East Sea of Korea (Sea of Japan) in particular, while the military exercises are under way," the North's KCNA news agency quoted a statement from a government official as saying.

In response, South Korean airlines have announced plans to re-route flights approaching Seoul from the east, placing them farther away from North Korean territory. Singapore Airlines, which also operates a number of flights into and out of Seoul, has adopted a similar policy. Other carriers, including Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Air China, said they have no plans to alter their flight routes.

There was no word from U.S. carriers that service South Korean destinations, including Northwest Airlines and United.

Pyongyang's warning is almost certainly a prelude to the expected launch of a Tapeodong-2 long-range missile, now being prepared at a test site on North Korea's east coast. DPRK officials claim the rocket will be used to put a satellite into orbit, but western analysts dispute that statement. There were no signs of a satellite deployment during previous TD-2 launches in 1998 and 2006. Intelligence officials in the U.S., Japan and South Korea believe the launch is nothing more than a test of the extended-range missile, capable of hitting U.S. territory throughout the Pacific.

North Korea is expected to announce a "closure area" for air and naval traffic in preparation for the test. The restricted area may extended into commercial air corridors over the Sea of Japan --the same routes used by airliners flying into Seoul from the east. However, the launch of a single missile, from a location on the North Korean coast, would pose a minimal threat to commercial air traffic.

But the warning statement--and anticipated closure area--will achieve an important goal: minimizing air traffic over the Sea of Japan during the upcoming missile test. That will make it for North Korean air defenses to keep tabs on U.S. platforms expected to monitor the launch, namely the RC-135S "Cobra Ball," and the RC-135V/W "Rivet Joint."

Cobra Ball is a dedicated Measures and Signatures Intelligence (MASINT) aircraft, configured to track ballistic missile flights at long range. Normally based at Offut AFB, Nebraska, at least one RC-135S will be deployed to Kadena AB, Japan in preparation for the North Korean test. Rivet Joint is a dedicated SIGINT platform, used to monitor enemy communications and threat emitters, providing additional threat warning to Cobra Ball and other allied assets.

Indeed, the greatest risk to our reconnaissance platforms--and commercial airliners--comes from North Korean fighters and long-range surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), not the TD-2. The DPRK maintains a number of older fighters, mostly MiG-21s and MiG-19s, on alert at bases on it eastern coast. While both have limited ranges, they could (potentially) intercept an RC-135 operating within 150 NM of the DPRK coastline, or a commercial jet approaching ROK airspace.

A second threat comes from the aging SA-5 "Gammon" SAM system, purchased from Russia more than 20 years ago. North Korea has two SA-5 complexes, located an Ongo-dak and Tokchae-san. Together, they provide overlapping coverage of the eastern coast, and airspace south of the DMZ. With a range of at least 150 NM, the SA-5 is optimized for engagements against large, non-maneuvering targets like reconnaissance aircraft and commercial airliners.

In response, Washington and Seoul should make it very clear that any provocative move by Pyongyang will result in a strong military response. The U.S. and South Korea have a variety of assets that could target the SA-5 sites and airfields housing MiG-21s and MiG-19s. If North Korea sends its fighters on an intercept mission, they should be shot down. If one of the SA-5 complexes "paints" a recce flight or an airliner, the site will be hit with an ATACMS, anti-radiation missiles, cruise missiles or a combination of those weapons.

It's no accident that North Korea has grown increasingly bold in its provocations toward the U.S. and our allies in the Far East. Sensing weakness and indecision in the Obama Administration, Kim Jong-il is quite willing to test the limits of our patience--and response options.

Less than two months into Mr. Obama's term, Pyongyang has announced plans to launch another TD-2 (on a flight path that may carry it over Japan); vowed military against South Korea, and threatened to disrupt commercial air service along busy east Asia corridors.

The U.S. response? Nothing more than mild diplomatic warnings. No wonder Mr. Kim is feeling his oats.
9939  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gee, being president is HARD on: March 07, 2009, 06:20:19 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/03/07/great-news-obama-fumbled-brown-visit-because-hes-in-over-his-head/comment-page-1/#comments

Great news: Obama fumbled Brown visit because he’s in over his head
posted at 4:19 pm on March 7, 2009 by Ed Morrissey   


After insulting Gordon Brown during the British prime minister’s visit this week by ignoring protocol and cheaping out on the traditional gift exchange, the UK media has erupted in outrage.  The Obama White House has now started to recognize the firestorm the new President created with our closest ally, and wants to assure the Brits that he meant no disrespect.  Instead, Obama apparently wants to assure them that he’s simply in over his head and floundering (via Radio Equalizer):

Sources close to the White House say Mr Obama and his staff have been “overwhelmed” by the economic meltdown and have voiced concerns that the new president is not getting enough rest.

British officials, meanwhile, admit that the White House and US State Department staff were utterly bemused by complaints that the Prime Minister should have been granted full-blown press conference and a formal dinner, as has been customary. They concede that Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister. …

Allies of Mr Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president’s surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk.

A well-connected Washington figure, who is close to members of Mr Obama’s inner circle, expressed concern that Mr Obama had failed so far to “even fake an interest in foreign policy”. …

The American source said: “Obama is overwhelmed. There is a zero sum tension between his ability to attend to the economic issues and his ability to be a proactive sculptor of the national security agenda.

“That was the gamble these guys made at the front end of this presidency and I think they’re finding it a hard thing to do everything.”


I’m not sure which is worse.  At least if he meant to snub Brown, it would suggest a certain competence at this brand of diplomacy.  Instead, we’re told that the Obama White House and their staff are just a bunch of incompetents who got in over their heads.

Which is, of course, the point we made continuously over the last two years.
9940  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 07, 2009, 12:27:16 PM
- Works and Days - http://pajamasmedia.com/victordavishanson -

Obamafusion
Posted By Victor Davis Hanson On March 6, 2009 @ 12:02 am In Uncategorized | 58 Comments

Why is Wall Street Worried?—Let us count the ways.

1) The proverbial Wall Street capitalists believe that, with new federal income tax rates, the removal of FICA ceilings, increases in capital gains rates, decreases in deductions, and simultaneous tax raises, not only will Obama remove incentives for innovation and productivity, but that he does not seem to care about—or perhaps appreciate—he consequences?

2) On the spending side, investors see too many subsidies and entitlements that may Europeanize the populace and erode incentives, while creating so much debt that in the next decade, should interest rates rise, the federal budget will be consumed with servicing borrowing and entitlement obligations. A redistributive economy in which government ensures an equality of result is Wall Street’s worst nightmare. Debt can only be paid back by floating more foreign debt, issuing more US bonds at home, raising taxes, or printing money—all bad options in the mind of the investor.

3) Too many are beginning to think Obama is, well, a naïf—and hence dangerous. He chest-thumps speeches Geithner cannot deliver. He says we are near the Great Depression—but then, after the stimulus package passes, suddenly hypes future growth rates to suggest that we will be out a recession, soon after all? Add in all the talk of high-tax, Al-Gorist cap-in-trade, wind and solar, socialized medicine in the midst of a financial crisis, and at best Obama comes across as confused and herky-jerky, and at worse, clueless on the economy—as if a Chicago organizer is organizing a multi-trillion-dollar economy. Talking about ‘gyrations’ and confusion about profits and earnings, and offering ad hoc advice about investing do not restore authority.

`4) Given the amount of debt the US is incurring (and the decades needed to pay it off), given the loose talk about the ‘rich’, and given the rumors about nationalization, investors are unsure whether the United States will remain a safe haven for investment, or even offer a climate for profit-making, since it would either be taxed to the point of seizure, or its beneficiaries would be culturally and socially demonized. Ultimately perhaps some will accept that as the price of doing business in a socialist US, but for now it creates doubt. This is not a defense of Wall Street (a year ago Richard Fuld and Robert Rubin were our Zeuses on Olympus who strutted like gods), simply a warning that we are going from excess to stasis, and the cure will be as bad as or worse than the disease.

5) Uncertainty. Who is now our Commerce Secretary? Which cowards is the Attorney General talking about? What did Geithner mean about pernicious oil and gas companies? What is with this Solis, and card check? How hard is it to ensure a Richardson or Daschle is clean? In other words, market watchers see after five weeks chaos, and think there is no sure and steady paradigm in which they can make careful business decisions and anticipate with some surety future risk.

So the perfect storm forms, and millions of individuals come to millions of identical conclusions: “Cut your losses with these guys, and get your cash out before it gets worse” rather than “Wow, what bargains! I gotta get in before the window of profit opportunity closes.”

But is there an alternative?

Do Republicans offer an antithesis? Can they explain the Bush deficits and take responsibility for them, as well as the Republican congressional creepiness from 2002-06 (Craig, Stevens, Cunningham, Foley, etc)? And most importantly, will they offer counterproposals—a stimulus much smaller, mixtures of loan guarantees, tax cuts, and (some) public works alone, coupled with spending caps as soon as GDP growth returns? Can they articulate how the market corrected, say, in 1980-3, without our government going socialist? Can we get a plan not merely to balance the budget, but to pay off the debt? If not, legitimate criticisms of Obama fall on deaf ears without some positive alternative.


Obamania

The rants of Sec. Geithner about oil and gas companies and global warming were quite unusual. Does he grasp that the transition to his solar and wind nirvana requires some rather tough hombres working tonight on rigs in the Gulf, and some brave engineers driving a Jeep in a Libya or out in the Kuwaiti desert looking for more oil, or some poor fellow freezing out in the Arctic Circle so that Mr. Geithner can be driven in his government limo to the hearings? Solar panels do not power the President’s chopper—yet. And Hillary flew to the Middle East on fossil fuel engines not via clipper ship.

Meanwhile, note that the campaign flip-flop positions of supporting off-shore drilling, nuclear, shale oil, and coal, are now insidiously back to the original positions of ‘no—maybe’.

The Utopian Ranters

Energy Secretary Chu ranted that we warmed up the planet so Californians must the pay the price by seeing their farms dry up and blow away. Attorney General finger pointed and labeled us “cowards.” So why the attack on oil companies by Geithner—and why these lectures about our supposed racism and environmental crimes? What deep psychological need does it fulfill for a Holder, our first African-American AG, to blast us as cowardly racists, or why does an elite like Geithner think fossil fuels are not the linchpin that our economy still for a bit hinges upon? They all need to go back to work, ensure the debt is paid down, and quiet down the Harvard Yard sermons.

The Worst of Both Worlds

There is much talk about Obama merely returning to the tax rates of the Clinton administration. But that is misleading for two unfortunate reasons: (1) Clinton did not tamper with FICA ceilings and other deductions in addition to the income tax hikes; (2) he had spending limits imposed by the post 1994-Congress, so at least his income tax increases led to a balanced budget. But Obama is not only raising taxes far higher in aggregate than did Clinton with the present trillion-some spending hikes, but ensuring that we will still end up with astronomical deficits. So we get the tax hikes of Clinton—but without the balanced budgets; and we get far higher deficits than under Bush—but sans the tax cuts.

Fear of Government–Part Two.

Last week I wrote of my encounters with municipal garbage trucks spewing garbage, and city bus drivers doing rolling stops into the cross walk, one hand with cigarette, one hand with cell phone—as a reflection of the old Roman worry “Who will police the police?”

In a world of government employees there is no real redress of grievances, but real difficulty of accountability (what government employee fines the government-employed bus driver for violating state law concerning driving while on a cell phone?). My latest example was Thursday afternoon.

As I drove out of the parking lot of the San Jose parking lot, of the six exit pay stations, only one was open. But at the window, a city tractor and a city pick-up were parked and idled blocking the exit. The drivers were both out and talking to the parking attendant about their “lost” ticket. After watching them all nonchalantly talk—joined by the other parking attendant with his booth closed on “break”—I got out and asked the four ‘what’s up’?

You know what followed—abuse, yelling, ‘how dare you question us!’, etc. A number of backed-up drivers like me now got out and were yelling back, and finally the city employees moved through and unblocked the exit while the idle attendant ran back to open a second station to handle the irate idling cars. Total elapsed time? 24 minutes of waiting. Imagine four employees blocking the only way out the San Jose parking lot, while cars line up, their drivers watching the four josh around and apparently laugh at the fee-paying customers.

I had nightmares that this is what the new 40% government GDP USA will look like by 2012—$20 trillion now in aggregate debt to ensure a nation of city-employees lounging around the toll booth, while cars line up and drivers cool their heels. No success, no failure, no stress, no calm—just endless existence.

Article printed from Works and Days: http://pajamasmedia.com/victordavishanson

URL to article: http://pajamasmedia.com/victordavishanson/obamafusion/

9941  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 07, 2009, 12:15:13 PM
http://michellemalkin.com/2009/03/05/the-steve-urkel-ization-of-the-economy/

Now I know who he reminds me of....
9942  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Imagine the outrage if Bush had done this.... on: March 06, 2009, 11:21:05 PM
http://ace.mu.nu/archives/283816.php

March 05, 2009
Beware Obama's Bearing Gifts (Part 2)
I fear this may become a continuing series. Which would suck, because I really don't like thinking about the Obamas.

However, the President has now given British Prime Minister Gordon Brown a gift to commemorate his visit to America. You will recall that lat night I wrote about the craptacular response of Michelle "The Klingon with Klass" Obama to the gifts her children received from the Browns.

But before I reveal the President's gift, let's review what he received from PM Brown so that a little perspective can be had:

Mr Brown's gifts included an ornamental desk pen holder made from the oak timbers of Victorian anti-slaver HMS Gannet, once named HMS President.
Mr Obama was so delighted he has already put it in pride of place in the Oval Office on the Resolute desk which was carved from timbers of Gannet's sister ship, HMS Resolute.

Another treasure given to the U.S. President was the framed commission for HMS Resolute, a vessel that came to symbolise Anglo-US peace when it was saved from ice packs by Americans and given to Queen Victoria.

Finally, Mr Brown gave a first edition set of the seven-volume classic biography of Churchill by Sir Martin Gilbert.

Those are classy gifts, and fully uphold the spirit of the US/UK special relationship. They are tasteful and, in the particular case of the pen made from the anti-slaver ship HMS Gannet, imbued with additional symbolic meaning that elevates them to a status in which one would not be surprised to find it on prominent display in the National Archives or in the Obama Presidential Library (opening, January 2013 with any luck).

So how did "Smart Diplomat in Chief" reciprocate? Did he, perhaps, have a pen forged out of the remnants of a M4-Sherman to commemorate the Patton-Montgomery deliverance of North Africa from Nazi control?

No, no, no. You see, that would take thought, and it isn't something you can just pick up on the spur of the moment at the White House Gift Shop. So what did our Boy President Barry give the Brits? What vestige of Americana will Gordon Brown receive on behalf of the British people to commemorate Brown's historic meeting with the American President?

Gordon Brown has been given a collection of 25 classic American films on DVD as his official gift from Barack Obama.
I think I'd ask for the pen back. But that's just me. The Brits, stiff upper lip and all, are much more guarded in their response.

No 10 had tried to keep the present a secret, refusing to answer reporters who asked what President Obama had given to mark the reaffirmation of the special relationship.
However, the Evening Standard discovered the truth through White House insiders.

One reason for the secrecy might be that the gift seems markedly less generous and thoughtful than the presents taken to Washington by the Prime Minister.

You don't say.

Just out of curiosity, I decided to take a guess at some of the movies that might be included in the DVD set, so I could figure out just how benevolent the Obama's were.

Let's see. How about the Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind and Casablanca?

You can buy a Wizard of Oz DVD for $2-$8 dollars online.

You can snag a copy of Gone With the Wind for $3.99 online.

And Casablanca (which you know is in there because it translates to "White House" and Obama can get in a plug for himself) will set you back $3.99 as well.

On the other hand, maybe it's just 25 Blaxpoitation films starring Jim Brown and Pam Grier. Who the hell knows?

(1974's "Foxy Brown" sells for $10.98 by the way. It might actually be less embarrassing if the Obamas did give the British PM 25 Blaxploitation films!)

In any event, I suppose that, as opposed to some lousy pen carved from the timbers of an anti-slaver ship, DVD's are fun for the whole family! Brown could always give them to the BBC to supplement their late night lineup perhaps. Think outside the box, people!

I'm gonna miss England when the Muslims take it over. My only solace is that I bet the British are saying the same thing about the United States.
9943  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 06, 2009, 08:22:24 PM
Oh yeah, all kinds of looting is going on with our "bailout" money.
9944  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: March 06, 2009, 06:31:29 PM
Why wait, let's get rid of free market supermarkets and have government run food centers instead! I'm sure that'll work just as well as Obamacare.
9945  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: March 06, 2009, 05:38:27 PM
March 6, 2009

Banana Republic, U.S.A
By Thomas E. Woods, Jr.   
Barack Obama is already making the Clinton and Bush years seem like the good old days.

Close to a trillion dollars are being tossed around in a "stimulus" package that no one in his right mind-and I do not here include the mainstream of the economics profession, which has disgraced itself in this crisis-expects to bring about recovery. Economist Robert Wenzel rightly describes the stimulus as "just the insiders raiding the till while there is still money in it." Trillions of dollars are likewise being thrown at financial institutions that (if we actually believe in the free market) richly deserve to go bankrupt. Nationalization of the banks is being openly discussed-an outcome our rulers assure us they would undertake only as a last resort, deploring every minute of it, and only for our own good.

We are learning what it is like to live in an Orwell novel. Our television screens are filled with people offering choices between idiotic and suicidal option A and idiotic and suicidal option B. We are being told that we must at least partially nationalize our banks, prop up zombie companies, lower interest rates to zero, and pass stimulus packages in order to escape the fate of Japan-which, um, partially nationalized its banks, propped up zombie companies, lowered interest rates to zero, and passed eight stimulus packages. We have a president who tells us we cannot rely on the free market to get us out of this mess because the free market is what got us here, as if the Federal Reserve and its bubble-inducing monetary policy never existed.

F. A. Hayek won the Nobel Prize in 1974 for showing how central bank manipulation of interest rates gives rise to the kind of boom-bust cycle we are experiencing now, and that such phenomena are not caused by the unhampered market. If by some miracle you manage to hear this point of view on television, it will be sandwiched between hours and hours of Keynesian droning.

Of course, the rationale we're being given for the insanity is that these are crisis times, and the usual rules go out the window. That's what Paul Krugman means when he speaks of "depression economics"-a special set of economic principles come into play in times like this that differ radically from those we would abide by under normal conditions. And so we see once again why Keynesian economics swept the board so successfully: it tells the regime just what it wants to hear. It provides intellectual cover for the expansion of government power and the seizure of private property that state officials want to engage in anyway.

"Never allow a crisis to go to waste," said chief of staff and former Freddie Mac board member Rahm Emmanuel. He needn't worry. The Keynesian economists who suddenly dominate public life in America, years after everyone else assumed Keynes and his fallacies were long dead and buried, will weave every apologia under the sun for whatever activity Emmanuel and the president he serves choose to undertake. The all-purpose pretext is ready at hand: why, we've got to do something about this terrible crisis.

Indeed we should do something-but, as usual, it's exactly the opposite of what the federal government intends to do. We should cut the government's budget as drastically as possible, thereby releasing resources for use by the productive sector. (That worked pretty well in stopping the terrible depression of 1920-21.) We should stop the Fed from interfering in the recovery process. We should let the private economy sort out which activities undertaken during the artificial Greenspan boom are genuine wealth-generating activities and which are wealth-destroying bubble activities. The latter should be promptly liquidated so their resources can be better employed by the former.

Meanwhile, we still have some conservatives, frozen in the 1980s, calling for reductions in marginal income tax rates, among other feckless suggestions. Tax reductions are desirable, to be sure, but the crisis we are facing is a systemic one that is not going to be fixed by marginal changes here and there. We need to start talking big changes. We need to open up questions the regime has long since considered closed. We need to talk about the monetary system, the Fed, entitlements, and much else.

In other words, if the Left can advocate $1 trillion-plus annual deficits as far as the eye can see, why can't supporters of the free market be equally bold in the opposite direction?

Conservatives' rediscovery of government frugality has been a refreshing thing to behold. The important thing now is for conservative intellectuals to be sure they know sound economics. For instance, the problem with the stimulus package isn't the "pork," however evil, stupid, and counterproductive it surely is. The problem is the Keynesian nonsense on which the very idea of "fiscal stimulus" is based. The problem is the mistaken view that "spending" is what the economy needs now, and that all our efforts must be expended on ways to revive consumer spending and borrowing.

The president has unveiled a program to help troubled homeowners make their mortgage payments and stay in their homes. He is going to encounter the same problem Charles Murray identified in the mid-1980s in his book Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950-1980. There Murray famously argued that poverty persisted in the United States not in spite of anti-poverty programs, but because of them. Before evaluating the empirical evidence, though, Murray first explained why, from a theoretical point of view, we should in fact expect this perhaps counterintuitive result.

Murray challenged his readers to devise a social program that would not cause net harm. He gave the example of a government program aimed at discouraging smoking. I can't reproduce his whole argument here, which is quite lengthy, but his point is that the reward the government offers for people who quit has to be substantial enough to persuade them to go to the trouble of quitting, but not so substantial as to encourage nonsmokers to start smoking. Just as Murray says, this task turns out to be borderline impossible. It is especially difficult when the program in question makes it more desirable to be out of work. Given man's inclination to acquire wealth with the least possible exertion, such programs threaten to drag additional people into a cycle of dependency that mankind's inclination to sloth will only reinforce over time.

For similar reasons, every attempt to solve the problems caused by a housing bubble that the Fed should not have blown up in the first place, such as the proposed measures for mortgage relief, will exacerbate the problems, thereby leading to still more government intervention, in the very pattern Ludwig von Mises identified in his famous essay "Middle-of-the-Road Policy Leads to Socialism." That is the fallacy in the usual statement that "it would cost only $X billion to give every American who needs it" this or that benefit. Once people realize the government is giving out a benefit for free, more and more people will place themselves in the condition that entitles them to the benefit, thereby making the program ever more expensive.

The best outcome I can see is that under Obama the United States will experience the kind of economic stagnation that is now routine in Western Europe, with high unemployment and sluggish (if any) growth, and people standing around pretending not to know what could be causing it. A smaller and smaller core of productive firms and individuals will be expected to support a larger and larger demand for bailouts and other corporate and individual welfare. Who is John Galt, indeed.

The worst outcome, which we cannot dismiss out of hand, is a hyperinflationary destruction of the currency or, barring that, the reduction of America to banana-republic conditions.

Regardless of which of these outcomes actually occurs, the Obama administration will have moved the country farther away from a market economy than it has ever been in peacetime (barring perhaps the early years of the New Deal and its outright cartelization of industry), accelerating trends already at work under the Bush administration. If you want to succeed in the so-called private sector, you had better have some friends in Washington, because that's where credit and capital will be allocated from.

And if you want to hold on to your wealth, assume the dollar is going to collapse. The euro is under terrific strain right now, and so the dollar may continue its artificial rally in the near term, but in light of the accelerating demands of the predatory sector (that is, the government) on the shrinking productive sector, the dollar's bust has to come. The printing press will be the regime's only way out. If this crisis doesn't do it, the looming entitlement disaster will finish off the dollar. How else are $70 trillion in entitlement liabilities going to be paid for? Floating a few more bonds?

Things could get very bad indeed. If we are to have any chance of beating back these unprecedented incursions of the state, supporters of the free market need to know their position cold. I wrote my just-released book Meltdown for this reason: to educate Americans about the causes of the crisis, to be sure, but also to give supporters of the free market the ammunition they need to make their case effectively.

Even that may prove not to be enough. We may have to be consoled with the knowledge that at least we fought with all our strength. And fight we must, as Ludwig von Mises urged: "No one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping toward destruction. Therefore, everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interest of everyone hangs on the result."

 

Thomas E. Woods, Jr. is senior fellow in American history at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He is the author of nine books, including two New York Times bestsellers: The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History and the just-released Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse.
9946  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why the Aussies could have predicted Geithner’s incompetence on: March 06, 2009, 05:24:58 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/03/06/why-the-aussies-could-have-predicted-geithners-incompetence/

Why the Aussies could have predicted Geithner’s incompetence
posted at 5:12 pm on March 6, 2009 by Ed Morrissey   

Remember when the Obama administration and its allies in Congress urged the confirmation of Tim Geithner despite his tax problems?  They claimed that Geithner was “uniquely qualified” to lead the nation out of an economic collapse, and that no other candidate could possibly replace Geithner.  Former Australian prime minister Paul Keating must have thought the Democrats and American media had discovered a completely different Tim Geithner than the one he knew:

If anyone in the US media had thought to ask a former Australian prime minister for his assessment, they would have heard a different view. And they would not have been so surprised at Geithner’s performance since.

In a speech to a closed gathering at the Lowy Institute in Sydney on Thursday, Paul Keating gave a starkly different account of Geithner’s record in handling the Asian crisis: “Tim Geithner was the Treasury line officer who wrote the IMF [International Monetary Fund] program for Indonesia in 1997-98, which was to apply current account solutions to a capital account crisis.”

In other words, Geithner fundamentally misdiagnosed the problem. And his misdiagnosis led to a dreadfully wrong prescription.

In fact, Geithner bungled the job so badly that Asian nations still refuse to “stick their head in the IMF noose,” as Keating puts it.  Despite 7% compound growth over several years afterwards, Indonesia still couldn’t get itself out of the hole Geithner dug for them.  Soeharto lost power, and countries like China paid attention.  Instead of working more cooperatively, China built up big reserves instead, creating a debt imbalance that helped make the current financial crisis much worse than it might have been.

Geithner’s performance since his confirmation hasn’t surprised Keating at all.  The dithering on bank issues has left the US with few realistic options outside of nationalization on some scale.  The vacillation and fumbled rollouts of economic policy have left the markets with no confidence at all in his leadership, leading to a flight from capital investment clearly shown in the stock market performance of the last few weeks.  Keating understands that lack of confidence from his own experiences with Geithner, but the US has just begun to figure out Geithner’s incompetence.

That sound you hear from down under?  Laughter at the gullibility of Congress and the media in buying the argument that a man who couldn’t figure out his own taxes had the only qualifications for handling American economic policy.  Our mainstream media never reported on this botch-up until it was far too late to do anything about it.
9947  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: March 06, 2009, 05:11:01 PM
I'd argue that the big picture is seriously impacted by the empty-suit running things now.
9948  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-Russia on: March 06, 2009, 04:32:07 PM
Can't even lick Putin's boots correctly.  rolleyes
9949  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: March 06, 2009, 03:42:50 PM
**Meanwhile, this administration can't even lick Putin's boots competently.**

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0309/19719.html

Clinton gift gaffe: 'Overcharge'

By DAVID S. CLOUD | 3/6/09 3:58 PM EST



GENEVA—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opened her first extended talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by giving him a present meant to symbolize the Obama administration’s vow to “press the reset button” on U.S.-Russia relations.

She handed a palm-sized box wrapped with a bow. Lavrov opened it and pulled out the gift: a red button on a black base with a Russian word peregruzka printed on top.

“We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?” Clinton asked.

“You got it wrong,” Lavrov said.

Instead of "reset," Lavrov said the word on the box meant “overcharge.”

Clinton and Lavrov laughed.

“We won’t let you do that to us,” she said. Trying to recover, Clinton said the new administration was serious about improving relations with Moscow. “We mean it, and we’re looking forward to it.”

Lavrov said he would put the button on his desk and he and Clinton pushed the button together, before sitting down for their meeting.

A State Department official said the misspelling on the button was being corrected, in time for the post-meeting news conference.
9950  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: March 06, 2009, 02:46:15 PM
I'll concede those points.
Pages: 1 ... 197 198 [199] 200 201 ... 250
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!