Saturday, April 30, 2011

Palestinian factions announce reconciliation deal

Fatah and Hamas are now attempting to work together.

The United States is more divided than I have ever seen in my lifetime. This, along with the poor relationship that the U.S. now has with it’s closest allies, England and Israel is a recipe for inaction towards objectives in our mutual interest. At the same time our enemies throughout the Middle East are more united than I have ever seen. Care to guess where HAMAS and Fatah will direct their shooting if they stop shooting at each other?

I don’t know if this is because our President is such a poor leader that this is occurring despite his intentions, or if it is because our President wants to CHANGE us so drastically that he embraces many of the concepts that are against us in the region. He must believe in a concept of encouraging a united Islamic entity to enable the Palestinians to not feel so downtrodden and helpless that should lead to greater stability. (I disagree with this, but I can see how others might not)

In either case, we are in for BIG trouble. We can only expect our enemies to gain strength and ability. We are fighting a defensive war. Our enemies now choose the battlefield. It can only be a matter of time before we get really walloped. And 9/11 will only be considered a warm up.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

President Obama and I disagree on what makes America great

“‘There but for the grace of God go I,’ we say to ourselves, and so we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security, which guarantee us health care and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work; unemployment insurance, which protects us against unexpected job loss; and Medicaid, which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, and those with disabilities,” Obama said. “We are a better country because of these commitments. I’ll go further – we would not be a great country without those commitments.”

I must disagree. These commitments are quite selfish. They concern only Americans and those who live here. I believe our greatness goes far beyond this self centered view. Like the inventions we are responsible for. Just a short list of the innumerable:

1) The cotton gin
2) The reaper
3) The phonograph
4) The telephone
5) Electric light bulb
7) Refrigeration
8) Atomic power
9) The computer
10) All of the medical advances the U.S had pioneered throughout the 20th century. This is still an area of strength today.

These inventions along with countless others, have improved the lives of all MANKIND, not just Americans.

Yes, I disagree with President Obama on a lot of things. This one really, really gets me. The United States would not be a great country if government entitlement programs to Americans were not available? My values certainly are different from President Obama’s. He may think that he knows what is best for us. However, he certainly does not understand why our country’s contributions to mankind occurred. And he is working very hard to CHANGE it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Health Care and Social Security

In my last post, I used the figure that 70% of Americans were against the Health Care bill. Let’s not get hung up on the 70%. I heard this figure batted around conservative talk radio for a few weeks around the time of the Health Care bill being passed in February 2010. The point is that figures like this can be manipulated just about anyway that you want. Sorry, I assumed (You know what this makes me, right?) that readers understand this. I use this figure to get attention on the importance of this issue and to demonstrate that resistance to passage was as great if not greater than a number of failed bills in the past.

The point that I was attempting to make is that the Health Care bill was about as popular as it was the last time it was attempted in the early 1990’s. President Clinton backed off when he saw how unfavorable the public was receiving this potential law(s). In both cases, the Health Care bill was about as desired as the changes to Social Security was in the 1980’s and again in the early 2000’s.

My father told me back in high school (1972-1976) that Social Security would be broke before I could retire so don’t count on it for anything. If it paid out anything, you would be that much better off. It was already well known in the early 1970’s that Social Security had a dark future. The Republicans wanted to do something about this in the 1980’s. The public was solidly against any changes that were proposed. The Republicans came back to this issue in the early 2000’s and received the same response. The idea was dropped again.

In 2010, the public was against the massive Health Care bill once again. OK, lots of polling data tells us a lot of things. I watch not just Fox News. I also watch CNN, MSNBC and CNBC. I read articles written by both conservatives and liberals. (Note: I brought up a show of Rachel Maddow’s in my last post) I tend to agree with conservatives more. However, it is still obvious that the resistance to the Health Care bill of 2010 was every bit as solid as the resistance to proposed changes in Social Security (Both times) and to the resistance of the Health Care bill the first time proposed in the 1990’s. All three were dropped. In the case of the Health Care bill of 2010, the Democrats passed it anyway. President Obama signed it straight away. “This way, we will actually find out what is in the bill.”

This is NOT democracy. Our government is NOT listening to us. To use a different example: Let’s say that in 2012, Republicans score BIG. Let’s say they get massive majorities in both house and senate and an extremist in the White House. They propose a massive change to Social Security, far worse than what has been attempted the two previous times. And the public has not changed its mind and is just as firmly against change as the two times before. So the Republicans can do it anyway? Where the hell will this leave us? Our government knows better than we do, so why do we need to vote? (I recently saw a commentator on CNN talk about not allowing ‘ignorant’ people the ability to vote. A natural progression.)

You can argue about how strongly the American public was and is against the Health Care bill. You can’t argue that we were for it. The fighting going on today is one of the results. People don’t want to give in because they have seen what happened. Why the hell would you compromise on any issue after an event like this? Once again, we can thank President Obama and the Democrats for this lack of united action and the deep division within our country today.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

President Obama

When running for office, Senator Obama was supposed to be great at compromise. He was going to reach across to ‘the other side’ and get everyone to work together. This entire idea was not just to happen domestically. This was going to happen internationally as well as the U.S. opened itself to all and would get everyone working together to get along. This is NOT working out as planned.

While I cannot hold President Obama responsible for all of the international events that are going on today, I certain do hold him accountable for the lack of U.S. leadership in containing the unrest that is spreading throughout the Middle East. I feel that all of this ‘CHANGE’ is dangerous to not only the United States, but particularly to Israel. I believe that we are much closer to open war between Israel and Iran than ever before. Maybe I am wrong, but the ‘CHANGE’ approach concerning governments in the Middle East holds far more dangers to Israel and the United States than anyone else. And this is all international where President Obama’s CHANGE has less impact than domestic events.

I will use the example of the Health Care debate as a defining moment. This was passed and signed by President Obama despite the overwhelming majority of Americans being against passage of this bill. (70%, which is greater than the 2/3 majority required for a constitutional amendment.) This is a very poor example of our country’s leadership listening to the will of the people. With this as a guide, why do we need elections when our government knows better than we do? No wonder our country is so badly divided. In fact, it has not been this badly divided since the Civil War.

I saw Rachel Maddow talking about how succession is actually being discussed today. The last time around, it triggered the worst war in our history. Everywhere I look, I am seeing how our political leadership is not listening to each other. The fights over the budgets are as intense on the Federal and State levels as I have ever seen. We are not more united today than three years ago. In fact, we are far more polarized than I have seen since Vietnam. And today’s situation is worse because the polarization during Vietnam was mainly internal to the Democratic Party. Today, we are seeing the political battle between the two major parties.

President Obama claimed that he ‘saved’ our country from the brink of economic disaster when he signed the economic stimulus in 2009. The day after signing, he said that he walked outside and it was a nice day. The doomsday did not happen. Does he misunderstand what he is doing! Today, we are just beginning to see the real consequences of that act. Commodities are skyrocketing. Commodity price increases are generally early indicators of inflation. Many of us have been expecting something like this. Moody’s is considering downgrading it’s triple-A rating for U.S. treasury bonds. I am not the only person who is seeing these things. Sales of emergency supplies are running at record highs because so many others are also seeing this. President Obama did not save us from falling off a cliff. He has brought us to an economic one. The inflation that we saw back in the late 1970’s just may pale by comparison. We shall see, probably within the next 6 to 12 months. The other alternative is not much better. Draconian measures to curb spending that will significantly impact the economy in the short term. (This is the much better choice for the long term)

In any case, the United States is far more divided and polarized than I have ever seen before. As a conservative economist, I am alarmed at the potential consequences. So I expect a big political battle over spending and allocation of resources because I see us as having precious little to work with. As with dealing with unions, the Democrats appear to be completely unaware of the financial situation. So they fight back just as desperately, attempting to hold on to what they already have. This is a recipe for an all out battle, as we are seeing. Thank you, President Obama. The President who was going to bring us all together.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Warfare in General

Some general concepts about warfare:

1) All wars are unique. Like fingerprints. The most common mistake (Generals can be just as guilty of this as everyone else) is to fight the prior war again. A classic example: The French building the Maginot line in the 1930’s.

2) Violence goes up as a war progresses. You get better at it. Weapons and tactics get better as well. New allies join the fray. People become more desperate. The loser in wars either cannot or will not match the new level of violence.

3) The three levels of viewing war:
a) Strategic
b) Operational
c) Tactical

4) Two basic type of warfare:
a) War of conquest – take care of population you occupy.
b) Punitive warfare – Wipe everyone and everything out.

5) Political considerations are generally counterproductive in warfare. Many examples of entire armies being wiped out because of political considerations.

6) Occupation: The occupiers are not the worst enemy of the occupied. The worst enemy is the population of the occupied who are working with the occupier.

7) Wars ALWAYS create new enemies.

8) Atrocities occur in ALL wars. The vast majority goes unreported, for obvious reasons. One of the cleanest wars in modern history was the German – Western Allies (England and United States) war 1940-1945. Many atrocities occurred even then. A direct relationship exists between atrocities and the training a unit has undergone. The more training a unit obtains before combat, the less atrocities committed by that unit. This applies to armies as well.

9) Cultural wars are the worst. What happened to the Native Americans is a classic example. Not only is language a difference, but the very habits a population have. In war, it is necessary to de-humanize the enemy. For example, if you shoot down an enemy airplane, or sink an enemy ship, you tell yourself that it was a machine. You attempt to deny that it contained people. This is a natural self-defense mechanism. After all, you are killing people. Cultural differences make this much easier. “A good Jap is a dead Jap”. For a number of reasons, when you found a wounded Japanese, you put a bullet in his head. Just to be sure. One potential side-effect from allowing suspected terrorists the same legal rights that United States citizens enjoy could be an increase in soldiers killing of potential prisoners. Many of the same motivations for ‘A good Jap is a dead Jap’ exist today in the war in Iraq. Vietnam had many examples of these motivations as well.

10) The longer a siege lasts, the more brutal the outcome. In general, this applies to wars as well.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The longer the war goes on in Libya, the better it is for our enemies. This war is unlike Iraq and Afghanistan because we did not invade to topple the existing government. By doing so, we forced our enemies to take up arms directly against our military. In Libya, we are only taking sides in a civil war. Without our ground troops forcing the issue, our enemy is free to choose what side they wish to fight for. And we are taking the side that was about to be crushed, thereby prolonging the war indefinitely. If the US and our allies had not stepped in, the rebels would have been destroyed by now and the fighting over. As it is, control of the air has prevented government victory. At the same time, the rebels are not necessarily strong enough to defeat the government forces in open combat. This has all the signs of a prolonged stalemate. This is the worst case for the U.S.

If we are going to wage war and expend the resources necessary to do so, we should at least be certain of delivering body blows to our enemy. Our enemy is Islamic nationalism. By challenging Islamic authority or Islamic law openly with our military, we can force them to engage us. Conventional forces have a tremendous advantage when fighting irregular forces in combat. We can use that advantage when we force the enemy to attack us. By spending our resources on a sideshow we not only waste our time when time is not on our side, more importantly we direct our attention away from the vital issues that are the cause of the war.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

President Obama and compromise

A government shutdown is where the political parties were digging in. This is one of the points of contention and an excellent opportunity to show the sprit of compromise. In President Obamas’ talk earlier this week, he spoke about how being married required that you compromise. This has apparently given him the skills necessary to compromise when dealing with political issues.

It is generally accepted that a government shutdown would politically benefit President Obama and the Democrats more than it would the Republicans. So all they had to do was wait it out. Sooner or later, the Republicans would come around to some type of deal where they could save ‘face’. This is an excellent position to be in and certainly not one that would encourage compromise. So who gets the blame? The people who brought us to the brink of a government shutdown and who were unwilling to compromise until they saw defeat in front of them. Must be pretty dumb to let it get that far.

I thought that President Obama was supposed to unite us. We would all come together after he demonstrated his willingness to listen to the other side and make things work out. You know, like the Health Care bill. 70% of Americans were disenfranchised in that deal. (Enough to pass a constitutional amendment) Yes, President Obama and the Democrats really showed us how to compromise and listen. This ‘New deal’ is different, but not all that much.

This deal does not deal with the fundamental fiscal problems that this country faces. Like so many other deals in the past, it is only window dressing. This is actually a victory for President Obama and the Democrats. This deal just allowed us to continue doing ‘business as usual’. With the financial structure of the country in such dire need of ‘CHANGE’, all we get is more of the same. We can expect more of this confrontation when time comes to pass the next budget. And it will be the Republicans fault once again, simply because they are forced to attempt to place limits upon the free spending that President Obama (And Democrats) believe in. After all, who is saying that ‘We are NOT broke’? This is the issue: Republicans generally believe that the financial position of our country is at or near bankruptcy. Democrats see no such thing. Sounds a lot like the confrontation between unions and companies. (With the bankruptcy component not always present)

Our country is more divided and more partisan than ever. We have major conflicts within all levels of government today. Just look at the partisan politics going on at the state level today. We recently held a local election in my town and I am seeing much of the same, even at that level. Well, leadership does spring from the top. We are beginning to see the results of our presidential leadership. And it is not compromise and listening.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The 12th Imam

What troubles me today is that so many things look like they can go wrong right now. We have all levels of our government in financial trouble; Europe is in financial trouble and lots of unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. I strongly believe that something is going to happen in the near future. (Meaning the next few years) Sooner or later, you pay a price for spending beyond your means. What is more immediate can occur this summer.

Since 9/11, I have been studying our enemy. It took me years to identify the ideology that is the cause. Political Islam or Islamic nationalism is what I believe is the basic problem. I don’t care about the religious aspect, but the nationalistic part of Islam is waging war against us. The good side is that Islam is badly divided. Within some of these divided groups, a new leader is supposed to emerge. I am speaking of the so-called 12th Imam.

I am not all that familiar with the 12th Imam. What I understand is that this entity will appear under certain conditions with a different leader playing a role that will pave the way for this Imam. The person who precedes this Imam is supposed to do three things:

1) Create chaos
2) Take Jerusalem
3) Bathe the world in blood

This predecessor of the 12th Imam is supposed to strike within the 72nd month of taking control or power.

I don’t believe in this type of stuff. Things happen because of nature, or because of human nature.

What is scary here is that the President of Iran just might believe he is the person who precedes the 12th Imam. This guy has spoken of many crazy things, but they do share the common idea that he just may believe that he is the guy that will fulfill the three prerequisites for the 12th Imam. He may believe that he can unite all of Islam. (I am speaking of the national entity) Of course, all of this might be BS. The President of Iran might not be able to do all that much. What I do know is that the President of Iran took office on August 2,2005. 72 months will have expired on August 2, 2011.

If the President of Iran DOES believe that he is the predecessor of the 12th Imam, I suspect that we will see an increase in activity (Both covert and openly) by Iran over the summer. I would expect the effort to peak sometime in August. Once again, IF any of this is accurate, it will only remain to see just how effective his actions will be.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Raise the debt ceiling?

What would happen if the U.S. did not raise the debt ceiling? The U.S. would be unable to issue new bonds. If this were the case, the treasury would be forced to print a great deal more money. Hyperinflation (Already a danger) would become a reality. The economic shock that would result from this would be worldwide. The most productive economy in the world would begin to shut down as producers stopped production. The barter system could not possibly replace the dollar in the world economy and some other currency would have to become the worldwide reserve.

I am a firm believer that most wars have an economic origin. It was no coincidence that the greatest war in mankind's history was immediately preceded by the greatest economic downturn in man's history. By doing so, we could end up triggering a world war. After all, many parts of the world are more vulnerable than we are. We have a recession; some other countries go into a depression.

. In general principal, I am for stopping the rise in debt and a reversal of the government takeover of our economy. Maybe we need to be weaned off debt like a drug addict. A major problem here is that we live in a republic. We elect our leaders. (A bad sign here: Just look at who we have elected this last time) In other words, we will probably change our minds once things begin to change. Then we would elect new people to reverse the process.

Maybe we really do need to just take it. We will need to be prepared for disaster, although it will be less so than if we just allow things to continue. This is why I say that our republic is in danger. I don't believe that we have the political will anymore. We just may be forced into a situation where we have a leader who can just do it. An Agustus, if you will. Things would get much better, but absolute power will be impossible to remove.