Saturday, May 30, 2009

PRAVDA Laments Capitalism's Decline in America?

Yes, that Pravda. In what can only be described as life imitating parody, this writer writes about America's accelerating descent into Marxism. While riddled with hyperbole (I hope) and, to the American eye, some highly politically incorrect comments, perhaps there is a point to be made here.

The astonishing speed at which this country has changed, in just four months, is unsettling. The government's takeover of the automobile industry sets a dangerous precedent and the sea of red ink that that extends as far as the eye can see does not bode well for our future.

Speaking of change, I never thought that I would be linking to, much less recommending an article on Pravada but maybe this underscores the "change" Americans chose last November.

American capitalism gone with a whimper

It must be said, that like the breaking of a great dam, the American decent into Marxism is happening with breath taking speed, against the back drop of a passive, hapless sheeple, excuse me dear reader, I meant people.

True, the situation has been well prepared on and off for the past century, especially the past twenty years. The initial testing grounds was conducted upon our Holy Russia and a bloody test it was. But we Russians would not just roll over and give up our freedoms and our souls, no matter how much money Wall Street poured into the fists of the Marxists.

Those lessons were taken and used to properly prepare the American populace for the surrender of their freedoms and souls, to the whims of their elites and betters.

First, the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard education system based on pop culture, rather then the classics. Americans know more about their favorite TV dramas then the drama in DC that directly affects their lives. They care more for their "right" to choke down a McDonalds burger or a BurgerKing burger than for their constitutional rights. Then they turn around and lecture us about our rights and about our "democracy". Pride blind the foolish.

Then their faith in God was destroyed, until their churches, all tens of thousands of different "branches and denominations" were for the most part little more then Sunday circuses and their televangelists and top protestant mega preachers were more then happy to sell out their souls and flocks to be on the "winning" side of one pseudo Marxist politician or another. Their flocks may complain, but when explained that they would be on the "winning" side, their flocks were ever so quick to reject Christ in hopes for earthly power. Even our Holy Orthodox churches are scandalously liberalized in America.

The final collapse has come with the election of Barack Obama. His speed in the past three months has been truly impressive. His spending and money printing has been a record setting, not just in America's short history but in the world. If this keeps up for more then another year, and there is no sign that it will not, America at best will resemble the Wiemar Republic and at worst Zimbabwe.

These past two weeks have been the most breath taking of all. First came the announcement of a planned redesign of the American Byzantine tax system, by the very thieves who used it to bankroll their thefts, loses and swindles of hundreds of billions of dollars. These make our Russian oligarchs look little more then ordinary street thugs, in comparison. Yes, the Americans have beat our own thieves in the shear volumes. Should we congratulate them?

These men, of course, are not an elected panel but made up of appointees picked from the very financial oligarchs and their henchmen who are now gorging themselves on trillions of American dollars, in one bailout after another. They are also usurping the rights, duties and powers of the American congress (parliament). Again, congress has put up little more then a whimper to their masters.

Then came Barack Obama's command that GM's (General Motor) president step down from leadership of his company. That is correct, dear reader, in the land of "pure" free markets, the American president now has the power, the self given power, to fire CEOs and we can assume other employees of private companies, at will. Come hither, go dither, the centurion commands his minions.

So it should be no surprise, that the American president has followed this up with a "bold" move of declaring that he and another group of unelected, chosen stooges will now redesign the entire automotive industry and will even be the guarantee of automobile policies. I am sure that if given the chance, they would happily try and redesign it for the whole of the world, too. Prime Minister Putin, less then two months ago, warned Obama and UK's Blair, not to follow the path to Marxism, it only leads to disaster. Apparently, even though we suffered 70 years of this Western sponsored horror show, we know nothing, as foolish, drunken Russians, so let our "wise" Anglo-Saxon fools find out the folly of their own pride.

Again, the American public has taken this with barely a whimper...but a "freeman" whimper.

The piece continues and I encourage you to read it all with, as always, a healthy amount of skepticism and I warn you that there are remarks that some may find highly offensive. I know nothing of this man's history or agenda, but I did find kernels of truth in his oft overblown rhetoric, and reasons for some introspection in his observations made from afar.

We, as Americans, have always made our own history and, in doing so, we have largely influenced the history of the world. We should, however, remember that this does not make us immune to the mistakes of past history and should be ever cautious in choosing our path.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Perils of Populism

LGF has a most interesting post, with links, regarding Pat Buchanan, Tom Tancredo and the lesser known Marcus Epstein. These people are finding common cause with known European Fascists.

This has caused me to think about "Populism", and the perils thereof.

Personally, I've never cared for "Populists", however they're masked. When I hear someone portrayed as a "Populist", I , envision a guy with a noose in his hand, rallying the mob to do his bidding.

In my view, "Populism" is no more than mob rule, appealing more to emotion than to reason.

In recent years, "Populism" has been trotted out wearing a "Conservative" mask; Pat "peasants with pitchforks" Buchanan, Ross Perot, Tom Tancredo and, most recently, Ron Paul are the most notable. They all offer "simple" solutions to complex problems and inspire a nearly blind allegiance among their followers.

This isn't Conservatism; it's fascism. We ask Muslims to disown the radicals in their midst, so must we disown the radicals in ours.

I don't know if Pat Buchanan went to the dark side at some point over the last 20 years, or if he's always been on the dark side and kept it well hidden. At this point, I don't care; he is a dark figure in American politics and delights in playing upon the vilest emotions in the recesses of man.

As for Tom Tancredo, his overheated rhetoric regarding immigration always had a putrid smell of racism.

These perilous times do not call for "Populists" or the tainted message that they sell; these times call for reason and statesmanship. These people are neither Conservative nor are they Republican and their very presence among us marginalizes all of us.

Conservatives must embrace a positive message, offer reasoned solutions to the problems before us and, most importantly, extricate the crypto-fascist parasite that threatens our worthy goals.


Victor Davis Hanson is always an enjoyable read, no less so here as he hits it out of the park. I offer you a tantalizing snippet:

Last July I wrote a column entitled “Barack W. Bush” outlining how candidate Barack Obama was strangely emulating Bush policies — even as he was trashing the president.

Nearly a year later, President Obama has continued that schizophrenia, criticizing Bush while keeping in place Bush’s anti-terrorism protocols. The result of this Bush Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is that, thanks to Obama, history will soon begin reassessing George W. Bush’s presidency in a more positive light.

Why? Because the more Obama feels compelled to trash Bush, the more he draws attention to the fact that he is copying — or in some cases falling short of — his predecessor. He seems to wish to frame his presidency in terms of the Bush years, even though such constant evocation is serving his predecessor more than it is serving Obama himself.

For eight years conservatives whined — and Democrats railed — at the Bush deficits. In the aggregate over eight years they exceeded $2 trillion. The administration’s excuses — the 2000 recession; 9/11; two wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq; Katrina; and two massive new programs, No Child Left Behind and Medicare Prescription Drug — fell on deaf ears.

Between 2001 and 2008 we still spoke of annual budget shortfalls in billions of dollars. But an early effect of the Obama administration is that it has already made the Bush administration’s reckless spending seem almost incidental. In the first 100 days of this government we have learned to speak of yearly red ink in terms of Obama’s trillions, not Bush’s mere billions. Indeed, compared to Obama, Bush looks like a fiscal conservative.

Please do read the whole piece here, you shan't be disappointed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Government Motors" Was Not Hyperbole

I ask you, how could anything be so wrong on so many levels?

U.S. Expected to Own 70% of Restructured G.M.

DETROIT — In better times, many employees of General Motors called their company “Generous Motors” because of its rich benefits.

Now G.M. may stand for something else: Government Motors.

The latest plan for the troubled automaker, which is expected to file for bankruptcy by Monday, calls for the Treasury Department to receive about 70 percent of a restructured G.M.

Including the more than $20 billion that has already been spent to prop up G.M., the government will provide G.M. at least $50 billion to get the company through Chapter 11, people with direct knowledge of the situation said Tuesday. By some estimates in Detroit, tens of billions beyond that amount may be required.

The United Automobile Workers, meanwhile, will hold up to 20 percent through its retiree health care fund, and bondholders and other parties will get the remaining share. Shareholders would be virtually wiped out.

Although it has been clear for weeks that Treasury would have a majority stake of a reconstituted G.M., a 70 percent share — a figure that could still change — is higher than what had been expected.

So, the government will own 70%, the unions will own 20% and the shareholders will be "virually wiped out."

When can we start calling this naked "socialism" without fear of being called frothing right-wing lunatics?

(More on the GM/Chrysler debacle in the post below.)

Get Ready to Open Your Wallets, America

Once Considered Unthinkable, U.S. Sales Tax Gets Fresh Look

With budget deficits soaring and President Obama pushing a trillion-dollar-plus expansion of health coverage, some Washington policymakers are taking a fresh look at a money-making idea long considered politically taboo: a national sales tax.

Common around the world, including in Europe, such a tax -- called a value-added tax, or VAT -- has not been seriously considered in the United States. But advocates say few other options can generate the kind of money the nation will need to avert fiscal calamity.

At a White House conference earlier this year on the government's budget problems, a roomful of tax experts pleaded with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner to consider a VAT. A recent flurry of books and papers on the subject is attracting genuine, if furtive, interest in Congress. And last month, after wrestling with the White House over the massive deficits projected under Obama's policies, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee declared that a VAT should be part of the debate.

"There is a growing awareness of the need for fundamental tax reform," Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said in an interview. "I think a VAT and a high-end income tax have got to be on the table."

When Democrats start talking about "fundamental tax reform", it generally means "higher taxes" and, after months of profligate spending, they are now trying to find a way to present us with the tab. It seems that the only thing that's "off the table" is spending less money.

This is fiscal irresponsiblity at its worst; it will further grow a government that's already too big and reduce the means for economic expansion.

Sure, you'll be able to avoid this tax by not buying, but how will that effect an already struggling private sector? Alas, the more the private sector struggles to survive, the higher the unemployment figures will rise.

This would be a bad idea, even in good times. In times like these, it's like throwing gasoline on a fire.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day, 2009

As we honor our nation’s fallen, let us also honor the nation for which they fell, for the two are inseparable.

We are a warrior nation of sorts, but our warriors are, and always have been defenders, not conquerors. We have defended our own nation, as well as peoples in foreign lands who could not defend themselves. The warriors we honor paid the ultimate price to make the world a better place, and their sacrifice has not been in vain.

This is what separates us from previous great civilizations, and that difference is the one that defines us.

Imagine the history of the past 100 years without the United States. That history would have been far more brutal but for the sacrifices that this country has made, in the blood of its warriors and the treasure of its generous people. The world today would be a far darker place but not for our existence and intervention.

In the history of mankind, what other nation has so selflessly contributed to the safety, security and overall betterment of all mankind, and literally asked for nothing in return but its own safety and security? We have taken the great philosophies of past great civilizations and, in many ways perfected them, at least to the extent than man can perfect anything.

While our history is not without its sinister periods, slavery in particular, we have confronted those evils and changed them. We have made mistakes, admitted them, and looked ahead to a brighter future rather than wallowing in the past.

So, as we remember those who have given their all for this bold idea that we call “the United States of America”, let us renew and recommit ourselves to that idea. We are now living in perilous times, fractured in many ways and for many reasons. There are those who find that apologies are in order and placation of the enemies of all we hold dear is the easiest road to peace and prosperity, for our nation and the world.

I reject that notion.

The road to peace and prosperity has never been, and never will be, short and easy; neither for us or the world. It is only with perseverance, faith in our abilities as Americans, and unswerving belief in America’s singular uniqueness in the whole of man’s history, that this journey can be completed and we must lead, not follow.

Those who we honor on this Memorial Day gave us the map; all we need do is follow it.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ford and the Battle for Capitalism

Of the three American auto manufacturers, Ford is the only one to have eschewed Federal bailout money, instead, preferring to embrace a solution in keeping with traditional capitalist business practices; relying on stockholders and bondholders rather than the American taxpayer.

At the same time, GM and Chrysler have sold their souls and prostrated themselves before the Federal Government and the Bush/Obama administrations in an effort to to secure their future at an immense cost to the American taxpayer which some say may reach as high as $130 Billion, but no one really knows what the final tally will be.

Today from the Financial Times, we find that, under the government restructuring plan for GM "the US government would cancel most or all of its existing debt in the company and invest in a “new” GM that could emerge from bankruptcy in the autumn, said a person close to the matter."

Additionally, from the same piece, "GM on Friday said it had borrowed another $4bn from the Treasury, taking its total federal funding to $19.4bn, and expected to need $7.6bn more after June 1."

So, what of Chrysler? Via Reuters:

"Chrysler has a government deadline of June 15 to close the transaction to sell itself to a "New Chrysler" owned by the U.S. and Canadian governments, Chrysler's union and Fiat, according to court papers. Chrysler's unsecured creditors' committee said in court papers on Friday that if the sale was not able to go forward it would mean certain liquidation for the iconic U.S. automaker."

But it would appear that Fiat sees that the corpse, of which they are buying a part, is quickly deteriorating from rigor mortis to outright decay; "Fiat, however, said that any delay to the sale process "could ultimately prove fatal" to Fiat's plan to revive Chrysler. It said it already has concerns about the value of the assets "New Chrysler" is expected to acquire from "Old Chrysler" as the company's plant shutdown is affecting its suppliers and dealer networks."

Chrysler, who, from what I could find, has received "only" $7 Billion in Federal bailout money, so what becomes of that money if, and when Chrysler is owned by its Union, Canada and Fiat? "Under the new scenario, the U.S. Treasury would recover 3 to 5 percent of its investment, compared with 3 to 6 percent in Capstone's previous analysis." Capstone Advisory Group is Chrysler's financial advisory firm.

So let's get back to Ford. All three of these companies competed in the same market, played by the same rules and were represented by the same union. At least at the moment, Ford is surviving, while GM and Chrysler are essentially corpses; either being propped up by billions of taxpayer dollars or their parts being sold to foreign competitors.

How is this fair to Ford? GM is being assisted in terms of tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer money, and has plans on forgiving that debt in the hope that they can emerge from bankruptcy later this year. Were this a traditional bankruptcy, investors would have agreed to take a share of losses, but when the investor is the Federal government, forgiving debt owed to the American people, this presents a whole new pernicious and disturbing aura of government control in the private sector. Certainly, the government will expect "some influence" within these quasi-state-owned auto companies, will it not? President Obama has already virtually fired the CEO at GM.

As for Chrysler, it seems likely that liquidation or being "sold off for parts" may well be its fate. Currently, the UAW is becoming the majority stockholder in Chrysler, arguably one of the very same groups that got them into this situation in the first place. (I seem to remember something about workers controlling the "means of production").

None of this bodes well for the American automobile industry, or the state of capitalism in the United States as a whole. Ford may well prosper in the long run, given the government's utter incompetence in dealing with anything it touches, aside from those tasks it is constitutionally mandated to perform. I have serious doubts that a quasi-state-run automobile company will be anything but a taxpayer money pit, producing cars nobody wants at prices nobody wants to pay.

In the interim, Ford plays by one set of rules while GM and Chrysler play by another. Are Ford"s debts being forgiven as are GM's? Are Ford's creditors willing to settle for 3 to 5 percent of their investment as is Chrysler's government investor?

Ford stood strong and did not invite the government onto its house knowing, I believe, that there would be a price to be paid; the greatest of which being their autonomy. For that, I applaud them and, should I be in the market for a car, I will buy a Ford. I will shun GM and Chrysler like the plague they have become.

All of this should be a cautionary tale about the fragility of the capitalist system, the balance between it and the government, and the envious eyes that that some in the government cast upon corporations in times such as these, under the guise of "help". A "free market economy" is just that, and corporations should be wary of the tentacles involved in "government bailouts".

Capitalism is what has made this nation the strongest and richest nation in the history of mankind and we should not abandon it during this time of contraction. To do so is a betrayal of American principles and hastens our journey, in the words of Hayek, down the "Road to Serfdom".

Friday, May 22, 2009

Clueless in Annapolis

Upholding values will shield US from terror: Obama

President Barack Obama Friday warned America risked its security when it compromised its values, seeking support for his bid to sketch a new legal framework for anti-terror policies.

Obama used the backdrop of the US Naval Academy graduation ceremony to argue that founding US ideals must guide the future battle against terrorism, a day after trying to quell raging debate over Guantanamo Bay in a major speech.

"We uphold our fundamental principles and values not just because we choose to, but because we swear to -- not because they feel good, but because they help keep us safe," Obama told 30,000 graduating navy cadets and family

"When America strays from our values, it not only undermines the rule of law, it alienates us from our allies, it energizes our adversaries and it endangers our national security and the lives of our troops."

Obama told the graduates they would face a "full spectrum of threats" from 18th century-style piracy to cyber terrorism.

"As long as I am your commander-in-chief, I will only send you into harm's way when it is absolutely necessary," Obama said, in an apparent veiled criticism of the Bush administration war in Iraq, which the president has argued was unnecessary.

Ah yes, the rule of law. How, exactly does the "rule of law" protect us from the lawless. How, exactly, do "American values" protect us from those who find those very values to be their Casus belli?

With Iran testing missiles and moving full speed toward developing nukes, the nuclear state of Pakistan battling the Taliban for its survival and the U.S still waging wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the President actually says that the "rule of law" and "American values" will de-energize our adversaries?

This rhetoric represents naivete at a level that is simply unacceptable from the President of the United States and confirms my worst fears about his foreign policy, once he actually develops one. At the moment, he seems to be adopting all of the Bush policies at the same time he derides them. This is no time for mixed messages.

I would like to know which "values" from which we have strayed that, once re-embraced, will keep us safe. I would like to know how "the rule of law" can protect us from those whose only law is that of Sharia.

The campaign is long over, the time for leadership began four months ago.

The Unbearable Annoyance of "Celebrities"

Cannes celebrity AIDS gig hit by credit crisis

A celebrity AIDS fundraising gala at Cannes headed this year by Sharon Stone and Bill Clinton was able to raise just 4.5 million dollars -- less than half the amount raised last year, organisers said on Friday.

In 2008, the mega gala organised by the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmfAR) raised 10 million dollars.

A highlight of the Thursday evening's event at the nearby Riviera town of Cap d'Antibes was the sale of Clinton's celebrated saxophone, which fetched 130,000 euros.

A-list celebrities who turned up included Annie Lennox, who sang several of her hits to 700 guests who paid 150,000 dollars (108,000 euros) for each 10-seater table, or 4,000 dollars (2,900) per head.

Cannes jury member, actress Robin Wright Penn, joined the fundraiser, along with Michele Yeoh, Elisabeth Hurley, "La Vie en Rose" star Marion Cotillard, Harvey Weinstein, Terry Gilliam, Danny Glover and "Twilight" star Robert Pattinson.

Models Claudia Schiffer and Eva Herzigova, the designer duo Dolce & Gabbana and Donatella Versace added a serious splash of glamour, joined by heiress Paris Hilton.

Oh, the tragedy of it all! Is it too much to expect that this (largely liberal) crowd of pampered, overpaid "A list" celebrities to, collectively, cough up more than $4.5 million for a good cause? I would venture to guess that many, if not all of these people are making, at the very least, eight figures per year, yet they use the "credit crisis" as an excuse not to open up their bulging bank accounts to a cause they so vociferously champion.

Better, I suppose, to beat the drum for more "government funding" for AIDS research thus burdening an already over burdened American middle-class, struggling to pay existing taxes, while eyeing the increases that will most assuredly come as a result of explosive deficits as far as the eye can see.

It would appear that these privileged gilded lilies would feel an obligation to share their enormous wealth with the causes about which they are so vocal. Look at the names above and the next time one of them says "we need more money spent on AIDS research" ask yourself "why didn't they put their money where their moth is when they had the chance?"


Do You Want Your OTV?

On April 27, President Obama welcomed the University of Connecticut Lady Huskies, who had just won the NCAA women's basketball championship.

After the event, President Obama went to the White House basketball court to shoot hoop with the Lady Huskies. The White House press corps was not allowed to attend.

My even mentioning this may seem a little petty, but the Obama administration has done this before and it's becoming an unnerving habit; this obsession with media control.

It's perfectly fine, of course, for the White House to put out its own version of events -- but is it right to do so by preventing actual reporters from covering something? (Even something like a pickup basketball game).

Do Obama White House officials think their media coverage isn't flattering enough?

No, I don't think it's right to prevent reporters from, well, reporting. And yes, it would appear that the White House feels that their coverage is not quite as flattering as it should be; clearly, they're not "feeling the love" though the love is, has been, and continues to be clearly abundant.

This is not the first time this has happened. In March, "Mr. Transparency" was honored as "Newsmaker of the Year" by the National Newspaper Publishers Association:

We are not making this up:

Barack Obama was elected commander in chief promising to run the most transparent presidential administration in American history.

This achievement and the overall promise of his historic administration caused the National Newspaper Publishers Assn. to name him "Newsmaker of the Year."

The president is to receive the award from the federation of black community newspapers in a White House ceremony this afternoon.

The Obama White House has closed the press award ceremony to the press.

So, the President is given an award by the press and the White House closes the ceremony to the press?

There is one similarity between these two instances of press exclusion. The fact that the UConn Women's Basketball Team is predominately black, and the press award was given by the Federation of Black Community Newspapers, might lead one to think that Obama, or the White House, could be sensitive to the President being seen with groups of black people. I sincerely hope that is not the case for it would be insulting to the American people.

Perhaps the administration is seeing just how far they can go in their control of the President's media image. Considering that the media have been obedient lap dogs through the campaign and the first four months of the administration, it appears that the boundary has not yet been reached and the drooling worship from the media seems to continue, largely unabated.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It Wasn't That Long Ago That Survival Was The Fad

Fitness clubs are in ... in Iraq

BAGHDAD - Across a mirrored room from stationary bikes and an occasional treadmill, men in tank tops knock back protein shakes and pump iron to loud hip hop.

It's a common scene in America - and the latest craze in Baghdad.

In a city of few diversions and long cut off from the outside world, the boom in health clubs represents another sign that Iraq is slowly emerging from decades of dictatorship and war.

At least 300 gyms and fitness centers are believed to be operating in Baghdad, compared with about 30 before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, according to people who work in the industry.

These are a people who have regained their self-respect and are looking toward the future; how could it be construed otherwise? There is palpable progress in Iran, but it is fragile. Though leave we should, and will, we simply mustn't abandon this campaign, or these people, prematurely.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Debts, Deficits, Discontent and Discouragement

First, it's important to understand the difference between a "Deficit" and the "National Debt". Not to be condescending, but some people really don't understand the difference and that lack of understanding is one of the reasons we are in such poor financial shape in this country.

The Deficit is the budget shortfall for one year. The Nation Debt is the cumulative effect of all of the Deficits combined, or the total amount of the country's debt that, incidentally, will have to be paid back. Somehow.

I remember Ronald Reagan lamenting that the total National Debt was $1 Trillion. In 2009, the deficit (the shortfall for 2009 alone) will be in excess if $1.85 Trillion.

Think about that. In 2009, the budget shortfall for a single year will be nearly 2 times what the entire National Debt was less than 30 years ago.

This is a problem that's just getting worse by the day; we're going to need a bigger graph.

Reality TV Hits New Low

I've never been much of a fan of the phenomenon known as "Reality TV", in fact I despise it. I have enough reality already, thank you. I watch TV for entertainment and some escapism, but to each one's own. It seems to fulfill Andy Warhol's prophesy that "in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes" and, much like Warhol himself, It's largely tasteless, devoid of talent and preys upon our voyeuristic tendencies.

But this redefines "sick", and I am not referring to Ms. Fawcett's illness. Even in our over-saturated media culture, some things should be kept personal and handled with dignity. This is one of those things.

I have no doubt that, now that the barrier has been crossed, other celebrities will follow suit and it will eventually become a "genre".

I sincerely regret Ms. Fawcett's imminent demise, but I wish that she hadn't forever taken the boundaries of good taste with her.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The UN: Making the World Safe for Malefactors

Mohamed ElBaradei warns of new nuclear age

The number of potential nuclear weapons states could more than double in a few years unless the major powers take radical steps towards disarmament, the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog has warned.

In a Guardian interview, Mohamed ElBaradei said the threat of proliferation was particularly grave in the Middle East, a region he described as a "ticking bomb".

ElBaradei, the outgoing director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the current international regime limiting the spread of nuclear weapons was in danger of falling apart under its own inequity. "Any regime … has to have a sense of fairness and equity and it is not there," he said in an interview at his offices
in Vienna.

So, the way to end nuclear proliferation is for the major powers to disarm?

It's hard to comment on such sand-pounding idiocy. The fact that ElBaradei has occupied his post for as long as he has is a major cause for much of the problems we now have. Iraq developing WMDs? No action. North Korea developing nukes? No action. Iran developing nukes? No action. He laments about the Middle East having become a "ticking bomb", but he has taken no action whatsoever to stop it - apparently because, in his view, it's a matter of "fairness and equity" that radical Islamic apocalyptic basket-case states have nuclear capability. His words, not mine.

If there's one organization that has made the world less safe, it has to be the UN. It is no more than an international forum for thugs, tyrants and murderers, giving them equal status with freedom loving democratic states. I would suppose that mindset springs from the UN's quest for "fairness".

Had there been a UN in 1939, all of Europe would now be called Germany and UN diplomats would still be debating the question of Germany's invasion of Czechoslovakia. There would be no Israel because there simply would be not enough Jews left to populate it, though the UN might have issued a statement somewhat critical of the "alleged" slaughter of all European Jews.

As for the IAEA, they have, by their lack of action, given the green light for every crackpot regime in the world to develop and threaten the world with nuclear weapons, and developing them they are.

ElBaradei is right, though, the Middle East IS a ticking bomb. The problem is that neither the UN or the IAEA will do anything to diffuse it; that task will, as usual, be left to countries with the will to do so - if there are any left.

Rogues and Charlatans

Al Gore to Dick Cheney: 'I waited two years'

Al Gore said Friday that fellow former Vice President Dick Cheney has jumped back into the political fray too soon into the new administration’s term.

“I waited two years after I left office to make statements that were critical,” Gore said during an interview on CNN, pointing out that his critiques were focused on “policy.”

“Talk about somebody that shouldn't be talking about making the country less safe, invading a country that did not attack us and posed no serious threat to us at all,” Gore said of Cheney.

Uh, not even close to the truth, Mr Gore:

Flashback: Gore Calls Bush Policies "Un-American" In 2002 Speech

"Far more damaging is the administration's attack on fundamental constitutional rights that we ought to have and do have as American citizens. The very idea that an American citizen can be imprisoned without recourse to judicial process or remedies, and that this can be done on the sole say-so of the president of the United States or those acting in his name, is beyond the pale and un-American and it ought to be stopped."

"Un-American? This, from the party becomes apoplectic when their patriotism even seems to be questioned. Gore raved like a lunatic for eight straight years. For him to now play the part of genteel statesman and member of the loyal oppositions is, in his own words, "beyond the pale".

Additionally, Cheney's criticisms have been based solely on policy differences; Cheney believes that Obama's policies "make us less safe". It would also appear that even Obama is starting to agree, since he seems to be keeping more Bush-era policies than he's discarding.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Stimulation for the Dead?

Keeping with Obama's reputation as a messianic figure, his administaration attempts to "stimulate" the dead.

At this writing, no reports of success.

So, who is responsible, Mr. President?

I think the proper word for this is chutzpah:

Obama Says U.S. Long-Term Debt Load ‘Unsustainable’

May 14 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama, calling current deficit spending “unsustainable,” warned of skyrocketing interest rates for consumers if the U.S. continues to finance government by borrowing from other countries.

“We can’t keep on just borrowing from China,” Obama said at a town-hall meeting in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, outside Albuquerque. “We have to pay interest on that debt, and that means we are mortgaging our children’s future with more and more debt.”

Holders of U.S. debt will eventually “get tired” of buying it, causing interest rates on everything from auto loans to home mortgages to increase, Obama said. “It will have a dampening effect on our economy.”

Well, Mr. President you are correct. So, from where did this problem come?
Earlier this week, the Obama administration revised its own budget estimates and raised the projected deficit for this year to a record $1.84 trillion, up 5 percent from the February estimate. The revision for the 2010 fiscal year estimated the deficit at $1.26 trillion, up 7.4 percent from the February figure. The White House Office of Management and Budget also projected next year’s budget will end up at $3.59 trillion, compared with the $3.55 trillion it estimated previously.
Please read the whole thing.

A lot of people are confident that this man can change water into wine. As for me he's sounding more and more like a huckster; playing the populace and hoping he can charm his way into peace and prosperity. It doesn't work that way - neither peace or prosperity are products of charm; they are products of hard decisions and even harder work and each require a reliance on core principles.

Please, Mr. President, don't create a problem then lament the fact that the problem exists - it's cheap and tawdry and, quite frankly the American people deserve more. We have seen the payers of this debt, and it is us.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Contrition, Apologies and Understanding

In "Tender Sensibilities" (below), I wrote about the disappointment in the Arab world with the Pope's lack of contrition for quotes that he had used about Islam having been spread by the sword which, incidentally, it clearly was. In the post I was roundly critical of their reaction and I'll not retract a word.

Islam has a long way to go before it can be generally accepted as the "religion of peace" that it professes to be and the key step is to reign in its bloodthirsty extremists.

That said, there seems to be disappointment in Israel , as well, with Benedict XVI:

Pope Benedict XVI on Monday paid tribute to the memory of six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, pledging to work tirelessly to prevent such hatred from recurring in the hearts of mankind again.

But the pontiff's closely-watched speech at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial stopped short of an apology on behalf of the Catholic Church, producing palpable disappointment among those Israelis who had expected a historic address from the German-born pope on the first day of his visit here.

"I have come to stand in silence before the monument erected to honor the millions of Jews killed in the horrific tragedy of the Shoah," Benedict said in his speech.

"They lost their lives, but they will never lose their names. These are indelibly etched in the hearts of their loved ones, their surviving fellow prisoners, and all those determined never to allow such an atrocity to disgrace mankind again."

The solemn memorial service, which was held at the Holocaust Memorial's darkened Hall of Remembrance, was seen as the highlight of the pontiff's visit to the Jewish state, especially in light of the recent controversy over the pope's decision to revoke the excommunication of a bishop who denies the Holocaust.

"I reaffirm - like my predecessors - that the church is committed to praying and working tirelessly to ensure that hatred will never reign in the hearts of men
again," he said.

The English-language address by the pontiff, which was peppered with biblical quotations but which never referred to the Nazis and avoided all Holocaust-related issues of contention, was preceded by the pope's rekindling of the eternal flame in the chamber, which has a mosaic floor engraved with the names of 22 of the most infamous Nazi murder sites.

He also laid a wreath over a stone crypt containing the ashes of Holocaust victims.

"As we stand here in silence, their cry still echoes in our hearts. It is a cry raised against every act of injustice and violence. It is a perpetual reproach against the spilling of innocent blood," he said.

"I am deeply grateful to God and to you for the opportunity to stand here in silence: a silence to remember, a silence to pray, a silence to hope," he concluded.

All well and good, but there was still disappointment in the air:

The chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, who is a Holocaust survivor, expressed disappointment at the pope's speech, saying that "there certainly was no apology expressed here."

"Something was missing. There was no mention of the Germans or the Nazis who participated in the butchery, nor a word of regret," Lau said. "If not an apology, then an expression of remorse."

Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev said that the "certain restraint" in the formulation of the speech was a "missed opportunity."

"I did not expect an apology, but we expected more," he told The Jerusalem Post. "This is certainly no historic landmark."

"I had expected a historic speech from the German pope at the site which is a memorial altar for the victims of Nazi Germany," said Prof. Shevah Weiss, a former Yad Vashem chairman and Holocaust survivor. "And though the speech was moving - it wasn't that."

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin - who was absent from all of the welcoming festivities other than the visit to Yad Vashem - said after the pope's speech that "everything that we feared came to fruition."

"I came to the memorial not only to hear historical descriptions or about the established fact of the Holocaust. I came as a Jew, hoping to hear an apology and a request for forgiveness from those who caused our tragedy, and among them, the Germans and the church. But to my sadness, I did not hear any such thing," he said.

"The visit to Yad Vashem does not constitute an expression of regret as such," added Rivlin. "The eyes of Jews across the world, and of the nation in Israel, were directed here, in anticipation of hearing honest communion - personal and determined - regarding the Holocaust of their people. And we heard nothing of the sort."

There were certainly some positive reactions at the end of the piece and I encourage you to read it all.

I am, and continue to be, a proud supporter of Israel and have a banner on my blog attesting to that fact. While I'm not Jewish, I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood, raised by parents from whom I never detected even a whiff of antisemitism. My mother used to say "it's good to live in a Jewish neighborhood; they're good people". I had as many Jewish friends as Christian, and as a Roman Catholic, I always felt an odd kinship to the Jews that I really cannot explain.

Having always had an interest in history, I came to know quite a lot about the Holocaust at an early age. Several years ago, I visited the Holocaust Museum in D.C., and the experience haunts me to this day.

No amount of apologies and professions of grief will ever undo this horrific chapter in human history. Those responsible, who are still alive, should be hunted down and hanged for their crimes, regardless of their age. Their modern ideological heirs should occupy no place at the table of civilized discourse and should be shunned as the vermin that they are. They are the enemies of humanity and should be treated accordingly. "Never Again" shows the innate frailty of words, but words are all we have.

I cannot imagine the horrors these Holocaust survivors experienced, but I am sure that their experiences hold considerable sway on their attitudes, as is to be expected. For that reason, I do not feel comfortable criticizing their disappointment or their perceptions regarding Benedict's remarks, and I won't.

What I can do is to hope that generations of Jews, present and future, will find a way to refrain from blaming all Germans and expecting constant apologies for atrocities of which individuals were clearly not a part. Benedict was clearly not a Nazi and had no interest in becoming one:

Following his fourteenth birthday in 1941, Ratzinger was enrolled in the Hitler Youth, as membership was required for all 14-year old German boys after December 1939,[6] but was an unenthusiastic member and refused to attend meetings.[7] His father was a bitter enemy of Nazism, believing it conflicted with the Catholic faith, according to biographer John L. Allen, Jr. In 1941, one of Ratzinger's cousins, a 14-year-old boy with Down syndrome, was taken away by the Nazi regime to a care center and killed there in secrecy during the Aktion T4 euthanasia campaign of Nazi eugenics.[8] In 1943 while still in seminary, he was drafted at age 16 into the German anti-aircraft corps. Ratzinger then trained in the German infantry, but a subsequent illness precluded him from the usual rigours of military duty. As the Allied front drew closer to his post in 1945, he deserted back to his family's home in Traunstein after his unit had ceased to exist, just as American troops established their headquarters in the Ratzinger household. As a German soldier, he was put in a POW camp but was released a few months later at the end of the War in summer 1945. He reentered the seminary, along with his brother Georg, in November of that year.

Pope Benedict XVI's portrayal as being insufficiently contrite, and in some quarters actually sympathetic to the Nazis is unfair and runs counter to the historical record. Were he, or members of his immediate family, sympathizers, I think personal apologies would be in order but, to this point, there has been no evidence to that effect presented. He, and his family were also victims of a totalitarian regime, though, obviously, to a far lesser extent than German and Eastern European Jews.

Yes, we must "never forget", for such evil ideologies are still alive today and the past has a way of rearing its ugly head when we least expect it. Vigilance is the key to preventing of a repeat of that past. On the other hand, indiscriminately using Germans in general, or the Pope in particular, as vessels for the anguish of the past, on the basis of their nationality alone, distracts us from the work we have ahead of us in eliminating the hate that created that anguish.

In deference to complaints about the Church itself, there was profound lack of recognition and action before and during the war on the part of the Church that is a matter of record. John Paul II addressed this matter, to his credit, and I wish that Benedict XVI had taken the opportunity to do the same. I do hope that Benedict will consider these criticisms and complaints and address them in an effort to bring these two great faiths to a higher level of trust and understanding.

Don't blame Obama, it's all Bush's fault!

Obama gameplan: Accept all of the credit, defer all of the blame to the previous administration.

High U.S. budget deficits not Obama's fault-Orszag

WASHINGTON, May 11 (Reuters) - High U.S. budget deficits are being driven by an economic crisis that President Barack Obama inherited, White House Budget Director Peter Orszag said on Monday.

Orszag, writing in a blog posting, also said that the administration's latest budget deficit estimates -- which were revised upward by $89 billion and $87 billion for this year and next, respectively -- reflect the latest data on tax receipts, federal bailouts and other government costs.

So, this is what passes for leadership in the context of the current administration? Were I Obama, I would disavow such statements and accept responsibility for my decisions and policies, but I'm not holding my breath.

Red Dawn

White House: Budget deficit to top $1.8 trillion

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mirroring the unprecedented red ink flowing from America's deep recession, the deficit for the current budget year will rise by $89 billion to $1.84 trillion -- about four times the record set just last year.

The budget also reflects the costs incurred for the Wall Street bailout, President Barack Obama's economic stimulus bill, as well as a structural imbalance between what the government spends and what it takes in.

For the current fiscal year that ends on Sept. 30, the government would borrow 46 cents for every dollar it takes to run the government under the administration's plan. In one of the few positive signs, the actual 2009 deficit is likely to be $250 billion less than predicted because Congress is unlikely to provide another $250 billion in financial bailout money.

The developments come as the White House completes the official release of its $3.6 trillion budget for 2010, adding detail to some of its tax proposals and ideas for producing health care savings. The White House budget is a recommendation to Congress that represents Obama's fiscal and policy vision for the next decade.

The deficit quadruples in 2009, then will likely triple again in 2010?

I love the last sentence: "The White House budget is a recommendation to Congress that represents Obama's fiscal and policy vision for the next decade."

It seems less a vision than a nightmare.

Same old story: Provocateurs make demands; victims in the hotseat

Netanyahu meeting with Obama decides Mid-East’s future, says Abdullah

President Obama’s critical meeting with Binyamin Netanyahu next week has become the acid test for the Administration’s commitment to peace in the Middle East, King Abdullah of Jordan said yesterday.

The monarch does not conceal his feelings about the Israeli leader. He described their last encounter – 10 years ago when he had just come to the throne – as the “least pleasant” of his reign. But he, and President Mubarak of Egypt, are expected to meet the Israeli leader before his trip to Washington, where the future course of the region could be decided.

The King said that he was prepared to believe what Israelis have told him — that a right-wing Government in Israel is better able to deliver peace than the Left.

“All eyes will be looking to Washington,” he said. “If there are no clear signals and no clear directives to all of us, there will be a feeling that this is just another American Government that is going to let us all down.”

If Israel procrastinated on a two-state solution, or if there was no clear American vision on what should happen this year, the “tremendous credibility” that Mr Obama had built up in the Arab world would evaporate overnight.

And if peace negotiations were delayed, there would be another conflict between Arabs or Muslims and Israel in the next 12-18 months, with implications far beyond the Middle East.

“If the call is in May that this is not the right time or we are not interested, then the world is going to be sucked into another conflict in the Middle East,” the King said.

He broke off from his busy schedule hosting the Pope in Jordan to give his warning to The Times. He was the first Arab leader to call on President Obama in Washington two weeks ago, and is now leading the hectic Arab efforts to respond to the Administration’s determination to seek a comprehensive peace.

Once again, it's all up to the U.S. and Israel to give the Arabs what they want - or else.

Let's see, the Arabs will eventually recognize Israel's right to exist, allow Israelis entry into Arab countries and allow El Al Airlines to overfly Arab territory without being shot down. In return, all the Israelis have to do is give up even more of their territory than they already have and agree "to talk" about the future status of Jerusalem.

When do the Israelis stop allowing themselves to be blackmailed by dishonest Arab brokers and start dealing from a position of strength? I think the time is now and I would hope that Netanyahu's response to Obama's presentation of these Arab demands will be one word: ENOUGH!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tender Sensibilities

Pope's address disappoints Muslim leaders

Jordanian clerics expressed disappointment that Pope Benedict XVI in an address to Muslim leaders on Saturday failed to offer a new apology for remarks seen as targeting Islam.

"We wanted him to clearly apologise," Sheikh Yusef Abu Hussein, mufti of the southern city of Karak, told AFP after the pope's address in Amman's huge Al-Hussein Mosque.

"What the pope said (in 2006) about the Prophet Mohammed is untrue. Islam did not spread through the power of sword. It's a religion of tolerance and faith," Hussein said.

It's always the same old tripe. Even in Jordan, which is supposed to be "moderate", in terms of Islam, there is the persistent and abject refusal to accept things as they are. This lies at the heart of the intransigence of Islam and explains the near impossibility of affecting any type of peace between them and the balance of the world.

I, as well as countless others, have written ad nauseum on this subject. The religion of "tolerance" of which Hussein speaks simply does not exist in history and continually claiming that it does cannot change the facts. Certainly Christianity, Judaism and all major religions have had their periods of violence, but all of them have confronted their past and adapted their faiths to conform to a more moderate present. Denial of history simply dooms one to continue the radical and blood soaked errors of the past, and that is where we find Islam today. One needn't look at the distant past for examples of radical Islamic violence, one need only look at yesterday's newspaper. One need only look at the daily operation of Islamic states to see intolerance, cruelty and gruesome murder directed at anyone with even mildly divergent views.

If anyone deserves an apology, it's the non-Islamic West, who have welcomed Muslims into their countries, exhibited religious tolerance and understanding toward them, only to be viciously attacked and murdered by fundamentalist Muslims who still believe in the Mohammedan practice of spreading Islam "by the sword".

Continuing to coddle and issue apologies simply begets more of the same. It is up to THEM to confront the violent factions in their midst and purge them. Until that happens, they will never be a religion of "tolerance"; they will continue to be a religion of codified violence and barbarity.

This isn't the first time I've said this and, alas, it won't be the last.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

What the HELL is happening here?

Yes, this sounds like a parody from The Onion, or Scrappleface, but it's all too true - Barack Obama, Corporate Raider:

Chrysler’s fall may help Obama reshape GM

WASHINGTON - Fresh from pushing Chrysler into bankruptcy, President Obama and his economic team are hoping that the hard line they took last week gives them leverage to force huge changes in General Motors, a far larger and more complex company.

Officials say that, difficult as Mr. Obama’s decision was on Wednesday night to take all the risks of a Chrysler bankruptcy, the politics of reshaping G.M. will be far harder. Already a shadow of the company that once dominated the American landscape, G.M. will be forced to eliminate tens of thousands of additional jobs and close factories and dealerships nationwide.

In 100 days, he's gone from merely president to Gordon Gekko on steroids! Not only is this well outside the purview of the president, the naked power grab is frightening in the extreme. He's now running not only the country, but the financial sector and two of the three remaining auto manufacturers in the United States.

At this rate he'll be a version of Ernst Stavro Blofeld living on a fortified island, ruling the entire world by the end of the year. I hope the Brits still have James Bond on the payroll.

Jack Kemp, RIP

WASHINGTON — Jack Kemp, the ex-quarterback, congressman, one-time vice-presidential nominee and self-described "bleeding-heart conservative," died Saturday. He was 73.

Kemp died after a lengthy illness, according to spokeswoman Bona Park and Edwin J. Feulner, a longtime friend and former campaign adviser. Park said Kemp died at his home in Bethesda, Md., in the Washington suburbs.

Jack Kemp was his own man, a true intellectual and a great American patriot. We'll miss you, Jack. Rest in Peace.