Saturday, January 02, 2010
Clueless. It’s the word that best describes the Obama administration’s first year in office. They’ve proven themselves clueless about creating jobs; clueless about handling growing nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea; and now, most devastatingly, clueless about protecting Americans from terrorist attacks on our own soil. And with nearly one year under the belts, they can’t keep blaming the Bush administration for everything that goes awry.
It is hard to imagine a more incompetent handling of the thwarted Christmas Day bombing of a U.S. jetliner. First, the commander in chief was too busy enjoying his vacation in Hawaii to do much more than issue platitudinous assurances that he was "actively monitoring" the incident, while dispersing White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to the weekend talk shows to downplay the significance of the event.
When the news media began uncovering evidence that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was exactly who he claimed to be when taken into custody -- a terrorist tied to an al-Qaida network in Yemen -- the administration began backtracking on its earlier statements that the incident was not part of a larger terrorist plot and that "the system worked." But it took the president three days to appear before the American public to insist on a thorough investigation. By that time, everyone knew that the would-be suicide bomber’s own father had alerted U.S. intelligence officials of his son’s threat to American security. But the warnings didn’t keep Abdulmutallab off a jetliner headed to the United States.
Even the words the president used in his press conference Dec. 28 suggest how clueless he is. He described Abdulmutallab as a "passenger (who) allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device," repeatedly referring to Abdulmutallab in his comments as a "suspect." These are the weasel words we use when talking about ordinary criminals, which is no accident. The Obama administration’s anti-terrorism philosophy is to treat terrorist attacks like criminal actions, not acts of war.
The Obama administration’s response to the deadly terrorist attack at Fort Hood in November was exactly the same. For days after Nidal Hasan gunned down his fellow soldiers at the Texas Army installation, killing 13 and injuring dozens, the administration tried to portray Hasan as a troubled lone wolf whose actions had nothing to do with his increasingly radicalized Islamic faith. But as news organizations revealed that the FBI had been monitoring Hasan and that he had been in contact with a known radical imam in Yemen, the insanity explanation looked increasingly lame. Now the administration is engaged in a review of why so many clues to Hasan's terrorist intentions went ignored.
The Obama administration’s cluelessness has reached the point that even the president’s admirers have to admit something is drastically wrong. The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus, one of President Obama’s most fawning fans, wrote this week: "The more I think about the Christmas all-but-bombing, the angrier I get. At the multiple failures that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to get on the plane with explosives sewn inside his underwear. And at the Obama administration's initial, everything's-fine-everybody-move-right-along reaction." And Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, now wants to stop the administration from releasing Guantanamo detainees to Yemen, in light of growing evidence of al-Qaida's active presence there.
Many of us who criticized Barack Obama’s candidacy did so because we felt he was too inexperienced to be president. His first year in office has done nothing to allay those fears. He has put together a team of White House operatives who politicize every crisis. Their first concern seems to be to protect the president from blame, not to protect the American people from harm, whether it be from failed economic policies or terrorist attacks.
And the president seems unable to go much beyond reading a script. He shows little actual leadership, whether in crafting a health care plan or devising a coherent foreign policy, preferring to delegate to others duties that he should assume. He turned over responsibility for the stimulus plan and totally revamping of U.S. health care to Democrats in Congress, with predictably unsatisfactory results. Meanwhile, his policy of engagement with enemies like Iran and North Korea has simply emboldened them to pursue their nuclear aims at a faster pace.
Americans have given President Obama an extended honeymoon, but their love affair with a man who showed much promise, if not actual accomplishment, is cooling down. The latest Rasmussen presidential tracking numbers show the president at only 47 percent approval. Unless President Obama dramatically changes course, 2010 will be the year when most Americans begin thinking about divorce.
How incessant government meddling brought on America's financial crisis
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA HEADS the list of Americans who believe that the continuing financial crisis should be blamed on excessive risk-taking by bankers who had an unbridled desire to make money in mortgages. These would-be reformers want stronger government regulation of the bankers to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.
In a recent 60 Minutes interview, Obama blamed "fat cat bankers" for causing the crisis, putting America through its "worst economic year...in decades." He went on to chide Wall Street banks for "fighting tooth and nail" the new regulations he believes would be vital in preventing future crises.
A deeper examination, however, reveals that this is neither a housing crisis nor a Wall Street banking crisis. This is a monetary crisis, rooted in the lending of money created out of thin air. This is what leads to economic booms and busts.
The current crisis goes back to the Asian Contagion of 1997 and the meltdown of the Long Term Capital Management hedge fund in 1998. In response to each of these situations, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates and rapidly expanded the money supply. This excess liquidity helped push stocks, especially tech issues, to unsustainably high levels. The excess money created by the Fed and the banking system spilled into the rest of the economy, pushing up consumer prices.
To combat the rise in prices that it had caused, the Fed tightened monetary policy, which precipitated a massive plunge in stocks. Then, to bail out investors and stimulate the slowing economy once again, the central bank expanded the money supply rapidly to force rates lower. It ultimately jammed down the overnight fed-funds rate to 1%.
Unhappy with the correspondingly low returns on money-market funds, recently burned by the stock market, and spurred on by Wahington policies intended to encourage homeownership, investors turned to real estate, largely housing, seeking higher returns. In time, in the hands of frenzied investors, the new money created by the Fed and banking system boosted home prices sharply.
In our present crisis, excess money created by the Fed also pushed up consumer prices. Once again, concerned about this, the Fed raised interest rates, thus raising mortgage rates. Subprime borrowers were the first casualties of these higher rates. Unable to afford their interest payments, they kept refinancing their loans by taking out new ones. When the easy money and credit stopped flowing, the loans became harder to refinance, and these borrowers began to default; the higher interest rates and reduced availability of easy mortgage credit also hurt more highly rated borrowers looking for homes. And, of course, the speculators, or flippers, who had feasted on the easy-money loans, saw their schemes disintegrate without easy credit flowing from Washington.
When the Fed tries to induce business activity in this manner, it never lasts. This is because the central bank always has to cut off the flow of easy money, in fear of causing further damage in the form of rising consumer prices. When the Fed removes this artificial stimulus, business activity dependent on it grinds to a halt, asset prices plunge, and recession sets in. In some ways, the process is analogous to a doctor administering adrenalin to a patient. Remove the stimulus and the patient collapses.
Healthy economic growth is supported by savings, rather than newly created money. People and businesses save and invest the money they don't need to consume right away. They make loans and investments that create computer equipment, copper mines, retail stores, and new homes. These loans and investments need not be cut off suddenly by a Fed worried about rising prices, as is the case when the Fed induces business activity by simply creating money.
In the most recent boom, total debt rose to a record 375% of gross domestic product. (By comparison, debt was 150% of total GDP in the inflationary boom of the 1970s.) Thus, the Fed has had to resort to desperate measures to bail out the economy. Along with its gargantuan loan programs, it has injected over $1.2 trillion in new bank reserves into the system -- building upon a base of about $800 billion -- in an effort to hold overnight interest rates near zero. This has propelled stock and commodity prices upward, while credit spreads have tightened. In time, borrowing and lending should accelerate, and economic activity should increase. This should continue until the inflationary consequences of the easy-money policy become evident. Consumer prices should rise, as should long-term interest rates. Then, confronted with the inflationary effects, the Fed once again will have to reverse its easy-money scheme and raise short-term interest rates, or allow the inflationary effects to accelerate.
How many more crises must we endure until we realize the common denominator is the creation of money and credit by the Fed? Wall Street bankers and speculators, who try to game the system and make profits during each boom, are mere bit players in these crises. By fostering the booms and triggering the busts, the real villain is the institution of central banking itself. Thus, instead of providing stability to the economy, central banking has created great instability. Until this is understood, we will make little progress in preventing future crises or easing the current one.
Lurching from crisis to crisis in boom-bust fashion is unacceptable and unnecessary. The Federal Reserve must stop juicing the economy with massive amounts of newly created money and move to a monetary system free of government-caused booms and busts. The only effective way to do this would be to remove control of our money supply from politicians and their appointees. We need to move to a money that is 100% backed by a commodity, such as gold. Only then can we rid the economy of the devastating effects of the creation of money and credit out of thin air.
Gross National Happiness
Happiness is central to the idea of America; along with life and liberty, the Founding Fathers listed “the pursuit of happiness” as a fundamental right in the Declaration of Independence. Yet little has been done since to find out what actually makes America a happy nation. And while our leaders make all sorts of promises to the American people, they rarely speak of—or pursue—happiness as a national goal. What would our nation look like if they did?
In Gross National Happiness, Arthur Brooks, author of the controversial and strikingly original Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, reveals the main sources of bliss—and misery—in America. Based on an enormous and unbiased array of hard data, Gross National Happiness offers up some very unconventional wisdom about our happiness as individuals and as a nation.
* Despite the stereotype of grim conservatives and happy-go-lucky liberals, the truth is that people on the political right are nearly twice as happy as those on the left.
* Marriage makes people very happy, but children have the opposite effect: The happiness of couples, and the quality of their marriage, falls after the birth of the first child.
* Many politicians identify income inequality as a major problem facing our nation, yet this is precisely the wrong problem for policymakers to be addressing if we want a happier country.
* There is just one reliable way to “buy happiness”: by giving money away to charity.
* Work, not leisure, makes us happy. Ninety percent of Americans like their jobs, and 70 percent of Americans say that they would continue to work in them even if they were financially independent.
Witty, enthralling, and full of surprises, Gross National Happiness offers illuminating conclusions about how we the people—with the aid of our government and political leaders—can be the happiest nation possible.
Armed Somali Muslim shot entering Danish cartoonist's home: "Danish police late on Friday shot and wounded a man trying to enter the Aarhus home of Kurt Westergaard, who drew controversial cartoons of Islam's Prophet Mohammed, Danish media reported. The Danish cartoonist, who has received several death threats since a Danish newspaper four years ago published his drawing featuring Mohammed wearing a turban in the shape of a bomb, was at home in Viby near the western city of Aarhus when the 27-year-old and two others tried to get in, daily Politiken reported online. Guards repulsed the three intruders as security alarms were set off, and the wounded man was hospitalised. Denmark's Ritzau news agency said a dozen police vehicles were at the scene while sappers were sent in to look for a bomb that may have been laid."
2009 a tough year for Airbus and the A380: "Plane maker Airbus will miss its delivery target for the new A380 superjumbo in 2009, sources said on Wednesday, capping a year of production setbacks and technical glitches for the company. A union source who asked not to be named said that Airbus would record 10 deliveries of A380s to airlines in 2009, short of the previous target of 13 which had been revised down from the initial 21 planned a year ago.An Airbus spokesman said 10 had been delivered so far and any deliveries still outstanding from 2009 would be made in January. In 2008 Airbus delivered 12 of the superjumbos and the model's routes now include Paris to New York for Air France. That plane has been grounded at least three times due to technical faults since starting the route in November. An A380 flown by Singapore Airlines had to return to Paris on September 27 after one of its four engines failed during a flight to Singapore. Airbus has also suffered setbacks to production of its Airbus A400M military transporter, which this month carried out its first test flight in Spain. Deliveries of the A400 are at least three years behind schedule due to a series of technical problems and media reports said Airbus needs another five billion euros ($A8 billion) to finish the project".
Seattle loves its murderers: "Seattle officials are backpedalling on a plan to name a new park in honor of a sister city better known these days as the Italian community where an American student was convicted of murdering her British roommate. Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher said Thursday that the city is shelving the naming process for the park because of community concerns after the recent conviction of Seattle native Amanda Knox. The park in the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood was to be called Perugia Park. Six other city parks bear the names of Seattle sister cities. An Italian jury in early December convicted the 22-year-old Knox of the 2007 murder in Perugia of British student Meredith Kercher. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison." [There's a long record of Leftist support for criminals -- even ones as vile as "Tookie" Williams]
French police useless against Muslims: "Youths burned 1,137 cars across France overnight as New Year's Eve celebrations once again turned violent, the French Interior Ministry said on Friday. Car burnings are regular occurrences in poor suburbs that ring France's big cities, but the arson is especially prevalent during New Year's Eve revelry. The number of vehicles torched was only 10 short of the record 1,147 burned this time last year, even though the Interior Ministry mobilized 45,000 police during the night -- 10,000 more than 12 months ago. It said police detained 549 people overnight, compared with 288 in 2009 New Year celebrations. However, unlike in previous years, there were no direct clashes between police and youths. "The few disturbances that did take place were brought swiftly under control," the ministry said in a statement."
Update on Rush Limbaugh: "In a press conference held at the Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu today, conservative radio talker Rush Limbaugh said he did not suffer a heart attack and that tests had thus far been inconclusive on what exactly caused his symptoms earlier this week. And, in true Rush style, he also took a moment to poke at Obama's proposed overhaul of America's health care system: "The treatment I received here was the best that the world has to offer,” Limbaugh said. “Based on what happened here to me, I don't think there's one thing wrong with the American health care system. It is working just fine, just dandy."
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 11:28 PM