Tag Archives: politics

Are Voters Mathematically Challenged?

San Diego — Tomorrow the world as we know it ends.

At least that is what the whiner in chief and his sycophantic minions are telling us.  When the sequester — that was his idea in the first place, which, in an interview in October with the Des Moines Register, he said was part of the grand bargain that included the cancelling of the Bush tax cuts and would set on a balanced road to stability – kicks in he is now trotting out his department heads to prophesy everything from closing school to closing airports to cutting back on military capabilities to having to set free illegal aliens held in jails for other infractions.

But in order for that to happen, or even come close to happening, one of two things would have to occur.  Either the laws of mathematics would have to change significantly or the administration would have to make specific choices and decisions designed to bring about the greatest harm to the country while ignoring solutions that really should have an effect only on those wasting money or defrauding the system.

Since I am skeptical of the first option occurring, I am left with the second.  And why would I say that?  Simple… I own a calculator.

We have a current debt of about $16.6 Trillion dollars (which is currently much higher than it was when Obama first proposed the sequester idea as a means of forcing action which was, to his enormous surprise, accepted by the opposition.  But that increase and the increases currently planned are extra-budgetary meaning they are planned by the administration but are not contained in any budget initiated or approved by congress which is what the Constitution requires for a budget to be valid.

We have not had a budget for over 4 years; the lack of which allows the President and his departments to sneak in spending increases under the radar and such is the case with the increases currently being proposed.   They have never been approved by congress.  Nevertheless the President proposed and congress accepted a plan to decrease the RATE OF INCREEASED SPENDING over the then $15 Trillion debt by 2% across the board, exempting those areas that, by law, cannot be cut without specific congressional approval.

What is critically important for you to remember is that was not 2% of the total budget; it was 2% of the rate of increased spending being planned over the current expenditures.  Now the debt is up another $1.6 Trillion from the data of that plan’s acceptance.  Money being committed for which there is no budget and no revenue to cover it.

When one factors in that by the time this happens what was calculated to be a total decrease in increased spending of $85 Billion is actually only about $44 Billion, and not a penny of that cuts into the budgetary base line, it still works out to a reduction of the national indebtedness figure of about 2 cents per dollar.

Additionally we are told that all cuts must be made equally “across the board.”  But that is not precisely true.  The bill itself the cuts to be equally made across the non-exempt DEPARTMENTS’ budgets but makes no mention of any restrictions on how, WITHIN a department the cuts are allocated.  Those decisions can be made sensibly with a sort of economic triage or they can be made based on politically desired outcome.

The Defense Department spokesmouth said, for example that Coast Guard rescue missions would be cut.  But later the commandant of the Coast Guard said he could find the money from other non-essential areas.

FAA talks about cutting air controllers but does not even look at such things as a subsidy they pay for snacks on flights (you thought the airlines paid for that, huh?).  The FDA talks about health issues but does not talk about cutting subsidies for tobacco growers while the Health Department then also pays huge amounts for anti-tobacco campaigns.   Or how interior pays some farmers to NOT grow a crop it pays others TO grow.

And if ANY part of the government is able to be called “non-essential” why are we paying for it anyway?

Bottom line even if all of the apocalyptic cuts are made as prophesied, we will still be spending more in 2013 than we did in 2012 because we have only cut the rate of increase not the actual existing budget items.

So get a grip people!  And hold your elected folks’ feet to the fire to allocate the cuts wisely, as you would expect.  As it is now, it is as if an individual had a cable contract but when their bonus check was cut, they decided to deal with it by cutting back on food for their kids and leave the TV offerings alone.  But when the government does an exactly analogous thing it is OK with you and you just accept it because you think the enlightened folks leading it have an imprimatur from God to act wisely in all things?

In the end it is all in YOUR hands.  You can tell the representatives that how they allocate money and how the President’s minions allocate money in their departments is going to have an effect on your voting.  And if you do that I can nearly guarantee things will get better.

If you don’t, if you remain minimally informed about the details of these things that can, if used poorly – or maliciously – have a very bad effect on you, then you have only yourselves to blame for whatever the outcome will be.

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Posted by on March 1, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Real Crime Stats and Gun Control

San Diego — The FBI has released their 2007-2011 report on homocides by weapon used.  Please note these are not statistics created by the NRA or any of the other gun-rights advocating groups. They are from the FBI who annually publishes crime statistics sorted just about every possible way you can imagine.

Unlike the utter nonsense I’ve seen passing for data on Facebook, fabricated by true believers on all sides of this issue, these are numbers gathered by the government agency we made responsible for such data… the FBI. And if you think I am cherry picking data or, worse, making it up myself then all you have to do is do a Google or Yahoo search on “FBI Crime Statistics” and there will be the links to the FBI’s own site and the various tables containing the data from numerous perspectives.

But when you do that, I mean when you actually look at real numbers, there is an inescapable conclusion that not even the most close-minded can ignore if they believe real numbers mean anything. The results are completely opposite of what you would expect if you bought into the anti-gun crowd now claiming that not reinstating the ban on assault weapons will cause more crime.  After reading the report with figures gathered from law enforcement agencies across the country, to conclude otherwise means you have to take as evidence something other than the actual data on crimes, in this case homocides.

The report indicates, among other things that you are more likely to be killed by knives, hammers, even hands or feet than by a rifle or shotgun which does not play into the hands of those seeking a ban on scary looking guns.  They call these fearful looking guns “Assault Rifles” but the facts are a true “Assault Rifle” is, by definition, capable of fully automatic as well as “burst” (usually three shot) fire and are tightly controlled by BATF regulations and special licensing requirements.  They say it does not take 10 bullets to kill a deer and that is true.  But on more than one occasion it has taken more than that, even in the hands of police, to stop a drug soaked felon.

Here is a really inconvenient truth.  While gun ownership has dramatically increased since 2007, murders for both the shotgun and rifle categories have seen declines faster than the rate of personal weapons (knives, hammers, bats, hands and feet, etc.) related homocides.

The rates of decline for the shotgun and rifle categories are 22.1% and 28.7% respectively. In 2011 there were 356 shotgun murders and 323 rifle murders for a total of 679 murders by “long guns.”  Don’t misunderstand me, I think that number, indeed ANY number, is unacceptable in a civilized society and I have already set in writing my proposals for regulations addressing it.  But it does indicate that long guns of all types are not used that often to murder someone and if eliminated entirely from the face of the earth would make a very small dent in the overall murder rates.

Lets take a closer look at the 2011 stats.  As of this writing 2012 stats are only compiled from Jan to June so those tallies are not good numbers for annual comparisons although the trend, as noted above, indicates further decline in murder rates from all types of weapons (poisonings are not counted in this particular set of tables since it is not, strictly speaking, a “weapon”).

So far, homicides in all categories are down.  Here are some of the specific numbers by states where there is either massive onerous gun control or very lax control.  I’ve selected these so that we can compare them and see how well the controls now in place are working in the real, not the fantasy, world.


State Population Firearms Total Hand guns Long Guns Other (knives, hammers, etc. Personal (hands/ Feet)
California 38 million 1220 866 95 469 101
Arizona 6.5 million 222 165 23 108 9
Colorado 5.2 million 73 39 8 53 21
Texas 25 million 699 497 85 309 81
Illinois 12.8 million 377 364 6 58 6
Oregon 3.8 million 40 13 1 32 5
D.C. 0.6 Million 77 37 1 30 1
New York 19 Million 445 399 85 309 85

So what does this data tell us… really?

Well for one thing it tells us that the states with the strictest gun control laws (New York, Illinois, California) have higher per capita firearms related homicides than those with more relaxed gun laws such as Arizona, Colorado, and Texas.

It also tells us that firearm homicides using long guns (rifles and shot guns, including scary looking guns) account for a tiny fraction of firearms homicides so the assault weapons ban is essentially worthless.

It tells us, as noted above, non-firearms related homicides per capita are no lower in states with strict gun control laws than in states with loose gun control laws and in some cases are higher.  For example, in California and Texas the percentage of firearms homicides is about the same per capita but California, with very tough gun laws, has more per capita non-firearm homicides.

Now these statistics make absolutely zero sense to those who believe it is the access to guns that causes violent homicides.  But there are more guns in civilian hands now than ever before in our history yet the whole list of violent crimes is declining in occurrences.  How is that possible?  For those who believe people don’t kill people, it is guns that kill people, it is not possible.  Without access to weapons we would all, they seem to believe, play nice in the communal sand box.

But that is not what real statistics seem to tell us.  In New York with the strictest of all laws except D.C., there are as many non-firearms homicides as those with firearms.  The comparisons of Texas and California show that a person desiring to kill another will find a way even if firearms are not readily available.

So I repeat my conclusion of a number of posts ago when writing about the 2nd Amendment and gun control laws: we do not have a gun problem; what we have is a morals and ethics problem. 

Ethical people with high morals, including gun owners, do not normally murder others.  People without ethics and low morals murder others by any means they can do it.  We have a morals and ethical problem and it is a very big one.

Until we address those issues, all this madness over blaming a tool for the owners use of it, will go on and on but not solve a single thing because we are looking in the wrong direction.  So long as we continue to support situational ethics and moral relativism, this problem will not ever go away.  Until we stop passing laws that favor the perpetrators and place the onus on real victims, until we stop passing laws that remove the consequences for bad behavior and bad choices, until we as a society are once again willing to assert values into the political equation, demand those same values of our politicians AND of our citizenry, then we will have people who believe it is OK to settle disputes by killing their rivals.  These statistics shout out that we can take away all the guns and the bad actors will still find a way to do harm to others.

This is not about party affiliation.  There are as many murders per capita in the ultra liberal states as in the ultra conservative ones.  It is about having and instilling values and an internally consistent standard of behavior and until we regain those, then except to erode liberty even further, any effect of enhanced gun restriction by itself will be as effective as spitting into a hurricane.

And if you REALLY want to tackle some behavior dangerous to society then I would look first to driving under ANY influence.  Every two years we kill as many people on the roads as in ten years of the Vietnam war.  Of course that is a problem of values, ethics, and morals so we will not seriously look at it.  But if we are determined to look at and ban tools that are responsible for human suffering and deaths then I would also look at the item most responsible for accidental death: ladders.  Not guns or knives or other weapons… ladders.

But are you going to believe the government’s own numbers when they go against your ideology?  I doubt it.  You would not believe the GAO (Government Accounting Office) when they published their own estimations of the true costs of your messiah’s economic plans especially as it pertains to health care so why believe these?

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Posted by on February 17, 2013 in Uncategorized


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More BS Flowing Down The Political Sewer Pipe

San Diego – Oh how soon we forget when it serves our purposes…  But sometimes there is that pesky videotape that someone forgot to erase when the agenda changed.  And now we have a glaring example of it.

The year was 2006.  The President was the hated Bush demon and in his evil machinations sought to raise the debt ceiling.  The left was simply apoplectic.  Senators Reid, Pelosi and, yes, Senator Barrack Obama each took to the dias and bloviated in soaring rhetoric how this was an outrage!  This was, they ALL chanted, simply so we could spend more money but we did not need to raise it for current spending obligations because all of those had to have been approved under the debt ceiling as then defined.  This was, they shrieked, merely a way to allow the administration to spend NEW money on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan beyond that already approved, which they hated.

In fact, they were right.  Congress cannot approve borrowing more money than the debt ceiling in place at the moment will allow.  So every debt and liability incurred by the country at the moment has had to fit within the debt ceiling when the liability was enacted.  And, sure enough, we have the revenue to at least service the current debt even though we do not have the revenue to pay the principle down or to fund new debt.  That was true when Reid, Pelosi, Obama, et al rose to say it in 2006.  And it is still true today.

It was still true in 2008 when Obama, on the stump, called the Evil Bush Demon irresponsible and unpatriotic for allowing the national debt to reach $4 trillion on his watch, to create, he noted, a debt exceeding the total debt run up by all presidents before him.  He was correct.  But that was $6 Trillion ago.  And that additional $6 Trillion was run up not by the Evil Bush Demon but by the benighted Obamessiah,  How can that be when he was telling the truth back then.

However, he was not telling the truth today or anything even close to it.  He had to be assuming, (and with every reason to make the assumption based on the election results), that the populace is so ignorant and so burdened with short attentions that they will not only have forgotten it but those few who remembered will think they remembered in error, our Spender in Chief rose Monday morning to warn the people that if the evil right wing continued to hold America hostage by refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless some equal cuts in spending were added, we would fail economically, fail in our promises to the world, our credit would be shot, and we would no longer be a powerful nation.

Sorry Chief, that is simply a bald faced lie.  And worse.  Trying to frighten recipeients of social security and VA benefits is disingenuous because he knows full well that the payment of those specific benefits is protected by Federal law.  It is more than disingenuous, it is sleazy and duplicitous.

And, Dear Leader, it contradicts your own surprisingly well reasoned diatribe against raising the debt ceiling for the Evil Bush Demon which, against all odds, actually caught you doing something unusual, telling… the truth.  Well, some of the truth anyway.

Raising the debt ceiling is wanted and needed solely so we can raise our debt.  Duh.  Obama’s problem is that as a country, we do not take in the revenue to pay for the desired levels of spending especially when the leadership wants to turn us overnight into a Scandinavian model socialist democracy.  But this is not a result of incompetence.  I believe it is an obvious part of strategy 101.

If we continue, year after year to raise the debt ceiling and then borrow up to it so we need to raise it again to spend and borrow more, sooner or later that house of cards will come crumbling down just as it does to a family who tries the same thing.  And then we have a choice.  We can do what we are doing now which is simply push the day of reckoning down the line so our kids and their kids will have to deal with the catastrophe we are creating, or we have to belly up to the bar and cough up the revenues into the public coffers to pay for it.

The problem is then we will have to believe that a Congress known most of all for its profligate spending (and yes, this includes the mainstream Republicans as well who differentiate themselves from the liberals only be want to spend a little less and a little slower, will take that added revenue and put it toward paying down the debt instead of simply expanding new programs.  You do all believe they will all suddenly be bitten by the bug of restraint, don’t you?  I’m sure I do…  NOT!

The only chance this generation has of getting the debt under control is to stop increasing the debt faster than it can be paid down.  And that needs to start now.  Will it happen?  I doubt it.  The citizenry unburdened by any real knowledge of the issues or the consequences, hearing only what they want to hear and even then only if buried in the speech is a promise for more stuff to flow down into the public trough, are apparently clueless.

Obama has an uncanny ability to avoid issues and solutions while successfully painting any who oppose his view as the enemy, not just of him, though that is bad enough in his eyes, but of the country, of the children, of the poor, of the minorities, of women, of anyone whose status allows the inference of some ugly label to be applied to his opposition.

Amazing.  Sad.  Maddening.  I think perhaps we need the object lesson  now rushing at us like an out of control freight train while we, in our economically and ethically broken jalopy sit here broken down on the track.  Maybe those left standing, after they have clawed their way back to fiscal responsibility and productivity will, at least for another generation, remember.

Despite government promises to the contrary, there really is no free lunch.  And this lunch is going to have one Hell of a bill.

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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Uncategorized


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The Crisis of the Middle Class and American Power

San Diego:  As many of you know I am a HUGE fan of the private intelligence company STRATFOR.  Their analysis of geopolitical realities around the world and domestically sets the standard for insight and accuracy because their clients — big business — does not care about political spin such as the government imposes on the intelligence it gathers, it cares about success.  And success only comes from knowing, with accuracy, what your field of “battle” is really like.  Ideology rarely if ever defines reality.

Clearly this country is in crisis.  I watched with amazement, horror, and sadness as, on the Sunday news shows, representatives from left and right talked past one another.  They were far more interested in scoring ideological points that searching for workable solutions. In what has become typical American fashion, they debated how to address symptoms and completely avoided any discussion of underlying causes.

But not STRATFOR.  So once again I’m going to, with their permission, re-publish the analysis by their founder George Freidman and send it off with this warning: if we do not insist our politicians get off their ideological high horses and start facing then coming to grips with reality, our economy, our country, our culture and society all are sitting at the point of balance at the entrance into a black hole.

————–STRATFOR Article follows———————

Last week I wrote about the crisis of unemployment in Europe. I received a great deal of feedback, with Europeans agreeing that this is the core problem and Americans arguing that the United States has the same problem, asserting that U.S. unemployment is twice as high as the government’s official unemployment rate. My counterargument is that unemployment in the United States is not a problem in the same sense that it is in Europe because it does not pose a geopolitical threat. The United States does not face political disintegration from unemployment, whatever the number is. Europe might.

At the same time, I would agree that the United States faces a potentially significant but longer-term geopolitical problem deriving from economic trends. The threat to the United States is the persistent decline in the middle class’ standard of living, a problem that is reshaping the social order that has been in place since World War II and that, if it continues, poses a threat to American power.

The Crisis of the American Middle Class

The median household income of Americans in 2011 was $49,103. Adjusted for inflation, the median income is just below what it was in 1989 and is $4,000 less than it was in 2000. Take-home income is a bit less than $40,000 when Social Security and state and federal taxes are included. That means a monthly income, per household, of about $3,300. It is urgent to bear in mind that half of all American households earn less than this. It is also vital to consider not the difference between 1990 and 2011, but the difference between the 1950s and 1960s and the 21st century. This is where the difference in the meaning of middle class becomes most apparent.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the median income allowed you to live with a single earner — normally the husband, with the wife typically working as homemaker — and roughly three children. It permitted the purchase of modest tract housing, one late model car and an older one. It allowed a driving vacation somewhere and, with care, some savings as well. I know this because my family was lower-middle class, and this is how we lived, and I know many others in my generation who had the same background. It was not an easy life and many luxuries were denied us, but it wasn’t a bad life at all.

Someone earning the median income today might just pull this off, but it wouldn’t be easy. Assuming that he did not have college loans to pay off but did have two car loans to pay totaling $700 a month, and that he could buy food, clothing and cover his utilities for $1,200 a month, he would have $1,400 a month for mortgage, real estate taxes and insurance, plus some funds for fixing the air conditioner and dishwasher. At a 5 percent mortgage rate, that would allow him to buy a house in the $200,000 range. He would get a refund back on his taxes from deductions but that would go to pay credit card bills he had from Christmas presents and emergencies. It could be done, but not easily and with great difficulty in major metropolitan areas. And if his employer didn’t cover health insurance, that $4,000-5,000 for three or four people would severely limit his expenses. And of course, he would have to have $20,000-40,000 for a down payment and closing costs on his home. There would be little else left over for a week at the seashore with the kids.

And this is for the median. Those below him — half of all households — would be shut out of what is considered middle-class life, with the house, the car and the other associated amenities. Those amenities shift upward on the scale for people with at least $70,000 in income. The basics might be available at the median level, given favorable individual circumstance, but below that life becomes surprisingly meager, even in the range of the middle class and certainly what used to be called the lower-middle class.

The Expectation of Upward Mobility

I should pause and mention that this was one of the fundamental causes of the 2007-2008 subprime lending crisis. People below the median took out loans with deferred interest with the expectation that their incomes would continue the rise that was traditional since World War II. The caricature of the borrower as irresponsible misses the point. The expectation of rising real incomes was built into the American culture, and many assumed based on that that the rise would resume in five years. When it didn’t they were trapped, but given history, they were not making an irresponsible assumption.

American history was always filled with the assumption that upward mobility was possible. The Midwest and West opened land that could be exploited, and the massive industrialization in the late 19th and early 20th centuries opened opportunities. There was a systemic expectation of upward mobility built into American culture and reality.

The Great Depression was a shock to the system, and it wasn’t solved by the New Deal, nor even by World War II alone. The next drive for upward mobility came from post-war programs for veterans, of whom there were more than 10 million. These programs were instrumental in creating post-industrial America, by creating a class of suburban professionals. There were three programs that were critical:

  1. The GI Bill, which allowed veterans to go to college after the war, becoming professionals frequently several notches above their parents.
  2. The part of the GI Bill that provided federally guaranteed mortgages to veterans, allowing low and no down payment mortgages and low interest rates to graduates of publicly funded universities.
  3. The federally funded Interstate Highway System, which made access to land close to but outside of cities easier, enabling both the dispersal of populations on inexpensive land (which made single-family houses possible) and, later, the dispersal of business to the suburbs.

There were undoubtedly many other things that contributed to this, but these three not only reshaped America but also created a new dimension to the upward mobility that was built into American life from the beginning. Moreover, these programs were all directed toward veterans, to whom it was acknowledged a debt was due, or were created for military reasons (the Interstate Highway System was funded to enable the rapid movement of troops from coast to coast, which during World War II was found to be impossible). As a result, there was consensus around the moral propriety of the programs.

The subprime fiasco was rooted in the failure to understand that the foundations of middle class life were not under temporary pressure but something more fundamental. Where a single earner could support a middle class family in the generation after World War II, it now took at least two earners. That meant that the rise of the double-income family corresponded with the decline of the middle class. The lower you go on the income scale, the more likely you are to be a single mother. That shift away from social pressure for two parent homes was certainly part of the problem.

Re-engineering the Corporation

But there was, I think, the crisis of the modern corporation. Corporations provided long-term employment to the middle class. It was not unusual to spend your entire life working for one. Working for a corporation, you received yearly pay increases, either as a union or non-union worker. The middle class had both job security and rising income, along with retirement and other benefits. Over the course of time, the culture of the corporation diverged from the realities, as corporate productivity lagged behind costs and the corporations became more and more dysfunctional and ultimately unsupportable. In addition, the corporations ceased focusing on doing one thing well and instead became conglomerates, with a management frequently unable to keep up with the complexity of multiple lines of business.

For these and many other reasons, the corporation became increasingly inefficient, and in the terms of the 1980s, they had to be re-engineered — which meant taken apart, pared down, refined and refocused. And the re-engineering of the corporation, designed to make them agile, meant that there was a permanent revolution in business. Everything was being reinvented. Huge amounts of money, managed by people whose specialty was re-engineering companies, were deployed. The choice was between total failure and radical change. From the point of view of the individual worker, this frequently meant the same thing: unemployment. From the view of the economy, it meant the creation of value whether through breaking up companies, closing some of them or sending jobs overseas. It was designed to increase the total efficiency, and it worked for the most part.

This is where the disjuncture occurred. From the point of view of the investor, they had saved the corporation from total meltdown by redesigning it. From the point of view of the workers, some retained the jobs that they would have lost, while others lost the jobs they would have lost anyway. But the important thing is not the subjective bitterness of those who lost their jobs, but something more complex.

As the permanent corporate jobs declined, more people were starting over. Some of them were starting over every few years as the agile corporation grew more efficient and needed fewer employees. That meant that if they got new jobs it would not be at the munificent corporate pay rate but at near entry-level rates in the small companies that were now the growth engine. As these companies failed, were bought or shifted direction, they would lose their jobs and start over again. Wages didn’t rise for them and for long periods they might be unemployed, never to get a job again in their now obsolete fields, and certainly not working at a company for the next 20 years.

The restructuring of inefficient companies did create substantial value, but that value did not flow to the now laid-off workers. Some might flow to the remaining workers, but much of it went to the engineers who restructured the companies and the investors they represented. Statistics reveal that, since 1947 (when the data was first compiled), corporate profits as a percentage of gross domestic product are now at their highest level, while wages as a percentage of GDP are now at their lowest level. It was not a question of making the economy more efficient — it did do that — it was a question of where the value accumulated. The upper segment of the wage curve and the investors continued to make money. The middle class divided into a segment that entered the upper-middle class, while another faction sank into the lower-middle class.

American society on the whole was never egalitarian. It always accepted that there would be substantial differences in wages and wealth. Indeed, progress was in some ways driven by a desire to emulate the wealthy. There was also the expectation that while others received far more, the entire wealth structure would rise in tandem. It was also understood that, because of skill or luck, others would lose.

What we are facing now is a structural shift, in which the middle class’ center, not because of laziness or stupidity, is shifting downward in terms of standard of living. It is a structural shift that is rooted in social change (the breakdown of the conventional family) and economic change (the decline of traditional corporations and the creation of corporate agility that places individual workers at a massive disadvantage).

The inherent crisis rests in an increasingly efficient economy and a population that can’t consume what is produced because it can’t afford the products. This has happened numerous times in history, but the United States, excepting the Great Depression, was the counterexample.

Obviously, this is a massive political debate, save that political debates identify problems without clarifying them. In political debates, someone must be blamed. In reality, these processes are beyond even the government’s ability to control. On one hand, the traditional corporation was beneficial to the workers until it collapsed under the burden of its costs. On the other hand, the efficiencies created threaten to undermine consumption by weakening the effective demand among half of society.

The Long-Term Threat

The greatest danger is one that will not be faced for decades but that is lurking out there. The United States was built on the assumption that a rising tide lifts all ships. That has not been the case for the past generation, and there is no indication that this socio-economic reality will change any time soon. That means that a core assumption is at risk. The problem is that social stability has been built around this assumption — not on the assumption that everyone is owed a living, but the assumption that on the whole, all benefit from growing productivity and efficiency.

If we move to a system where half of the country is either stagnant or losing ground while the other half is surging, the social fabric of the United States is at risk, and with it the massive global power the United States has accumulated. Other superpowers such as Britain or Rome did not have the idea of a perpetually improving condition of the middle class as a core value. The United States does. If it loses that, it loses one of the pillars of its geopolitical power.

The left would argue that the solution is for laws to transfer wealth from the rich to the middle class. That would increase consumption but, depending on the scope, would threaten the amount of capital available to investment by the transfer itself and by eliminating incentives to invest. You can’t invest what you don’t have, and you won’t accept the risk of investment if the payoff is transferred away from you.

The agility of the American corporation is critical. The right will argue that allowing the free market to function will fix the problem. The free market doesn’t guarantee social outcomes, merely economic ones. In other words, it may give more efficiency on the whole and grow the economy as a whole, but by itself it doesn’t guarantee how wealth is distributed. The left cannot be indifferent to the historical consequences of extreme redistribution of wealth. The right cannot be indifferent to the political consequences of a middle-class life undermined, nor can it be indifferent to half the population’s inability to buy the products and services that businesses sell.

The most significant actions made by governments tend to be unintentional. The GI Bill was designed to limit unemployment among returning serviceman; it inadvertently created a professional class of college graduates. The VA loan was designed to stimulate the construction industry; it created the basis for suburban home ownership. The Interstate Highway System was meant to move troops rapidly in the event of war; it created a new pattern of land use that was suburbia.

It is unclear how the private sector can deal with the problem of pressure on the middle class. Government programs frequently fail to fulfill even minimal intentions while squandering scarce resources. The United States has been a fortunate country, with solutions frequently emerging in unexpected ways.

It would seem to me that unless the United States gets lucky again, its global dominance is in jeopardy. Considering its history, the United States can expect to get lucky again, but it usually gets lucky when it is frightened. And at this point it isn’t frightened but angry, believing that if only its own solutions were employed, this problem and all others would go away. I am arguing that the conventional solutions offered by all sides do not yet grasp the magnitude of the problem — that the foundation of American society is at risk — and therefore all sides are content to repeat what has been said before.

People who are smarter and luckier than I am will have to craft the solution. I am simply pointing out the potential consequences of the problem and the inadequacy of all the ideas I have seen so far

The Crisis of the Middle Class and American Power is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

—————- End of Stratfor Article————————–

We have reached political gridlock because all sides can accurately see the policies of the other side as failing.  Because all sides, as i’ve said before in this blog, are true believers with no room to compromise.  The problem is the left consists of true believers in a world that never existed and runs counter to human nature and the right consists of true believers in a rosy view of a world that no longer exists and did exist only because of very specific environmental and social factors.

There is no room to compromise when both tightly held belief systems are based in a fantasy.  Both fail to deliver becuase they cannot succeed based on those fantasies.  This article provides an opportunity for a few people, those who subscribe to their service and those readers of this and other blogs that may reprint it or paraphrase it in their own words, to step outside the malestrom of competing political fantasies, and start to think hard about the underlying realities that may need to be addressed (note, I did NOT say “fixed) if we are to pull back from the black hole.

Now, if only i believed that was even remotely likely to happen…

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Posted by on January 8, 2013 in Uncategorized


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2013 Is Here…Ready Or Not…

San Diego — Well, 2012 is a thing of the past, of history, a thing whose events and news items will be spun, debated, loved, hated, cheered, boo’d, for many years to come.  It saw a political campaign notable mostly for its ugliness and total lack of substance including an inexplicable avoidance of real issues.  If it truly fielded the two best men America could come up with to run for its leader, an enscounced amateur true believer playing at politics and opposed by a person who seemed sincere but as if he sincerely wanted to trade places with nearly ANYONE.  No wonder we are in such steep decline.

But the sun rose today on the first day of 2013, a chance for new beginnings if we will only take it.  On a national scale, I now believe it is too late and that the demographics of this country have so changed to reflect a new majority of soft, entitled, victims-in-their-own-minds, a people openly written about and feared by the very people whose intellects and courage brought this country into being, that the Declaration of Independence is incomprehensible to them on so many level and their fervent desire is for a new Declaration of Dependence.  I now think that barring some calamitous event there is no longer a viable road back to a land of self reliance, self-accepted responsibilities and accountabilities, in short, the gate has closed behind the types of people who made this a powerful and good leader of the free world.  Third world, or in the near term, second world status here we come… and purposefully so by the leadership.  And we did it to ourselves.

But within that changing political realm being slowly but surely transformed into the dreams of our dear leader’s father exactly as he openly wrote about and proclaimed he wanted to do, there yet remains, entering this new year, our own personal lives and at least for a little while our abilities to semi-control them and do with them as we will.  At the moment our personal lives are still pretty much within our own control.  And even for those things we cannot control, we can still control how we let them effect us, and what we will do about them.

Within the most virulent tyrannies there have been those who still managed, although with greater difficulty, to lead lives of value and worth both to themselves as well as to their friends and families and sometimes, it turns out, to the world itself.  And if they could do it from under the boot heel of their government then surely, since we are not yet arrived at so desperate a point, we can do it now.  We may no longer be the home of the brave (individual exceptions duly noted) but we are still the land of the mostly free.

For me, personally, the arena of new beginnings can take several forms, but most especially my art and my teaching.   Like most artists I do not create imagery because I want to, rather, it is a deep inner itch that must be scratched.  I do it because something inside me forces me to do it and makes me crazy (well, crazier than normal) if I do not.  A work of fine art does two things to the audience: it generates reflective thought and it engenders an emotional response.

That means of course that the artist had to have those things during the creation process in order to have something to infuse into the piece.  And that means they have to keep their sensory, emotional, and intellectual databases as full as possible.  Unlike popular myth, they cannot hide out in their squalid little garrets, embracing angst, anguish, and synthetic trauma because though they may have a command of composition and some technical skills, any cerebral and visceral component in their work is as phony as they are.  It may be interesting but fine art is a very different product.

I can tell that my own work is in a transition phase.  I still see the traditional “grand landscape” but I’m also now feeling the need to use ALL of my art training to explore my subjects’ inner core – at least as I sense it to be.  I’m moving away from the more literal documentation to a more personal narrative.  I’ve no idea where it will lead visually and artistically but 2013 will be a year to explore it.

So, for me, the art comes first because it is needed to inform my teaching.  Indeed I think good teaching is itself a form of art.  Being able to have a positive impact on students’ lives and futures is perhaps the most serious form of art one can practice.  And consequently I take it very seriously.

An acquaintance of mine on that paragon of infantile interaction and comment, Facebook, who seems completely unburdened by any need to verify facts before he leaps headlong into the most scurrilous accusations about people holding beliefs other than his own, as part of his current cause célèbre du jour asked me if, since I owned guns, I would be willing to use them to face an armed intruder at school.  What a rock stupid question to ask of me.  I walk with a limp because long ago I was willing to risk everything up to and including my life for something as intangible as my flag and my sense of what my country – at that time at least – stood for.  But there is nothing so important to our future than our children.  Nothing existing is so in charge of the future than the students of today.  Of course I would use my guns to defend them and stand between them and the Devil himself if need be.  And I would do the same for people I care about.

But I think in the meantime, what my students deserve, is the best I can give them and so 2013 will see me trying to be better and better at that aspect of my art that is teaching.

So what about you out there in the vastness of cyberspace?  Did the sun rise today on a new year and a new resolution of improvement for you?  I hope so because if that was the case for more of us then perhaps it will not be too late for the country.

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Posted by on January 1, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Memo to Central Banks: You’re debasing more than our currency

San Diego:  Many times in the past I wrote about what i saw as the unintended but inescapable results of our current federal monetary policies.  But since we have re-elected an administration that has been dedicated to this policy, against all common sense and historical data, I thought maybe it was just me that was out of step. So off I went for some in-depth economic and historical research.

One of my favorite sources of data, as you all know, is Stratfor where I go for some of the best open source intelligence about the world geopolitical and security issues.  But another favorite is John Mauldin’s Outside THe Box blog. What i especially like about his newletters is that he often presents multiple sides of an issue and frequently re-publishes essays, white papers, and newsletters from major players in the world of economics.

In this case he has republished a paper from Dylan Grice of Societe Generale ( a major european bank located in France) bringing an unprecedented historical overview of what has happened in the past.  For you pretenda Keynesians who believe he would support the current actions, he has a long quote from that same economic guru of the liberal progressives that may startle you and hopefully institute something radical… thinking for yourselves.  After all his bank is from one of the leading European Socialist governments around.  But to be successful, socialism, just like any other “ism” requires sound monetary policies to at least keep the elites well fed, in power, and with enough stuff to keep the public trough flowing.

So here is the link.  It is long but the material in it is critical and objective since it did not come from our shores or from someone with a political axe to grind vis-a-vis American politics.

Memo to Central Banks: You’re debasing more than our currency.

The issue for many is whether or not that trend can be reversed.  I don’t think so; i think we have gone too far down this road to reverse it.  Over and over from the late 1990s i said that by the 2016 election would would have cast in stone our path to either recovery of our core foundational precepts or gone over the edge to our ultimate social and culture demise.

Had the election gone other than it did I would ahve withheld judgement to see whether or not Romney could start a course change on this ship of state despite my misgivings as to either his ability or intention of doing so.  But the re-election of a man, in my opinion, dedicated to the destruction of all that remains of that foundational system so he can lead the rebuilding of a new, transformed America along the lines of ther dreams of his father, I think we simply poured an ocean of WD40 on that slope and the likelihood of us escaping it are incredibly slim.

I am aware that many are in favor of the change that he talks about but I think they are terminally naive as to both what he REALLY is doing and where it will take us all.  The link above and the white paper to which it goes provides one likely answer to that.  And it is not one I am happy to see.

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Posted by on November 20, 2012 in Uncategorized


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The Future of Conservatives is not in Changing Principles but in Changing their Application.

San Diego — Following the results of the 2012 elections, there seems to be panic in the ranks of Republicans.  How, they ask and rightly so, can a failed president whose every promise was not kept including unemployment numbers, GDP numbers, debt reduction numbers, ALL OF THEM worse than when he took office, have so soundly beaten the GOP candidate who was a successful businessman?

Hand wringing, blame laying, all are happening to the amusement of the liberals who are opining that there is an impending “civil war” among Republicans and that the party is as out of touch with reality as the Whig party was when it collapsed of its own obsolescence.  But is all of it, including the obituaries for conservatives, deserved or justified? In the aftermath of the election, spurred on by questions from several friends, I’ve given it a lot of thought.

In the process I have re-read (for the umpteenth time) the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (which I believe need to be treated as a necessarily conjoined set of documents).   I’ve re-read some of the important documents from our history and our founders including those of Locke, Burke, Jefferson, Washington, Madison, Adams (both of them), Hamilton, Franklin, Lee, Henry, and down to Lincoln.  Those are the patriarchs Conservatives claim as foundational authorities so have to be consulted to review the situation properly.

I’ve spent the last few days digging into my library of books by and about those (to me) visionaries.  It has been enlightening.  The result is I think in far too many cases, so-called Conservatives have failed to live under and up to the teachings of those founders they claim to revere.

First it has to be understood that there is a HUGE difference between the main-stream Republican Party and the core “Conservative” principles.  I tend now to agree that the Republican Party, as it has come to be, is a dinosaur whose extinction days are passed and it just hasn’t caught on.

While the Democrats pine for a world of the future that, despite a number of serious attempts, has never successfully existed, the Republicans (note I did NOT say “Conservatives”) pine for a world of the past that too, never existed and if it did, it was long ago and for a very short time.  Both parties fondly embrace a world view that succeeds only for the delusional or the blind partisan, a view that refuses to see, much less accept the world as it now is and as it has historically (in fact not fantasy) existed and evolved into the present.

I do not think that facing reality as it is, not as we want it to be, is inconsistent with being Conservative.  It is the core ethics and principles of the founders that we hold close, not the way some have applied (or misapplied) those principles in political environments that differ substantially and critically from the political environment today, nor, for that matter, how even the founders themselves had to apply them in THEIR reality and with their knowledge level of the world and even of their own country.

To avoid the fact that our world, in nearly all respects, is a very different place by nearly every possible measurement than it was 50 years ago, much less in the 1700s; or to assert that even a genius such as Jefferson, could, from the knowledge base and reality of the late 1700s, accurately have predicted the world of the 21st century is also simply delusional.  Technology and geopolitical events are pushing us so rapidly that this is not even the world of Kennedy or Reagan. (I link those two names because Reagan was a Kennedy Democrat who actually never changed his philosophy and whose speeches were vintage JFK.  It was the party that changed.)

But if, due to a world in evolution or even revolution, the application’s needs have changed, must we also change the principles?  This is a crux and unavoidable question.  If it turns out that we cannot learn and adjust those core principles to demonstrate their application to OUR world, then there are only two explanations possible: They do not apply anymore or we are simply not yet able to see the answers.  Or, a third possibility, we see them and will not accept them.

Speaking for myself, I believe they DO apply and that the explanation for our poor application and articulation is in our own shortsightedness, not in shortfalls of the principles themselves.

We don’t even have to like all of the changes this new world has laid in our laps – change is always painful and avoided as long as possible — but we do have to acknowledge those changes and face them as a new and powerful reality that must be accommodated by and within our principles or they will crush us under the weight of the changing world.  As Will Rogers said, “Even if you are on the right track, if you just sit there you will get run over!”

So what changes are influencing this discussion?  One of the big ones, in some ways perhaps the most important one because unlike anal discussions of policies (which OUGHT to be the focus) it is highly visible and highly emotional in its impact, is a change in the national and regional demographics on several counts.

For one thing, it is noteworthy that the numbers of people of Hispanic origin are making up an increasing portion of our population and cannot be ignored in a political sense.  The same is true of an increasing Asian population.  But despite the differences upon which we too often focus, the real question is, are they, by nature, opposed to the core values of conservatives?  I don’t think so.

Hispanic culture is all about families and faith at its core.  No one can watch field workers and claim they do not have a work ethic!  Good grief, it is a powerful work ethic that will take them to strange lands, abusive environments, and truly back-breaking labor just to feed a family and try to elevate their status in one of the few countries where that is still possible.  What they want is opportunity and a fair shake.  If conservatives fail to grasp that, they are being idiotic and self-destructive.  And much can be noted similarly about refugees or immigrants from Asian countries.

It is true that the political cultures from which they are fleeing often were ones deeply rooted in patronage and corruption.  But those are not core values and most Hispanic and Asian people come here to get away from it.   We ought to understand and embrace their plight and then seek ways to make it work so that they will become, like my father-in-law was, a rabidly patriotic naturalized citizen.

But it is not as easy as simply opening the border to all that would like to come here.  Our economy is in a very rocky state and I think, following the election, it is bound to get far, far worse before it gets better.  To deny that immigration is linked to an effect on the economy in both good and bad potential ways is to exhibit both historical and economical naïveté.   If we cannot protect our borders and set immigration rules as the Constitution mandates then we really do not have a country at all.  I know some would prefer that, including our leader, but I personally do not.

A nation, a people, a country is defined by borders, language and culture.  That is certainly how the rest of the world’s countries define themselves so why should we exclude ourselves?  Still, no one can deny that our immigration policies are a shambles and that they neither protect us from the bad guys nor aid the good guys in coming on in.  Consequently I think it is a very Conservative view to push for immigration reform and acknowledgement of the good guys who have come here to better themselves and contribute to our prosperity while working to get the system under control.

But, and in this regard this is a critical question, have we as a people, much less we who claim to hold to Conservative Principles, become so dumbed down that we are incapable of recognizing both sides of the issue as having legitimate points; incapable of finding the common ground that will allow a solution even if it is, as are all solutions settled by humans, imperfect?

And immigration was not the only problem for our side.   Why on earth did we allow ourselves to be viewed as on one side or the other of issues of sexual orientation?  Jefferson said if it was not “breaking his leg or picking his pocket” he could deal with it.  Regardless of any personal views on homosexuality, it is a fact of life and, of more importance to this discussion, an increasingly active political bloc.   In and of itself it does not threaten violence or theft of my person or any of my rights (or any of yours) so what has some of us so intransigent and terrified of it?

Our choices are simple:  to slam the door on them because we may think they are lost to eternity and God hates them, and in so doing make of them a dangerous enemy force, or to re-examine the principles we say we hold dear and find a way to accommodate their numbers in our tent.  I think the latter is a better approach.

Being in my business I’ve known and worked with LOTS of openly homosexual folks: some were true salt of the earth types I trusted totally and liked very much and others were jerks I thoroughly disliked.  But I never noticed that dichotomy to be lacking in the straight world too… and I did NOT notice it being something predicated by a person’s orientation or life style.

And even if some of our ranks believe God hates them individually because of their orientation, that is an issue between God and them; it is NOT between us and them.  “Judge not lest ye be judged!” goes the Biblical directive.  If there is indeed a theological component to our side then why are some of us not adhering to their own text’s directive?  We need to get that entire discussion OUT of politics and leave it where it belongs: between an individual and their own conscience and belief system.   We need not prohibit it, but we also need not facilitate it.  Government should be silent on it.

I confess, I have a simple but strong semantic issue with what to me is a contradiction in terms: “Same Sex Marriage.”  But upopn serious reflection I realize that is because it affronts the language and definitions by which I was raised.  However I also study history and the truth is that the definition of marriage as I was taught to understand it, has but rarely been the definition used across the ages and across cultures.

And the big point is, to lose a powerful block that as seekers of individual rights ought to be flocking to a conservative tent, but are being driven away over a word, and a word of historically fairly recent re-definition at that, is truly cutting off our nose to spite our face!  And in the end does not solve ANY problem and simply leaves us disfigured.

The same can be said for any minority group even if that status exists only in their own mind.  Just as WE hate to be painted with the brush of association colored by the idiots in our own groups, we should not be painting their whole collection of possible voters with the same brush we use for the jerks and idiots that also share their skin color or gender or place of origin or whatever they use to set themselves apart from the main collection of Americans.  To do so, in my opinion, does violence to the principles we claim to hold dear.

Jefferson wrote that we were endowed with certain unalienable rights, rights not granted by government but by our creator, meaning, even to atheists, rights inherent in the human spirit regardless of where they came from.  But if we allow those rights to be limited by definitions that ONLY exist due to theological authority, then we are violating our own sacred Constitution.  I cannot help that the use of the term bothers me, but I CAN help what I do about it based on my reading of history and the words of the founders, comfortable or not.

We are supposed to see people as individuals not just through the filter of whatever group we can easily toss them into.  It is the other side that forces group separation and identification in order to create group dependence.  We are not supposed to be forcing group identification so that we can create group exclusions.  In fact, we are not supposed to be facilitiating much less forcing group identification at all!

Conservatives are supposed to treasure the individual and individual rights.  But that is not what unfortunately too many of our political side do.  And they do their hypocritical deeds and speeches vocally and stridently.  So how is it any wonder that members of those targeted groups, already looking for some, any excuse to cast stones in our direction, see us as haters and bigots and to be opposed at every turn when we play into the other side’s perfectly laid traps.

From our own ranks we too often spout psychology from before even the dawn of Freud and pseudoscience from the dawn of man and wonder why people will not flock to our standard.  No matter how impeccable the logic, if it flows from a faulty premise the result is not viable.

We should be the party of dynamic powerful women who make up half our population and probably more than half of our brainpower.  How can we exhort the undefined individual to be all they can be and yet still be OK with people wanting to pay women less for equal work?  Or still wanting to control stuff that is none of our, or the government’s business?

We have not had someone sufficiently articulate to simply explain that to us, equal pay for equal work is the same as equal work for equal pay — what is fair is fair.  Nor have we been able to articulate that it is not that we are saying they cannot have an abortion if that passes muster with them, their faith, and whatever other influences are in their life, we are simply saying we don’t want to pay for their choices… so long as it IS truly a choice.  I do not think (with EXTREMELY RARE and anamalous exceptions) that rape is ever a woman’s choice.  And the idiot that proposed a long outdated and invalidated theory that women cannot get pregnant if they don’t want to should have been tarred and feathered by every Conservative to hear of their idiocy if we want to show women we are on their side.

But again, government should be OUT of the abortion issue, out of the contraception issue, out of the bedroom entirely.  Just as it has no business prohibiting it, it has no business facilitating it either.

We focus on the parasites and self-proclaimed victims of our society, and God knows we obviously have more than enough of them; facilitated and perhaps perpetuated by the liberal world in an attempt to create a sufficiently powerful voting block of dependent personalities needing their “fix” of goodies at the government trough.  We look disparagingly at those who leapt at takers of house loans no one marginally sentient could have thought were likely to be repaid, and I think that scrutiny is proper and needs to root such activities out of existence because of its contribution to our current economic situation.

But in high-centering on that negative bunch of wanton losers, we overlook the poor wretches who have truly been blind sided by life through no real fault of their own.  Or worse, we lump them in with the losers.  We need to review our thinking to be able to recognize not only those against whom their physical or mental state of health has conspired, but those against whom this unneeded economical disaster has conspired as well.  We focus on the fraudulent and  ignore that in more than a few of the debacles involving home loans, the individual was unsure or uncomfortable with the deal but was pushed into it by overzealous and corrupt agents that claimed to be trustworthy to people unequipped by experience or education to grasp the truth of it.  No one wakes up some morning and wants to be physically or mentally sick or wants to lose their jobs, much less their homes, due to economic downturns or fraudulent sellers.

There are therefore, people in our society who are suffering through minimal or no fault of their own and as a generous people we have a duty to help them. Don’t read into this something that isn’t here: i did not say they had a RIGHT to our help, I said we have a duty to help them and that is a very different thing. The question is what institution should be in charge of that help. Should it come, for example, from the individual and/or private organizations dedicated to the task, or from the government dedicated to creating dependencies to assure re-election and the continuance of power?

If we, as Conservatives, truly believe it is the former, and we have any expectation of convincing those concerned about social justice that we are right, then we need to demonstrate that as best we can and also demonstrate and articulate how it is working to actually provide that help and, further, that it is working better than the government can do.  And even if we decided that the best collection point of monies for charitable use was via the government, who on earth can argue that government bureaucracy is likely to administer it best? You have to live in some parallel universe to believe that.  From the Post Office to FEMA to the state’s DMV, who can point to a single governmental “business” that is run more efficiently and productively than is done as a private business?

So yes, I think our side needs to make some major changes in the application of the principles they claim to hold dear, especially in how they interact with the rest of our citizenry.  They need to show that they actually believe in and mean to uphold the principles they espouse and the documents and texts they cite as authority whether it is the Constitution or some sacred text.

If Conservatives will do that, and both articulate and demonstrate them well, then we can show the other side for the disingenuous, dependency creating charlatans they are.   And THEN we can get to a discussion of the real issues and policies upon which an election ought to turn because we have taken the warm and fuzzy off of the table by the simple expedient of solving it.

But if we can’t – or won’t – adapt, then we will go the way of the Whigs and Tories and justifiably so.   And if that happens, it will be because all of those despicable labels hurled at us will have enough reality to them to stick and crush us.

And if we continue to let enough of the jerks in our ranks act like stupidly and callously… and get away with unacceptable comments or actions just because they are holding our banner… then by facilitating the hatred and bigotry, whether or not we individually share in it, we will surely deserve the results.  I believe those rotten apples are comparatively few in numbers but it doesn’t take very many of them under the heat of the media’s spotlight, to result in spoiling the barrel for us all.

The problem is I believe those devastating, perhaps catastrophic results for our country, results that I believe are facilitated by and sometimes pushed by Liberals as noted in previous posts, results that i believe will be so onerous in the end for all citizens as the U.S.A. slides toward the necropolis of history, will have to be laid at OUR feet because we were the ones that could have stopped it and chose, rather, fettered by a minority collection of individual weaknesses rather than freed by a majority collection of individual strengths, to stab our own principles in the heart.

And who could ever be proud of that?

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Posted by on November 10, 2012 in Uncategorized


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A Voice of Moderation from the Intelligence World

San Diego — I had barely uploaded the last post when I received the latest comments by George Friedman, Geopolitical analyst of Stratfor.  I love those guys as your know.  He has a different take on the election results and how it will impact us domestically and geo-politically.  In the interest of fairness and to widen your understanding of such things, with permission of Stratfor to republish his article, here it is.  Please read it carefully.

—————— Republication of Stratfor Article Follows————————————————–

The Elections, Gridlock, and Foreign Policy By George Friedman

The United States held elections last night, and nothing changed. Barack Obama remains president. The Democrats remain in control of the Senate with a non-filibuster-proof majority. The Republicans remain in control of the House of Representatives.

The national political dynamic has resulted in an extended immobilization of the government. With the House — a body where party discipline is the norm — under Republican control, passing legislation will be difficult and require compromise. Since the Senate is in Democratic hands, the probability of it overriding any unilateral administrative actions is small. Nevertheless, Obama does not have enough congressional support for dramatic new initiatives, and getting appointments through the Senate that Republicans oppose will be difficult.

There is a quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson: “That government is best which governs the least because its people discipline themselves.” I am not sure that the current political climate is what was meant by the people disciplining themselves, but it is clear that the people have imposed profound limits on this government. Its ability to continue what is already being done has not been curbed, but its ability to do much that is new has been blocked.

The Plan for American Power

The gridlock sets the stage for a shift in foreign policy that has been under way since the U.S.-led intervention in Libya in 2011. I have argued that presidents do not make strategies but that those strategies are imposed on them by reality. Nevertheless, it is always helpful when the subjective wishes of a president and necessity coincide, even if the intent is not the same.

In previous articles and books, I have made the case that the United States emerged as the only global power in 1991, when the Soviet Union fell. It emerged unprepared for its role and uncertain about how to execute it. The exercise of power requires skill and experience, and the United States had no plan for how to operate in a world where it was not faced with a rival. It had global interests but no global strategy.

This period began in 1991 and is now in the process of ending. The first phase consisted of a happy but illusory period in which it was believed that there were no serious threats to the United States. This was replaced on 9/11 with a phase of urgent reaction, followed by the belief that the only interest the United States had was prosecuting a war against radical Islamists.

Both phases were part of a process of fantasy. American power, simply by its existence, was a threat and challenge to others, and the world remained filled with danger. On the other hand, focusing on one thing obsessively to the exclusion of all other matters was equally dangerous. American foreign policy was disproportionate, and understandably so. No one was prepared for the power of the United States.

During the last half of the past decade, the inability to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, coupled with economic problems, convinced reasonable people that the United States had entered an age of permanent decline. The sort of power the United States has does not dissipate that fast. The disintegration of European unity and the financial crisis facing China have left the United States, not surprisingly, still the unchallenged global power. The issue is what to do with that power.

The defeated challenger in the U.S. election, Mitt Romney, had a memorable and important turn of phrase when he said that you can’t kill your way out of the problems of the Middle East. The point that neither Romney nor Obama articulated is what you do instead in the Middle East — and elsewhere.

Constant use of military force is not an option. See the example of the British Empire: Military force was used judiciously, but the preferred course was avoiding war in favor of political arrangements or supporting enemies of enemies politically, economically and with military aid. That was followed by advisers and trainers — officers for native troops. As a last resort, when the balance could not hold and the issue was of sufficient interest, the British would insert overwhelming force to defeat an enemy. Until, as all empires do, they became exhausted.

The American strategy of the past years of inserting insufficient force to defeat an enemy that could be managed by other means, and whose ability to harm the United States was limited, would not have been the policy of the British Empire. Nor is it a sustainable policy for the United States. When war comes, it must be conducted with overwhelming force that can defeat the enemy conclusively. And war therefore must be rare because overwhelming force is hard to come by and enemies are not always easy to beat. The constant warfare that has characterized the beginning of this century is strategically unsustainable.

Libya and Syria

In my view, the last gasp of this strategy was Libya. The intervention there was poorly thought out: The consequences of the fall of Moammar Gadhafi were not planned for, and it was never clear why the future of Libya mattered to the United States. The situation in Libya was out of control long before the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi. It was a case of insufficient force being applied to an uncertain enemy in a war that did not rise to the level of urgency.

The U.S. treatment of Syria is very different. The United States’ unwillingness to involve itself directly with main military force, in spite of urgings from various directions, is an instance in which even a potentially important strategic goal — undermining Iranian influence in Syria — could be achieved by depending on regional powers to manage the problem or to live with it as they choose. Having provided what limited aid was required to destabilize the Syrian government, the United States was content to let the local balance of power take its course.

It is not clear whether Obama saw the doctrine I am discussing — he certainly didn’t see it in Libya, and his Syrian policy might simply have been a reaction to his miscalculations in Libya. But the subjective intentions of a leader are not as important as the realities he is responding to, however thoughtfully or thoughtlessly. It was clear that the United States could not continue to intervene with insufficient forces to achieve unclear goals in countries it could not subdue.

Nor could the United States withdraw from the world. It produces almost one-quarter of the world’s GDP; how could it? The historical answer was not a constant tempo of intervention but a continual threat of intervention, rarely fulfilled, coupled with skillful management of the balance of power in a region. Even better, when available as a course, is to avoid even the threat of intervention or any pretense of management and let most problems be solved by the people affected by it.

This is not so much a policy as a reality. The United States cannot be the global policeman or the global social worker. The United States is responsible for pursuing its own interests at the lowest possible cost. If withdrawal is impossible, avoiding conflicts that do not involve fundamental American interests is a necessity because garrison states — nations constantly in a state of war — have trouble holding on to power. Knowing when to go to war is an art, the heart of which is knowing when not to go to war.

One of the hardest things for a young empire to master is the principle that, for the most part, there is nothing to be done. That is the phase in which the United States finds itself at the moment. It is coming to terms not so much with the limits of power as the nature of power. Great power derives from the understanding of the difference between those things that matter and those that don’t, and from a ruthless indifference to those that don’t. It is a hard thing to learn, but history is teaching it to the United States.

The Domestic Impasse

The gridlock in which this election has put the U.S. government is a suitable frame for this lesson. While Obama might want to launch major initiatives in domestic policy, he can’t. At the same time, he seems not to have the appetite for foreign adventures. It is not clear whether this is simply a response to miscalculation or a genuine strategic understanding, but in either case, adopting a more cautious foreign policy will come naturally to him. This will create a framework that begins to institutionalize two lessons: First, it is rarely necessary to go to war, and second, when you do go to war, go with everything you have. Obama will follow the first lesson, and there is time for the second to be learned by others. He will practice the studied indifference that most foreign problems pose to the United States.

There will be a great deal of unhappiness with the second Obama administration overseas. As much as the world condemns the United States when it does something, at least part of the world is usually demanding some action. Obama will disappoint, but it is not Obama. Just as the elections will paralyze him domestically, reality will limit his foreign policy. Immobilism is something the founders would have been comfortable with, both in domestic politics and in foreign policy. The voters have given the republic a government that will give them both

The Elections, Gridlock and Foreign Policy is republished with permission of Stratfor.

——————- End of Stratfor Article ————————————————–

So there you have both, my personal feelings that we are entering a profoundly negative direction, and Stratfor’s considerably more nuanced comments.  They also will halp to prepare both Obama supporters and opposers to the realities that will face his administrations, the gridlock the elections have virtually cemented in place and, in Friedman’s view, put there purposefully by the voters to ensure some period of quiet.

Time will tell…

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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Uncategorized


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The Sheeple Have Spoken

San Diego – Well, the good news is that it is over.  The lies and misinformation that dripped moment by moment from the politicians as they sought to outdue each other in the amount of venom and vitriol they could spew at the other side has been spent and they will have another few years to recharge their reservoirs of political bile.

The end came, unfortunately, too late for me to retain respect for some of my acquaintances who did not just fall into but rather flung themselves full bore into the hateful, distasteful, and often idiotic fray of yet more bumper-sticker intelligence and cartoon level thinking about issues that were incredibly important on a scale broader, obviously now, than their self serving, simplistic, often one-issue intellects could grasp.

And make no mistake, that preamble is aimed in ALL political directions.  The real issues that face us now and will face us in the near future as a nation were all but ignored by both sides as they sought simply to smear each other with the offal they could only be obtaining by scraping it of off themselves.  Both winning and losing sides studiously avoided a confrontation on truly critical issues of national importance.  The winning side did so because they had no standing to claim a shred of integrity or sincerety had they attempted to enter that arena and the losing side did so for reasons totally obscure to me but which could not be all that flattering.

And in the end, we, as a nation, got not what we needed (and probably could not have extracted from either side) but what we most likely deserve and what most likely will be the first major move down the path toward those “step” or “stage” changes prophesied by historians and political philosophers from Polybius to Marx I spelled out in a previous post.

Some of you old timers may recall that years ago, in the late 1990s and early 2000s I predicted that by the time of this election, we would set our nation on a path to reclaiming the shining example to the world our founders gave us or down the road to ruin retracing the same path and for the same reasons previous great civilizations took to their ultimate demise as virtual centers of the world in terms of geo-political importance and economies.  I hoped it would not happen in my lifetime but now, I am sad to say, I think I have lived to see it.

I have now seen the parasitical class out-vote the productive class.  It was bound to happen sooner or later but I truly had hoped it would be a lot later.  I have now seen those who believe they are entitled to the fruits of the labors of others out-vote those remaining few who think they are entitled only to what they can produce and accomplish themselves.  I have seen now those who believe that if there must be some consequence for their actions and behaviors, it is OTHERS who should bear it and not themselves out-vote those who believe  we should all bear the consequences for our own actions and behaviors.

Unfortunately, those feelings of entitlement and social justice have an economic impact.  Of course it does not — or in their minds, should not impact them because it is the others that are expected to pay “their fair share” when some pay nothing at all.  But as the Iron Lady said, pretty soon that approach runs out of “other people’s” money.   Certainly we have run out of our own as a country.

If that were not so we would not have a $16 Trillion dollar debt and be in immediate need of asking to borrow more.  You cannot claim to be solvent and yet require – REQUIRE – additional borrowing just to meet your liabilities.  And the result is each child now alive will be saddled with over ¼ million dollars in personal debt to the country if it is EVER to be settled.

Of course under the new order set in motion at the polls last night it cannot ever be repaid.  Why not?  Here’s a heretical idea, look at the logic.  It is simple Aristotelian logic and not complex at all.  Here are the premises…

  1. The only way to create sustainable revenue to the government is via increases in national productivity.
  2. National productivity is a function of jobs, solid jobs that create the majority of the goods and services needed so that the balance of trade can remain favorable.  And it is those employees who, if the winners of last night are to be believed, carry the major tax burdens and whose taxes keep the ship of state afloat.  So from all standpoints an increase in the productive workforce is mandatory for any sort of national recovery.


  3. The world that could easily employ lots of unskilled labor is dying at a rapid pace.  Today’s solid jobs depend on skill-sets and knowledge not dreamed of when I was just entering the work force.
  4. The only institution that can properly prepare future workers with those needed skill-sets is education.
  5. The only institutions that can hire and retain those workers, assuming the existence of requisite skill sets are businesses and corporations.


  1. What institution is designated as the first to receive cuts due to those same budget problems that are claimed do not exist?  Education.
  2. What institutions are designated as the whipping boys for all the unfair ills around and so throttled with tax and regulation burdens to limit or stifle their productivity?  Businesses and corporations.

Is not the disconnect apparent to you?  Are you following any of this or am I going too fast and using words that are too big?  The answer has to be that no, you are not following this or the election results would have been different.

Luckily I am an old guy.  My “future” is well behind me and the truth is I had a very good run at it.  In my opinion we took the first big step over the edge last night but we have so much inertia going that even a dedicated transformer like our president cannot undo us overnight.  It will take a little while.  So I may never live to see it all utterly fall apart.

But my students will and I am sorry for them.  They will never see the America I saw as a youth; a beacon to the world as a place of opportunity and hope for all willing to buy into the culture and work for it.  A major nail was driven in the coffin of that old place last night. Maybe it will be the last nail needed.

But my students were and are among those cheering it all on, pleased at the outcome to savor the flow of entitlements and goodies they expect to come flowing down the government food trough.  So maybe I should not feel sorry for them after all.  They will get the results of the actions they have set in motion; actions and results I do not think can be reversed by the time this term will be over.  And it will be what is deserved.  I do not think they deserve the America that was, the America of dreams and fantastic potential.

(As an aside, yes, I do still think that there is the possibility the technology of efficiently extracting oil from shale noted in my last post will still happen… somewhere.  But having vast oil-based revenues, despite the major growth it has twice allowed in this country, is no guarantee of having things move in the best directions.  Riches do not guarantee a benign government.  Think Saudi Arabia if you do not believe it.  It can also provide the power for a tyrant-in-training to solidify their position by now passing out the goodies even more extensively.  We talk about the best politicians money can buy but the real worry is about the most dependent voters money can buy.)

Anyway…  If I were a national politician this morning, my attitude would be, “OK, you voters made your choice… so be it.  If this is what you want, even though you have no idea what you are asking for, then let it happen and happen quickly.”  Since my own pension and salary are secure as a member of congress, I would give the President everything he wanted with no problems whatsoever.  And make sure who is getting the credit (him) and who will, down the road, deserve the blame.

After all, if we are doomed to pass on through to the next stage, then lets get it over quickly so we can then start setting the ground work to move the cycles rapidly ahead and perhaps the next time we reach the point of wonder and power, we will be able to look back to when we through it all away and see what that cost us.  Perhaps next time we will learn from history rather than ignoring it.



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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Thank God, it’s Almost Over!!!

San Diego – I was beginning to think today would never arrive and that I would have to endure the idiotic, verbal manure being hurled around by people I would expect to know better and have more than a coincidental and more frequent connection with the facts!

The damage is unfortunately already done; I have learned that people I initially respected are willing to throw their intellect and their country onto a midden pile in order to rationalize their often one-issue obsessions and blindly partisan perspectives totally unburdened by the slightest concern over whether or not the invective and venom they spew towards not only the other side’s stalwarts but anyone with the temerity to suggest perhaps on occasion the other side might have a point is accurate.  I find NOTHING to respect in such activities and behaviors and had this gone on much longer I fear my view of some of my so-called “friends” on the social media (some of whom I’ve never even met) would suffer some irreparable damage.  Now it is just a case of damage control.

There are no good sides here.  There is no side with a pipeline to truth and none seemingly interested in even a pipeline to fact.  No side seems willing to withhold wild promises impossible or impractical to keep so long as one more simple minded voter can be swayed in their direction.  No side is willing to be specific about plans to implement their vague objectives, but both are being more than specific, truth be damned, about the ills and evils of the near demon on the other side.

But most importantly, no one is willing to admit and address the woeful truth that we have let the country and the state get so far out of whack fiscally that any plan remotely likely to put us back on solid ground will be so painful to ALL citizens, even if that pain is temporary, that to propose it seriously is political suicide because there are simply too many parasites feeding at the government trough.  That they think so little of the voting public is probably the one accurate assessment they have made.

On the upper end are parasites feeding off of an impossibly complex tax code with so many loopholes one could pilot a super tanker through them.  And at the lower end are parasites feeding off of an impossibly corrupt group of politicians buying votes with taxpayer funded pabulum.  And in the middle are the country’s backbone folks who both sides claim to want to save but who, in fact, are wantonly being used in order to pay for the feedbag used to keep their real constituents in line.

I don’t see any good choices among those presented to us.  The incumbent side wants desperately to tear down the country so it can be rebuilt along the lines of his father’s dream world, a social utopia, a world that has never successfully existed on its own merit and productivity.  And the challenger side would seem to favor a world of the late 19th century where abuses of power became legendary, clichéd, and spawned the start of the socialization process with Woodrow Wilson.

I’m sorry, I don’t like either of those choices yet shortly i will find myself having to vote for one or the other.  Upon what can a decision be made other than the lesser negative?  Well, perhaps there is something…

I think that within the next term, or two terms at the most, several technologies and events will happen that will reframe our world regardless of who is in office though that person will ride its coattails to extreme power or to political perdition depending on how they play those cards.  But the stakes will be enormous and extend way out into the future.

On one hand there is the very real possibility that in the short term, say in the first two to three years, a dedicated transformer such as the incumbent can, with the help of the Fed and the fiat currency, so induce massive inflation via continuing the debauching of the currency as to hasten our economic collapse.  On the other hand, I’m not sure or confident that the challenger, if he wins, will be able or interested in bringing back our connection to the political ideals that motivated this country’s founders or if he will simply turn the dogs of the other kennel loose on the people.

At best the challenger may buy us some time by slowing the engine hauling us down a transformative path I openly despise and at worst won’t continue to rush headlong down it.

But within 3-7 years I think we will see something amazing happen that will give us the opportunity to revisit the same levels of growth and prosperity that happened in the late 1800s and again in the late 1940s through the 1950s and from the same resource: energy… oil and gas.  Based on proven reserves we have more oil and gas locked up in the Bakken shale fields and surrounding areas than the rest of the world, including the middle east, EVER had; and it is primarily on U.S. territory (with some substantial areas also in Canada containing oil sands.)

If, and here is the big “IF,” the government supports the research into the technology to extract oil from the huge shale deposits (over 20 known deposits with each having over 20 times the reserves of the giant East Texas fields that funded and fueled those two giant spurts in our economy in the past) we have the potential of seeing a jump in productivity and economic health not seen for nearly a century.

Even now, with limited efficiency, we are extracting so much oil from those areas coupled with more traditional oil fields that we are on our way to becoming a major oil exporter not a major oil importer.  But extraction efficiency for the shale is the key here.  And government support (or at least the lack of interference) to both developing and implementing that technology is the key to developing and deploying that greater efficiency.

Thank goodness the fields are not on public land or the current administration would have already shut them down as it has the more traditional well sites and refining capability across the country!

If the government then will take steps to remove that energy’s marketing strategy from the world market pricing, or even just allow it to drive the supply-and-demand cycle without interference nationally, there is the potential for a huge – HUGE – and positive impact on our economy, our living standards, our employment figures, our national productivity, and of course our national economy.

It was John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil and its offshoots and increasing competitors, using the Vanderbilt railroads as transportation, leveraged by Morgan’s banks using Carnegie’s steel that combined to fuel the industrial revolution and pushed us into the forefront of world economy. It made those giants wealthy but it also raised the standard of living across the entire country and made us ALL much better off with a productivity jump unprecendented in human history.

And it was oil from the so-called “Stickleback” fields in East Texas that fueled the engine of industrial and manufacturing victory against the Axis powers and underwrote the post WWII re-growth that FDR took the credit for.  Without the products and use from that incredible oil flow, none of those “New Deal” projects could have happened.

But, again, the positive outcome for our own future’s exploitation of the Bakken and similar fields will happen only if the government allows it.  If the current administration is still in power it will face a horrid philosophical dilemma.  To allow that oil to be extracted and used will mean acting like the leader of a republic not of a country sized commune.  It will mean creating a comprehensive environmental policy that allows resource development while safeguarding the environment and planning for environmental recovery when needed.  And that is a compromise rabit environmentalists will oppose along with the potential lowering of the price of fuel and its commensurate improvement in productivity from farms to factories. Therefore, to do that will put the president afoul of his base.

On the other hand, if he allows it, when the country sees a huge growth spurt, then like both Wilson and FDR, he will become so popular, and powerful, that he can slip in all of the Czars and extra-Constitutional activities he wants and the people will all applaud him.  I would predict that if our current leader is re-elected and this technological leap happens in the next four years (I’m betting on about three years for it), and if he plays his cards wisely, we will see him toss the XXII amendment out the window, with rabid voter approval, and ride in for even more terms and a free hand to reshape the country as he wishes.

But regardless of who wins today and will be President for at least the next four years, technology will continue to advance either above or below the table.  I think that next big spurt will come regardless of politics and policy and the only issue will be over who is allowed to benefit from it; our country or another.  Because of that potential, even though I think in the short term voting choices are little better than Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum, what may happen during this next term is so important and powerful that the person in leadership at that time and their likely policies toward it cannot, by me at least, be ignored.

Since I believe Obama’s approach is up in the air but in the end, if he allows the technology to flourish it will only give him the power to accelerate our rush into a deeply socialistic state, whereas Romney’s seems at least a little less likely to aim his and our future in that direction, I am forced to come kicking and screaming to the position where I will vote against Obama and only tacitly for Romney.

But what a pathetic place in which to find ourselves!  The only candidate with a real vision has a vision to which I am profoundly opposed on political and philosophical grounds.  We as a country are sitting on the greatest find of important resources the world has ever seen.  We got to where we were in the first place because we had, what appeared to be unlimited resources while the rest of the world had depleted or were in the process of depleting theirs.  Now we have under our feet more oil potential than we could use in 100 years.  If – IF – we used that to power a major growth spurt while, at the same time, exploring all of the alternatives that could be used to actually run the country and allow those reserves to be extended way out into the future, we would have just insured our long term position as THE place in the world to come to.

But it is one gigantic “IF!”

Oh well, I guess I need to get dressed, and get on down to the polling place where I can hold my nose and once again, vote for the lesser of two (to me) awful choices.  Here in Kalifornia it is probably a true throw-away vote but the process is important and its retention is vital to us as a country.  So get out and vote for whatever you believe in.  It is your right to do that, a right purchased with blood.  So don’t ever take the process lightly even if the specifics of a vote, at the moment, seem less important.  There are still countries and places that are amazed and jealous that we actually can choose our own leaders.  Whether those choices are wise ones or not, is another matter entirely.


Posted by on November 6, 2012 in Uncategorized


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