Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ron Paul Soars; Santorum Up, Gingrich Down? General Dissatisfaction with GOP Field!

First and foremost, Happy New Year, especially if you work off the calendar that says today is the last day of 2011 and tomorrow thus is the first day of 2012. I wish peace, happiness, good health and prosperity for you and yours. Now, let's get down to issues.

A few weeks back I wrote an article on the race for the GOP presidential nomination in which I expressed my belief that Texas Congressman Ron Paul's foreign relations viewpoints are dangerous to our country.

A veteran friend immediately threw the "B.S." flag. Except, like the little kid in the Christmas Story who says "Oh F-U-D-G-E" but he didn't say Fudge, he said the Queen Mother of all swear words, my friend didn't say "B.S." He spelled it out with no mistaking his meaning.

My friend is an avid Ron Paul supporter, and let's be frank here, everyone who supports Ron Paul is an "avid" supporter. But my friend obviously had a good view of where things were going for the GOP.

We talked about Paul's positions back on Veterans Day and my friend said he didn't think the foreign relations issues matter all that much because Ron Paul as president couldn't unilaterally dictate American foreign policy without Congressional approval. He also said Herman Cain wouldn't survive the media onslaught against him at that time, which proved to be right on the money.

Regarding the president dictating foreign policy, I admit he has a point, but we currently have a president who is unilaterally setting American foreign policy and Congress isn't saying a peep, so I'm not sure what would change under a Ron Paul presidency.

Nonetheless, Paul is streaking toward the top spot in the polls preceding the Iowa GOP caucuses which take place Tuesday, if you believe the polls. Up there where the air is rare he has joined perennial almost-favorite Mitt Romney, who also has shared top billing with the likes of Michelle Bachmann, now dead last in the polls, Herman Cain, now out of the running, Rick Perry, way, way back in the pack, and Newt Gingrich, dropping like a rock.

The only other person who currently is moving upward at a significant pace is former US Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum. To which I say, Good for Him, he wanted it, now he has it. That is, if you believe the polls.

Personally I think this just reflects the American voters' dissatisfaction with the status quo and regardless of how many candidates the media knocks off, the majority just won't jump on the Mitt Romney bandwagon as long as there is someone else in the running.

The media is downplaying Paul's increasing popularity, primarily because the media and the rest of the GOP elitists don't like him … he makes too much sense and he wouldn't be much fun at a Washington D.C. cocktail party. So, the media is dredging up some two-decades-old newsletters that Paul produced that hint darkly at racist tendencies.

The existence of these letters has been reported in the media since the mid-1990s when Paul was running for Congress, and they surfaced again about four years ago on the national scene, but without much widespread impact.

Why the media didn't jump all over this months or even years ago is anybody's guess … well, no it isn't. The media knew about this all along but timing is everything and you can bet that every person in the GOP race who is NOT Mitt Romney has some skeleton hiding in the closet that will emerge at exactly the instant they get too close to taking the first-place spot.

Ask Herman Cain or New Gingrich. They'll tell you. If you think for even a second that the media isn't controlling the outcome of the GOP race, through its "coverage" of these skeletons at precisely the right moments, or the use of these interminable "polls" some of which are laughably transparent, then you aren't paying attention.

The media, and in my case that essentially means FOX News - because I gave up on the networks years ago, never trusted CNN and don't watch MSNBC even though it has some beautiful women in the broadcast booth, but virtually no news credibility - is running this show and decided long ago that this is to be a Barack Obama-Mitt Romney race. Period.

Fortunately the voters are giving the media fits and won't just move en masse to the Romney camp. There is a general dissatisfaction with anyone viewed as part of the Congressional and White House establishment, meaning Romney, and I believe the voting public is far more aware of the media manipulation than the media wants to admit and is reacting accordingly.

Trying to control this race at this point has to be very similar to herding cats.

At the moment voter dissatisfaction is being displayed by continuing shifts to whatever GOP candidate is still standing and I believe this will continue after the Iowa caucuses and then the New Hampshire primary even though some candidates already are being pressured to withdraw – without a single vote being cast! As I noted a couple of months ago, in remarking on Herman Cain's campaign strategy, the Iowa and New Hampshire votes don't really have much impact on the numbers of delegates available – Tennessee has as many as both combined.

What we really get in Iowa and then New Hampshire is the appearance of voter momentum, and presumably higher donations to the top tier candidates. That in turn can be used to buy ad space in larger states and to make huge media buys on Super Tuesday when dozens of states, representing a huge chunk of delegates hold simultaneous votes.

This is really driving this race for the future of America – competition for ad dollars for the large newspapers, as well as network and cable news outlets and radio spots. Imagine that my fellow voters – we are being offered a relatively small number of choices based entirely on how much money the media believes the various candidates will have available to buy ads, and thus pay the pundits' salaries.

God Bless America. Go Ron Paul; and Rick Santorum!
Thursday, December 29, 2011

I Want Whoopi Goldberg's Money – Now!

Whoopi Goldberg made a comment the other day on a television show where she is a regular commenter that "on paper" communism is a "great concept" that "makes perfect sense."

From a political standpoint it is obvious that the Obama Administration, which Ms. Goldberg supports and fund-raises for, is drawing away the curtain of semi-obscurity and openly admitting that communism is its driving philosophy.

Obviously Ms. Goldberg's comments were a trial balloon for the administration, designed to elicit a response that will show Obama just how much the American public cares about, or more important, knows about communism and his efforts to move our country to a communist form of government.

Now, to be fair to Ms. Goldberg, she added that once human beings become involved in the process communism doesn't work. Nonetheless, she thinks it is a great concept. I respectfully disagree with every fiber in my body.

I have seen communism up close and personal and it is a horrible idea that panders to the basest of human emotions – jealousy and envy to name two – while destroying human initiative, creativity and ultimately the human spirit. Its core premise - From each according to his ability, to each according to his need – comes down to the most productive people in society being forced to give up most of what they earn to support the least productive.

This in turn kills even the most miniscule germs of initiative because no matter how hard the smartest, quickest and most creative work, they never reap the true rewards of their efforts. Meanwhile, those who produce little to nothing and have little to no initiative or creative energy, have their needs provided for thanks to the efforts of the productive members of society.

Recently there was an example going around the Internet that I passed on to the college students I taught which applies here; if you think communism is so great, we'll just take all the As and all the Bs that have been earned by the hardest working students and give them to the students with Cs and Ds who spend their evenings drinking, taking drugs and playing Beer Pong.

Then everyone will have the same grades at graduation. Is that OK with you?

I'll tell you right now, even the D students knew damn well that it wasn't a good idea and that if it was enacted a college education would mean nothing. Oddly enough, there always were a few students in each class who gladly would have leeched off the efforts of their hard working classmates.

I like Whoopi Goldberg as an actress – I think she did a great job in the Burglar, Jumpin' Jack Flash and the Sister Act movies among others. But I never thought much of her standup routine because I found it to be needlessly crude and not funny, and I basically disagree with her political views.

But if she really thinks that communism is such a great concept "on paper" then let's apply it to her and others like her. I presume that Ms. Goldberg is a millionaire, probably a multi-, multi-millionaire, and we all know that she doesn't need that much to survive in America.

So how about if she gives us a comprehensive review of her income and expenditures for the last five years, and in a true communist society she would do it without hesitation or risk forced labor or death, and we'll come up with a realistic number for what she really needs.

We can then divvy up her accumulated wealth – starting with me so I can pay off my Christmas bills without needless worry – and then take a percentage of her future earnings, say 90 percent just for argument's sake, and distribute that to others who need it; for instance the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

It's unfortunate that education in America has declined to such a degree that a person like Ms. Goldberg can make such an uninformed statement and by extension influence the thinking of millions of lemmings who don't know better. Goldberg, who essentially is an entertainer, a job that by its very definition is not meant to produce, but rather take some of the drudgery out of life for the rest of us who work for a living, may be smart, but she also is being used – useful idiots is the phrase communist leaders have used to describe their sycophants.

Think for just a minute what human life would be like if communism was imposed on our species a hundred thousand years ago. We probably wouldn't be here.

Neanderthals died out because Neanderthals did things the same way every time because they had always done things that way. Cro Magnons survived because that species produced at least one being who was allowed to think independently, outside the box. Thus the species advanced.

Early man survived the last major Ice Age because he learned how to kill other mammals for food and use their skins for clothing. Somewhere, someone had the time and opportunity to think about the conditions that existed then – the founder I'd say of the discipline of philosophy – and decided after seeing an out of control forest fire that it might be nice to get a small slice of that heat and control it.

Later, while everyone else in the tribe was huddled around a campfire quivering in fear of the next attack by a saber-toothed tiger, one guy figured that if he could put a pointed end on a long stick he could inflict damage without getting hurt himself. Maybe the same guy or someone who was inspired by him figured out the sling, and then the bow and arrow.

Now tell me this; how many of our species would have survived if everything new had to be reviewed by a committee and approved of by a bureaucrat first? How many of us would be here if the tribe's apparatchik had to determine its viability every time a forward thinker had a new idea? Answer, none. Not one. No One. Nobody!

What Ms. Goldberg and her ilk tend to overlook, or dismiss, or deny, or simply don't know about is that in applying the basic concept of communism to society, people generally react negatively, just about as quickly as they discover that they have to give up stuff too. Do you live in a 1200-square-foot 1960s era single story ranch with a one-car garage?

Do you think that if communism prevails you'll get a 4,000 square foot McMansion on five acres? Think again. If you're lucky you'll stay right where you are; but you'll get a couple dozen homeless people moving in with you; from each according to your ability right?

Compared to a homeless person, anyone who has a house is a millionaire. Then again, I bet Whoopi – who reportedly has extensive real estate holdings – has a mansion or a "farm" somewhere that would hold hundreds and hundreds of homeless or jobless or just plain old folks who live in 50-year-old ranch-style dwellings.

Honest historians agree that the history of communism includes the slaughter of more than 100,000,000 people who disagreed with their masters. In fact, communism, which originally was touted as the perfect antidote for the European aristocracies that existed in the mid-1800s, turned out to be nothing more than a new form of totalitarianism that proved to be even more controlling and more brutal than the system it replaced.

In Southeast Asia, two years after the US Congress voted to abandon its ally, South Vietnam, a budding democracy, the North Vietnamese communists invaded and initiated a decade of butchery. Neighboring Cambodia fell to the Khmer Rouge who went on a rampage of slaughter as did the Laotian Pathet Lao, all in the name of communism.

An estimated 3 million people, roughly the population of the state of Connecticut were slaughtered in the mayhem. Slaughtered. Butchered. Tortured. Murdered. Which word do you prefer Ms. Goldberg?

Did you notice that Whoopi wears glasses? In 1976 Cambodia that would get her killed. She works in a city – ditto. She wears western clothes, same outcome.

Worldwide, proponents of communism have shown themselves to be unrepentant butchers who share a legacy of failed economic systems, and wholesale slaughter of anyone who thinks independently. And this Ms. Goldberg thinks is a "great concept."

Do you think Barbara Walters shares her point of view? I bet she's rich too. Or better yet, how about Oprah?
Monday, December 19, 2011

A "Russian Billionaire" Owns the Nets? Challenges Putin?

Until recently I thought the words 'Russian' and 'Billionaire' taken together were a contradiction in terms.

And if someone had said this Russian Billionaire, myth-like in concept akin to the Yeti, would own the New Jersey er, excuse me, New York, er excuse me, Brooklyn Nets professional basketball team I would have choked on my GlenMorangie.

Now I find there really is a Russian billionaire, several in fact, but this one's name is Mikhail Prokhorov. Last year the National Basketball Association approved his purchase of 80 percent of the woebegone Nets and 45 percent of the facility they are scheduled to move into next year, the Barclays Center, a $4.5 billion sports, commercial and residential center in Brooklyn. (How do you L.A. Dodgers like them apples?)

Forbes says he is the third richest man in Russia and the 32nd richest man in the world worth about $18 billion, which isn't bad considering it's only been two decades since the Soviet Union and its accompanying communist government and economic system collapsed. Prokhorov was born in 1965 and he spent his youth living under communism which apparently gave him the opportunity to appreciate the benefits of capitalism.
After graduating from the Moscow Finance Institute Prokhorov made his name in the financial sector and went on to become one of Russia's leading industrialists in the precious metals sector. While that information is interesting, I am far more interested in the fact that he wants to take on Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the presidential elections next year.

Earlier this month Prokhorov announced his intention to run as an independent in the 2012 presidential elections. As Russia's prime minister and former president Putin is the favorite.

Frankly, at first blush, anyone taking on Putin would appear to be a suicide waiting to happen - and there are those who say Putin would be only too willing to help a challenger who developed cold feet. But Prokhorov is obviously nobody's fool and should be well aware of Putin's reputation as a hard-case nationalist who may have been slipping in the polls of late but still has the backing of a majority of Russians who support what he represents.

Putin's party recently took a pretty big hit in the parliamentary elections that opponents say were rigged even with the diminished returns for Putin, but that hasn't altered his status as the favorite candidate ... yet. Putin served two terms as president previously, but Russia operates under a form of term limits that forced him to step aside, and also allows him to run again.

So up steps Mr. Prokhorov to throw a monkey wrench into the works - or appear to give Putin's third term some credibility according to some who keep a close eye on the Russian political scene and don't think Prokhorov is a serious candidate. Nonetheless, Prokhorov actually has many things in common with Putin.

They both are avid sports enthusiasts, including the martial arts. Prokhorov, at 6 feet 8 inches, probably could have played on his own Nets team, which last year narrowly averted the record for the worst losing season in the history of American basketball.

He also likes to jet ski and do acrobatics including back flips which is not exactly an easy maneuver. Prokhorov doesn't make as big a deal of his martial arts training as Putin does his, but he at least is familiar with the concepts.

Prokhorov is considered a major money maker and world traveler, and has his enemies too. At a Christmas party at the French Alpine resort of Courcheval in January 2007, he was arrested for allegedly arranging prostitutes for his guests, which cracked me up when I read about it because I thought prostitution was a national past time in France ... or at least an honored profession.

After four days he was released with no charges being filed and his case was dismissed, with apologies from the French so he says. I wonder how much that cost him?

There are two great things about Prokhorov's candidacy and his ownership of the Nets. He will give us plenty of diversions both at home and abroad in the coming year and we can keep close tabs on the Nets to see if they can possibly drag themselves up from the NBA cellar.
Who knows, maybe the Nets will flourish under his ownership and have a great season. If so, while he is running around Russia doing candidate commercials and shaking voters' hands maybe us football fans can persuade him to approach the NFL about purchasing another embarrassing sports franchise ... the Giants!
Friday, December 16, 2011

Goodnight Baghdad; Ron Paul is a Dangerous Man!

Nearly a decade ago, on October 10, 2002, a number of prominent Democrats including West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller and then US Senator from New York Hillary Clinton, delivered speeches asserting that the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, had used them in the past, likely would again, and should be deposed.

Other Democrats, politicians and bureaucrats alike, made similar statements in the months and years before - going back deep into the Clinton Administration - and after that date. Their comments were used to bolster then President George Bush's argument that having routed Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, we should turn our attention to Iraq where terrorists were regrouping.

You can see some of the comments in the video below and then I'll tell  you why they didn't matter to me then and don't matter to me now.

I never cared about the weapons Saddam Hussein had in his arsenal because the weapons possessed by a potential enemy should not be the reasons used in deciding whether to fight; they may be a major factor in deciding how to fight, but not whether.

I supported Bush's position on Iraq because members of Al Qaeda, fresh from their defeats on Afghanistan's battlefields, including Abu Al-Zarqawi, one of Osama bin Laden's top inner circle strategists, were moving into Iraq to reestablish terrorist training camps from which to launch further attacks against our country. This was done with the full knowledge and approval of Saddam Hussein.

Bush had promised to hunt down and "smoke out" any terrorists who harbored ill will against our country after the attacks of September 11, 2001 and made it clear that any country aiding or sheltering them was our enemy. Regardless of the previous history between Saddam and the US it was abundantly clear that he was now our enemy, was harboring terrorists, and aiding them in their efforts to reestablish their bases and infrastructure.

The rest is history. Congress gave Bush overwhelming, bi-partisan approval to invade Iraq, we did, Saddam's army was destroyed in weeks, and the instant that it was reported - somewhat inaccurately it turned out - that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction couldn't be located, and thus supposedly never existed, the previous purrs of approval turned into brays of betrayal.

You can see more of Hillary Clinton's comments supporting a Congressional resolution on Iraq here.

She obviously waffled all over the place, but in the end she supported Bush.

Fast forward to yesterday, when after more than 8 years of war, the Obama Administration declared that our military presence in Iraq is officially over. A ceremony was held, representatives of the Iraqi government refused to attend, and the battle flags were furled. Yet, we still have troops in Iraq, and may send more back.

The New York Times reported that: Although Thursday’s ceremony represented the official end of the war, the military still has two bases in Iraq and roughly 4,000 troops, including several hundred who attended the ceremony. At the height of the war in 2007, there were 505 bases and more than 170,000 troops.

Those troops that remain are still being attacked daily, mainly by artillery or mortar fire on the bases, and roadside bombs aimed at convoys heading south toward Kuwait. 

Even after the last two bases are closed and the final American combat troops withdraw from Iraq by Dec. 31, a few hundred military personnel and Pentagon civilians will remain, working within the American Embassy as part of an Office of Security Cooperation to assist in arms sales and training to the Iraqis.

But negotiations could resume next year on whether additional American military personnel can return to assist their Iraqi counterparts further.

So are we out of Iraq or not? Has our mission been accomplished or not? I guess it depends on who you ask and how the word "mission" is defined.

That is the irony of what obviously was a political decision made in the White House with little to no support from the military commanders. The decision to leave, especially the way it was done, accomplished little except to give President Barack Hussein Obama a semblance of plausibility when he tries to convince one-time supporters in coming months that he really kept his campaign promises of four years ago.

FOX News Pentagon reporter Jennifer Griffin covered the ceremony on scene with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and when the ceremony was over asked him a question that had to be asked, but which he struggled to answer. "Was it worth it?" she asked.

It was noted during this segment that America lost nearly 4,500 troops killed and more than 30,000 wounded, in addition to more than 100,000 Iraqi deaths. What was not spelled out was whether those Iraqi deaths were civilians, terrorists or a combination.

Panetta gave Griffin a "bub-buh-bub-buh" response and I stopped listening to him.

I think the answer to her question is simple: "It was necessary."

Let there be no doubt that our military once again performed magnificently, and accomplished the mission they were given in 2003, which was to overthrow Hussein and eliminate the terrorist threat from Iraq.

It seemed for a time that every Muslim jihadist in the world who could scape together the travel fare made his way to Iraq to die in battle and take his place in the Muslim version of paradise. Waiting in Iraq were America's armed forces, who obliged each and every jihadist and gladly helped them meet their maker.

A few years ago I received some information indicating that prior to "The Surge" in which our troop strength was greatly increased and our battlefield presence proved to be overwhelming, our troops had sent more than 50,000 terrorists on the path to paradise. Presumably, with the intense fighting during the Surge and the continuing mop-up operations since, that number went considerably higher.

When all was said and done the terrorists were crushed, Iraqi citizens began forming their own government, held their own elections, and are in the process of continuing on as an independent Democratic country. Challenges abound of course, including interference from Iran, but Al Qaeda in Iraq was crushed and never did launch another major attack against the US.

But the little of Panetta's speech that I caught did not sound like a victory speech, and in fact when Camp Victory was handed over to the Iraqi government on Dec. 2, Vice President Joe Biden refused to use the word "victory" in his remarks there. I heard stupid comments along the lines of "our military can leave with their chins up," or in a similar vein "we can march out with our heads held high."

Why isn't Hillary Clinton standing on the border with Kuwait, tousling our little soldiers' hair and handing out lollipops as they go by? That is the image the Obama Administration is trying to portray, isn't it?

I am getting a very bad feeling of deja vous, akin to the situation in Vietnam in 1973 when the US and its allies had decisively defeated the communist army of North Vietnam and had annihilated its Viet Cong guerrilla puppets in the south.

Even though they had been handed the conditions to declare a full victory and insist on a total surrender, at the cost of 58,000 Americans killed and more than 100,000 wounded, America's politicians and bureaucrats, some of whom it was later revealed were little more than traitors and communist plants, instead crafted a wholly insufficient cease fire and peace accord. The Paris Peace Accord was remarkable only in that it allowed the US Congress to abandon an ally who was totally dependant on our support.

Two years later, alone and defenseless, the south fell to the resurgent communists who erupted in an orgy of butchery and slaughter, ultimately murdering nearly 3 million people, imprisoning hundreds of thousands in concentration camps, and sending more than a million fleeing on the South China Sea where some 300,000 disappeared.

The ruthlessness of the communist atrocities in Southeast Asia in the mid-1970s was on a par with that of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Tse Tung. But the US stood by while it happened, lifting not one finger to help our fallen allies, and sucking up to China in the meantime.

The likelihood of a similar outcome for Iraq is unfortunately, all too real. Iran is licking its chops over the opportunity to renew its war with its western neighbor, and has been sending operatives into Iraq for years to recruit new jihadists and spread terrorism.

The decision to simply leave and let the chips fall where they may is as cowardly an act by the Obama administration as was his response to Iran capturing one of our unmanned spy drones. "Can we please have it back? Pretty please? With sugar on top?"

That was pathetic, as was duly noted by every single Republican candidate for president in the FOX News debate last night. Oh, except for Ron Paul who thinks Iran is just a misunderstood kid who needs some positive reinforcement and time to contemplate its future.

Paul was ranting at one point in the debate and I'm pretty sure I heard him say that every war the US has fought since WWII has been unnecessary! Ron Paul may have some popular positions on domestic and constitutional issues but he is clueless, a babe in the woods, on international matters and he is dangerous to the future of America. There isn't room here to go into the reasons so I'll save it for another column.

But I will say this. I have friends and family members who fought in Iraq, and I consider them heroes of the highest order, who did their duty, helped the citizens of Iraq rise above both the terrorists and the terrors of living under a cruel dictatorship. They went to Iraq on more than one occasion, took on the jihadists face to face, defeated them convincingly and kept our country free from attack.

For that every American can be, and should be grateful!

I will not tolerate any effort by any bureaucrats or politicians or their stooges to denigrate or undermine the efforts, performance and accomplishments of the military in Iraq. They went, they won, and they came home in victory, period.

There was no Internet in 1975 - except in Al Gore's mind - and there were few people who had sufficient facts about Vietnam to counter the media version of events. That is no longer the case. And this time, attempts to do to today's veterans what was done to Vietnam veterans will be met with robust opposition to put it mildly.

What  was it the actor Tom Berenger said in the movie Platoon? "I'll take a personal interest in seeing him suffer." Worth considering.
Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fox In, Trump Out; Tax Reform Dies with Cain Candidacy

The number one story on FOX News for the past two days has consisted of hype for its GOP presidential candidates debate scheduled for tonight, and right behind that is the gloating over the cancellation of Donald Trump's debate that was scheduled for Dec. 27 on the ION cable network.

The number one story on FOX News should be this article but why let the erosion of our constitutional rights in the name of national security get in the way of a real story?

Perhaps I shouldn't be so critical, but I have difficulty expunging the memories of two decades working as a journalist from my professional psyche, and I keep having these flashbacks of sending reporters' copy back to them with huge question marks all over the place. ( I have worse memories of being the reporter whose copy was trashed by his editors, but we're NOT going there today.)

In the world of television news the Fox debate is a "real" debate and thus "news" while Trump's debate was denounced by media and political elitists alike as an "unreal" debate that is noteworthy only due to its demise.

Talking airheads all over the political universe were tut-tutting Trump's decision to host a debate, since he is after all a celebrity who was in the race himself for a while. He cancelled it, so he says, not because of the cowardice of the bulk of the GOP candidates who were too chicken to appear, but because he still may run as an independent if he doesn't like the final GOP choice. Right.

Only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum ultimately agreed to appear on the Trump debate, but I'll tell you something, I would have watched anyway! Santorum constantly complains that he doesn't get enough face time, so this would have been a bonanza for him, and I could listen to Gingrich all night, especially when he isn't working against the negativism of Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Ron Paul.

I didn't hear anyone complaining when Fox personality Frank Luntz did an Internet "forum" a while back, that focused on the candidates' faith - except for Romney and another guy who are Mormons and apparently didn't feel comfortable sitting at the front of a room full of conservative Christians many of whom presumably were of the Evangelical persuasion. Luntz actually did a good job of hosting the forum for the rest of the top candidates, which included questions from the audience as well as the moderators, in a laid back, informative style that was long on information and short on made-for-TV pseudo drama.

If the FOX debate tonight is to give us any real insights into the candidates' plans for a post-Obama White House, someone should ask for some real details on where they are going with their so-called "Tax Reform" plans now that Herman Cain has been banished to the back of the bus along with his 9-9-9 plan. (I said that on purpose.)

Cain had the only plan that promised real reform because his plan was the only one that required a complete shift away from taxing the nation's best producers at increasingly higher levels, and instead taxing consumption - which would have spread the burden over everyone in this country not just the wage earners. I have been hearing for some time now that of the 140 million workers in the US, only about half actually pay income taxes.

If you go the the US Debt Clock website you'll see that the three components of income based taxation are Income taxes, Payroll taxes, and Corporate taxes all of which take money out of workers' pockets before they ever see it. The media regularly reports that about half of American workers get more back in tax refunds than is taken from their paychecks, but I have pointed out previously that even so, the government deducts taxes from those workers' pay all year long too, in effect giving the government an interest free loan before they get a refund the next year.

But that system also requires that the government tax people in higher income brackets at ever higher rates, meaning the harder your work, the better your education, the more you earn, the more you pay. What kind of screwed up system is that? Especially when the media constantly regurgitates the claims that "the rich" are getting away with murder while "the poor" are carrying the burden. Reality is like a cold shower in January isn't it?

Cain would have taken the load off the backs of the roughly 70 million wage earners who pay more in taxes than they get back in April, and instead would have put a lesser burden spread out over the 320,000,000 Americans and associates who got to the store every so often to buy things.

Cain's 9-9-9 plan was just the first step in eliminating the bulk of federal taxes - personal income taxes, payroll taxes, and corporate taxes, and replacing them with what is called the Fair Tax, a national sales tax which derives its name from the fact that everyone would  contribute, not just those who work the hardest.

As it stands now, America's tax system penalizes the best and brightest so the worst and dumbest can sit on their asses doing nothing, collecting income they didn't earn, which comes from the taxes levied on those who get up every day and go to their jobs. This includes millions of Americans who create their own jobs instead of whining that "the government" isn't doing enough to keep them employed shuffling papers and making up things to do.

When most Americans join the labor force it is safe to presume that an overall goal is to work their way up the ladder of knowledge and responsibility with the promise of greater rewards coming on the heels of greater effort.

But we now seem to be in sort of a Reverse Aristocracy, where instead of kings and nobles taxing the middle class, we have the lumps and humps sitting around whining that someone who has actually spent their life PRODUCING thinks they have the right to keep what they earn.

Should any of the GOP candidates take up where Cain left off and seriously explore moving our tax system to a consumption base rather than a production base, they certainly will get my support. But it seems that one thing the media and political elitists fear the most with a true revision of the tax system is that the general public will no longer be subjected to the iron fist of the Internal Revenue Service and its tens of thousands of pages of tax codes, but instead will have a significant measure of CONTROL over how much they spend and thus how much they are taxed.

If a person who is well off wants to buy a $100,000 car and spend $20,000 on taxes, that is their business. If a person who doesn't have that much money wants to buy a $10,000 car and spend $2,000 on taxes, that also is their choice. The great thing about the Fair Tax is that the purchase of a new automobile will be taxed once and that is that.

Later on, if those cars are sold as used vehicles there will be no tax. I like that a lot. I also like the fact that every illegal alien in this country and every tourist who graces our shores would contribute to our tax base!

I like the fact that I could cut some trees on my property and burn wood at no tax expense to myself, except for chainsaw gas and oil, instead of buying fuel. Or I could grow a big garden and save on buying produce at the grocery store. Control ladies and gentlemen, control. That is what this is all about and I believe it is way past time for control to return to the people where it belongs.

In its pure form the Fair Tax also addresses the concept that it would hurt the poor more than the rich, a concept with which I strongly disagree by the way, by providing a monthly "prebate" which would provide families below certain income limits with the equivalent of what they would pay in taxes that month. So much for whining that "the rich" are taking advantage of the poor. What a car load of communist crap.

The true aristocracies that Communism was originally intended to oppose have been long gone from Europe and never had a place in American society. Thus, structuring this argument in rhetoric from the 1800s is pure nonsense - and won't lead to real solutions. Yes, I know full well that there are people who think they are aristocratic but usually they are full of hot air and exist on a cushion of false premises.

The great thing about America is that anyone with brains and initiative can overcome economic drawbacks and succeed to levels that are unthinkable in other societies. Why else do we have so many people trying to get in and so few clamoring to get out?

How many recent immigrants do you think participate in this "occupy" nonsense? How smart is it to keep labor union members off their jobs in American ports in an effort to destroy the very structure that provided those jobs in the first place? Not smart at all in my estimation, especially just before Christmas, which is celebrated in some form or another by more than 80 percent of Americans.

Keep people from working only weeks before Christmas morning when everyone who believes likes to see a little something under the tree? Wow, what a great strategist thought that one up.

Look, I understand that a transition to the Fair Tax would take real work and a lot of cooperation, and in some cases would involve neutralizing the people who believe in the status quo because they are lined up at the feeding trough provided by the American taxpayers too. We would have to work to make sure that today's unsustainable and unconscionable government spending sprees are returned to common sense levels and we will never escape the requirement that we keep an eye on our elected representatives and self-anointed bureaucrats alike.

But like abolitionist Wendell Phillips once stated, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." (No it wasn't Thomas Jefferson.) No one ever said that once a government is formed, those who formed it or live in its shadow can just relax and go about their business.

There is a constant ebb and flow to the human condition, and so far, fortunately, we have risen above the ebb every time to ever greater heights. But that takes work, not indolence. I hope someone brings that up at tonight's FOX News debate. I'll be watching just to find out.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011

China Controls Rare Earth Elements; and Thus Christmas!

Were you hoping to get a new flat screen TV for Christmas? You know, one of those huge models that you mount on an entire wall of your "media room" or "man cave" that literally brings the National Football League playoffs to life?

How about a new cell phone, or better yet, one of those all-in-one smart phones that only handle phone calls as an afterthought?

If these, or other electronic devices are indeed on your Christmas list, you may want to move on those purchases while you can, because they all contain materials that collectively are termed Rare Earth Elements, without which our modern world of communication would not exist. Yet they could be in short supply sooner rather than later.

According to Wikipedia:  Rare earth elements or rare earth metals are a set of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table, specifically the fifteen lanthanides plus scandium and yttrium.

Scandium and yttrium are considered rare earth elements since they tend to occur in the same ore deposits as the lanthanides and exhibit similar chemical properties.

Despite their name, rare earth elements (with the exception of the radioactive promethium) are relatively plentiful in the Earth's crust, with cerium being the 25th most abundant element at 68 parts per million (similar to copper). However, because of their geochemical properties, rare earth elements are typically dispersed and not often found in concentrated and economically exploitable forms.

Unfortunately, while the electronic news media that also relies heavily on these elements is clogged with the latest celebrity and political gossip, and very rarely what in the old days would have been called news, Communist China has been amassing nearly all of the production capabilities for REEs as they are called.

Further, if the Chinese leadership gets really ticked off at us, or just decides to teach Donald Trump a lesson, they can shut the door on all our games, toys, communications devices, advanced aerospace and military equipment, medical devices, and related materials in a heartbeat. Think not? Ask Japan.

According to a recent article in the American Legion magazine, China and Japan had a bit of a tiff toward the end of last year and the next thing you know, the supply of processed Rare Earth Elements suddenly went dry for the island nation that has a long and not very nice history with the Chinese. The supply was turned on again in June, but you can bet the proud Japanese had to do a bit of kowtowing first.

Apparently Hu Jintao, the Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China, was playing his version of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and wanted everyone to see it.  

Remember the exchange in Mad Max between Tina Turner as Aunty Entity who appears to run Bartertown and her arch enemy, the late Angelo Rossitto as Blaster who controlled the power supply from underground, and thus really ran Bartertown?

Blaster, in a fit of pique shuts down the power and then demands to know on a loudspeaker that is broadcast throughout the community,  "Who runs Bartertown?"

"Master Blaster," is the obedient reply from Aunty.


"Master Blaster runs Bartertown."

"Power on."

Japan learned its lessons just as Aunty Entity did, but in an effort to artificially inflate world prices, China's biggest producer cut shipments to Europe and the US in October.

One of many infuriating facets of this situation is that while China is reported to have more than 90 percent of the world's production of REEs, it only has between 30 and 40 percent of the supply of REE raw ores. The United States and its allies have another 40 percent, according to the Legion article, but production that once was robust in western countries is now nil.

In fact, there is supposed to be a huge concentration of REEs in Nebraska, but it is in the form of raw ore, not processed metals that can be sold to America's high-tech industries.

And, as an interesting aside, another large concentration of REE raw ores lies in Afghanistan. Think about how much better things would be for the Afghans and the rest of the world if opium poppy production was curtailed and replaced with a booming REE production instead. Afghans would have a viable source of income and a reason to move into the high-technology fields - as a nation!

Many countries mined REEs until the mid-1990s, when, during the Clinton Administration, China began undercutting world prices for REEs and the response from the US was to curtail our own production. Now, even though there still are myriad sources of REEs, China has virtual control of the entire market.

Unfortunately, it will take until somewhere around 2015 for the world outside China to reestablish its production facilities so we are pretty much up against the wall until then. Four years is an eternity in the fast moving world of electronics, with a new generation emerging every 9 months or so. And on a national scale, although there are numerous print articles on this issue, for some reason they don't seem to get same attention as the latest gaffe by a politician - as long as that politician is not President Barack Hussein Obama.

There is one silver lining in this cloud, however. If the Chinese communists continue to curtail production - they say it is to protect scarce resources and avoid over-exploitation - they run the risk of aggravating one of the potentially most explosive segments of the US population. No, I am not talking about teen-aged boys and their video games, I am talking about the "Occupy" crowd that rails against capitalism and all its evils, doing so on their cell phones, smart phones and using the electronic media to provide propaganda outlets.

What an incredible opportunity to take a bunch of smelly, filthy, unclean totally stupid fanatics, and turn their energy to a good purpose. If they want to block American shipping ports, then let them block the Chinese docks and prevent their ships from unloading. That would be a prime example of real world, bare knuckles trading, unfettered by politicians who write our import laws to favor the Chinese so they can feather their own overstuffed nests even more.

Actually, the Occupy denizens could well be used in conjunction with the Tea Party believers, with the Occupiers blocking Chinese imports while the Tea Party helps toss out all the bottom feeding politicians who write regulations that stymie American manufacturing while helping our enemies. Real world politics, working in conjunction with real world trade embargoes could change a lot for America and the rest of the free world in a very short time.

Remember that other quote from Mad Max: "If you have nothing to trade, you have no business in Bartertown!"
Friday, December 09, 2011

Hillary Clinton vs. Vladimir Putin; Cage Match, Don't Miss It!

The world's best known unrepentant communist, Vladimir Putin, traded nasty words this week with the world's best known closet communist, Hillary Clinton, and their war appears to be escalating.

My money is on Putin, but that doesn't mean he should take Clinton lightly. She spoke out after the national elections in Russia gave Putin's party a slight victory, but a victory nonetheless, assisting him in his drive to become Russia's president again. Clinton bemoaned the widespread allegations of ballot box stuffing and voter fraud.

In her defense there apparently was so much chicanery going on in Russia that it made America's presidential election of 2008 look legal! At least the Russian voters have a reasonably complete resume on Putin's background.

Mrs. Clinton, in her role as Secretary of State, made a number of unflattering remarks about Putin's involvement and he in turn said she is encouraging his opponents who are protesting the election results.

Putin's ruling United Russia party won about 50 percent of the vote, down from 64 percent four years ago, and barely held onto its majority in the Russian parliament, according to media reports. Putin was nominated earlier this year to run for president again and the United Russia party also approved his proposal that Russia's current president, Dmitry Medvedev, take over Putin's current role as prime minister.

Putin took over as Prime Minister after serving as president from 2000-2008, stepping down due to term limits. But Medvedev is viewed as a caretaker president and presumably will become a caretaker prime minister if Putin becomes president again. Putin rules with an iron fist, and doesn't bother to hide it inside a velvet glove.

Putin says hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign funds were used to sway the vote against his party, which means against him. He said Mrs Clinton "gave a signal" to his opponents, and warned that those working for foreign governments - which in Russian translates to "anyone I don't like" - to influence Russian politics would be held accountable. And to back up his position he called out tens of thousands of police and some Army troops too.

You may note that he called up the police to a much greater degree than the Army. That should tell you something about the state of political affairs in Russia today. Ah for the good old days of secret police, repression, gulags and the Cold War.

The international media tends to dismiss Putin as a lightweight, latter-day communist who yearns for the old Soviet Union. Back then he was in charge of the KGB and could pretty much get whatever he wanted just by giving someone his infamous ice-cold stare from those eyes that George Bush once looked deep into, coming away reassured.

I don't agree with that assessment - either of Putin as a lightweight or that we should be reassured with what we see in his eyes. I think Putin lets you see exactly what he wants you to see and not one bit more. Putin may have some odd ideas about what constitutes good media relations, like hunting tigers and planting ancient artifacts in locations where he is scuba diving so he can  "discover" them, but that should not be used as a reason for ignoring where he is going and what he is doing.

Whether we like it or not he is still a driving force - perhaps THE driving force - in the world's largest country by land mass.

If  you want to see the results of Putin's long term view of the world you have only to look at Russia's annexation of one-fifth of the country of Georgia in 2008. This was the culmination of years of planning and executing an overall strategy that used manipulation of another country's internal affairs, and wholesale slaughter of ethnic Georgians especially in the areas the Kremlin wanted.

Putin wasn't president when the Soviet Union fell, and he was between terms when the actual invasion took place, but you can bet he was up to his armpits in the effort to annex parts of Georgia - which itself was a continuation of centuries of repression. The most recent assault on Georgia was not designed or executed by simpletons or weaklings.

In fact it was brutality unleashed by a government that to this day has not really come to terms with the fact that most of the world rejects communism because most of the world can see that it doesn't work.

Clinton for her part, was on a speech-making roll this week, both with her comments on the Russian election and her support for US President Barack Hussein Obama's decision to use American foreign aid to support gay rights in countries where repression is common. That may be a big bite of a sour apple considering that many Asian, African and Micronesian countries are controlled by Muslim leaders who aren't exactly known for their tolerance levels.

Nonetheless, Clinton looked pretty strong as she crossed the stage to the podium where she delivered her support for the president. Dressed in slacks and a suit jacket she had a determined set to her shoulders, and a strong, purposeful stride that offset the teeny-bopper ponytail hair style she has been affecting of late.

I guess we could try to arrange an arm-wrestling match between Clinton and Putin but I believe he has the edge there too. And we have to consider that since both Clinton and Putin are communists - the American media would probably say that Clinton doesn't have a membership card to the Communist Party, but they would admit she is "pro-communist" which is essentially the same thing - this could all just be for show.

I don't see the Obama Administration as being necessarily opposed to Russia regaining the oppressive stature it had when it ran the Soviet Union, 

But image only takes you so far and the thing about Putin is that you don't toy with him, even if you think he is in on it. Remember, he not only survived, he thrived in a system where your best friend today could order your execution tomorrow - or actually tonight, very late, when everyone else is asleep and people know better than to look out the window when the secret police kick down their neighbor's door.

Clinton and Obama should keep those things in mind.
Sunday, December 04, 2011

GOP "Elite" Lynches Cain; Brit Hume, Bill Kristol for President?

The unbeatable combination of a propaganda-based American media, Republican elitists who don't want a black man running for president under the GOP banner, and cross party help from Democrats supporting Barack Hussein Obama succeeded in lynching the presidential hopes of Herman Cain Saturday.

Considering that two of the most conservative Republican political pundits, Brit Hume and Bill Kristol, both of whom are employed by FOX News, were in on the assassination I feel it is only fair to nominate them to run for president in his place. It's not that I think they could do a good job as president; frankly I don't think either of them could find their own asses with both hands, a road map, a mirror and a flashlight.

But since they seem to believe it is appropriate to use their status as national journalists to misrepresent events and push their own agenda, I think it is only fair that we put them up on the dais and start taking a close look at their backgrounds. I bet we could find more pay dirt in less time than that clueless crew on the Discovery Channel's Gold Rush Alaska.

Cain, a black businessman who was the GOP frontrunner until his political enemies realized with horror that he could win the nomination and reform the current tax system that literally makes indentured servants out of America's workers, was forced to withdraw from the race after facing an onslaught of unsubstantiated sexual allegations from a series of women of questionable repute.

Although Cain was never charged with anything remotely resembling a crime (unlike former Democratic President Bill Clinton who has been accused of being a serial rapist) and flat-out denied the allegations, including offering to tax a lie detector test if his accusers would – they wouldn't – he nonetheless was convicted in the media. American media outlets without exception began the onslaught in late October by falsely reporting that four women had "come forth" with claims of sexual improprieties more than a decade ago when Cain headed the National Restaurant Association.

Actually, no one came forth initially. So to overcome the obvious bias in reporting, a Democratic operative from Chicago, Sharon Bialek – pronounced Buy A Lick – stepped into the limelight. However, although the media knew it, very few outlets reported that she was directly tied to Obama's former senior adviser David Axelrod – including living in the same apartment building and seeing him socially – when she made a media splash with Democratic lawyer Gloria Allred.

Bialek claimed Cain had groped her in an automobile in the late 1990's but her story didn't hold up and at the end of last week she was evicted from her hoity-toity apartment building. Good, now's she's homeless and we can only hope she spends the winter living in a box on a heating vent.

Bialek was followed by a very reluctant Karen Kraushaar who didn’t come forward herself but was outed by her brother-in-law. As it turns out, Ms. Kraushaar, like Cain's other accusers, has a history of financial difficulties and even other claims of sexual harassment, in which she attempted to force at least one previous boss in addition to Cain to make a generous settlement in her favor.

She in turn was followed by Ginger White, who was described in the Christian Science Monitor as speaking slowly and in a monotone when interviewed by Democratic operative George Stephanopoulos on national TV.

Know why? Because a private investigator who uses an advanced piece of machinery that operates on voice stress levels – and is considered to be 95 percent accurate, far better than traditional lie detectors – taped both Cain and Bialek during their respective press conferences in November. His machine showed that Cain told the truth when he denied Bialek's accusations and Bialek was shown to be lying!

Obviously White's handlers figured it was best to keep her totally under control and insufficient as a subject for a lie detection session. White, a 46-year-old unemployed single mother who has at last two divorces and a paternity suit (that did NOT involve Cain) in her background, was described by station WAGA as also having filed a sexual harassment claim against an employer ten years ago. That case was settled, the station reported.

White also is involved in an unrelated lawsuit with a former business partner, female bodybuilder Kimberly Vay, who sought a protective order against White after alleging that White stalked and harassed her. News reports say a judge entered a default judgment in Vay's favor in the case which is said to also include allegations of libel.

White says she had a 13-year sexual relationship with Cain that ended only about eight months ago when he declared that he was running for president. I see. And just how much sex did they supposedly have five years ago when Cain was battling two forms of cancer that both required aggressive chemotherapy that is pretty much the opposite of Viagra in the "let's do it a lot" department?

Can you imagine any of these women on the witness stand if they had to go to trial to air their claims against Cain in a court of law? They'd be laughed out of court if they even got that far. Jury members and even judges would probably have a hard time keeping a straight face.

Well, unless one of the jurors was Bill Kristol whose own history regarding black conservatives in politics gives a pretty good indication that he just might take the word of a Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard over any black man!

Think not? Consider this. Kristol has a bunch of letters after his name, and he was indeed educated in Harvard, a bastion of conservative political thought and action (sarcasm implied and intended.)

But while he posits himself as a big time mover and shaker in the political arena, his only foray into elective politics was as was the campaign manager for Alan Keyes' 1988 Maryland Senatorial campaign. Keyes is a black conservative Republican with very strong libertarian leanings, so much so that he can probably be favorably compared to Ron Paul.

But all of Kristol's academic achievements were totally ineffective in the real world of bare knuckle politics and Keyes' campaign, run by Kristol was unsuccessful!
After failing in Keyes' campaign, Kristol's next big move in elective party politics was to lead the charge in throwing Michael Steele out as party chairman. Steele, who was the highly popular Lt. Governor of Maryland, is – you guessed it – a black conservative.

Some of the allegations against Steele were simply ludicrous. For instance he was held responsible for the charges on a GOP credit card used by an employee in California who took clients to a nudie bar. That's analogous to holding the Commandant of the Marine Corps who works in Washington, responsible for the actions of a Lance Corporal out on liberty in Oceanside, CA.

Kristol has a history of trying to straddle both sides of the political divide, including portraying himself as an arch-conservative while also writing for the New York Times. But Kristol developed a reputation for misquoting people at the Times and his one-year tenure there ended two years ago.

Now we have Herman Cain, or we did have Herman Cain another black, conservative Republican. His 9-9-9 tax reform plan is dead, the status quo inside the DC Beltway will stay put, and regardless of which candidate or party prevails in the 2012 presidential election, one-half of America's workers will still be carrying the rest of the country's burdens on our shoulders while smug pieces of elephant dung like Kristol pat themselves on the back.

Does all of this add up to proof that Kristol is racist? Not at all. It could all be just coincidental. But if you were to see this written up in the media and broadcast on every single national news outlet, what would you think – especially if any evidence to the contrary was not revealed, or contained in paragraph 30 of a 30-paragraph story?

There is one lesson that can be applied from what we have seen in the last four weeks. The next up and coming black conservative is retired US Army Lt. Col. Allen West who has a huge following in and out of the GOP. He was elected to Congress in Florida, and he certainly is eyeing the next step on the national stage.

If I were Lt. Col. West I would take one piece of advice from the Cain debacle; using the adage that says keep your friends close and your enemies closer, I would get as close as possible to Bill Kristol and others of his ilk, but always, always, watch your back.

Next up: What you don’t know about Brit Hume.


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