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RAPID RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section.  It will offer fresh, quick reactions by myself to news and events of the day, day by day, in this rapid-fire world of ours.  Of course, as in military campaigns, a rapid response in one direction may occasionally have to be followed by a "strategic withdrawal" in another direction.  Charge that to "the fog of war", and to the necessary flexibility any mental or military campaign must maintain to be effective.  But the mission will always be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick", supported by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.  That's all I promise.
GS

Click here to return to the current Rapid Response list


MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, August 22 through 31, 2011

By Lou Pritchett, Procter & Gamble

A LETTER FROM A PROCTER  AND GAMBLE EXECUTIVE TO THE PRESIDENT* THE LAST
SENTENCE IS THE  MOST CHILLING (with Snopes.com<http://snopes.com/> support)

Lou Pritchett is one of  corporate America 's true living legends-an
acclaimed author, dynamic teacher and one of the  world's highest rated
speakers. Successful corporate executives  everywhere recognize him as the
foremost leader in change management..  Lou changed the way America does
business by creating an audacious  concept that came to be known as
"partnering." Pritchett rose from soap salesman to Vice-President, Sales and
Customer Development for  Procter and Gamble and over the course of 36
years, made  corporate history.

              AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA

Dear President Obama:

You are the thirteenth President under whom I have  lived and unlike any of
the others, you truly scare me.

You scare me because after months of exposure, I  know nothing about you.


You scare me because I do not know how you paid for  your expensive Ivy
League education and your upscale lifestyle and  housing with no visible
signs of support.

You scare me because you did not spend the formative  years of youth growing
up in America and culturally you are not an  American.

You scare me because you have never run a company or  met a payroll.

You scare me because you have never had military  experience, thus don't
understand it at its core.

You scare me because you lack humility and 'class',  always blaming others.

You scare me because for over half your life you  have aligned
yourself with radical extremists who hate America     and you refuse to
publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see  America fail..

You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the  'blame America '
crowd and deliver this message abroad.

You scare me because you want to change America to a  European style country
where the government sector dominates  instead of the private sector.

You scare me because you want to replace our healthcare system with a
government controlled one.

You scare me because you prefer 'wind mills' to  responsibly capitalizing on
our own vast oil, coal and shale  reserves.

You scare me because you want to kill the American  capitalist goose that
lays the golden egg which provides the highest  standard of living in the
world.

You scare me because you have begun to use  'extortion' tactics against
certain banks and corporations.

You scare me because your own political party  shrinks from challenging you
on your wild and irresponsible  spending proposals.

You scare me because you will not openly listen to  or even consider
opposing points of view from intelligent  people.

You scare me because you falsely believe that you  are both omnipotent and
omniscient.

You scare me because the media gives you a free pass  on everything you do.

You scare me because you demonize and want to  silence the Limbaugh's,
Hannitys, O'Reillys and Becks who offer  opposing, Conservative points of
view.

You scare me because you prefer controlling over  governing.

Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second  term I will probably
not feel safe in writing a similar letter in your second term.

Lou Pritchett

*
This letter was sent to the NY Times but they never  acknowledged it.
Big  surprise. Since it hit the Internet, however, it  has had over 500,000
hits. Keep it going. All that is necessary for evil to succeed Is that good
men do nothing.. It's happening right  now.*

http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/youscareme.asp


SUNDAY, August 21, 2011

Interesting and timely.

GS

Pentagon, scarred by 9/11, adapts to new fight
By ROBERT BURNS - AP National Security Writer | APSun, Aug 21, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Sept. 11 attacks transformed the Pentagon, ravaging the iconic building itself and setting the stage for two long and costly wars that reordered the way the American military fights.

Compared with a decade ago, the military is bigger, more closely connected to the CIA, more practiced at taking on terrorists and more respected by the American public. But its members also are growing weary from war, committing suicide at an alarming rate and training less for conventional warfare.

The partly gutted Pentagon was restored with remarkable speed after the hijacked American Airlines Boeing 757 slammed through its west side, setting the building ablaze and killing 184 people. But recovering from the strain of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan will take far longer — possibly decades.

The Pentagon's leaders will have to adjust to a new era of austerity after a decade in which the defense budget doubled, to nearly $700 billion this year.

The Army and Marine Corps in particular — both still heavily engaged in Afghanistan — will struggle to retrain, rearm and reinvigorate their badly stretched forces even as budgets begin to shrink. And the troops themselves face an uncertain future; many are scarred by the mental strains of battle, and some face transition to civilian life at a time of economic turmoil and high unemployment. The cost of veterans' care will march higher.

As Robert Gates put it shortly before he stepped down as defense secretary this summer, peace will bring its own problems.

The problem was not peace on 9/11. At the time, the military was focused almost entirely on external threats. Air defenses kept watch for planes and missiles that might strike from afar; there was little attention to the possibility that terrorists might hijack domestic airliners and use them as missiles.

That changed with the creation of U.S. Northern Command in 2002, which now shares responsibility for defending U.S. territory with the Homeland Security Department.

Terrorism was not a new challenge in 2001, but the scale of the 9/11 attacks prompted a shift in the U.S. mindset from defense to offense.

The U.S. invaded Afghanistan on Oct. 7 in an unconventional military campaign that was coordinated with the CIA. That heralded one of the most profound effects of 9/11: a shift in the military's emphasis from fighting conventional army-on-army battles to executing more secretive, intelligence-driven hunts for shadowy terrorists. That shift was important, but it came gradually as the military services clung to their Cold War ways.

Still in debate is how the Taliban, which had shielded Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida figures prior to the U.S. invasion and was driven from Kabul within weeks, managed to make a comeback in the years after the U.S. shifted its main focus to Iraq in 2003. That setback in Afghanistan, coupled with the longer-than-expected fight in Iraq, showed the limits of post-9/11 U.S. military power.

It also pointed up one of the other key lessons of the past decade of war: It takes more than military muscle to win the peace. It takes the State Department, with its small army of diplomats and development specialists, and other government agencies working in partnership with the Pentagon.

The military grew larger over the past decade, but the growth was uneven. The Army expanded from about 480,000 in 2001 to 572,000 this year, and the Marine Corps grew from 172,000 to 200,000, although both are to begin scaling back shortly. The Air Force and Navy, by contrast, got smaller. The Air Force lost about 20,000 slots since 2001 and the Navy lost about 50,000.

In percentage terms, the biggest growth in the military has been in the secretive, elite units known as special operations forces. They surged to the forefront of the U.S. military's counter-terror campaign almost immediately after the 9/11 attacks, helping rout the Taliban in late 2001 and culminating in May 2011 with the Navy SEAL team's raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan. And even though al-Qaida's global reach has been diminished, the increased role of special operations forces is likely to continue.

"It's the most interesting and important change that's likely to endure," Michael O'Hanlon, a defense analyst at the Brookings Institution, said in an interview. "I haven't heard too many people suggest that we can scale back to where we used to be."

The Marines, who had never before fielded forces of this kind, now have 2,600 under U.S. Special Operations Command. The others include the SEALs, the Army Green Berets and Rangers and the Air Force special operators.

In all, those special operations forces grew from 45,600 in 2001 to 61,000 today, according to Special Operations Command.

A decade of war also has produced its military stars. Army Gen. David Petraeus served in command three times in Iraq and once in Afghanistan before accepting President Barack Obama's offer to succeed Leon Panetta as the next CIA director.

Former Iraq commander Army Gen. Raymond Odierno is about to become the Army's top general, and the current Army chief, Gen. Martin Dempsey, who served twice in command in Iraq, is due to replace Navy Adm. Mike Mullen as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The military as a whole is viewed more favorably by the American public. A Gallup poll in June found that the military is the most respected national institution, with 78 percent expressing great confidence in it. That is 11 points higher than its historical Gallup average dating to the early 1970s.

The new technological star is the drone aircraft, like the Predators that surveil the battlefield and fire missiles at discrete targets. Their popularity has spawned an effort to field unmanned aircraft to perform other missions, such as a long-range bomber and even heavy-lift helicopters.


THURSDAY through SATURDAY, August 18 through 20, 2011

It is time that we asked George Bush to step aside so that Obama can get his presidency going.

Here's an opinion piece by Chuck Green who writes "Greener Pastures" for the Denver Post Aurora Sentinel...one of the more liberal papers in the country. Additionally, Mr. Green is a lifelong Democrat...so this is a rather stunning piece...

Obama is victim of Bush's failed promises!
Barack Obama is setting a record-setting number of records during his first term in office:
Largest budget ever. Largest deficit ever. Largest number of broken promises ever.
Most self-serving speeches ever. Largest number of agenda-setting failures ever. Fastest dive in popularity ever!

Wow! Talk about change.

Just one year ago, fresh from his inauguration celebrations, President Obama was flying high. After one of the nation's most inspiring political campaigns, the election of America 's first black president had captured the hopes and dreams of millions. To his devout followers, it was inconceivable that a year later his administration would be gripped in self-imposed crisis.

Of course, they don't see it as self-imposed. It's all George Bush 's fault !

George Bush, who doesn't have a vote in congress and who no longer occupies The White House, is to blame for it all.

He broke Obama's promise, to put all bills on the White House web site for five days before signing them.

He broke Obama's promise, to have the congressional health care negotiations broadcast live on C-SPAN.

He broke Obama's promise, to end earmarks.

He broke Obama's promise, to keep unemployment from rising above 8 percent.

He broke Obama's promise, to close the detention center at Guantanamo in the first year.

He broke Obama's promise, to make peace with direct, no precondition talks with America 's most hate-filled enemies during his first year in office, ushering in a new era of global cooperation.

He broke Obama's promise, to end the hiring of former lobbyists into high White House jobs.

He broke Obama's promise, to end no-compete contracts with the government.

He broke Obama's promise, to disclose the names of all attendees at closed White House meetings.

He broke Obama's promise, for a new era of bipartisan cooperation in all matters.

He broke Obama's promise, to have chosen a home church to attend Sunday services with his family by Easter of last year.

Yes, it's all George Bush's fault! President Obama is nothing more than a puppet in the never-ending failed Bush administration.
If only George Bush wasn't still in charge, all of President Obama 's problems would be solved. His promises would have been kept, the economy would be back on track, Iran would have stopped its work on developing a nuclear bomb and would be negotiating a peace treaty with Israel . North Korea would have ended its tyrannical regime, and integrity would have been restored to the federal government.

Oh, and did I mention what it would be like, if the Democrats, under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, didn't have the heavy yoke of George Bush around their necks? There would be no ear marks, no closed-door drafting of bills, no increase in deficit spending, no special-interest influence (unions), no vote buying (Nebraska, Louisiana).

If only George Bush wasn't still in charge, we'd have real change by now.

All the broken promises, all the failed legislation and delay (health care reform, immigration reform) is not President Obama 's fault or the fault of the Democrat-controlled Congress. It's all George Bush's fault !

Take for example the decision of Eric Holder , the president's attorney general, to hold terrorists' trials in New York City. Or his decision to try the Christmas Day underpants bomber as a civilian.

Two disastrous decisions.

Certainly those were bad judgments based on poor advice from George Bush!

Need more proof?

You might recall that when Scott Brown won the election to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts,  capturing "The Ted Kennedy Seat", President Obama said, Brown's victory was the result of the same voter anger that propelled Obama into office in 2008. People were still angry about George Bush and the policies of the past 10 years. And they wanted change.

Yes, according to the president, the voter rebellion in Massachusetts, was George Bush's fault.

Therefore, in retaliation, they elected a Republican to the Ted Kennedy seat, ending a half-century of domination by Democrats. It is all George Bush 's fault !

Will the failed administration of George Bush ever end, and the time for hope and change ever arrive???

Will President Obama ever accept responsibility for something/anything?
( Chuck Green is a veteran Colorado journalist and former editor-in-chief of The Denver Post.)

It's Bush's Fault!


WEDNESDAY, August 17, 2011

Well, it's happened again.  I go on vacation, have free time, read a lot of newspapers from other parts of the country, and come back with more opinions.  Here goes...

That's all for now, folks.  These vacations are invigorating!

GS


THURSDAY through TUESDAY, August 11 through 16, 2011

FOLKS, A LARGE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS ARE AGAINST ABORTIONS, AND ESPECIALLY LATE-TERM ABORTIONS.  MEANWHILE, RECENT REPORTS NOTE THAT THE SEX OF A FETUS, A HUMAN BEING, CAN BE DETERMINED VERY EARLY IN GESTATION, THAT EARLY "SELECTIONS" CAN BE MADE AMONG MULTIPLE FETUSES, AND THAT ABORTIFACIENT "MORNING AFTER PILLS" ARE NOW AVAILABLE OVER THE COUNTER...ALL PROVIDING MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE ABOMINATION OF ABORTION.  THE ARTICLE BELOW NOTES THAT THERE IS SOME HOPE OUT THERE.  PLEASE HELP.

GS

Dear George,

Together we are having a tremendous impact in the fight to protect life, religious liberties, and our national security. We had an online goal of 72,000 signatures representing the 72% of Americans that support the Ground Zero Cross. We now have over 84,000 online signatures! Thank you for standing up for the Cross.

Today, there is so much turmoil in the world, and we look for opportunities to push back and stand firm for the essential values you and I share. I want you to know that together, we are having a tremendous impact.

In just the last month, the ACLJ has:
•    Convinced the City of New York to reverse its earlier decision and to now allow the showing of a 9/11 documentary at several city parks.
•    Persuaded the United Nations to prohibit countries from relying on Shariah law to impose restrictions on religious expression and free speech.
•    Defended the call for a public day of prayer in Texas against a Freedom From Religion Foundation lawsuit – a lawsuit the court dismissed, agreeing with our amicus brief, filed that same day.
•    Seen another appeals court declare ObamaCare’s individual mandate unconstitutional. We provided a critical amicus brief representing 74 Members of Congress and over 70,000 ACLJ members.
•    Defending life by filing an amicus brief on behalf of 41 Members of Congress and over 25,000 of you supporting Indiana’s right to defund Planned Parenthood.
•    Obtained justice for a persecuted Christian family in Pakistan after a member of their family was brutally murdered for his faith, ensuring that his killers were brought to justice.
•    Protected the free speech rights of pro-life pregnancy centers, by obtaining a temporary order preventing an unconstitutional New York City law from going into effect – a law that threatened to shut down our pro-life clients.
•    All while continuing to defend faith and liberty here at home and around the world.

Thank you so much for taking action in these cases and making each victory possible.

But in order to continue our efforts, we need your continued support. Last month, I told you about our Matching Challenge – a group of donors who have agreed to match, dollar-for-dollar, any donations we receive online through August. We need your support today.

Please double your impact and make your tax-deductible contribution now by following this link to our secure donation page on ACLJ.org.


We only have until August 31st to meet our $750,000 goal. We are still several hundred thousand dollars short of our goal, and we will not be able to take full advantage of this incredible opportunity unless you and ACLJ members continue to stand with us in these important victories.


We are in a multi-front war in defense of life, religious freedom, and our national security here in the United States and around the world.

•    Israel continues to be in the crosshairs at the United Nations and is continually attacked for defending its borders; the ACLJ is actively defending Israel in several cases.
•    In protecting the Ground Zero Cross from an atheist lawsuit, we are filing an amicus brief, representing nearly 100,000 Americans.
•    We are defending the Ten Commandments at the Supreme Court on behalf of a judge who displays the Ten Commandments as part of a “Philosophies of Laws in Conflict” poster on his courtroom wall.
•    Planned Parenthood is being held accountable for its actions in a hundred million dollar fraud suit – a case that could effectively shutdown Planned Parenthood in California – our new court filings are due in the next few weeks.
•    Our legal team is preparing to present oral arguments next month in our case challenging ObamaCare in federal appeals court in D.C.
•    We are stopping the shut down of pro-life pregnancy centers in New York, Baltimore, San Francisco, and other cities across the country from an unconstitutional law being pushed by Planned Parenthood.

It is crucial that we have the necessary resources to continue each one of these battles.


With the deadline for our Matching Challenge quickly approaching, we need your generous support more now than ever.


Help us reach our $750,000 goal by making a generous tax-deductible donation today. Every $100 becomes $200 in the fight for faith, life, and liberty.


Thank you for your continued support as we continue this fight.


Sincerely,

Jay Sekulow
ACLJ Chief Counsel


WEDNESDAY, August 10, 2011

THIS IS US!

Senior citizens are constantly being criticized for every conceivable deficiency of the modern world, real or imaginary. We know we take responsibility for all we have done and do not blame others.

HOWEVER, upon reflection, we would like to point out that it was NOT the senior citizens who took:

The melody out of music,
The pride out of appearance,
The courtesy out of driving,
The romance out of love,
The commitment out of marriage,
The responsibility out of parenthood,
The togetherness out of the family,
The learning out of education,
The service out of patriotism,
The Golden Rule from rulers,
The nativity scene out of cities,
The civility out of behavior,
The refinement out of language,
The dedication out of employment,
The prudence out of spending,
The ambition out of achievement or
God out of government and school.
And we certainly are NOT the ones who eliminated patience and tolerance from personal relationships and interactions with others!!

And, we do understand the meaning of patriotism,
and remember those who have fought and died for our country.


Just look at the Seniors with tears in their eyes and pride in their hearts as they stand
at attention with their hand over their hearts!

YES, I'M A SENIOR CITIZEN!

I'm the life of the party....... even if it lasts until 8 p.m.

I'm very good at opening childproof caps.... with a hammer.

I'm awake many hours before my body allows me to get up.

I'm smiling all the time because I can't hear a thing you're saying.

I'm sure everything I can't find is in a safe secure place, somewhere.

I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.

Yes, I'm a SENIOR CITIZEN and I THINK I am having the time of my life!


Spread the laughter

Share the cheer

Let's be happy

While we're here.
Go Green - Recycle Parliament and bring back Guy Fawkes


TUESDAY, August 9, 2011

THE WORLD HAS PROBLEMS.  YOU WANT SOLUTIONS?

Now, was that so hard?

GS


MONDAY, August 8, 2011

More On The Debt Deal: Before the ink is dry, another blot on our "leaders".

GS

No Taxation without Representation
August 2, 2011

Bob Eisenbeis is Cumberland’s Chief Monetary Economist. Prior to joining Cumberland Advisors he was the Executive Vice President and Director of Research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Bob is presently a member of the U.S. Shadow Financial Regulatory Committee and the Financial Economist Roundtable. His bio is found at www.cumber.com.  He may be reached at Bob.Eisenbeis@cumber.com.

Now that I have your attention, despite the political euphoria that will likely accompany the deal to raise the debt limit, a more careful examination suggests that once again our elected officials have opted for policies dictated by their desire to ensure their reelection rather than caring for the needs of the country.  Before delving into those issues, however, I want to address some concerns that a few readers raised about my last commentary, which focused on the “fairness” issues surrounding the debt debate.

That piece generated a lot of comments, many of them passionate. While the vast majority of responses were favorable, some accused me of selectively citing data that might be interpreted as arguing that high-income people were bearing an “unfair” proportion of the tax burden, while ignoring data on the proportion of income earned and wealth distribution.  My point in that piece was that simply looking at the data on tax burdens doesn’t help one to judge what is or is not “fair.”  That is a value judgment and a political assessment and is not one that I tried to make.  The comments, however, did pique my curiosity and triggered a more in-depth look at the facts.

I must confess that my intuition wasn’t confirmed.  Let me just cite a few key figures.  In that piece, I noted that variations in revenues collected by the government were essentially unrelated to variations in the highest marginal tax rates.  In addition, the most recent data suggested that those in the top 5% of the income distribution paid 59% of the personal income tax collected and those in the top 1% paid 38%, while the bottom 50% paid 2.7%.  Looking at the distribution of income, comparable data from the IRS show that the top 1%, who paid 38% of the taxes, earned 20% of the income and the top 5%, who paid 59% of the taxes, earned 34% of the income.  In contrast, the bottom half earned 12.5% of the income but paid only 2.5% of the taxes.

The assumption of the critics was probably that the top income brackets earned a larger share of the income than they paid in taxes, but that is not borne out by the data.  I would also note as an aside that out of a population of over 300 million people, 1.4 million tax filers were in the top 1% of adjusted gross income.  Seven million returns were filed by those in the top 5% of adjusted gross income distribution while 70 million returns were filed by the bottom 50% of the income distribution.  Any way one cuts it, the few are carrying the many, and the fairness issue that is bothering some special interest groups is whether the few should assume even more of the burden.

Now what about the distribution of wealth?  Much has been made recently about the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few.  Again, the facts are informative.  From 1920 through 2007, the share of wealth held by the top 1% of the population peaked in 1929 at 44%.  That share then fell steadily to a low of 20% in 1976.    The share increased gradually and peaked at 39% in 1995 before falling off again to 35% in 2007.    While information is not readily available about what taxes the wealthy pay, it does seem that the wealthy are not in a significantly different position today than they were in the 1920s and in the mid-1960s.  Indeed, the distribution of wealth holdings has varied significantly over time but hasn’t steadily increased as some might have guessed.

The bottom line from this more in-depth exploration of the data shows that looking at either the wealth distribution or the distribution of income taxes paid relative to income earned doesn’t indicate that the wealthy are either significantly better off than they were a long time ago or that they are paying disproportionately less in taxes relative to income earned.  What this implies for the debt discussion is that focusing on the distributional dimensions of the revenue side of the deficit issue is a second-order problem.  It is a diversion of attention from the critical issues of establishing criteria for determining the appropriate size of government and bringing government spending down more in line with revenues received.

Against this backdrop, it is appropriate to take both Republicans and Democrats to task for their conduct in dealing with the current debt crises and how they have chosen to frame the issues.  The present debt extension agreement makes only token cuts and punts on the critical issue, which is the projected unconstrained growth in entitlement spending.  It leaves all the hard decisions for the future and makes a trivial dent in the yearly federal deficit, while continuing to add to outstanding public debt.

Keep in mind that the number being thrown around as the cut in the deficit represents only the incremental effects that the sum of the “promised” spending reductions (over the next 10 years) would have on the need to issue additional government debt.  The cuts hardly dents what the new debt issuance needs will be and they are far from eliminating the yearly deficits.  The numbers also don’t include the present value of those cuts and hence ignore the time value of money and the fact that a dollar of cuts today is worth more than a dollar of cuts in the future.  Furthermore, most of the so-called cuts are only “promises” (and those promises are dependent upon the ability to deliver future spending cuts).  Truth-in-government would say that the Congress should come clean and tell us what the estimated cumulative total of the remaining yearly deficits will be and what the likely need will be for increases in the debt ceiling in the future. The requests for  increases won’t be long in coming, and the ten-year horizon for addressing the key issues will arrive long after this and the next debt-ceiling crisis.  On net, both sides settled for an agreement that does little to address the key problems, though it may preserve some cover during the upcoming election season.  This is short-termism at its worst.

Having castigated Congress in general, let’s focus next on the Republicans.  Due to Tea Party influence, a line was drawn in the sand concerning cuts in spending and raising taxes as a way to partially address the mismatch between spending and revenues. This is all well and good, but they played Russian roulette with domestic and international financial markets.  In the end they took the easy way out by accepting small cuts in domestic spending, whereas the real problems lie with entitlements, namely Social Security and healthcare spending.  In short, the Republicans got relatively little of substance for the taxpayer, except for highly-valued political ammunition to use in the coming election when compared with the risks their actions posed for the country.

As for the Democrats, their objective was to grow the budget and fund its increase with more taxes, thus avoiding the need to address either the entitlements issues or the rationale for continuing other pet spending initiatives.  Theirs was a cake-and-eat-it approach.

But perhaps the group that deserves the most criticism is the recipients of entitlements, and in particular Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.  These are mainly the elderly and, to be totally transparent, that group includes me and some of my Cumberland colleagues.  To be sure, we relied upon payments promised to us by legislators long departed, who didn’t put in place the necessary funding to deliver on those promises.  We relied upon the promises and despite the many warnings we failed in many cases to provide sufficiently for our own retirement and healthcare needs.

Our predecessors created a Ponzi scheme that would make Bernie Madoff proud.  They pledged tax revenues to be collected from future generations under the assumption that the population would continue to grow and that more people would always be available to fund the programs.  This is just like assuming that housing prices will always go up, and we know what that is costing us.  Now, however, the pool of future taxpayers is smaller than the present one, and the burdens they must assume are proportionately greater.  In short, this is “taxation without representation.”

The current recipients claim they have paid into the plan, which they have.  But their payments were not contributions that prefunded their own retirements or their need for medical services.  Rather they were part of a pay-as-you-go scheme.  Their tax payments were given to those who already retired or had medical needs.  Now, the present generation of retirement age also refuses to recognize this problem, which is on track to absorb the whole of projected government revenues and then some.  Instead we seek to do what our parents did by passing on an even more burdensome set of obligations to our children and grandchildren.

If this isn’t “taxation without representation” then I don’t know what is.  We are making commitments today for those who will have to pay but who do not have a say in what those burdens are.  Not only does this go against the grain of the sentiments that helped to trigger the American Revolution, it is also naïve to think that future generations will continue to honor promises made by past generations.  What makes us believe they won’t simply decide to renege on the promises we have forced upon them when the choice might be whether or not to put food on the table for their own families?

We can’t continue to grow government and transfer payments forever, and the time to address those issues is now, while they are still manageable.  Nor can we avoid the problem by cutting only discretionary spending, as is the approach in the current deficit agreement.

Unfortunately, the course taken by the leaders of both parties and the administration fails on all counts. They have placed us on the risky path of financial fragility rather than stability.  A ratings downgrade might be the needed wake-up call for the country, our politicians and its senior citizens.

 Bob Eisenbeis, Chief Monetary Economist



SUNDAY, August 7, 2011

Afghanistan.  Please see my Rapid Response offering for July 5, 2011, and many other related comments in recent years.  If we no longer have a strategic national interest in that "graveyard of empires", we should get out - Now.  If we do, that national interest should be clearly articulated to the American people and to our boys fighting and dying there, and we should fight an unlimited war to destroy the Taliban and any supporters by all means at our disposal, including the total and permanent destruction of the opium crop and the overthrow of the Karzai government.  The choice of the Afghan people would be a democratic secular Muslim nation under a guaranteed decades-long American protectorate...or death.  The nations surrounding that strategic region could accept that reality on the ground...or could themselves be targets of any number of painful American reactions.  By contrast, it would be obscene to the American and Afghan peoples for this country to continue in the same current feckless direction.  President Obama, this is your Vietnam.  Don't Just Stand There, Do Something!"...and do it right this time

A vital reference in this decision is a book by Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald entitled "Crossing Zero: The Afpak War At the Turning Point Of Americn Empire" (Open Media Series, City Lights Books, San Francisco, Ca., 2011).

GS


FRIDAY and SATURDAY, August 5 and 6, 2011

AMERICA THE DISABLED.

America's political system barely works any more, having been captured by ideologues on both sides of the political spectrum and clearly for sale to the highest bidder.  We need a Federal Constitutional Convention to correct this, a difficult process which will be resisted by the same "leaders" who got us here. 

Meanwhile, we citizens still do have the vote, still used by only 60 - 65% of the electorate even in Federal elections...a disgrace for the "greatest democracy in the world".   Regarding Democrats, too many of them are entrenched in a view of the country that never really worked and that we can certainly no longer afford.  They are un-educable.  Regarding Republicans, the best I can do is to refer the reader to my comments made on the day following the November 2010 election (see Rapid Response for Wednesday, November 3, 2010, posted on this site).  The 2012 election is for the Republicans to lose if they don't reconcile.  The result is, of course, in the hands of the Independents...who are clearly paying attention while plowing through the mounds of bills on their kitchen tables.

GS


THURSDAY, August 4, 2011

HERE IS THE FIRST OFFERING ON A NEW TOPIC, "AMERICA THE DISABLED", WHICH WILL BE FOLLOWED BY MANY MORE DURING THE NEXT 15 MONTHS LEADING TO THE MOST IMPORTANT FEDERAL ELECTIONS IN THE LAST 20 YEARS.  THE FORMAT WILL BE DIAGNOSIS AND PRESCRIBED TREATMENT.

The following articles, written by Patrick Michaels for Forbes magazine, represent one indication of why important segments of American manufacturing can't - or won't - compete in the new world market.  It's as if physicians, armed with antibiotics, were still insisting on bleeding the patient.

GS

THE REST OF THE STORY….  This is short and real eye opening.  Read it and weep….

THIS LITTLE CAR COSTS OVER $42,000.  It’s not cheap to go green, but that isn’t the half of it.

Patrick Michaels is a senior fellow in Environmental Studies at the Cato Institute and the editor of the forthcoming Climate Coup: Global Warming's invasion of our Government and our Lives.

His Forbes column on the Chevy Volt is a case study in the nexus between big government corruption and big business rent-seeking.

Michaels briefly recaps the well-known consumer fraud in which GM has touted the Volt as an all-electric mass production vehicle on the supposed basis of which its sales receive a $7,500 taxpayer subsidy, which still renders it overpriced and unmarketable.

Michaels notes that "sales are anemic: 326 in December, 321 in January, and 281 in February." There seems to be a trend here.

Michaels adds that GM has announced a production run of 100, 000 in the first two years and asks what appears to be a rhetorical question "Who is going to buy all these cars?"

But wait! Keep hope alive! There is a positive answer to the question.
Jeffrey Immelt's GE will buy a boatload of those uneconomic GM cars. Here the case study opens onto the inevitable political angle: Recently, President Obama selected General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to chair his Economic Advisory Board.

GE is also awash in windmills waiting to be subsidized so they can provide unreliable, expensive power.

Consequently, and soon after his appointment, Immelt announced that GE will buy 50,000 Volts in the next two years, or half the total produced.

Assuming the corporation qualifies for the same tax credit, we (you and I) just shelled out $375,000,000 to a company to buy cars that no one else wants, so that GM will not tank and produce even more cars that no one wants.

And this guy is the chair of Obama's Economic Advisory Board? But of course! Michaels includes this hilarious detail in his case study:   In a telling attempt to preserve battery power, the heater is exceedingly weak. Consumer Reports said their tests averaged a paltry 25 miles of electric-only running, in part because it was testing in cold Connecticut.

The [GM] engineer at the Auto Show said cold weather would have little effect. It will be interesting to see what the range is on a hot, traffic-jammed summer day, when the air conditioner will really tax the batteries. When the gas engine came on, Consumer Reports got about 30 miles to the gallon of premium fuel; which, in terms of additional cost of high-test gas, drives the effective mileage closer to 27 mpg. A conventional Honda Accord, which seats 5 (instead of the Volt's 4), gets 34 mpg on the highway, and costs less than half of what CR paid, even with the tax break.

The story of the GM Volt deserves a place in the Harvard Business School curriculum... but of course, it won't. It's a classic tale of the GOVERNMENT deciding what the public needs, not the marketplace.

PS: What is one of the reasons for this? Why... to keep the UAW in business, because Obama owes them for his election.

Starting to make sense yet?  Now do you understand the corruption of the big government – big business partnership?
And guess who pays for all this corruption?

- - - - - - - - - -

Chevrolet: Where Federal Subsidies Run Deep
Mar. 31 2011 - 3:45 pm

The Chevrolet Volt sure is innovative. It’s Motor Trend’s “car of the year.” But whether it will be successful is another story.  If it’s so great, why can’t it roll on its own four wheels without a shove from us taxpayers?

The Volt has managed the nifty trick of being produced, in part, by the government and being subsidized by the government at the same time – a riff straight out of Atlas Shrugged. That’s Ayn Rand’s allegorical tale about how metastasizing government destroys society (which will appear as an amusing indie film on — yes — April 15).

Buy a Volt and you get to take $7,500 off of your federal tax liability. Obviously this money doesn’t go directly to the government or to General Motors’ new stockholders (or should we say “riskholders”?), but it does make the $41,000+ sticker a bit less shocking.

Apparently that’s not enough. Instead of the tax credit (for which not all buyers can qualify), Washington has upped the ante, now wanting $7,500 cash for every purchaser. That’s in President Obama’s proposed budget, and in legislation being circulated by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).  Just last week, Vice President Joe Biden sang the praises of this subsidy at an Indiana battery plant, noting that it would work like the “cash-for-clunkers” program.  Remember that one, where you were awarded approximately $4,000 for having your perfectly serviceable used car summarily executed?

According to GM, the Volt is in great demand. It spends, on average, less than two weeks on the dealer lot — the lowest dwell time of all GM models. But only 281 cars were sold last month; quick sales are what happen when supply is restricted.

What is holding GM back? It might be the weather. Debuting any car that relies even partially on electric propulsion at the beginning of winter isn’t a good idea.  Optimal performance is when it is neither too cold (the heater is a big draw off the batteries) or too hot (ditto for a/c).  With few exceptions deliveries have been made where the weather is “springtime for GM in America.”

The cynic in me thinks that GM was very leery of introducing the Volt in large numbers where it is cold.  When the battery is depleted (or when driven at very high speeds), the premium-gas internal combustion engine powers the car, but its fuel mileage suffers from having to shove around 400lbs of batteries.

In fact, the distribution map of Volt deliveries makes it seem like GM consulted with some long-range weather forecasters, many of whom, months ago, predicted that the upcoming winter in the eastern U.S. would be both cold and interminable. Unfortunately, they were right.

As a result of the Volt’s scarcity, some dealers have been tacking on hefty surcharges.  Consumer Reports, which is probably pretty good at haggling, paid $5,000 over the sticker.  A dealer writing on the car site Edmunds.com claims to be marking them up $20,000.  An unscientific sample of Volt owners indicates that nearly a quarter paid $10,000 or more above the sticker.

So much for the subsidy winding up in the buyer’s pocket.  Isn’t it odd that the average dealer markup may be just about equal to the subsidy? The tax credit or direct subsidy will make the Volt much more attractive when the supply doesn’t support the surcharge.

But will this vehicle ever sell in volume? Any way you look at it, the Volt is a niche car that is not likely to sell well.  As GM has written to me, their “customer is looking for technology that fits their lifestyle of daily commuting, wants the latest in automotive technology, and wants to decrease their dependence on gasoline.”

Translation:  Volt buyers are likely to use the car primarily in short-distance commutes,  are “early adopters” of new technologies (i.e. affluent), and, given that there are other cars out there that probably will get just as good fuel economy when driven under diverse conditions, our customers want to show off how virtuous they are.

You can buy two 41-mpg Honda Insights, loaded, for $39,800. The Insight will (uncomfortably) carry 5, one more passenger than the Volt’s battery pack will allow.

But, wait, we’re talking about the “car of the year” here. That alone should make anyone ask why it needs a subsidy.

Beware.  Motor Trend has a history of bestowing this prize on path-breaking vehicles that have yet to be tested by real drivers in a hostile world.

The 1971 Chevrolet Vega won this award. It now holds second place in Car Talk’s “worst car of the millennium” competition.   I agree.  Mine rusted before my very eyes and when I got rid of it, four fenders and two engines later, the green monster was getting 50mpq (that’s miles per quart of 40-weight oil).

In 1976 it was the Dodge Aspen. It’s in seventh place on Car Talk. My parents’ Aspen was the only vehicle in which I have ever become carsick while driving.

And then there was the 1980 Chevrolet Citation: according to Forbes.com, the fifth worst car ever made.

So why should we subsidize the Volt?  If they are so in demand that dealers can charge thousands over the sticker price and still they are flying off the lots, just build the cars and they will come.

There’s no need for GM and our modern corporatist state to prove Ayn Rand correct. Enjoy the show and hope that it remains fiction rather than prophecy.


MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, August 1 through 3, 2011

“Wha Hoppen”…

The recent months saw a contentious debate between conservatives and far left liberals over the role of Federal Government and the future health of this nation.  It was sharp and divisive because it had to be…and because this debate should have happened twenty years ago – right after the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the end of the Cold War.  It was then that our national priorities should have been re-set, as they had been after the end of WW ll.  Instead, the worst elements of our free enterprise system took hold (read “greed”), where Wall Street became LasVegas, where unbridled “consumerism” became the national goal (something Vladimir Putin recently termed “a parasite on the world” with some justification)…leading to today’s problems even if 9/11 and the subsequent wars had not occurred.  What we have now goes deeper than the fairly accurate analysis that follows from the Washington Post (below).  Rather, it should be seen as a Constitutional Crisis that can only be dealt with by means of a Constitutional Convention designed to re-work our method of electing our Federal representatives…allowing much less power for money effectively to buy elections, as is now the case.  Meanwhile, what has emerged from Washington in recent days  - as one legislator put it – is not a solution, but a deal.  The solution is appropriately in the hands of the American electorate in November, 2012: a clear choice between limited and responsible government proposed by conservatives and Republicans…and ever-expanding and irresponsible government as proposed by far left liberals and Democrats.  Yes, “it’s the Economy, stupid”.  But the present and future state of our economy is and will be directly tied to the outcome of this choice for decades to come…and perhaps permanently for the future of America.

GS

The debt ceiling fight: What we learned
By Chris Cillizza | The Washington Post – Mon, Aug 1, 2011.

Assuming leaders in the House and Senate can wrangle majority support for the debt ceiling deal they cut with the White House on Sunday, it appears as though the debate that has consumed Congress — and the political class — for the better part of this year is, finally, over.
 
Looking back, there are several lessons to be learned for both parties going forward. A few of those lessons are below. If you’ve got lessons learned of your own, use the comments section to offer them.

* Home field advantage matters: The turf on which any battle or game is being fought matters. It’s true in war, sports and politics. The debt ceiling debate proved that once again as Republicans took advantage of the fact that on matters of spending, debt and the size of government there is an innate sense among the electorate that the GOP is better equipped to make the right decisions. Republicans knew from the start that they started from a position of relative strength because of those general perceptions and, as a result, were willing to push harder and stick closer to their original negotiating position.
 
* Mismatched stakes = mismatched result s: Democrats feared default far more than Republicans did. Democratic Members of Congress, almost to a person, saw default as the first step of an international econonomic catastrophe with wide-ranging consequences for the country. There was a significant faction of congressional Republicans who, well, didn’t. Republicans knew that Democrats wouldn’t ultimately accept default as an outcome while Democrats couldn’t say the same of Republicans. The stakes of the debt ceiling fight were decidedly mismatched, a fact that virtually ensured that the final deal would be more slanted to the GOP.
 
* Presidents are pragmatists: The idea that Obama wouldn’t ultimately cut some sort of deal was a misread of the role of the presidency when it comes to these sort of high-profile showdowns. Nine times out of ten, a president will choose the pragmatic rather than the ideological approach when the pressure is on. Why? Because the baseline expectation that most people (read: voters) have of the chief executive is to keep the trains running on time. Failure to do so carries huge political risks. On the rare occasion that a president picks up his ball and goes home — Bill Clinton during the 1995/1996 government shutdown — it’s because they see a direct path toward political victory in doing so. That wasn’t the case here and so Obama took the pragmatic path.
 
* Nancy Pelosi=relevant: Talk that Pelosi was largely irrelevant in the debt ceiling fight misses the mark in one significant way. She was able to keep her Democratic caucus entirely unified against House Speaker John Boehner’s compromise bill on the debt ceiling, forcing him to first postpone a vote and then cobble together a majority by adding conservative candy that made the bill even less palatable as a middle ground. Then Pelosi made another power play, this one with the White House as she refused to say on Sunday whether or not she could deliver the necessary Democratic votes for the compromise. Message(s) sent.
 
* Kicking the can (still) works: While Obama and congressional leaders will undoubtedly tout their willingness to address the nation’s debt problems in a serious way once (if?) this compromise deal goes through the House and Senate, it’s clear with the creation of the super committee that they have kicked some of the toughest — and least politically popular — decisions down the road. Cutting Medicare and defense spending, if it ultimately comes to that, less than a year before the 2012 election will be a true “face the music” moment. Will Congress and the White House blink?
 
* This is the beginning, not the end: What the debt ceiling fight amounted to was the first major skirmish of the 2012 election. It’s now obvious just how differently the two parties see the way forward when it comes to healing the economy. That’s a good thing for voters since the choice in 2012 will be crystal clear. How big should the government be? What should it do/not do? What’s the best way to kickstart the economy? The two parties have markedly different answers to each of those questions, answers that were fleshed out to some degree during the debt ceiling debate. The work of the next 15 months for the two parties will be to further explain to voters where they stand and why they’re right.


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