When it comes to Foreign Policy we need more Team America and Less President Obama

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 20th, 2014

Politics 101

Thanks to President Obama the United States is now the Rodney Dangerfield of Superpowers

The American public is consumed with the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.  They can’t get enough of the news coverage that is anything but news.  With cable news delivering 24/7 coverage of nothing but speculation.  Even the networks are giving the speculation expansive coverage.  They’d never give Obamacare, Benghazi, the IRS targeting conservative groups, etc., this kind of coverage.  But they will give Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 this kind of coverage.  For apart from the insufferable despair of the families who lost their loved ones it’s a great mystery people want to see unfold.  And be the one to solve it.  But while that is going on the world is becoming a less safe place.  Thanks to Vladimir Putin.

President Obama’s ‘please like us’ foreign policy has failed.  The reset with Russia has not improved our relations.  In fact, they are about as bad as they were during the Cold War.  With Putin doing some Cold War chess playing.  Completely unimpressed with President Obama he’s making bold moves.  And when he does all he gets from the United States is talk.  He annexed Crimea without any real opposition from the Western Powers.  Especially the United States.  And he is probably looking at the Baltic States now.  Seeing no reason yet to stop in his quest to put the Soviet Union back together.  This is what the American people are missing.  For the networks are barely covering it.  And the people are blissfully ignorant of how the United States is now the Rodney Dangerfield of superpowers.  We get no respect from our enemies.  So our enemies make bold moves.  Because that’s who they are.  The creators of South Park made a movie called Team America: World Police (2004).  This followed 9/11 and the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  When the United States began its fight in the global war on terror.  Though a comedy the writers seem to have a better grasp on the real world than the Obama administration or the mainstream media.  Who think in the 21st century that war no longer exists because world leaders now discuss their differences like rational and civilized adults according to international law.  And honor their agreements.  But what they don’t understand is something that’s been true since the dawn of civilization.  There are three types of people in the world.  As a drunk in Team America: World Police explains crudely but succinctly.  (WARNING: The following video is for mature audiences only.  For it’s pretty rude and crude and completely inappropriate for the workplace.)

If you’ve watched the video you’ll understand what the three types are.  We’ll call them D, P and A (both singular and plural).  In the context of this movie America was a D.  And Kim Jong Il was an A.  As were the Islamist terrorists.  While the leftist ‘give peace a chance’ Hollywood liberals in the movie (who belonged to the Film Actors’ Guild) were P.  As was the United Nations who sent Hans Blix to inspect Kim Jong Il’s regime to make sure he didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  —SPOILER ALERT—  Team America, the world police, go tear-assing around the world, blowing up parts of countries as they hunt and kill terrorists.  Making the world a safer place.  While Kim Jong Il plots to set off WMDs, using the Islamist terrorists to plant his WMDs.  The F.A.G. actors publicly denounce Team America for their wanton destruction and call corporations the real enemy.  Even going to North Korea to attend a peace conference that Kim Jong Il was hosting.  Believing Kim Jong Il was a man of peace.  And were willing to kill Team America to help Kim Jong Il go forward with his peace plans.  Which was actually blowing up countries all around the world into third-world status.

Hitler promised the Naïve Chamberlain that the Sudetenland would be his last Territorial Acquisition

The movie showed the futility of diplomacy when you’re dealing with A.  Because they will lie and say anything you want to hear to shut you up and make you go away.  And when you do they’re just going to crap all over you and the world.  Because that’s what A do.  The P don’t understand that.  They think they can negotiate and arrive at an agreement with people who lie.  History is full of treaties that A have broken.  Because they don’t respect anything but strength.  And if all you got are words an A just isn’t going to respect you.  And will crap on you the first chance he gets.  Especially if you’re a P.  The Russian people understand this.  During the Sochi Olympics the Daily Show‘s Jason Jones interviewed Russians during the Sochi Games.  And a woman told him they have a saying in Russia.  Don’t be a P.  Which is why they love Vladimir Putin.  He’s not a P.  He’s an A.

Communists are A.  They just want to crap all over everyone.  During the Korean War every time they were losing on the battlefield they called for a ceasefire to negotiate a peace treaty.  Using the cessation in hostilities to reinforce their weakened positions.  Proving you just cannot trust an A.  Or negotiate with an A.  Yet the leftist ‘give peace a chance’ liberals think you can.  And that all George W. Bush did by being an A was make the world hate the United States.  Even though Muammar Gaddafi, who was a first class A, respected George W. Bush when he invaded Iraq.  Saw that strength.  Respected that strength.  And did not want to get his ass kicked by that strength.  So he gave up his WMDs willingly.  And joined the Americans in the fight against al Qaeda (Libya is a far less safe place today than it was under Muammar Gaddafi after the Iraqi invasion).  This is what A understand.  Strength.  It’s the one thing that makes them act.  Not words.  As this funny scene in Team America: World Police illustrates so poignantly.  (WARNING: The following video is for mature audiences only.  For it’s pretty rude and crude and completely inappropriate for the workplace.)

We ended the war in Iraq with a ceasefire.  Part of the terms that Saddam Hussein agreed to was to destroy his WMDs and document their destruction.  He never did.  In part because he didn’t have them anymore.  Having sent them over the border into Syria (most likely) on trucks and in two converted Iraqi Airways Boeings before the invasion.  Adolf Hitler promised the naïve Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain that the Czechoslovakian Sudetenland would be his last territorial acquisition.  Chamberlain returned to Britain with a treaty signed by Herr Hitler promising “peace in our time.”  Shortly thereafter Hitler launched World War II (the bloodiest and costliest war of all time) and removed Poland from the map.  Because Hitler was an A.  And you just can’t negotiate with an A.  Especially if you’re a P who believes we can settle all our differences if we only communicate with each other.  No.  An A sees anyone who wants to ‘open a dialogue’ as a P.  And they will laugh at how gullible they are.  Getting a lot of concessions by making promises they have no intention of keeping.  A love P.  Because they are so easy to crap all over.

The Russians like President Obama in Office because he is the Anti-Ronald Reagan

The Obama administration confuses being liked with being respected.  They think if people like America they will respect America.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  People respect people they hate.  At least, if they fear people they hate.  A key distinction.  For Vladimir Putin has no love for President Obama.  Who looks at him as a P.  Which Russians just don’t respect.  They even have a saying.  Don’t be a P.  So Putin has no respect whatsoever for President Obama.  Because he does not fear President Obama.  The recent sanctions President Obama issued by executive order only amused the Russians.  They thought they were nothing more than a joke.  Even replied with in-kind sanctions of their own.  Oh they had a good laugh at President Obama trying to act tough.  But they just don’t respect him.  But you know who they did respect?  Ronald Reagan.

During a radio check President Reagan was testing the sound levels before a radio address.  And he made a joke.  He said into the microphone, “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever.  We begin bombing in five minutes.”  This joke leaked out.  And made it to the Soviet Union.  And what do you think they did?  Did they have a good laugh like they did when President Obama tried to act tough?  No.  They didn’t.  They put their Soviet Far East Army on alert.  For they did not like Ronald Reagan.  But they sure as hell respected that crazy son of a bitch.  And feared him.  As well as the awesome military power of the United States.  Which they knew President Reagan had no problem using.  Unlike the current occupant of the White House.  Who wants to shrink the size of the military to pre-World War I levels.  Something only a P would do in the eyes of an A like Vladimir Putin.  No.  President Obama is more of an apologetic president for America’s greatness.  While President Reagan made no apologies.  He believed in American Exceptionalism.  And was damn proud of it.  The shiny city on the hill.  The beacon of liberty.  Defender of freedom.  And he would broadcast the Team America theme song proudly at our enemies.  Unlike the apologist now occupying the White House (WARNING: The following video is for mature audiences only.  For it’s pretty rude and crude and completely inappropriate for the workplace.)

America may have its faults but it is still the best country in the world.  Proven by the flow of immigrants (legal and illegal) to our shores.  We may be arrogant but that’s only because we have a right to be.  Because we are the best m-f’ing country in the world.  F*** yeah.  We’ve made the world a better place.  And the world knows this.  Which is why our enemies love having our country run by people who are ashamed of America’s greatness.  Because they can crap all over the world and get away with it.  Like Putin did by annexing Crimea.  Because they know there is no crazy son of a bitch in the White House that will use the awesome power of the United States to stop them.  Just a bunch of leftist ‘give peace a chance’ liberals who will wag their finger at them.  And if they don’t quake with fear they will wag their finger at them again.  Or write a letter.  The Russians couldn’t be happier.  And lament that if there were only people like the current administration running the United States in the Eighties the Soviets never would have lost the Cold War.  But now Vladimir Putin, former KGB officer in the Soviet Union, sees his chance.  He can put the Soviet Union together again.  As they have the anti-Ronald Reagan in office now.  And can do whatever the hell they want to.  Because they aren’t P.  They’re A.



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Mercantilism, Royal Navy, Napoleon, Pax Britannica, Corn Laws, David Ricardo, Comparative Advantage, European Union and NAFTA

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 22nd, 2012

History 101

Mercantilism gave Britain the Royal Navy which Ushered in the Pax Britannica

Great Britain had a rough go of it at the end of the 18th century.  They lost their American colonies in the American Revolutionary War.  A war that started over the issue of taxation to pay for the previous Seven Years’ War.  So instead of securing new revenue to pay down old debt they incurred new debt.  The French Revolution closed out the century.  Causing concern for some in Britain that their monarchy may be the next to fall.  It didn’t.  For the constitutional monarchy and representative government in Britain was a long cry from the absolute monarchy that they had in France.  So revolution did not come to Britain.  But war did.  As the French expanded their revolution into a European war.  Pulling the British back into war with their old enemy.

With a large conscripted French Army and the concept of total war France made total war.  Napoleon Bonaparte won a lot of battles.  Conquered much of Europe.  Even marched back and conquered Paris.  Proclaimed himself emperor of France.  And continued waging war.  Including an ill-conceived invasion of Russia.  Which marked the beginning of the end for Napoleon.  And the French Empire.  Weakened from war France saw her old nemesis, Great Britain, rise as the first superpower since the Roman Empire.  And like the Romans’ Pax Romana Britain entered a century of peace.  Pax Britannica.

The reason the British could do this was because of their mercantile past.  They set up colonies and international trade networks.  And they used the proceeds from that lucrative trade to finance the greatest naval power then in the world.  The Royal Navy.  And the Royal Navy would help keep the peace in the Pax Britannica.  She became the world’s policeman.  Making the world safe for trade.  Especially on the high seas.  But then something interesting happened.  She broke from her mercantile past.  Because they saw the shortcomings of mercantilism.  One of which produced wealthy landowners at the expense of a hungry population.

When the British repealed the Corn Laws in 1846 Food Prices fell and the Standard of Living Rose 

The British Corn Laws were a series of laws protecting those who grew cereal crops.  The stuff we grow that has edible grains.  Corn, rice, wheat, barley, etc.  What we call staple crops as they form the basic sustenance of humans everywhere.  We grow these in greater abundance than all other foods.  And when you look at the grain size you come to one realization.  It takes a lot of land to grow these crops.  And who owns large tracts of land?  The landowning aristocracy.  A small group of people with a lot of wealth.  And a lot of political influence.  Hence the Corn Laws. 

The Corn Laws were legislation with one goal.  To prevent the British people from buying less expensive food.  By either forbidding any importation of cheaper grains until the domestic price had reached a certain price level.  Or adding tariffs to the less expensive imports so the landowners could still sell their grains at higher prices.  Thus preserving their wealth.  And they made specious arguments about how lower-priced food was actually bad for the people.  For it was just a way for manufacturers to maximize their profits.  For if food was cheaper they could pay their workers less.  Being the greedy bastards that they were.  So the only fair thing to do was to keep food prices high.  To keep the living wage high.  To force manufacturers to pay their workers more.  You see, the only way to help the poor and middle class was to let the wealthy landowners become even wealthier.  By keeping the price of the food they sold high.

Opposition grew to the Corn Laws.  People studied the works of their fellow countrymen.  Adam Smith and David Hume (both Scottish).  And the Englishman David Ricardo.  All great economists and thinkers.  Who were all proponents of free trade.  Ricardo’s Comparative Advantage basically proved the case of free trade over the protectionism of mercantilism.  Eventually the political power of the landowners could not overcome the economic arguments.  Or a famine in Ireland.  And, in 1846, they repealed the Corn Laws and adopted free trade.  Food prices fell.  Leaving people with more disposable income.  To purchase the goods the Industrial Revolution was making.  Increasing their standard of living.  While small famers had to leave their farms being unable to farm efficiently enough to pay their bills at the prevailing prices.

The Success of NAFTA proves David Ricardo’s Comparative Advantage

Mercantilists and other opponents to free trade like to point at the human costs.  Small farmers losing their farm.  Just so they can preserve some semblance of privilege to protect the high prices in their industry.  But it was becoming more and more difficult to make the argument that the masses were better off paying higher prices.  Because they’re not.  Lower consumer prices increase the standard of living for everyone.  Higher living standards create healthier living conditions.  And reduces child mortality.   For the greatest killer of children in the world is poverty.

The British were both a military and an economic superpower during the 19th century.  But someone was chasing her.  The Untied States.  Who was feeling her economic oats.  Her economy would catch up and surpass the British.  Making it the mightiest economic power of all time.  How did this happen?  Two words.  Free trade.  The United States was the largest free trade zone in the world.  The economic advantages of all those states trading with each other freely across their state borders made Europe stand up and take notice.  And in response created treaties that ultimately led to the European Union and the Eurozone.  To replicate the large free trade zone of the United States.

Back across the Atlantic the Americans, Canadians and the Mexicans took it up a notch.  And created the North American Free Trade Agreement.  NAFTA.  Extending the free trade that existed in each of their countries across their international borders.  The mercantilist fought against this.  Because protectionism, restrictions and tariffs helped the privileged few protect the high prices in their industry.  In America they talked about a great sucking sound as all American jobs went to low-wage Mexico.  Some manufacturers did move to Mexico.  Primarily because like the small farmers in Britain after the repeal of the Corn Laws they could no longer sell at prices to meet all of their costs.  But it was not as the mercantilists predicted.  Yes, imports increased.  In 2010 they were up 235% from pre-NAFTA 1993.  But exports were up, too.  Some 190% for the same period.  Proving Ricardo’s Comparative Advantage.  By focusing on what we do best and trading for everything else all countries do better.



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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #58: “Presidents with aggressive domestic agendas tend to have inept and naïve foreign policy.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 22nd, 2011

Feeding their Egos with Illusions of their own Grandeur

First there were progressives.  Then there were liberals.  Self-proclaimed super geniuses.  Regular Wile E. Coyotes.  Smarty-pants know-it-alls.  You can’t tell them anything.  Because they know everything.  While you aren’t even smart enough to know what’s good for you.  But that’s okay.  Because they have taken it as their personal mission in life to run our lives.  To protect us from ourselves.  To tell us what to eat.  What to drink.  How to raise our kids.  How to educate them about the important things in life.  Fairness and multiculturalism.  Not math and science.  They teach us about the evils of greed.  Our greed.  Not theirs.  They can keep raising taxes to take our money so they can play with it.  But if we complain they say we hate teachers.  And children, of course.

These people start their government careers in the Ivy League.  Where they don’t learn anything useful.  They get law degrees.  Or some degree in the social sciences.  Public policy.  Philanthropy.  Degrees where they learn how to take other people’s money without providing anything useful in return.  All the while feeding their egos with illusions of their own grandeur.  They develop the cutting edge of progressive/liberal thought.  Most of it nonsense to you and me.  But in their little Ivy League world they’re saving the world.  Even though they have no idea of how the world works.  Understand things economic.  Or the role of energy in a developed economy.  They haven’t the foggiest idea about any of these things.  But they feel that only they are qualified to regulate these things.  Because they care about us.  And the planet.  Not profits.

Liberals are also not the manliest of men.  They get in touch with their softer, feminine side.  Get in touch with their feelings.  Some even cry.  Cowboys they’re not.  They’re into conflict resolution by diplomacy and timeouts.  They can be mean and nasty.  Partake in some of the worse character assassination.  But never alone.  Or without the power of the state to protect them.  You won’t see them get into any fights.  Because when it comes to actual fisticuffs, they’re not as brave as their words.  They’re the worse of bullies.  Weaklings that have others bully for them.  That’s why these people watch soccer instead of football.  Why they don’t hunt.  Why they hate the military.  They don’t like any manly behavior.  Or manly men.  No doubt from growing up in a childhood full of wedgies and swirlies.

Big Government and High Taxes

Much of a progressive’s/liberal’s life is spent getting even.  And the best revenge is living well.  And they sure do that.  Live well.  Better than most of us.  And with our money.  Either money gained through some frivolous lawsuit.  From the ‘overhead’ costs of the charitable organizations they ‘work’ for.  (Some keep more than 50% of all donations for their ‘operating’ expenses.  While the new healthcare legislations allow insurers to use no more than 20% of their premiums on their operating expenses.  How’s that for fair?)  High taxes.  Or kickbacks from the industries they regulate.

Those in government hate those in business.  Just like they hate the jocks and bullies in high school who tormented them.  But they hate business people for a different reason.  Because they have talent.  They’re able to create something people willingly pay for.  They can’t.  Of course they can play god over these people who have talent.  And they do.  Which makes up for their feelings of inadequacy.  It’s sort of a love-hate relationship.  They love taking their profits.  But they hate them because they have profits.

People need to feel a purpose.  And so it is with progressive/liberals.  Sure, having our money is good, but floating through life in the lap of luxury leaves them with an empty feeling.  Normal people may feel guilt over taking so much of our money. They just feel bored.  Like rich kids who get in trouble because they have too much time on their hands.  Bored rich kids get in trouble.  Bored liberals write legislation.  Exploit class warfare.  And go about redistributing our wealth.  They take money from the ‘rich’ people who have jobs or own businesses and give it to the needy.  And the more of these people you support with other people’s money, the more they will keep voting for you.  This allows the liberal to live a long life in politics.  Strokes their ego.  And fills that empty feeling they have from being the worthless waste of spaces they are.  And this is why they do what they do.  Keep government big.  And taxes high.

Projecting Force to Protect National Security Interests 

Liberals want power.  They want to expand government.  And expand the welfare state.  They always have big plans when they run for office.  They are never content to sitting back and let the free market work.  Because that’s no fun.  They want to control that market.  Using some bad economic theory (i.e., Keynesian Economics), they do.  They say it’s to make the markets more efficient.  But that’s not the reason.  It’s the power.  The getting even.  And getting their hands on all of that money. 

When presidents come out of the Ivy League, their heads are filled with a lot of progressive/liberal thoughts.  Ideas about income redistribution.  Fairness.  Multiculturalism.  But little about business.  Or the real world.  And as leader of the free world, that can be a problem.  Constitutionally speaking, the president’s responsibility is the real world.  The president is the commander in chief of the armed forces.  The president treats with foreign nations.  And appoints and receives ambassadors.  Nowhere in the Constitution will you see the president being responsible for income redistribution for fairness in a multicultural welfare state.

When a president goes in with an aggressive domestic agenda he comprises his Constitutional responsibilities.  It’s like a kid playing video games instead of doing his homework.  It’s fun.  But there is a cost.  The U.S. is a superpower.  And leader of the free world.  The president’s tools include military force, foreign aid and diplomacy.  And a powerful domestic economy that makes all of this possible.  If a president focuses on domestic policy over his foreign policy, both suffer.  The high taxes reduce economic activity.  Which reduces tax receipts.  And this makes budget deficits.  The progressive/liberal will not want to cut the domestic spending.  So they cut military spending and transfer it to the domestic side.  And borrow money.  Or print it.  Weakening both the military.  And the economic well being of the nation.  Which weakens the president’s ability to project force to protect national security interests. 

An Inconvenient Truth:  We Need Oil Flowing at Market Prices  

Of course, with the liberals’ disdain for the military and the military industrial complex, they don’t care.  They don’t believe there are any dangers out there.  And, if there are, it’s because we brought them upon ourselves.  For being bullies.  I mean, who are we to be a superpower and leader of the free world?  That’s just sticking our nose into other people’s business.  It’s time we stop.  Let other people live their lives.  Besides, it’s a different world today.  We don’t need standing armies or aircraft carriers.  Who’s going to invade us?

True, the chances of a D-Day type invasion landing on our shores is remote.  But there are other ways to attack our country.  9/11 comes to mind.  And there is economic warfare.  Have you enjoyed the Great Recession, the greatest recession since the Great Depression.  Probably not.  Do you remember how it started?  With $4/gallon gasoline.  Do you remember how horrible that was?  People were demanding Congress do something about it.  Amazing, isn’t it.  How high gasoline prices can trigger a recession (of course, the subprime mortgage meltdown changed that recession into the Great Recession).  Keeping oil flowing at market prices, then, is a U.S. national security interest.  Because a spike in gasoline prices will crash the healthiest of economies into recession.  Of course, this goes contrary to everything a progressive/liberal holds true.  But it’s an inconvenient truth they need to learn.

That’s why we’re in the Middle East.  We may get more of our oil from Canada, but we get some from OPEC.  More importantly, our trading partners do, too.  If that oil supply to the Western economies gets shut down, we will suffer a recession closer to the Great Depression than the Great Recession.  Oil is important to national security.  Income redistribution isn’t.  Or using the military for humanitarian purposes.  As bad as the suffering was in Darfur, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, etc., we can’t help everyone.  It would stretch our military too thin, cost more than we can afford and risk the lives of those in the military on a mission that doesn’t impact national security.  And all of this would impede the president in carrying out his constitutional responsibilities.  Protecting our national security.

We need Grownups in Charge of our Foreign Policy

Presidents often hailed for their great domestic agendas (FDR and LBJ, for example) have created economic messes that future generations have to clean up.  And because their real interests were in domestic policy, they bungled their foreign policy.  FDR may have rallied the nation to win World War II, but his naïveté gave us the Cold War.  And LBJ’s Whiz Kids mismanaged the Vietnam War so badly that the fallout nearly ignited a civil war in America.  The country changed.  And it’s never been the same since.

Kids don’t like doing their homework.  They’d rather play their games.  In this respect progressives/liberals are very much like children.  They, too, like to play their games.  And don’t like to do their homework.  But the world is a dangerous place.  We need to do our homework.  To learn the lessons of history.  More importantly, we need grownups in charge of our foreign policy.



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Big Government is Bankrupting and Oppressing Us

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 21st, 2010

Rich Democrats Profit from Big Government

Do you know what the problem with the idle rich is?  They sometimes use their idle time to think (see Millionaires to Obama: Tax us by Rachel Rose Hartman posted 11/19/2010 on Yahoo! News blog The Ticket).

More than 40 of the nation’s millionaires have joined Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength to ask President Obama to discontinue the tax breaks established for them during the Bush administration, as Salon reports.

And who are these millionaires?

The group includes many big-time Democratic donors such as Gail Furman, trial lawyer Guy Saperstein and Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (pictured). The list remains open to millionaires who want to sign on.

One thing we’ve learned from government.  The rich never pay their fair share of taxes.  Neither will these Democrat supporters.  I mean, if you’re so patriotic and loyal then just give your money to the government without the tax law forcing you.  Like J.P. Morgan did during the Panic of 1907.  (He used his own wealth to help shore up the banking system during a liquidity crisis).  But they don’t.  Why?  (That’s not a rhetorical ‘why’.  I would really love to hear them answer that question.)

But the key here is that they’re Democrat supporters.  Supporters of Big Government.  Who either profit from government (by preventing any tort reform so lawyers can continue to enrich themselves with frivolous lawsuits brought against corporate America (News Flash:  McDonald’s hot coffee is hot)).  Or are a bunch of rich coots that get off on telling other people how to live.

A Bankrupt City Pleads for Churches, Schools and a Hospital to Help Pay their Union Costs

And speaking of charitable contributions to the government, here’s a city government asking for just that (see Debt Rising, a City Seeks Donations in Michigan by Nick Bunkley posted 11/19/2010 on The New York Times). 

A Michigan city is pleading with churches, schools and a hospital for donations to help cover its staggering budget deficit.

Gail Furman, Guy Saperstein and Ben Cohen ought to throw some of their wealth over to Mount Clemens.  They could feel patriotic and loyal.  And the city could really use their help.  For they’ve done everything they can already.

[The Mount Clemens mayor] said the city has already drastically cut its expenses, having disbanded the police department six years ago, but still faces a $960,000 deficit that is projected to reach $1.5 million next year.

It’s always the police and fire departments that get chopped first.  Not the real things bankrupting the city.  Which, interestingly, they note (probably unintentionally) in the last paragraph.

The city asked its retirees to increase their health insurance deductibles, [the mayor] said, and 8 or 10 did so or switched to their spouse’s plan, saving $192,000.

It’s the same thing that’s bankrupting cities in all of ‘blue’ America.  Fat union payrolls and fat union benefits for city employees.  But they get rid of cops and fire fighters first because it’s a good scare tactic that usually works at the polls when trying to renew or increase a millage.

High Union Pay and Benefits do not Make NYC’s Trains any Safer

But we have to provide those fat pay and fat benefits to attract quality people to these jobs.  Don’t we?  You decide.  Here’s yet another example of what we get for these high pay and benefits (see Subway Signal Inspections Found to Be Falsified by Michael M. Grynbaum posted 11/19/2010 on The New York Times).

Safety workers at New York City Transit falsified thousands of inspections of the track signals that direct trains in the subway system, deeming the signals safe even though those inspections had never taken place, according to an investigation by the inspector general of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Train tracks are broken down into ‘blocks’.  These signals are green when a block is empty.  They’re red when a train is in that block.  These block signals are what keep trains from crashing into each other.  So they’re kind of important.  For safety.

Real railroad personnel would never do this.  They take their work too seriously and have far too much pride to endanger people on their tracks.  But unionized city workers are another story.  It’s not about the love of railroading.  But living better than other people. 

Is this only an isolated incident?

It is not the first time that safety workers in the subway have been found to have falsified such inspections. A nearly identical situation was revealed by the inspector general in 2000.

Apparently not.

The TSA:  Submit to Our Awesome Powers or We Will Destroy You

So government employees are bankrupting our nation with their fat pay and fat benefits.  And they’re endangering our lives with their poor work ethic.  Can it get worse?  Yes.  If we give them unfettered power over us (see $11,000 fine, arrest possible for some who refuse airport scans and pat downs by John Lantigua, Palm Beach Post, posted 11/20/2010 on the Sun Sentinel). 

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is warning that any would-be commercial airline passenger who enters an airport checkpoint and then refuses to undergo the method of inspection designated by TSA will not be allowed to fly and also will not be permitted to simply leave the airport.

Welcome to airport security.  By entering our line you forfeit all Fourth Amendment rights.  Please remove your shoes, your belts and lift up your dresses and drop your panties.  It’s all in the name of national security.  Yeah, it’s good to be an ineffective bloated government bureaucracy.  Power to the state, baby.  The state rules!

No wonder the Nazis went from state socialism to maniacal oppressive dictatorship.  It’s a rush for the corrupt in power.  No doubt that if some TSA gropers are brought up on criminal charges for ‘crossing the line’ they will follow suit.  I can hear them now.  “I was just following orders.”

Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.  And Brings Down Superpowers

Those rich Democrat millionaires got it wrong.  We shouldn’t be giving government more money.  Or more power.  That wasn’t the formula we used to become a superpower.  But it is the formula that has brought down every superpower to date.



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LESSONS LEARNED #25: “War is costly. Peace, too.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 5th, 2010

AT THE HEIGHT of the Roman Empire, the empire reached from North Africa to Britannia (England), from Hispania (Spain) to Mesopotamia (approximately modern day Iraq).  When Roman power ruled the civilized world, there was peace.  The Pax Romana (Roman Peace).  The Romans built empire through conquest.  And Rome grew rich with the spoils of conquest.  For awhile, peace was only those quiet intervals between growth and conquest.  But with secure borders, a uniform government, a rule of law, a stable currency, bustling trade & markets and a military to be the world’s policeman, peace broke out.  For some 200 years.

Life was good for the Roman citizen.  As well as for those living in the empire.  The Romans modernized the provinces they conquered.  Made life better.  Even for the conquered people.  Although there were those who hated being subjugated by a foreign power.

Reg: They bled us white, the bastards. They’ve taken everything we had. And not just from us! From our fathers, and from our father’s fathers.

Loretta: And from our father’s father’s fathers.

Reg: Yeah.

Loretta: And from our father’s father’s father’s fathers.

Reg: Yeah, all right Stan, don’t belabor the point. And what have they ever given us in return?

Revolutionary I: The aqueduct?

Reg: What?

Revolutionary I: The aqueduct.

Reg: Oh. Yeah, yeah, they did give us that, ah, that’s true, yeah.

Revolutionary II: And the sanitation.

Loretta: Oh, yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like.

Reg: Yeah, all right, I’ll grant you the aqueduct and sanitation, the two things the Romans have done.

Matthias: And the roads.

Reg: Oh, yeah, obviously the roads. I mean the roads go without saying, don’t they? But apart from the sanitation, the aqueduct, and the roads…

Revolutionary III: Irrigation.

Revolutionary I: Medicine.

Revolutionary IV: Education.

Reg: Yeah, yeah, all right, fair enough.

Revolutionary V: And the wine.

All revolutionaries except Reg: Oh, yeah! Right!

Rogers: Yeah! Yeah, that’s something we’d really miss Reg, if the Romans left. Huh.

Revolutionary VI: Public bathes.

Loretta: And it’s safe to walk in the streets at night now, Reg.

Rogers: Yeah, they certainly know how to keep order. Let’s face it; they’re the only ones who could in a place like this.

All revolutionaries except Reg: Hahaha…all right…

Reg: All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

Revolutionary I: Brought peace?

Reg: Oh, peace! Shut up!

(From Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, 1979.)

Maintaining a peaceful empire is costly.  As people got more accustomed to peace and plenty, they began to complain about taxes.  Citizens refused to volunteer to serve in the Roman Legions maintaining that peace.  Barbarians began to serve in the Legions.  Some rose to command them.  Some Roman commanders came from the very people they were fighting in the border regions.  Soon Rome would rely on mercenaries (hired soldiers) to defend their borders.  All of this cost the empire.  It had to pay more and more to maintain the loyalty of the military.  Ditto for the huge bureaucracy administrating the empire.  And they lost control.  Trouble on the borders and economic collapse ended the peace.  And, ultimately, the empire.  The civilized world broke down and collapsed.  And barbarian leaders on the borders, hungry for conquest, attacked.  Plunging the former Roman provinces into war and instability.

RISING FROM THE ashes of the Roman Empire were the seeds of new empires.  And the ground that proved most fertile was the northern limit of the old empire.  England.

England started to assert herself with the growth of her navy.  With her borders secured, a uniform government, a rule of law, a stable currency, bustling trade & markets and a military to be the world’s policeman, peace broke out.  Again.  For about a hundred years.  During the Industrial Revolution.  After the defeat of Napoleon. 

Imperial Britain stretched across the globe.  The sun never set on the British Empire.  And wherever she went, she brought the rule of law, modernity, a sound economy and political stability.  Her old colonial possessions went on to be some of the richest, most prosperous and peaceful nations in the world.  India.  Australia.  New Zealand.  South Africa.  Canada.  And, of course, the United States of America.  She achieved her century of peace (Pax Britannia) by a balance of power.  She maintained peace by intervening in disputes, often on the side of the weaker nation.  She prevented stronger, aggressive nations from threatening her weaker neighbors.   And she provided a safe environment for the weaker nation to live peacefully in the shadows of stronger, more aggressive neighbors.

For a hundred years Britannia kept the peace.  In large part due to her Royal Navy, the most powerful and potent navy at the time.  If you ate any imported food or used any imported goods, it was thanks to the Royal Navy that kept the world’s sea lanes safe.  But this peace came with a price.  The rise of nationalism, the quest of new empires to establish their own overseas colonies and a change in the balance of power in Europe with the rise of Germany added to that price.  And then a shot fired in Sarajevo by a Serbian terrorist ignited a tinderbox.  The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip started World War I.  The most bloody and expensive war at the time, it bankrupted Great Britain and ended her empire.  And left the world a less safe place. 

From the ashes of World War I rose new leaders with aspirations of world conquest.  Fascist Italy led by Benito Mussolini.  Nazi Germany led by Adolf Hitler.  Communist Russia led by Joseph Stalin.  Imperial Japan led by Hideki Tojo.  And the nation that led the victors in World War II would, by default, become the new world power.  The new world policeman.  The United States of America.

SO WHAT HAPPENED during the inter-war years that led to World War II?  War exhausted Britain and France.  Neither had the stomach for another war.  Britain continued to rely on the Royal Navy for protection (as an island nation, sea power is indispensable).  France built fixed fortifications (the Maginot Line).  Both were primarily defensive strategies. 

In America, General Billy Mitchell demonstrated the vulnerability of battleships to air power by sinking a battleship with an airplane (greatly flustering the naval high command).  Colonel George S. Patton developed an armored doctrine for an unenthused army and eventually transferred back to the horse cavalry.  Meanwhile, Imperial Japan was building aircraft carriers.  And Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Communist Russia developed air and armored doctrine while fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

Fascist Italy attacked Ethiopia in 1935 to rebuild the Roman Empire and make the Mediterranean Sea a Roman lake once again.  Nazi Germany launched World War II in 1939 by an armored assault on Poland with tactical air support.  Poland resisted with horse cavalry.  And lost.  Imperial Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 to destroy American naval power in the Pacific.  They did a lot of damage.  But the American carriers, their prime objective, were at sea.  They would eventually meet those carriers later at the Battle of Midway.  Where they would lose four of their best carriers and many of their best aviators.  This tipped the balance of power in the Pacific to the Americans.

America was ill-prepared for war.  But American industry, the Arsenal of Democracy, ramped up and built the planes, tanks, guns, rifles and ships that would win the war.   It would come with a heavy price tag.  Global wars typically do.  Had there been a balance of power that would have checked the territorial ambitions of the aggressor nations, it would have been a different story.  Of course, having the power is one thing.  How you use it is another. 

France had more tanks than Germany before the outbreak of hostilities.  But the Nazis quickly overran France.  Why?  Doctrine.  France’s doctrine was to hide behind the security of the Maginot Line.  It was a defensive-only strategy.  She developed no armored doctrine.  The lesson they learned from World War I was that armies killed themselves attacking fixed defenses.  Germany, too, learned that lesson.  So their doctrine called for going around fixed defenses with fast-moving armor spearheads with tactical air support (i.e., blitzkrieg).  Formidable though the Maginot Line was, it could not attack.  And if the Nazis didn’t attack it, it did nothing but concentrate men and firepower away from the battle.

WHEN WE PULLED out of South Vietnam, we agreed to use American air power if North Vietnam violated the terms of the treaty ending that war.  Watergate changed all of that.  Even though JFK got us into Vietnam, it became Nixon’s war.  And a vindictive Congress wouldn’t have anything more to do with it.  The North tested the American will.  Saw that there was none.   Attacked.  And overran South Vietnam.  The message was clear to tyrants.  America will quit in the long run.  Especially after a large loss of life.

Other ‘retreats’ would reinforce this perception.  Especially in the Arab world.  The withdrawal from Lebanon after the bombing of the Marines’ barracks.  The withdrawal from Somalia after the Somalis dragged dead American troops through the streets of Mogadishu.  The Arab world even saw the victory in Desert Storm as a retreat.  The anti-American Arab world said that our invasion was about oil.  That what we really wanted was to topple Saddam Hussein and take his oil.  It was just another Christian Crusade into holy Islamic lands.  When we didn’t do that, the Arab world saw it as another American retreat.  That America didn’t have the will to endure a bloody battle to conquer Iraq. 

So some in the Arab world would test America.  Al Qaeda.  Headed by Osama bin Laden.  They started small and became more daring.  World Trade Center bombing.  Tanzanian Embassy bombing.  Kenyan Embassy bombing.  Khobar Towers bombing.  The USS Cole attack.  And they paid little for these attacks.  America didn’t fight back.  But their luck ran out on September 11, 2001.  Because America finally fought back.

PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER one, Osama bin Laden, belonged to the conservative Sunni sect of Islam called Wahhabi.  They have a large following in Saudi Arabia.  The Wahhabi have a delicate relationship with the Saudi Royal family.  They disapprove of the Western displays of wealth in the House of Saud. 

Al-Qaeda was a shadowy enemy.  We confronted them in the mountains of Afghanistan where the Taliban gave them a safe sanctuary.  We attacked.  Knocked the Taliban from power.  Drove al-Qaeda underground.  But we could not stop their funding.

Wahhabi money from Saudi Arabia financed 9/11.  And the money continued to flow.  The Saudis would not intervene on behalf of America.  They feared any crackdown on the Wahhabi could unleash a civil war.  So America needed leverage to get Saudi cooperation.  And they found it in an old nemesis, Saddam Hussein. 

A Sunni minority ruled Iraq.  The Saudis did not like Saddam Hussein.  However, they liked the balance of power he offered to Iran.  Iran was Shiite.  As much as the Saudis did not like Saddam, they disliked Shiite Iran more.  This was the American lever.

After some diplomatic gymnastics, the invasion of Iraq was set.  The Saudis thought we were bluffing.  They didn’t believe we would invade Iraq.  Never in a million years.  If we didn’t do it in Desert Storm when we had the force in place to do it and didn’t, there was no way the Americans would amass another coalition and redeploy forces to the region again.  Especially because America doesn’t like long, drawn out, bloody wars.  Which an invasion of Iraq would surely be.

They asked us to remove our forces from the Saudi bases.  We did.  Now they were getting nervous.  That was the political game.  Make some noise to show the Arab world you weren’t an American toady.  But, secretly, you want those American forces to remain.  That American presence did provide security.  And stability.  After the invasion of Kuwait, it sure looked like Saudi Arabia would be next.  It was only that large American force in the desert that changed that inevitability. 

The Americans invaded.  And conquered.  Now the Saudis had a vested interest in helping the Americans.  They needed them to be successful in Iraq.  To contain Iran.  The lever worked.  The Saudis stemmed the flow of Wahhabi money to al-Qaeda.  The invasion of Iraq proved to be one of the most effective battles in the war on terrorism.  

HISTORY HAS SHOWN that a balance of power can lead to peace.  It has also shown that a superpower can enforce a larger peace.  But it also has shown that there is good and bad when it comes to power.  The Romans could be cruel, but so were most in that time.  The road to empire, after all, started out simply as a quest to provide a buffer between Rome and the hostile barbarians on her borders.  Rome, then, expanded in pursuit of peace.  (Initially, at least.)  And then used her power to maintain peace.

Many view Great Britain as the successor to the Roman Empire.  And many view America as the successor to the British Empire.  These powers share many things (rule of law, an advanced civilization, political stability, etc.).  Perhaps the greatest, though, is a powerful military.  And how it was/is used.  As a powerful deterrent to an aggressor nation.  To protect trade routes.  To maintain peace.  Malign these empires/nations all you will, but the greatest periods of world peace were due to their military power.  And their will to use that military power.  Expensive as that was.  Is.

So, yes, wars are costly.  Peace, too.  Sometimes, though, we must fight wars.  But we can avoid a lot of them.  By a peace-time military force that acts as a deterrent.  Because there are bad guys out there.  Who only respect one thing.  And it isn’t diplomacy.  Often the only thing preventing them from waging a cruel war of conquest is a potent military and a willing leader to use it.  If a tyrant knows he will face a military consequence for acting, he may not act.  When he knows that consequence will be devastating, he will not act.  But if he knows a nation hasn’t the military power or the will to use military power, he will act.  Just as Hitler did.  As Mussolini did.  As Tojo did.  And as Osama bin Laden did.



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