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Saturday, April 30, 2011

It Must Be Election Time — The Charges of Racism Begin

Imagine a judicial nominee said 'my experience as a white man makes me better than a Latina woman.' Wouldn't they have to withdraw? New racism is no better than old racism. — Newt Gingrich

The other night on CBS news Bob Schieffer said of Donald Trump’s outing of Obama’s birth certificate and his demand that Obama’s college grades be released:

“I want to go on to what Donald Trump said after he said this is out and everything. He said, we need to look at his grades and see if the – he was a good enough student to get into Harvard law school. That’s just code for saying he got into law school because he’s black”

“This is an ugly strain of racism that’s running through this whole thing. We can hope that that kind of comes to an end, too, but we’ll have to see.”

It has nothing to do with Obama’s race to look at his records. People also wanted to see Hillary Clinton’s term paper, which was written in part on Saul Alinsky’s “Rules of Radicals”. Was this sexism?

After Donald Trump called on Obama to release his original birth certificate and produce the academic records and test scores that put him on a bullet train from being a "terrible student" at Occidental College to Columbia, Harvard Law and Harvard Law Review editor, charges of "racism" have saturated the airwaves.

To Tavis Smiley of PBS, this was a sure sign the most "racist" campaign in history is upon us. To Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg of "The View," this was pure racism. To Bob Schieffer, CBS anchor, an "ugly strain of racism" is behind the effort to get Obama's records.

Again and again on cable TV, the question is raised, "What, other than racism, can explain Trump's call for these records?"

People questioned Bush’s records in school and his intelligence, but no one attributed it to racism. “Why can’t we see a man’s records? I’d say the same thing about George W. Bush, the same thing about Bill and Hillary Clinton, the same thing about Ronald Reagan”. And they did.

And the demand for Obama's test scores — is that racism?

Well, was it racist of the New Yorker to reveal in 1999 that George W. Bush got a score of 1206 on his Scholastic Aptitude Test (566 verbal, 640 math) or that Al Gore got a 1355? Was it racist of the Boston Globe to report that John Kerry was a D student as a freshman, who eventually rose up to a C and B student at Yale?

Was it racist of The New York Times' Charlie Savage to report that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor had described herself as an "'affirmative action baby' whose lower test scores were overlooked by the admissions committees at Princeton University and Yale Law School because, she said, she is Hispanic"?

If a White House correspondent stood up at a press conference and said: "Mr. President, Donald Trump is asking for your college and law school test scores. Do you believe you benefited from affirmative action in your academic career?" would that be racist?

Perhaps Obama might begin his answer as he did, two decades before, in a Nov. 16, 1990, letter as president of Harvard Law Review:

"As someone who has undoubtedly benefited from affirmative action programs during my career, and as someone who may have benefited from the Law Review's affirmative action program when I was selected to join the Review last year, I have not personally felt stigmatized."

Schieffer fired the first shot in the upcoming battle for the presidency in 2012. Unlike in 2008, when Obama was an unknown and running on his image and hope and change, in 2012 he will have a record to defend.

Polls have shown that most Americans are saying that Obama’s policies are driving the nation in the wrong direction. The deficit, ObamaCare, High gas prices, two wars and high unemployment are all issues Obama will have to answer for in 2012. He will not be able to blame George W. Bush for these issues — they belong to him. Hope and change will not work this time.

In the week of April 11-17 and again in the week of April 18-24, 43 percent of the Americans polled by Gallup said they approved of the job Obama was doing as president.

That matched the all-time low for Obama’s weekly approval in the Gallup poll. Previously, Obama had earned a 43 percent approval rating in the back-to-back weeks of Aug. 16-22, 2010 and Aug. 23-29, 2010.

Obama’s weekly approval rating peaked at 67 percent in the week of Jan. 19-25, 2009—the week he was inaugurated.

So what are the Democrats to do with a Jimmy Carter like president? How will they change he dialogue to divert the public’s attention away from the dismal economy and Obama’s wars? It’s easy. They make Obama a victim. They play the race card. They vie for the sympathy of the voters. They do this by demonizing anyone who does not agree with Obama’s policies or think he is not competent to lead this nation will be called a racist.

Some pundits have claimed that 2012 will be the most racially charged election in the nation’s history. Forget the fact that 53% percent of Americans voted for a black man in 2008. That won’t count. What will matter to the Democrats is that America is a racist nation and that’s the reason they are attacking Obama. This is what has already happened to the Tea Party.

During a segment of the View last Thursday Whoopi Goldberg said that in light of what Trump had said about Obama’s college records she was going to play the race card. Big surprise, people like Goldberg, Smiley, Jackson, Sharpton and others in the media have been playing that card for years. In the next 18 months it’s going to get worse.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Men of the Religion of Peace

Also (forbidden are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess. Thus has Allah ordained for you. All others are lawful, provided you seek them from your property, desiring chastity, not fornication. So with those among them whom you have enjoyed, give them their required due, but if you agree mutually after the requirement (has been determined), there is no sin on you. Surely, Allah is Ever All-Knowing, All-Wise. — Quran 4:24

There is no equivalent term for ‘rape’ in the Quran. Likewise, there is not a single verse in the Quran which even remotely discourages forced sex. In contrast, there are several verses in this book which give the green light to rape and other sexual crimes against women.

Breaking her silence, Lara Logan (aptly) categorizes her own 2/11/11 "sexual assault" by some 200 to 300 Egyptian “democracy advocates” as a merciless, extended rape.

Ms. Logan, a CBS News correspondent, was in the square preparing a report for “60 Minutes” on Feb. 11 when the celebratory mood suddenly turned threatening. She was ripped away from her producer and bodyguard by a group of men who tore at her clothes and groped and beat her body. “For an extended period of time, they raped me with their hands,” Ms. Logan said in an interview with The New York Times. She estimated that the attack involved 200 to 300 men.

Ms. Logan, who returned to work this month, is expected to speak at length about the assault on the CBS News program “60 Minutes” on Sunday night.

Logan is quoted in a recent New York Times article as saying; “For an extended period of time, they raped me with their hands...My clothes were torn to pieces...What really struck me was how merciless they were. They really enjoyed my pain and suffering. It incited them to more violence.

Ms. Logan also acknowledges her own ignorance of the violent misogyny characteristic of Egyptian and Muslim society, noting:

“I would have paid more attention to it if I had had any sense of it. When women are harassed and subjected to this in society, they're denied an equal place in that society. Public spaces don't belong to them. Men control it. It reaffirms the oppressive role of men in the society.”

Logan concludes with a chilling anecdote which illuminates the rape culture endemic in Egypt, and her relative good fortune:

“Among the letters she received, she said, was one from a woman who lives in Canada who was raped in the back of a taxi in Cairo in early February, amid the protests there. ”That poor woman had to go into the airport begging people to help her," Ms. Logan recalled. When she returned home, "her family told her not to talk about it." Ms. Logan said that as she read the letter, she started to sob. "It was a reminder to me of how fortunate I was," she said.

But at least in this 4/28/11 NY Times story, which previews a pending 60 Minutes interview, she apparently makes no comment about the reported Jew-hating taunts (Logan is not a Jew) of her attackers.

For the life of me I cannot understand the blind support Islam receives from the left in the west. Since 600 B.C. Islam has been a cultist religion based on the teaching of a misogynist, narcissist who had no respect for women or other religions.

Rape is virtually impossible to prove under Islamic law (Sharia) and even in more moderate countries. If the man claims that the act was consensual sex, there is very little that the woman can do to refute this. Islam places the burden of avoiding sexual encounters of any sort on the woman.

There can be no such thing as rape in marriage, even if the husband has to hit the wife in order to bring about her submission. As a recent fatwa reminds a woman, she "does not have the right to refuse her husband, rather she must respond to his request every time he calls her." (Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 33597).

Under Islamic law, rape can only be proven if the rapist confesses or if there are four male witnesses. Women who allege rape, without the benefit of the act having been witnessed by four men who subsequently develop a conscience, are actually confessing to having sex. If they or the accused happens to be married, then it is considered to be adultery.

It has been reported that Mohammed also married a six year old and raped her when she was nine. At that time the Quran stated a woman needed three witnesses to rape, which the girl had, so Mohammed changed the law to require four witnesses. Pedophilia is also rampant among Islamic nations

The Quran states:

Quran (2:282) - Establishes that a woman's testimony is worth only half that of a man's in court (there is no "he said/she said" gridlock in Islam).

Quran (24:4) - "And those who accuse free women then do not bring four witnesses (to adultery), flog them..."

Quran (24:13) - "Why did they not bring four witnesses of it? But as they have not brought witnesses they are liars before Allah."

Quran (2:223) - "Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will..." There is no such thing as rape in marriage, as a man is permitted unrestricted sexual access to his wives.”

It a personality like Joy Behar, a liberal Jewish woman comedian, were to walk the streets of Cairo, or many other Islamic cities, after dark she would be accosted and no doubt sexually assaulted like Lara Logan was. And if the perpetrators thought she was Jewish she would fortunate to escape with her life, even if policemen were nearby. Yet this same woman will spout her defense of Islam on daily appearance on the View without any regard to what Islam really is — a cultist religion of intolerance, misogyny, violence and hate.

I plan to watch 60 Minutes this Sunday night, a show I have not seen for over 10 years, to see what Lara Logan says about her attackers. I hope she tells the truth and makes no excuses for Islam.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fascism, Corporatism and Obama

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” — Benito Mussolini

On this day in 1945, "Il Duce," Benito Mussolini, and his mistress, Clara Petacci, are shot by Italian partisans who had captured the couple as they attempted to flee to Switzerland.

The 61-year-old deposed former dictator of Italy was established by his German allies as the figurehead of a puppet government in northern Italy during the German occupation toward the close of the war. As the Allies fought their way up the Italian peninsula, defeat of the Axis powers all but certain, Mussolini considered his options. Not wanting to fall into the hands of either the British or the Americans, and knowing that the communist partisans, who had been fighting the remnants of roving Italian fascist soldiers and thugs in the north, would try him as a war criminal, he settled on escape to a neutral country.

He and his mistress made it to the Swiss border, only to discover that the guards had crossed over to the partisan side. Knowing they would not let him pass, he disguised himself in a Luftwaffe coat and helmet, hoping to slip into Austria with some German soldiers. His subterfuge proved incompetent, and he and Petacci were discovered by partisans and shot, their bodies then transported by truck to Milan, where they were hung upside down and displayed publicly for revilement by the masses.

Benito Mussolini is often called the father of Fascism. Contrary to most popular thought fascism, like socialism and communism, is a left-wing ideology. It is totally contrary to the philosophies of Locke, Burke, Smith Hayek and our founding fathers. It is a belief in a statist run government of central planning.

Fascism is a totalitarian movement wherein an omnipotent government asserts control over every nook and cranny of political, economic, social, and private life – generally in the name of “the public good.” In its original sense, the word “totalitarian” did not carry the negative connotations it has acquired over time. The Italian fascist Benito Mussolini first coined the term to describe a society where everyone belonged, where no one was abandoned socially or economically, and where the state would take ultimate responsibility for the well-being of its entire people. “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State,” is how Mussolini phrased it. Because fascism sees no legitimate boundary to its ambitions, it is expansionist by nature.

A common theme of fascism is its pledge to restore national pride to countries whose former prestige or power has diminished. As the historian Victor Davis Hanson notes, "Fascism thrives best in a once proud, recently humbled, but now ascendant, people [who] are ripe to be deluded into thinking contemporary setbacks were caused by others and are soon to be erased through ever more zealotry."

Fascism also tends to promote and exploit the grievances of “the common man,” portraying society as the theater of a ceaseless conflict – a class war – between oppressor and oppressed, victimizer and victim. Consequently, identity politics is central to fascism.

Yet another hallmark of fascism is its propensity to bring forth powerful, charismatic, even deified figures who are viewed as uniquely capable – along with their hand-picked advisers or czars – of leading nations to restored or new-found greatness. Thus the cult of personality historically has been a central element of fascism. (The same has been true of Communist leaders such as Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and Castro.)

The economics of fascism are collectivist, socialist and redistributionist – supremely hostile to free-market capitalism and wealth inequalities. Indeed, fascism is closely related to communism in both theory and practice. The chief difference between the two is that fascism is rooted in nationalism and seeks to create a socialist utopia within the confines of a particular country's borders; thus the Nazis, for instance, embraced “National Socialism.” Communism, by contrast, seeks to transcend national boundaries and promote a worldwide proletariat revolution, where the foot soldiers are bound together not by a common nationality but by their membership in the same economic class. The communist position was articulated in Karl Marx's famous exhortation in the Communist Manifesto: “Workers of the world, unite!

Apart from this distinction, communism and fascism are kindred spirits of anti-capitalist totalitarianism. Author Jonah Goldberg characterizes them as “closely related, historical competitors for the same constituents, seeking to dominate and control the same social space.” As the fascist Mussolini put it, in a 1921 speech:

“Between us and the communists there are no political affinities but there are intellectual ones. Like you [communists], we consider necessary a centralized unitary state which imposes iron discipline and all persons, with this difference, that you reached this conclusion by way of the concept of class, and we by the way of the concept of nation.”

Fascism's socialist/communist ideals dovetail neatly with the fascist desire to eliminate class differences among the populace. In many of his speeches, Adolf Hitler clearly stated his intent to erase all lines of division between rich and poor. Robert Ley, who headed the Nazis’ German Labor Front, boasted: “We are the first country in Europe to overcome the class struggle.” The militarism that became so deeply identified with the Nazis was actually intended, in part, to help advance the dissolution of class differences by uniting the members of all social strata in a common cause.

Economist Thomas Sowell, for his part, explains that whereas the federal government owns the means of production in a socialist/communist system, private enterprises own the means of production in a fascist system — but those enterprises operate entirely according to the government's dictates.

While fascism is indeed the repository of all the political, social, and economic traits enumerated above, the fascist mindset manifests itself in somewhat different ways depending upon the culture in whose psychological soil it sprouts. For example:

Whereas the Nazis were genocidal anti-Semites, the Italian fascists were protectors of the Jews until the Nazis took over Italy, and the fascist dictator Francisco Franco refused Hitler’s demand to deliver tens of thousands of Spanish Jews to the latter for extermination.

Whereas the Nazis despised Christianity, the Italian fascists made peace with the Catholic Church – notwithstanding Mussolini's passionate contempt for that institution.

Whereas racism was central to Nazi ideology, Mussolini expressed his own “sovereign contempt” for the “one hundred percent racism” of Hitler's government.

Benito Mussolini; July 29 1883 – April 28 1945) was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism.

Mussolini became the 40th Prime Minister of Italy in 1922 and began using the title Il Duce by 1925. After 1936, his official title was "His Excellency Benito Mussolini, Head of Government, Duce of Fascism, and Founder of the Empire". Mussolini also created and held the supreme military rank of First Marshal of the Empire along with King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, which gave him and the King joint supreme control over the military of Italy. Mussolini remained in power until he was replaced in 1943; for a short period after this until his death, he was the leader of the Italian Social Republic.

Mussolini was among the founders of Italian Fascism, which included elements of nationalism, corporatism, national syndicalism, expansionism, social progress, and anti-socialism in combination with censorship of subversives and state propaganda. In the years following his creation of the Fascist ideology, Mussolini influenced, or achieved admiration from, a wide variety of political figures.

Among the domestic achievements of Mussolini from the years 1924–1939 were: his public works programs such as the taming of the Pontine Marshes, the improvement of job opportunities, and public transport. Mussolini also solved the Roman Question by concluding the Lateran Treaty between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See. He is also credited with securing economic success in Italy's colonies and commercial dependencies.

On June 10, 1940, Mussolini led Italy into World War II on the side of the Axis despite initially siding with France against Germany in the early 1930s. Believing the war would be short-lived, he declared war on France and the United Kingdom in order to gain territories in the peace treaty that would soon follow.

Three years later, Mussolini was deposed at the Grand Council of Fascism, prompted by the Allied invasion of Italy. Soon after his incarceration began, Mussolini was rescued from prison in the daring Gran Sasso raid by German special forces. Following his rescue, Mussolini headed the Italian Social Republic in parts of Italy that were not occupied by Allied forces. In late April 1945, with total defeat looming, Mussolini attempted to escape to Switzerland, only to be quickly captured and summarily executed near Lake Como by Italian partisans. His body was then taken to Milan where it was hung upside down at a petrol station for public viewing and to provide confirmation of his demise.

An important factor in Italian Fascism gaining support in its earliest stages was the fact that it claimed to oppose discrimination based on social class and was strongly opposed to all forms of class war. Fascism instead supported nationalist sentiments such as a strong unity, regardless of class, in the hopes of raising Italy up to the levels of its great Roman past. The ideological basis for fascism came from a number of sources. Mussolini utilized works of Plato, Georges Sorel, Nietzsche, and the socialist and economic ideas of Vilfredo Pareto, to create fascism. Mussolini admired The Republic, which he often read for inspiration. The Republic held a number of ideas that fascism promoted such as rule by an elite statist class promoting the state as the ultimate end, opposition to democracy, protecting the class system and promoting class collaboration, rejection of egalitarianism, promoting the militarization of a nation by creating a class of warriors, demanding that citizens perform civic duties in the interest of the state, and utilizing state intervention in education to promote the creation of warriors and future rulers of the state. The Republic differed from fascism in that it did not promote aggressive war but only defensive war, unlike fascism it promoted very communist-like views on property, and Plato was an idealist focused on achieving justice and morality while Mussolini and fascism were realist, focused on achieving political goals.

Mussolini and the fascists managed to be simultaneously revolutionary and traditionalist; because this was vastly different to anything else in thebenito_mussolini political climate of the time, it is sometimes described as "The Third Way" (Hope and Change to the maximum). The Fascisti, led by one of Mussolini's close confidants, Dino Grandi, formed armed squads of war veterans called Blackshirts (or squadristi) with the goal of restoring order to the streets of Italy with a strong hand. The blackshirts clashed with communists, socialists, and anarchists at parades and demonstrations; all of these factions were also involved in clashes against each other. The government rarely interfered with the blackshirts' actions, owing in part to a looming threat and widespread fear of a communist revolution. The Fascisti grew so rapidly that within two years, it transformed itself into the National Fascist Party at a congress in Rome. Also in 1921, Mussolini was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for the first time.

Mussolini launched several public construction programs and government initiatives throughout Italy to combat economic setbacks or unemployment levels. His earliest, and one of the best known, was Italy's equivalent of the Green Revolution, known as the "Battle for Grain", in which 5,000 new farms were established and five new agricultural towns on land reclaimed by draining the Pontine Marshes. In obamachinraisedSardinia, a model agricultural town was founded and named Mussolinia, but has long since been renamed Arborea. This town was the first of what Mussolini hoped would have been thousands of new agricultural settlements across the country. This plan diverted valuable resources to grain production, away from other less economically viable crops. The huge tariffs associated with the project promoted widespread inefficiencies, and the government subsidies given to farmers pushed the country further into debt. Mussolini also initiated the "Battle for Land", a policy based on land reclamation outlined in 1928. The initiative had a mixed success; while projects such as the draining of the Pontine Marsh in 1935 for agriculture were good for propaganda purposes, provided work for the unemployed and allowed for great land owners to control subsidies; other areas in the Battle for Land were not very successful. This program was inconsistent with the Battle for Grain (small plots of land were inappropriately allocated for large-scale wheat production – see Wickard v. Filburn for a similar instance in the United States fostered by the progressive left), and the Pontine Marsh was lost during World War II. Fewer than 10,000 peasants resettled on the redistributed land, and peasant poverty remained high. The Battle for Land initiative was abandoned in 1940.

He also combated an economic recession by introducing the "Gold for the Fatherland" initiative, by encouraging the public to voluntarily donate gold jewelry such as necklaces and wedding rings to government officials in exchange for steel wristbands bearing the words "Gold for the Fatherland". Even Rachele Mussolini donated her own wedding ring. The collected gold was then melted down and turned into gold bars, which were then distributed to the national banks.

Mussolini pushed for government control of business: by 1935, Mussolini claimed that three quarters of Italian businesses were under state control. That same year, he issued several edicts to further control the economy, including forcing all banks, businesses, and private citizens to give up all their foreign-issued stocks and bonds to the Bank of Italy. In 1938, he also instituted wage and price controls. He also attempted to turn Italy into a self-sufficient autarky, instituting high barriers on trade with most countries except Germany.

In 1943 he proposed the theory of economic socialization. A theory aligned with Obama’s “Social Compact”.

Mussolini's foremost priority was the subjugation of the minds of the Italian people and the use of propaganda to do so. Press, radio, education, films—all were carefully supervised to create the illusion that fascism was the doctrine of the twentieth century, replacing liberalism and democracy. (See Edward Bernays, the father of American propaganda whose book Crystallizing Public Opinion was a part of Joseph Goebbels library).

The law codes of the parliamentary system were rewritten under Mussolini. All teachers in schools and universities had to swear an oath to defend the fascist regime. Newspaper editors were all personally chosen by Mussolini and no one who did not possess a certificate of approval from the fascist party could practice journalism. These certificates were issued in secret; Mussolini thus skillfully created the illusion of a "free press". The trade unions were also deprived of any independence and were integrated into what was called the "corporative" system. The aim (never completely achieved), inspired by medieval guilds, was to place all Italians in various professional organizations or "corporations", all of which were under clandestine governmental control.

Large sums of money were spent on highly visible public works, and on international prestige projects such as the Blue Riband ocean liner SS Rex and aeronautical achievements such as the world's fastest seaplane the Macchi M.C.72 and the transatlantic flying boat cruise of Italo Balbo, who was greeted with much fanfare in the United States when he landed in Chicago.

After the March on Rome that brought Benito Mussolini to power, the Fascists started considering ways to ideologize the Italian society, with an accent on schools. Mussolini assigned his deputy-secretary for Education Renato Ricci the task of "reorganizing the youth from a moral and physical point of view". Ricci sought inspiration with Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, meeting with him in England, as well as with Bauhaus artists in Germany. The Opera Nazionale Balilla was created through Mussolini's decree of April 3, 1926, and was led by Ricci for the following eleven years. It included children between the ages of 8 and 18.

According to Mussolini: "Fascist education is moral, physical, social, and military: it aims to create a complete and harmoniously developed human, a fascist one according to our views". Mussolini structured this process taking in view the emotional side of childhood: "Childhood and adolescence alike cannot be fed solely by concerts, theories, and abstract teaching. The truth we aim to teach them should appeal foremost to their fantasy, to their hearts, and only then to their minds".

The "educational value set through action and example" was to replace the established approaches. Fascism opposed its version of idealism to prevalent rationalism, and used the Opera Nazionale Balilla to circumvent educational tradition by imposing the collective and hierarchy, as well as Mussolini's own personality cult – similar to Organizing for America.

Many left-wing progressives in the West whole heartedly supported Mussolini and his brand of fascism. Jonah Goldberg in his book Liberal Fascism writes; “Just as progressives were generally enthusiastic about socialist movements in the Soviet Union and Europe, they were also overwhelmingly supportive of the fascist movements in Italy and Germany during the 1920s and 1930s. “In many respects,” writes journalist Jonah Goldberg, “the founding fathers of modern liberalism, the men and women who laid the intellectual groundwork of the New Deal and the welfare state, thought that fascism sounded like ... a worthwhile 'experiment'”:

  • H. G. Wells, one of the most influential progressives of the 20th century, said in 1932 that progressives must become “liberal fascists” and “enlightened Nazis.” Regarding totalitarianism, he stated: “I have never been able to escape altogether from its relentless logic.” Calling for a “‘Phoenix Rebirth’ of Liberalism” under the umbrella of “Liberal Fascism,” Wells said: “I am asking for a Liberal Fascisti, for enlightened Nazis.”
  • The poet Wallace Stevens pronounced himself “pro-Mussolini personally.”
  • The eminent historian Charles Beard wrote of Mussolini’s efforts: “Beyond question, an amazing experiment is being made [in Italy], an experiment in reconciling individualism and socialism.”
  • Muckraking journalists almost universally admired Mussolini. Lincoln Steffens, for one, said that Italian fascism made Western democracy, by comparison, look like a system run by “petty persons with petty purposes.” Mussolini, Steffens proclaimed reverently, had been “formed” by God “out of the rib of Italy.”
  • McClure’s Magazine founder Samuel McClure, an important figure in the muckraking movement, described Italian fascism as “a great step forward and the first new ideal in government since the founding of the American Republic.”
  • After having visited Italy and interviewed Mussolini in 1926, the American humorist Will Rogers, who was informally dubbed “Ambassador-at-Large of the United States” by the National Press Club, said of the fascist dictator: “I’m pretty high on that bird.” “Dictator form of government is the greatest form of government,” Rogers wrote, “that is, if you have the right dictator.”
  • Reporter Ida Tarbell was deeply impressed by Mussolini's attitudes regarding labor, affectionately dubbing him “a despot with a dimple.”
  • NAACP co-founder W. E. B. DuBois saw National Socialism as a worthy model for economic organization. The establishment of the Nazi dictatorship in Germany, he wrote, had been “absolutely necessary to get the state in order.” In 1937 DuBois stated: “there is today, in some respects, more democracy in Germany than there has been in years past.”
  • FDR adviser Rexford Guy Tugwell said of Italian fascism: “It's the cleanest, neatest, most efficiently operating piece of social machinery I've ever seen. It makes me envious.”
  • New Republic editor George Soule, who avidly supported FDR, noted approvingly that the Roosevelt administration was “trying out the economics of fascism.”
  • Playwright George Bernard Shaw hailed Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini as the world’s great “progressive” leaders because they “did things,” unlike the leaders of those “putrefying corpses” called parliamentary democracies.

According to Goldberg:

“progressives' affinity for fascism was quite understandable because, contrary to popular misconception: fascism, properly understood, is not a phenomenon of the right at all. Instead, it is, and always has been, a phenomenon of the left.”

“To clarify this point, a working definition of fascism is in order. For the purpose of this discussion, fascism can be distilled down to this: It is a totalitarian movement that empowers an omnipotent government to control every nook and cranny of political, economic, social, and private life – generally in the name of “the public good.” Its leadership is commonly spearheaded by a powerful, charismatic, even deified figure who is viewed as uniquely capable – along with his hand-picked advisers – of leading his nation to new-found or restored greatness. Its economics are collectivist, socialist and redistributionist – supremely hostile to free-market capitalism and wealth inequalities. And it tends to promote and exploit the grievances of “the common man,” portraying society as the theater of a ceaseless conflict – a class war – between oppressor and oppressed, victimizer and victim. Consequently, identity politics are central to fascism.”

Many people claim that Obama is a socialist. While he sounds like a socialist I believe he is more akin to a Mussolini Fascisti than a socialist. His actions of pushing large stimulus projects, control of the banking sector, corporate take-overs like GM and the health care industry, partnership with labor unions and constant class warfare, while appearing socialistic, are exactly what Mussolini did in the 1930s.

While, as Jonah Goldberg states “socialism, communism and fascism are members of the same family” it is difficult in our psyche to really define the difference today. We have been bombarded with these terms for the past 50 years by the politicians and press to a point where most Americans cannot define any of them. This why the term is tossed about with no real thought. The Tea Party is accused of fascism yet the actions of the left-wing and union protestors in Wisconsin mirror the actions of Mussolini and Hitler.

It is time for Americans to understand that all of these totalitarian philosophies are statist in nature and Obama, without a doubt, is the biggest statist this nation has ever seen since Woodrow Wilson. Obama even carries himself in the same manner a Mussolini, something he had to practice.

Despite Obama’s Claim, the Poor are Not Getting Poorer

"Need is not demand. Effective economic demand requires not merely need but corresponding purchasing power." — Henry Hazlitt

An Article in the Daily Caller debunks Obama’s claim that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Caroline May reports; “In his mid-April speech on the budget deficit, President Obama echoed conventional wisdom when he cited the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer as a reason to raise taxes on the wealthy in order to reduce the national debt.

Research, published at The Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, from Cornell economist Richard Burkhauser, Joint Committee on Taxation economist Jeff Larrimore, and Indiana University economist Kosali Simon, however, suggests that the president’s piece of conventional wisdom isn’t entirely accurate. According to the findings, while the rich have indeed been getting richer, for the last 30 years so too have the poor and middle class.”

“Burkhauser told The Daily Caller that Obama’s suggestion that the poor are getting poorer understates the amount of income to which Americans actually have access. The president does not take into account, Burkhauser explained, tax unit shifts, government transfers, and other sources of income such as health care benefits.”

“The bottom line is [conventional wisdom] asks what’s been happening to private personal income over time and they are right if you look at that for tax units, things do not look very good for the middle class,” he said. “But if you take other things into account, the reason the country has not gotten in a civil war is because things are not that bad. In fact everybody has done better.”

“Burkhauser’s research shows what has actually been happening to the lives of Americans over the last thirty years — not just counting the amount of money individuals made in the market, but the actual income that people get in their hands to spend.”

79-07-Income-Growth

“This isn’t a zero sum game, where one group wins at the expense of others,” Burkhauser said. “The growth in productivity of Americans in the top twenty percent of tax units increased the size of the economic pie sufficiently to register major gains across the entire distribution of after-tax income.”

No group in our nation is poorer than the Native Americans. I have driven through Indian reservations in Arizona and New Mexico and seen some of the most deplorable living conditions of any location in this nation. These reservations reminded me of some of poverty stricken areas I have seen in third world counties. There are broken down automobiles parked in front of dilapidated homes or trailers. The people look unhealthy and many suffer extreme obesity. Alcoholism is no doubt a major disease and unemployment reaches upwards of 50%. Education is second rate and most kids do not graduate from high school.

One thing you will notice when you enter a reservation are the signs warning you not to take photographs or video. The roads are marked with federal highway signs noting you are on an Indian reservation. It’s almost as if you are entering another country. In fact you are. It’s the nation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

I know when you read this you will ask, “what about the Native Americans who own the casinos?” I’m talking about those tribes that have casinos and resorts. Those Native Americans do not represent the majority of Indians living in his nation. They are the fortunate ones who live close enough to a big city where there is a demand for gaming facilities. The Native Americans I am talking about are the ones who are basically wards of the Federal Government living in squalor on government controlled reservations.

The BIA is an agency of the federal government of the United States within the US Department of the Interior. It is responsible for the administration and management of 55,700,000 acres of land held in trust by the United States for Native Americans in the United States, Native American Tribes and Alaska Natives. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is one of two Bureaus under the jurisdiction of the Assistant Secretary — Indian Affairs: the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education, which provides education services to approximately 48,000 Native Americans.

The BIA's responsibilities once included providing health care services to American Indians and Alaska Natives. In 1954, that function was legislatively transferred to the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, now known as the Department of Health and Human Services, where it has remained to this day as the Indian Health Service (IHS).

Why is this? It goes back to the whole process of herding Native Americans onto reservations and then having the federal government “take care of them.” They were never allowed to integrate into the American fabric and they depend on the largess of the federal government for their sustenance.

If you talk to bureaucrats in the Bureau of Indian Affairs you will hear that what we need is more taxpayer money to improve the lives of these impoverished people. In essence more welfare payments will make things better.

There is, however, one tribe of Native Americans that never fell under the control of the BIA. They are the Lumbees. In 1956, the United States Congress passed H.R. 4656, known as the Lumbee Act, which recognized the Lumbee as Native Americans. In consultation with the tribe as a condition of recognition, Congress at the same time excluded the Lumbee from receiving the federal services ordinarily provided to federally recognized tribes through the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

You might think this was injustice forced on his tribe of Native Americans If you think this you are mistaken. The Lumbees are not interested in federal control.

A few weeks ago John Stossel, of Fox News, had a segment of his program devoted to the Lumbee Tribe. Here is what Stossel wrote in Human Events on April 27, 2011; “The U.S. government has "helped" no group more than it has "helped" the American Indians. It stuns me when President Obama appears before Indian groups and says things like, "Few have been ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans."

“Ignored? Are you kidding me? They should be so lucky. The government has made most Indian tribes wards of the state. Government manages their land, provides their health care, and pays for housing and child care. Twenty different departments and agencies have special "native American" programs. The result? Indians have the highest poverty rate, nearly 25 percent, and the lowest life expectancy of any group in America. Sixty-six percent are born to single mothers.”

“Nevertheless, Indian activists want more government "help.”

“It is intuitive to assume that, when people struggle, government "help" is the answer. The opposite is true. American groups who are helped the most, do the worst.”

“Consider the Lumbees of Robeson County, N.C. — a tribe not recognized as sovereign by the government and therefore ineligible for most of the "help" given other tribes. The Lumbees do much better than those recognized tribes.”

“Lumbees own their homes and succeed in business. They include real estate developer Jim Thomas, who used to own the Sacramento Kings, and Jack Lowery, who helped start the Cracker Barrel Restaurants. Lumbees started the first Indian-owned bank, which now has 12 branches. The Lumbees' wealth is not from casino money.”

“We don't have any casinos. We have 12 banks," says Ben Chavis, another successful Lumbee businessman. He also points out that Robeson County looks different from most Indian reservations.”

"There's mansions. They look like English manors. I can take you to one neighborhood where my people are from and show you nicer homes than the whole Sioux reservation."

“Despite this success, professional "victims" activists want Congress to make the Lumbees dependent — like other tribes. U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., has introduced the Lumbee Recognition Act, which would give the Lumbees the same "help" other tribes get — about $80 million a year. Some members of the tribe support the bill.”

“Of course they do. People like to freeload.”

“Lawyer Elizabeth Homer, who used to be the U.S. Interior Department's director of Indian land trusts, says the Lumbees ought to get federal recognition.”

"The Lumbees have been neglected and left out of the system, and have been petitioning for 100 years. ... They're entitled, by the way."

“People like Homer will never get it. Lumbees do well because they've divorced themselves from government handouts. Washington's neglect was a godsend.”

“Some Lumbees don't want the handout.”

"We shouldn't take it!" Chavis said. He says if federal money comes, members of his tribe "are going to become welfare cases. It's going to stifle creativity. On the reservations, they haven't trained to be capitalists. They've been trained to be communists."

“Tribal governments and the Bureau of Indian Affairs manage most Indian land. Indians compete to serve on tribal councils because they can give out the government's money. Instead of seeking to become entrepreneurs, members of tribes aspire to become bureaucrats.”

"You can help your girlfriend; you can help your girlfriend's mama. It's a great program!" Chavis said sarcastically.”

“Because a government trust controls most Indian property, individuals rarely build nice homes or businesses. No individual on the reservation owns the land. So they can't develop it," Chavis added. "Look at my tribe. We have title and deeds to our land. That's the secret. I raise cattle. I can do what I want to because it's my private property."

“I did a TV segment on the Lumbees that I included in a special called "Freeloaders." That won me the predictable vitriol. Apparently, I'm ignorant of history and a racist.”

“The criticism misses the point. Yes, many years ago white people stole the Indians' land and caused great misery. And yes, the government signed treaties with the tribes that make Indians "special." But that "specialness" has brought the Indians socialism. It's what keeps them dependent and poor.”

“On the other hand, because the U.S. government never signed a treaty with the Lumbees, they aren't so "special" in its eyes. That left them mostly free.”

“Freedom lets them prosper.”

As I watched Stossel’s show and saw the interviews I keep thinking of those reservations in Arizona and New Mexico. I also thought of the third world and developing nations, especially in Central and South America that I have seen or worked in. These nations also are socialistic in nature. People look to the government to relieve them of poverty and provide jobs and education. This is what got Hugo Chavez elected in Venezuela.

Stossel has it right. Freedom and private ownership of land is the key to wealth. I have written blogs and published articles on this subject. It is the private ownership of land and the security of that ownership that separates the rich from the poor, not the largess of any government program.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Would Someone Take Boehner to See Atlas Shrugged

“If God would have wanted us to live in a permissive society He would have given us Ten Suggestions and not Ten Commandments.” — Zig Ziglar

If you happen to be some congressional bureaucrat on the staff of the Speaker of the House and you are reading this, please kidnap your boss and take him to the nearest theatre playing Atlas Shrugged Part 1. Why, you ask?

Because in the same week that unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats cost Shell Oil four billion dollars and ran them out of drilling off Alaska -- and more bureaucrats began their attempt to cost Boeing over a billion dollars and South Carolina a thousand jobs — our feckless Speaker of the House sided again with the wrong team.

So grab the Speaker and please go see Atlas Shrugged today. Do not wait. Do not walk. Run. Please go see it, and take Mr. Boehner some notes, before he becomes totally irrelevant and takes the free enterprise system down the drain with him.

Consider:

In a life-imitates-art period like few others I can remember, we have seen the following happen in the few days since the movie was released:

-Jesse Jackson Junior publicly blames the iPad for a loss of jobs. His econ babble speak reasoning is not worth repeating here.

-The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) sues Boeing to keep America's largest exporter from opening a plant in South Carolina that will create over a thousand new jobs, because the state is a non-union (Right to Work) state. By the way, Boeing has already built the plant and has added 2,000 union jobs in Seattle in the last couple of years to boot.

-President Obama orders Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate oil companies and speculators (known as investors) over the rise of gasoline prices. Holder will not be investigating the EPA or any other bureaucrats who have halted or slowed down oil production, however.

-Seven more oil rigs are run out of the Gulf of Mexico by government regulations and headed to Brazil — where crony capitalist extraordinaire George Soros will make a killing. Soros supports Obama of course.

What the juxtaposition of Atlas Shrugged's release and the events described above shows, if nothing else, is that we understand them more than they understand us. And by us, I mean freedom-loving supporters of the free enterprise system. By them, I mean liberal statists and socialists. And Ayn Rand a refugee from communism, for all of her quirks, understood both the free market right and the big government success-punishing left. She also saw crony capitalism coming down the pike with scary prescience.

In short, in 1957 Rand understood the America of 2011 better than our current Speaker of the House does. This is inexcusable on the part of Boehner, who was elected to Congress in the early 90's as a small businessman. It's one thing for an elected Speaker to make poor political calculations and/or to negotiate weakly with the opposition. The unhappy nuances of the realities of the legislative process -- which Boehner did not invent — can also be forgiven to a certain degree by thinking supporters.

But when a Republican Speaker — with a business background no less — flunks the very basics of Economics 101 on an issue as critical to our republic as energy production, it is a cardinal sin.

It's bad enough for former Speaker Newt Gingrich to sit on a park bench and wax eloquent with Nancy Pelosi on manmade global warming. It's quite another when the sitting Speaker "goes Pelosi" on us at the very moment we need a clear voice in Congress on the realities of the market and the realities of the self-inflicted wounds from our very own government.

The irony of Boehner's cluelessness this week is that he and those like him were very clearly predicted by Rand in the mid 1950's. Without beating the analogy to death for those who haven't seen the movie, Shell Oil fits almost perfectly the situation "Wyatt Oil" faced in the movie. Boeing is part "Taggart Transcontinental/John Galt Line" and part "Reardon Steel." You could switch Colorado with South Carolina.

There is no specific Boehner character, but he certainly fits the mold of a politician who just finished his visit from "Wesley Mouch." This week in an interview with ABC News as reported by The Hill, Boehner said:

“I don't think the big oil companies need to have the oil depletion allowances, but for small, independent oil-and-gas producers, if they didn't have this, there'd be even less exploration in America than there is today.”

This is eerily reminiscent of the line in the movie where a government bureaucrat said "in an age of steel shortages, we can't have one company producing too much." That is classic liberal logic if I've ever heard it. The idea was that fairness, as defined by the government, is more important than production. And Boehner stepped right into Rand's 54 year old trap. And nowhere in this statement is any evidence that Boehner is at all concerned that the EPA is forcing Shell to walk away from their four billion dollar investment in the waters off Alaska.

But he wasn't through stepping in it. He added:

“We're in a time when the federal government's short on revenues. We need to control spending, but we need to have revenues to keep the government moving. And they ought to be paying their fair share.”

Pay their fair share? There was a lot in Atlas Shrugged about the heavy hand of government propelled by "fairness." So what is their fair share? Who decides that? Are they not subject to tax laws now, or do they have the GE plan? Or the Tim Geithner plan? How about the Charlie Rangel plan? And if they pay more in taxes, how will that produce more oil and how will that help me at the pump?

So we have to ask just what's next Mr. Speaker? Will you side with the NLRB against the Boeing Corporation? Or the state of South Carolina? Where does your siding with government against private companies stop? What do you think about states' rights?

In short, Mr. Speaker, Ayn Rand saw you coming. She warned us about the likes of you. Go see yourself on the silver screen. She knew you in 1957 better than you know yourself. And if you don't start to understand yourself today as well as she did 54 years ago, the power of your office means that we will all suffer from your ignorance.

It’s time for Boehner to stiffen his spine and adhere to the principles of the people that put him in the Speaker’s chair — the Tea Party. Had it not been for the work of the Tea Party members across the nation the Republicans would not have gained control of the House and therefore Boehner the Speaker’s chair. So Mr. Boehner cowboy up and remember who put you where you are.

Finally We Know Where Obama Was Born

“At 20 years of age the will reigns, at 30 the wit, at 40 the judgment."— Benjamin Franklin

Today after 3 years of hubbub and pressure Barack Hussein Obama II finally released his birth certificate. It appears that Obama was born at 7:24 pm on August 4, 1961 at the Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. His listed parents were Barack Hussein Obama, age 25, a native of Kenya East Africa and a university student. His mother was an 18-year old Stanly Ann Dunham, a Caucasian, from Wichita Kansas. The birth certificate is dated August 8, 1961 and signed by Ukllee, the Local Register and his mother on August 7, 1961.

It took three years of pressure for Obama to release a document that could have been made public in 2008 when Hillary Clinton asked for it. Why? What did Obama not want us to know in 2008?

Donald Trump began his campaign to pressure Obama into releasing this document. Trump, not caring what the media or he critics claimed got under Obama’s skin to such a degree that he ordered his White House Council to write a letter of the Hawaiian Heath Department requesting the release this mysterious document that until today had been secreted from the American taxpayers.

Evidently concerned over the foothold Donald Trump has obtained, and the polls which show a substantial number of independents have doubts about his birth, President Obama this morning released his long form birth certificate.

Fox News reported; “The White House has released President Obama's long-form birth certificate, saying the document is "proof positive" the president was born in Hawaii.”

“The release marked an unexpected turn in the long-simmering, thougho-birthcertlong widely discredited, controversy over Obama's origin. Obama's advisers have for the better part of three years dismissed questions about the president's birth, directing skeptics to the short-term document released during the 2008 campaign. But as the issue gained more attention at the state level and particularly in the 2012 presidential race, Obama said Wednesday that it was starting to distract attention from pressing challenges like the budget.”

“The president, who discussed the release at the White House without taking questions, said he had been "puzzled" by the enduring shelf life of the issue and acknowledged the announcement may not put the so-called birther controversy to rest. But he told the public and the media that it's time to "get serious."

"We do not have time for this kind of silliness," Obama said. "We've got better stuff to do. I've got better stuff to do. We've got big problems to solve."

He said the country will not solve those problems if people are "distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers."

Trump, speaking in New Hampshire, took credit Wednesday for the president's decision to release the document. He said his team would have to examine the birth certificate and questioned why the White House took so long, but indicated he wanted to move beyond the issue.

"Today, I'm very proud of myself, because I've accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish," Trump told reporters. "Why he didn't do it when everybody else was asking for it, I don't know. But I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role in hopefully, hopefully getting rid of this issue."

An otherwise casual question has turned out to be one of the most elusive and divisive questions of the young 21st century: where was Barack Obama born? The left despises those who ask the question. Some on the right ridicule those who raise the issue, while a sizeable number of Americans are insisting that Obama was born outside of the US and hence he is ineligible to be president.

Whether intentionally or not, they are either missing or distorting the real issue. An inquiry to Obama's birthplace should be viewed in light of the sheer weight of the position he holds: a national and world leader. If the job involved were a county-level clerk position, questions about Obama's personal history would indeed be less relevant and a distraction. Instead, what is at stake here is the America's future. Voting for someone to be US President is akin to mortgaging the nation's future to that individual. As such, knowledge of the background of the person is essential. Even taking out a low dollar mortgage loan requires a diligent, proper, and thorough review of the applicant's historical financial information. As the recent years have shown, when basic principles of prudent lending were abandoned, financial crisis ensued. Is this an foreshadowing of Obama's presidency?

Which brings us to the real issue in the saga of Obama's birthplace mystery: character and trust. Obama's principles and paradigms of thinking, which guide his leadership and policy making, are not independent from his character. This is because character, which can be understood as the moral qualities unique to an individual, defines who a person really is and reveals his moral purpose, exposing the kind of actions and policies he chooses and avoids. Put simply, a good character flows from good moral principles, and good leadership proceeds from good character. No wonder Abraham Lincoln said, "Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing."

Since a person's character becomes the foundation of his intentions and actions, it is safe to assume that a person's observable behavior is an indication of his true character. Thus, clarity and commitment to honesty are essential to a good character. It is for this reason that Obama's obfuscation of his background and other personal history induces many Americans to think that Obama has a deeply questionable character and is unfit to be the leader of the nation.

That's why some conservative politicians and pundits who are separating Obama's character from his principles and policy making are missing the point. Great personal character is the hallmark of great leaders such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan. Strangely, the biggest supporter of character as an indispensable part of American president comes from the least expected source: Hollywood. In a movie The American President, Andrew Shepherd (portrayed by Michael Douglas), an immensely popular Democratic president from the state of Wisconsin, said, "I can tell you without hesitation: Being President of this country is entirely about character." Bingo!

If character is central to leadership, trust is the highest part of leadership. When the American people vote for their President, they are trusting that his leadership will serve the nation's best interest. But as Zig Ziglar wrote, "...only men of character are trusted." But to be trustworthy and be capable of building genuine trust, one needs first to build a good character.

So far, Obama wants us to trust his own version of his life stories, with no regard to inconvenient facts (or common sense). To pick one example: when he said that he never heard his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, spew anti-American sermons from the pulpit, despite his sitting in the pew almost weekly for more than 15 years, it was an indication that Obama has a dubious character and cannot be trusted. Viewed this way, Obama's lack of forthrightness is not limited to the question of his birthplace, but extends to various small and large matters that he is zealously trying to hide and obfuscate.

In fact, the real question should not be about his birthplace, but why was he protecting the release of his long-form birth certificate. Dr. Chiyome Fukino, the former director of Hawaii's Department of Health, said twice that she has personally seen and reviewed Obama's original birth certificate. The question is, why was Obama not requesting the release of its copy and put the issue to rest? Thanks to Donald Trump who has shown the way to do it, the release of the information can be done in a matter of hours.

Put aside Obama's stubborn refusal to also release his academic records and information on how he financed his education at Columbia and Harvard. The liberals and conservatives who ridicule the birthers may take advice from a man most of them admire, Theodore Roosevelt, who said, "Americanism is a question of principle, of purpose, of idealism, of character. It is not a matter of birthplace or creed or line of descent."

But, how do you tell a man's character when he is not even willing to reveal his birthplace and academic records?

Can We Win in Afghanistan?

“There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited.” — Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

The Art of War is one of the oldest and most successful books on military strategy in the world. It has been the most famous and influential of China's Seven Military Classics. For the last two thousand years it remained the most important military treatise in Asia, where even the common people know it by name. It has had an influence on Eastern military thinking, business tactics, and beyond. It is also taught at military academies like West Point and the Citadel.

Sun Tzu emphasized the importance of positioning in military strategy, and that the decision to position an army must be based on both objective conditions in the physical environment and the subjective beliefs of other, competitive actors in that environment. He thought that strategy was not planning in the sense of working through an established list, but rather that it requires quick and appropriate responses to changing conditions. Planning works in a controlled environment, but in a changing environment, competing plans collide, creating unexpected situations.

We are quickly approaching the tenth anniversary of our military involvement in Afghanistan, a county that could not be tamed from Alexander the Great to the Soviet invasion in 1979. It is a land-locked country comprised of 34 provinces that range in elevation from 2,500 along its western border with Iran to over 15,000 along its eastern border with Pakistan.

Afghanistan has no known oil reserves and is an impoverished and leastaf-map developed country, one of the world's poorest. In 2010, the nation's GDP exchange rate stood at $16.63 billion and the GDP per capita was $1,000. Its unemployment rate is 35% and roughly 36% of its citizens live below the poverty line. About 42 percent of the population lives on less than $1 a day, according to USAID. Agricultural is the backbone of the nation's economy with over 75% of its citizens involved in this field. Their main cash crop is the opium poppy.

In November of 2001 U.S. forces began military operation in Afghanistan for the purpose of capturing or killing Osama Bin Laden and driving the Taliban out. In ten years neither had been accomplished.

To date 2,425 NATO and coalition troops have perished in Afghanistan including 1,553 Americans and 364 British. Just yesterday 9 coalition security forces were killed in Kabul by a member of the Afghan Air Force. Last week over 500 Taliban and terrorist prisoners escaped from a prison in in the southern Afghan town of Kandahar. It took years of effort and causalities to capture and incarcerate these terrorists and in one day they were gone due to government ineptness or collusion.

Since our initial military actions, in 2001 our mission had changed dramatically. We moved from looking for Bin Laden and chasing the Taliban that supported him to one of nation building and economic assistance. To put it another way we went into Afghanistan to chase the roaches out of the hotel. We chased them into Pakistan and now we are rebuilding the hotel and the infrastructure that never was.

Jim Lacy writes in National Review; “….This raises a question: What are we still doing there? If the answer is nation-building, then it is time to declare victory and leave. The nation is built. It may fail again later, but that will be a problem for the Afghans. As of this moment, Afghanistan has a functional society and a working economy. How it works is ugly beyond measure, but it works, and everyone gets fed.”

“As we are not going to pour hundreds of billions of dollars a year into bringing Afghanistan up to Western economic standards, we must accept that all we can do from this point forward is tinker around the edges. One needs to ask — as I did before I left for Afghanistan three weeks ago — if it is worth the cost in blood and treasure just to stick around and tinker.”

“If, however, the answer is to stop al-Qaeda from using Afghanistan as a base, then it is time to bring a taste of strategic reality to the picture. Al-Qaeda and its associated movements have moved on. Their main bases are now in countries like Yemen and Pakistan. I would also expect to see cadres moving into some of the Arab countries that are experiencing political upheaval. Al-Qaeda loves nothing more than taking advantage of chaos and instability.”

“Where you will not find al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan, at least not in any substantial numbers. While I was in Kandahar, General Petraeus announced that the Coalition faced about a hundred al-Qaeda fighters. Did anyone do the math? There are over 140,000 Coalition soldiers in Afghanistan, or 1,400 for every al-Qaeda fighter. As it costs about a million dollars a year to deploy and support every soldier, that adds up to $140 billion, or close to $1.5 billion a year for each al-Qaeda fighter. In other words, we spend more each year hunting down a single al-Qaeda fighter, hiding in some barren cave, then the entire annual GDP of the poorest 20 nations on earth.”

“In what universe do we find strategists to whom this makes sense?”

“At a time when our debt has grown to the point where soldiers joke about the need for “WILL FIGHT FOR FOOD” signs, surely our country can make better use of its strategic resources than this?”

All the indications are that this is an unwinnable war. And if it is, our blood and treasure belong elsewhere.

Lacy writes; “I recently attended the umpteenth conference at which I heard how we can win in Afghanistan by creating a vibrant economy there. If one is to believe the speakers, all that are required for success in one of the most blighted regions on earth is the tweaking of this aid package and the refocusing of that one. After which, we will be well on our way to building a new Switzerland in the Himalayas. This is a pipe dream.”

After a decade’s effort, nearly 12,000 Americans killed or wounded, and almost $350 billion, we have managed to double the size of the Afghan economy. In doing so, we have picked all the low-hanging fruit. From now on, things just get harder. A second doubling of the Afghan economy will take far longer and cost much more than the first. But let’s assume we can double the Afghan economy again if we just hang in there for ten more years, 12,000 more casualties, and another $350 billion. What would we get?

One more doubling would give Afghanistan a per capita GDP equal to Chad’s. In short, Afghanistan would still rank among the poorest nations on earth. Instead of a new Switzerland in the Himalayas, we would have created a mountainous Chad.

Chad might be good enough.” Yes, it just might be, but we should know going in that what we are aiming for is Chad. Too many so-called “experts” are still looking at this problem with rose-colored glasses.

Two years ago there was a conference where much was made of Afghanistan’s probable trillion dollars of mineral wealth. Most of the participants were ecstatic over the geological surveys. Mineral exploitation was going to propel Afghanistan into a prosperous future. At the time, no one wanted to be troubled by “minor” problems, such as Afghanistan’s possessing no modern infrastructure worthy of mention, no settled rule of law to defend contract or property rights, and no functioning market economy. Moreover, Afghanistan is a landlocked country, which would make it expensive to transport anything the mining companies did manage to extract. On top of all that, there is still a war raging over large swaths of the country, and rich mining communities are a magnet for men with guns.

Of course, the world’s hunger for various ores is ravenous. So, in time, the mining companies might venture into Afghanistan, but only after they have been just about everywhere else. In the years since Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered, there has been scant progress toward exploiting it. I believe that a decade hence I will still be able to write the same thing.

It is time to face facts. Afghanistan has always been poor. It will still be poor when we leave. And it will probably be poor long after I have departed this world. To become wealthy takes a certain mindset and dedication to creating the institutions that underpin a stable market economy. Foremost among them is the willingness to forswear killing visiting businessmen, engineers, and workers. Outsiders can sometimes, but not often, graft a workable market system onto an alien culture. For the most part, though, if the locals are unwilling to make the fundamental cultural shifts (à la turn-of-the-last-century Japan), the grafts will not take.

Nothing I have seen, heard, or read makes me optimistic that Afghanis are ready or willing to build the lasting institutions required for success in a globalized world. The country was an economic basket case when we arrived in 2001. It will be little better when we leave. At some point, we have to accept the fact that we gave the Afghanis their best shot at peace and prosperity. That they failed to grasp it cannot be laid at our doorstep. I, for one, am finding it harder and harder to reconcile myself to the idea of expending the blood of another 12,000 men and women, along with another several hundred billion dollars, just to create Chad.

So, what are the reasons for staying and making one more supreme effort? The first and most emotional is that we have already sacrificed so much that we must see this endeavor through to the end. I understand this desire and often fall prey to it myself. It took someone wiser than me to point out that the past is rarely justification for the future. Our 12,000 dead and wounded in Afghanistan are not honored by adding thousands more to their number.

Others want to stay the course in Afghanistan to ensure that al-Qaeda is never again able to establish bases there. Well, al-Qaeda has adapted to the loss of Afghanistan. In fact, its post-9/11 decentralized organization has made its members much more difficult to track and target. Many in our military would welcome al-Qaeda’s finding a new safe haven where it can set up camps and begin to mass again. Unlike in the years before 2001, there is today no reluctance among the American military to strike terror groups wherever they are found. Departing Afghanistan would not mean we will not go back if it is in our interest to do so. In the future, though, we won’t stay for any longer than it takes to eliminate those who threaten us.

The military has done everything that has been asked of it in Afghanistan. It has, in fact, performed magnificently under the most trying of conditions. Our armed forces have fought and died in a hundred places we have never heard of. But it is now time to honor their service and start bringing them home. What becomes of Afghanistan now is up to the Afghanis. The world is becoming a much more dangerous place. We must begin conserving our blood and treasure for possible use in places much more vital to our national interest and safety (as Afghanistan was in 2001) — places where we can make a real difference.

As Lacy writes; “Afghanistan can swim on its own. If it sinks, the blame lies with the Afghans. We have created an army of over 400,000 Afghans, who are paid twice the rate of the average Afghan worker. That army is well trained and well equipped, and it outnumbers the Taliban by more than 40 to one. Let’s wish them well and let them get on with building their own nation. It already works well enough.”

“If the Afghans want it to work better, let them do it.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Conservatives Need to Learn How to Use the Internet – Now!

"By gnawing through a dike, even a rat may drown a nation."— Edmund Burke

Last week Obama held a town hall meeting at the headquarters of Facebook. On April 20, Facebook held an online town hall meeting for President Barack Obama, personally hosted by billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. It was filled with magically shifting budget numbers and time frames, packaged in endless talking-point speeches that left the Facebook crowd silent (or asleep) in a way that home videos of dancing housecats can never do.

Zuckerberg kicked off the affair by saying he can’t wait to pay more in taxes, something he mysteriously fails to do voluntarily (Psst, Zuckerberg, here's how you can make a donation to the United States Government). From there, attendees got to watch a President who gives nasty partisan campaign speeches instead of budget proposals call Rep. Paul Ryan's budget "radical, but not particularly courageous." Epic fantasies of a slowly "recovering" economy were spun, causing many to forget all that unpleasant, unexpected news that keeps skittering across their newspapers. Billions in new spending were proposed with every passing moment.

The President graciously acknowledged that America is "still the most dynamic and entrepreneurial culture in the world, but I can't do it all myself. People need to be engaged." It was incredibly humble of Mr. Obama to concede that he can't personally run the most dynamic culture in the world without a bit of help from his eager children in the American electorate.

Why shouldn't Republican candidates be allowed to have this kind of fun with the Facebook crowd? After all, Facebook is the largest media company in the world, with half a billion members. Plenty of them are conservatives and Tea Party members. Sarah Palin has been using this electronic medium to get here case out sans editing by the left-wing press.

Team Barack astutely exploited Facebook in the 2008 campaign to create legions of Obama Zombies who marched to elect the most radical and untested president in American history. In fact, did you know that Obama even hired the co-creator of Facebook, Chris Hughes, to help man his online operation in 08? No wonder why Obama was pulling in millions of Facebook friends and micro targeting hoards of clueless college students in their dorm rooms. As one McCain-Palin adviser self-deprecatingly observed after the election, "Memo to self: Next time get the co-founder of Facebook on your team."

There will eventually be a chosen Republican candidate to challenge Obama. When that happens, the candidate deserves his or her own Facebook Town Hall. It should be personally moderated by Zuckerberg, just as Obama's was.

If you think the Internet revolution encompasses only areas like business, advertising, publishing and entertainment, you are sorely mistaken — in fact you are delusional.

In less than a decade, starting from nearly nothing, left-wing powerhouse MoveOn.org and that other left-wing web site Media Matters created a force that can put a million volunteers on the ground, can raise $30 million in small donor contributions every cycle (several times that number in 2008 and likely 2012), and never needs help from big check writers. The group's small donors kept Barack Obama even or ahead of Hillary Clinton in fundraising throughout 2007, even while he was 20 points down in the polls, and their activists won him the caucus states by an average of 70-30, ultimately delivering the Democratic nomination.

There is nothing like that kind of online political powerhouse on the right. Nothing.

Conservatives have spent a decent amount of money on technology over the past few years, and they don’t lack for efforts to “be the next MoveOn” (at least if you listen to their fundraising pitches). What’s more, they’ve been quite successful in certain areas of technology, particularly blogging and other alternative media. They know how to use the new medium to broadcast. So why don’t they know how to use it to organize?

A similar question could have been asked of the French Army in 1940.

The tank dominated World War II battlefields, but it was invented in World War I. Needless to say, in 1917 and 1918, tanks were very different: they were slow (5 mph), their main armament was weak, and in many cases, rather than carrying a main gun, they carried a lot of smaller machine guns dispersed around the vehicle. They were also, being based on the automotive technology of the time with massive weight added and battlefield conditions factored in, very unreliable.

The armies that invented the tank saw them as infantry support vehicles, weapons platforms that would help break the trench warfare deadlock of WWI’s western front. As such, they spread them out all along the line with the troops, and gave them the job of machine-gunning pockets of stubborn resistance.

By World War II, tanks had become a lot more sophisticated in virtually every way. The French Army was believed to be the best in the world like the Char B1 (however difficult that may be to believe now), and it also had the heaviest, best armored tanks. But the French had not rethought armored strategy in a generation: it had not even occurred to them to do so — and neither had anyone else except a young Lt. Colonel named Chuck De Gaulle.

Except Germany.

In the 1930s, German General Heinz Guderian created a revolution when he realized that tanks were not simply infantry support platforms, but rather, the modern equivalent of cavalry. Guderian realized that the proper use of a tank was not singly along the line, but massed in formation; and that these armored formations should form spearheads, punching through the traditional front line and shooting behind it as far as lines of supply could be maintained. In so doing, the army could encircle its hapless foes and force their surrender with minimal fighting, even if the enemy force was technically superior.

And this is exactly what they did. After overrunning Poland in three weeks, the German army turned on the complacent French and forced the surrender of the world’s finest and largest army in a month. The same France that had held off the Germans for four blood-soaked years a generation earlier went tamely under the Nazi yoke in June of 1940. The better army was defeated by a better understanding of how to use the tools available.

Let’s say that again: it’s not the weapon, it’s what you do with it, and who’s using it.

This is why conservatives are failing online: they are employing an outdated paradigm as their model for use of a revolutionary technology that changes everything.

Their consultants view e-mail as if it were direct mail, but don’t see that online we call that “spam.”

Their candidates hire “social media experts” whose primary qualifications are that they’ve been paid to tweet for someone.

When Barack Obama decided to run for the White House, he didn’t hire a Beltway consultant: he hired a co-founder of Facebook. And he wound up beating odds too high to count.

The left succeeds because it’s serious. It understands the new medium because it hires genuine innovators, people who’ve actually helped build companies worth billions of dollars with tens if not hundreds of millions of users. They are not political junkies with a new toy: they are the best and the brightest in a cutting-edge field that has already completely changed the world. They are the Guderians, Rommels and Pattons of the Internet. They don’t use technology to simply inform or beg for money, they use it as an overall strategy to win.

Which group would you hire? Or to put that another way, would you have your airline pilot – no matter how good he might be – perform your brain surgery?

What the right is leaving on the table is staggering. Gallup tells us that just 20% of Americans self-identify as liberal, 42% call themselves conservative. If 2010 demonstrates anything it is this: That independents are overwhelmingly susceptible to a well-articulated conservative agenda. And Tea Party numbers imply the possibility of an online conservative force more than twice the size of the left’s.

Along with his friends from PayPal and Apple, Rod D. Martin is working to create that force through what they call The Vanguard Project. They have put a lot of money behind it but need more: Billionaire George Soros and his friends put $24 million behind MoveOn in its early stages. It’s not cheap, any more than PayPal or Facebook were cheap. Modern tanks were more expensive than horses too, and needed officers with different experience.

But the clock is ticking. The left has leveraged a minority into dominance: conservatism’s 2010 wave is no match for the full organizational power of our opponents. The Tea Party has given conservatives an army. Whether we back, fund and deploy a modern technological infrastructure to undergird and support that army will determine whether we take back America, or whether we experience the ugly lessons learned by the French Army, or worse, the Polish Cavalry.

Obama told his Facebook audience that he hoped they wouldn’t "get cynical and frustrated about our democracy." What would make us more cynical than watching the biggest media outlet on Earth give the incumbent President a massive in-kind campaign contribution denied to his challenger? Human Events is circulating a petition for Facebook to offer equal time to all candidates. Sign the petition, and demand equal time on Facebook!

Rod D. Martin, founder of The Vanguard Project, is a leading futurist, technology entrepreneur and conservative activist from Destin, Florida. He was part of PayPal.com’s pre-IPO startup team, serving as special counsel to founder and CEO Peter Thiel, and also served as policy director to former Governor Mike Huckabee. He is President of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA), a member of the Council for National Policy, and serves on numerous nonprofit and for-profit boards.