Archive for the ‘America’ Category

Trust is the coin of the realm

February 14, 2009

Thomas F. Madden’s book “Empires of Trust” begins with the story of Rome’s conquest of Locri, a small Italian city-state.

A Roman lieutenant named Pleminius maintained order there in a heavy-handed manner, sacking and looting religious shrines and enslaving the Locrians. When Locrian ambassadors later assembled in the Roman Senate chamber, it was not, as many senators expected, to beg for forgiveness and charity but to lodge a complaint.

Pleminius, they charged, was a tyrant. “There is nothing human except his face and appearance,” cried one. “There is no trace of the Roman except in his clothing and speech.”

By Mike Mullen
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Washington Post
Sunday, February 15, 2009; Page B07

Top US military commander Admiral Mike Mullen in New York. Top ... 
Top US military commander Admiral Mike Mullen in New York. Top US military officer Admiral Mike Mullen said on Tuesday more American troops were needed in Afghanistan as soon as possible to hold territory where insurgents have been routed.(AFP/File/Jason Kempin)

Though they had rebelled against Rome — siding with archenemy Hannibal — the Locrians expected better. “They trusted the Romans to act responsibly,” writes Madden, “and even when that trust was violated, they trusted the Romans to make it right.”

Such was the reputation for equanimity and fairness that Rome had built. Such were the responsibilities of leadership.

We are not Romans, of course. Our brigade combat teams are not the legions of old. Madden makes that clear. But we in the U.S. military are likewise held to a high standard. Like the early Romans, we are expected to do the right thing, and when we don’t, to make it right again.

We have learned, after seven years of war, that trust is the coin of the realm — that building it takes time, losing it takes mere seconds, and maintaining it may be our most important and most difficult objective.

That’s why images of prisoner maltreatment at Abu Ghraib still serve as recruiting tools for al-Qaeda. And it’s why each civilian casualty for which we are even remotely responsible sets back our efforts to gain the confidence of the Afghan people months, if not years.

It doesn’t matter how hard we try to avoid hurting the innocent, and we do try very hard. It doesn’t matter how proportional the force we deploy, how precisely we strike. It doesn’t even matter if the enemy hides behind civilians. What matters are the death and destruction that result and the expectation that we could have avoided it. In the end, all that matters is that, despite our best efforts, sometimes we take the very lives we are trying to protect.

You cannot defeat an insurgency this way.

We can send more troops. We can kill or capture all the Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders we can find — and we should. We can clear out havens and shut down the narcotics trade. But until we prove capable, with the help of our allies and Afghan partners, of safeguarding the population, we will never know a peaceful, prosperous Afghanistan.

Lose the people’s trust, and we lose the war. The strategy reviews for Afghanistan recognize this and seek military, economic, political, diplomatic and informational approaches to regaining that trust. We know that the people are the real long-term hope for success. No single solution or preventative measure will suffice in protecting them.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-d
yn/content/article/2009/02/13/AR2
009021302580.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Here’s What $800 Billion Stimulus Means to America as We Knew It

February 1, 2009
The $800-billion bill that cleared the House last week brings back big government: to school buildings, worker paychecks, electric lines and more. Here’s a look at where the money would go.
By Janet Hook
Los Angeles Times
February 1, 2009
Reporting from Washington — With Congress moving toward passage of an $800-billion-plus economic stimulus plan, big government is back. Unabashed. With a vengeance.

The stimulus is bigger than the Pentagon’s entire budget. It’s more than the United States has spent on the war in Iraq. And its hundreds of provisions reach into almost every aspect of American life — including workers’ paychecks, local schools, digital television and modernizing medical records.

A bank employee counts US dollar bank notes. The euro fell sharply ...
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Perhaps not since the Great Depression has Congress set out to expand and redefine so dramatically the government’s role in the economy, all in one bewilderingly complex blueprint.

“The three-decade-long period where the default assumption was that government is the problem, not the solution, has clearly ended,” said Bill Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former aide to President Clinton.

If the enormous stimulus plan succeeds, it’s likely to mean a larger, more activist government for years to come. If the plan is judged a failure — whether because the economic crisis persists or the public becomes disenchanted — the idea of government as an active player in national life could be discredited anew.

Even as Senate Democrats and Republicans begin sparring over the bill, it remains a challenge just to understand what’s in the plan. The version passed by the House last week ran 647 pages; the Senate version, which may come to a vote this week, will probably be longer.

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/was
hingtondc/la-na-stimulus1-2009feb01,0,3984
149.story

Related:
Economic Stimulus About “Soul of America”

What’s China’s Long Term Global Strategy?

January 30, 2009

Since the United States is now discussing an economic “stimulus” of almost $1 Trillion, we  have been trying to figure who benefits most from this deal?  The answer is China, if they decide to underwrite the U.S. loan, and buy the U.S. Treasurys that will fund the stimulus.  Just by doing that, China will get more than $300 Billion in payments of interest from the U.S.

So, why does China like this deal, in addition to the money?  China wants power and the ability to call the shots.  “Buying” the American debt is a lot faster and potentially less expensive than fighting the U.S. with some future Chinese military — which is not culturally in China’s psyche or style anyway…..

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“I think the objective of the grand strategy is to squeeze out, very slowly and very gradually, the influence of the United States in East Asia, without war, with economy and culture,” said Chong-pin Lin, Professor at the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University in Taiwan at Princeton.

Chong-pin engaged Princeton University students and professors in a lively discussion Nov. 18 that focused on China’s relationship with Taiwan and China’s growing importance in world affairs.

A professor at the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University in Taiwan, Chong-pin was brought to Princeton by the East Asian Studies department. His lecture was titled, “More carrot than stick: Beijing’s adjusted Taiwan policy.”

Chong-pin mentioned beauty pageants and high-visibility sporting events as examples of China’s emerging emphasis on culture.

“Now I think it’s generally agreed that Beijing is using economic and cultural influence to establish its international status,” he said. “The idea is to make the rest of the world look to Beijing unconsciously or subconsciously as the future mecca of the world.”

By Megan DeMarco
The Times (Trenton, NJ)

Read about China’s “Grand Strategy” to ease the U.S. out of East Asia:
http://www.nj.com/news/times/regional/index.ssf?/base/
news-15/12280215089560.xml&coll=5

Related:
Economic Stimulus About “Soul of America”

Biggest Beneficiary of U.S. Economic Stimulus?

Related:
McCain on Bipartisanship in Stimulus, “This Was Not The Way To Start”

Audacity, Hope and Obama’s Spending Stimulus: Once Discredited Theory Gets A Real Try

China Starts to Set Limits On Its Biggest Borrower: Barack Obama and The U.S.

 Get the Feeling Russia and China Are Slicing Up The World and the U.S. Will Be Left Out?

China Starts to Set Limits On Its Biggest Borrower: Barack Obama and The U.S.

January 30, 2009

China is starting to dictate rules to President Obama and the the United States.  We’ve written here before that China owns America and will probably own more soon.  Just as President Obama decided it was appropriate to criticize Wall Street bonuses (after all, those banks are getting bailout money) China is now saying they need the U.S. to follow some rules in order to keep our debt financing afloat…You take a guy’s money and he owns you or he breaks your legs…

Related:
Economic Stimulus About “Soul of America”

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By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer

China recently surpassed Japan as the U.S. government’s largest creditor. Any decision by Beijing to move its money would deal a dizzying new blow to an already tottering American economy. Yet relations between China and the new Obama administration are off to a rocky start.

For now, Beijing continues to loan Washington money by buying Treasurys and other U.S. government securities, helping to finance the ever-growing U.S. budget deficit. But there are signs its leaders may be considering trimming these holdings as that country experiences its own economic slowdown. Strains between the two economic powerhouses seem to be growing with the change in administrations.

The latest irritants are a “buy American” provision attached to White House-backed stimulus legislation moving through Congress and criticism of China’s currency policies by Vice President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Geithner accused Beijing of “manipulating” its currency during his Senate confirmation process.

An outside view of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall street. ...

Biden, interviewed Thursday by CNBC, said that the Obama administration would “say to China — which occasionally the last administration was reluctant to do — ‘You’re a major player on the world scene economically, and you’ve got to play by the rules that everybody else plays by.'”

Their comments followed a move by Chinese censors to silence part of a live broadcast of Obama’s inaugural address when he spoke of the U.S. struggle against communism.

And at an economic forum in Switzerland on Wednesday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao blamed China’s economic woes on U.S.-led Western financial institutions, suggesting “a lack of self-discipline” and “blind pursuit of profit.”

The pointed words from Geithner and Biden were widely seen as an escalation of old complaints that China artificially depresses the value of its currency to bolster its exports, even though the White House has sought to play down such comments and has denied increasing friction with China.

China has allowed the value of its currency to rise by 21 percent over the past two years. But American manufacturers complain the Chinese yuan is still significantly undervalued, making Chinese goods cheaper for U.S. consumers and American products more expensive in China.

Related:
China May Have Mafia View of Obama Stimulus: “Someday We Break Your Legs”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090130/a
p_on_go_pr_wh/us_china_strains_analysis_2

Related:
 Russia Wants Something From Obama: Carrot and Stick Diplomacy

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Obama Slams Wall Street For Bonuses

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama furiously slammed Wall Street titans who raked in billions in bonuses while taxpayers bailed out their industry as “shameful” and guilty of acute “irresponsibility.”

Obama, anger flashing across his usually calm countenance, said bosses of big finance firms must sacrifice along with other Americans, as the country tries to dig itself out of a deep economic hole.

The president’s ire was sparked when he read a newspaper article detailing the 18.4 billion dollars in bonuses collected by Wall Street firms last year, even as stock markets plunged and the economy slumped towards a recession.

“That is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful, and part of what we are going to need is for the folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint and show some discipline and show some sense of responsibility,” Obama told reporters in the Oval Office.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090130/bs_afp/
uspoliticsobamafinanceeconomytaxbonuses_200
90130065628

U.S. Always Pays Top Damages; Ever Notice That? Does That Do Any Good?

January 27, 2009

The government of China is heartbroken that so many Chinese lost children and relatives in the earthquake last year.  Heach famy got $15.00 to help celebrate the Lunar new Year which started yesterday.

When children were sickened and some killed by poisoned milk, China paid compensation:  about $300.00 per family; a little more for the families of the dead.

In Afghanistan today, U.S commanders paid out $40,000 to relatives of 15 people killed; “including a known militant commander.”

That’s more than $2,600 for every person killed.  In Afghanistan.

I wonder, why do we pay so much while other people pay so little?  And do out parments matter?  Do they do any good?  Or do Americans pay to remove American guilt?  I just wonder….

And it isn’t like China is broke.  They “own” much of the U.S. including over $1 Trillion in bonds….

Related:
China Discovers Compensation for Pain, Agony; But Don’t Expect Much

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By JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press Writer

U.S. commanders on Tuesday traveled to a poor Afghan village and distributed $40,000 to relatives of 15 people killed in a U.S. raid, including a known militant commander. The Americans also apologized for any civilians killed in the operation.

The issue of civilian deaths is increasingly sensitive in Afghanistan, with President Hamid Karzai accusing the U.S. of killing civilians in three separate cases over the last month. Karzai has repeatedly warned the U.S. and NATO, saying such deaths undermine his government and the international mission.

In Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates echoed Karzai’s concerns, telling a Senate committee that “civilian casualties are doing us enormous harm in Afghanistan.”

As U.S. commanders paid villagers near 15 newly dug graves, Karzai met Tuesday in the capital with relatives of some of those killed. He told the villagers he has given the U.S. and NATO one month to respond to a draft agreement calling for increased Afghan participation in military operations.

Karzai said if he does not receive a response within that time, he would ask Afghans what he should do about international military operations. The statement from the presidential palace describing the meeting did not elaborate.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090127/ap_
on_re_as/as_afghan_civilian_deaths

USA ‘Family Planning’ and ‘Choice,’ Japan Encourages More Children, China: Forced Abortions

January 26, 2009

In the U.S. we accept and even encourage abortions; but when it seems to tricky to say so we call abortion “choice or “family planning.”  Nancy Pelosi even says ‘family palling” money will be in the economic stimulus bill.

China has a “One Child” rule per family.  If you don’t get an abortion after the first one, forced abortions can be available.

In Japan, some companies are encouraging couples to have more sex and more children.

So we different cultures deal with sex and life and death….

Related:

Japan Wants More Children:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiap
cf/01/26/canon.babies/index.html

Birth Control is Part of Economic ‘Stimulus,’ Where Is My Viagra?

Prostitution Banned During Obama Events, But in Lincoln’s Time….

January 19, 2009

You invite a couple of million of your closest friends to the biggest bash your town has ever thrown. You extend bar hours nearly till dawn. You import thousands of cops to keep the streets safe. You commandeer every bit of paved surface you can think of to accommodate innumerable buses packed with visitors.

And then you plaster the street lamp poles in a central part of the city with big red signs “WARNING” all that “This area has been declared a PROSTITUTION FREE ZONE.”

What’s wrong with this picture?

By Marc Fisher
The Washington Post

Now, maybe I’m not reading this the way your average tourist or Obama supporter would, but to me, this sign–one of a whole bunch D.C. police have posted between 4th and 5th streets NW from Eye to L streets–means that everywhere the signs aren’t, prostitution is just fine and dandy.

Read the rest:
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/rawfisher/
2009/01/welcome_to_inauguration_island.html

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In The Lincoln Presidency, House Of Ill Repute Stood on the Mall

By John E. Carey

Millions of Americans are in Washington DC to participate in the events of the New Obama Presidency.

May have enjoyed comparisons to Lincoln, and walked over the site of the finest Washington DC whore house ever.
Mary Ann Hall catered to the nation’s elite in Washington as the proprietor of the capital’s best brothel during the Civil War.

Located just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol on Maryland Avenue on what now is part of the Mall, her house, a three-story structure nearly the size of a city block, included parlors, an elegant dining room and, almost assuredly, the most attractive of the city’s estimated 5,000 “soiled doves.”

Prostitution was not a crime in the 19th century, and any concentration of troops during the Civil War attracted flocks of “camp followers” who were available for a price. Women often would show up after battles and offer their services to the generals as nurses. The “nursing,” however, frequently became an open door to those less honest and caring, and when armies experienced theft, prostitution and other less traditional forms of nursing, generals sometimes rejected offers of female help.

Houses of prostitution were fairly common in America’s larger cities, and Washington had as many as 450 entertainment venues on the “wilder side.” The presence of affluent politicians, lobbyists and the hierarchy of the government departments helped make Washington a man’s home away from home.

Elected representatives in those years did not routinely bring wives and families to Washington. Service in Congress was not necessarily even a full-time job. The city was hot and steamy. Nights could be filled with drinking, smoking, gambling and frolicking with willing companions of the gentler sex, far from the eyes of the electorate at home.

Mary Ann Hall took every opportunity to provide such indulgences. The throngs of men willing and able to pay her comparatively exorbitant rates deserved the best. Imported hats, dresses and perfume enhanced her staff. Magnums of champaign added an air of dignity, gentility and grace. Fine food filled the supper tables. Her real goal as hostess, however, was to supply attractive women.

The fashion of the time was an hourglass shape – an ample bosom and tiny waist – which not all women could achieve without corsets reinforced with steel belts called busks. Busks, champagne corks, fine china and combs to hold spectacular hair creations all have been excavated from the site where Hall’s house once stood. Historians and archaeologists believe the quality of these items shows the elegance Hall brought to her entertainment trade. Several of them, including rusted busks, have been preserved by the Smithsonian Institution.

Hall insisted on certain standards of decorum, and her house, which opened around 1837, flourished until it closed in 1878. She was never raided by police, was not the subject of public disgrace or even controversy and was never discussed in newspapers. Editors in those days believed that what was private should stay private. Unless a public figure disgraced himself so thoroughly that prosecution was in order, private excesses remained unreported.

Rep. Daniel E. Sickles of New York learned the limits the hard way. Rumors abounded in the late 1850s that he maintained close personal relationships with a variety of women. Though tongues wagged, his private pleasures never merited newspaper interest. Then, when he murdered his much-younger wife’s lover, Barton Key, the son of Francis Scott Key, who wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner”- detailed accounts of the court proceedings made newspaper sales soar.

Sickles shoots Key in 1859 
Sickles shoots Key in 1859; from a newspaper

The 1859 trial and associated juicy details sold newspapers and became for a time the talk of Washington and New York. Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper printed 200,000 copies as the trial opened. Demand forced a second printing of 300,000. (During the Civil War, then-Gen. Sickles’ private indiscretions returned to the realm of private matters. After the war, despite routine and well-documented misbehavior, his private life remained taboo to journalists.)

Mary Ann Hall became a wealthy woman. She died in 1886 and was buried in Congressional Cemetery beneath a carved stone statue of herself.

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Ladies’ general

The slang word for prostitute, hooker, is generally thought to have originated during the Civil War. For generations, rumors claimed that Union Gen. “Fighting Joe” Hooker had inspired the nickname by his amorous relationships.


General Joe Hooker

There is, however, a recorded use of the word before the war, according to the Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins. The dictionary’s authors queried historian Bruce Catton, who agreed that the term came into use before the Civil War but that it became popular during the conflict. An area south of Constitution Avenue was known for its extracurricular activities and was referred to as “Hooker’s Division.” A Civil War officer, Charles Francis Adams Jr., referred to Hooker’s headquarters as “as place to which no self-respecting man likes to go, and no decent woman could go – a combination of barroom and brothel.”

Hooker should be remembered, however, for more than his moral laxities. He was wounded at Antietam and fought at Second Bull Run, and Lincoln made him commander of the Army of the Potomac after Ambrose Burnside’s disastrous defeat at Fredericksburg.

The Battle of Chancellorsville began well and ended badly for the 48-year-old West Point graduate, and just days before Gettysburg, Hooker asked to be relieved. The president appointed George Gordon Meade his successor as commander of the Army of the Potomac.

John E. Carey is a frequent contributor to the Civil War page and The Washington Times.

http://civilwarstoriesofinspiration.wordpress.com/

Lincoln’s Top African American Advisor Recalled on Martin Luther King, Obama Days

January 19, 2009

On Martin Luther King Day and the day prior to the inauguration of the first black President of the United States, Barack Obama, it may be fitting to recall Frederick Douglass.

Douglass was Abraham Lincoln’s top African American advisor and he had permission to visit the president whenever he needed to.

Slave born and self educated, Douglass was the finest African American orator of his day — probably only equalled by Martin Luther King and Barack Obama years later.

By John E. Carey

To serious students of the Civil War, Frederick Douglass usually requires little introduction. Douglass excelled as a leader and role model. Slave, writer, accomplished orator, abolitionist, friend and advisor to Lincoln, Douglass spearheaded the movement to allow black men to enlist in the Union forces.

Douglass was the first African American ever invited to the White House (by Abraham Lincoln) and he coined the term “Ebony and Ivory” when he invited Stephen Douglas to debate slavery (Douglas demurred).

Douglass threw himself into the national debate with zeal and enthusiasm. He fought to end slavery within the United States in the decades prior to the Civil War. Additionally, he complimented “talk” with action, managing an underground railroad that rescued hundreds and maybe even thousands of slaves by spiriting them into Canada.
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Frederick Douglass portrait.jpg
Frederick Douglass

Three turning points in Douglass’ fascinating life tell us much about the man who owns a unique place in American history. The first turning point came when John Brown tried to enlist Douglass, his powers of persuasion and his reputation into the Harper’s Ferry raid. Determining that the pacifists’ approach to abolition fostered by Douglass was not working, John Brown and William Lloyd Garrison set upon a more violent course of action. They wanted to enlist Douglass to help in their plan.In the very first issue of his anti-slavery newspaper, the Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison wrote, “I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. . . . I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.”

Douglass became enthralled with Garrison and the Liberator. “My soul was set on fire,” Douglass wrote of the paper. In 1839, Douglass began to write essays for the Liberator, which ultimately resulted in a long career of writing and speaking out against slavery. His newspaper notoriety made him a lightening rod for the abolitionist cause, and he became on the first truly nationally known black abolitionists.
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A former slave himself, Douglass had endured feeding from a trough, whippings and other humiliating privations. Douglass understood the plight of his fellow black men better than many others. His essays counted and white leaders in American took note.Even though Douglass and Garrison waged a public argument over the methods and tactics of achieving abolition, Douglass drew the attention of John Brown of Kansas.

Related:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITI
CS/01/18/obama.sunday/index.html

Brown believed that Douglass would like his idea to free slaves by attacking federal property in the deeply divided areas of Maryland and Virginia. Brown thought he could incite a revolt of slaves everywhere; and that Douglass might eagerly help him do just that.

In 1859, John Brown rented a farm near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and began planning his attack on Harper’s Ferry. He invited Douglass to a meeting in the hopes that he might recruit Douglass into the scheme.Douglass met with Brown in August, 1859.

John Brown, c.1856.

When Douglass heard the violent and illegal nature of Brown’s planned attack on the federal arsenal, Douglass knew that lawlessness would only alienate the support of the white community. This turning point marked Douglass as a moderate who refused to support violent or lawless opportunists in the cause of abolition.

Had Douglass become a part of Brown’s cabal, he certainly would have lost his standing with white abolition leaders and may have wound up alongside Brown on the gallows.At the outset of the Civil War, Douglass established two goals for his life: the emancipation of all the slaves in southern and border states and the establishment of the right of black men to enlist and serve in the Union Army. These goals would lead Douglass to two more turning points, both involving President Abraham Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln

Douglass launched what modern observers might call a “media blitz,” calling for the emancipation of the slaves. He created a pressure cooker, of sorts, for President Lincoln. Lincoln knew in his heart that Douglass was right to want the freedom of all the slaves, but agonizing defeats on the battlefield, rising casualty figures, and resistance to the draft caused Lincoln to balk. Lincoln didn’t want the emancipation controversy to become another reason for white northerners to take sides against the war.

But Douglass would not relent. Understanding well Lincoln’s political considerations, Douglass still believed emancipation must be achieved as soon as possible. This second turning point caused Douglass to kept up his pressure on the president. Douglass authored strongly worded published essays and gave innumerable speeches not directly attacking Lincoln but clearly supporting emancipation. And Lincoln relented: deciding he must free the slaves as soon as the Union Army turned back Lee’s forces at Antietam.

Frederick Douglass’ final turning point came when he became distressed at Lincoln’s failure to legalize the enlistment of black men into the Union Army after emancipation. If black men were free and full citizens, Douglass argued, they had the right and privilege of service in their nation’s military forces. They had the right to participate as combatants in their nation’s war.Douglass knew than emancipation was not his final goal. He wanted all black men to become citizens and he knew that the road to citizenship could come through service to the nation.

Said Douglass, “Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth which can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship in the United States.:Unable to contain his distress over Lincoln’s slow response on this issue, Douglass departed for Washington D.C. – and his third turning point. Douglass went to the White House to confront Lincoln over the issue of black enlistment.

Lincoln received the hostile Douglass in his usual dignified and gentlemanly manner. Lincoln explained that many of his generals expressed doubt about enlisting the black men.Although Douglass was not pleased with Lincoln’s response, Douglass experienced another turning point. He knew this was a time for cooperation and reconciliation. He left the White House with Lincoln’s promise to ultimately allow black men full rights and responsibilities in the Army. Lincoln asked for understanding and a little more time.

Douglass returned to Boston and a short time later became one of the best recruiters of black men into the Union Army.

Frederick Douglass inspired all men to greater things. His greatness can be seen in his turning points: the rejection of John Brown’s violence, his indefatigable refusal to give in on important issues such as emancipation, and his ability to reconcile and compromise with other leaders like Lincoln.

Douglass’ turning points allowed him to ultimately achieve all his objectives.On April 14, 1876, Frederick Douglass gave an oration in memory of Abraham Lincoln. Douglass’ words that day tell us much about both men:“Friends and fellow-citizens, the story of our presence here is soon and easily told. We are here in the District of Columbia, here in the city of Washington, the most luminous point of American territory; a city recently transformed and made beautiful in its body and in its spirit; we are here in the place where the ablest and best men of the country are sent to devise the policy, enact the laws, and shape the destiny of the Republic; we are here, with the stately pillars and majestic dome of the Capitol of the nation looking down upon us; we are here, with the broad earth freshly adorned with the foliage and flowers of spring for our church, and all races, colors, and conditions of men for our congregation–in a word, we are here to express, as best we may, by appropriate forms and ceremonies, our grateful sense of the vast, high, and preeminent services rendered to ourselves, to our race, to our country, and to the whole world by Abraham Lincoln.”

Frederick Douglass: a great American leader and achiever, shaped by his turning points.

China May Have Mafia View of Obama Stimulus: “Someday We Break Your Legs”

January 18, 2009

We can learn simple truths from the way the mob or Mafia view things.

That is probably why Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman proposed a $60 million mob museum be included in the Obama stimulus plan.

School economics is one thing.  Street economics is sometimes the same and sometimes different.

The New President and the Congress are now talking about the biggest “rescue” or “stimulus” or “bailout” of the economy in the history of the world.  The deal is financed by “government spending” which is really borrowed money which is debt.

Or we just print more money which means inflation and the money is worthless.

A bank employee counts US dollar bank notes. The euro fell sharply ...

When America borrows, who pays?  First, I guess, and correct me if I’m wrong, China lends the money to the U.S.

China already “owns” as of October, 652.9 billion dollars in US Treasury bonds.

Now President-elect Barack Obama has proposed a stimulus bill expected to total at least 775 billion dollars that he has acknowledged would drive the US deficit significantly higher — and require financing from overseas.

Actually, as  David Gregory said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, the total “bailout” is going to be $2 Trillion from late 2008 until the end of 2009.

And China has already signaled that is may slow the rate of funding U.S. debt, stimulus, rescue and other shenanigans by any name.

Why?  China wants to solve its own economic problems first and China is starting to doubt that American can repay.

Why?  To repay the debt, the average U.S. worker, at some time in the future, will have to earn a lot more and pay a lot more in taxes.  The tax debt per family will exceed $20,000.

But what will Americans DO to earn more?  Make cars at GM?  Hardly. About 70% of our American economy is consumer spending.  So we tax store clerks more?

So, to put this in the most basic terms: the U.S. is borrowing huge amounts of dough from the mafia.  There is some doubt that it can be paid back.  If it doesn’t get paid back the pay-back price will increase.  Finally, if it doesn’t get paid back, “they own you” or “they break your legs.”

So China will own the U.S.

Or break our legs.  Or balls.

Someday, maybe, America will have to make a concession.  Give up some oil?  A chunk of land?  Taiwan?  Guam? Something we really think is important….

Read the rest:
Obama, Congress, Stimulus Mix Overlooks: China’s Slowing US Bond Appetite
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 U.S. “Bailout” Results Uncertain; But China Says Its Stimulus is Working Already
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Can The U.S. Pay Back This Huge Debt?
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 Europeans Deplore Huge Debts, Spending to Solve Current Economic Crisis
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 Obama Offered Republicans ‘Input’ On Stimulus: But “Oh My God” Is Response To Pelosi Bill
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Obama’s Stimulus: Routine Repairs; Lacks “Power to stir men’s souls”

China’s “Grand Strategy”: U.S. Out Of Asia?

 Will China Play By Global Rules? Maybe Not….

Don’t forget the “toxic bank assets.”

Addressing these assets was the original purpose of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the formal name of the $700 billion bailout plan the Bush administration unveiled as the credit crunch spun out of control. It was later abandoned in favor of taking equity stakes in banks, which was seen as a more direct and rapid way to help.

But as the economy worsens and banks continue to rack up multi-billion dollar losses, the incoming Obama administration will face tough choices in deciding what to do with the $350 billion remaining in the bailout plan. There are many who want a piece of the pie, and there may not be enough money to go around.

From CNN:
http://money.cnn.com/2009/01/16/news/econo
my/Tarp_take2/index.htm?postversion=2009011716

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One critic of the stimulus is Rep. Jerry Lewis from California.
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“We have serious concerns about its size, scope, and astronomical cost,” said Representative Jerry Lewis, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee. “This legislation appears to blanket government programs in spending with little thought toward real economic results, job creation, or respect for the taxpayer.”

The spending plan would add to the $1.2 trillion deficit the government was already projected to run this year.

See:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/bloomberg/2009
0115/pl_bloomberg/atvv00bkoyg

Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone, the Godfather.

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From the Associated Press

Barack Obama and his congressional allies are gambling that the largest public spending program since World War II and a new round of tax cuts will pry the economy from the recession’s iron grip and avert another Depression.

But what if they’re wrong?

Some conservative economists say the additional stimulus might only prolong the grief at best, triggering runaway inflation down the road and resulting in an even more bloated bureaucracy.

“I think the economy will recover regardless of what Washington does. But the long-term effect here will be to reduce the standard of living of the next generation because they will be saddled with all this debt,” said Chris Edwards of the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute.

Even without the new spending proposed by Mr. Obama, the U.S. has a $1.2 trillion budget deficit this year, he noted. “If that isn’t already enough of a Keynesian stimulus, what is?”

Early 20th-century British economist John Maynard Keynes argued that government should intervene to avoid depressions by increasing its spending and controlling interest rates. President Franklin D. Roosevelt based many of his New Deal spending initiatives on Keynesian theory.

The skeptics offer this as Exhibit A: The trillions hurled at the problem last year by Congress, the Bush administration and the Federal Reserve have yet to yield many tangible results.

In short order last week, Congress cleared the way for a new $350 billion installment of bailout cash for the financial industry while House Democrats rolled out details of a $825 billion two-year stimulus package.

Allen Sinai, the president of Decision Economics, a financial consulting firm, said even with Mr. Obama’s aggressive spending program, the economy seems unlikely to show a true recovery this year in terms of sustainable gains by consumers and businesses.

“There are forces going on that are 1930s-like,” he said. “There is incredible asset deflation, a huge loss in wealth by households. In the ’30s, even when funds became available from the financial system to borrow, the pessimism by consumers and businesses was so great that no one wanted to spend.” He wouldn’t rule out a repeat of that mind-set.

Some economists who are not fans of Keynesian economics or stimulus packages argue that FDR’s New Deal, highly touted today as a model for job creation, did little to spur a U.S. recovery.

“It was finally World War II that finally ended the Great Depression,” said Bruce Bartlett, a White House economist in the Reagan administration and a top Treasury official in the first Bush administration. He is the author of a study that says nearly all postwar stimulus packages passed by Congress came too late to be of much help, and just increased the deficit and fueled inflation

Mr. Obama shrugs off the skepticism and casts his stimulus package as the right formula for creating long-lasting, well-paying jobs, despite its big cost.

American Power Is on the Wane

January 14, 2009

As the world stumbles from the truly horrible year of 2008 into the very scary year of 2009, there seems, on the face of it, many reasons for the foes of America to think that the world’s number one power will take heavier hits than most other big nations. Those reasons will be outlined below. But let’s start by noting that curious trait of human beings who, in pain themselves, seem to enjoy the fact that others are hurting even more badly. (One can almost hear some mournful Chekhovian aristocrat declare: “My estates may be damaged, Vasily, but yours are close to ruin!”)

By Paul Kennedy
The Wall Street Journal

So while today’s Russia, China, Latin America, Japan and the Middle East may be suffering setbacks, the biggest loser is understood to be Uncle Sam. For the rest of the world, that is the grand consolation! By what logic, though, should America lose more ground in the years to come than other nations, except on the vague proposition that the taller you stand, the further you fall?

The first reason, surely, is the U.S.’s truly exceptional budgetary and trade deficits. There is nothing else in the world like them in absolute measures and, even when calculated in proportion to national income, the percentages look closer to those you might expect from Iceland or some poorly run Third World economy. To my mind, the projected U.S. fiscal deficits for 2009 and beyond are scary, and I am amazed that so few congressmen recognize the fact as they collectively stampede towards the door entitled “fiscal stimulus.”

A South Korean bank clerk works next to bundles of U.S. dollar ...

Read the rest:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123189
377673479433.html