OBAMA, THE FAILED, MEETS THE IMPERFECT GOP CANDIDATE

OBAMA, THE FAILED MEETS, THE IMPERFECT GOP CANDIDATE

Analysis by Jay B Gaskill

Yesterday, the “failed president-vs.-imperfect challenger” problem was addressed in column by Debra Saunders, the moderate-conservative columnist. Ms. Saunders’ commentaries run in the liberal San Francisco Chronicle, but are frequently picked up by more conservative media.  Like David Brooks, her tone is as reasonable and non-ideological as possible for any center-right thinker who hopes to reach a liberal audience.

I enjoy reading both columnists, but… The common thread among this subset of the commentariate is a lingering sense of centrist regret over how our “promising” president lost his way.  Truth be told – and it should be told – as he entered the White House, young Obama was no more “centrist” than some of his flaming post-Marxist-Marxist Lite inner circle.

Has he changed?  Does it matter? Robust policy disagreements within the Democratic Party about Mr. Obama’s presidency have been suppressed, and the larger policy discourse has been inhibited. This is an especially tragic lapse, given the stakes for the country, since clarity about who this president really is and what his continued presidency portends of America demand much more clarity and candor.

It is as if this president has been surrounded by a protective force field. This protective envelope was the product of his somewhat exaggerated claim to be America’s first “black” (or “post-racial”, take your pick) president.

Social conservatives constitute the working majority of all African Americans in the USA. In spite of some deep misgivings about this black president among their group, one senses their enduring pride in his primary accomplishment (having become POTUS).  Yet these feeling are now tempered by a nagging sense of embarrassment about the prospect of his pending failure. These good people will probably not turn out in droves to support Obama’s reelection, but they will not vote against him. If Mr. Obama loses the 2012 election, many of them will be secretly relieved to the extent that things were not allowed to get worse under his leadership.  But they will never reward Mr. Obama’s successor with anything short of enduring suspicion.

Enter the imperfect, sometimes overcautious GOP field of candidates.

As Ms. Saunders put it yesterday, “…John McCain would have been a better president than Obama. …But I never thought McCain was the change America had been waiting for. Nor do I believe that if voters simply oust Obama, everything will change for the better.

As a Republican, I am panicking. The best GOP candidates stayed out of the race. Now we’re stuck with a flock of salesmen who keep assuring voters that their platforms will be easy-peasy.

…Obama is no better. He could have chosen to push for tax reform – lower rates, no loopholes – to attract bipartisan support and kick-start the economy. Instead, he apparently decided [that] finger-pointing won the White House in 2008, so he’s sticking with the formula. I’d like to see a GOP nominee who can do better. I would like a Republican who also can govern.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/10/27/EDBO1LM8J4.DTL

Do remember that last line.

The myth of the day is that Barak Obama is a brilliant politician.  But “Rumors of Barack Obama’s political skill have been greatly exaggerated”, as a long, thoughtful piece in The Weekly Standard by Noemie Emery has clearly demonstrated.

See the WS October 10, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 04, still posted at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/overrated_594676.html.

This article and its implications need to be studied by everyone who cares about the future of the country.

Here are some pull quotes to give you the flavor-

“Good politicians create coalitions and then tend them carefully, draw people in from the opposite party, and make their own party (like Reagan and Roosevelt) both bigger and different than it was before. Obama inherited a coalition by chance and dismantled it during his first years in office, having never understood what it was made of, how it developed, how fragile it was, and what it would take to maintain. This coalition had formed by itself shortly after the Lehman Brothers collapse tipped the financial world into chaos in September 2008, and the election, without his having even to wiggle his fingers, fell into his open and welcoming lap.

“If Obama had been a good politician, he would have realized that he had been elected not by a broad and deep swath of newly minted liberal voters, but by a temporary alliance of faithful progressives (numerous, but not enough to win elections) and centrist swing voters scared out of their wits by the crash. … Many people who voted for Obama were not in fact liberal, but centrist or center-right voters unnerved by the crash and the chaos in the Republican party, and drawn to Obama’s misleading aura of calm. This meant there was also a split in Obama’s electorate: The progressives liked his liberal ideas, the centrists his so-called “conservative” temperament; the progressives wanted transformation, the centrists stability; the progressives wanted the government grown, the centrists wanted the economy stabilized; the centrists were prepared for the small shift to the left that comes with the usual change from a center-right to a left-center government, the progressives were bent on sweeping and radical change.

“An adept politician would have looked at the polls and realized he had a frail coalition that had to be nudged along carefully, knowing schism would destroy his majority. Obama’s mistake was to assume that the shock of the crash had turned the center hard left and to govern accordingly. “The coalition that carried Obama to victory is every bit as sturdy as America’s last two dominant political coalitions: the ones that elected Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan,” wrote Peter Beinart, reflecting the view of the press and the president. As it happened, “the coalition that carried Obama to victory” would shatter in less than nine months.

… His governing theory was that he would make speeches and win people over; then Nancy Pelosi would twist arms, or break them. That worked for a while, until Pelosi lost power, and so did his speeches. As a result he now seems to have run out of options, and strategies. There was, it appears, no plan B.”

Having squandered his opportunity to govern by breaching that essential trust on which governance critically depends, Mr. Obama needs a time machine. Regrettably those gadgets are made of unobtanium.

Now let’s go back to Ms. Saunders’ last line: a Republican who also can govern. I believe that the fiscal and international problems facing this nation are so dire and are of such immense scale that whoever assumes office in January 2013 will be forced to address them head on without further delay.  That effort will require a governing coalition wider and deeper than the true believers of either party could ever muster.  The hubris of the left that sank Obama’s credibility cannot be succeeded by a similar hubris of the right without a similar failure.

The brute facts of the situation do require a set of remedial measures that are far closer to the recommendations of Republican congressional policy leader Paul Ryan than the current administration’s economic team could ever support.  What the brute facts? you ask?

Get out your calculator.  Compare Greece (with a pretend bailout pending) with Italy (no bailout possible without bringing down the European economy).  Now compare these two with the USA’s unchecked trajectory.  Subtract the fairy dust and the delusional thinking.  The irresistible force meets the immovable object during the next term of POTUS.

Few of the necessary measures can actually be enacted or implemented without a much wider buy-in from the center and even center-left than a “I won, you lost” candidate with a fleeting majority in both chambers could muster.  No, the next POTUS needs to expand the winning coalition, make it more durable and bring the country along in the bargain.  Mr. Obama has irredeemably lost the trust of the voters who will be needed to join the new coalition.  Earning and maintaining that trust will be the next president’s overriding job.

So the question for the GOP is not “Who is the best conservative of the bunch?” -since any of its POTUS candidates will confront the same grim reality and address the same hard solutions.  The question of the hour is this:  Which of these aspiring leaders can build the new coalition?

Congressman Paul Ryan is needed just where he is, at epicenter of the congressional budget process.  The remaining plausible candidates who have taken themselves off the list have very good reasons: They are not prepared for the job ahead or lack the stomach for national leadership in a time of crisis or both. Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan and FDR are dead.  Hillary has waited too long and apparently lacks the will and resources to take on a sitting president in her own party.

At this point, GOP voters might want to consult my thought piece about the minimum real qualifications for POTUS (see http://www.jaygaskill.com/MQ.htm ). By this ideologically neutral measure, the GOP field has just three realistic contenders.  In alphabetical order they are Gingrich, Perry and Romney.  The remaining questions for the GOP delegates are just two: electability and coalition-building ability.

On August 27, 2012, the GOP holds its POTUS nominating convention in Tampa, Florida.  Chances are high that no single candidate will receive a first ballot nomination.  That in turn may produce an open convention.

As a Blue Dog democrat, I’ll be rooting for the country.

The author is the California attorney who served as the Seventh Public Defender for Alameda County (in Oakland) until he left his “life of crime” for other pursuits.  This article (except for the quoted material) is Copyright © 2011 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law.

Forwards and links are welcome. For other permissions, contact the author via e-mail – law@jaygaskill.com .

Visit The Policy Think Site and the linked Blogs at www.jaygaskill.com .

AVERTING NUKISTAN & AVOIDING ISLAMAGEDDON

Monday, October 24, 2011

AVERTING  NUKISTAN

&

AVOIDING ISLAMAGEDDON

Facing Down the Atomic Civilization-Busters

Analysis

By

Jay B Gaskill

Attorney at Law

This essay is not for the faint of heart.  But if you want to get up to speed on the real security threat profile facing the US and its allies, this is a necessary read.

The military hierarchy of Pakistan controls a cache of deliverable atomic bombs.  The number is north of 100.  Pakistan is at risk of slipping entirely into the control of Islamist ideologues.  That scenario, dire as it is, is but the tip of an iceberg.  And we are the Titanic.

The details about the growing Islamo-arsenal from the Washington Post, The New York Times and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists are referenced below.

For the moment, US territory is not within these weapons’ delivery zone, except as some putative “suitcase nukes” could be smuggled past Homeland Security.  Given the daunting difficulties that attend any serious effort to actually do something about the Pakistani arsenal of atomic bombs, a “realist school” has emerged within our national security community with something like the following stance:

This is too big for the USA to fix.  We must rely on mutually assured destruction, the deterrence standoff that served us so well in the Cold War, with the additional advantage that the USA is outside the immediate zone of danger.  Even if our deterrence policy doesn’t work, what is the worst case? A bunch of Arabs get into a mutual nuclear exchange with the Israelis and/or each other?  The survivors, if any, will have disarmed themselves. We have enough oil and gas reserves to get along. Problem solved.

There are two practical problems with the “realist” school…in addition to the grave moral one:

[A.] The MAD doctrine of (deterrence through Mutually Assured Destruction) that held up during the Cold War with the Soviet Union depended on a simple standoff between two rational adversaries, each with a great deal to lose. It will not apply to a complex array of armed adversaries some of whom are fanatics.  Mutually assured martyrdom is not a formula for the survival of Western civilization.

[B.] New climate modeling estimates, reworking the “nuclear winter” scenarios of the 1960’s, now raise the dire prospect that a much smaller nuclear exchange will have equally catastrophic world consequences.  There are new, chilling research findings, using more powerful computers than were available in the 1960s, jointly released by Alan Robock, professor of climatology at Rutgers University and associate director of the school’s center for environmental Prediction, and Owen Brian Toon, chair of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a fellow of the laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics there.  It turns out that the Pakistani arsenal alone can “cripple global agriculture” with “the effects [that] would last for at least 10 years” dramatically reducing food supplies and producing mass starvation directly affecting “around one billion people” and indirectly affecting all the rest.

The details are set out below with a link to a January, 2010 article in Scientific American. The Robock and Toon warning has been widely distributed among peers and policy mavens (just Google it) and their initial findings are not in serious dispute.  The problem of the moment is that no one has seriously unpacked the implications…at least NOT in the public square.

This was never just about Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other single theater of armed conflict and unrest in the region or the world.  It was and is about restraining and eventually disarming a 12th century, fundamentalist jihad that is seeking to use 21st century weapons from the platform of a superpower Islamist state or coalition.  This vision potentially unites the Muslim nations of the Middle East in one glorious purpose: to use the world’s most dangerous weapons to cancel the unjust sense of inferiority visited on them by the decadent modern societies that have out-produced and outperformed them on almost every measurable level.

This is jihad as therapy.  Its real aim – both psychologically and existentially – is to tame, then shame, subordinate and ultimately to destroy the modern, secular-infidel Western model of civilization.  This quixotic Islamist dream is on a collision course with reality that most certainly will prompt the most rabid elements in the jihad struggle to overreach, to miscalculate and to actually use nuclear weapons, whether or not a majority of peace-loving Muslims approve.  Please note: a majority of peace loving Muslims are altogether out of the jihad loop.

This means that only a robust, even ruthless, policy of jihad disarmament can hold out any realistic hope of preserving the world from disaster. This entails denying all of the jihad’s operatives and power brokers an access to atomic bombs, radioactive-contaminant bombs, and toxic biological agents.  I could not put it any plainer or more realistically than that.  Sometimes fate presents “the good guys” with such stark choices that denial and delay become the refuge of otherwise wise, rational minds.

It’s that kind of a problem.

ISLAMOSTAN LOOMS

Remember what we thought in 2005 when President George W. Bush was under intense criticism for his aggressive Middle East policies? This was at a time when both Iraq and Afghanistan seemed be headed towards stable, consensual anti-jihad governments.  …When the nuclear threat from Iran was being ignored by many on the left and even within the US national security intelligentsia. …When the nuclear arsenal of Pakistan was thought to be safe from the jihadists.  …When we thought Egypt was safely out of play, honoring a peace treaty with Israel and restraining its own militant Islamists.

But something of ominous regional significance was unmistakably going on.  It was maturing just under the radar of the media and just outside the filtered attentions of the conventional thinkers of the day.  It had been gathering momentum for 20 years.

Islamist yearnings first ignited a low-grade war against the West by non-state actors, launched with covert state support from elements in a handful of Middle East countries.  The first efforts were confined to embassy attacks and other bombings and murders outside the USA proper. Even the coordinated attacks on American soil on September 11, 2001 were just the opening act in a very long power play.  There is an end game. To understand it requires us to grasp the core motivation that drives all the attacks.

The fervid yearnings of Islamists have been fueled by their widespread anger at the perception of the unjust failure of their own culture in the modern technological environment.

How could Allah allow those decadent societies in the West to outperform the faithful societies of the Muslim world?  Surely, the answer could not be any flaw in Islam itself.  Surely Allah had not allowed this unjust success.  Therefore it must be a temporary failure – due to a trick of some kind, the consequences of the perfidy, Godlessness and repression of those same decadent, but materially successful cultures. Surely the remedy must be to bring those unjustly successful societies down.

A psychologist might call this mindset an example of collective malignant narcissism.

The growing ferment in the region is fueled by a deep pathology. It has caused the birth pangs of something entirely new to the modern world: the dark vision of a rising Islamist superpower, armed with all the modern weapons of a modern super-state. This is to come into being by transcending all the tribal differences that had held the Muslims back in the past.  Surely that achievement, the birth of Islamostan, the super power before which the arrogant West must bow and tremble, surely that bright dawn will redeem Allah’s promise to the faithful.

In 2005, I wrote-

We find ourselves as if projected by a time machine to pre WW II Europe at the very birth of the Third Reich, yet armed with the knowledge of what might unfold if the train of events is not stopped.

The Islamist Imperium must not be allowed to succeed.

As it happens, history has given this nation, whether in coalition with like-minded allies or not, all the resources and intelligence needed to defeat this mindless jihad and to guide events in a more benign direction.  The question at hand is whether we can retain the will for the long term.

Our failure would allow the birth of a new multi-state tyranny with the power to nuke American cities at will. Its rulers would belong to a fringe sub-culture that calls suicide murders “martyrdom operations.” Peaceful co-existence?

The latest Nuclear Winter scenarios escalate the likely death toll from a local nuclear exchange (a “mere” regional nuclear war) to hundreds of millions of deaths from starvation and war, possibly up to one billion casualties.  That is an unthinkable scale of collateral damage. Moreover, the climate modelers who are warning us of these dire risks did not have access to the exponentially greater risks of nuclear war when the destabilizing effects of the rampant jihadist pathologies are factored in.

This mess is a bit like something out of an old Star Trek episode.  We Westerners are the passengers and crew on the Starship Enterprise who have landed on a backward planet. Through gross negligence, caches of ultra-destructive technologies have been allowed to get into the hands of the primitive inhabitants, capable of decimating the population.  Unfortunately for us, we are stuck on the same planet with these newly armed fools, and no one is going to beam us up to safety.

Because we now realize that the side effects of any local nuclear war are world-wide, and that the jihad mindset can be utterly reckless, we really do have to focus on the specific irresponsible regimes, not on the plurality of nuclear powers who present no appreciable threat to us.  After the end of the Cold War, a hypothetical threat from civilized, stable Western-style powers with nukes was never the real concern. Russia, China, India, Israel, France and England, for example, all have their nuclear strike forces under sufficient control …at least for the moment.  But the regimes of Pakistan, North Korea and proto-nuclear Iran manifestly do not, will not or cannot.

I’ve described the popular longing for a pan-Islamist state in the region, a new superpower capable of shaming the decadent West.  Of course, there are serious inherent obstacles to the practical realization of this goal.  The Arab states are internally divided over their tribal, ideological and religious differences, and the Persian state (Iran) has ethnic, nationalist and language issues with its Arabic neighbors as well. Yes, the ultimate prospects of the emergence of a single pan-Islamic national entity are problematic. But the prospects of regional war, attempts to unify Islam by some grand demonstration against the Satanic West are chillingly likely. Moreover, the opportunities for pan-national jihad proxies to be supplied with portable WMD’s and the emergence of two, three of even four Islamist powers to achieve the status of nuclear players present a clear and looming danger to the stability, health and even survival of Western civilization.  Just one irresponsible or unstable regime in the region armed with atomic bombs raises the threat profile for the entire world to an unacceptable level.

CARTER, TRUMAN OR…?

The WMD’s-in-the-hands-of-loosely-wrapped-jihadists problem will not respond to some naïve, Carteresque policy of unilateral, self-effacing gestures.  For the foreseeable future, the USA will need a robust nuclear capacity, including tactical atomic bombs, “clean” neutron bombs, and cave-busting nuclear bomb technologies, even as we struggle to make do with non-nuclear weapons capable of accomplishing the same jobs. And we will need a robust anti-missile technology, sharing it as appropriate to those countries that are willing to opt out of the nuclear weapons business.

The irresponsible nuclear-weapon-infatuated regimes, the rogues like the powerful security apparatchiks of Pakistan, North Korea and Iran, do not respond to mere diplomacy.  Effective nuclear disarmament agreements with such thuggish regimes would only come about after their military defeat, or highly credible threats of direct, effective military action. The other pre-nuclear regimes (thinking here of the increasingly Islamist tilt in Turkey and Egypt as looming concerns) will be not deterred by appeals to their better angels, nor by scattered economic sanctions, selectively betrayed by short-sighted regimes like China and Russia.

Deterrence will follow demonstrated US military credibility and little else.  Bluffs do not work in this kind of situation.

This brings us to the question US policy credibility: Harry Truman and his generals in WWII reasonably concluded from the fanatical, suicidal defense of the island of Okinawa, that no Japanese surrender could easily and cheaply be obtained.  Millions of civilian and army fatalities were in the offing.  Even after the first nuclear bomb was dropped on a Hiroshima, Truman and his generals did not get a single credible surrender overture from the Japanese regime.  Only after Truman threatened an endless bombing campaign and dropped a second atomic bomb did the Emperor overrule his generals and agree to a formal, unconditional surrender.

Manifestly, we do not have an FDR or a Truman living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue at the moment.  Given the fragility of the US economy, we hear only the vaguest foreign policy “tough talk” from either political camp.

This situation is far worse than the “all options are on the table” style of veiled threats issued by the Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II presidencies, because – for the moment – US credibility has been severely compromised.  The security leaders in the aforementioned thug regimes can smell the whiff of Western and US weakness in much the same way that a dog can smell fear.

Sadly, it is now bright-line clear that US will eventually be forced to perform a demonstration of power and resolve in the service of “non-proliferation”, or we will wake up one morning to learn that an undeterrable rogue regime has finally acquired the ability to initiate a nuclear war.

To make matters a bit worse, a fiscal time bomb is ticking.  Like a drug addict who has agreed to quit heroin but has also agreed to a jail sentence, just in case, our political leaders have created a 12-member super-committee with extraordinary powers, tasked with coming up with a deficit reduction plan in late November that, when introduced as legislation, will be filibuster-proof in the Senate, requiring only 51 votes for passage rather than 60.  Amendments in House or Senate will be barred.  The super-committee does not have a working majority that favors US national security imperatives.  The size of the necessary cuts is so great that military appropriations might not be protectable.

To his credit, SECDEF Panetta has sounded the alarm.  But no one, least of all our POTUS in residence, is willing to take up actual leadership on the question.

FUNDING SURVIVAL

The current deficit crisis was engendered over the years by a dynamic in which conservatives gave in to borrowing schemes when the “butter vs. guns” conflict threatened to paralyze military funding.  It was a hostage situation. Social Security has been effectively kept off the table for half a century because it had a dedicated revenue stream.

Given the circumstances, US national security must now be taken off the table during the necessary fiscal restructuring of the federal government. National security funding cannot ever again be allowed to become a political hostage to some other program or set of programs, however worthy.  This does not mean that the military can avoid procurement reforms or legitimate efficiencies.

There is a solution – a dedicated revenue stream.  I am personally persuaded that this is something that an overall legislative majority can support, something that a plurality of conservatives and liberals – under the leadership of national security minded fiscal conservative, will get behind.  This sort of thing succeeds only when and because it is necessary.

To preserve our nation’s core national defense capabilities and keep them sufficiently robust to separate the loosely wrapped ideologues and rabid fundamentalists from atomic weapons in the currently dire fiscal environment, we will need a dedicated war tax or national security levy.

Ideally this should be a single tax rate on all adjusted gross personal income, leavened only by a symbolic lower, 1% levy for incomes under the poverty level (full participation is needed for a host of reasons). There would be a single higher rate for all other income levels. This would be implemented in the context of overall expenditure reductions and a lighter tax load on productive endeavors and enterprises. Obviously a whole set of fiscal reforms are urgently needed to steer the ship of state between the banana republic style hyperinflation and the Greek style bankruptcy scenarios. But that economic discussion is a separate piece.  How much would the national security tax rate need to be, you ask?  Something in the range of 5% would probably be sufficient to maintain a robust, pay-as-it-goes military capability.*

*For example, in FY 2010, adding to the DOD base budget of DOD the additional spending on “overseas contingency operations” brought the aggregate Defense spending to $663.8 Billion. The final DOD budget for that FY was about $680 billion. Total US personal income for 2010 was $12.357 Trillion.  Arguably a flat 5.5% tax on all income would have yielded $979.6 Billion.

No deductions.  Everyone benefits from national security so everyone pays something.  Securing necessary military funding cannot be used as an excuse to relax fiscal reforms on the civilian side, nor to raise taxes elsewhere; nor can the military ever again be comfortably exempt from tight efficiencies and prudent, cost-driven strategic adjustments. But as long as civilization-killing nukes are at risk of falling under the control of rogue states, there can be no “peace” dividend.

Consider the historical perspective:  The necessary hard choices and temporary economic sacrifices required of this 21st century generation will be far easier than the ones made and endured by the World War II generation.  By contrast, the probable consequences of allowing an unchecked “Nukistan” to mature to the edge of “Islamageddon” will truly be grave.  What would the world look like following an American failure to avert such an epic disaster?  Think of a scene from Terminator II.  The desolation and hardship of a cratered post-WWII Europe would be a happy dream from a kinder and gentler past.

Our greatest national deficit at the moment is in leadership.

CONCLUSION

If your jaw is dropping at this point, I confess that I, too, was dismayed when the full consequences of the necessary commitment to avert this horror became clear to me.  But keep foremost in mind:  This is not the Cold War.  Not one of these states and state actors who threaten us enjoys the present capability to directly threaten an American city in the way that the old Soviet Union could.

We are living in a time window of comparative safety.  If we seize it with moral clarity, courage and a series of intelligently-directed practical actions, future historians will record this as our finest hour.  If we dither and delay, ambivalent and self-delusional, there may not be any future historians to record our failures.

I am a great believer in the capacity of a worthy civilization to produce leaders equal its challenges.  Few would have thought that Harry Truman, a former artillery commander in WWI, a self-educated farmer and businessman, plain spoken, feisty and humble, would lead this country through to ultimate victory in WW II, and then demonstrate the prescient leadership and acumen that would set us on the path to win the Cold War.

If we but choose to, we will prevail.

JBG

Jay B Gaskill is a California trial and appellate lawyer who served as the 7th Public Defender of Alameda County (in Oakland, CA and 9 other cities) where he supervised a staff of 200 legal, clerical and investigation professionals until he left “his life of crime” for his creative and public policy pursuits.

This article was first published on his web site, The Policy Think Site < www.jaygaskill.com > and on several of the linked blogs (esp. Dot 2 Dot).

Except for the quoted news stories, all content is Copyright © 2011 by Jay Gaskill, Attorney at Law, All rights Reserved.

Forwards and links are encouraged.

For other permissions, comments or questions, please contact the author via e-mail: law@jaygaskill.com .

SOME REFERENCES

“PAKISTAN’S nuclear arsenal now totals more than 100 deployed weapons, a doubling of its stockpile over the past several years in one of the world’s most unstable regions, according to estimates by nongovernment analysts.

“The Pakistanis have significantly accelerated production of uranium and plutonium for bombs and developed new weapons to deliver them. After years of approximate weapons parity, experts said, Pakistan has now edged ahead of India, its nuclear-armed rival.”

Washington Post January 31, 2011

“WASHINGTON — New American intelligence assessments have concluded that Pakistan  has steadily expanded its nuclear arsenal since President Obama came to office, and that it is building the capability to surge ahead in the production of nuclear-weapons material, putting it on a path to overtake Britain as the world’s fifth largest nuclear weapons power.”

New York Times, January 31, 2011

“Pakistan is … also developing new delivery systems. Enhancements to Pakistan’s nuclear forces include a new nuclear-capable medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM), the development of two new nuclear-capable short-range ballistic missiles, and the development of two new nuclear-capable cruise missiles.

“We estimate that Pakistan has a nuclear weapons stockpile of 90–110 nuclear warheads, an increase from the estimated 70–90 warheads in 2009 (Norris and Kristensen, 2009). The US Defense Intelligence Agency projected in 1999 that by 2020 Pakistan would have 60–80 warheads (Defense Intelligence Agency, 1999); Pakistan appears to have reached that level in 2006 or 2007 (Norris and Kristensen, 2007), more than a decade ahead of predictions.”

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July 4, 2011

LOCAL NUCLEAR WAR

Worry has focused on the U.S. versus Russia, but a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan could blot out the sun, starving much of the human race.

By

Alan Robock and Owen Brian Toon

Scientific American, January, 2010,

“Twenty-five years ago international teams of scientists showed that a nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union could produce a “nuclear winter.” The smoke from vast fires started by bombs dropped on cities and industrial areas would envelop the planet and absorb so much sunlight that the earth’s surface would get cold, dark and dry, killing plants worldwide and eliminating our food supply. Surface temperatures would reach winter values in the summer. International discussion about this prediction, fueled largely by astronomer Carl Sagan, forced the leaders of the two superpowers to confront the possibility that their arms race endangered not just themselves but the entire human race. Countries, large and small, demanded disarmament. Nuclear winter became an important factor in ending the nuclear arms race. Looking back later, in 2000, former Soviet Union leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev observed, ‘Models made by Russian and American scientists showed that a nuclear war would result in a nuclear winter that would be extremely destructive to all life on earth; the knowledge of that was a great stimulus to us, to people of honor and morality, to act.’”

“Why discuss this topic now that the cold war has ended? Because as other nations continue to acquire nuclear weapons, smaller, regional nuclear wars could create a similar global catastrophe. New analyses reveal that a conflict between India and Pakistan, for example, in which100 nuclear bombs were dropped on cities and industrial areas—only 0.4 percent of the world’s more than 25,000 warheads—would produce enough smoke to cripple global agriculture. A regional war could cause widespread loss of life even in countries far away from the conflict.

“By deploying modern computers and modern climate models, the two of us and our colleagues have shown that not only were the ideas of the 1980s correct but the effects would last for at least 10 years, much longer than previously thought. And by doing calculations that assess decades of time, only now possible with fast, current computers, and by including in our calculations the oceans and the entire atmosphere—also only now possible—we have found that the smoke from even a regional war would be heated and lofted by the sun and remain suspended in the upper atmosphere for years, continuing to block sunlight and to cool the earth.

“India and Pakistan, which together have more than 100 nuclear weapons, may be the most worrisome adversaries capable of a regional nuclear conflict today.

“Less sunlight and precipitation, cold spells, shorter growing seasons and more ultraviolet radiation would all reduce or eliminate agricultural production. Notably, cooling and ozone loss would be most profound in middle and high latitudes in both hemispheres, whereas precipitation declines would be greatest in the tropics.

“Our new calculations show that the climate effect s even of a regional conflict would be widespread and severe. The models and computers used in the 1980s were not able to simulate the lofting and persistence of the smoke or the long time it would take oceans to warm back up as the smoke eventually dissipated; current models of a full-scale nuclear exchange predict a nuclear winter, not a nuclear fall.

“The total amount of grain stored on the planet today would feed the earth’s population for only about two months [see “Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?” by Lester R. Brown; Scientific American, May]. Most cities and countries have stockpiled food supplies for just a very short period, and food shortages (as well as rising prices) have increased in recent years. A nuclear war could trigger declines in yield nearly everywhere at once, and a worldwide panic could bring the global agricultural trading system to a halt, with severe shortages in many places.

Around one billion people worldwide who now live on marginal food supplies would be directly threatened with starvation by a nuclear war between India and Pakistan or between other regional nuclear power.”

Alan Robock is professor of climatology at Rutgers university and associate director of the school’s center for environmental Prediction, where he studies many aspects of climate change. He is a fellow of the American meteorological Society and a participant in the Intergovernmental Panel on climate change. Owen Brian Toon is chair of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a fellow of the laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics there. He is a fellow of the American Meteorological  Society and the American Geophysical Union

http://climate.envsci.rutgers.edu/pdf/RobockToonSciAmJan2010.pdf

YEAT’S ‘ROUGH BEAST’ IS ISLAMOSTAN

[LINK — http://www.jaygaskill.com/Islamist.htm ]

The current unholy jihad was eerily presaged in a vision of William Butler Yeats, (1865-1939) who was a poet, a Celtic Mystic, and (as is now painfully apparent) also a prophet. As he wrote in his poem “The Second Coming”:

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

… somewhere in sands of the desert

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

… what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The jihad terror game is intended to shake up conditions in the middle East until a single Pan-Islamist state can emerge; this vision contemplates a nuclear armed, oil funded Islamist world power, one fully capable of intimidating the West.

To achieve this grand vision, all non-cooperative governments within and without the region must be overturned or neutralized.

I will be calling this super-power-to-be Islamostan*, and its driving purpose will be the establishment of The Islamist Imperium.

*Footnote: Should the Islamist extremists ever adopt this name, beware: That event will have signaled the achievement of a pan-tribal, pan-ethnic unity based on Islam. The suffix, “stan” is derived from the Persian term for nation; as the Middle East “street” knows all too well, Persians aren’t Arabs!

World weary Europeans seem all too complacent at the prospect. Even to some Americans the possibility of a large Islamist state might once have seemed less than apocalyptic.  But the following factors changed everything:

1.  September 11th, 2001.

  1. The virulently anti-Western, anti-Israeli, anti-Christian and anti-Jewish Islamist ideology is strongly entrenched in Saudi Arabia where it is held in check only by the corrupt royal family, and deeply embedded in Pakistan where the moderate leanings of the current government rest on a single pro-Western figure against whom there have been failed assassination attempts.

[Note: Today, of course, Mubarak is gone, replaced by a weak civilian government that is unable to resist the rampant Islamic fundamentalism in the country as a whole, and the stubborn radical Islamic tendencies throughout its military and security agencies.]

3.  Iran’s ruling mullahs (the country’s proto-democracy having been hijacked by these extremist clerics) enjoy access to nuclear bomb-making technology and the funds to buy more.

4.  Millions of disaffected, rootless, humiliated Islamic males are available as willing foot soldiers in a jihad against the West and its putative puppets in the region.  For them, this will be “jihad-as-therapy”, a potential vindication for failed lives, a failed economic system and an otherwise discredited ideology masquerading as a major world religion*.

*Footnote: I am not one of those critics of the Islamists who is willing to discredit the entire corpus of Islamic religious thought and practice because some fanatics have taken up arms against the civilized world.  But the embedded differences are serious.  Recently, Monsignor Walter Brandmüller, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, gave a speech honoring the birth of Pope St. Pius V . As Brandmüller put it: [The] “biggest difference between Christianity and Islam” stems from its view of human nature. “[T]he concept of the equality of all human beings does not exist, nor does, in consequence, the concept of the dignity of every human life.” The Islamic view holds to “a threefold inequality: between man and woman, between Muslim and non-Muslim, and between freeman and slave.” In this schema, the man “is considered a full titleholder of rights and duties only through his belonging to the Islamic community” [and] “The most irrevocable of these inequalities is that between man and woman, because the others can be overcome — the slave can be freed, the non-Muslim can convert to Islam — while woman’s inferiority is irremediable.”

5.  With the recent exception of the new governments of Afghanistan and Iraq, the moderate and/or pro-Western rulers in the region are perceived as illegitimate.

[Of course today, the chaos of the Arab Spring is in full flower with the likelihood that even more militant regimes will emerge covered by the thinnest of democratic veneers.]

6.  The Western European countries who are in the direct line of fire are disabled by a combination of circumstances both political and psychological; they include the massive infiltration of large Islamist sub-populations that refuse assimilation, and a set of current governments infected by a multi-culturist mindset, seemingly impotent to decisively address the threat.

A seventh factor might have ensured the eventual triumph of the Islamist Imperium.

But the jihadist’s catastrophic miscalculation on 9-11-01 rocked the American mindset and changed government policy.

But for that shock, this country’s foreign policies might well have been dominated by isolationists in the tradition on WW II’s German sympathizers.  Instead, the architects of the Islamist Imperium now face an awakened American administration, zero tolerance for terrorist-harboring regimes, and a proactive campaign to seed the region with moderate democratic regimes.

I grant to the critics of the current administration a certain measure of wisdom born of prudence and caution. But the very notion that we might retreat into isolationist complacency belies the very nature and gravity of the threat.

We find ourselves as if projected by a time machine to pre WW II Europe at the very birth of the Third Reich, yet armed with the knowledge of what might unfold if the train of events is not stopped.

The Islamist Imperium must not be allowed to succeed.

As it happens, history has given this nation, whether in coalition with like-minded allies or not, all the resources and intelligence needed to defeat this mindless jihad and to guide events in a more benign direction.  The question at hand is whether we can retain the will for the long term.

Our failure would allow the birth of a new multi-state tyranny with the power to nuke American cities at will. Its rulers would belong to a fringe sub-culture that calls suicide murders “martyrdom operations.”

FISCAL RISKS

As Reuters has reported –

BRUSSELS, Oct 5 (Reuters) – The United States warned its NATO allies on Wednesday that sharp cuts in military spending on both sides of the Atlantic risked “hollowing out” the alliance in a way that could be devastating to U.S. and European security.

Ahead of his first meeting with NATO defense ministers, new U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said NATO needed to learn the “lessons of the past” and avoid weakening their militaries by trying to maintain a force they can no longer afford.

So far, U.S. President Barack Obama and Congress have approved $350 billion in cuts to national security spending. If a Congressional “super committee” fails to reach a deficit deal by the year-end, automatic across-the-board cuts could take another $600 billion from that budget.

This has raised questions about the future of expensive cooperative projects, such as a U.S.-led missile defence initiative, and some in the U.S. Congress have argued for further cuts in the 79,000 U.S. military personnel in Europe.

Panetta underscored the fact that U.S. defence cuts are coming, saying the Pentagon faced “cuts in defence that would be devastating to our national security and to yours as well”.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/05/nato-idUSL5E7L53HD20111005

THE NEW YORK TANTRUM

DEMONSTRATIONS OR INFANTILE TANTRUMS?

Commentary

By

Jay B Gaskill

Beware the troubled children of a lax generation because they are the unthinking instruments of the cynical fools who think they know how to take your country from you.

Today, I opened the morning newspaper, and encountered a guest editorial. A mother of the 60’s, having visited the WS protests, writes –

“…one man held a sign that read ‘Every Generation Needs a Revolution.’ This spoke volumes to me. The spirit of the protest, and the people in attendance, reminded me so much of the 1960s.

“… When I was leaving, I stopped to take one last look around at this sea of young people, and wondered if the next Steve Jobs was standing right in front of me.

“…Did I fully understand what I was protesting at my young age in the late-1960s? I doubt it. I did know one thing for sure: Something was very wrong with the world … and I wanted to be part of creating something better. I think that’s their purpose.”

Out of respect for the mother’s sincerity and the publication that printed her observation, I’ll neither name her, not identify the source. But my pull quote is perfectly archetypical of a certain mindset.  On such naiveté, Lenin (and I mean Vladimir, not John) built a monument of blood and despair.

The street protests in New York and elsewhere are beginning to look a lot like the Greek protests where violence and property damage soon followed signs and chants.  In Wall Street and Times Square, children (over and under the age of majority) are leaving a huge mess.  Police cars have been shat on.  I’m inclined to paraphrase here –“By their sh*t, you shall know them.”  Nobody had to clean up after the Tea Party gatherings.

I can imagine the same sort of infantile demonstrations would have taken place following the “capital strike” depicted in Atlas Shrugs.

But no conspiracy by “the malefactors of great wealth” is actually needed, because the malefactors are us, in the form of the elected officials and bureaucrats whose well intentioned manipulations have collectively gutted the productive sector of the American economy.

The difference here is that the complexity fog surrounding “high” finance permits lurid conspiracy theories to form.  I recall a time when the commentariat was fixated on the “price conspiracies” of the “big American oil companies’.  [We should be so lucky to actually have any American companies in a strong market position!]

The core conceptual problem lurks in the mindsets of the socialists on the left and the conspiratorialists on the left and right: Their brains are so configured that the notion of spontaneous, emergent order (as in a free pricing system) just can’t be grasped, let alone recognized.  We don’t need a conspiracy of those who are in charge of the productive and potentially productive resources in the world to explain why they are still collectively unwilling to pour precious, limited capital into a toxic, politically controlled sewer.

Collective sanity might appear to be a conspiracy (from the idiot savant perspective of someone like, say Paul Krugman), but healthy rational self interest tends to converge without any secret agreements.  It is the irrational political manipulations of those who think that they can cleverly tweak the world market that must be kept hidden from view.

Consider a not unrelated point.  When our post-Marxist, Marxist POTUS talks about “shocking” or “stimulating” the American economy into health, his grossly inappropriate medical metaphor tells us all we need to know about his delusional mindset.  He is like the clueless EMT who persists in using defibrillation shock paddles on a cancer patient.

Heavy lifting is ahead: chemo, radiation, tumor shrinking, cleansing the trickle down toxicity that has infected the economic metabolism on which all prosperity depends – which is the production and free exchange of goods and services for profit.

To pick a better metaphor, the metabolism of productive free enterprise is a weakened host, surrounded by vampires who are buzzing about, discussing strategies for its revival.  The vampire in chief has just proposed saline injections.  Wiser voices can be faintly from a distance, shouting “Stop sucking the blood!”

Meantime, the baby vampires cavort in the dying creatures’ feces, children who are pawns in an agenda they only dimly understand.

JBG

For further reading:

Regime Uncertainty’ and the Economic Malaise,

http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=3168

Jay B Gaskill is the California attorney who served as the 7th Alameda County Public Defender (in Oakland, CA) before he left his “life of crime”.  This article is Copyright © 2011 by Jay B. Gaskill, Attorney at Law.  Forwards and links are welcome with appropriate attribution.  Other reproduction requires the author’s permission (Contact – law@jaygaskill.com).  This article and others can be found on The Policy Think Site www.jaygaskill.com and the linked Blogs.

The Mormon Cult Kerfuffle – Bigoted Texas Pastor Blows Bile

The Mormon Cult Kerfuffle – Bigoted Texas Pastor Blows Bile

Commentary

By

Jay B Gaskill

An intemperate and bigoted Protestant minister has just generated an embarrassing kerfuffle by attempting to trash Mormonism during the presidential campaign, specifically by calling the LDS religion a “cult”.

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/10/08/romney-ignores-jeffresss-cult-remarks-on-mormon-faith/

I beg to differ. I regard myself a Judeo-Christian in the CS Lewis tradition. I grew up in an interesting small town wherein Mormons and non-Mormon went to school together, played together and worked together.  I enjoyed Jewish friends, Mormon, Protestant and Catholic friends, free-thinking friends and anti-religious friends.  Several of my Mormon high school classmates went to Harvard and Harvard law- one of them is a US Senator who served on President Obama’s first deficit commission – the one whose recommendations our inexperienced president chose to ignore.  Another LDS classmate became Ford Motor Company’s CFO in Mexico.  The list of LDS high achievers I have personally known over the decades is a very long one.

As a very famous Jewish rabbi once said, “by their fruits you shall know them”.  [From the discourse in Mark 7] This was said in the context of how one can judge the faux prophets of any age.  My current rant is not the place to talk about the foundational narratives of any religion. My core point is that, for purposes of hiring decisions, the fruits of one’s religious formation are the important thing, not the doctrines, histories or myths.

For example, if we were to indulge in stereotypes, it would be difficult not to notice that the percentage of Nobel Laureates awarded Jews far, far exceeds their representation in the general population.  Some react to this happy fact with jealousy. I have nothing but unbounded admiration for a culture of achievement.

Now, if you are looking for high ethical standards, a strong emphasis on family obligations, love of country, a gift for business and a tradition of constructive public service, you could do worse than hire from the subset of college-educated Mormons.    Note this recent news story –

God’s MBAs: Why Mormon Missions Produce Leaders

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/11_25/b4233058977933.htm

“The list of Mormon-trained business leaders also includes JetBlue (JBLU) founder David Neeleman (Brazil), Chief Executive Officer of the global Investment Bank of Credit Suisse Eric Varvel, self-help mogul Stephen Covey (England), author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Kim Clark (Germany), former dean of Harvard Business School, and Gary Crittenden (Germany), who’s served as CFO for Citigroup (C), American Express (AXP), and Sears Roebuck.

“The Mormon Church is 181 years old, and its adherents compose less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, according to a 2009 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS). Yet Latter-Day Saints hold, or have held, a seemingly disproportionate number of top jobs at such major corporations as Marriott International (MAR), American Express, American Motors, Dell Computers (DELL), Lufthansa, Fisher-Price (MAT), Life Re, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Madison Square Garden, La Quinta Properties, Pricewaterhouse Cooper, and Stanley Black & Decker (SWK). The head of human resources at Citigroup is Mormon, and in 2010 Goldman Sachs (GS) hired 31 grads from BYU, the same number it hired from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.”

The latest Mormon “cult” charge eerily echoes the all too typical anti-Semitic blather we have heard from others. The latest intolerant fool who chose to trash certain LDS candidates has a lot of fellow travelers among the Jew-hating subgroup.

The Mormon religion is a uniquely American one and, as religions go, it is also unique in that its high calling to public service is steeped with a healthy patriotism. If it is a cult, I can only echo the Vulcan greeting from the Star Trek series, “Live long and prosper”, my friends.

Here is just a sample of the Mormons who have served this nation with distinction in public office. By their fruits, you know them…

David Matthew Kennedy US Secretary of the Treasury, Ambassador to NATO and Ambassador-at-Large for the United States, CEO of the Continental Illinois Bank of Chicago.

Michael O. Leavitt, US Secretary Health and Human Services, Governor of Utah from 1993-2003, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency), Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Ivy Baker Priest US Treasurer, (for Eisenhower). Her signature appeared on U.S. currency from 1953 to 1961. She later served as California Treasurer.

George W. Romney Governor of Michigan, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Chair of American Motors Corp.

Elbert Duncan Thomas, noted United States Senator. Thomas. He was a major sponsor of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, the Wages and Hours Act of 1938, the Nurses Education bill, and the G.I. Bill of Rights. Prior to World War II, Senator Thomas was a leading interventionist and supporter of lend-lease. Later, he actively promoted the U.S. rescue of Jewish refugees from the Holocaust, championed a Senate resolution pressuring President Roosevelt to establish the War Refugee Board. After he left the Senate, Thomas became the first civilian High Commissioner of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

Stewart Udall, US Secretary of the Interior, served as Arizona’s Congressman for District 2 from 1954-1961 and as Secretary of the Interior from 1961-1969.

[][][]

Do you want to turn around the culture of economic failure in the middle of the scariest economic crisis since the 1930’s?  Don’t reject down an otherwise qualified candidate for leadership just because of a Mormon formation.  Trust me: you could do far, far worse….

Jay B Gaskill is a California trial and appellate lawyer who served as the 7th Public Defender of Alameda County (in Oakland, CA and 9 other cities) where he supervised a staff of 200 legal, clerical and investigation professionals until he left “his life of crime” for his creative and public policy pursuits.

This article was first published on his web site, The Policy Think Site < www.jaygaskill.com > and on several of the linked blogs (esp. Dot 2 Dot).

Except for the quoted news piece and references, all content is Copyright © 2011 by Jay Gaskill, Attorney at Law, All rights Reserved.

Forwards and links are encouraged.

For other permissions, comments or questions, please contact the author via e-mail: law@jaygaskill.com .