8 GAFFES, 2 GOTCHAS & 5 CATASTROPHIC POLICY BLUNDERS: WHY NOT GIVE CHARACTER A TRY?

POTUS ELECTION 2012

8 GAFFES, 2 GOTCHAS &

5 CATASTROPHIC POLICY BLUNDERS:

WHY NOT GIVE CHARACTER A TRY?

ANALYSIS BY

 Jay B Gaskill

 

Definition of GAFFE – “a social or diplomatic blunder

 

Both the incumbent president and the challenger have committed gaffes.

 

ROMNEY GAFFE SAMPLER

“I should tell my story. I’m also unemployed.” —Mitt Romney, speaking in 2011 to unemployed people in Florida.

“Join me in welcoming the next president of the United States, Paul Ryan.”

“I tasted a beer and tried a cigarette once, as a wayward teenager, and never did it again.”

“I’m not familiar precisely with what I said, but I’ll stand by what I said, whatever it was.”

 

OBAMA GAFFE SAMPLER

“When I meet with world leaders, what’s striking — whether it’s in Europe or here in Asia…” – said in Hawaii

“The reforms we seek would bring greater competition, choice, savings and inefficiencies to our health care system.”

“On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes — and I see many of them in the audience here today…”

“I’ve now been in 57 states — I think one left to go.”

 

 

Gaffes are usually forgiven; Gotchas are usually not.

In politics, Gotchas are the gaffes trumpeted by one’s political opponents who exploit otherwise private statements by “leaking” them to the public.

The disclosure of President Obama’s off-mike whisper to the Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev, asking him to tell Putin that the US will have “more flexibility” in East European missile policy after Mr. Obama’s reelection was a classic gotcha. So was the revelation of Governor Romney’s unscripted presentation to a gathering of Florida donors in which he said that 47 percent of the electorate is so dependent on government that Obama has a lock on their votes.

POLICY BLUNDERS OUTLIVE THEIR ARCHITECTS

Policy blunders are the much bigger deal.  In the last half century, I submit that five such blunders will stand out among the rest. Here are my candidates for the most valuable negative examples:

JFK’s 1961 Bay of Pigs fiasco — the aborted liberation of Cuba, abandoned when air support was cancelled by President Kennedy, gave rise to Russian miscalculation, the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and a narrowly averted WWIII. In a rare display of presidential humility, John Kennedy wryly accepted full responsibility for his mistake (“Victory has a thousand fathers and defeat is an orphan.”)[1]

LBJ’s Two Wars – both failures — the doubling down on the Vietnam engagement, escalation without victory, coupled with a massive war on poverty (the Great Society), both financed with borrowed money, gave rise to an addictive pattern of borrowing for both domestic and defense spending (why argue about guns vs. butter when you can ignore paying for them in real time) that threatens to bankrupt the USA decades later.[2]

Richard M Nixon’s self-inflicted failure as he inherited an unpopular war, doubled down on paranoia, sponsored clandestine government harassments of his political opponents, engineered a cover up, he set in ply a chain of events that led to his own removal from office, and weakened the prestige and trustworthiness of the presidency itself, for those who would follow him.[3]

Bill Clinton and George W Bush’s real estate loan deregulation and liberalization policies – the federal push to get people into unaffordable housing with unrepayable loans, was a disaster in the making. The firewall protections guarding traditional banks against speculation were removed, starting with the effective repeal of the safeguards of the Glass–Steagall Act under President Clinton. Then, under both Presidents Clinton and Bush II, the expansion of under-secured real estate loans by Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC), known as Freddie Mac and The Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), commonly known as Fannie Mae, stoked the housing/banking/financial crisis of 2008 AND the bubble, the banking collapse, the bailouts, the debt explosion leading to the real risk of depression, even now.[4]

The Affordable Health Care Act of 2010 (Obama Care) – a massively bureaucratic and immensely costly attempt to redo the entire health care delivery system in the USA was rushed into law without adequate discussion or vetting.  This was done in the middle of a deep, intractable recession (trending far too close to depression), in the tragically naïve assumption that a robust recovery would be well underway before the considerable tax load of this measure was inflicted on the economy.  At this writing, the severity of the current economic stagnation is compounded by the prospect of increased tax burdens and fiscal uncertainty under Obama Care. [See the cited New York Times piece[5]  and for the cost load note the Naill Ferguson – Paul Krugman dustup described by Patrick Louis Knudsen of the Heritage Foundation.[6]

In all this, timing matters; details matter.  Policy blunders, like most other human errors, originate in good intentions. But these good intentions are coupled with the concentration of great power in the hands of leaders infected with hubris, an often toxic mix that leads to the neglect of important details, and invites blithe inattention to the law of unintended consequences.

Put simply, pride and hubris encourage neglect.  The sheer scales of these five blunders and their consequences suggest a series of huge train wrecks seen in slow motion. The damage done by such blunders always lasts longer than the careers of their architects who are, in any event, held harmless from liability.

Have you noticed that our leaders’ egos are always involved in policy blunders?  One signature of the listed blunders is the evasion of personal accountability for their failure.  With the possible exception of JFK, we can search in vain to detect any real sense of accountability by Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Clinton, Bush or Obama.  Even JFK, when confronted with the nail biting crisis of nuclear war over Russian Atomic bomb loaded missiles in Cuba, declined to connect the dots with his earlier failure at the Bay of Pigs.

This is why I propose that we call these blunders, Vainwrecks.

Which brings me to the matter of character:  If we were to fall under the spell of the dominant media spin, this presidential race is between Mr. Cool and Mr. Square, between Mr. man-of-the-People and Mr. Man-of-the-rich.  But if we are to read just a bit beneath the surface, we might see a race as one between Mr. excessively vainglorious and Mr. excessively reserved.

We might ask ourselves – Does any of that actually matter?

We can reasonably expect any major aspiring leader to have earned a good measure of justified self-confidence, based on competence and experience.  [That was the case for that charisma-challenged rich guy, Franklin D Roosevelt.]

And we can reasonably hope that all such leaders have a measure of wisdom and character.

I need to use the term hope only because these are two traits the absence of which rarely become evident until after the fact.  How often someone we thought was a true friend turns out to be much less under stress? Character is manifest only when there are pressures to act otherwise that are resistedWisdom is manifest only when an easy, flawed decision is rejected in favor of a better choice, even if the better path is more difficult[7].

Monumentally challenging policy issues will face the man who is sworn in a POTUS on January 20th, 2013.  This country will desperately need leadership, character and wisdom in 2013 and in the years following.  If there are to be practical, bipartisan solutions, they will come from that president.  If there are no practical, bipartisan solutions, we will not fare well.

In the end it’s not about the gaffes or the gotchas or who is a better or more charismatic campaigner. It’s about policy, character and leadership. And for the last two criteria, isn’t it about time we gave them a try?

JBG

 

 

Copyright © 2012 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

 

Links, forwards and quotations with attribution are welcome and encouraged.  For everything else, please contact the author via email at law@jaygaskill.com .

 



[1] Lesson: When dealing with thugs, showing weakness is dangerous.

[2] Lessons: Don’t get into a shooting war without deciding who your real opponent is, and especially without a plan to actually win; don’t attempt to finance a major war and a major domestic spending initiative on credit and fiat money.

[3] Lessons: Don’t get angry at opponents; if you do, don’t show it; and never, never use a powerful federal position to steal opponents’ secrets, especially via a burglary; and whatever you do, don’t make matters worse by trying a cover up.

[4] Lesson: Don’t subsidize or bail out speculation and don’t allow speculation to infect the traditional banking sector.  Speculators are entitled to fail and the rest of us are entitled to remain insulated from their failures.

[5] New York Times, September 25, 2012‘Redistribution’ Debate Has a Gray Area By Eduardo Porter.  Mitt Romney may be right about President Obama’s Robin Hood tendencies. Future historians could well conclude that Mr. Obama led the biggest redistribution of wealth in decades. The Affordable Care Act, which levies new taxes on the wealthy to expand access to health care for the near poor, seems on track to become the biggest increase in government redistribution since the Johnson administration. According to the Tax Foundation, it will raise $52,000 in new taxes on average from families in the richest 1 percent of the population, to pay for some $250 to $2,000 in benefits on average for American families in the bottom half of income by 2016.

[6] Spending is how government programs and agencies do what they do. “In a fundamental sense, the federal government is what it spends,” says longtime budget expert Allen Schick. So it is with Obamacare. Its core is a pair of huge new entitlements: health insurance subsidies and expansion of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. They will add $1.683 trillion in new spending from now through 2022, according to CBO’s latest estimate (which helpfully isolates these components in a stand-alone table). Even after including $515 billion in associated tax hikes, the net cost increase totals nearly $1.2 trillion.

 

[7] There is a reason that political leaders for several decades have persisted in neglecting the growing tide of public indebtedness. After the early delusional period expired – during which politicians actually believed that growth alone could solve the deficit – their encounter with reality was too much.  Character demanded more than they dared deliver.

MOTHER JONES & THE FREEDOM TIPPING POINT

MOTHER JONES & THE

FREEDOM TIPPING POINT

A not so partisan Analysis

By Jay B Gaskill

Attorney at Law

 

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney privately spoke with a group of GOP donors in Florida recently and, mirabile dictu, the publication Mother Jones (roots in the 1960’s) breathlessly released a secretly recorded “damaging” passage.

There are several reasons to engage with the current election, among them this president’s de facto abandonment of Israel, the jihad against the West, anxiety about the social issues of the moment and, of course, the crappy economy. But one issue looms larger than the rest.

Mr. Obama has repeatedly reminded us that his agenda is nothing short of the fundamental transformation of the American political and economic order. I am persuaded that he was not kidding or exaggerating.  He is advocating a truly staggering change in the American way of life. Recall that Mr. Obama has repeatedly reassured his progressive supporters that he believes in wealth redistribution, by which he means the differential taxation of higher incomes followed by the political distribution of the proceeds to others with lower incomes.  For about three decades this game has been conducted mostly with borrowed money.  Mr. Obama really does intend to stack the political deck in a way that will end any significant policy opposition for another generation or more. A built-in majority will be on the dole in the sense that they will be net beneficiaries of the political powers-that-be, receiving more from the government in benefits than they contribute in taxes. A paid-for voting block is the professional politician’s wet dream.  The model was tried out in Chicago…and works.

There are more ancient examples. Serious students of the history of power and politics among us will recall what happened to the Roman Empire. When the ancient, quasi-democratic Roman Republic morphed into a series of Imperial dictatorships, history gave us a lesson that has mostly been ignored.  The ancient historian, Tacitus, chronicled the decay from the law-governed Republic model into the man-governed Imperial dictatorship model typified by the repellant Nero. There was a distinct turning point when the Caesars used their power to buy the loyalty of mobs (think bread and circuses here) and of the privileged classes, simply by using wealth that had been seized from others as an instrument of control.  This was an early instance of the Faustian bargain presented to all those subsequent leaders who have wielded the power of the state “Use your power to buy more power”. There is always the devil to pay. Rome’s path is alive and well in the 21st century.  Think of Chavez and Venezuela.

Have you considered that the really productive men and women in any society (think Edison, Jobs and all the less famous examples) are always a minority? In any healthy social order, most of the single adults and family units are producing enough to support themselves, including their dependent family members and friends. At any given moment, most people in a healthy society are not dependent on government largesse. As a general rule, the productive among us voluntarily support the less productive.  Charities and a manageably small government safety net fill in where families do not.  At least that was our model.

But that does not adequately describe the American political system of 2012, and it is certainly not the radically different system that this president wishes to expand if he is awarded a second term.  The safety net has become a gill net for the politically gullible.

We are facing a tipping point after which most benefits relied on by most people will be supplied by government institutions. When/if this happens, the political feedback system already in play will harden into the dependency state. We will then have been demoted from free agents to petitioners.  Whether the issue of the moment in your life is health care or starting a business, the problems we would normally work creatively with others to solve will become petitions to authority.  In this setting, the authority is the political class.  When political favors and politically powerful interest groups begin dominate all our big decisions (and absent a change in direction, they will), we will have passed a huge tipping point.

All this is context for what Mr. Romney actually said, to wit:

“… there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That, that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, 48 – he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect.”

Are you shocked by Romney’s political realism? I was not.  We Americans like to talk about checks and balances.  The last check and balance may well be the coming presidential election.  Mitt Romney was simply being candid and realistic about the problems facing any less-than-perfectly-liberal political leader who is seeking the presidency.  And I am simply being candid and realistic about the state of our union if he fails.

JBG

 

Copyright © 2012 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

Forwards, links and quotations with attribution are welcome and encouraged.  For everything else, please contact the author via email at < law@jaygaskill.com >.

Bernanke and the Arab Eruption – A perfect storm of Miscalculations and “too little, too late”

A perfect storm of Miscalculations and “too little, too late”

Analysis by

Jay B Gaskill

 

This hapless Administration gravely miscalculated when it jumped ahead of the Arab Spring (read Radical Islamist Springboard) with utopian blather about the liberal forces in control of events (read thug bait and useful idiots).  Now the “retrovolution” in the region (i.e., the return to the Iranian revolution of the Carter period) has shown its teeth; and (mark this for future reference) it took place with the ill-concealed support of Iran.  No internet movie, whatever its provenance, can explain a deliberate, premeditated, well-coordinated series of attacks on US embassies clustered around 9-11-12. [Note my post on 9-11-12 on this very danger < http://jaygaskill.com/dot2dot/2012/09/11/nine-eleven-2012-its-not-just-the-economy-stupid/  > .]

 

Enter the late-breaking action by the fed under the leadership of Mr. Bernanke to inaugurate open-ended and never-ending Quantitative Easing (read Quantum Error).  At best, this is an ineffectual blunder. While QE Forever may help with the mortgage market, it raises insecurity about the national debt and inflation and – because, frankly it seems so desperate – it fuels doubts about whether we are in a recovery at all.

 

Temporarily lifting the stock market by supporting real estate bonds with fiat money will not generate jobs.  This administration, its economic team, Mr. Bernanke and the cheering section (Paul Krugman), all erroneously think that pushing consumption (here through the injection of fiat money to support the housing mortgage market) will correct the structural problems with American job creation. It has not worked yet and it won’t work this time for the same two reasons: (1) A traumatized public, insecure about job retention, will not easily be persuaded to embark on a buying surge, especially between now and the end of the year, just because real estate prices stabilize (if they do). (2) A slight boost in consumption will primarily benefit foreign manufacturers, as any trip to your local hardware store and other vendors will quickly demonstrate.

 

The unemployment needle will not move until we loosen the brakes holding back American production. The American economy was not built on well employed real estate agents and mortgage brokers and it cannot be repaired by them. [Note my post, America’s Best Play at http://jaygaskill.com/RomneysBestPlay.pdf .]

 

 

Copyright © 2012 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

 

As always, links, forwards and quotes with attribution are welcome and encouraged.  For everything else, please contact the author via email at < law@jaygaskill.com >.

AMERICA'S BEST PLAY FOR ECONOMIC RECOVERY IS…

A FOSSIL FUEL ENERGY SURGE IS AMERICA’S BEST PLAY – CAN A ROMNEY PRESIDENCY PULL IT OFF? WILL MITT ROMNEY CAMPAIGN ON IT?

 

 

An Economic and Political Analysis

By Jay B Gaskill

 

 

 

Here, in outline form, I describe the best play to restore fiscal balance and spark an economic recovery, and inter alia, Governor’s Romney’s best play at this stage of the campaign.  I am personally persuaded that Mr. Romney will actually move to implement an American energy surge if he elected.  He has said as much.[1]  But will he now aggressively campaign on this? The outcome in the race may depend on the answer to that question; and the country’s midterm economic fate may well depend on whether Governor Mitt Romney is elected our next president.

 

 

Read on.  

 

Avoiding the looming fiscal train wreck and sparking a real recovery trump everything else.

 

Can this be done?  Yes. How?  Study the Thatcher years: Prime Minister Thatcher faced a similar grim future.  But England and Thatcher were rescued by North Sea Oil money.  The parallel is bright-line clear.

 

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher served between 1979 and 1990, during a deep recession in which the English economy was crippled by decades of post-war socialist bureaucratic mismanagement. The national debt overhang was more than the UK’s GNP.

 

On taking office, Thatcher began to administer her brand of tough love, and ever so gradually, the economy responded. In 1982, UK inflation fell to an annual 8.6% from a high of 18%.  But unemployment remained stubbornly elevated and Thatcher’s additional economic reforms were stalled. The UK was then essentially in the same debt-inflation-stagnation trap that every free market economist in the game has warned us about over here on this side of the pond – crippling debt and very little government ability to drive investment without setting off dangerous inflation.

 

Enter the discovery of North Sea oil.  During the 1980’s the Thatcher government was able to deploy a 90% tax on North Sea oil recovery, using the revenue from that source (i.e., using real, not fiat or borrowed money) to rebalance the debt-crippled economy and help defray the costs of reform – in which sclerotic public-owned-and-run industries were privatized, one by one, freeing up new economic activity.

 

By 1987, unemployment was falling and the economy was in a strong recovery with low inflation.

 

Here is Prime Minister Thatcher’s economic report card from 1980 to 1990:

 

  • GDP up 23.3%
  • Total government spending: up12.9%
  • Law and order spending:  up 53.3%
  • Employment and training spending: up 33.3%
  • Health spending: up 31.8%
  • Social security spending: up 31.8%.

 

England’s debt was a WWII legacy.  Our debt is the legacy of the Cold War and irresponsible domestic spending, starting with LBJ’s Vietnam plus Great Society spending/borrowing binge.   So here we are, mired in an intractable, seemingly endless recession, having added so much to the national debt in the last four years that we now owe more than our entire annual GDP.

 

When any nation’s sovereign debt exceeds the entire annual gross domestic product for a whole twelve months, as ours currently does, economic policy options are suddenly very constricted.

 

The small island of Japan floated a full decade in a twilight zone between deep recession and anemic recovery, caught in the same trap. Unlike Japan, we have real enemies who are poised to exploit our weakness.  Moreover, we will not succeed in persuading a cohort of young adults to support a huge overhang of unproductive elders, unless we have a system in place that will reduce that debt load to a manageable level in their lifetimes.

 

This country’s debt load becomes unsustainable by definition when we cannot afford to pay the debt service without unacceptable sacrifices. The last available number is for debt service for the year 2011.  The sum for the gross interest paid was a staggering .454 trillion dollars. This is more than the budget for the US Army and Homeland security combined. And that is at comparatively low interest rates.

 

Here are the United States’ gross debt service numbers for three years running:

 

2011–$454,393,280,417.03

 

2010–$413,954,825,362.17

 

2009–$383,071,060,815.42

 

Source: http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/ir/ir_expense.htm

 

It is getting worse…far worse.

 

Net interest expense will triple …in 2015… ‘It’s a slow train wreck coming and we all know it’s going to happen,’ said Bret Barker, an interest-rate analyst at Los Angeles-based TCW Group Inc., which manages about $115 billion in assets. ‘It’s just a question of whether we want to deal with it. There are huge structural changes that have to go on with this economy.”’

 …Bloomberg  2/14/11

 

Any president who assumes office after Mr. Obama will have a very short period to adjust federal spending and revenues enough to reach fiscal balance. [This becomes a far, far worse problem if the executive turnover is delayed until the 2016 election.]

 

If a serious turnaround (both fiscal and general economic) is undertaken in 2013, I estimate that a credible net positive fiscal trajectory must be fully in place within two budget cycles at most. Why the rush? The European economic crisis guarantees that the cost of sovereign borrowing will increase dramatically.  The USA can ill afford the current staggering interest/debt service payments at lower interest rates.  Reasonable minds can disagree about just how long we will have to reach true balance – the point where we are actually reducing the overall federal deficit.  Ideally it needs to be done within a single presidential term, arguably within two terms, but not a day more, IMHO.

 

The problem all along the austerity curve is how to maintain essential services when the necessary belt tightening is done, yet succeeding in guiding the economy into a sustained period of real growth and high employment. This will require real money from the sale of real goods and services. But all the real investment money is parked with private investors, who (for the most part) are not fools. That money will follow real opportunities, not the faux profit centers that governments try and fail to create.

THERE IS GOOD NEWS

 

We ultimately depend on the shrinking productive, profit-making sector of the US economy, the ultimate source of our real wealth.  But this sector is overburdened by a web of regulatory restrictions, petty tariffs, fees, taxes, and bureaucratic second-guessing.  The cumulative political load on US commerce is worthy of a third world economy. You can think of an overloaded draft horse with a strangle strap around its carotid artery.  If you act soon enough, loosening the strap and lightening the load will produce a dramatic recovery. If you wait too long, the horse won’t get up at all.

 

The federal government has the power, the tools and expertise to substantially lift this political load on commerce. A brave, resolute policy choice will be needed, one that will stir up wrath among the incumbent president’s core constituencies.   But…when we do that, an investment and growth surge will result. We lack one thing: An administration willing to exercise the needed leadership.  This is not rocket science- it simply means that the US needs a change in leadership in order to have a change in regulatory policy.

 

Imagine a world where Environmental Impact Reports are narrowly limited to objective, significant health and safety concerns, and where all proposed new regulations require a Jobs and Economy Impact Report before they can become effective. The difference between economic night and day can be brought about in a few months once the Congress and the President agree on a change in regulatory direction. Or we can dither while the horse dies on the road.

OUR ACE IN THE HOLE

 

Within US territory and control there is an immense reserve of marketable energy resources (by far the largest in the entire world). This includes the largest known deposits of oil shale  in the world that, according to the Bureau of Land Management, holds over 2 trillion barrels of recoverable oil, far exceeding all of OPEC’s reserves — enough for at least 200 years at current demand levels.

 

  • The USA is the Saudi Arabia of coal. …Which can be converted to natural gas, oil and eventually, to gasoline.
  • We have enough natural gas both to meet our own needs and to be a major exporter.

 

As Hoover scholar, Victor Davis Hanson has reminded us:

 

“America will soon again be able to supply all of its own domestic natural-gas needs — perhaps for the next 90 years at present rates of consumption. We have recently become a net exporter of refined gas and diesel fuel, and already have cut imported oil from OPEC countries by 1 million barrels per day.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/285197/oil-rich-america-victor-davis-hanson }

 

In a follow-on essay, Hanson added that “…3 to 4 million jobs will follow from new gas and oil production alone. That figure is aside from the greater employment that would accrue from reduced energy costs. Farmers, manufacturers, and heavy industries could gain an edge on their overseas competitors, as everything from fertilizer and plastics to shipping and electric power would become less expensive.”{http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/294693/second-oil-revolution-victor-davis-hanson}

 

I believe that to prevail in November, Governor Romney must actively campaign on an energy surge policy, weighted in favor of US coal, oil and natural gas assets. The predictable flak from the environmental left will encourage President Obama (who has so far never opposed his environmentalist supporters on anything) to draw a line in the sand. That will frame the winning issue for the challenger.

 

Any president who pretends that we can build prosperity in the near and mid-term solely on solar energy and algae-fuel will lose the argument.  The American people as a whole and the swing votes in the swing states will desert the environmentalists the minute green infatuation gets in the way economic recovery. Avoiding the looming fiscal train wreck and sparking a real recovery not only trump the social issue, they trump everything else.

 

By the way, Victor Davis Hanson is a democrat in the old American tradition[2].  Obama is a progressive liberal democrat in the dying European tradition.[3]

 

JBG

 

 

The author is a California attorney.  His profile is available at  www.jaygaskill.com/Profile.pdf .

 

Copyright © 2012 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law (except for the quoted material)

 

As always, forwards, quotations with attribution and links are welcome and encouraged.

For everything else, please contact the author by email at <  law@jaygaskill.com >.

 

 



[1] “(Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said on Thursday that if elected, he will ensure North American energy independence by 2020 by pursuing a sharp increase in production of oil and natural gas on federal lands and off the U.S. East Coast. Romney unveiled his energy plan at a trucking company in New Mexico, seeking to draw a sharp contrast between his energy policies and those of President Barack Obama and explain how his approach would lead to job growth. The U.S. economy can add 3 million jobs by tapping oil and gas reserves in the United States…” http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/23/us-usa-campaign-romney-idUSBRE87J0P020120823

 

 

[2] …As is the author.

[3] See “The Modern Progressive Liberal Endgame” – http://jaygaskill.com/ModernProgressiveLiberalismEndgame.htm

NINE ELEVEN 2012 – IT’S NOT JUST THE ECONOMY, STUPID!

NINE ELEVEN 2012 –

IT’S NOT JUST THE ECONOMY, STUPID!

Analysis

By Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

 

President Obama has refused to recognize radical Islam for the existential threat to Western civilization that is manifestly represents.  He, his supporters and main advisors still tend see the events of 9-11-2001 as a tragedy, sort of a national disaster like a plaque of earthquakes, when in fact it was the first (but not the only) major attack on a Western power by fanatical Islam.

The President, his advisors and supporters talk about “nuclear proliferation” as if it were some version of the bird flu, not the means by which fanatical Islamist intend to exact retribution against us.

Tellingly, Governor Romney’s GOP Presidential nomination acceptance speech skipped any mention of the ongoing Afghanistan war. No doubt he was advised that opening any discussion on that topic would distract from the economic issues that will determine this election.

The looming problem, the pachyderm in the closet, is that the nightmare specter of a nuclear armed Islamist superpower will dominate the foreign policy and national security concerns of the USA for the next fifteen years, whether we are in an economic mess or not.

The military hierarchy of Pakistan controls a cache of deliverable atomic bombs.  The number is north of 100.  And Pakistan is at risk of slipping entirely into the control of Islamist ideologues, as is Egypt. Afghanistan is part of the Pakistani problem because it is a haven and a staging area for the Taliban radicals who also have a strong presence in the Pakistani security and military.  That local scenario, dire as it is, is but the tip of an iceberg. Iran is perilously close to going nuclear itself. It gets worse….

For the moment, USA 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.

This is similar to the thinking of the hapless crew of the Titanic just before they learned of the full scope of the pending disaster.  Here two problems with the “realist” school…in addition to the obvious moral one:

[A.] The MAD doctrine of (deterrence through Mutually Assured Destruction) that worked fairly well 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.

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.

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 and 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 war 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.

This means that only a robust, even ruthless, policy of jihad disarmament holds out any realistic hope of preserving the world from disaster. This entails denying all of the jihad’s operatives and power brokers all access to atomic bombs, radioactive-contaminant bombs, and toxic biological agents.

 

Reference

 

 

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,

“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…

 

Copyright © 2012 by Jay, B Gaskill (except for the quoted material)

As always, links, quotations with attribution and forwards are both welcome and appreciated.  For everything else, please contact the author via email < law@jaygaskill.com >.

Election – NOW WATCH THE OBJECTIVE FACTORS

ELECTION 2012

WATCH THE OBJECTIVE FACTORS

A Post-Convention Perspective

Analysis

By Jay B Gaskill

 

The real inflection-point question of this election is – Are you more secure now than you were three years ago?

 

Three years ago was September 2009.

 

From a news report in January, 2009, “WASHINGTON — Without a single Republican vote, President Obama won House approval on Wednesday for an $819 billion economic recovery plan as Congressional Democrats sought to temper their own differences over the enormous package of tax cuts and spending. As a piece of legislation, the two-year package is among the biggest in history.”

 

In February of that year, as the president signed the final legislation, another report told America that – “President-elect Barack Obama yesterday formally unveiled his economic team, including the nomination of New York Federal Reserve Bank President Timothy F. Geithner as the new administration’s U.S. Treasury secretary. The team’s first challenge will be assembling an economic stimulus package that could be even larger than the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program the Bush Administration has deployed.”

 

In February, 2010, Americans learned that the unemployment rate was 9.7 percent in January, and the Labor Department revealed that the economy had lost 20,000 net jobs during the month.

 

As of August this year, an inventory of the stimulus spending reveals the following – “700.5 billion was paid out in three categories – tax benefits 297.8 billion, contracts grants and loans 240.4 billion, and 232.3 billion, entitlements.”   (http://www.recovery.gov/Pages/default.aspx)

 

I have separately pointed out the key distinction between government money spent for government purposes and private investment money spent to generate profit-making businesses.  Very little, if any, of the much touted Obama stimulus of 2009 found its way into profit-making enterprises.  Not only did that infusion of borrowed money quickly fizzle out, the towering deficit that remains and grows has sharply inhibited the government’s ability to attempt a redo in any attempt to “get it right this time.”  Our situation is not unlike that of a depression-era family whose breadwinner is out of work, where the teenager-in-residence blows the entire family savings (with which dad was going to buy carpenter tools) on a poker game.  What a wasted opportunity.

 

 

…And today?  This fact check from CNN is telling on a number of levels:

 

“(CNN) — Anyone watching the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night heard the number 4.5 million several times. ‘Despite incredible odds and united Republican opposition, our president took action, and now we’ve seen 4.5 million new jobs,’ San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the party’s keynote speaker, said.Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who followed Obama’s November rival Mitt Romney as governor of Massachusetts, both cited the same number. It’s a big-sounding number, given the still-sputtering job market. So we’re giving it a close eyeballing.

 

“The facts:

 

“The number Castro cites is an accurate description of the growth of private sector jobs since January 2010, when the long, steep slide in employment finally hit bottom. But while a total of 4.5 million jobs sounds great, it’s not the whole picture.

 

“Nonfarm private payrolls hit a post-recession low of 106.8 million that month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The figure currently stands at 111.3 million as of July.

“While that is indeed a gain of 4.5 million, it’s only a net gain of 300,000 over the course of the Obama administration to date. The private jobs figure stood at 111 million in January 2009, the month Obama took office.”

—-

We are not just treading water, we are continuing to sink.

 

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) (whose advisory board includes Nobel Laureate economists Robert Solow and Joseph Stiglitz; Janet Gornick, Professor at the CUNY Graduate School and Director of the Luxembourg Income Study; and Richard Freeman, Professor of Economics at Harvard University) reminds us that “the underlying rate of labor force growth is now just 0.7 percent annually. This comes to roughly 1,050,000 a year or just under 90,000 a month.”

 

The CEPR and similar credible sources remind us that the touted  net gain of 300,000 jobs for the Obama administration to date was at least 2.7 million jobs short of treading water.

 

 

Worse – the unemployment rate is understated. Gallup Polls put the underemployment number around 17%.

 

Worse, still – job security is weak.  Today’s Rasmussen Poll tells us that “Twenty-one percent (21%) of workers report than their firms are hiring, while 23% report layoffs.  That’s the second straight month in which reported layoffs top hiring. Concern about job security is rising. Just 62% of workers believe it will be their choice when they change jobs. That’s down 12 points from July and down 19 points from May. It’s the lowest level of confidence measured in more than three years.” http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/daily_presidential_tracking_poll

 

These are among the objective factors in this election, and they will quickly begin sinking-in as the post-convention glow recedes.

 

I remain convinced that this election pivots on the economy, particularly on the trust issue.  Americans have been traumatized. They now wonder whether the current administration is still worthy of their trust on economic issues.

 

The burden now falls to the Romney campaign to fill in the blanks.  How will you manage a turnaround? Why should we trust you?

 

Stay tuned.

 

JBG

 

Copyright © 2012 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law (except for the quoted material which is repeated here under the fair use rules)

 

Links, quotations with attribution and forwards are welcomed encouraged.

For everything else, please contact the author via email < law@jaygaskill.com >.

 

My Friend Bill – Mr. Clinton's Almost Endorsement

Bill CLINTON Endorses Barack

As a Friend or …?

Analysis by

Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

 Download the PDF Version at this link –

http://jaygaskill.com/BillCLINTONEndorsesBarack.pdf

Yesterday, Bill was in great form as he charmed the Democratic National Convention while delivering an entertaining case for Mr. Obama’s reelection that I strongly suspect this former president doesn’t actually want to happen.

 

Former President Clinton is much smarter than the current president and no doubt Mr. Obama thinks he really has an ally in old Bill.

 

Bill Clinton does great ad libs. His actual words taken from the New York Times transcript (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/05/us/politics/transcript-of-bill-clintons-speech-to-the-democratic-national-convention.html?pagewanted=all ) differed a bit from the pre-released text.  The change was revealing. The new material is underlined.

 

“Are we where we want to be? No. Is the President satisfied? No.”

 

“In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president’s re-election … went something like this: We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough. So fire him and put us back in.

 

“… but they did it well. They looked good; the sounded good. They convinced me that they all love their families and their children and were grateful they’d been born in America and all that— really, I’m not being — they did. And this is important, they convinced me they were honorable people who believed what they said and they’re going to keep every commitment they’ve made. We just got to make sure the American people know what those commitments are— because in order to look like an acceptable, reasonable, moderate alternative to President Obama, they just didn’t say very much about the ideas they’ve offered over the last two years.

 

When Clinton argued for Obama’s second chance to get the economy right, he said –

 

“I like the argument for President Obama’s re-election a lot better. He inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash, began the long hard road to recovery, and laid the foundation for a modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses, and lots of new wealth for the innovators.”

 

Kept the bottom of the economy in place and built a foundation?  Talk about faint praise for this incumbent president’s performance on the campaign’s one dispositive issue.

 

Imagine that Bill Clinton had said the following of Obama-Biden, “they convinced me they were honorable people who believed what they said and they’re going to keep every commitment they’ve made.”

 

President Obama promised an economic recovery within the first three years, or “there would be a one term” consequence. After that, not to mention the other promises made and not kept, Mr. Clinton did not dare make that claim for the incumbent. The contrast was possibly unintentional but it reveals Bill’s actual thinking.

 

Recall that Mr. Clinton was acting as a partisan in this partisan setting when he added the following to his extemporaneous praise of Romney-Ryan as “honorable men who will keep their commitments”

 

“We just got to make sure the American people know what those commitments are— because in order to look like an acceptable, reasonable, moderate alternative to President Obama, they just didn’t say very much about the ideas they’ve offered over the last two years.”

 

Now, former President Clinton and Governor Romney are both intelligent men, and both know what must be done over the next three years to avoid the looming fiscal collapse.  The needed measures will be painful, but clearly necessary. Getting the American people through the next four years will require authentic leadership.

 

A careful outline of the necessary fiscal medicine was bravely “offered over the last two years” by Congressman Ryan; it was endorsed in general by Governor Romney; and it has been clearly rejected by Mr. Obama.

 

…So much for the promise of meaningful leadership in a second term: As Time’s Mark Halperin has written “…most politically engaged elites have reached the same conclusion: The White House is in over its head, isolated, insular, arrogant and clueless about how to get along with or persuade members of Congress, the media, the business community or working-class voters.”

 

I think that Bill Clinton hopes for an Obama defeat, so that a republican has to do all of the heavy fiscal lifting.  Then Hillary will have a clear path to the presidency in 2016.

 

JBG

 

Copyright © 2012 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

As always, pull quotes, links and forwards are welcome.  For everything else, please contact the author via email < law@jaygaskill.com >.

DO WE RETAIN OR FIRE OUR EMPLOYEE-IN-CHIEF? — READERS RESPOND

OBAMA IN TROUBLE II

“DO WE RETAIN OR FIRE OUR EMPLOYEE-IN-CHIEF?”

READERS RESPOND

 

This follows the article by Jay B Gaskill posted on –

The Policy Think Site – http://www.jaygaskill.com/ObamnaIsInTroubleBecause.htm .

 

 

[  ]

 

JIM COLES

 

“In a nutshell:

 

“Obama’s in trouble because everywhere except in politics 2 + 2 = 4.

 

“In politics one can spend the same $0.5-trillion twice to achieve $2-trillion in savings…in the real world, one spends $0.5-trillion once; and then only with great trepidation.

 

‘He’s in trouble because $0.787-billion granted-out to political allies who lavish the money on their vassals and serfs to not create anything new becomes worth zero the instant it is doled-out.

 

“Barack is in trouble because most folks don’t want to be ‘taken care of.’ A helping hand, a boost up…OK, most people can deal with that … but pride, even among the bottom feeders, is a powerful thing…when humans are made to feel like dirty children they eventually rebel…November 6th will be the first of those ‘eventually’ days.

 

‘…and finally, Barack Hussein Obama is in trouble because the folks who worked to acquire something of value to them are starting to see that something being diminished because of government action & inaction…and they don’t like seeing their ‘something’ made less valuable.”

 

 

 

 

ANDREW BENJAMIN

 

A general cultural hostility to economic success is toxic, because resentment for individual achievements inevitably poisons the well for the collection of private achievements on which public prosperity is ultimately based.

 

“In a nutshell: It is what the political left not just doesn’t understand, it is what prevents them from achieving their goals. Nicely put Jay.”

LAWRENCE W. WHITE MD

“This is a great piece, Jay. The problem of short attention spans cannot be solved by any rewording (IMHO). And the reality is that both sides are up against it. The Obamas are claiming that their plans are working but just need more time, etc., etc., along with all their other simplistic and invalid excuses. They are using the short attention span as a positive, ie it takes them off the hook; they don’t need a real explanation.

 

“Most Americans will react intuitively, and not from some rational explanation. And while this allows Obama to prevaricate, I think that this way of deciding will ultimately favor Romney.”

 

 

GRAHAM GLOVER

 

“Obama is in trouble because…

 

“He’s trying to turn us into Cuba, and he’s succeeding.

 

“It’s the easiest way I can put it.

 

“How else can one describe a government that is trying to control what everyone does and what everyone gets?  I don’t think he even sees the economy as a real problem.  Someone needs money?  Give it to them.  He doesn’t worry about the economic consequences of precipitating money.  Every problem is an opportunity for control.

 

“Obama didn’t start the problems, but he is accelerating them.  From around the start of the 20th century, we stopped recognizing our government as a republic and started recognizing it as a democracy.  It still has the vestiges of a republic, but only inasmuch as the leaders recognize and respect them.  From the 16th Amendment to the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations, envy and power multiplied.  I’ll add that our immigration policies have helped wreck our country.  We have a culture where anything goes, and there is no right or wrong, a nihilist’s paradise if you’ll have it.  Everything and everyone is equal.  All ideas are equal.  All countries are equal, and there’s nothing special about America or being an American.

 

“Our economic growth is from fear.  No one wants to lose their job, so they work harder.  That only goes so far.  That doesn’t produce new things, especially if goods are to be produced in China or elsewhere.

 

“I dread another four years of Obama.  Four years with Romney isn’t a guarantee of prosperity either.  How does a country reverse adverse governmental control without either breaking the country or declining into anarchy?  Is there enough of what is or what was America to bring it back to greatness?

 

“Got math?”

 

 

GEORGE M. SMITH, MD, MPH

 

 

“Brilliant, Jay!  Now, how do we create the context in which we can actually move forward?”

 
JBG responds

 

This is a version of a very difficult question – How do we get otherwise sane people with reasonable minds to abandon the anti-business, “liberal” mindset?

 

 

 

RICHARD HART

“Talk is cheap; time to apply the Christian practices that are preached but not practiced.”

 

JBG responds

 

…So easy to say, so hard to accomplish in the gritty world of politics. But we live in the real world and we are still called to make choices. 

 

The larger theme is the Faustian bargain.  All too many Christians have bought into a version of the Faustian bargain: “Befriend the secular king and he will grant you the Power to force the People to ‘do good’”.  Such bargains always carry an unacceptable price. In general, the political left succumbs readily to the offered trade-off, in which the “devil” offers the power of coercion (via deception and the gradual acquisition of the levers of state power), all in the service of the left’s idealism. Then (this is the Devil’s due) the bargain erodes moral intelligence.  Veracity is the first casualty of the bargain; then every other aspect of moral discernment falls like a house of cards as the capitulation becomes complete. This is how we got those bizarre scenes in which otherwise decent men and women – the drawing room Marxists – actually defended Stalin while somehow clinging to their collective self-image as “empowered humanitarians”.

 

Back to the decision at hand: To retain or fire America’s Employee in Chief.

 

Did our latest president knowingly sign up with the dark side, in some wide-awake Faustian bargain, or is he like so many others who are just happy to “make a difference”? I take no position, but… Narcissists – and our current POTUS is a classic example of the type – come in all varieties, but they all are prisoners of flattery and praise.

 

What I can tell from this distance is that our current president appears to be a decision-challenged narcissist with weak character, still in over his head, a promising young politician who chose to surround himself with a coterie of arch leftists whose actual agenda would, if taken to its logical end, drive this country into state-sponsored serfdom. That agenda has never been repudiated.  Young Obama’s early feints towards bipartisanship – even post-partisanship – quickly dissipated as this president seemed to snap back to his leftist roots.

 

Who is the real Obama? The fact that many intelligent, well-meaning people are still asking that question is a tell. The remaining question is not trivial: If Mr. Obama awarded a second term, will we like the answer to that question or not?

 

Objective observers of the State of the Union will concede that Mr. Obama’s offer of hope and change has not worked out as promised.  And now, three and a half years later, the country is increasingly willing to reverse that order – first change the leadership, then hope. 

 

Stay tuned…

 

JBG

 

 

Copyright © 2012 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law and the quoted responders

 

Pull quotes with attribution, links and forwards are welcome and encouraged.

For everything else, please contact the author via email at < law@jaygaskill.com >.

 

Jay B Gaskill is a California lawyer.  He served as the 7th Alameda County (CA) Public Defender.  His profile is posted at < www.jaygaskill.com/Profile.pdf >