Friday, January 23, 2009
The economy will be worse in May. We have not hit bottom yet. We can afford another trillion as long as people and the world still have confidence in the dollar. No one can predict where that amount is. There is no precedence that large. My prediction is that the world believes the US economy will remain solvent give or take a few more trillion. Where else are they going to go?
There is an unexplained fundamental problem underlying the economy that keeps us locked to about 2% growth in GDP per year. The ups and downs average out. We should have no downs. People have just grown to accept them. This down is going to be large and long because the congress made a huge mistake giving mortgage money to people who were unable to pay back. Greedy capitalist on Wall St. bought up a bunch of these squishy packages spreading the cancer through the wholesale financial market. The losses in the stock market erased 7 trillion in wealth that won't be invested.
The question is where do investors go? The US stock market for the long haul. Real estate for the mid term and traditional short term packages like bonds and treasury paper. Treasury paper is worth nothing today because the interest rate is near zero. Wait four years. Foreign investment is still coming here. I will tell you an anecdotal happening now. Two years ago I tried to sell my 2 timeshare weeks for 5000 each. I paid 7500 for each. Not a single call. Yesterday I got an offer from an investment firm for 51,000. The money is coming from the middle east.
I am convinced the underlying problem with the economy is taxes, especially corporate taxes and capital gains taxes. They are a large part of the flight of big business from the US taking jobs with them. If we want jobs we need to eliminate the corporate taxes. They account for 1/3 of the revenue today. If we open up public land to mineral prospecting the royalties will more than make up the difference in the corporate losses. If we sit on the public land until alternative energy is financially viable, 25 years, we forfeit 10 trillion in revenue forever. The greens and the tree huggers have held sway for 30 years now. Obama is one man who can break the stranglehold. I think he is smart enough to do it.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
As Al Gore gains more proponents for his global warming theory such as Bush, McCain and Obama the underlying data that supports global warming is evaporating in light of better science. Al Gore bases his theory on NASA’s Hansen temperature data. This data is collected by land-based thermometers. Hansen is the 800 lb. gorilla of world-wide temperatures. He is famous for the hockey stick graph below with a big increase in recent years; hence global warming due to industrialization.
NASA's (Hansen) data (April 13, 2008)
The second most used land based data comes from Britain’s Hadley Center for Climate Studies. Hadley shows a different picture than Hansen, especially in 2007. Hansen and Hadley use different base years. See below.
Hadley's data (April 13, 2008)
Notice the big drop off in 2007. Hansen’s data disagrees with this. The difficulty is that long term land based temperature readings have to be adjusted. Hansen calls it analysis. Over time cities encroach on the monitoring stations and contaminate the data. How you adjust this contamination can result in contested data depending on the scientist.
The strange part about Hansen’s data is it is land based and done by NASA? It is even stranger when you factor in lower atmosphere temperature monitoring NASA satellites over the last 10 years that are far more accurate than land based thermometers. Why would NASA ignore the more accurate data? Because it contradicts Hansen’s data. See below.
1998-2008; University of Alabama (UAH)
Note that the temperature drop all but erases Hansen’s global warming. We can’t have that! Also there is an independent ocean based temperature collecting network ( ARGOS) now up and running. Since we are 2/3 water measuring water temperature makes more sense. What does their data look like? See below.
1998-2008; Remote Sensing Systems (RSS)
The two charts, ARGOS and the satellite data look remarkable alike. So why does NASA ignore its satellite data and permit Hansen to be the leading scientist on Global Warming? Follow the money. There is zero money for saying global warming does not exist. Case closed, no more money. There is 10 billion per year provided world wide for saying it does exist and organizations such as the UN’s IPCC. They would all be out of a job.
Liberty or Death
Labels: global warming
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Below is a dialogue I had yesterday with one of the premier members of Jack Wheeler's forum. MercuryTraveller is a self-made millionaire in entrepreneur who made most of his money in the steel industry in your, jumping him without a dime. He net has a lot of contacts in big business in Europe and the Middle East and the United States. He also has no agenda of his own. But he does supply a number of insider facts about the oil business.
If you don't want to read my drivel at least read his. I followed his responses with two quotes from Pelosi and Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY). I think you will find them illuminating. Policy clearly lays out the left-wing liberal agenda on oil. She shamelessly uses outright lies to bolster her case.
The moron Maurice Hinchey (D-NY actually believes that the oil companies are controlling the supply of oil at the oil refineries, unbelievable. One wonders how stupid our congressional leaders can get. But the Democrats are talking seriously about nationalizing oil refineries to keep big oil from controlling the supply of oil to us. All this in response to Bush's timid announcement that we ought to drill more.
From Liberty or Death
MercuryTraveller good to hear from you. We desperately need your help.
I agree with you 100%, in fact I believe you're understating the problem and did not comment on the enormity of the effort it will take to mitigate this disaster that's coming. $10 gas is only two years away, somewhere between now and then the economies of the world particularly the US and Europe will collapse.
We all know the reasons how we got in this mess, Jack Kelly has stated them well. We know we have a Congress and administration that either wants the price to go higher, in the case of the liberals, or are sitting on the sidelines with their thumb in there ear like Bush. We cannot expect any help this government nor based on the words of Obama and McCain, any help from the next administration or even OPEC who is screwing us.
If we are to avoid falling off the cliff it is going to take a major organized initiative by industry to move the country on a crisis basis beginning today. I would propose the following:
Build a consortium of leaders of big oil, transportation, manufacturing, gas, electric, automobile manufacturers, the trucking industry, pharmaceuticals, plastics in all other key businesses that use petroleum. This consortium has two purposes, first to inform the American people. This must be overwhelming and without government help. I would propose several 30 minute infomercials geared to scare the hell out of the American people, which won't be hard because it will be the truth. I am already scared at four dollars a gallon. The leaders of these key people should make these infomercials as a group showing solidarity of all the American business community. That should be followed by putting the key people on every talk show in the country to hammer home the theme that we are in big trouble and are headed for a serious fall. This will come as such a shock that the American people will believe it and the weasels in Congress won't dare to stand the way of the consortium's solution.
Second the consortium needs to present both a long-term and near-term plan to mitigate the coming disaster. The long-term plan, 10 years, is more drilling and more infrastructure for transporting and processing oil. This problem is not going away and 10 years. We need coal gasification and coal to oil conversion to begin immediately.
The near-term plan is multifaceted and needs to be completed in three years. You and other of Jack's followers can think of more solutions than I but I'll offer a few. We need electric cars and fuel efficient larger vehicles in three years. We need to convert every household and business on gas and oil to electricity within the next 18 months. We need to convert every oil fired and gas-fired electric plant to coal in the next two years. This entails new boilers that can use the same turbines. You are correct nuclear would've helped 20 years ago but takes too long today with the exception of expanding existing nuclear plants which is far faster and is occurring today in the nuclear plant in Southern Maryland.
By end running the government, the industry consortium will take control of the execution of the recovery plan. After a few infomercials government will be prepared to help. The consortium should ask them for two things, first $1 trillion in startup money in year one, the elimination of all moratoriums and for government to get out of the way of industry including passing tax incentives such as one year depreciation write-offs. Government also has two spend one to 2 trillion to assist the American people to convert to the fuel-efficient automobiles in three years and convert gas and oil furnaces to electric.
Will this work? Absolutely, but not without pain we waited far too long to get out of this mess painlessly, but we need to minimize the damage. We have the coal to make this happen beginning today. Can the American economy support an additional 3 trillion on our deficit, absolutely. We can have an unlimited supply of electricity for homes, businesses and electric cars. I realize the electric car three years now will be a dog, but it will work in an urban environment. If it comes heavily subsidized the American people will buy into it. Of course they will have to because gas will be at $10 a gallon and the economy will be headed into the tank.
I am completely open to any other ideas that are more efficient than mine. My real concern is the complacency of the American people, industry and our government. MercuryTraveller, you and another big industry leaders know the train wreck is coming, and soon. I will do anything I can to help, but it will take those who know the insiders like yourself to light a fire under industry to form the consortium.
MercuryTraveller, please rattle your contacts one more time. Enlist Jack's help and any others you know to go with you. This needs to happen before November's elections. Lay out the plan. The government is too stupid and too slow to do anything and will get out of the way when industry demands it. With the help of the American people big business will get everything it needs out of Congress or get voted out in November.
In principle you are right, but not in this case. By personal experience I know the oil industry was caught with their pants down by the raising consumption of China, India and others. I told vice presidents of the oil industry to expect this already in 1995. They textually replied that they hoped to God I was right but they couldn't see it. I even had a big argument with Premier Oil from the UK when they closed a gas field in Pakistan, not intresting enough at those low prices.
That field would take today 4 years to produce.
Occidental told me exactly the same and sold several old fields, "not intresting enough at those prices".
The growth of China, India, Pakistan and others is exponential and their GDP grows at approx. 8 %. This figure means minimum 3% growth in oil consumption. There is no oil producer in this world who can raise the production by 3% per year, none.
Forget the speculators, you cannot speculate the same commodity for 2 years without taking a profit, it would be extremely dangerous to hold a speculative position for 2 years and this shortage market has now created its own momentum. Prepare yourselves for a big bust when the world economy cannot stand the oil price anymore and grinds to a halt. Then of course will you have overproduction, created by a flat economy. But boy will there be pain in the world markets.
The only solution would have been nuclear but it is too late now, the nuclear power plants will never be on stream in time.
The policy of the big US oil companies has been, since WW2, to use first the foreign oil reserves and have the US reserves, if possible, intact. This dates from the time everybody thought the oil reserves would deplete by the turn of the 20th century. I told here before that since WW2 new wells were drilled and immediately capped for decades.
Today the strategic importance of oil is even bigger than in those days, China and India would choke to death without oil.
The powers that be know this and calculate each step in that direction. That's why the price is less important than the strategy behind it, and that's why the price will never again drop below 50 US$/bbl
BTW the politicians have absolutely no control over this and the administration which would try to change this strategy would immediately face more rising oil prices by the actions of producers worldwide.
The Bush family is right in the middle of this strategy, together with others, less publicly known.
From Pelosi’s web site
Pelosi Statement on Bush Call for End to Ban on Offshore Oil Drilling
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Contact:Brendan Daly/Nadeam Elshami, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C. -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today in reaction to the President’s comments at the White House urging Congress to end a federal ban on offshore oil drilling and open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration:
“Oil companies are sitting on 68 million acres of public lands they have already leased, but President Bush and Senator McCain want to award them with even more.
“Americans are suffering under the Bush-Cheney-McCain policies that were written by Big Oil: $4 a gallon gasoline; $134 per barrel oil; increased reliance on foreign sources of energy and on hydrocarbons that contribute to climate change.
“Americans use one quarter of the world’s oil consumption every day and we possess less than 2 percent of the world’s supply. We cannot drill our way to energy independence.
“Our nation must move toward a new, cleaner, and more affordable energy future that focuses on renewable and increased energy efficiency. The New Direction Congress has already passed innovative energy legislation and will continue to develop other proposals to address high energy costs and shift our nation to a more energy efficient economy.
“We look forward to having a President in the White House whose energy policy can no longer be described as ‘drill and veto.’”
Fox News quotes from Capital Hill 6-19-2008
Per Pergram-Capitol Hill
House Democrats responded to President's Bush's call for Congress to lift the moratorium on offshore drilling. This was at an on-camera press conference fed back live.
Among other things, the Democrats called for the government to own refineries so it could better control the flow of the oil supply.
They also reasserted that the reason the Appropriations Committee markup (where the vote on the amendment to lift the ban) was cancelled so they could focus on preparing the supplemental Iraq spending bill for tomorrow.
At an off-camera briefing, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said the same. And a senior Republican House Appropriations Committee aide adds that "there were multiple reasons for the postponement" including discussion on the supplemental. But the aide said there was the thought that Democrats may wish to avoid a debate today on energy amendments.
Here are the highlights from briefing
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), member of the House Appropriations Committee and one of the most-ardent opponents of off-shore drilling
We (the government) should own the refineries. Then we can control how much gets out into the market.
Liberty or Death
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
With gasoline approaching four dollars a gallon it would be an easy sell for the Republicans to gather in mass at a press conference and tell the American people they are paying an additional $2.50 per gallon because the Democrats will not allow oil companies to drill oil, mine coal or recover natural gas. The environmentalists who vote almost all Democratic cause the Democrats stance on fossil fuels. The environmentalists have a fantastic PR engine that has got the American people, especially the young to value the life of one polar bear over energy independence from the Middle East. This is abetted by selfish states such as Florida and California who won't let us drill offshore from their states. China and Cuba are now drilling in the Gulf of Mexico where Florida refuses to allow American drilling.
But alas, our current crop of Republicans are too weak kneed and stupid to hold such a press conference. Additionally, Bush, Newt Gingrich and John McCain are in the tank on global warming.
If you think that over time cooler heads will prevail and fossil fuels will be open for drilling in the near future, think again. The Democrats will gain seats in 2008 and it may be 20 years before the Republicans regain the House and Senate if ever.
So what should the Republicans do? They should do what they do best, knuckle under to Democrats in order to save their jobs. What can they offer the Democrats that would allow drilling of fossil fuels? The answer is money! There is one thing the Democrats value above all else and that is money that they can control and give to who they wish.
Almost all people believe are fossil fuels will not perish and will be there when we need them. The American people are sadly mistaken. Fossil fuels in the ground have no value until they are mined and sold at a profit. What if a cheap alternative energy source was found that made the fossil fuels too expensive to mine and make money? Science fiction? Not hardly. At 90 plus dollars a barrel biomass and other alternatives become profitable. But more importantly is the practical implementation of a breakthrough science. And what is that? Fusion Power. What you say? Not going to happen for 50 or more years. Guess again. Under the radar the US and France have been working on a joint project to produce practical fusion. The largest current experiment is the Joint European Torus [JET]. In 1997, JET produced a peak of 16.1 MW of fusion power (65% of input power), with fusion power of over 10 MW sustained for over 0.5 sec. In June 2005, the construction of the experimental reactor ITER, designed to produce several times more fusion power than the power put into the plasma over many minutes, was announced. The production of net electrical power from fusion is planned for DEMO, the next generation experiment after ITER. Expect fusion power to be available economically in less than 50 years. What then happens to the fossil fuels? They will become worthless.
The US alone has $35 trillion in oil reserves, $2 trillion in natural gas reserves and $42 trillion in coal reserves. The profit on $80 trillion is conservatively $16 trillion. We have sat on new drilling in the last 30 years. The clock is ticking. If we start drilling now we can recover most of the oil and gas and half the coal for they become obsolete. These reserves are all on federal land controlled by the Democrats.
The message to take to the Democrats is that they can have it all if they open up drilling now. And if you don't start now it will become worthless. Therefore you can have $16 trillion for Social Security Medicaid and Medicare as well as universal health care if only you allow drilling. The $16 trillion is yours to spend. This is a win-win, the Democrats get 16 trillion which they covet more than polar bears and the Republicans get cheap fuel for the American people and all they have to do dangle the carrot of 16 trillion in front of the eyes of the Democrats.
Liberty or Death
Thursday, February 21, 2008
A lady on Action Alert was all concerned about a national ID card, or what the Homeland security office has direct to the states to provide drivers license information to the federal government. Is it a good thing or bad thing? Come back with your comments, I've given you mine below.
This lady's concerns as highlighted in this statement below are surveillance, privacy and identity theft. Her additional concern is the government would use his information against innocent people.
The federal effort to create a national identity card, called the Real ID card, would take us one step closer to a surveillance society, erode our right to privacy and put our personal information at risk.
Okay, I understand that. However her assumption is that the national ID card would provide the government with more information and a more efficient means to track individuals. A fair question.
Let's begin with what information the average citizen gives away voluntarily to governments and commercial industries.
1. When you are born you give the government your legal name, your birthdate, the legal names of your parents and over the last 20 years or so biometric information such as footprints. This information is stored by the government as a birth certificate.
2. Before you are one-year-old your parents must apply for your a Social Security number for you because of an IRS mandate. You give the Social Security office your legal name backed up your birth certificate. The Social Security office stores this information and assigned to a number.
3. When you register for gradeschool, high school and college you provide them a great deal of private information. They store this in a government database along with a transcript of your grades from grade 1 through college.
4. When you get a job you supply the employer your personal information and your Social Security number. They store this information in a database.
5. In most states, personal property specifically cars boats and livestock must be registered with the county that you live in. This is linked to your Social Security number, your address and your legal name.
6. If you apply anywhere for credit whether it be at a department store or a credit card you must supply all your personal information including your Social Security number. This information is again stored in a database with a credit lender.
7. If you were my age, you required to register for the draft again supplying and updating personal information in a Social Security number. In my case I also had to take an intelligence test any medical physical. All this information was stored in a database.
8. If you work for the government, military or private company that requires a clearance then you have to supply all the personal information again and also provide your fingerprints which are stored in a database in the government and in the company.
9. If you buy a house, the information about the house including its assessed value location, address your legal name as the owner. This information is stored in a public database available for anyone to look at. Fairfax County where you live as this database online. Just type in your address and it will come back with the name of the owner, you.
10. If during your lifetime you get credit or a mortgage of any type all your personal information including your Social Security number ends up in the hands of the three major credit bureaus. Again this information is stored in a database and Current on almost a daily basis. This was done without your knowledge or consent. And what do these three credit bureaus do with your information? Why they sell it to people who are in the credit business. They also provide the inquirer your Social Security number and your credit scores and details on any problems that you have been credit past and present.
11. If you receive medical assistance at any facility they will collect your personal information and your Social Security number. Again they will store this in a database.
12. If you get a library card you must supply your legal name and address and prove that you live in the jurisdiction of the library. They store this in the database and assign you a number.
13. If you apply for a driver's license you need to supply a per certificate proving who you are. Then your name, address, height, weight, eye color and hair color or recorded on the license and in a database.
14. Google knows of anything you've written and placed on the Internet. Type in my name them watch what comes out. They also know your phone number and your address. Everyone in the world can do a reverse lookup on your phone number and get your address. God knows what other information they have.
15. If you apply for a passport you need to supply a birth certificate, a picture and all your personal information. They store the second database.
16. When you get married you supply your personal information and also take a blood test. This information is stored in the database.
17. If you commit a crime, the information about that crime and your legal name and I believe your address is made public. Anyone can ask for, newspapers do it regularly and report it in their police column for everyone to read.
I'm sure you can think of many other instances where you have voluntarily provided information to, I have listed enough.
First point. The commercial and governmental agencies that have your personal information that you voluntarily gave to them share information to other governmental agencies and companies with a right to know. And that's just about everybody. Where they do with this information? Stored in a database. So you're personal information exists in databases all over the country and even throughout the world. If you are worried about personal information getting in the hands of government and private and industry, you are too late you a more provided it unless you were born in the backwoods and never signed for or applied for anything. Therefore we already live in a surveillance society. If the government or criminal wants to find you they/he will, you cannot hide.
Second point. The ladies concerned about privacy. Privacy of what? Half the world knows the important things about you, the things that can be used to find you order go after your possessions and money.
Third point. Personal information at risk. Get real. With all your information is stored in dozens if not hundreds of databases both paper and electronic do you really think you have protection from identity theft. I have a personal experience with that, my son's credit card was used by someone else to run up thousands. It's a major hassle to get that straightened out. The problem is that every time you provide anyone access to your cards or IDs your information is at considerable risk and in many cases is stored by who you gave it to. Wal-Mart anyone?
Your point, Innocent citizens. If you falsify any of the information talked about above then you're no longer innocent so I have to assume that the information you provide is accurate so that you could be an innocent citizen.
So what harm will a national ID card and related database cause you over and above the harm that started been provided to many institutions by you voluntarily? I can't think of any.
On the other hand, I can see some real value to the country in knowing that anyone's identification has been backed up by the best source data possible so that it can be proven that you are an innocent civilian. A national ID card will not make any more information available to the government that it doesn't already have. The critical thing is the information while the pedigree.
This pedigree associated with an ID is actually a boon, it allows those in the marketplace that will provide you credit or job greater assurance that you are you. Same thing in legal situations. Being able to prove who you are can be of great benefit to the police to prove you are innocent.
However if you are guilty of fraud or crime you will have great concern. I for one want those who commit fraud and crimes to be caught more easily because I am the one paying for the police to find the bad guys.
Comments are encouraged.
Liberty or Death
Labels: National ID Card
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The Current US System of Government is Fatally Flawed and Cannot be Fixed
This is a two-part paper. Part one below addresses our current governmental system and its fatal problems. Part two, in a separate paper will provide some possibilities on how to solve the problems.
If you had to describe the two biggest problems with the way citizens regard their elected officials what would you choose? My choice would be that the citizens no longer believe that their politicians are acting in their behalf and that these same politicians are controlled by big money. How did this happen? Has the system been perverted or hijacked by self-serving politicians? Regrettably, the answer is no. The government we have today is the natural progression of the system that our forefathers created in the 1700s.
So what would the founding fathers that created our government think of our current situation if they were alive today? As much as they may lament the results they cannot say that the current government is not consistent with the intent of the founding fathers. Did the founding fathers create the wrong government? No, they created a government for far less than 50 million people. It's only in the last 100 years or so that population and government has gotten beyond the control of the people or in fact anyone. It is a creation with no master and no accountability. Our country has gotten big (populous) very quickly. Along with population growth has been the phenomenal growth of corporate and personal wealth. Massive population means that citizens are further disconnected from their federal, state and even local politicians. Fairfax County with one million people is larger than many of our nation states. Are the people of that county on a first name basis with any of their politicians even dogcatcher? Seizing the citizen disconnect Big money chooses who our elected officials are and dictate what they do. The people are now the victims of their own government, which they cannot control and cannot change.
The current government is massive and getting larger with no checks and balances. It's a runaway. Some examples. In 2004, the expenditures of the federal government were $2.3 trillion. In the same year, expenditures of state and local governments were $1.45 trillion. The combined value of federal, state, and local expenditures in FY 2004 was $3.75 trillion. Of the 2.3 trillion federal dollars only $695 billion was used for the common good meaning that which is used for everyone's benefit. That's only 30%. The other 2/3s is mandated by law to be redistributed to “special” groups of citizens. These mandates are tied to the runaway population growth and therefore grow without control. Most, like social security are going to go bankrupt, but still must be paid. It’s the law!
All three branches of government are growing unabated. Growth takes two forms, new laws and increased seizure of money. New laws are passed every year, but when is the last time you heard of a law being deleted? They just keep accumulating.
The Executive branch. Just one executive branch department the IRS now manages 5M words of law requiring 232.6B per year. Here is an anecdotal story on HUD, “HUD was well-known in the 1980s for rampant corruption. Catherine Austin Fitts wrote that when she arrived at HUD as head of operations of the FHA program in 1989, it was comparable to a "sewer" for all the mortgage fraud that had occurred during the '80s: "My favorite description of HUD was to come many years later [in 2000] from staff to the Chairman of the Senate HUD appropriation subcommittee — Senator Kit Bond. When asked what was going on at HUD, the Congressional staffer said, 'HUD is being run as a criminal enterprise.'" She wrote:
"After issuing $9 billion in mortgage guarantees, HUD/FHA was to lose something approaching 50% of the value of the portfolio — a level of losses hard to explain with mortal logic. When my staff approached me with a proposal to bail out a mortgage company so they could continue to lose money for us, I asked why we should spend money to lose more money in a way that would harm communities. After a long silence during which 30 staff members intently studied their feet, one brave soul explained to me that the mortgage bank was owned and run by a major Republican donor. Shocked, I said. 'I am a major Republican donor,' and pointing to my presidential cufflinks that were adorning my French cuffs, 'I got a pair of cuff links. You get cuff links. You don’t get $400 million of federal credit to throw down the drain.' My staff looked at me like I was so naive and clueless that there was no point in trying to communicate with me — better to let me learn the hard way."
Congress, which is capped at 100 senators and 454 congressmen, appears to be stagnant but that is an illusion. They currently hire over 40,000 staffers and this number increases each year. Add to that the Library of Congress and the Congressional Accountability Office.
The judicial branch of government has accumulated the same ills as the other two branches. They are aware that there is no accountability to the people or even to the Congress of the states or the nation. They can do whatever they want. This is led to judicial activism meaning they change the laws that Congress makes through corruptive interpretations, which replace the existing law. Take a simple example, the First Amendment to our national Constitution, which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Seems pretty simple. Even the common citizen can understand this law. But our judges could not leave this alone, so we have progressed from this simple sentence to the separation of church and state and removal of mangers from government property. Does anyone interpret this law in that way?
It’s no wonder that very few citizens still participate in these political processes. Lately the trust in government has all but disappeared and the American people are fed up with big government and big politicians. Perhaps this is why in exit polls from the last election following was said, “Possibly the most arresting single statistic in the exit polls was the finding that a plurality of voters — 40 percent — believe that the next generation of Americans will experience a life “worse than today,” while only 30 percent expect it to be better and 28 percent about the same. This means that voters are discouraged not only about America’s present but also its future. The message of the exit polls is that the country wants its politicians to stop serving their paymasters and start serving the citizens and restore the American dream.
This is not going to happen. That is why the problem is fatal. Politics is a function that is diverging in the wrong direction at an ever-faster rate. Individual Americans are totally disconnected with those who make their laws and control their money. Americans cannot identify with their politicians. Almost none of them can name their county supervisor, state delegate or senator nor can they name their federal congressman and either senator. When people on the street are shown pictures of the top officials in the US government, very few can name anyone. This ignorance creates apathy which allows politicians to ignore the public be responsive to their paymasters, big-money donors.
In presidential elections 55% of eligible voters vote. And this is in a good turnout year. In an off election, one for congressmen and senators 37% is a good turnout. We just had a special election for the congressman of Virginia's first District. Just 13% of eligible voters voted. The American citizen needs a civic lesson. The president makes no laws and cannot independently spend a dime. It is the senators and congressmen who control our lives. We have our electoral concern backwards. Worse when we do vote the overwhelming majority vote on either name recognition, which highly favors the incumbents or they go in and pull the lever for either all Republicans or all Democrats. Few if any voters know where any candidates stand on the issues and vote accordingly. Politicians know this and use Wall Street marketing techniques vice their position on the issues to get elected without saying anything.
Where else does this apathy come from? Another sign of the People's unhappiness with the system is the disapproval rating of our public officials. 64% of the people disapprove of the president's job performance. 66% disapprove of congressional performance. Approval ratings are much lower. These numbers are getting worse each year and are an indicator of public disillusionment. Several additional factors underline the people’s apathy. First, most believe that their vote doesn't count. Almost always true, except Florida in 2000. In most cases none of the candidates are acceptable and therefore one is forced to choose the lesser of evils, even though all are unacceptable. Another factor is that the individual citizen cannot connect to any of his elected officials. Since he is just one of millions, no one cares what he thinks and no one will respond. Just try writing something to the president or your federal officials. If you live in a small county you are lucky if your supervisor will return your call.
Yet the major reason for apathy is we are waking up to the fact that our elected officials respond to big money and can care less about the little people. The numbers bear this out. Let's first talk about those who are trying to get elected today. For the 2008 election, the money collected so for the house is 242 million, the Senate 113 million, the presidential race 420 million. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi has collected 1.4 million so far and Senator Dick Durbin has collected 5 million so far. And this is one year before the election! This money pours in foremost from large corporations, then special interest groups like lawyers and next through a variety of loopholes such as PACs, 527, and charities. Additional money pours directly into the two political parties to be parceled out to the politicians, the Democrats getting 195 million so far and the Republicans getting 186 million. Additionally, hundreds of millions are spent on political ads by advocacy groups. Do you think your two dollars is going to buy you anything?
But elections are but just one way for big money to buy politicians. The really big money comes in every year to the incumbents from professional lobbyists to the tune of $2.6 billion per year. That's 4.8 million for each politician each year. Is it any wonder that once a politician gets in office he can stay for life? In 2006, which was a big turnover year between parties, only 6% of the incumbents were defeated. All others retired or quit. With this money a politician can buy votes with what is called pork. For 2007 Congress will spend 29 billion of your money on pet projects most of which go back to same 2.6 B dollar political donors with little or no strings attached. That is a 10 to 1 return on investment. You certainly are not going to see a dime.
Still another reason for apathy is the constant bickering in Washington. There is a complete duplication between the congress and the executive so they are constantly fighting with each other. The Congress and big media blame the president both Democrat and Republican for everything that goes wrong. They never point out that Congress passes all the laws and doles out all the money. Many of these laws are called unfunded mandates. What that means is the executive branch is ordered to do something but given no money to do it. This is been going on so long that fair accountability of the executive branch means absolutely nothing. Yet the blame game continues daily. The media hysterically pounds the average citizen with constant negative news particularly about the executive branch that makes no sense to the average citizen. Congress spends over half of its time investigating the executive branch and the executive branch spends half of its time responding to Congress. This sounds innocent or just annoying except that half the time means half the money. That is 50% of the Congressional and executive budgets and time are wasted pointing fingers and haggling about money.
Where did the enormous size of the United States come from? When the founding fathers created our government our country was tiny. Politicians were people that you knew. The first census was taken in 1790 and we had 3.9 million people in 13 states. The country did not reach 100 million until 1915, or 125 years later. It reached 200 million people in 1970, or only 55 years later. Today in 2007, just 37 years later we have 303 million people. Our system of government just does not scale and is totally overwhelmed by 303 million people.
Where did all these people come from? Today, native-born Americans have a -10% growth rate. That means Native Americans are not replacing themselves. Naturalized immigrants have a positive 35% growth rate. And every year 4- 5 million new immigrants both legal and illegal enter the country. By failing to control population we have guaranteed that our system of government will collapse.
This whopping size has allowed the politicians to tie their allegiance to big money and not the people, with little risk. Big money buys ads, which creates name and face recognition and reelection. In 1859 Abraham Lincoln won his party's nomination by speaking at the Republican convention in May. Afterwards he did no campaigning and gave no speeches. The party machinery in each state and the media were the only way the people ever heard of him. Today presidential candidates spend two years and hundreds of millions of dollars getting their face plastered on the TV as much as possible. Hillary has been running for President for seven years.
There is a big difference between the way Americans feel about local issues as compared to national issues. Just go to a school board meeting or a rezoning decision meeting. The will of the citizens square off equally with big-money interests. You will see yelling and screaming and occasionally fistfights. People are passionate about these issues because they understand them and believe what they say is being heard. However, Americans, traditionally have become too trusting of our state and federal government and politicians because they have no idea what goes on. Herein lies the kernel of the solution. The real power needs to be in the hands of officials who feel that must respond to the people before they respond to big money. I will address how this could work in the next paper.
Labels: Government Collapse
Saturday, November 24, 2007
The American army is bringing a semblance of peace to the Iraqi people by eliminating Al Qaeda and the insurgents and marginalizing the militias. They have also won the confidence of the local tribal leaders who are using their militias to prevent the return of Al Qaeda and the insurgents. As good as this military progress is it can be totally undone by the totally incompetent Iraqi government. The governmental system in Iraq is totally broke and cannot be fixed by Band-Aids but requires open-heart surgery.
The problem began when Bush forced democracy on a culture that will not support a central government elected by a plurality of the people. Bush failed to consider the culture of the Iraqi people when forming the government. An American-style or British style government is not for everyone, especially the Middle East. The cultures are radically different. First Iraqi has three distinct and independent cultures, Sunni, Shia and Kurds. Although all are Arab they could not be more different. A government elected based on population works in the United States because we share a common culture. In Iraq a population-based government where one culture will always be dominant will not work.
The Iraqi people are first and foremost tribal. The nation is divided into provinces that provide no value and finally a new central government. Currently the tribes are the backbone of the governance of the Iraqi people. The central government is Shia dominated and utterly corrupt. This will always be true. Additionally there's a problem of the distribution of oil among the cultures. So what is to be done?
Current governmental problems that cannot be fixed with time or by our military
The local police forces do not reflect the tribal system. The national police force is a bunch of thugs that need to be marginalized or disbanded and start all over. Distribution of resources by the central government is both erratic and corrupt. The Shia dominated parliament provides too much power to the President/Prime Minister.
How to build a government that supports the culture of Iraq
The central government needs to be abolished and a new form of government established that reflects the culture of Iraq and equality of the cultures. The Constitution needs to reflect this new form of government.
The secret is to take advantage of the cultural strengths of the Iraqi people in particular their long-standing tribal leaders and tribal governance. The authority of the tribes needs to be significantly increased. This can be done by having a police force and judicial system that reports to the tribal leaders. The tribal leaders should have control over the local government, local facilities such as schools, and be able to make laws consistent with the laws of a central government and the Constitution.
A small cultural government, Sunni, Shia and Kurd should be established to distribute the central government resources to the tribes and the appointment of an independent appellate judicial system. A National Guard would report to this cultural government. This cultural government should take the form of a council whose members are appointed by the tribes. All tribes within the culture would be participate equally.
The central government should be divided into two separate powers with unique authorities. First would be a central council that was appointed by the cultural councils. There would be an equal number of representatives from each of the cultures. The authority of the Central Council would be the governance of all internal affairs. This will include taxes, regulation of commerce, development of common infrastructure, the passing of laws, management of a Justice Department, commerce inspectors, treasury and other internal regulatory bodies and the appointment of an independent Supreme Court. Additionally, the national police would report to the Justice Department and only would be responsible for enforcing laws and pursuing criminals across tribal boundaries and protection of the national borders. They would have no responsibility within the tribal boundaries.
The office of the President/Prime Minister would be to manage external affairs of the country. He would be responsible for diplomacy including national defense, maintenance of the Army and the management of other agencies that support external affairs such as a Port Authority.
The cultural Council, the Central Council members and the President/Prime Minister would all have term limits defined by the Constitution. This would help limit the corruption that is common among Arab cultures.
Bush is critical for making this work
The first thing he should do is admit that he was wrong. This will be something new and hard for him. Second he needs to bypass the State Department who is useless and use the military to gain the support of the Iraqi people for a new government. Our military already has daily contact with the tribal leaders. The tribal leaders have far greater respect for the American military than they do for their own central government. Once they see the new governance proposal they would be ecstatic.
Once he gains the support of the tribal leaders Bush has to have the backbone to disband the current government and constitution. This can be phased in starting with the tribal leaders, the establishment of cultural councils and finally the two branches of the central government. This would be documented in a new constitution written and ratified by the Central Council. One should expect this process to take at least three years.
Who will enforce the change? The American soldiers who will still be required for at least three years. They can enforce the new governance and the disestablishment of the old government. At the same time the sorry Iraqi army should gain some semblance of competence. After that three brigades of Americans should remain in Iraq for the next 10 years. One brigade would be a tripwire for Iran one brigade would be a tripwire for Syria and Hamas and the third brigade would be the nucleus of the training force of the Iraqi Army. Contractors paid for by the government Iraq would supplement this brigade.
I realize this is just an outline and I welcome any comments or criticism or additional depth.
Labels: Iraqi government
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
What is the fair tax? If you haven't been following the arguments, some basic understandings or at the following websites:
I need help understanding whether the fair tax is revenue neutral with regard to the rich. Since they pay all the taxes today, this is a critical question. What happens to the wealth of the rich while they own it and when they pass it on to their heirs? I need your help your.
What concerns me about the fair tax is whether the advocates of fair tax’s argument on revenue neutrality for the rich who can pass on their wealth to their children is real?
The following is a give-and-take between a doubter named Graetz and the fair tax expert Dr. Kotlikoff.
Graetz misstatement: “Tax reform should not reduce taxes on the very well off.” He contends “that it is hard to do that [tax the wealthy] without keeping some tax on income.”
FairTax rebuttal: Graetz does not acknowledge that a tax on consumption taxes not only current income when it is spent but also accumulated wealth when it is spent. The FairTax, as a consumption tax, is the only tax reform plan that taxes accumulated wealth.
According to Dr. Kotlikoff, “Taxing consumption is effectively the same as taxing wages
plus taxing wealth. The logic is simple if you consider the most straightforward way of taxing consumption, namely via a retail sales tax. In this case, when people spend their wages or their assets on goods and services, they pay sales taxes, meaning they end up with less to consume. This is no different from having the wages and wealth directly taxed, but facing no sales tax. But what about saving one's wages and wealth and spending these funds plus accumulated interest in the future? Doesn't this avoid the consumption tax? No. You end up paying consumption taxes not just on the original sums, but also on the accumulated interest. The same holds if you save your wages and wealth and give it to your kids. When they spend it, they pay consumption taxes on both P&I [principal and interest].” Source: “The Case for the ‘FairTax,’” by Laurence J.
Kotlikoff, Ph.D., The Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2005.
I understand Dr. Kotlikoff’s argument on how accumulated wealth ends up in future consumption. But his answer does not adequately address all the revenue neutral issues related to wealth. Since the rich and the very rich pay all the taxes under the current system the fair tax system needs to capture 23% of the money accumulated by the rich and the very rich to be revenue neutral.
The fair tax assumption is that accumulated wealth will be spent on taxable consumption. The rich spend only a small percentage of their annual income and consumption. They invest the rest. The fair tax system does not tax this investment. When this wealth is passed on to their children the fair tax assumption is that it will be spent on consumption. There is no argument for this assumption. The children could behave like a parent and spend only a fraction of the accumulated wealth.
Also the fair tax system does not tax consumption of used products. What the fair tax website does not address is buying a “used” company. Typical behavior of the wealthy.
If you remove this enormous amount of wealth that is currently taxed, but would not be taxed under the fair tax system, I have difficulty understanding how the fair tax system will be revenue neutral?
Liberty or Death
Monday, October 01, 2007
First let me say that I am a strong supporter of the war on terror but I have great concerns about what is going on in Iraq. My concerns stem from the fact that we have no idea what is going on in Iraq and never have. Ever since the pacification started there have never been established metrics that measure all facets of our and our Iraqi allies efforts to rebuild their country. Instead of getting a detailed measurable account of all the activities what we have continually been bombarded with is anectdotals both good and bad. How many reports have we listened to in the last six months? We had the blue ribbon report, we've had dozens of congressional delegations and their reports we get monthly updates from General Patraeus, we had the general accountability office report, we had the national intelligence estimate and now we have heard the long awaited September report from General Patraeus and Ambassador Crocker. What do we know? Does anyone believe they have an in-depth understanding of what's going on?
Let's look at it from another direction. Put yourself in the place of a CEO listening to the status reports of your vice presidents. If they presented what you've heard over the last six months is they’re any of you that wouldn't fire them all. In no area do we have a complete picture of our success or failure when compared to realistic metrics. And they give you some examples.
We hear of success in Anbar province. So what? What we should be hearing is how many provinces there are in Iraq and what is the status of each province. Have you heard that? Never.
We hear reports of reduce violence against Americans as well as Iraqi citizens. What is that mean? It is the same as saying that we have fewer murders in Los Angeles compared to last year. Those statistics alone are meaningless unless we know the reason why. Are there fewer insurgents? Does anybody even though how many insurgents there are? Does anybody know how many there were last year or the year before? Did they just go home? Is that why violence is down? What about Al Qaeda? We hear that we have driven them out of Baghdad and Anbar. Did they go home? Or did they move to areas that are easy pickings because there are no Americans in that area. Based on what we've heard does anyone have a clue?
We heard General Patraeus talk about the success of the Iraqi army he told us that battalions were now fighting against whom? He didn't tell us that. There are 350,000 in the Iraqi army. We heard about battalions. What about the rest of them? We heard him say there are some problems in manning and unit effectiveness. What does that tell us? Nothing. What we should've heard was how many Iraqi units there are and the status and reliability of each of those units. Why didn't we hear that? What about the national police? We heard from him that there are some unreliable units that need to be disbanded. Is that a meaningful report? Tell me how many units there are and the status and reliability of each of those units. Does anybody know this?
What about local police units? Same questions? How many of us are aware that there are 150,000 protective service personnel that protect the Iraqi government. Why aren't they involved in protecting their country?
The Iraqi government. They were given goals and failed to meet all but three. But we heard from Ambassador Crocker that he believes great progress will be made in the near future. Why should anyone believe him? Whose side is Iraqi government on anyway? We should know that.
Of all the billions that we send to the Iraqi government for reconstruction of their country do we know for each of these dollars went? How many millions or billions have the Iraqi government stolen from us? Don't you think that should be measured and reported? We know that the Iraqi government is totally ineffective. We know that Iraq has three major sectarian groups. Do we know the progress of each of these groups with regard to supporting their government? Has anybody asked? We also know that the real power in Iraq are the local tribal leaders. How many are there? How many support us? How many support the Iraqi government? We don't have a clue because nobody tells us.
What of our ability to seal the borders with Syria, Jordan Saudi Arabia and Iran? Is anybody telling us how many are being stopped and how many are getting through? What about materials? We heard General Patraeus say that he expects the number of IED's and EFPs going to the Shiites to increase. Why don't we fire our border leaders? What is going on with the Shiites? They used to be on our side and now they are more and more killing Americans. Do we know how many? Do we know whom? Do we know why? No. We did not hear any of this.
These are about a few examples. In every case if we heard what we have heard in the last six months from our vice presidents we would fire them all. Not because they're not fighting hard but because they can't provide even a half decent report of what's going on. You have to ask why? General Patraeus would never accept these half measured reports from his lieutenants. Why do we Americans have to be fed such crap?
Liberty or Death
Most of you probably don't read the Washington Post. It is not normally worth reading but today there was an excellent three-page article on the history of IED use in Iraq from 2003 until today. This time period is marked with moves and countermoves but the bottom line is still the same a handful (26 cells) of guys are causing two thirds of all the casualties in Iraq. This is not counting the greater number of Iraqi casualties. You can read the whole article at the following URL
Be patient is not easy to navigate this article. You should find a number of videos talking about IED's. The one that impressed me the most was narrated by a sergeant who is in a JERV a 26 ton truck built to withstand IED's. He was describing how 100 pound bomb went off directly underneath his truck creating a 7 foot deep crater that was 14 feet wide. It blew the truck 4 feet into the air at its slammed back down more or less intact in with nobody inside injured.
I've included here a few of the quotes that provide the statistics of how we are doing it is not good.
more than 81,000 IED attacks have occurred in Iraq, including 25,000 so far this year, according to U.S. military sources.
IEDs have caused nearly two-thirds of the 3,100 American combat deaths in Iraq, and an even higher proportion of battle wounds. This year alone, through mid-July, they have also resulted in an estimated 11,000 Iraqi civilian casualties and more than 600 deaths among Iraqi security forces. To the extent that the United States is not winning militarily in Iraq, the roadside bomb, which as of Sept. 22 had killed or wounded 21,200 Americans,
Yet bombs continued to detonate, and soldiers kept dying. The 100 or so daily IED "events" -- bombs that blow up, as well as those discovered before they detonate -- have doubled since the 50 per day typical in January 2006. The 3,229 IEDs recorded in March of this year put the monthly total in Iraq above 3,000 for the first time, a threshold also exceeded in May and June.
Two particularly deadly IEDs now account for about 70 percent of U.S. bombing deaths in Iraq: the explosively formed penetrator, an armor-killing device first seen in May 2004, and linked by the U.S. government to Iran, and the "deep buried," or underbelly, bomb that first became prominent in August 2005.
Our government has not been sitting still, they are developing vehicles with improved armor that can withstand in roadside bombs. The cougar at 12 tons is the lightest of the class and the Buffalo at 24 tons is obviously more substantial. The two URLs below give you more detailed information on this new class of vehicles including the cougar in the Buffalo. I could not find any reference to the JERV on the net. It must be too new. What is sad is that these vehicles will not get there in quantity before this war is over. Our guys are in the continued to die due to relatively small bombs.
Note. Since their deployment to Iraq in 2003 the Cougar and Buffalo vehicles employed with explosive ordnance disposal teams and engineers units have taken about 1,000 IED hits without a loss of life, said Wayne Phillips, a company vice president in charge of Marine Corps programs.
Liberty or Death
Saturday, August 18, 2007
This paper is of keen interest to those who love strategy over tactics. How many of you readers believe that the US’s Grand Strategy/Strategy in the Pacific was a good one if not a great one? I did before I did the following research. How many even know what the strategy was? Monday morning quarterbacking reveals what happened, and to some extent why. This paper investigates more of the why more than the what. I will even indulge myself in providing my own strategy for which I invite criticism.
Before you can evaluate any strategy, you need to establish unbiased benchmarks that all strategies can be measure against. Unbiased is subjective when you propose your own strategy so please be critical of what I say. To keep it high level I will use Sun Szu as my source for the following:
1. Know your enemy before doing anything. Today it is called intelligence, capabilities and intentions at all levels, political as well as military.
2. Use any and all means at your disposal to defeat your enemy. The best strategy is one that gets your enemy to surrender without a fight. Sun Szu goes on from there enumerating alternative axioms if plan A is not possible.
3. Beat your enemy with the minimum of effort. Use the psychological instead of force wherever possible. Convince your enemy to just give up by defeating his will to fight.
4. Identify the enemy’s center of gravity. Defeat that center of gravity if at all possible. Center of Gravity is that thing or things that once eliminated will cause your opponent to surrender. Example, convince your enemy that it is impossible to win. Note: wars are started when one side is convinced he can win.
Given these measures lets evaluate the US and Japanese prewar strategy and the post Japanese attack adjustments that had to be made. Japan achieved all of it’s objectives before May of 1942, so before we did anything after the fall of the Philippines and all the Island South of the Philippines and East of Midway. Pearl Harbor was never part of their prewar strategy until the last moment when Yamamoto was convinced it was possible. The Navy strategy was documented in Plan Orange which was conceived in 1897 and updated annually. Plan Orange essential was to drive out the Japanese by going through the Central Pacific ending with the defeat of the Japanese home islands. I don’t know the name of the army strategy, but its key point was to hold the Philippines and use it as a base to drive North. The Army strategy had to be revised somewhat when the Japanese pushed MacArthur all the way South to Australia. The Army strategy was then adjusted to use Australia as the base vice the Philippines. Drive North from that point when sufficient forces were available.
So what did the US know of the prewar Japanese intentions? We had the advantage of watching the Japanese war against China and Russia. In China the Japanese were there to play. Against Russia they quickly sought peace after being clocked by Russian armor. The US also learned very quickly at Guadalcanal the fanaticism of the Japanese soldiers and officers. This played significantly in expected casualties. The US knew that the Japanese imported a lot of raw resources, but were only dimly aware of their aims to establish an Empire in the Far East. One with no Westerners. Japan missed out in the land grab the Westerners waged in the 1800’s and in the 1930’s they believed it was their right to get a piece of the pie. Racial superiority played a role in this thinking.
The Japanese never planned to defeat the US, British Empire and the Dutch unconditionally. There aims were limited. Once they grabbed what they wanted their strategy was to seek peace. They believed this was possible based on their analysis of the character of the American people, who were strongly isolationist and were believed to be culturally inferior. This was extrapolated to the US military, who they believed would not fight and could not fight as well as the Japanese. Once the Japanese defensive perimeter was established, America would beat its head on the Japanese wall; then give up. Note, a defensive perimeter of a bunch of worthless islands makes little sense to you until you calculate the effect of putting land based air on the islands to cover the shipping lanes. Both sides rightly knew air power was the key to the geography of the Western Pacific.
The US never planned to start a war, but they did plan to finish it if one started. Essentially, the Plan was to totally defeat the Japanese military forces by frontal attack, used little finesse, but choosing to use a bigger hammer. Final result both sides miscalculated as to the other’s intentions.
Both sides knew the capabilities of the other, although the US was surprised by the superiority of the Zero. Both sides had the same command problems, the Army and Navy acted independently and fought over resources and strategies throughout the war. Japan had a government that let the military do as they pleased. FDR was a serious player in the prosecution of the war and made many of the high level decisions including key personnel. MacArthur and Nimitz were his hand picked guys, which lead to two independent wars being fought in the Pacific. MacArthur had limited naval support (Marines and ships) and Nimitz had little Army support, a couple of divisions. Both had their own air force. Marshall was also FDR’s hand picked guy, whereas King was utterly brilliant and a blunt speaker. He came up through the ranks. This became significant in the key decision to attack or bypass the Philippines and Okinawa versus Formosa. In both cases the Army plan was accepted.
So how do the Japanese and American strategies stack up against Sun Su’s principles? The Japanese plan was to defeat the will of the US. It rates high on paper, but when one looks deeper the plan was a good one for all the wrong reasons. It was conceived by working backwards. They could not defeat the Americans militarily so they had to rely on defeating the US will to win. This required the US to behave exactly as expected. Sun Szu would puke at this logic. A deeper understanding of the Americans, which was readily available before the war would have produced a different reality, but one that was not what they wanted, so it was dismissed.
The US strategy was abysmal, but guaranteed to succeed. It was abysmal because it required far more blood and treasure than was necessary. It was also poor in that no adjustments were made to reflect the reality of the fanaticism of the Japanese soldier.
The war went basically as the US planned. The MacArthur or South West Pacific front began from Australia and Island hopped to the Philippines. Side note, I always thought Guadalcanal was a navy operation. Marines were used, but the operation was under the control of Dug Out Doug. I no longer feel bad about calling it stupid.
Nimitz followed Plan Orange beginning with minimal island hopping through the Central Pacific starting with the Gilberts and Marshalls. He also waited until November of 1943 to start when he had a whole new navy, a fleet train, troop transports, amphibious assault craft and sea going floating dry docks for major repair. However, he made a major deviation from the plan by not taking Wake, but instead took a whole string of Islands in the South West before getting to his Plan Orange objective of the Marianas. From there the two fronts merged and Okinawa was taken by Nimitz as a prelude to invading the Japanese home Islands which would be primarily an Army affair. MacArthur invaded 39 major islands and Nimitz invaded 17. Most of these were bloody affairs where the Japanese fought to the last man. That is what happened.
What should have happened? At this point lets look at the strengths and vulnerabilities of Japan in May 1942 and rethink the strategy of how to defeat them economically rather than bludgeon them to death. All of this was known before the war and should have been factored into the planning. Strengths: fanatical militaristic culture with years of current war experience and a sufficiently large and experienced army. Weaknesses: a weak military industrial complex, slow R&D, cities made of wood, a country of 10 Islands requiring a lot of merchant traffic and self-sufficiency in food and almost nothing else especially oil and coal. Therefore, they required a lot of merchant traffic over very long distances.
Based on just these facts what would a Sun Szu Grand strategy look like? First choice; eliminate their will to fight. That would be the right choice, but a tuff one considering the culture of the Japanese people. How do you do that? Kill enough civilians and destroy enough infrastructure? Not likely. It did not work with Germany and the Japanese culture could endure far more pain than the Germans. But wait a minute; didn’t the atomic bombs end the war? Yes and no. Bombing was only part of the equation at best.
The alternative to bombing would be to starve them economically and food wise. First, Japan had an industrial society. Eliminate their raw materials and their industry would shut down. It would take three years or more to convert to a pre-industrial economy. You can’t grow horses and oxen overnight. Also most of the population either worked at a factory or in an industry that required factories to exist. In three years their society would totally collapse.
What about food? They were self sufficient before the war. As the war progressed they imported more and more food. Why, we will discuss later. Additionally, although self sufficient in food overall, not all 10 islands were self-sufficient. This required ships to move food between islands.
Based on these facts you can see the best choice for a grand strategy, eliminate their merchant and inter-island shipping (lots of san pans). Checkmate. Whether they surrendered or not is academic, they would be eliminated as a viable military force and become a third world economy. Their war ships and planes would sit do to lack of oil. In 1945 they imported no oil. Oil tankers were all sunk.
So how do you sink all their merchant ships? To see lets look at what happened. Sinking the Japanese merchant fleet was a secondary objective of the Navy. How can you tell? Look at Nimitz’s build plan. He built only 203 subs in the entire war. All were of the same pre war class, no R&D. 53 were sunk, or 26%. So what did they accomplish? 2,345 merchant ships totaling 8.6 million tons were sunk during the war. Subs and sub laid mines accounted for 64% of the losses. That is 1,500 ships sunk by approximately 176 subs. That was accomplished with the worst torpedo of any country in the war, and almost no R&D to improve it.
How does that compare to the Germans, who took merchant shipping seriously in spite of shortages in all other categories? The German’s built 1141 subs and 785 were lost. They sunk 3,843 merchant ships totaling 17 million tons. Germans had excellent R&D and a very good torpedo.
So lets look at efficiencies. The US: 5.5M tons with 176 subs or 31K tons per sub. Germans 17 million tons with approximately 750 subs or 23K tons per sub. How can an inferior US sub and torpedo out sink the Germans? Geography and an unplanned for Japanese strategic flaw. Japan had longer sailing distances and a lack of escorts because the destroyers were needed for fleet action. The island occupation and airfields, though a good naval interdiction strategy, they were a far greater liability. The Japanese had to resupply the garrisons scattered over the Pacific. At first they used merchant ships; they were sunk. Then they switched to subs and destroyers, which reduced the number of escorts, and subs sinking US merchants. An absolute disaster.
So this leads to an economical strategy that could have been foreseen in April 1942. First define your grand strategy to putting the Japanese people back in the Stone Age vice unconditional surrender. Develop your force structure and axis of advance to achieve this goal. How?
First build a lot more subs and focus them on merchants. Use the large modern fleet aircraft to sink additional merchants and draw out the Japanese fleet. This would have accelerated the demise of Japan sooner with very few casualties.
Second, eliminate the entire MacArthur front. It accomplished nothing towards attacking the Japanese center of gravity.
Third redirect Nimitz keep to Plan Orange. We did not need Nimitz to take 17 Islands in order to put bombers and Naval Forces in range of Japan. Skip the Gilberts and Marshalls. Take Wake Island. Then take 2 islands in the Bonins, skipping the well-defended Marianas. 2 Islands would be sufficient to put land-based air in range of Japan. The range would be shorter than the Marianas. That’s a total of 3 Islands vice 17 for Nimitz and 0 vice 39 for MacArthur. But what of the risks? Japanese land based air and naval convoy raiders. Using the Midway, Wake, Bonin axis would have put our convoys out of Japanese reach except in the Bonins, which would appear to be vulnerable to the Marianas. In truth repositioning the massive army air that MacArthur had to the Bonins would eliminate the air threat and Nimitz’s massive superiority in fleet ships and escort carriers would have eliminated the raider sub threat.
In the real war and as a secondary objective we destroyed the Japanese economy and the people were starving. What if we made this plan the primary objective?
Footnote concerning the MacArthur front. First, he had massive assets, 1/3 of all the US army divisions in the war supported by massive army air power. 27 divisions and equivalent air forces. Also level bomber could not hit ships worth a darn and the army had no dive-bombers. The had a small number of attack a/c fitted to sink merchants, which was MacArthur’s total contribution against the center of gravity. Dug Out Doug also made Montgomery look fast. He spent from March 42 till November 1944 taking New Guinea, a worthless jungle covered rock north of Australia with no resources need by Japan. Also he never did eliminate the Japanese garrison in the Philippines, they surrendered after the war.
I used World War II by John Ellis for my facts, for which I am thankful. It is an incredible collection of data.
Liberty or Death
Friday, July 27, 2007
You may have seen Col. Hunt on Fox News. He is by far the best military analyst in the news. Don't know much about him, he has written several books and is well respected by insiders, so he gets a lot of first hand poop.
His latest book is a riot to read. Lots of new facts and colorful language. He pulls no punches. Below are some excerpts from the book to get you interested. Read the book you will love it.
Liberty or Death
“The truth is that the Afghan military is not something we can fix in this lifetime. Without the Americans there, the army doesn't exist; it is just a bunch of guys we trained who will go home. We knew this-or should have known this. You can't take a group of people with a stoneage mentality and turn them into a military force in a short period of ' time. We have learned this from experience. For example, we have been in South Korea, training its armed forces, for more than fifty years and they are still not even close to our standards of fighting. We knew this but weren't honest about it, and now everyone is paying for it.
Given all this, it's no surprise that we've failed miserably when it comes to disbanding and gaining control of the militias. Afghanistan has 65,000 to 80,000 militia members roaming around. This makes any of our efforts to venture into more and more of the country too dangerous. The reality is that the country is slipping out of our control.
Even though we need right-now-on-the-ground-happening intelligence, we're sending in CIA personnel on ninety-day tours, and our State Department guys are assigned there for no more than six months. In ninety days, some people in the CIA can't even locate their position on a map, never mind build relationships with the people in that country. In six months, State Department employees barely have time to unpack their paper clips before it is time to come home.
We need a change in assignment policy. CIA and State Department personnel should be assigned to these places for a minimum of one year-just like in the military. When all the government agencies that are designed to fight this war are not on the same.
A few years ago the North Koreans perfected the counterfeiting of U.S. currency to the point that the U.S. Treasury Department could not discern the forgeries. North Korea uses this phony-money capability to buy things and undermine governments. Oh, don't forget that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has declared that "Israel must be wiped off the map." The range of the missiles Iran bought from North Korea is 3,500 kilometers-that gets them to Israel, and parts of Western Europe too.
Five years into an undeclared War on Terror and we have not increased the size of the military and only recently started to talk about beefing up our overall strength. Any questions? These guys are not serious-not in the way of winning serious, not in a way anyone who wants to fight terrorism recognizes.
If how poorly prepared we are for the War on Terror scares you-and it should-then the war in Iraq should really make your hair stand on end. We have gone from a great victory in Iraq, in which we lost fewer than 160 of our great soldiers and marines, to an insurgency and then to a civil war in which we have had more than 23,000 men and women killed or wounded. What the hell happened? We attacked and kicked Saddam Hussein's ass because he supposedly had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), was building nuclear weapons, and had barrels of chemical agents. We saw satellite pictures of trucks running around the desert with nasty stuff inside-except when we went in and looked for them, we found nothing. For two years, 1,500 experts ran around trying to find anything that even remotely looked, smelled, or tasted like a nuke, chemical weapon, or biological agent. At the end of this mad search, we were told the stuff ain't there-they don't know if it was ever there, and even if it was there, they have no idea where or when it went elsewhere.
I would have backed the war in Iraq if our government had said it was about influence in the Middle East, putting bases near Iran and Syria, and stopping Saddam from training terrorists at the secret Salman Pak facility. As the CIA and FBI have confirmed, this facility was a training facility.
In a great book, Cobra II, Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor show us that Rumsfeld controlled almost every aspect of the deployment to Iraq. He was in charge. He made the decisions. The buck stopped with him. Rumsfeld was presented with a workable plan, but he told the generals to tear it up and make one designed for a smaller force. He then rejected every other plan that was presented to him until the troop numbers were what he, and not the generals, wanted.
PowerPoint slides and protect their own asses. General John Abizaid, the MFFC (main motherfucker in charge), has two days of actual fighting in Grenada. General George Casey, the head guy in Iraq, has ... hold on, let me count them ... zero days in combat.
It took less than three weeks for our soldiers to get to Baghdad. Many of my great friends, soldiers with whom I served, were among the first into Iraq and Baghdad, and they have told me over and over that there was no plan for the peace. I have heard this from guys at all different levels and in all different services: generals, colonels, captains, sergeants, Navy SEALs, Special Forces soldiers, you name it. To a man, they say they weren't given a scintilla of guidance on what to do once they won the war. They never had any doubt that we would win, but none of them was told what to do the morning after.
Garner, a retired three-star Army general, was given the job to fix Iraq-specifically, as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). But he was given no money, no staff, and no power. He began reconstruction efforts in March 2003 with plans to hold Iraqi elections within ninety days and to quickly pull U.S. troops out of the cities to a desert base. Garner should have known better than to take this or any job under those circumstances. The guy in charge must have control over the money and have tasking authority. Garner had neither; he also lacked the guts to tell Rumsfeld to stick it. Garner's can-do spirit and ego got in the way, and it had the predictable result-failure. He was replaced by L. Paul Bremer on May 11, 2003.
Therefore, dismantling the Iraqi army and police was the number one dumb idea in a war that has seen a legion of dumb ideas. Some military Iraqi units had disappeared, but some had not. Some cops had run away, some had not. The looting did not help, but we had planned to deal with it by using the Iraq police and military until Bremer showed up, panicked, and signed a piece of paper dismissing them all. This yielded the predictable result-chaos.
Recently, at a graduation ceremony for the Iraqi military, the newly commissioned soldiers were told that they would be sent to Fallujah and not
their hometown. The soldiers responded by resigning and stripping off their uniforms right there on the parade grounds. Two steps forward, how many back?
We need to announce to the world that we are withdrawing in six months and leaving 50,000 troops in three bases. Divide Iraq into thirds and let the Shia keep one section, the Sunnis take another, and the Kurds keep the north. Will giving the Kurds territory piss off the Turks? You bet-but they deserve it for not allowing us to use the northern approach from Turkey during the initial invasion in March 2003, and also for their persecution of the Kurds for decades. Put a U.S. military base in each third to continue influencing and watching Iraq, Syria, and Iran. This will help us finish the job we started-that is, to achieve a stable and secure Iraq. We should ensure that there is power sharing within a centrally located Iraqi government and that oil revenues are shared.
Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussein revealed the plan after interviewing top al-Qaeda lieutenants for his 2005 book Al-Zargawi: Al-Qaeda's Second Generation. The terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is now dead, of course, but make no mistake, the grand plan remains in place.
Here's how these seven phases roll out:
Phase 1, "The awakening": The terrorists use attacks like 9/11 to provoke the United States into declaring war on the Islamic world, which will mobilize Islamic radicals, getting them to rally around al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda considers this phase complete.
Phase 2, "Opening eyes": During this period, which Hussein said would last until the end of 2006, the terrorists continue to form their secret battalions and show Muslims how to wage war on the "infidels" and the "Western conspiracy."
Phase 3, "Arising and standing up": This phase, which should last until 2010, will bring increasingly frequent attacks against secular Turkey and archenemy Israel. The aroused Muslims will go to war against the infidels, and the devastation that Israel will face will force world leaders to negotiate with al-Qaeda.
Phase 4, "The downfall": This period will last until 2013 and will see the fall of hated Arab regimes, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Oil suppliers will be attacked and the U.S. economy will be targeted with cyberterrorism. Al-Qaeda will control the Persian Gulf, the oil, and most of the Middle East, giving them enough power and resources to attack the U.S. economy and military forces.
Phase 5, "The caliphate": Sometime between 2013 and 2016, al-Qaeda will establish the caliphate-that is, one government for all Muslim nations. All Western influences will be eliminated from the Muslim world. The caliphate will organize an army for the next phase.
Phase 6, "Total world conquest": Beginning in 2016, the Islamic army will begin the "fight between the believers and the nonbelievers" that Osama bin Laden has predicted. By 2022, the rest of the world will be conquered by the mighty and unstoppable armies of Islam.
Phase 7, "Definitive victory": By 2025, the army of "one and a half billion Muslims" will have proven their superiority. All the world's inhabitants will
be forced to convert to Islam or be ruled by the caliphate as second-class citizens.
The first thing we need to do is modify our vehicles to resist the effects of EFPs-something we could do if the private sector threw money at the problem. But we could also deal with the source of the problem, Iran. We have tools in our political arsenal that could deal with Iran, at least at this level of weaponry.
Our police, fire, and National Guard can't talk to each other. Hell, they can't talk to themselves on any single emergency frequency. This is after five years of spouting about how "we are safer."
Care to guess who has come up with a fix? It's none other than a Democrat, a senator from Delaware named Joe Biden. The fix is rather complicated, but simply put, it would require an expansion of the channels designated for public safety. By converting the analog signals to digital, we'd make many more channels available and would secure certain channels for the exclusive use of the responders. In other words, they would be able to talk to one another and messages would get through. Also, the signal quality would be significantly improved. Biden proposed this as early as 1997 as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. The 9/11 Commission also urged Congress to take steps to ensure greater communication capacity. So let's get it done. For crying out loud, what are we paying Homeland Security for? I don't care who fixes this stuff or how much it costs as long as it gets fixed, and gets fixed now.
We can also install sensors inside containers in order to track their movements. General Electric has developed a sensor called CommerceGuard that can be mounted inside a cargo container and can tell government officers if a container is opened at any time en route from factory to stores. This provides protection during the most vulnerable leg of any container's journey: the trip from the factory abroad to a foreign port. We can do lots of things. All of it takes money and a change in attitude-that is, being serious about our national security. We need
to get serious.
Nearly 8 million containers come through our ports each year; of those, only about 6 percent are inspected closely. This leaves us incredibly vulnerable. Not a single, solitary open-water or river port in the United States of America is adequately secured. None! Sea and river ports are difficult but not impossible to secure. Ports cover large open areas and provide many varied ways of entering-the water on which they are based, the land next to the water, and the vast road networks needed to support the port facility. It is a lot of area to cover.
Want to get some idea of how bad this can get and just how vulnerable we are? Let's look at the Port of Tampa. No one expects Florida to be hit. We tend to think that the terrorists are stupid and that they will try to hit D.C. or New York again. But Tampa has a population of 320,000. Tampa is a tourist hub. It is also Florida's busiest port in terms of raw tonnage of cargo. Half of Florida's cargoes
include hazardous materials such as anhydrous ammonia, liquid petroleum, gas, and sulfur. Tampa has a nuclear power facility. Tampa is also home to Central Command (CENTCOM) and MacDill Air Force Base, where the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and any other place in the Middle East that might have to be conquered or disturbed, are headquartered. Any serious attack on the Port of Tampa will cost us billions in commerce and kill untold numbers of people.
Since the beginning of the Iraq war more than 18,000 U.S. troops have required medical air transport out of Iraq due to disease.' The Army doesn't know what diseases we're talking about or why the number is so high. Might be nice to know, don't you think?
By 2006, more than 850 soldiers in Iraq had been diagnosed with a parasitic skin disease.
Toward the end of World War II, we got lazy and stupid. It seems we lost our way, and it is reflected in the other battles we have had to fight: Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Lebanon, Bosnia, Kosovo, and the failed Iranian hostage rescue. Somewhere along the way, between technological advances and arrogance, we started to believe we could do war without casualties. The officers of the corps lost its sense of purpose by taking on the roles of briefers, writers, and career men; they were no longer soldiers. They did not appear to care about their men, only about themselves and their futures. These are the people in charge today.
We can't win the War on Terror with this current crop; nor can we win with the
current way of thinking and doing things.
A sterling example of a commendable leader is Colonel, David Hackworth. He was given eight Purple Hearts, ten Silver Stars, and two Distinguished Service Crosses. Colonel Hackworth earned each honor he was granted. He had all the values of a true leader, the same ones he wrote about in his book Steel My Soldiers' Hearts. The values are courage, perseverance, communication skills, and teamwork. Hackworth had a feel for battle; he loved his men. He was innovative, selfless, and an amazingly brave soldier and leader.
Losers. Want a name? How about this one: General Tommy Franks. Franks' job was to face, chase, and kill the enemy. A good leader does this because that is what he has trained his troops to do; he knows his men, and he knows that doing his job involves putting them at risk. You tell them that, and you go with them when and wherever you can. But Franks did not have the courage to put his men at risk to get Osama bin Laden; he refused to send 900 Rangers in to capture the terrorist. He didn't want his easy victory in Afghanistan to be tarnished by
disaster or the loss of life.
The Pentagon undercut the Army to make their point. They leaked in, formation on Shinseki, they ridiculed his numbers (which, by the way, the Army staff had produced), and then they announced his successor fifteen months before Shinseki was set to retire, which of course made him a lame duck.
Army Secretary Thomas White was fired in April 2003 after ex pressing his agreement with Shinseki's assessment of the needed troop levels in Iraq. According to USA Today, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "was furious with White when the Army Secretary agreed with Shinseki." In an interview after leaving the Pentagon, White said that senior Defense officials "are unwilling to come to grips" with the scale of the postwar U.S. obligation in Iraq, adding, "It's almost a question of people not wanting to 'fess up' to the notion that we will be there a long time and they might have to set up a rotation and sustain it for the long term."
McMaster knows too that part of being a leader is being up front with the troops and witnessing firsthand the reality of the situation on the ground. While on active duty, he wrote the definitive piece of criticism on the Vietnam War, Dereliction o f Duty.
There were provisions that already existed within the law for these kinds of situations. There was a super-secret court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. The FISA court was available to the government-at any time-to go over the evidence to determine whether there was probable cause to eavesdrop. If you thought there were not enough judges available to do the work in a timely fashion, you thought wrong. The number of FISA court judges was increased from seven to eleven in 2001 upon the passage of the Patriot Act, and no fewer than three must reside within twenty miles of the District of Columbia. I am betting you think doing a wiretap or bugging someone does not happen fast
enough. Well, that's not true. It takes hours and sometimes days to do it right; it must be checked and rechecked. So the good guys have plenty of time to get the FISA court's approval. Plenty of time.
The FISA court also had a pretty good track record as far as this stuff was concerned. Hell, when compared to other government institutions or programs like the Department of Homeland Security, it attains superstar status. According to statistics compiled from the Department of Justice, the FISA court did not reject a single warrant application from its beginning in 1979 through 2002. In 2003 it rejected only four applications. Count them, one, two, three, four. Four, quatro.
That's A few years ago, the Pentagon actually got it right and founded a secret unit called Able Danger. This unit brought together the best military operators, intelligence officers, technicians, and planners from the Special Operations Command, the Army, and the Defense Intelligence Agency to focus on al-Qaeda. Their goal was to discover information about al-Qaeda and then use that information to prepare intelligence and military operations designed to detect, monitor, and-when the timing was right-destroy al-Qaeda.
The guys who found this info said, "Hey, we need to tell the FBI and have these guys picked up." The Pentagon lawyers said, "No!" Then they ordered the information destroyed. Why? Well, because of the big wall that separated foreign intelligence gathering from domestic intel gathering. And because these agencies didn't like to share.
Former FBI director Louis Freeh has told us that the Bureau could have prevented 9/11 if it had been given this information. We had information
that could have saved 3,000 lives, and not only did we not act on it, we destroyed it. Lost to us now are the profiles and methodologies used to identify Atta. They are all gone. Why? Petty bureaucratic turf wars and the lack of interagency cooperation and coordination created this mess.
Provisions of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. This act allows us to deport foreign-born individuals without charge or trial. You preach violence, you leave. You advocate killing us in the public square, you go home. You associate with terrorists, you can leave; in fact, we will help you leave on a slow tramp steamer with lots of work to do on the voyage home. Things have changed. The terrorists are on our soil. We have to protect ourselves. Will the courts here uphold these policies? We'll see, but so far, so good.
The government has responded to the Hamdi decision by passing, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which sets up a system of military trials for suspected terrorists. Of course, we aren't sure how this will work in practice, or even if the courts will rule that it's constitutional. It'll probably take years before we know any of this. The bottom line is that we're still not dealing with the issue.
An estimated 50 percent of all' combat injuries are blast injuries resulting in traumatic brain injury; that's a 30 percent increase in traumatic brain injury from other wars. So could we get our guys better helmets to protect them against such blasts? You bet. But they're probably hard to find and ridiculously expensive, right? Uh, guess again. According to Operation Helmet, the necessary
shock-absorbing helmet pads are commercially available. And they cost under $100!
The speech followed weeks of the political equivalent of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. The entire team leading or rather, not leading, in Iraq has been canned, reshuffled, moved around, fired, lessened, or made to retire. From the political leadership in Iraq, with the change of Ambassador Kalaziaid, to the head military guy in Iraq, General Casey, to General Abazaid, the CENTCOM boss, to Mr. Negroponte, the first and so far the worst National Intelligence Director, all have been changed.
None of this will help. Success in Iraq, which I continue to hope for but increasingly see as lost, rests with a political and economic success, as it
has for the past three years. Changing a few generals and an ambassador without drastic policy changes will not work. My bottom line is no more soldiers should die in Iraq. No more soldiers should lose their body parts for a country and a people that will not stand up for themselves. On a recent visit to Iraq, I was once again shown how great our servicemen and women are, how brave, how dedicated, and how they have given enough. Our great military did their job. Now, it is beyond time for our politicians to do the same.
THE THREATS-AND HOW WE'RE FIGHTING THEM
Improvised Explosively Formed Projectile deployed in Iraq. The weapon is filled with high explosives and an inwardly dished steel or copper plate is fitted to the front of the canon. It is this plate that is formed into the projectile when hit by the detonating wave from the explosive.
The number of aliens other than Mexican ("OTMs") illegally crossing the border has grown at an alarming rate over the past several years. Based on U.S. Border Patrol statistics there were 30,147 OTMs apprehended in FY2003, 44,614 in FY2004, 165,178 in FY2005, and 108,025 in FY2006. Most of them were apprehended along the U.S. Southwest border.”