Monday, March 24, 2008

Separatist Movements...Tibet

Most people pull for the underdog, whether it is in sports or in national separatist movements. But all separatist movements are not the same.

In the 1980s, the Soviet Union crumbled leaving fifteen commonwealth states, with Russia still maintaining a dominant role. After WWI and WWII, there were major national boundary realignments. We have seen a re-drawing of Balkan boundaries. The U.S. fought for its independence from England in the 1770s. It has happened in most places in the world, from Asia, Europe, Africa the Americas to the isles of the seas.

But not all movements are in the best interests of the parties -- from an outsider's perspective. In the U.S., we fought a bloody war between the states. Would we have been better off as the USA and CSA...or fifty different nations? Are the Balkan nations better off as independent nations. Would Scotland and Wales be better off as independent nations? Would Taiwan be better off as an independent nation? Would Tibet be better off as an independent country?

Tibetan history does not provide a clear answer. What's interesting about this current uprising by the Buddhist Monks and others favoring an independent Tibet is that it is not limited to the Tibet Autonomous Region; it has spilled over into Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan provinces.

In a remote place like Tibet, complete independence might be a dream come true for many but economically, it will be a disaster. Some countries lack the physical resources, the population, the transportation systems to succeed in today's world. Economic growth requires opportunity, financing, infrastructure, education and a growing population with strong work ethic and a willingness to become a global player.

An independent Tibet, sandwiched between India and China, would be less viable than Mongolia (also caught between two major powers). Even the Dalai Lama has not demanded complete independence, rather greater autonomy within China.

China is a communist nation. It does hard core communists things. It views its citizens as robots operating to fulfill the government's long-term plans. The concept of independence is communist blasphemy.

Greater autonomy should be Tibet's aspiration. Complete independence is not always in the best interests of both parties.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Federal Reserve’s Bailout of Bear Stearns

Hank Paulson, the US Treasury Secretary, defended the Federal Reserve’s decision to rescue Bear Stearns. He said the government would take whatever action was necessary to ensure the stability of the financial system ... even though he recognised the risk of moral hazard.
“You need to balance these two considerations. At this time, given where we are and given how important it is to minimise disruptions in our capital markets and how important it is to protect the economy . . . this was the right decision.”

Mr Paulson declined to say whether the government would be prepared to rescue other investment banks that ran into similar difficulties.

“The government is prepared to do what it takes to maintain the stability of our financial system,” he said. “That’s our priority.”
The people in the highest governmental positions seem to feel that if they don't do something--make something happen--they are not doing their jobs.

Is rescuing a publicly held company that put itself in its position, due to poor business decisions, the role of government? Is this the best use of taxpayers' money ... helping out wealthy investment bankers?

Can we assume that their next action will be the bailout of property speculators and people who bought homes with poor terms and too expensive for their financial situation?
We are halfway down the slippery slope to a full-fledged government rescue for just about everybody with a grievance or a problem that involves a mortgage: banks, lenders, borrowers, the whole crowd.
On a side but related note, investors have increased their bets that other bidders would emerge for Bear Stearns or that JPMorgan Chase would be forced to improve its offer, driving shares in the beleaguered investment bank to nearly three times the price at which JPMorgan agreed to take it over.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama's Candicacy Is Now About Race

He was appalled by Don Imus' comment about Rutgers women's basketball and glad that Hillary Clinton forced the removal of Geraldine Ferraro after her comment about Obama'a presidency run. He was okay for twenty years listening to Jeremiah Wright's racist and anti-America ranting...until it became widely know.

Obama is a racist, plain a simple. He is a country hater. He's married to one. Are they products of twenty years of Jeremiah Wright's indoctrination?

At some time, he elected to "embrace" his black half over his white half. He has done this for political expediency. There was no way that he didn't know about Jeremiah Wright's anti-American and racist diatribes from the pulpit.

A NY Times editorial claims the Obama speech on 3/18/08 was a "profile in courage." Wrong. It was an Obama political necessity.
Mr. Obama had to address race and religion, the two most toxic subjects in politics. He was as powerful and frank as Mitt Romney was weak and calculating earlier this year in his attempt to persuade the religious right that his Mormonism is Christian enough for them.

Mr. Obama’s eloquent speech should end the debate over his ties to Mr. Wright since there is nothing to suggest that he would carry religion into government. But he did not stop there. He put Mr. Wright, his beliefs and the reaction to them into the larger context of race relations with an honesty seldom heard in public life.

Mr. Obama spoke of the nation’s ugly racial history, which started with slavery and Jim Crow, and continues today in racial segregation, the school achievement gap and discrimination in everything from banking services to law enforcement.
These are quintessential liberal talking points. From the Washington Post:
Obama acknowledged that he had heard his pastor say controversial things with which he disagreed, but he also said that in personal conversations he never heard Wright speak in a derogatory way about any ethnic group. And the senator described his congregation as typical of African American churches in embodying "the struggles and successes, the love, and, yes, the bitterness and biases that make up the black experience in America.

"I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can disown my white grandmother -- a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me . . . but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed her by on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe."
Pure cop-out. You can't chose your family but you can chose your minister. It is men like Obama, Jackson and Sharpton that keep the racial divide alive. They do it for their political and economic purposes. It pays to be a political racist. It pays to be anti-American. It pays to be a flaming liberal.

In Thomas Sowell's new book Economic Facts and Fallacies, ever since the 1930 and FDR's New Deal, the incessant, experimental policies of the left have proven to not only be unsuccessful but counterproductive. The "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again" formula has been a disaster. (BTW, he has great chapter on racial facts and fallacies).

Obama's speech was a pronouncement of his liberal policies. He wants government to increase its spending on social experiments. He knows they will not work. Rather he wants the power, the glory and the money associated with leading loser liberal programs. He wants to do this from the highest office in the world.

Obama stated: "Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed."

There is an obvious culture issue here. Many black church's integrate politics into their sermons. However, not the churches I have attend. Not the LDS Church. No Barack, I have not strongly disagreed with my bishop, stake president or any general authority. Your knowledge about American religion is obviously limited.

For most people, attending church is not the same as attending a political rally. Most attend church to worship God. As a Mormon, we also renew the covenants we made at baptism.

For those who say religion has no place in politics, I agree. But when your religion is politics like in the case of Trinity United, that stance must be tossed out.

Obama's true colors have come out. He has now made his candidacy about race.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day! With American origins in the 18th century, it was and is a celebration of Ireland and the Irish.

I just finished reading two novels written by Edward Rutherford: The Princes or Ireland and The Rebels of Ireland. Collectively they cover Irish history in fiction format beginning with the Irish clans and paganism, through the rise of Catholicism, the Norse conquests, the English and Protestant centuries, the four year famine of the mid-19th century, the exodus to America and to the eventual establishment of the republic in the 20th century.

The one item that I consider new information for me was the extent of the apartheid practices of the Protestants over the Catholics. For centuries, the Catholics could not hold public office. They were relegated to the fringes of society, performing the lowest jobs. There was a limit on their social and economic progress.

Although St. Patrick was Catholic, the holiday has little to do with Catholicism. For many, the day is another excuse to drink massive quantities of beer, namely Guinness, it is really a day to recognize the Irish culture and its contribution to the western world. Because of the large Irish ancestry within American, the celebration is warranted.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Senate Earmark Moratorium Down in Flames

On Thursday evening 3/13/08), the Senate voted to establish an earmark moratorium for fiscal years 2009. By a margin of 71-29, the vote failed. Shocked?

Of the 71 pork-loving Senators, 26 of them were Republicans...including the two Senators from Utah, my fair state. I have written both asking them why they are immune from earmarking funds for self-centered purposes. Like always, I will get a form letter response but without any real answer.

Here's their names and their "pork totals" for this past year, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. You can see the actual Excel spreadsheet for the entire House and Senate <here>.

Bennett (R-UT) $296.1 million
Bond (R-MO) $529.9 million
Brownback (R-KS) $365.6 million
Bunning (R-KY) $23.7 million
Cochran (R-MS) $977.7 million
Coleman (R-MN) $231.9 million
Collins (R-ME) $137.8 million
Craig (R-ID) $150.2 million
Crapo (R-ID) $150.5 million
Domenici (R-NM) $600.0 million
Gregg (R-NH) $93.9 million
Hagel (R-NE) $102.0 million
Hatch (R-UT) $241.7 million
Hutchison (R-TX) $839.2 million
Lugar (R-IN) $146.4 million
Murkowski (R-AK) $63.8 million
Roberts (R-KS) $333.0 million
Shelby (R-AL) $635.1 million
Smith (R-OR) $273.0 million
Snowe (R-ME) $126.5 million
Specter (R-PA) $404.4 million
Stevens (R-AK) $524.5 million
Vitter (R-LA) $386.8 million
Voinovich (R-OH) $170.6 million
Warner (R-VA) $702.2 million
Wicker (R-MS) (totals unavailable)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Contempt of Congress vs Executive Privilege

The House Judiciary Committee has filed suit to force former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten to provide information about the firing of U.S. attorneys.

The U.S. Attorney General refused to refer the situation to the Washington D.C. U.S. attorney.

A short history of contempt of Congress was provided today by NPR's Morning Edition (six minute audio).

Mark Rozell, Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University, has written on executive privileges. He has said that all presidents withhold information. However not all information merits withholding or secrecy. There is no blanket immunity.

This contempt of Congress vs. executive privilege is poised to be a Constitutional showdown that we all should follow with keen interest.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Racism in Presidential Politics

Rush Limbaugh on ESPN's NFL Countdown program on 9/28/03) talking about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb:
"I don't think he's [Donovan McNabb] been that good from the get-go. I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They're interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there's a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he really didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."
Rush "resigned" after the quote.

Geraldine Ferraro, former Presidential VP candidate with Walter Mondale, recently told a California newspaper:
"if Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position."
She "resigned" from the Clinton administration. Clinton has repudiated her comments [as racist]...thrown under the bus. Obama also disapproved...coming from a man who is a member of the one of the most racist churches in America.

Her comments are not racist. (She may be a racist but these comments are not.) The statements are merely a component of this year's election process. Just like Clinton's campaign is historic because she would be the first female President, Obama could be America's first black President. It is part of the "history." It should be discussed.

Obama claims the voter will decide the next President based on the issues, not on race. I hope so, because Obama will lose. But the current polls say otherwise. According to Rasmussen Reports, of likely Democrat voters nationwide:
Black: Obama 81% Clinton 7%
White: Clinton 50% Obama 39%

Women: Clinton 51% Obama 40%
Men: Obama 60% Clinton 28%
It seems obvious the Democrats have the corner on racism. Whites (non-minorities) cannot talk about race openly. However, any minority race can say whatever they want about race, because are part of a minority. By their definition, they cannot be racists.

Race and gender are part of this year election because of the possibility of them being a first. But that should be just a small part of the discussion. Unfortunately, it is starting to dominate.

I agree with Obama: the nominee and new President should be decided on the issues. Because if that is the case, Clinton and Obama will fail.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Inflation Hits Home

One does not need to be an economist to know that prices are up everywhere. It is more expensive to drive, to eat out, to buy groceries, to pay for utilities. Everything is higher, except for housing values (but they might have been over-valued anyway -- they are in Utah)

It all comes down to energy, namely oil. With oil over $107 a barrel and gasoline pump prices near an all-time high of $3.22/gallon of unleaded.

With an inability to open new drilling operations and build new refineries, supply is impacted.

The whole biofuel hype benefits a few ( a few farmers) but the masses suffer. Most biofuel production in the U.S. is marginally efficient. According to an October 2007 National Geographic article (Green Dreams), For every unit of fossil-fuel energy used to make corn ethanol (E85), the energy output is 1.3. Very inefficient...a losing proposition if it were not government subsidies.

Cane ethanol (from sugarcane, popular in Brazil) is more efficient with eight units of output for evevy one unit of input. Biodiesel (from soybeans) has a 1:2.5 energy balance. Cellulosic ethanol (prairie grass, ag residue, paper pulp, forestry waste, municipal waste) has an energy balance ranging from 1:2 to 1:36, depending on production methods.

Having a government policy that transfers food growing land to inefficient fuel producing land is reactionary at best. Biofuel is good if it is efficient and if is does more good that harm.

Algae, in plastic bags, siphon CO2 from the local power plant, can double its mass with hours. While an acre of corn produces 300 gallons of ethanol or 60 gallons of biodiesel, an acre of algae can churn out more than 5000 gallons of biofuel per year.

The free market works if government gets out of the way. There obviously needs to be some oversight, like on pollution, but if the American businessman (or woman) was given the opportunity to use his creativity, energy production and efficiency could diminish the roll OPEC (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Qatar, Indonesia, Libya, UAE, Algeria, Nigeria, Ecuador, Angola and Gabon) can play in the American economy.

Right now, the government's policy are driving us to stagflation. We see high price, decreased growth, and less buying power (wages are flat). Low unemployment is our saving factor, but that's going to change as people spend less.

The free market works if government's roll is diminished. Because that will not change, optimism is not rampant.

What will happen if all the savings and investment we have made into the equities market tank and do not come back for years. There's no bailout for that.

I prefer optimistism, but lack it today.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Republicans Must Run As Conservatives or Loose

Again and again, we see these lifetime Republicans trying to beat Democrats at their game. The populist messaging and "let government solve your problems" are core Democrat principles. Republicans will lose at this game almost every time.

When I read about former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's congressional seat falling into the hands of the Democrats, I had two thoughts: i) he ran on middle-of the road / borderline liberal principles and ii) he ran as a smarter than you, privileged insider.

In the last 15 years the Republican Party has squander a huge opportunity from the House sweeps of 1994 to Bush's two terms in the White House. They had the all of the opportunity to implement conservative principles: smaller government, lower taxes, the burden of success delegated to the common man. They facilitated and ballooned the deficit, increased the size of government, expanded on entitlements and have made mankind more dependent on the government in almost all things.

We do not need this republicrat party (the reason I left the party). We need a party that is true to conservative principles. We need to nominate conservatives, not posers; people who live and practice the conservative values. That's how elections will be won by Republicans (or whatever they are called in the future).

America wants down-to-earth conservatives, not fat-cat lawyers and men / women willing to do anything to win and remain in office, including selling out to special interests and big government / feel-good programs.

That's why McCain will lose in November by a landslide to Obama. McCain represents the old and the establishment; Obama the new and fresh. Unfortunately, ideology will be trumped by polish and eloquence.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Israel-Palestine Conflict: Killing Children

I can only assume that everyone has an opinion regarding the conflict between the Jews and the Arabs in Israel/Palestine. I have always been on the side of Israel. It is not because I have a greater affinity for the Jews vs the Arabs, but I look at their actions.

It has also become a defining element of American Conservatives vs Liberals. The Conservatives tend to side with the Jews while the Liberals with the Arabs.

(Note, I refuse to call the Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians. The entire area is Palestine. These is no difference between the Arabs in Jordan and those in the West Bank.)

The latest massacre at a Jerusalem school points out the wanton slaughter that continues to occur on a regular basis in Israel. The Thursday evening shooting at Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood broke a two-year lull in terror in the capital.

You have Abbas condemning the shootings, but Hamas praising them, if not claiming responsibility.

How does anyone praise the killing of children? There was a party-like atmosphere in Gaza. There was some death to Arabs chants outside the seminary. We all know more Arabs have been killed in this long-running conflict, for obvious reasons. That does not mean they are less guilty of being the aggressors. Peace rests with them and the elimination of the Israeli nation is not an option.

The Arabs hide in churches and school, launching missiles into Israel with the goal to kill as many as possible. Israel has always retaliated with a goal to minimize collateral damage.

How would America respond if say, Native Americas starting launching missiles from one of their reservations into a major city center? I would hope to retaliate with fury. But because of our liberal governments, they would side with the less-fortunate, claiming they did it because of the conditions beyond their control.

Go to Israel and the West Bank. In the former, you are in a highly development nation, albeit small. In the later, you are in a third world. This is 100 percent a result of their incompetent and misguided leadership. They had their chance for peace years ago but they rejected it. They would rather live in filth, corruption and abhorrent communities than to allow Israel to exist.

If they hold out long enough, they may get there. The Arabs will just keep making babies, educating them on "evils" of the Jews, not on serious scholastic endeavors. The Jews will not increase enough in population through natural means to counterbalance the Arabs, although many will continue to emigrate to Israel.

I can also say this: if Arabs children would have been killed by Israeli retaliation, the MSM would report "children were killed." But because they were Jews killed, the MSM report "people killed."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Do Over In Florida and Michigan

This is just too good to not comment upon. When the state Democratic Parties in Florida and Michigan decided to move up their primaries in protest of Iowa and New Hampshire's first dibs on presidential nomination, the DNC told them them that their votes would not count.

Each political party sets its rules for the presidential nomination process. In this case, the DNC has trumped the state parties.

Neither state thought the nomination process would be this close at this time -- the time they might have conducted their normal presidential primaries. Now they are are in an up-roar over their states' not having a say in their party's presidential nomination.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) warned the Democratic National Committee Thursday that it is facing the “biggest train wreck you’ve ever seen” if a standoff is not resolved over his state’s pledged delegates to the party’s presidential nominating convention.

Nelson sent a letter to DNC Chairman Howard Dean Thursday asking the committee to either accept the Jan. 29 results of the primary election or pay for a redo of the elections, which could cost in the range of $20 million.
DNC Chair Howard Dean said they would not pay for the do-over. You can't write this drama.

In hindsite, why did Florida and Michigan preceed to hold their useless primaries? Why did they spend the money on something that would not count? Unless they were in the Mrs. Clinton camp to begin with ... the only one on the ballot.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

H. R. 5124 - Reinstatement of the Secure Fence Act of 2008

I was listening to the words of that great journalist Geraldo Rivera discuss his thoughts on immigration, while promoting his new book, His Panic.

He was comparing the immigration issues of today with those of the 19th century -- the Irish, Italian, and other Europeans. He was talking about the social barriers they faced -- the persecution, the outright distaste many had for them.

Those people came to America legally. The persecution they faced was based, to a large degree, that the established groups were not.

The Hispanics that are in America illegally are net consumers, not producers. Certainly they do jobs that many Americans are unwilling to do at the fees they are willing to do them for. But that does not mean we turn a blind eye to their breaking of the law. They steal identities. They consume social services, at taxpayer expense. They fill the courts and prisons.

Geraldo said: "why isn't there a fence on the northern border?" It is because the border issue is concerned about less terrorism and more economics.

Duncan Hunter (R-CA) is leading the charge to amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to provide for two-layered, 14-foot reinforced fencing along the southwest border.

H. R. 5124 or the Reinstatement of the Secure Fence Act of 2008, is responsible legislation.
The recent failure of the highly touted "virtual fence" (that DHS spent more than $20 million developing) is a slap in the face to every citizen who has been demanding control of the borders. But DHS isn't committed to securing the borders. If they were, they would have followed the mandates of the Secure Fence Act, and duplicated the barrier built in San Diego. That 14-mile fence has been extremely effective in lowering illegal crossings and drug traffic. In fact, apprehensions have decreased due to fewer crossings. In simple language, the double-layered fence works.
The bill demands that 700 miles of double-layered fencing must be constructed within six months of the bill’s enactment.

If you'd like to see the legislation progress, sign the Grassfire petition.

Rounding up and deporting all the illegals is not prudent public policy. However, controlling the southern border, due to their corrupt and broken governments and economies, will help us enforce prudent immigration policies including deporting illegal immigrating criminals and discourage the out of control flow of humans.

Monday, March 03, 2008

A Politician's Church Is Fair-Game?

The press did a job on Romney regarding his religion. In general, Mormon's welcome those interested in better understanding our faith and doctrines. More often than not, the press tries to pick holes in it, going back to the 19th century for the dirt.

When Barack Obama's religion is questioned, he merely says he is Christian, that he prays to Jesus. (Doctrinal clarification and perhaps a reason for anti-Mormon Christian claims: Mormons pray to God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Jesus Christ.)

Many, due to his name, think he is Muslim. Despite his father's and step-father's Muslim roots, there is no evidence that Obama is Muslim. Interesting, according to Muslim tradition, if he was a Muslim by " birth," he's still a Muslim. I wonder if he could get into Mecca? If he denounces his Islamic roots and professes Christianity, does he warrant stoning or some Koranic punishment?

We have to take him at his word: he's Christian. As such, the church he attends should be fair game from a questioning and critique perspective.

He attends the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. This Church is
a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian... Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain "true to our native land," the mother continent, the cradle of civilization.
Is this a racist Church? Do we want a president that is associated with a religious organization that focuses on racial inequality, Africa, black culture, liberation and restoration? Is he color blind (his Church certainly is not)?

If it was okay to scrutinize Romney and the LDS Church, it is okay to do the same with Obama and Trinity United.

However, no candidate's religion should come up as a "qualification," per our Constitution (Article VI)
but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States