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Health Care Reform

Caveat Emptor for Those Considering "the Public Option"

November 9th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid capitulated to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and proposed health care reform legislation with a public option for Senate vote. Aside from the paradigm shift from a private sector medical system to a government run and controlled medical system, the public option will inevitably lead to higher medical costs, lower quality health care and ultimately health care rationing. It also is the gateway to single payer government-run health care because ultimately regulated private insurance companies cannot compete against subsidized government health care.

It is instructive to follow the inevitable chain of events that will lead to inferior single-payer government health care using simple economic analysis. The operating political assumption behind this analysis is that Congress and the political class will always redistribute health care costs from younger, more affluent and healthier voters to older, less affluent and less healthy voters to the extent that the latter class of voters has the voting strength to keep them in power.

A public health insurance company will always have lower initial costs than a private insurance company. Its lower costs will not be set by the market forces but by government regulations requiring health care providers to accept lower reimbursement rates. Government reimbursement rates to doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and other medical providers will be set below the rates charged to private insurance companies. The empirical evidence for this result is the present reimbursement rate paid by Medicare. Medicare reimbursement is approximately 80 percent of that paid by private insurers. It sets low reimbursement rates for two reasons. It has the market power of being potentially the largest health care insurance company. It has the force of the law behind it. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Have Russia and Iran Checkmated Obama?

November 2nd 2009

Russian Topics - Putin Iran

President Obama’s decision to abandon the plan to deploy a missile defense system in Europe shocked many analysts in the United States as well as our eastern European allies who were counting on the shield to protect them from the threat of Russian missiles. Perhaps the only one who was not surprised was the political chess grandmaster Vladimir Putin.

I did not understand the game that Putin was playing until a chance meeting two years ago with an Israeli who had just returned from a meeting at the Kremlin. At the time, the United States and its European allies were pushing for stronger sanctions against Iran at the United Nations and the Russians, as they had up to that point, refused to go along and threatened to veto any Security Council resolution that would have any teeth. The Russians were also in the process of completing construction of a nuclear power plant in Bushehr, Iran, which further undermined the campaign to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Read more ..


The United Nations

Israel and the UN Kangaroo Court

October 26th 2009

UN Topics - UN Human Rights Council
Human Rights Council

Last week’s consideration of the one-sided Goldstone Report has once again shown the fecklessness and bias of the Human Rights Council. Israel’s indictment by that body should come as no surprise to anyone who knows the UN. Israel simply cannot receive a fair hearing for any accusations placed against it there. As such, the Human Rights Council, and to be more accurate, the entire UN system is rigged against Israel making the process a kangaroo court.

In June 2008, while decrying the US refusal to continue its engagement with the Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch, could not avoid pointing out these important facts about the Council explaining, “In its first two years, however, the Human Rights Council has failed to address more than 20 human rights situations that require its attention, eliminated human rights monitoring in places desperately in need of such scrutiny, and adopted a long stream of one-sided resolutions on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories which failed to consider the roles and responsibilities of the Palestinian authorities and armed groups.”
Moreover, according to the Democracy Coalition Project study, “Human Rights Council Report Card, 2007-2008,” while “the Council considered numerous country situations throughout the year, it acted only on a few. It failed to effectively address several unfolding human rights crises, such as Zimbabwe and Tibet, or speak forcefully on ongoing situations as urgent as Darfur. The Council discontinued the mandates on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Group of Experts on Darfur, two areas of the world where gross and systematic human rights violations continue to take place.”

Since its inception, the Council has held 12 Special Sessions, with six directed at Israel. This sounds frighteningly familiar to the Council’s predecessor, the UN Human Rights Commission. Between 2001 and when it was disbanded in 2006, the UN Human Rights Commission passed 26 resolutions and one decision that were critical of Israel. The situations in North Korea, Burma, and Sudan warranted a combined total of 11 resolutions and decisions during the same period. Read more ..


Inside Islam

The Life and Death of the Last Sultan

October 19th 2009

Islamic Topics - Prince Osman Ertugrul
Ertugrul Osman

The reaction in Turkey to the recent death of Ertugrul Osman, heir to the Ottoman throne and successor to the last Caliph, could not be more shocking. Islamists in kaftans and long beards recently gathered in Istanbul to bury the titular head of the world Muslim community, a scotch-drinking, classical music-listening Western Turk who until recently lived on New York City's Upper East Side.

The Islamists' embrace of Osman, a descendant of the westernized Ottoman sultans, provides a periscope into the Islamist mind: Islamism is not about religion or reality. Rather it is a myth and a subversion of reality intended to promote Islamism, a utopian ideology. Osman, raised by a line of West-leaning caliphs and sultans, loved Ataturk's Turkey, yet the Islamists abused his funeral and the memory of the caliphate, changing it into a symbol for their anti-Western, anti-secular and anti-liberal agenda.

Were Ertugrul Osman alive and were the Ottomans around today, he would be Sultan Osman V and no doubt, he would be going after the fundamentalists who abused his funeral in an attempt to distort his legacy.

Despite what the Islamists want the world to believe, the Ottoman caliphate was not anti-Western. The Ottoman Empire always interacted with the West -- an interaction that goes all the way back to 16th-century Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, who envisioned himself as the Holy Roman emperor. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Ottoman sultans and caliphs embarked on a program of intense reforms to remake the Ottoman Empire in the Western image to match up with European powers. To this end, the caliphs launched institutions of secular education, and paved the way for women's emancipation by enrolling them in those schools. By the beginning of the 19th century, the sultans and caliphs of the Ottoman Empire embodied Western life and Western values. The last caliph, Abdulmecid Efendi, considered the Ottoman state a Western power with a Western destiny. An enlightened man and avid artist, the caliph's sought-after paintings, including nudes, are on exhibition at various museums, such as Istanbul's new museum of Modern Art.

It is therefore wrong to represent the Ottoman Empire as the antithesis to the secular republic Ataturk founded in 1923. True, when Ataturk turned Turkey into a secular republic in 1923 by abolishing the Ottoman state and the caliphate, Ataturk did not eradicate the sultan-caliphs' legacy. Rather, he fulfilled their dream of making Turkey a full-fledged Western society. Ataturk's reforms are a continuation of the late Ottoman Empire -- he merely pursued Ottoman reforms to their logical conclusion. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Does a Nobel Prize to Obama Pull the Plug on Democracy as a World Goal?

October 12th 2009

Presidential - Barack Obama

As soon as the Oslo committee issued its Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama, an expected debate raged in America about the legitimacy of such a move so very early in a U.S. presidential term.

Soon, supporters of the "new direction" in U.S. foreign policy as well as academics will frame Obama's Nobel as a consolidation of a new world order, while the media outburst following the granting declaration will be forgotten. Hence, bypassing the noise of did-he-earn-it-or-not deliberations, let's ask: What is the strategy behind the decision to grant this particular trophy to the sitting American president?

To answer this, we simply can connect the dots between the statements made by the grantor and the grantee. Naturally every American must be proud, and many people around the world are happy for such a decision to honor the White House, although some U.S. leaders wished the committee had granted past presidents such as Bill Clinton for his gigantic efforts in worldwide humanitarian assistance.

The alternative choices are arguable, but this particular gesture isn’t about past achievements, as the committee and the recipient have concurred. It is about supporting a specific policy, which has been enunciated firmly during 2009 and is now being grounded in layers of moral recognition. This honored policy is to ensure that there will be no more American intervention overseas to provoke democratic change, let alone revolutions, particularly in the so-called “Muslim world.” Read more ..


Confronting the Transfer Agreement

The Transfer Agreement: A 25-year Holocaust Odyessy

October 5th 2009

Book Covers - The Transfer Agreement

During the first months of the Hitler regime, in 1933, leaders of the Zionist movement concluded a controversial pact with the Third Reich which, in its various forms, transferred some 60,000 Jews and $100 million—almost $1.7 billion in 2009 dollars—to Jewish Palestine. In return, Zionists would halt the worldwide Jewish-led anti-Nazi boycott that threatened to topple the Hitler regime in its first year. Ultimately, the Transfer Agreement saved lives, rescued assets, and seeded the infrastructure of the Jewish State to be.

Fiery debates instantly ignited throughout the pre-War Jewish world as rumors of the pact leaked out. That acrimony was rekindled in 1984 with the original publication of my book The Transfer Agreement—and has never stopped. Why?

Simply put, The Transfer Agreement came out a decade ahead of its time. When the book first appeared, in 1984, the world was still preoccupied with the enormity of Nazi genocide. The world’s emphasis was on the murderous events of the war years. Organized remembrance was collectively fighting an anti-Semitic revisionist movement that was trying to deny or minimize the Holocaust with rabid pseudo-history. Few had spoken of the financial aspects of the Holocaust until I did. Few had publicly ever used the words “Zionist” and “Nazi” in the same sentence until I did.

For perspective, consider that the very first television attempt to treat the Holocaust was a TV series called “The Holocaust,” which aired in 1978—the same year neo-Nazis marched through Skokie. That was the year, 1978, I began researching The Transfer Agreement. At the time, the Second Generation movement of children of Holocaust survivors was just forming. The First World Gathering of Holocaust Survivors was only in the planning stage. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which received its charter in 1980, was several years and many controversies away from opening. Organized Holocaust education was essentially nonexistent. For society and for survivors, the dominant priority was coming to grips with the genocide—not the assets.

What has changed in 25 years? Read more ..


The Threat from Iran

The New Nazis

September 28th 2009

Terrorism - Hezbollah Nazi Salute

The touchstone for evil in history is clearly the Nazis. Today, there is a new touchstone:  Iran. While some fear making such a comparison, doing so today is not outlandish. It is simply common sense. The Mullahs in Iran are the new Nazis.

Once again, Iran’s President—fraudulently elected as he was—put himself on exhibit at the UN for all to see, and of course for all to see what he represents. Seeing him in action should leave no one in doubt of this comparison. What should be surprising is that our leaders and those of our allies know these facts all too well and say history cannot and does not repeat itself. Well, it doesn’t take a Ouija Board or a crystal ball to divine the mysteries of Iran’s actions. They make that clear every day. They make war on the West through terrorism, preach the destruction of the Jews, arm themselves with missiles and the nuclear weapons to empower them.

Iran has rigged its own Presidential election and then used snipers from rooftops and terrorists on motorcycles to put down the brave protestors who dared to challenge that fraudulent outcome. It is Iran, of course, that races to gain nuclear status pleading innocence along the way while denying the Holocaust and calling for Israel’s destruction. It is also Iran that kidnaps Americans, funds attacks against American troops in Iraq, promotes Hezbollah and Hamas against Israelis, Lebanese, and Palestinians daring to oppose them, and befriends our enemies around the world, such as Cuba’s Castros, Venezuela’s Chavez, and North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, among others. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

ObamaCare Prepares for Marijuana Cigarette Distribution

September 21st 2009

Social Topics - toking up

George Soros must be thrilled. Sixteen years after Soros began his advocacy for drug legalization and promoting "medical marijuana," the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is venturing into the distribution and production of marijuana cigarettes. According to an August solicitation for proposals, the selected organizations will be controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and will have to comply with FDA regulations. Proposals in response to bid N01DA-10-7773 are due in to a Bethesda contracting office by October 9, 2009.

Until the early 1990s, the voices to legalize drugs in the United States were not in sync. This changed with Soros's first foray into U.S. domestic politics in 1992-1993. Soros declared: "The war on drugs is doing more harm to our society than drug abuse itself," and proceeded with his checkbook advocacy through his Open Society Institute (OSI) to give some $15 million to establish and fund several pro-drug legalization organizations. Since then, he and his like-minded friends have poured many millions into different programs aimed at drug legalization.

Read more ..

The Obama Edge

Death Tax and an Emerging Class of “Survivors”

September 14th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

While the Washington press corps has been fixated on the latest developments surrounding President Obama’s trillion dollar co-pay in the guise of health reform, followed by backyard beer swilling, IRS bean counters quietly have gone about their business.

Their mission? Find a way to pay for the massive zeroes this administration continues to add at the end of the government’s mounting debt.  In what some privately likened to an ancient an archaeological find teeming with treasure, revenue agents discovered a potential $80 million golden pot of money – at the home of Michael Jackson.

That’s what the Feds stand to collect if they enforce a massively onerous and confiscatory tax on the King of Pop’s estate, affectionately referred to as the death tax. And you can bet they’re coming to a neighborhood near you.

Until President Bush’s tax reforms of 2001 that lowered the levy to 45 percent, the death tax in America ranked second only to Japan as the highest in the world – stifling enterprise in subtle yet noticeable ways.

The Obama Administration, however, has no plans to keep the Bush reductions in effect.  They have too many bills to pay to surrender the approximately $60 billion in revenue the tax generates each year.

But what the Left fails to recognize is that by keeping the tax in place (or worse, allowing it to return to pre-Bush levels), they are planting the federal boot on the necks of an emerging class of survivors from this economic crisis. Read more ..


Kicking our Oil Addiction

Saudis Believe Energy Independence is Nonsense -- But Why Must America Agree?

September 7th 2009

Arab Topics - Faisal
Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal

Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, former ambassador to the United States, has a suggestion for America: drop this nonsense called energy independence. In a strongly-worded essay in Foreign Policy magazine, which coincides with the 150th anniversary of Edwin Drake’s discovery of oil in the United States, Turki lambastes American politicians for invoking energy independence, which “is now as essential as baby-kissing,” accusing them of “demagoguery.” For him, energy independence is “political posturing at its worst—a concept that is unrealistic, misguided, and ultimately harmful to energy-producing and consuming countries alike.” “Like it or not,” Turki concludes, “the fates of the United States and Saudi Arabia are connected and will remain so for decades to come.” (See a video clip here.)

We’ve heard these lines before each time the United States made progress toward lessening its dependence on oil. In February, for example, Ali al-Naimi, the Saudi oil minister, warned of a “nightmare scenario” if consuming countries made progress in the development of alternative fuels. A decade ago, his predecessor, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, called technology “the real enemy for OPEC.” This is understandable. After all, no pusher wants to see his client circling around a rehab clinic. For Saudi Arabia, a world where oil plays a marginal role is the nightmarish materialization of the Saudi saying, “My father rode a camel, I drive a car, my son flies a jet plane, his son will ride a camel.”

More troubling is the parade of prominent Americans who deride the notion of energy independence, viewing it as jingoistic, unsophisticated, naive and misleading. One cannot doubt the patriotism of former CIA director John Deutch, who said “energy independence is not a constructive idea,” or former secretary of defense and energy James Schlesinger, who called it a “forlorn hope,” or Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel Yergin who referred to it as “pipe dream,” or Andy Grove, former chairman of Intel, who called the concept “a faulty goal,” or even the members of the Council on Foreign Relations energy security task force who went so far as to accuse those promoting energy independence of “doing the nation a disservice.” But just like Prince Turki, all of those distinguished Americans misunderstand what energy independence really is. As a result, they underestimate our ability to get there. Read more ..


Oil and Terrorism

Lockerbie: Compassion for Petrodollars

August 31st 2009

Arab Topics - Muammar Qaddafi with Flag
Col. Moammar Gadhafi

The release by Scottish authorities of convicted Libyan intelligence agent Abdel Baset al-Megrahi from prison has created one of the most negative emotional reactions in the United States and other countries. Moved by anger toward the injustice displayed by Scottish authorities to the families and survivors of the victims of the terror attack against Pan Am Flight 103, Americans and large segments of international public opinion are infuriated by the freeing of the convicted terrorist, even under the so-called Scottish legal values based on compassionate release due to terminal illness.

These exceptional stipulations, when applicable, are designed for criminal cases where one person killed another individual under complex circumstances. A sudden terminal illness is perceived as enough punishment by nature or the divine to grant a severely conditioned release to the family, without any affront to justice and pain to the survivors of the victim. Read more ..


Inside Africa

Clinton "Overwhelmed" by the Troubles in Congo--So are the People

August 24th 2009

Africa Topics - Congo rape victim

While Secretary Clinton was "overwhelmed" by what she saw in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), she said that it is ultimately up to the locals to sort out the violence committed against women and children. “I was overwhelmed by what I saw,” she said. “It’s almost impossible to describe the level of suffering.” These were the words of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after visiting the Mugunga displaced persons’ camp in eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo during the second week of August.

Mugunga is home to some twenty thousand refugees. It is a wretched place: makeshift hovels, smoke, dust, the stench of human waste and the pitiful tragedy of human suffering everywhere. To her credit, Secretary Clinton shrugged off fears for her security and insisted on making the trip to Goma (Kivu), where she also visited a hospital trying to cope with hundreds of rape victims. She met one woman, eight months pregnant, whose baby had been ripped out of her womb. Unfortunately most of the world media, including the US, omitted these significant details of her African safari. Read more ..


The Push for CNG

Oil Rich Iran Recognizes the Importance of CNG--Yet America Does Not

August 17th 2009

Energy Topics - Iran CNG

Ironically, the leader of the “Axis of Terror” looks to the very same abundant national fuel source for economic stability and environmental improvement that America continues to shun. 

Ironic indeed. For years, some of us in California have laughed whenever we see trucks full of tomatoes heading south on the interstate freeways, because within minutes we inevitably see another truck loaded with tomatoes heading north. You would think that the practical thing to do would be to just leave the tomatoes farmed in the south for those living in So Cal, and to leave those tomatoes farmed in the north for the northerners. Perhaps there are good reasons for this shell game; maybe the tomatoes ripen better in the hot sun of a long I-5 ride. Maybe it’s a way to jack-up the price of the produce by claiming higher transportation costs. Whatever, no one seems to know or have an answer.

There’s a similar shell game going on in America with oil and CNG (compressed natural gas) that no one in a responsible position seems to be willing or able to explain. Read more ..


Kicking Our Oil Addiction

Cash for Clunkers Demonstrates the Huge Potential for Alt Fuel Vehicle Technologies

August 10th 2009

Automotive - Toyota Prius PHEV

For a few years now, alt fuel experts have been preaching the urgent need for the quick adoption of alternative fuels, energy and vehicles; not so much because of the environmental issues, although that’s good too, but because we believe that it is through alternative technologies that the U.S. and world economies will find long term salvation. In short, we need the products that will be borne by an alternative fuel/energy revolution to provide millions of good paying jobs, along with the revenue streams that will open and pump money (with real profits) through the systems. What we’re now seeing through the Cash For Clunkers and similar scrappage programs abroad, in terms of stimulating the economy, is a failure to gain oil independence.

Imagine what would happen if, instead of encouraging trade-ins of one "gasoline-guzzler" for another or even a fuel-efficient one of 30 mpg,  the government instead granted incentives for trading in gasoline-guzzling vehicles for vehicles that use no gasoline at all (or at least no foreign oil), and dispense little-to-no harmful emissions. We would have a bonanza on our hands, the likes of which have never been seen in any gold or silver or diamond or oil rush.

Read more ..

Kicking Our Oil Addiction

Cash for Clunkers—A Historic Mistake

August 3rd 2009

Contributors / Staff - Edwin Black

This continuing coverage of America’s oil crisis arises from the The Plan: How to Save America When the Oil Stops—or the Day Before (Dialog Press). Buy it here.

The Cash for Clunkers program could have been a turning point for America’s movement to kick its oil addiction and promote alternative fuels. Instead, while it did incrementally improve some fuel performance with newer models, the program missed a historic opportunity to genuinely help the country switch off of oil. In many ways, this jobs program cum Detroit bailout masquerading as a fuel efficiency effort has condemned America to another decade of bad behavior by manufacturers and gas guzzlers.

The program could have subsidized the truly fuel-efficient cars such as the Honda Fit or Civic, the Toyota Prius, or the Dodge Caliber, and any other vehicle that achieved city mileage of at least 25 mpg. Or, it could have included any alt-fuel, alt-propulsion or multi-fuel vehicle such an electric, compressed natural gas (CNG), methanol or other biofuel vehicle regardless of the mileage. The program could have jump-started the mass conversion of oil-burning vehicles to CNG, electric or multi-fuel. Instead, Cash for Clunkers subsidized virtually anything on wheels, including some of the nation’s worst gas guzzlers, vehicles that now rate only a few miles above government mileage designations for highly taxable “gas guzzlers,” which is 15 or 16 mpg. The only requirement is that the new car exceeds the old vehicle’s mileage rating by only two to four mpg. So, some of the worst vehicles in America are now being taxpayer enabled in a recession. This includes the Honda Ridgeline, Honda Pilot, Cadillac SRX, and the 2009 GMC Canyon.

Under the rules, passenger cars receive a $3,500 voucher if the new vehicle performs just 4 mpg better and $4,500 if the new car rates at least 10 mpg more than the trade-in. But for sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks or minivans—the worst offenders—these gas guzzlers can fetch a $3,500 rebate if the new vehicle is rated just 2 mpg higher than the old vehicle. Read more ..


Obama Edge

Obama Healthcare Spells Uncertainty for Catholic Hospitals

July 27th 2009

Christian Topics - Catholic Edifice

Last fall, there was great concern among the United States Bishops about the possible passage of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) and its threat to Catholic health care. President Obama had promised to sign FOCA during the campaign. If passed in the form it was most recently proposed, FOCA would have displaced current conscience legislation that protects Catholic hospitals from being forced to provide abortions. Some U.S. bishops indicated that passage of FOCA could result in the closure of Catholic hospitals.

FOCA was not passed, but the Obama administration has moved ahead with the rescission of the conscience regulations adopted in the waning days of the Bush Administration that reinforced current conscience clause protections. President Obama recently indicated to a group of Catholic leaders that he was in favor of robust conscience protection, but it is difficult to determine what this means in light of his actions. He has indicated that passage of FOCA is not a priority for him. And in fact there may be no need for a direct confrontation because he can achieve most of what FOCA would achieve by the passage of federal health care reform legislation. Read more ..


Iran’s Voter Revolt

Courage in Tehran

July 20th 2009

Iran - Iran Election Protest

"Our future society will be a free society and all the elements of oppression, cruelty and force will be destroyed."

Can you guess who said that? Was it Thomas Jefferson? George Orwell? A character in an Ayn Rand novel?

The answer is Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution—the man who established the "Islamic Republic" that has, for 30 years, existed through the very means he said would be destroyed.

So if there was one good thing to emerge from the Iranian regime’s violent crackdown on protesters in the streets in the past month, it was compelling evidence that the Islamic Republic is today really nothing more than a crude military dictatorship.

No government censor could stop, and no Western apologist could deny, the deluge of heart-searing images of Iranians standing in the streets, facing down armed government militias and chanting "Where is my vote?" Facebook updates, Twitter posts, YouTube videos—all of these new technologies helped Iranians communicate with each other and the outside world. Read more ..


Inside Latin America

An Apology to Honduras is in Order

July 13th 2009

Latin American Topics - Manuel Zelaya Rosales

The Obama Administration has made a name for itself by apologizing for a variety of American political decisions for which it was not responsible. It is much harder to apologize for your own mistake than to apologize for what other people did in other times.

But an apology is in order. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who plans to meet with former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya on behalf of President Obama, should apologize to him and to current Honduran President Roberto Micheletti.

I suggest something like this.

"On behalf of the President of the United States and myself, I apologize for having jumped to the conclusion that events in Honduras last week constituted a military coup. We should have taken the time to understand the legal and constitutional issues in play in Tegucigalpa and should not have pre-judged the outcome. Our knee-jerk decision to stand with Hugo Chávez, Daniel Ortega and Raúl Castro was based on our political proclivity, not on an informed understanding of the issue at hand.  Read more ..


After the Holocaust

Russia Must Return the Chabad Collection

July 5th 2009

Jewish Topics - Book room-Schneersohn books-Moscow
Seized Chabad Archive at Russian State Library

During the 1990s, the world was seized with stories of Nazi plunder and heirless property. Stolen bank accounts, looted artwork, confiscated real estate, and payments for slave labor were front-page headlines, the talk of Congressional hearings, and the subject of international diplomacy. By the end of the decade, billions of dollars had been returned to Holocaust survivors and their heirs.

Ten years later, the problem however, remains unresolved. Survivors received a measure of compensation for their loss and suffering, but some countries, like Russia, could have done more particularly by returning the vast collection of books and manuscripts of Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn. In late June, the international community met in Prague to discuss the continued restitution of Holocaust-era personal assets, cultural and religious objects, Jewish cemeteries, and other objects. Delegations from around the world attended, and at the end of the conference, a consensus document was issued concerning property. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Party of "No" To Bad Ideas--Especially Really Big Ones

June 29th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

In recent months, Democrats too often refer to the Republican Party as the party of “No;” especially no ideas. This sobriquet became the mantra of Democrats after the Republican members of Congress said “no” to the $750 billion unfunded stimulus package. Democrats claimed that Republicans presented no alternative ideas to alleviate the current economic crisis. This is incorrect. The Republicans presented a number of fiscally prudent ideas, but they were rejected by Congressional Democrats who continue to propose and pass fiscally improvident legislation. Given the fiscal irresponsibility of this legislation which adds to a record peace time deficit, Republicans in Congress have a duty to say “no” to these bad ideas. However, if Democrats care to jettison partisanship, there are a number of good Republican ideas to help the economy. 

First, a tax decrease or a direct distribution of federal money to taxpayers is a more efficient way to stimulate the economy than a hastily compiled $750 billion stimulus spending package.  Less than 20 percent of the present stimulus package will be spent in 2009 when the stimulus is most needed. 

On the other hand, $750 billion distributed directly to 300 million Americans as $2,500 cash would result in a much greater percentage of the money being spent in 2009.   Republicans proposed tax cuts and direct payments but the Democrats said no.  Republican should be proud to have been the party of “No” to the Democrat’s anemic stimulus spending idea. Read more ..


The Way We Are

Facing the Movements of Our World

June 26th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Micah Halpern headshot
Micah Halpern

Good movements or bad movements, ideological movements or religious movements, self help movements or mass demonstration movements—every movement needs an iconic leader; more precisely, every movement needs a face.

Americans join the army because Uncle Sam asks us to. Americans slim down because Tommy Lasorda, Valerie Bertinelli or Oprah asks us to. Our leaders shape our world by shaping our ideas.

We cannot understand Islamic terror, so we focus on Osama bin Laden. We cannot understand the complex tribal balance between Arab groups, so we focus on Saddam Hussein. We cannot understand Hezbollah, so we focus on Nasrallah. We cannot understand the thirst for freedom, so we focus on twenty-six year old Neda Agha-Soltan lying dead in the street. We cannot understand a government so willing to strip away the freedoms of its citizens, so we focus on Mir Hussein Mousavi.

We cannot understand; even our supreme leader, our president, does not completely understand, but we should try. The power of the events now unfolding in Iran has revealed the true Iran. The curtain has been lifted. We must allow the reality of life, governance, and religious control in Iran to take hold in our minds and in the minds of our leaders, decision makers, and the faces we look up to and follow.

The execution of Neda, shot through the heart by Iranian secret security sniper fire has outraged the world. Neda's death is proof positive that the leadership of Iran is not about to reform or liberalize. As that reality sinks in, we must also realize that no matter whom the elected face of government in Iran belongs to, nothing will change. Read more ..


North Korea's Nukes

China Holds the Key to the North Korea Problem

June 22nd 2009

Asia Topics - Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il and Hu Jintao

As the international community struggles to respond effectively to the missile tests recently launched by the North Korean government, critics have blamed the Security Council of the United Nations for failing to deter aggression and preserve world peace. That blame is misplaced. In this case, responsibility for controlling North Korea, and the ability to do so, falls squarely on China.

The way that the United Nations was originally designed explains why, today, China alone has the leverage needed to quell North Korea's nuclear ambitions. In failing to confront North Korea's decision to move the world closer to nuclear conflict, the Security Council is merely respecting the original intentions of its founders to allow each great power a comprehensive veto over any international action that might precipitate a world war. Read more ..


Pakistan on the Edge

Leadership Lessons Imran Khan Forgot

June 22nd 2009

Asia Topics - Imran Khan
Imran Khan

Pakistan desperately needs leadership. Imran Khan does not and cannot provide it.

Back in the mists of history (the mid-1990s), when the former cricket star used his popularity to found the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistan Movement for Justice) Party, he seemed to have what it would take: a vision. Independence of outlook and (what is more) pocketbook, popularity, and a heart for investment and reform.

It was not hard to imagine him repeating his triumph at the center of a team leading Pakistan to triumph. Khan, a man with a colorful (in so many ways) personality who united the country behind his athletic achievements—it seemed a small leap to imagine him uniting the country behind his ideas. Given (pardon the pun), a sporting chance, he might have done it. Indeed, he might have taken valuable lessons from his spectacular cricket career about how to lead and how to succeed.

He did not. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

An Open Letter to President Barack Hussein Obama

June 15th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Brigitte Gabriel picture
Brigitte Gabriel

Dear Mr. President: You face difficult challenges in matters such as achieving peace in the Middle East and protecting America from the threat of radical Islam and terrorism. These are challenges that have vexed past presidents, going as far back as our second president, John Adams. I have no doubt you appreciate both the gravity of these challenges and the enormous obstacles that exist to solving them.

I also have no doubt that you and your staff understood that, no matter what you said in your speech last Thursday in Cairo, there would be those who would take issue with you. That is always the case when attempting to solve problems that are as deep and emotionally-laden as these challenges are.

I am assuming it is your sincere hope that the approach you have chosen to take, as evidenced by what I'm sure was a carefully crafted speech, will ultimately prove successful. However, it pains me to say this, Sir, but, while you said in your speech that you are a "student of history", it is abundantly clear that, in these matters, you do not know history and thus, as George Santayana noted, you are doomed to repeat it. In doing so your efforts, however well-intentioned they may be, will not produce what you profess to hope they will produce.

A wise man once said that if you start with the wrong assumptions, no matter how logical your reasoning is, you will end up with the wrong conclusion. With all due respect Mr. President, you are starting with certain assumptions that are unsupported by history and an objective study of the ideology of political Islam. Read more ..


The Edge of Labor

Maquiladoras--American Industry Creates Modern-Day Mexican Slaves

June 8th 2009

Latin American Topics - Maquiladora map
Map of Mexico's maquiladora plants

American manufacturing industries do not belong to corporations alone and are a prized national asset. They have given us our high standard of living, our power and respect in the world, been a model for the rest of the world to imitate and allowed us to out produce our enemies during wartimes. Without them, America loses.

But from our nation’s first colonies, there have been opportunists who have exhibited a penchant for using racism, elitism and the rules of the market place jungle to exploit fellow human beings to enrich themselves. Wealthy southern plantation owners and other prosperous business leaders of their day introduced African slaves to the Colonies in the 1600’s. By 1860 the South had over 4 million slaves who were bought and sold at auctions like livestock. They labored in the fields and elsewhere-producing products for the benefit of their masters. They received no wages, were denied civil rights and they and their families were at the absolute mercy of those masters who owned them.

While slavery is illegal in the United States today, it does come in other forms. That same old U.S. entrepreneurial insatiability for financial gain, regardless of the human cost, is now being exported together with once middle class American jobs to other less fortunate nations. Read more ..


The Way We Are

Safe or Free?

June 1st 2009

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

“Better Red than Dead.” That was the effete refrain of liberals during the Cold War heyday. In other words, if the United States were required to choose, it should ape Communist tyranny rather than accept mortal risks in defense of freedom.  The United States rejected the liberal dogma. Soviet Communism died in 1991.

At present, a variation of the “Better Red than Dead” debate confronts the United States:  namely, “Better Safe than Free.” The argument is that it is better to be safe in vassalage to a secret, omnipotent government in which the President is the law than to enjoy the thrill and dignity of self-government, transparency, freedom, and checks and balances because of an arguably greater risk of a terrorist attack. The debate’s background is a post-9/11 environment of permanent war with international terrorism and a planetary-wide battlefield that authorizes the United States to employ deadly military force and military law everywhere in the world—including in the United States itself. Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s National Security Speech at the American Enterprise Institute last May 21 illuminates the debate.

Its leitmotiv was that after the hijackings and murderous abominations of 9/11, the Bush administration was tasked to do anything the President saw fit to make the United States less exposed to a second edition of 9/11, for example, vandalizing the United States Constitution in contradiction to20the President’s constitutionally required oath to defend and uphold the Constitution in all its moods and tenses. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Measuring Just How Stupid American Voters Actually Are

May 25th 2009

Social Topics - Ballot Box

Exactly one year ago this week the hardback of Just How Stupid Are We: Facing the Truth About the American Voter was published by Basic Books. Is the book still relevant? After Barack Obama's election friends emailed me wondering if I still believed the voters are uninformed. Didn't Obama's election mean they were pretty smart?

Alas, the answer is no, I believe. And I am baffled that anybody could reach a different conclusion after the campaign we lived through. The highlights of the 2008 election included controversies over Obama's bowling score, his middle name Hussein, and Hillary's crying. These were not exactly issues of much weight at a time when the financial collapse of the country was happening before our eyes. And yet they drew extended media commentary.

The media was to blame for the deplorable low quality of much of the campaign. But I am firmly convinced that you get the campaign you deserve. If that is so we should be asking ourselves why did we deserve the campaign of 2008? Was it not because the voters found it easier to debate issues like Obama's bowling score than the complicated questions involving high finance?

Read more ..

The Chavista Threat

Chavista Destabilization in Latin America Threatens the U.S.

May 18th 2009

Latin American Topics - Chavez and Morales
Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales

When President Barack Obama was criticized for his over friendly interaction with Hugo Chavez during the Summit of the Americas, he responded by saying that the U.S. has nothing to fear from a country that has an economy six hundred times smaller than ours.

This curious remark by our President brings another logical question to mind: how big is Al Qaeda’s economy in comparison to ours? It is likely that Al Qaeda’s assets are substantially smaller than oil-rich Venezuela’s. Likewise, Iran’s economy is not comparable to the American economy, even in a time of recession and economic crisis.

It is then logical to ask whether national or regional security is endangered in relation to economic capability or in an era of asymmetric wars. Does a country or an entity need to be economically or (even militarily) superior to those who oppose it in order to generate a situation of instability and threat?

The Obama Administration knows the right answer. Otherwise, the President and his national security team would not be so aggressively pursuing a war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. What this Administration most fears in that area of south-central Asia is the collapse of the state in Pakistan and the inability to produce governability in Afghanistan. Both countries are located thousands of miles away from the United States but still the U.S. government recognizes that a situation of anarchy or Taliban rule in both countries would lead to regional instability. where state authority vanishes, a real danger exists that nuclear weapons can be developed and that but terrorists and drug lords could take over. Read more ..


Inside Argentina

Honor, Shame and Duty: The Reality of Argentina's Tattered Armed Forces Today

May 11th 2009

Latin American Topics - Argentina military

It is no illusion that the tone and substance of the Argentine military seems to have deteriorated in the last several decades, from imprudently aspiring to control the nation in the 1970s and early 1980s (during which time it committed massive human rights abuses, rendering it the worst human rights violator in the hemisphere), to an ill-advised escapade in 1982 to re-claim the Falklands/Malvinas Islands from British jurisdiction. As a result of this veritable collapse, the Argentine military appears to have become a broken institution. The capstone on the various calamities debilitating the nation during recent times was the crippling influence of the 2001 meltdown of the Argentine economy, which crushed the entire nation, including its increasingly brittle security forces.

Two recent events can be seen as illustrating the skidding tendencies of the Argentine military and help to underscore its currently calcified condition. In early November, the Argentine federal police detained Jorge Antonio Olivera, a retired army major. He is accused of the "forced disappearance, kidnapping and torture" of Franco-Argentine citizen Marianne Erize in 1976 during the commencement of the country’s military dictatorship and the "Dirty War." This conflict unleashed the Argentine military against the nation with barbarous results, ending up in thousands of casualties. Almost at the same time in early November, London decreed a new constitution for the disputed Falklands.

Read more ..

American’s Economic Collapse

Wasting A Good Crisis: The Result May be $200 Oil

May 5th 2009

Energy / Environment - Oil Barrels

Rahm Emanuel’s famous quote regarding the current financial crisis,"Never let a serious crisis go to waste...it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before" was ignored last summer when oil prices reached $147 a barrel. The Obama Administration has taken advantage of the financial crisis to ram through their agenda which will add trillions to the National Debt. It will stimulate unions, bureaucrats, government employees, and defense contractors. It will do nothing to address the looming energy crisis which will sweep over the country shortly. Again, politicians and pundits will be shocked and astonished when oil soars. They will vilify oil companies, OPEC, and the dreaded speculators. Read more ..


Kicking our Oil Addiction

Imagine a World Without the Radical, Dictatorial Saudi Regime

April 27th 2009

Obama Admin Topics - Obama Bows to Saudi King
President Obama bows to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah

The recent hullabaloo over Barack Obama's seeming bow before King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia centered mainly on the question of whether it was appropriate for a U.S. president to pay obeisance to a foreign dictator. But the real problem lies deeper than that. King Abdullah's alliance with the United States, combined with his oil wealth, has allowed his radical breed of Islam, Wahhabism, to flourish, poisoning the Middle East. With so much at stake, is it irrational to yearn for a world in which the Saudi regime just miraculously ceased to exist and there was no King Abdullah to bow to (or not) at all?

The House of Saud affects the world in three main ways: It is the world's largest producer of oil and holder of most of the market's spare production capacity; it acts as custodian of Islam's holy places and the religious center of Sunni Islam; and it maintains Wahhabism as a state-sponsored sect. When it comes to the first two elements, a world without the Saudi kingdom would not necessarily be a better one.  Read more ..


The Obama Edge

While Sebelius is Away, the Kansas Legislature Will Play

April 20th 2009

Obama Admin Topics - Kathleen Sebelius

While Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius was away in Washington awaiting confirmation as Health and Human Services Secretary, the boys of the Kansas legislature went at it once again. For the fourth time, they passed a bill to allow construction of two 700-megawatt coal-burning electric plants in southwest Kansas. Previously, Sebelius vetoed the bill and there weren’t quite enough votes to override. Apparently, hoping for an early cabinet confirmation, the coal plant boys were probably thinking, now that Mom’s away maybe we can get away with it.

Here is some news for you boys. Until she’s confirmed Mom can still veto. On April 13, Kathleen Sebelius once again exercised her veto power, declaring, “What was a bad idea last year is an even worse idea today.” In her veto message, Sebelius went on to predict that President Obama would move to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, which would put Kansas coal plants in a bad place. And sure enough, before the week was out, the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases “endanger public health and welfare.” That sets the stage for regulating coal-fired plants and other sources of pollution under federal clean air laws.

A majority of Kansans, according to polls, would prefer to see the state’s wind harnessed instead of shipping in coal from Montana to make electricity for Denver, befouling Kansas skies in the process. The Kansas legislature will come back on April 29th to try to override Kathleen’s veto, but word is, they are 10 votes shy of doing it. Last time they were only three votes away. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Cost of a Global Empire--Dollars and Defense

April 13th 2009

Military - SoldiersInAfghanistan

Just when you think the U.S. government is beginning to make sense by withdrawing troops from Iraq, it makes the decision to shuttle 21,000 more troops into the Afghan calamity. At a cost of $3.2 billion per month, we will throw another $38 billion at another faraway country. Barack Obama is doing this to prove that he is a true statesman. The Soviet Union killed over 1 million Afghans, while driving another 5 million out of the country and left bankrupted and defeated after ten years.

Any doubt that the Military Industrial Complex is as strong as ever should be removed after examining Obama’s 2010 budget just put forth. It calls for 26 percent more in spending on Defense than President Bush spent in 2006. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, leaving the United States as the only remaining superpower on earth. Since 1990, the United States has depleted the U.S. Treasury of $7 trillion for spending on Defense. With no military on earth capable of challenging us why would there be a need to spend this much on the military? Over this same time frame the U.S. spent $360 billion on science, space & technology and $52 billion on energy, a mere 6 percent of the spending on killing machines.

Read more ..

After the Holocaust

IBM Should be Indicted in New York for Holocaust Genocide and its Nazi Nexus says ex-IBM employee from Poland

April 6th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Michael Zamczyk

This continuing coverage and reaction arising from the just-released book, Nazi Nexus: America's Corporate Connection's to Hitler's Holocaust (Dialog Press). Buy it here.

Since the publication of the book IBM and the Holocaust, I as a long-time IBM employee and now an IBM retiree, have been trying to get IBM to face its past and apologize for its complicity in helping Germany commit genocide. The best offer I have received thus far was the willingness for Samuel J. Palmisano, the IBM CEO, to meet with me and apologize verbally in private for the company’s role in providing the technology for Germany to perfect the round up of European Jewry and their final annihilation. Included in these round ups were my father and most of my family in Poland. It was not until recently that I came across a listing, which without question came directly from punch cards, of the registration of my family by the Germans. All vital information was included in this list, which also listed me. If for instance the Germans wanted a list of all males over fifty or children under ten, they would insert the cards and sort by the relevant fields. In minutes they could produce a list with the information needed to send children and all males over fifty to Auschwitz.

I was moved to write about this after reading the chapter on IBM in Edwin Black’s latest book Nazi Nexus, which provides the reader with an array of American corporate facilitator of the Holocaust. Chapter 5 offers a clear precise picture of IBM’s role in helping Germany eliminate Jews and other so-called subhumans or “untermenschen.” Unfortunately, neither Black nor Nazi Nexus provides any ideas of how IBM can be made to face their actions during the Third Reich. There is no question that there is enough circumstantial evidence to prove that IBM, with prior knowledge, supplied technology to Germany used to accomplish “The Final Solution.”

Since the statue of limitations does not apply to murder or genocide, it is time for the company to be indicted for complicity in murder. Since the decisions to supply the Third Reich with technology originated in New York, I think the US Attorney in New York should seek an indictment of IBM. I am convinced that a jury would find IBM guilty. IBM’s actions are a pure example of “profit over everything.” Actually it sounds better in German, “gewinn uber alles.”

Michael Zamczyk joined IBM in 1974 in the publishing group in California. Prior to retirement in 2003, he managed Business Controls, a multi billion dollar software division of IBM.


The Obama Edge

VA Proposal is Penny Wise and Plain Disgusting

March 30th 2009

Military - Soldier Crying

Many in defense community have remained silent about bank, automaker and insurance company bailouts with taxpayer dollars. But the new administration plan to save $540 million by forcing civilian insurance companies to cover claims by military veterans for service-related injuries is beyond the pale. For our government to propose such a scheme at the same time it is spending billions with not much accountability is disgusting.

The idea surfaced in testimony by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki - a retired Army general who should know better. He told a Senate committee that the plan was "a consideration," and that "the VA's proposed budget for next year included it" as a way to increase revenue. But "a final decision hasn't been made yet."

President Obama, Secretary Shinseki and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel recently met with a group of veterans' organization leaders. The American Legion commander said he was "deeply disappointed and concerned" when the President reiterated the plan. Read more ..


Inside Latin America

Ukranian-style Civil Disobedience Now an Option for Venezuela

March 23rd 2009

Latin American Topics - Hugo Chavez waves
Hugo Chavez

In a referendum this past February 15th, Hugo Chavez managed to reverse the results of the previous December 2, 2007 vote by winning the constitutional right to be re-elected indefinitely.

Chavez won the referendum after running a campaign of intimidation and blackmail. Chavez does not govern democraticly. To the contrary he has abused state power and resources. He has used the instruments of government to harass unions, human rights advocates and has violated free speech. The state-owned oil-company, PDVSA and other state companies have been encouraged to intimidate employees so they would vote in favor of the referendum.
 
In last November’s municipal and local elections the opposition made some important gains including in the state of Miranda and the City of Caracas. Chavez reacted by removing some key social services such as health care from the jurisdiction of Miranda to the federal government and placed mobs in Caracas city hall that undermined the work of the newly-elected mayor of Caracas. Irregularities and other acts of electoral fraud were reported throughout Election Day. Read more ..


Israel and Hamas

Israeli Restraint & Palestinian Responsibility in the Gaza War

March 16th 2009

Israel Topics - Exhausted Israeli Soldier

I recently visited the World War II museum in New Orleans and was struck by the following description of the U.S. bombing of Japan:

On March 9-10, 1945, bombs incinerated 16 square miles and killed 100,000 civilians. In April, bombs destroyed 180 square miles, killed 300,000 people, and left 8.5 million people homeless. Throughout the war, the United States resisted bombing civilian areas. But with time, attitudes hardened. What once became unthinkable became a deliberate policy.

American history should be kept in mind when reports are issued about the behavior of Israeli forces during the war in Gaza with Hamas. Given this context, ask yourself what America would do if its cities were bombarded by 10,000 rockets and mortars over the course of three years. Do you think the response would be proportional?

Israeli soldiers at a staging area near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, Tuesday, December 30, 2008. Palestinians had sent a barrage of missiles deep into Israel the day before. Read more ..


Edge on Asia

China Will Never Follow the U.S. on Climate Change Policy

March 9th 2009

Environment Topics - China Urban Pollution

President Obama's emphasis on climate change has notable implications for U.S.-China relations. On her inaugural trip to Asia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought to expand the Sino-American Strategic Economic Dialog to include climate change among America's chief China policy priorities.

Making climate change a high priority is a mistake. It may inject unnecessary hostility into the already-strained bilateral relationship over what should be a secondary issue. And it rests on a faulty premise: Many argue that the PRC will make sharp cuts in carbon emissions but only if the U.S. does so first. This claim borders on nonsense. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Charles Freeman: Another Troubling Obama Nominee

March 3rd 2009

Obama Admin Topics - Charles Freeman
Charles "Chas" Freeman

Charles “Chas” Freeman is an appalling choice for Chairman of the National Intelligence Council. As president of the Saudi-funded Middle East Policy Council, Mr. Freeman functions as lobbyist, making his analysis suspect. And his analysis is, in any event, appalling. Gabriel Schoenfeld, in The Wall Street Journal’s “Opinion Journal,” reveals a once private 2006 Freeman internet post that Schoenfeld says “was provided to me by a former member” of a private site. Freeman is said to have written of the 1989 Chinese massacre in Tiananmen Square:

The truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud… I do not believe it is acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be.

What he has written about Israel, and reprinted from Walt and Meerscheim, is suspect because of his financial ties to the Saudis and appalling in its inability to differentiate between a Western democratic ally under siege from a combination of terrorists and the states that harbor and support them, and those very states and terrorist organizations.  This is a problem he shares with Samantha Power at the NSC. Read more ..


America's Economic Crisis

America's Economy Now Rests Upon a Burning Platform

February 23rd 2009

Energy / Environment - Burning Platform

David Walker served as Comptroller General of the United States from 1998 through 2008. Walker has been the lone voice in the wilderness for the last decade regarding our looming fiscal disaster. He is now the CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and leader of the Fiscal Wake Up Tour. Walker warns: "The US government is on a “burning platform” of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not taken soon”.

Years ago, as head of the General Accounting Office he would go before Congress and explain that the country needed to change course before we floundered in a “Perfect Storm” of debt. They listened to him respectfully and then proceeded to add $5 trillion to the National Debt in the next eight years. The borrowing binge is now entering a hyper-speed phase.

The $787 billion 1,074 page stimulus bill has been passed. President Obama signed it. It will have virtually no impact on the economy in 2009. The bill will stimulate nothing but the National Debt. Within months, plans for another stimulus plan will be pushed by the Democratic-led Congress because speed and the appearance of action are how politicians get reelected. 

Examine the numbers. The median value of a U.S. home in 2000 was $119,600. It peaked at $221,900 in 2006. Historically, home prices have risen annually in line with the CPI. If they had followed the long-term average, they would have increased by 17 percent to $140,000. Instead, they skyrocketed by 86 percent due to Alan Greenspan’s irrational lowering of interest rates to 1 percent, the criminal pushing of loans by mortgage brokers, the greed of investment bankers and the foolishness and stupidity of home buyers. It is now 2009 and the median value should be $150,000 based on historical precedent. The median value at the end of 2008 was $180,100. Therefore, home prices are still 20 percent overvalued. Long-term averages are created by periods of overvaluation followed by periods of undervaluation. Prices need to fall 20 percent and could fall 30 percent. You will know we are at the bottom when the top shows on cable are Foreclose That House and Homeless Housewives of Orange County. Read more ..



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