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The election is in five days. I find myself hoping more and more that the president won’t win. It is the second time in about a decade that a voted for someone, then four years later wished fervently that someone would be voted out of office. In 2000, I voted for the Republican because he seemed less of a jerk than his Democratic opponent, and I didn’t want to vote for a third party candidate that year. I’m not even sure a third party candidate was on the ballot in my state for the 2000 election. By 2004, I regarded my president as an incompetent criminal, and hoped so much that people would not succumb to incumbency bias and post-9/11 insecurity. George W. Bush won, and four long years turned into eight. I had not seen such poor leadership in my lifetime, and I have been alive a long time by now.

In 2008, I most certainly would not vote for the Republican candidate, as much as I liked McCain as an individual. He has served his country as well as any man. I did not like the Libertarian candidate, Bob Barr. That left the golden tongued Obama, the One, man of the hour. I knew that sheen would be off six months after his inauguration, and I knew he would be highly progressive in his policy orientation. No matter. I wanted to be a part of history, and I figured institutional constraints would hold his progressive leanings in check.

Then he passed the health care bill in the most bizarre, corrupt and dishonest process one can imagine in a democracy. I wasn’t there, but from appearances the president sat down with Nancy Pelosi and they decided they were going to do this thing. Harry Reid gave his blessing. The three of them decided to have their way with the country. They learned what the country thought in the 2010 midterm elections. I wish the anti-Democratic sentiment in 2012 were as strong as the anger one could feel in 2010. Perhaps it is, but we can’t see it because Mitt Romney isn’t in such a good position to lead voters in this matter. After all, he sponsored the model for the Affordable Care Act in Massachusetts.

Now we enter the last five days. Obama deserves to be voted out of office for the Affordable Care Act, and for that legislation alone. He is responsible for other policies and political results that warrant retiring him, but the health care legislation is enough. When you vote on November 6, vote against coercive health insurance, whether it originates with a Republican in Massachusetts, or with Democrats Washington. Vote for Gary Johnson. We have a good, capable Libertarian candidate this year. Give him your support. As Johnson says, “The only wasted vote is a vote for someone you don’t believe in.”

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Steven Greffenius authored Revolution on the Ground and Revolution in the Air, both available at Amazon.

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Most Agree, Under Obama the Country is Headed in the Wrong Direction            

While liberal pundits and media types this week had their hissy fit over Rand Paul’s spot on comments about how a portion of the Civil rights Act of 1964 is unconstitutional and un-American, those of us that really care about the future of the United States took notice of how the current administration is destroying it. 

Now, before you say this is just another rant by a fire breathing libertarian bent on desecrating the good name of the president, read on.  In a recent Rasmussen poll, 67 percent of Americans agree with me that the nation is on the wrong track.  Only 28 percent think things are honky dory.  Of course, the president’s approval rating continues to languish below fifty percent.  Even with his success in passing nationalized health care, he just can’t seem to enjoy the support of a majority of Americans.

So, what specifically is wrong with the direction of the country?  For one thing, the government just reported that it passed the $13 trillion debt mark.  Now, many will say, so what?  “We have had higher debt to GDP ratios in our nation’s history and our economy is big enough to weather the storm.”  That could be the feelings of the president as well since in just 16 months in office he is responsible for nearly $2.4 trillion of that total.  And it is true that just after World War II our debt to GDP ratio was higher (120 percent) than it is now.  But, honestly our national debt is much higher than $13 trillion that Uncle Scam reports.  We have to take into account the future unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare.  When those future commitments are added in the current debt to GDP ratio is off the chart at 435 percent.  Even if we only consider the bogus government debt number of $13 trillion, when Bernanke and his counterfeiters at the Fed eventually raise interest rates significantly to combat the hyper-inflation caused by their fraudulent acts the interest on the debt alone will bust the federal treasury.  Foreign lenders will disappear and the French Revolution will look like a walk in the park compared to what will happen on American streets.

And after President Obama is done making most Americans dependent on Washington the austerity measures that will have to be enacted will cause serious civil unrest from coast to coast.  It was reported by USA Today this week that pay from private business decreased to its smallest share of personal income in U.S. history in the first three months of this year (so much for economic recovery).  Meanwhile, during the same time period government programs like Social Security, unemployment insurance, and food stamps rose to record highs.  I understand that we have just experienced the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and these numbers should not be unexpected, but according to the administration we have been in a recovery for some time now, thus I would think the number of folks on welfare should be lessening not still increasing. 

The reason they are increasing is because the Obama Administration has a goal to build the welfare state like we have never seen it before.  Remember when Bill Clinton proclaimed, “We’ve ended welfare as we know it”?  That was a lie, but at least his reforms put time limits and other restrictions on receiving welfare.  Since the legislation was passed in 1996 welfare caseloads have decreased by 70 percent, child-poverty rates have dropped, and teen pregnancies are down.  Folks from across the political spectrum agree that Clinton’s reforms have helped the poor get on their feet in a humane manner. 

While the restrictions are still in place, starting with his so-called $862 billion stimulus package last year Obama has changed the way states receive welfare subsidies from Washington.  The Feds now pay states 80 percent of the cost for each new family added to the welfare rolls.  No longer do states have an incentive to drive welfare recipients into the job market.  To prove further that Obama wants a permanent underclass in America his budget projections show that he intends to spend $10.3 trillion on welfare for the 10 year period FY 2009 to FY 2018.  The question that has to be asked is: why is Obama so bent on destroying successful welfare reform and putting so many more folks on the public dole at a time when our treasury is so busted?  Perhaps this question and why it is that he wants to grant citizenship to illegal aliens have the same answer – to make the Democratic party the dominant party in American politics for a long time to come.  In any event, when the collapse comes all those on government benefits will have to find sustenance elsewhere.  Recent events in Greece are a preview of what could be coming to America.

Gargantuan debt and an expanding welfare state are just two reasons a large majority of Americans believe the country under Obama is on the wrong track.  Then, there are also the matters of illegal immigrants and expanded wars in the Middle East.  If only the liberal pundits and media would focus on the events that are destroying America instead of a gotcha interview with a Republican nominee for the Senate.  Then again, maybe that was the liberal establishment’s ploy all along – to distract the rest of us from reality?    

Article first published as Most Agree, Obama is Heading the Country the Wrong Direction on Blogcritics.

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina

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As Usual, Government Regulation as Political Payoff

I heard the president’s speech at Cooper Union College today and thought it was quite bizarre that he would criticize Wall Street for bad behavior when Washington is currently running our national debt through the roof and the policies that emanated from there in the last ten years caused our current financial crisis.  The old adage about those that live in glass houses and stone throwing immediately came to mind.  But, the president really believes that the financial crisis we still find ourselves in despite trillions of dollars in Keynesian spending is somebody else’s fault.  In fact, he indicated that, “…the system as it stands is what led to a series of massive, costly, taxpayer bailouts.”  And I thought it was Mr. Obama and his big government colleagues in the Congress who voted unconstitutionally to give away our money to the greedy, misbehaving banks.

Now, the president’s bizarre remarks are one thing, but the financial regulation bill before the Senate is even more bizarre.  Crafted by Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, the bill will do nothing to fix the real causes of the financial crisis. In actuality, the bill amounts to nothing more than a political payoff for Dodd’s benefactors on Wall Street.  And this should come as no surprise since Dodd’s donor list reads like a who’s who of the financial services sector.        

First of all, Dodd’s bill does nothing to address the primary culprit of the financial crisis – the Federal Reserve.  Yes, consumers took out mortgages they could not afford and loan officers falsified applications knowing that they would collect their commissions long before the bad loans defaulted on a bigger institution up the line.  But the Fed supplied the poison for it all to happen – easy money.  After 911, Alan Greenspan’s Fed kept interest rates artificially low at 1 percent for three years.  This encouraged a mortgage craze as trillions of dollars were borrowed.  It was a government sponsored get rich quick scheme as many housing investors bought homes with low teaser rates and no money down.  You know the rest of the story – homeowners leveraged their homes to the max, rates adjusted up and the bubble burst when many folks could no longer afford their payments.  To add insult to injury, the Fed came to the rescue of financial institutions, even foreign ones, at the expense of taxpayers.  Make no mistake about it, the Federal Reserve exists for the profit making of banks alone.  It was established by bankers; it is run by bankers; it allows banks to inflate dollars through fractional reserve banking; and it is there for them when they need a few dollars to keep the charade going.  No other industry has a full government agency to support its shady dealings like the banking industry.  Dodd’s bill, by ignoring the Fed’s culpability in the crisis, has no chance of preventing financial calamities in the future.  Additionally, it only benefits the big banks since their benefactor, the Fed, will continue to operate unencumbered by any new regulations or oversight.

If ignoring the Fed’s role in the financial crisis is not bad enough, Dodd’s bill also institutionalizes “too big to fail” bailouts.  It should be pointed out that a major rationale of financial reform is to ensure that taxpayers never again get stuck with bailing out firms that are too crucial to our economy to fail.  Well, Section 113 of the bill provides for a “Financial Stability Oversight Council” which would identify distressed firms whose failure would “pose a threat to the financial security of the United States…”  Section 210(n)(1) establishes an “Orderly Resolution Fund” within the U.S. Treasury that would provide $50 billion in bailout money funded by taxes on financial firms.  Of course, ultimately those taxes would come from consumers in the form of higher bank fees.  These two sections of the bill essentially provide implicit guarantees from the government against failure for big banks.  They extend the life of the moral hazards that we have become too familiar with.  In the end, they will encourage big banks to continue to take undue risks which will once again put taxpayers in harm’s way.  These sections of Dodd’s bill will not prevent future financial crises.  On the contrary, they only benefit big banks by allowing them to risk everything with the knowledge that taxpayers will be there to pony up bailout funds for them.

Since 1989, Chris Dodd has received over $12             million in campaign contributions from the financial services industry.  They own him and this bill proves it.  On the other hand, the president is yet to embrace Dodd’s bill.  In his speech at Cooper Union he said to financial firms, “I want to urge you to join us, instead of fighting us in this effort.”  If he chooses Dodd’s bill to reform the financial industry he probably won’t get much of a fight from Wall Street.

       

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina.

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Why the Constitution Matters in Military Affairs                                    

Week after week it’s easy for me to blog with compelling arguments that most things Congress does is unconstitutional.  But, up until about two years ago with the advent of Ron Paul’s Freedom Revolution and last year’s birth of the Tea Partiers, most Americans would have said, so what if something is unconstitutional?  That document is outdated and irrelevant.  These are modern times with issues unimaginable to the Founders.  Nonsense, the eternal truths contained in the U.S. Constitution are as relevant today as they were in the 1700s.

Take making war for instance.  Article 1 Section 8 gives Congress, not the president, the power to declare war.  In that same section, Congress has the power to finance the endeavor.  Since the end of World War II, the clause pertaining to declaring war in the Constitution, like many others, has been almost totally ignored by both the Congress and president.  Additionally, Congress has rarely if ever invoked its power to restrain presidential power by controlling the purse strings of the military during times of war.  The consequences have been horrendous. 

In the 1960s and 1970s it led to an 11 year war in Southeast Asia.  Instead of a declaration of war the military action was justified on the basis of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed in 1964.  The resolution gave President Johnson the authorization to do whatever was necessary in order to assist “any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty.”   This vague and open ended wording led to much criticism of the president and his Secretary of Defense over how they conducted the war.  Specifically, President Nixon’s expanding of it to include the bombing of Cambodia made an already unpopular war almost an event that tore the country in two.  It also led to over 50,000 American and countless Southeast Asian lives being lost.  The conflict ended in defeat for the U.S. and spending for the war caused high inflation which hurt American households, facilitated our manufacturing base to move overseas, and eventually brought on problems like the Savings and Loan crisis.

In current times we find ourselves mired in two conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.  To be sure, Congress did not declare war in either circumstance.  For Afghanistan, it passed a resolution authorizing the president to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those whom he determined “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups.  For Iraq, the resolution authorized the president to use the Armed Forces of the United States “as he determines to be necessary and appropriate” in order to “defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.”

It seems like Washington never learns from its mistakes.  Again, loosely worded resolutions instead of firm declarations with a narrow objective allowed President Bush to abuse his powers by spying on Americans, holding prisoners at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely, and expand the bombing to include other countries other than Afghanistan and Iraq, namely Pakistan.  In addition to over 1 million Iraqi and Afghani deaths from the main theaters of war, 1 in 3 people killed in the expanded bombings of Pakistan have been civilians. 

Because Washington has not followed the eternal truth that war should be entered into and conducted carefully, our government is primarily responsible for the destabilization of the Middle East.   It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that because of the threats of invasion that came from the previous administration and with American military might all around it Iran is attempting to acquire nuclear weapons.  Even though Saddam was a vile and ruthless tyrant his Iraq acted as a counterweight to Iran.  Today, Iraq is in chaos and if U.S. forces do ever leave it will be ripe for a takeover by Islamic extremists.

A Republican Congress unfortunately did not deny George W. Bush the ability to launch an unjust war on Iraq based on lies, misinformation and his desire to avenge Saddam Hussein for allegedly sending a hit squad to assassinate his father.  One man made the decision to start the war in which Americans would die and hundreds of billions of dollars would be spent.  This was not the intent of the Founders who were wise enough to give the powers of declaring wars and financing them to the Congress.  The Founders gave them to Congress because it is a deliberative body that represents the many viewpoints of Americans.  These viewpoints, like in the enactment of laws, place a check and balance on the solitary power of the president.  Congress has abdicated this constitutional power and consequently has propped up an imperial presidency – something the Founders, other than Hamilton and Adams, would have vehemently rebelled against.

In 2006 the Democrats took back control of Congress with a pledge to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  For a time there was hope that they would restore the constitutional balance of power in war making. They simply could have done this by cutting funding for the wars.  But instead, Congress continues to finance the wars and in fact has gone along with President Obama’s wishes to continue funding bombings in Pakistan and to escalate the war in Afghanistan – so much for the hope that Congress would exert control over the powers granted to it and rein in the powers usurped by the president.

Wars are costly both in terms of human life and monetary expense.  Unless an attack on U.S. soil is imminent, Congress must retain its constitutional power to declare war and use its authority over funding it to limit the president’s actions.  By not following these constitutional mandates we have become a militaristic society almost constantly at war in adventures far beyond what the Founders envisioned.  This has caused a drain on our families, our finances, and our country’s reputation in the world.  Fortunately, many Americans are finally waking up to this reality.      

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina.

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I have said it before and I will say it again, Congress is a rotten, stinking corpse.  It is no wonder that it currently has the lowest approval rating of all time.  This week more ridiculous legislation was introduced in that body that will only make our lives worse.  The bipartisan bill that was introduced would punish any country that practices currency manipulation as an unfair trade subsidy.  It would give President Obama the ability to impose retaliatory protectionist measures to level the playing field.  Of course, the impetus for the legislation is China’s alleged undervaluing of its currency, the yuan, in order to support Chinese exports to other countries.

Now, it’s funny, how the legislation comes in an election year when there is a very strong anti-incumbent mood amongst the electorate.   Many Americans who have lost their jobs in this depression are naturally fixated on statements from Washington dealing with job creation.  So as not to disappoint, Democratic Senator Charles Schumer was quoted as saying, “”There is no bigger step that we can take to promote job creation here in the US than to confront Chinese currency manipulation.”  This sounds logical on the surface, but upon closer analysis the senator as usual has it all wrong.

In the first place, to even threaten protectionist measures in such a fragile economic environment as we live in is dangerous.  The Smoot-Hawley Tariff was passed in 1930 and placed protective tariffs on thousands of imports coming into the United States from abroad.  At the time, during the Great Depression, its purpose was to protect American jobs.  Sound familiar?  Instead, the tariff caused our trading partners to retaliate with tariffs of their own thereby exacerbating an already horrendous employment situation.  What makes our politicians believe that China would not retaliate with protective measures of its own or worst yet cause the collapse of our currency by flooding the world markets with hundreds of billions of dollars it keeps in reserve?

But secondly, and much more importantly to our situation, we need inexpensive Chinese products otherwise our inflation rate would be through the roof and unemployment would be right there with it.  Here is the vicious cycle of events that is American/Chinese trade relations.  China’s products are cheaper because the cost of doing business there is less than in the U.S.  Thus, we purchase Chinese goods with dollars and treasury notes. China holds these dollars and interest-bearing bonds in reserve and then prints yuan to pay off the Chinese suppliers of our purchases.  When the smoke clears, we get cheap Chinese goods to buy, the Chinese manufacturer makes a profit, and the Chinese government acquires more units of the world’s reserve currency.  Everybody wins, right?

If the Obama Administration ends this cycle by imposing protective tariffs on Chinese goods coming into the United States, not only will the Chinese government reciprocate with retaliatory measures of its own, the prices of goods in the U.S. will rise sharply.  You see right now we export our inflation to China by way of treasury bonds and newly printed Federal Reserve notes.  Without the ability to export our debt and a lot of the dollars the Federal Reserve has been printing, all of that liquidity will be spent in the U.S. instead on more expensive goods.  As more money enters our economy prices in general will be bid up and will rise and given how much the Federal Reserve has inflated the money supply over the last few years prices will rise by a lot.  At that point, Economics 101 tells us that high prices will squelch demand and huge increases in unemployment will result.

Since the 1970s, the politicians in Washington have placed us in this no win situation with regard to trading with China.  They have destroyed our industrial base with unconstitutional mandates and regulations, and collective bargaining laws.  They have spent us into oblivion by financing a welfare/warfare state unmatched in human history.  If we impose protectionist measures against China we will incur inflation in the short run and high unemployment in the long run.  If we continue to borrow from China to buy their inexpensive goods we put ourselves on an unsustainable course.  At some point, if it isn’t happening already, China will stop financing our purchases and absorbing our inflation.  They will sell their goods elsewhere and Americans will pay higher prices.  Our standard of living will plummet and China will replace us as the world’s number one economic superpower.

But, Chuck Schumer and his colleagues on the Hill are oblivious to all of this.  Of course, they also ignore the fact that the Federal Reserve is the biggest currency manipulator in the world.  Ben Bernanke and his cabal of economic central planners better known as the Federal Open Market Committee fix interest rates and determine the supply of money.  These actions directly determine the value of the dollar.  Before Congress complains about China for not using market forces to value the yuan it should look in the mirror. 

And that is really why I consider Congress a rotten, stinking corpse.  Time and again its members grandstand for personal political gain and leave the American people with the mess.  Its hypocrisy is appalling.  Lastly, it seems like it is constantly coming up with cockamamie schemes to ruin our economy further.  This latest scheme places the blame on China for our own financial incompetence.

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina.

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Rasmussen
reports that

Libertarian voters make up 4% of the nation’s likely voters and they favor Barack Obama over John McCain by a 53% to 38% margin. Three percent (3%) would vote for some other candidate and 5% are not sure. These results, from an analysis of 15,000 Likely Voter interviews conducted by Rasmussen Reports, challenges the conventional wisdom which assumes that strong support for a Libertarian candidate would hurt John McCain.

In June, Rasmussen Reports asked 15,000 Likely Voters if they were fiscally conservative, moderate, or liberal and if they were socially conservative, moderate, or liberal. This created a total of 16 possible combinations (not sure was a fourth option for both questions). However, 87% of voters fit into one of seven combinations. Libertarians, defined as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, are the smallest of these seven combinations.

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Clinton and ObamaAccording to The Smoking Gun, Jose Antonio Ortiz stabbed his brother-in-law, Sean Shurelds (who was flown to a hospital, where he was admitted in critical condition) due to a disagreement about Hillary Clinton vs Barack Obama.

Yes, you read that right.

Apparently Shurelds supports Obama, and Ortiz supports Clinton. While the two were in the kitchen of someone’s home (it is unclear whose home) Shurelds told Ortiz that Obama was “trashing” Clinton, and Ortiz responded that “Obama was not a realist.”

While for most people that would be pretty much the end of the conversation, not so with these two, for whom those were not just fighting words, they were stabbing words. Ortiz and Shurelds argued, began to choke and punch each other, and eventually Ortiz grabbed a knife and stabbed Shurelds in the abdomen.

Ortiz then went back to doing the dishes, including, of course, the knife he had used to stab his brother-in-law.

Not at all surprisingly, Ortiz has a case of selective memory (not unlike the typical politician), and conveniently denies any memory of the stabbing incident. He has been charged with felony aggravated assault, as well as two misdemeanor counts. Bail has been set at $20,000.

I’m sure Clinton and Obama are proud to have supporters who are willing to go that far for their chosen candidate. Or not.

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