Saturday, April 7, 2012
If You Want America To Become Cuba Just Vote For Obama Again!
This from one of my most hard nosed friends, former West Pointer and fellow memo reader: "This man is getting to scare me.
BHO knows exactly what he is doing. Those who speculate about his motives being ignorant, ideologic, or well intentioned are fatuous.
BHO is bound and determined to destroy the USA ASAP. Is he doing so because his father was anti-colonial, or because he is a closet Commie, or closet Islamist, or a closet homo? Makes not difference what his motivation might be. He is firing for effect.
People who support this bastard are nuts. (See 1 below.)
Free people benefit more from free markets than do dependent people from government controlled markets.
If you think otherwise then move to Cuba and enjoy your life there and, while you are at it, if you want America to become like Cuba then you just go ahead and vote for Obama again.
If Obama allows Assad to survive he might become one of his best buddies. After all Obama has a history of pandering to thugs starting with the cancer ridden dictator from Venezuela.(See 2 below.)
50 Amazing Numbers About Today's Economy
By Morgan Housel
In no particular order, here are 50 things about our economy that blow my mind:
50. The S&P 500 is down 3% from 2000. But a version of the index that holds all 500 companies in equal amounts (rather than skewed by market cap) is up nearly 90%.
49. According to economist Tyler Cowen, "Thirty years ago, college graduates made 40 percent more than high school graduates, but now the gap is about 83 percent."
48. Of all non-farm jobs created since June 2009, 88% have gone to men. "The share of men saying the economy was improving jumped to 41 percent in March, compared with 26 percent of women," reports Bloomberg.
47. A record $6 billion will be spent on the 2012 elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Adjusted for inflation, that's 60% more than the 2000 elections.
46. In 2010, nearly half of Americans lived in a household that received direct government benefits. That's up from 37.7% in 1998.
45. Adjusted for inflation, federal tax revenue was the same in 2009 as it was 1997, even though the U.S. population grew by 37 million during that period.
44. In November 2009, the nationwide unemployment was around 10%. But dig into demographics, and the rates are incredibly skewed. The unemployment rate for young, uneducated African-American males was 48.5%. For Caucasian females over age 45 with a college degree, it was 3.7%.
43. About the same number of people was awarded bachelor's degrees in 2010 as filed for personal bankruptcy (1.6 million).
42. According to The Wall Street Journal, "U.S. refineries are producing more gasoline and diesel than ever. And Americans' gasoline consumption is at an 11-year-low."
41. Americans spend an average of 1.8% of their income on alcohol and tobacco. In the U.K., it's 4.8%.
40. In 2009, 5% of Americans accounted for 50% of all health care costs.
39. As the market was "flat" from 2000 to 2010, S&P 500 companies paid out more than $2 trillion in dividends.
38. The Census Bureau now classifies nearly 1 in 6 Americans as living in poverty.
37. The number of Americans who don't have health insurance: 49.9 million.
36. The share of entitlements like Social Security and Medicare going to the bottom fifth of households (based on income) has fallen from 54% in 1979 to 36% in 2007, according to Binyamin Appelbaum of The New York Times.
35. According to Goldman Sachs' Jim O'Neill, China's growth creates the equivalent of a new Greece every 90 days.
34. With a drop in jobs came a surge in grad-school aspirations. The number of people taking the LSAT (law school entrance) exam surged 20% from 2008 to 2009.
33. From 2007 to 2009, Sheldon Adelson's personal net worth fell by $24 billion. That's about equal to what the federal government spends on agriculture every year. (He's since made most of it back.)
32. The entire town of Pray, Mont., was listed for sale last month. The asking price is $1.4 million (or what Sheldon Adelson lost every 30 minutes in 2008).
31. A full 17 years after college graduation, Yale economist Lisa Kahn found those who began their careers in tough economic times earned less than those who started their careers when the economy was strong.
30. Americans age 60 and older owe $36 billion in student loans.
29. The average vehicle on the road today is 10.8 years old -- an all-time high, and two years older than in 2000.
28. Just five companies, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) , Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) , Cisco, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) , and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) , now hold nearly one-quarter of all corporate cash, equal to more than a quarter-trillion dollars.
27. In 2011, the federal government took in $2.3 trillion in tax revenue, and spent the exact same amount on military, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone.
26. Auto sales in regions where debt accumulation was highest during the bubble years are down some 40% since 2005. In regions where debt accumulation was the lowest, sales are actually up 30%.
25. According to Pew, for every dollar newspapers make in new digital advertising, they've lost $7 from traditional print media.
24. In the S&P 500, 334 companies earned more profit in 2011 than in 2007, when the economy peaked. The median gain is 38%.
23. According to economist Michael Spence, sectors of the economy that have no direct foreign competition added more than 27 million jobs from 1990 to 2008. Those that do added almost none.
22. Capital expenditures among S&P 500 companies set a record in the fourth quarter of 2011.
21. Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) is now responsible for about one-third of all Internet bandwidth.
20. The average salary for a Silicon Valley tech worker surpassed $100,000 in 2011.
19. In 2009 and 2010, 93% of the nation's income growth went to 1% of wage earners, according to economist Emmanuel Saez; 15,600 households captured 37% of all national growth.
18. Growth in health care spending in 2010 was the lowest in half a century.
17. In 2010, President Barack Obama set what looked like an unrealistic goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015. After growing an average of 16% a year since, the goal is on track to be met ahead of schedule.
16. Good news: 400,000 manufacturing jobs have been added since 2009. Bad news: Manufacturing employment is still down almost 6 million since 2000.
15. Total government employment has shrunk by almost 700,000 since 2009.
14. According to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, the number of prescription drugs issued fell by 1.1% last year, and doctor visits fell 4.7%.
13. We imported 60.3% of our oil in 2005. In 2010, that figure was 49.2%, and will likely drop further as domestic production rises.
12. For the first time since 1949, the U.S. is now a net exporter of fuel products like gasoline and diesel.
11. The period from March 2009 to March 2012 was one of the strongest three-year market rallies in history -- stronger, in fact, than the 1996-1999 bull market.
10. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, 30% of companies in 2011 had job openings for six months or longer, but couldn't find the right person to hire.
9. Adjusted for inflation, the bursting of the housing bubble destroyed wealth equal to half a 1950s America.
8. At 66.9%, the homeownership rate in America is down considerably from the 2004 peak, but is still above the long-term average of 66%.
7. U.S. apartment vacancies are now at a decade low.
6. A 2008 Swedish study found that unemployed people gradually lose the ability to read.
5. Mike Konczal, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, ran the numbers and found that as unemployment goes up, the divorce rate goes down.
4. According to the Airline Quality Rating, 2011 was the best year ever for airline industry performance (lost baggage, on-time departures, etc.).
3. The combined assets of Wal-Mart's (NYSE: WMT ) Walton family is equal to that of the bottom 150 million Americans.
2. As the economy tanked in 2009, the top 25 hedge fund managers collectively earned $25.3 billion. On average, that works out to about $2,000 a minute for each manager.
1. Household debt payments as a percent of income are now the lowest since 1994.
1) Can Obama Be Trusted To Save Israel? And while Obama wants to get past the November election before making a difficult decision — note his “open mic” chat last week with Russia
By Gary Rosenblatt, Editor And Publisher
Let me make clear at the outset: I don’t know what Israel plans to do about the Iran nuclear threat, and I don’t have any new advice for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about what actions he should or should not take as he and his government face an impossible dilemma.
But I do know that the mainstream press (and especially The New York Times) has had a steady drumbeat of reports these last few weeks characterizing Israel unfairly in the delicate diplomatic dance of Jerusalem, Washington and Tehran.
There are two deeply disturbing elements to these media reports. First, they downplay, or don’t even mention, that Israel’s possible military actions are based on the fact that the leadership of Iran consistently and passionately describes Israel as an evil, immoral country that should be erased from the planet.
Perhaps we’ve become numb to the threats because Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has been calling for Israel’s destruction for so long. After all, when he describes Israel as Satan and as a cancer that must be eradicated, neither the United Nations nor any world leader outside of Jerusalem responds in any meaningful way. Yet much of the reporting about Israel planning to strike Iran assumes the reader knows the views of Tehran’s leaders, who deny the Holocaust and portray Jews as a menace to the world; why not tell us?
Second, the message and tone of these articles is that Israel is trigger-happy and planning to drag the U.S. into yet another war with an Islamic country.
One recent Times story, for example, based on “classified war games,” shows that if Israel attacks, Iran will retaliate against Navy warships in the region and kill hundreds of Americans.
The overall impression I come away with is that the administration is more worried about preventing its only democratic ally in the Mideast from taking military action than preventing a sworn and powerful enemy, Iran, from having a nuclear bomb that threatens not only the region but the U.S. and the free world.
I have come to believe, reluctantly, that the administration is leaking these stories to the press, which strongly suggests that the president views Israel as more of a nuisance than a partner regarding Iran, and perhaps the wider Mideast conflict.
No, I am not a member of the Obama-is-no-friend-of-Israel club.
Trust me, I know the arguments on both sides. Supporters of the president point to the fact that the military relationship between the U.S. and Israel has never been stronger, that last fall Obama stepped up and spoke out eloquently at the UN against the Palestinian Authority’s diplomatic effort to gain statehood; that in his AIPAC speech last month, the president came closer to Israel’s position on Iran, speaking out against containment, acknowledging that Iran represents a threat not only to Israel but to the Mideast region and the U.S., and noting that Israel has the sovereign right to defend itself as it sees fit.
All true, important and very much welcome.
I also believe that the president’s record on Israel is decidedly mixed. He stumbled badly from the starting gate, thinking he could solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by making settlements the focal point of negotiations six weeks into his tenure in the White House. If nothing else, the pressure on Israel to halt settlement construction wasted two years of precious time, made Jerusalem increasingly cautious about White House’s support and convinced the Palestinian Authority to stay away from the peace talks until Israel stopped all settlement activity, which was never a criteria for negotiating before.
Thus, the lack of any peace talks, or hope, at the moment.
I have come to view Obama as neither the enemy of Israel some in our community make him out to be, based more on their projected fears than his actions, nor “the Jewish president” Peter Beinart describes him as in his book, “The Crisis of Zionism,” as a leader driven by a liberal Zionist agenda. I also don’t see Obama as “Israel’s best friend” and perhaps the best president ever for Israel, as Tom Friedman has written in his New York Times column, based on how Obama framed the Iran situation in his AIPAC speech.
In my view, Obama is a supporter of Israel, but a less than enthusiastic one.
Fairly or not, I base some of my impressions of presidents on my kishkes, on an internal feeling. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, different as they were in so many ways, shared a deep and personal connection to Israel, perhaps based on their Christian views. You trusted their instincts, if not their policies. And I think Israelis sensed that. In the same way, I think they view Obama as a cool rationalist who doesn’t share that emotional attachment to the Jewish state. Israel is an ally, yes. But maybe more like Taiwan is an ally. We still support Taiwan, but would we go to war with China over its future?
These questions and impressions are so important now because Israel has to decide very soon whether or not to trust Obama with its very existence.
The president has sought to assure Israelis that he has their back. It’s clear, though, he wants more time for the increasingly tough sanctions he helped place on Iran to take effect, and to try another round of negotiations, which many view as a waste of time while Iran rushes to complete a nuclear weapon. His reluctance to become involved in a third costly war in the Muslim world is more than understandable.
But Obama’s timetable is not Israel’s, strategically or politically. Israel believes that a military action must be carried out before Iran reaches what Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak calls the “zone of immunity” — Iran’s capability to complete the bomb out of striking range — while Obama talks about not allowing Iran to have the bomb itself.
Big difference there, especially if you are Israel and the presumed target.
And while Obama wants to get past the November election before making a difficult decision — note his “open mic” chat last week with Russia
2)If Assad Survives
A tragedy for Syrians, and a major defeat for U.S. interests.
The last time Kofi Annan embarked on a diplomatic mission to Damascus, after the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, the then-U.N. Secretary General extracted a promise from Bashar Assad not to allow weapons to cross the border with Lebanon. It was a promise Mr. Assad instantly flouted, allowing Hezbollah to double its prewar arsenal by most estimates. U.S. figures such as Nancy Pelosi were soon coming to Damascus to pay the young dictator court.
Now Mr. Annan is again serving as envoy to Damascus, this time to negotiate a U.N. peace plan that Mr. Assad doesn't deserve and few think he has the slightest intention of honoring. Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., said earlier this week that she's "skeptical" about Mr. Annan's plan, under which Mr. Assad's troops are supposed to withdraw from Syria's pulverized cities by April 10. Ms. Rice adds that "we have seen commitments to end the violence followed by massive intensifications of violence."
She was immediately proved right when Syrian troops used Mr. Annan's "truce" window to escalate their assault on opposition hotbeds and lay mines along the border with Turkey. So why is the Obama Administration playing along with the Annan charade?
That's one of the many mysteries of the Administration's policy toward Syria. Unlike with Egypt, where Mr. Obama was quick to call for Hosni Mubarak's departure despite his 30-year alliance with the U.S., it took months for the President to call for Mr. Assad to go—and that's despite the Assad family's 40-year track record of hostility to the U.S. and its support for terrorism.
The Administration eventually came around to calling for Mr. Assad's ouster, and Robert Ford, the U.S. Ambassador in Damascus, paid a courageous visit to the embattled city of Hama. Administration officials also took to speaking of Mr. Assad's downfall as a foregone conclusion—and of what a useful setback that would be for Iran and its clients in the region.
And then—nothing. The Administration pressed for a toothless Security Council resolution condemning Mr. Assad, which Russia and China vetoed. The Pentagon went out of its way to make known its objections to a no-fly zone or any other military action against Damascus. Other senior U.S. officials also laid out the case for inaction: The Syrian opposition was disjointed; U.S. military aid could fall into the wrong hands; the U.N. hadn't authorized an operation; the Arab League should take the lead, and so on.
The charitable view of the Administration's approach is that it believed Mr. Assad was doomed no matter what, so why intervene in another Middle Eastern country merely to hasten (and potentially complicate) the inevitable?
Unfortunately for that calculation, Mr. Assad has been brutally rolling up his opponents city-by-city, and now it looks like he may be on the cusp of winning. Some 10,000 Syrian civilians have been killed, and another 200,000 are estimated to be in prison. Russia continues to supply the regime with arms, Venezuela supplies it with oil, and Iran provides help in the dirty-works department. Because Mr. Assad leads a sectarian Allawite regime that has everything to fear from a Sunni-dominated government, it has the motive and will to keep fighting.
This ought to prompt some thinking by the Obama Administration about what it would mean if Mr. Assad survives. This is a humanitarian and strategic concern. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said repeatedly that "Assad must go." Does the U.S. mean it, or is it another hollow line, like calling an Iranian nuclear bomb "unacceptable"?
Iran's mullahs, who are about to enter their own nuclear negotiations with the U.S., will be interested in knowing that answer. So will Hezbollah, which has depended on Syrian support (both direct and as a conduit to Iran) for three decades. They know Mr. Assad's survival will have a material bearing on their own prospects.
Then there are America's regional allies—from Saudi Arabia to Turkey to Israel to whatever remains of a democratic movement in Lebanon. Turkey has taken a risk in urging that Assad must go and by sheltering Syrian refugees who are coming over the border in growing numbers. The Saudis and smaller Gulf states have come out for arming the Syrian opposition and are willing to finance the effort. Far from feeling pressured by the U.S., they want America to lead.
These countries are already getting the sense that the Obama Administration wants out of its Mideast entanglements, period, as Britain wanted out in 1948. American inaction on Syria will serve as an invitation for these countries to pursue their own interests, never mind America's wishes. That's an especially odd lesson for the U.S. to impart to a country like Israel, given the effort the Administration is otherwise making to persuade Israelis not to attack Iran.
At the "Friends of Syria" summit in Istanbul on Sunday, Mrs. Clinton promised U.S. communications equipment for the Syrian opposition, while the Arab states offered to kick in $100 million to cover the rebels' salaries. That's a start, but without more U.S. leadership it will be money spent on a lost cause.
As for what leadership looks like, it can start with the U.S. abandoning the farce of Kofi Annan-led negotiations. Instead, it ought to give Syrians the confidence and security they need to persevere in a struggle that increasingly seems hopeless.
America sent that signal last year in Libya when it cleared the skies over Benghazi and Tripoli, at no cost to American lives. If the U.S. doesn't soon send the same signal to the people of Hama, Homs and Daraa, the result is likely to be the triumph of Bashar Assad and his anti-American benefactors.