Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Redtape Letters

The Screwtape Letters by the noted British author C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite books. The long letters were written by a man, Screwtape, for the purpose of instructing his nephew, Wormwood, in how to evangelize an ordinary man against God and into following Satan. I’ve been working on a book probably titled The Redtape Letters, including letters from a man, Redtape, instructing his nephew, Gullible, vis-à-vis politics/society and how to guide the nation into socialism. Here is a letter dealing with the so-called Income Inequality sort of gap:

My Dear Gullible,

You'll pardon me for being a bit disappointed at the mention in your last letter that you've been listening to some of those awful redneck conservative talk-shows on radio and even spent some time viewing that arch-conservative TV network that claims to be fair and balanced. Don't be fooled by the propaganda vomited from those sources. The purveyors of conservative views are to be pitied for their simple-mindedness, such as when they claim redistribution of wealth will kill the economy. It will, of course, but you need to understand that in so doing it will nudge the nation closer to Force-status. We can be glad that the so-called mainstream media—far larger than the redneck media—are supporting the president in his redistribution plan. Actually, those media nutcases are the simpletons but, except for the true believers in the Force, think they have a clue. You are still new to the cause and I'm sure you're among friends who have come from conservative homes and are therefore brainwashed into believing that the “level playing field” concept is screwy. It is, of course, but that's the whole point – screwing up everything as soon as possible so that the drive into Force-hood accelerates. In the meantime, don't try to convert these “friends.” Just avoid them like the plague. You will find people much closer to our philosophy on the faculty, so listen to those folks.

Unless you've been in a cave lately (or high on mary jane—little joke there) you've been hearing and reading a lot about the “income inequality” that exists worldwide but especially in this country. This has become virtually the mantra lately vis-a-vis the administration. Some senseless wags—the rich, in other words—have made a lot of noise about a worldwide war being waged against the wealthy, presumably by the poor folks, as if they had any ammunition even if they had economic or military weapons to make the fight, which they don't. The president has vowed to bring the rich folks to their knees financially and give the proceeds to the poor, about everyone else not in the Republican Party. This comes at an embarrassing time since the big news lately is the fact that half of all the members in Congress are millionaires and—even worse—that the president is, too. So...the president and most Congresspersons are not anxious for income inequality to be a virtual mantra. The president, rich Cabinet members and rich Congresspersons can take care of themselves, however, since they can pass laws, especially around midnight on Fridays, that will exempt them from the strictures other mean-spirited millionaires and billionaires will face as the circumstance is resolved. The president outlawed the term “terrorism” (though he forgot right after the Benghazi Massacre and repeated it when some dullard put in a teleprompted speech) and replaced it by “man-caused disaster,” so the thinking now is replacing “Income Inequality” with something like “Man-Caused Repossession.”

The facts are fairly immutable—about one percent of the world's population owns nearly half of the world's assets, leaving the other 99% what's left. In some places, that's not very much. In this country, the middle class feels little if any pain because the wealthy use their money to set up businesses that create jobs. As long as the dimwits can work and make enough to eat, have a car, spend 30 years paying for a house and have a flat-screen TV they can be mollified. So... they must be made to understand that they are victims of Man-Caused Repossession by the wealthy (mostly republicans), assuming they might stop watching the Reality shows long enough to pay attention. The lower class gets a hand-up from the government – think the ballyhooed single mothers, who get child support, food stamps, subsidized housing, child-care, cell-phones and enough cash to have what other folks have to work hard to earn. The significant others who show up occasionally for a good time and a go at another impregnation that leads to more babies to more get the picture, I'm sure. Don't worry about them.

In the Force, confiscation is the weapon of choice...or make that the tool for making the playing-field level in our society. The term weapon is so NRA-ish. The way to dilute and eventually destroy man-caused repossession is to raise the taxes much higher on everyone who earns money—especially the rich although everyone will have to ante-up eventually—and give the proceeds to the middle and lower classes in all the ways that are possible. This will lead to class warfare, which, of course, is necessary to inculcating the Force. The president is in the process now of getting this done, i.e., educating all classes as to the rightness of having the government be Robin Hood...stealing from the rich and redistributing their wealth to the middle class and poor. This has already been started in the Congress in its caving on the tax-the-rich scheme the president introduced, raising their federal taxes to nearly 40%.

But this is just the beginning. The hard problem will be in educating everyone, especially in the middle class (changing their mindset from victim-hood occasioned by the rich), into believing they, too, owe what they earn to people who are wise enough not to work. Pensioners and the sick are not included in that group, of course. As the citizens all get fed-up with the system, they will wage war against each other (or each others' class), with the producers deciding that it's not worth the effort any longer. As the economy reflects this (going into the tank), the government, led by folks like you and me, hopefully, will become the source of every good thing. Disgruntled citizens may have to be subjected to physical force. This is why the president insisted in 2008 that there be a national police force equal in strength to all the military forces combined. In his current lame-duck session, this may be hard to accomplish but by the grapevine I've heard that this force will be open to any military person upon his discharge, with a hefty bonus involved. This is the main reason that the president is removing troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year—fresh trained-troops in the form of returnees since there are fewer and fewer jobs for them to get at home. The actual unemployment rate is now at 13.1% (Labor Dept. Statistic) so you can see what I mean. Please don't mention the latter statement to anyone because that number means “Great Depression” stuff. This smacks of the propaganda put out by devotees of the enemy, i.e., that inducing privation/fright produces a drive of the population toward communal stuff, anathema to capitalistic tenets of the faith. The enemy is right...that's why he is to be feared.

I hope you are hard at it in community-organizing in your spare time. In the neighborhoods of the affluent, organize against the president. In the poor neighborhoods, organize against everyone. This may sound as if actual beliefs don't matter. They don't, except that this approach accelerates class-warfare, the key to success.

As ever,

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Coed Rape...Preventable?

Rape is in the news again, this time with POTUS and VPOTUS weighing in on the subject, appearing together recently insisting that college men should be more respectful of college women and not go around raping them. Could one espy a nudge-nudge-wink-wink in their performance? The subject was rape on college campuses.

A report came from the White House Council on Women and Girls, which issued this statement: “No one is more at risk of being raped or sexually assaulted than women at our nation's colleges and universities.” A White House report highlights a stunning prevalence of rape on college campuses, with 1 in 5 female students assaulted while only 1 in 8 student victims report it, according to the Associated Press. One wonders how the one-in-five assaults is determined if seven-of-eight do not report assaults.

A few months ago, the prevailing statistics had to do with rape in the military—3,374 reported in 2012, with 238 convictions in military courts, but also 26,000 other assaults (including groping, etc.) that were not reported, an increase of 37% from 2011. Ostensibly, the episodes were not reported for fear of losing rank or location or whatever. One wonders at the determination of 26,000 assaults if they weren't reported—all smoke-and-mirror stuff, or is there documentation of the undocumented somewhere?

The president appointed a task force to investigate the instant matter and gave it 90 days to structure solutions. The report said campus sexual assaults are fueled by drinking and drug use that can incapacitate victims, often at student parties at the hands of someone they know. Surprise, surprise! Will the task-force recognize this circumstance as a reference-point for beginning its work, or will this become another useless exercise mostly ignoring the obvious but making POTUS and VPOTUS look concerned?

Sixty or so years ago, college/university administrations acted as surrogate parents for women students, about the time early “boomers” became of age and began running things. Girls signed in and out of dormitories in the evening and were required to observe curfews. The reason was simple, to wit, guarding against rape and other things such as pregnancies and STDs. No such demands were made of men since they were considered able to take care of themselves. Has anyone heard of a White House Council on Men and Boys?

Women's-lib came on line, insisting that the “liberated woman” was the paradigm for all girls/women—worldly wise and out to match the men, hormone-for-hormone. Stupid, cowed college administrators/boards installed coed-dorms and told the young people to become—yeah...worldly wise. Doing away with these university-sanctioned brothels (smelling of pot, of course) would greatly help but that won't happen because women would lose the hormone-war. Additionally, the fraternities invite the ladies to their orgies, allegedly spike their drinks, and create ecstasy with Ecstasy, the date-drug.

There are no curfews now or other rules. Women can roam the campus, town, frat-houses or bars at will 24/7, invite their studs in and drink themselves into oblivion. If, after a wild party or dorm-room caper, a girl becomes angry at whatever she suspects happened by whatever predatory male was around (if she remembers) she can scream rape and even get a rape kit, which will prove nothing but the obvious – intercourse...his word against hers. Or...she can just chalk it up to fun-and-games and forget about it, i.e., no report...those seven out of eight, in other words.

This isn't to make light of actual rape, a crime that should be prosecuted intensely, with the convicted animals receiving the stiffest possible punishment. It's to show the hypocrisy of officials who are too dumb to get it or dare not cross the “diversity red line” set in the sand by the rabid women's organizations, made up of nutcases who believe in unisex and deny that women need protection and are not superior morally to men, though by their actions often invite intimacy, whether drunk or sober.

According to USA Today, Obama said, “This is not an abstract problem that goes on in other families or other communities. ... It affects every one of us.” Well, no. It affects parents, like himself, who may or may not do everything—tangibly and morally—to see that their daughters and sons don't “go with the flow” but use common sense—even when the scared administrators won't—to guard against being alley cats or decent people.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Chauvinism or Common Sense

A certain amount of chauvinism resides in most men, whether or not admitted (women, too, but never remarked). The most open-minded, polite combat-vet might feel a bit awkward taking orders from a lady whose most important decision of the day centered on eye-shadow. The distaffers have been cleared for combat by the prez, whose most important decision of the day might be lobster or goulash on Air Force One, but since he knows nothing about combat, give him some slack.

A concerted attack of chauvinism is another matter, wherein the attacked might insist that this nation is not ready for a female president. That ultra-politically-incorrect charge so disconcerts the social engineers and diversity-mongers that they scream “J'accuse,” regarding bias, gender-discrimination and even (gasp) racism, the latter because women themselves have identified their “discrimination” with that of minority African Americans though they form a majority of the population in both races and can vote any abuse of men they want – enough to make one wonder if suffrage was all that great nearly a hundred years ago. Or, one might even wonder if the nation is ready for a male president...would a female orangutan be better, for instance? The recently reelected president (having “evolved,” his term) has okayed marriage for homosexuals, personally attempting to rescind laws of nature and laws/constitutions of the majority of states. An executive order is a dangerous thing in the wrong hands, legislating when Congress allegedly won't. Just talking about marijuana, as Obama did recently, was a mistake, but claiming it less damaging than alcohol...WEIRD! Second-generation boomer and former user by his own account.

Women are gradually taking over some of the nation's most important institutions such as in education, the military and the courts. Not long ago, the naïve claimed that as they enter national leadership women—with much higher moral standards than men—would make everything “all better.” However, they are seen now as corrupt as men, if not more so. Hillary Clinton, for instance, is a compulsive liar and opportunist, a bad bet to answer that famous “3:00 a.m. call.” Think Benghazi. Concerning the sexual peccadilloes well-documented vis-a-vis men, people seem to forget that “it takes two to tango” and that the “oldest profession” was/is/will be operated by the distaff side. Selling the body is as low as it goes.

Women are being placed in combat not because they are or will be good at breaking things and killing people but in order for them to attain the highest ranks, in which they can do real damage. Studying in war college is not the same as confronting the enemy eyeball-to-eyeball. Putting fighting men at risk because female colleagues, collectively physically weaker, can't cut it in battle is to make political cannon fodder of both genders.

No one—male or female—should be president if lacking in actual military experience, not necessarily combat though that would be preferable. With the exception of Clinton, all the presidents back to FDR had military experience, much of it in battle. Former Defense Secretary Gates and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen strongly objected to Obama's “Libya adventure” in 2011. Obama didn't listen and the rest is history—bloodshed of innocent Libyans over seven months and the ruthless terrorizing/destruction of a sovereign nation, not to mention the Benghazi Massacre in 2012 in which four Americans died needlessly, occasioning the BIG LIE by Obama, Clinton and UN Ambassador Rice, now head of the NSA.

One risks the charge of bigotry or racism or gender discrimination or just plain meanness when insisting that the president should be a man with military experience, if for no other reason than that he is mean enough to act militarily when necessary and is more likely to have the proper knowledge in doing so successfully. It is not intellectually elitist to suggest that the nation is what it is primarily due to male leadership over hundreds of years under the auspices of the elements of what some call “Western Civilization.” That's “just the facts, ma'am.”

None of this denigrates women, who are substantially smarter than men in many areas. They already out-populate men in universities and have distinguished themselves in the fields of medicine, sciences and the arts, while matching male corruption/ignorance in politics. It's merely to remark that there's no such thing as unisex. There are differences in the genders—biological, mental, emotional. Leadership is too important to squander on either the uninitiated or the physically/mentally weak.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Post-Secondary PTSD

In a recent op-ed claimed to be signed by the higher-education pooh-bahs in Kentucky public institutions and the Kentucky Council on Post Secondary Education, attention was drawn to higher education's grievous financial short-shrift by government especially since 2008, requiring immediate action. This is true but the only relief being seriously considered is revenue-enhancement via casinos. Notwithstanding high-flown legislative rhetoric earmarking this revenue to education, it will go into the general fund, as it should.

Education professionals—multitudes embarrassingly non-essential/overpaid—seem not to understand that much can be done institutionally to help relieve the problem. Streamlining the system is a must. Liberal Arts is the ideal approach (Western Civilization) but many of its requirements are often unnecessary. An adequate education can be gained in three years for most any field involving technical rather than “artistic” skills and training. Electrical engineers don't need Chaucer or even (gasp) a foreign language. English is already foreign for about half of all college applicants anyway.

Not all high school grads should go to college, as education gurus insist. Entrance requirements should be stiffer, perhaps furnishing more incentive to actually educate students in public schools instead of merely exposing them to social engineers, thus reducing university faculty numbers, saving boatloads of salaries and perks. Notwithstanding the disappearing of unions to gain leverage against employers, skilled workers and even those in manual labor are often well paid...think Toyota, for instance.

The state's eight public universities subsidize their sports programs with a total of almost $50 million a year from their schools' general fund budgets, which largely rely on state tax money and students' tuition and fees, according to the Herald-Leader of 01 April 2012, a scandal of immense proportions. Actually, six of those institutions incur that expense, squandering an average of over $8 million per year each. Scholarship athletes get free rides even if they can't write three consecutive grammatically correct sentences while deserving scholars head for McDonalds or drown themselves in debt.

Whole departments could be dispensed with. There used to be departments of women's studies but now they're called Gender & Women's Studies. This is from the UK web-site: “Spring 2014 Gender and Women's Studies Undergraduate Courses: Sex and Power; Gender and Popular Culture; Crossroads of Race, Gender, and Class; Gender Across the World: Human Rights in Film; Intro to Feminist Theorizing; Introduction to Queer Theory; Issues in GWS: Sex, Science, Society; Senior Seminar in GWS: Capstone; Women in Islam; Gender Politics in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture; Literary Encounters: Women Behaving Badly; Sexuality Education; Contemporary Russian Women’s Literature and Undergraduate Research in Gender and Women’s Studies: Independent Study.

There's also a doctoral program at UK for those who want to make GWS studies a self-perpetuating profession. From the program's web-site: “The PhD program in Gender and Women's studies at the University of Kentucky aims to train cutting-edge scholars of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies.” Sex may be important in GWS-world but apparently grammar isn't. The word should have been “in,” not “of,” regarding the studies unless the statement meant that all the scholars actually have a gender and are feminist in philosophy and very interested in sex experiments. Fortunately, there's no Men's Department of Studies to waste money.

Spring 2014 Course Offerings in African American and Africana Studies at UK: “Inequalities in Society; African American History 1865-Present; History of Subsaharan Africa; Major Black Writers; History of Jazz; Geography of Mid East/N Africa; Race/Sprts in America; Special Topics in African American Studies: Black Greek Letter Organizations; Special Topics in African American Studies: Languages in African American Societies; Special Topics in African American Studies: Pidgins and Creoles; Independent Readings/Research in African American Studies; Race & Ethnic Relations; Education in Culturally Diverse Society; Theories, Perspectives, Trends and Issues in Multicultural Education; Multicultural Psychology; Black American Literature.” Sounds like liberal boilerplate. Fortunately, there are no departments in Caucasian, Latino, Native-American or Asian Studies.

These useless departments (okay...I'm both racist and chauvinistic) are replicated throughout the other institutions—a huge waste. Elaborate Physical Education Departments could be axed, muscle-building not being a responsibility of academia, and the rules of volley-ball don't matter much in the real world. The Great Recession is in its seventh year and revenues will reflect that. Post-graduate education gurus should take notice and consider overhauling/downsizing before whining, especially since the governor has just proposed bushwhacking it by another 2.59%. Wringing 10% out of institutional budgets should not be hard, especially when chartered planes are used to transport athletes to the far reaches of the nation. It takes about $230,000 just to outfit a football team but that's not even half of what UK pays its offensive and defensive coordinators each. Disgusting!

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Education Equity or Waste

In an op-ed piece of 13 January appeared this question: “Will groups like the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; banking; businesses, including equine, agriculture and coal, step up and put aside their special agendas, pressuring state government to do the right thing?” [about education]. The answer is NO. In the column was this statement: “Gov. Steve Beshear and the 2014 General Assembly have an opportunity to get us back on track. The tax structure of Kentucky needs to be changed, pure and simple.” This is ho-hum stuff whenever the legislature meets and the governor pontificates...endlessly.

The tax structure may need to be changed but change can be claimed for everything the state does, not just concerning education – nothing new there. The biggest tax increase in the state's history at the time occurred in 1990 in behalf of education...the Kentucky Education Reform Act, which also included mountains of pork, necessary for passage of most everything. Not long after, a gaggle of elected officials and bureaucrats went to the Big House on other matters.

KERA was brought about through a lawsuit by 66 school superintendents claiming the state was unfair in allocation of funds to districts. There was some unfairness, although x-number-of-dollars-per-student across-the-board seemed fair enough. The difference in funding accrued to the fact that in many school-districts citizens taxed themselves for additional funds in order to have better schools, something not done to the same extent if at all by many other districts, especially in East-Kentucky, admittedly a sometime depressed area, mostly depending on coal production, although malfeasance by elected property-valuation-administrators was a huge factor.

To the extent of actual need, KERA helped financially, but in the mix the legislature and governor decided to legislate costly pedagogy—an error of inestimable damage (throwing out the baby with the bath-water), opting for something called “outcomes-based-education,” having individual self-esteem as a primary goal and downgrading academic achievement. For instance, KERA provided for the combining of K through third grade and for each school's site-based council (principal, three teachers, two parents) to determine everything from curriculum to the hiring of the principal.

Teachers and administrators quietly disobeyed much of KERA and subsequent legislatures have virtually disemboweled key elements of the law as tests proved that academic achievement headed south, and fast. About the only academic authority a school-board had under KERA was the hiring/firing of the superintendent.

Concerning funds, the school establishment needs to get its house in order before more whining about being financially disenfranchised. KERA perpetrated a financial disaster that could have been avoided if only by not enacting its plethora of duplicate services and attempts to reward expected efforts with bribes. All other government departments have had to bite the bullet, but a bloated education establishment seems to consider itself immune from a stringent cost-to-performance ratio.

In the Fayette County system there are something like 335 headquarters-entities designated as office/department, complete with often highly overpaid supervisors or directors and whatever staffs are needed, a huge bureaucracy. In the schools are assistant principals, when one or at least fewer might be enough. How many counselors are needed? When the nation's education system after WWII propelled the U.S. to be the world leader in every area from manufacturing to the military there were no frills, just intensive academic endeavor and discipline. Now, the U.S. hugely trails other developed nations, especially in the sciences and math.

A look at the staff of Lexington's Lafayette High School (best band in the land), for instance, easily indicates over 30 administrators/counselors (no custodial staff or food-workers included). According to the U.S. News & World Report for 2013, there are nearly 2000 students and 115 teachers, or one administratively connected person for every 3.5 teachers and 65 or so students. I did a five-year stint in teaching (mostly math) some 60 years ago and make no claim that nothing's changed since then, but I can't believe that the entire local and state systems would suffer if undergoing a 10% cut in all but special-ed areas, saving millions.

Other state workers have had to observe non-paid furloughs but there's no suggestion that this obtain with the schools. Instead, an honest effort to wring out the fat is sorely needed before more whining. The op-ed writer said money would always be a prime feature in educational endeavor. Agreed, with the insistence that stringent housekeeping is in order financially.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

Gates & the Gang

Depending on one's agenda, it's open season on the book entitled Duty by Robert Gates, former CIA chief under Bush 41 and former Defense Secretary under Bush 43 and Obama. I'm aware of only the snippets of it that have appeared in the media—TV, publications and talk-radio, as well as viewing Gates' appearances on TV to discuss parts of the book. All of these elements have been taken out of context and I plan to read the book, just as I read the books by Bush 43, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Obama's first book.

Gates has been generally dubbed as forthright and honest by the gurus and there's no reason to think otherwise. He's also served in the military (Air Force), as did Rumsfeld, Bush 41 and Bush 43, the latter three as fighter pilots. This adds a dimension to Gates' account that's invaluable since he understands the ramifications accruing to war, especially including loss of life and treasure as well as the wounds suffered by GIs. By his own account, the latter two caused him much sadness and apprehension.

Perhaps the greatest disdain in the book is dealt Congress, for which he seems to have little respect, not that this represents much disconnect between him and most citizens, at least according to the polls. He used these words for the “majority of Congress”— “uncivil, incompetent in fulfilling basic constitutional responsibilities (such as timely appropriations), micromanagerial, parochial, hypocritical, egotistical, thin-skinned, often putting self (and reelection) before country.” Considering that the Senate, for instance, didn't pass a budget for at least three years, he's on point.

Watching a congressional hearing on C-Span is all that's necessary to see the uncivil aspect. Then-senator Hillary Clinton called General Petraeus a liar to his face (suspended belief) in a hearing and Senator Boxer upbraided an army general for not addressing her properly (he used ma'am) in another kangaroo committee-hanging. Neither lady would know a salute from an obscene gesture. Then-senator Biden addressed former Attorney General Gonzales in a hearing as “old buddy” and accused him of not “being very candid so far.”

Gates might have had senators McCain, Graham and Lieberman in mind when he used the term egotistical. Those three loudly and publicly urged Obama to attack Libya—no threat to any country—when Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mullen wisely, firmly warned against it in another hearing. McCain even went to the Benghazi region and picked out the butchers to whom to give weapons. He was dead wrong and the chaos that led to the “Benghazi Massacre” (then-state secretary Clinton's colossal blunder) was a result.

An incompetent Obama listened to these “three musketeers” and ignored military advice, fomenting a bloody fiasco that lasted seven months, not “just days, not weeks,” as Obama promised. Later, McCain did a photo-op with some Arabs probably in Lebanon and announced that he had discovered the correct Syrian butcher to whom to give weapons. Obama wisely ignored him but had to defer to Russky PM Putin for escaping the hole he had dug for himself by blabbing egotistical “commands” to Assad to vacate his Syrian presidency, then threatened the multiple “red-line” crossings.

The most damning aspect regarding Congress's incompetence is the fact that legislators don't read the bills they pass. The House passed cap-and-trade (democrats, 2010) without reading it and on a day when 300 pages were added to it the night before. Congress, without a republican vote, passed an unread Obamacare bill without reading it in 2010, and then-speaker Pelosi provided the wisdom that no one would know its contents until it was passed. She was right—stupidity to the nth degree.

Ego-driven gimmickry drives elections and reelections. John McCain put virtually unheard of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on the ticket in 2008 in an effort to get the all-important women's vote, just as the democrats did in 1984 in picking Geraldine Ferraro. It didn't work either time, but the solons figure the Great Unwashed are too dumb to see through their shenanigans. Disgusting!

Gates had some good as well as critical things to say about Obama but he maybe meant a bit of payback, too. Paying attention to three women (Clinton, Rice, Power) who wouldn't know an RPG from a candlestick, he cut Gates out of the loop, set decent Americans upon innocent Libyans and announced this action when starting a vacation in Brazil while Gates was on official business in Russia. That's bottom-of-the-barrel stuff.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Economic Stagnation...Long-Term?

The president boasts that the recovery is going great when his own Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates otherwise. The brag will now be that the unemployment rate is all the way down to 6.7% and falling. That rate used to be determined by the number of people looking for jobs. Today, it's figured on the number of people who have quit looking for work, a political expediency for an administration presiding over an economic debacle.

The BLS also figures the ACTUAL unemployment rate based on the unemployed, under-employed and the discouraged, those who have quit the job-search, having discovered the dearth of jobs. That rate—the actual picture—is called the U-6 rate by the BLS and stands at 13.1%, nearly double the propaganda-rate the administration uses, and will keep rising. During the throes of the Great Depression in 1937, the actual unemployment rate (people desperately seeking work) stood minimally higher at 14.3%, though the average during 1932-40 was 19.1%. The nation seems headed in that direction.

In the week ending January 4, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted unemployment initial claims was 330,000, according to the BLS. Only 74,000 jobs (70,000 of which in retail & wholesale trade) were created in December 2013 (1,480 per state). The conclusion to be drawn is obvious.

Exacerbating the problem are the 1.3 million unemployed who lost their benefits on 28 December – $1,166 per month. If Congress does not act, another 3.6 million could lose benefits by the end of 2014. At the height of the recession, not over despite Obama's claims, benefits could be claimed for 99 weeks, or nearly two years. The limit currently is 73 weeks.

According to BLS statistics, the employment-to-population ratio now of workers age 16 and older is the same as that of 1975 – 57.7. The ratio in 2001 was about 64. The population has increased by 44% while the job situation is the same as that of 38 years ago. The trend is obvious and the current mark has held steady since 2009, when Obama took office.

According to the Department of Numbers (contextualizes public data), there were 136,877,000 jobs in December 2013. In January 2008, there were 138,056,000 jobs, indicating a six-year loss of some 1.2 million jobs. At December's job-growth rate, it would take 16 years to get back that deficit, though one presumes that the future, while rather grim, is not quite that bleak.

In a televised floor-session on C-Span-2 on 09 January, Senate Majority Leader Reid told Senate Minority Leader McConnell that not one of the 20 amendments offered by republicans to a bill returning benefits to those who have just lost them would be taken up. Republicans are not against the benefits but insist that monies to fund them have to be found, thus their attempts at fiscal responsibility.

Reid seems to think the money can just be either printed or borrowed from China, giving democrats a wedge issue for an election year. He certainly has no solution to a problem that is nearing the tipping point. The citizens are caught in the cross-hairs of a petty quarrel fostered by a petty Majority Leader, whose only interest is in making republicans look mean, and posturing for November...beneath contempt

The greater tragedy is that the nation is becoming, ironically, a sort of plantation with the government as Simon Legree and the citizens divided into workers and non-workers. Gradually, everything—especially medical care at the moment—is being undertaken by Legree, who will make all decisions, with the understanding that the producers will cough up the wherewithal necessary for the survival of all.

This is called socialism, remarking the end of a great democratic, capitalistic experiment called the United States. Everything from the failed $787 billion stimulus and $700 billion TARP to the government takeover and bankrupting of General Motors and Chrysler has proven that using money, whether real or imagined, to solve every problem doesn't work, and that there's no such thing as a level playing field. The fat cats will rise to the top. Currently, half of all Congress-people, as well as the president, are millionaires who have interests to be protected.

Things will not improve soon. The pollsters indicate the near-total disrespect of Congress and the overwhelming disapproval of Obama's performance by the citizens. Until strong, wise, unselfish leaders appear, there's little hope.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Democratic Oligarchy—Oxymoron?

Politicians usually reference the U.S. as being a democracy since lawmakers and other governing officials are chosen by the “people.” However, in many if not most respects the U.S. is an oligarchy, defined as “a country, business, etc., that is controlled by a small group of people: the people that control a country, business, etc.: government or control by a small group of people.”

The vast majority of lawmakers in the Congress and state legislatures simply follow the line, which is determined by a small group. In Congress, for instance, the party in power rules, with the majority leader and committee chairman—a handful of folks—actually calling the shots. The minority leader and committee ranking-members can fight but they can't win. The rest of the members often might as well be in Philadelphia except for the time votes are cast, usually along party lines promulgated by the “leaders.”

Working hand-in-glove with the legislators are the representatives of the special-interest groups – the lobbyists, who actually write the bills, becoming a part of the governing oligarchy. The lawmakers and probably the president had little knowledge of Obamacare, for instance. The lawmakers, with the possible exception of a handful, didn't even read the huge bill enacting it. If they had, even democrats would have recognized it for its unworkable and unfair mandates, absent huge increases in revenue enhancements—taxes.

Oligarchs consider themselves above the law and superior to the average guy. The president changes his own law simply by pronouncement, whether his changes make sense or not. The Congress-people are either too collectively stupid to do anything about this or simply don't want to stir up political trouble...for anyone.

The insurance companies, as a result, have no clue as to enrollment, costs, claims, time-frames and the like. Policy-holders are forced to pay for services they will never need such as men paying for extremely high gynecological problems and abortions and women paying for costly treatment accruing to the brain-concussions of NFL football players. An even smaller group of bureaucrats and “regulators” determine who gets what treatment...more oligarchs.

The penultimate example of oligarchy occurred when the legally appointed person to fill Obama's Senate seat in 2009 to fill out his term was locked out of his office in the capitol. The president and Senator Durbin had already decided on that appointment and simply told the Constitutionally-appointed man to get lost. The court overruled Obama and Durbin so the citizen is left to wonder if Obama and Durbin were too dumb to know the law or simply had no intention of obeying it. The latter—at least one hopes—was the case. Having people that stupid in high office is scary.

It gets scarier. In a Congressional hearing on 01 March 2011, Defense Secretary Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen warned against any action in Libya. Obama had decided to attack the weak nation militarily but knew he could not get Congress to go along because Libya was not a threat to this or any other country, i.e., that he had no Constitutional authority to make unprovoked war on a sovereign nation.

Consequently, he sent three ladies—State Secretary Clinton, UN Ambassador Rice and White House hack Samantha Power—to the UN Security Council for permission. With Russia, Brazil, Germany, India and China abstaining (any one could have vetoed), permission was obtained. Obama ordered the action on 19 March, announcing the air-strikes in Brazil rather than Washington.

An oligarchy of one man and three women un-Constitutionally started a war the president said would last for days, not weeks, but bombed Libya into submission for seven months, with never an accounting of the number of Libyan civilians who died or were injured. On 19 March 2011, Secretary Gates was completely out of the loop in Russia and announced Obama's action as “on-the-fly,” i.e., without proper planning.

At midnight on Christmas Eve 2010, a small oligarchy of the president and Congressional democrats ignorant of the legislation (not one republican voted for it) managed passage of Obamacare. Later, an oligarchy of five SCOTUS justices ruled it Constitutional. All the ramifications of this law are not yet known but the president (oligarchy of one) has already illegally changed it numerous times and even exempted at least a thousand entities from its mandates.

Whether capitalistic, socialistic, communistic, or democratic, oligarchs rise to the top of governing systems. The president and other bureaucrats whine of inequalities...but they perpetrate them. It's called “class warfare.”

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Arm al-Maliki?

State Secretary John Kerry is promising help to Prime Minister al-Maliki in Iraq, though not by way of troops on the ground. Kerry is famous (or infamous) for voting for the Iraq action back in 2002 but then voting not to fund it—actually a NO vote, but perhaps with his derriere covered either way. Penultimate politician!

This is what Kerry said to a Senate committee in 1971: “So what I am saying is that yes, there will be some recrimination but far, far less than the 200,000 a year who are murdered [in Vietnam] by the United States of America … .” Kerry’s comrades/nation had murdered [his word] 1.6 million Vietnamese 1964-71, mostly civilians – women, children, and old men...if he was right. He’s never offered a scintilla of proof for that wacky accusation.

The Iraqi soldiers don't need AK-47s. They have plenty of those. They don't need people since the army is supposed to be comprised of 271,400 troops, down from Saddam's 400,000 back in the day but still huge for a nation of only 31.1 million. They need big-time artillery, tanks, RPGs, missile launchers – the works for fighting an all-out war, weapons Obama wisely withheld from Syrian rebels, who now are slaughtering each other to see who will run things when Assad is dispatched, not that he will be.

The Iraqis are having the sectarian civil war that well-informed folks knew they would have after Saddam Hussein, his sons and their cutthroats were neutralized. Obama could have removed the Americans much sooner than 2011 and their war would have begun then. Instead, he left them there to continue to be killed while the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds awaited the announced day of departure. Now, the time is at hand.

Saddam was a butchering Sunni Muslim and ruled with a minority of about 34% of the population. Al-Maliki is a Shiite Muslim, ruling (or attempting to) with his cult, some 63% of the population in payback mode. The Kurds in the North (about 17%) are their own sort of Arab, most of them Sunnis. Al Qaeda now controls much of the population, having moved in even before the Americans left in 2011 and now holds famed Fallujah, scene of some of the bitterest fighting in the Iraqi action.

People like Senators McCain and Graham crow an “I told you so” theme (chaos in a total American pullout) but spit in the wind. Tying up American GIs (10,000 or so) for decades would change nothing because Muslims kill each other with the same vengeance they kill infidels—maybe a greater one. Sectarian violence is unsurpassed in intensity...remember the Crusades. Saladin was a Kurd.

The warmongers bewail the fact that U.S. Forces are exiting Afghanistan this year. Not waiting until December, he should be removing them as rapidly as possible now, along with the other NATO forces. When they're gone, the al Qaeda and Taliban butchers can then get it on with their never-ending fighting. It's time that U.S. officials—both before and after the fact—admit that efforts to democratize both Iraq and Afghanistan have failed, notwithstanding the “free elections” in both countries, which meant nothing.

Senator McCain (forever seeking a camera) was in Kabul last week trying to be State Secretary and cut a deal with Afghan honcho Karzai to keep Americans in Afghanistan after this year. He also found the folks to give weapons in Libya (created total chaos) and later, the folks to give weapons in Syria. It's time for him to shut up and stay home. He's helped spread the murderous al Qaeda (especially exiting Libya) throughout the Middle East and sub-Sahara Africa.

Muslims, as always, are primed to kill each other by boatloads in the name of some cult of Islam and there's nothing anyone can do about that. Though it sounds insensitive, it nevertheless is true that when they devote their energies in that direction they're leaving the infidels (Americans) alone.

Hindsight indicates that the “surges” in both Iraq (Bush 43) and Afghanistan (Obama) that cost many American lives were terrible, costly mistakes. Sunnis, Shiites, Wahabis, Alawites, whatever—all warring branches of Islam—are now in high-gear battle-mode. Until sanity overtakes them, nothing can be done.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

Friday, January 03, 2014

Perverse Papal Pronouncements

TIME magazine spent many pages extolling the virtues of Pope Francis in designating him as “person of the year.” He deserved the recognition, along with a host of others, who made huge splashes on the national/global scene. Notwithstanding all the reasons TIME gave for its choice, the actual reasons were the Pope's offhand remark concerning homosexuals, to wit, that it wasn't his job to judge, and his stated remarks against capitalism as a financial societal system.

Whereas Pope Francis used words—absolutely no tangible changes—to earn his spot, someone like Russia's Vladimir Putin, for instance, actually DID something, stepping into the Syrian conflict to primarily keep President Obama from doing something disastrous like intervening militarily (as in Libya) or furnishing weapons that could blow the place away. Assad's WMD (toxic gases) remains in Syria and in any case cannot be safely moved or destroyed absent $billions needed for the ability to do so. Witness the enormous amounts being spent in the U.S. just to build the facilities for this work, such as at Bluegrass Army Depot outside Richmond. Ky.

Though Protestants and evangelicals disagree, Catholics consider the Popes to be the direct descendents of Peter the apostle and designated as such by Christ to maintain the foundation of the church. In this role, Pope Francis doesn't just speak for the church but is the church. However, he is constrained by the issue of infallibility that applies to the Pope—all Popes.

The definition of infallible: “not capable of being wrong or making mistakes: not fallible.” This means that a pope can hardly change anything a preceding pope has done all the way back to whenever. Actually, while there's a genealogy for Christ in the Bible, there's none for the descendents of Peter, eventuating in the Pope. Too, at one time priests were allowed to marry, so apparently Popes have made changes, sort of disrupting the infallibility facet.

As Pope, Francis IS the one, according to Catholic doctrine, to judge the behavior and relationships of homosexuals and announce his judgments to the church. Atheists and agnostics (and TIME) jumped on his statement with glee because it destroyed his credibility and that of the church, something dear to the hearts of the “anything goes” crowd and establishing secularism/hedonism as predominant over spiritualism. If the Pope can't judge on the basis of scripture, tradition and previous Papal promulgations, who can?

The quick answer—embraced by most Protestants and evangelicals—is that only God can judge but Catholics have been taught to trust the Pope for their answers. Heading a church of 1.2 billion members worldwide, Pope Francis is the acknowledged world leader in religious matters. His offhanded statement was terribly unfortunate since he's also supposed to use scripture—which profoundly condemns perverted behavior—as his authority.

Pope Francis's condemnation of capitalism (a “new tyranny,” his words) was also unfortunate since capitalist philosophy has produced the financial resources the church uses to do its work. Ensconced in palatial surroundings (whether he uses them or not) built upon the backs of entrepreneurs and workers employed by them, he seems not to understand that there's no such thing as a free lunch. He has total control of at least $34 million in the Vatican and Holy See besides all the finances in parishes throughout the world since they are directly accountable to him—money given through entrepreneurship, since the church produces nothing of financial significance.

In his important proclamation for World Peace Day, Pope Francis condemned the “increasing inequality between the rich and poor,” a constant drumbeat of President Obama, who has seen that inequality gap mushroom in his 5-year presidential tenure in the U.S. as he's worked hard and successfully to discourage capitalism. Neither man understands economics, though Obama has become a multimillionaire in a capitalistic society and the Pope seems not to understand that church offerings are tax-deductible and therefore shouldn't be subject to discouragement by Papal pronouncements.

The Pope speaks globally. The president speaks provincially but the issue is the same for both. Robbing Peter to pay Paul (no pun intended) has never worked because mankind is imperfect, the result being that whoever has the most resources, whether abstract or tangible, will gain the ascendancy. Encouraging charity is the way to go but discouraging financing it is counterproductive—just plain common sense.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark