Economic update

When Wal-Mart has a shortage of shopping carts, I’d call it a good sign for consumer spending.

That’s all for now.

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!


We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Ronald Reagan, June 12, 1987 at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin

Ronald Reagan speaking in front of the Branden...
Image via Wikipedia

What Would Reagan Say to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong-il? I suppose it doesn’t really matter when the current occupant of the White House won’t even celebrate the unmistakable sign of the dramatic advance of freedom and peace.

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If McChrystal is wrong, fire him; if not, shut up

Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: (1) He will win who knows
when to fight and when not to fight. (2) He will win who knows how to handle both
superior and inferior forces. (3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit
throughout all its ranks. (4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy
unprepared. (5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The Obama administration is making a huge mistake in fighting out an internal dispute over Afghanistan strategy on Sunday talk shows. National Security Adviser James Jones undercut the position of the general in the field, Stanley McChrystal, with his statement that:

…the end is much more complex than just about adding ‘X’ number of troops…But I don’t foresee the return of the Taliban and I want to be very clear that Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling.”

If that is the position of the administration, then the correct course of action is not to fight it out in public, undermining the “spirit of the army” and further eroding public support for a war that last fall as a candidate President Obama said must be won.

If McChrystal is wrong and there is a better man with a better plan, then Obama should take the Truman approach and fire him. That approach achieved Truman’s objectives in Korea – containment of Communism and 50 years of stability on the Korean peninsula.

If there is doubt and dissension in the civilian administration and it’s not clear from this side of the globe whether McChrystal is right or wrong, then Obama should take the word of his commander in the field, possibly firing the civilian advisors, provide the military capacity that’s needed and not micromanage. That approach is a time tested path to victory.

Either of those decisions is a potential war winner and the action of a decisive Commander in Chief. Airing the military advisors’ dirty laundry on television is the Vietnam Strategy and bound to lead to defeat in a country that is already notorious for defeating the Soviet Army.

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The Latest on Bush’s Third Term

In the latest effort by the Obama administration to continue the worst policies of the Bush administration, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs announced increased tariffs on Chinese tires of an extra 35 percent in the first year, 30 percent in the second, and 25 percent in the third. The Bush steel tariffs of 2002 contributed mightily to the destruction of the US auto industry. Now instead of pursuing the sensible, pro-growth course of “removing all tariffs on their raw materials” and other inputs the Obama administration intends to add insult to the injury of the taxpayer bailout of GM and Chrysler with further tariffs on auto industry input. Look for the losses of the companies you now own to grow still larger and, if the Third Term policies continue, for Ford to end up on the dole yet.

Stay tuned for more reading on The Third Term.

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Minirants: Congress, Jets and Townhalls

Every once in a while we get a stark example of how markets are simply much more efficient than government. The latest example: While Congress is being slammed for planning to spend $550 million for a handful of new jets, including $66 million a piece for three Gulfstream G550s with a sticker price of $49 million, Southwest Airlines has bid $170 million for over 80% of Frontier Airlines and all of commuter airline Lynx. Congress could still get in on the action though, as Southwest is only after Frontier’s routes – the 40 Airbus jets will be retired over the next year and replaced with Southwest’s signature 737′s.

Sometimes politicians lack of historical perspective is astounding. I mentioned before that it surprised me to see “law and order” GOP politicians jumping on the “Tea Party” bandwagon with no regard for what could logically be expected to come next. Now Democrat politicians are showing their own historical myopia by complaining that the tea partiers organized action at town hall meetings reflects a lack of sincerity and is somehow un-American. The original Tea Partiers were an organized bunch too – Committees of Correspondence, Continental Congress, defeating the British Empire – and yet no one since has doubted their sincerity. And, of course, they set the standard for American patriotism.

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Jackson Browne truly running on empty

I used to like Jackson Browne back when he was still putting out good music… In sixty-nine he was twenty one and called the road his own…

Lately the tired old liberal is out of creativity with nothing better to do than file frivolous lawsuits… I don’t know when that road turned into the road he’s on…

The Ohio Republican Party used his song “Running on Empty” as an entirely appropriate theme for a campaign spot on Obama’s anti-production energy plans…Running on – running on empty…

So, did Jackson Browne ask the Ohio GOP for a license fee like an artist worried about his property rights? Of course not, he did what any good liberal entertainer would do – sued the Republican Senator from Arizona! Ohio, Arizona! If you’re from New York or Los Angeles they all look the same…Running on – running blind, Running on – running into the sun…

The Ohio GOP and Senator McCain settled today…I dont know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels…

Browne hopes he’s sent a message to Republicans who dare use anything but country music in a campaign spot – “We better not. They’ll sue you…” Running into the sun…But Im running behind…

I guess when you’re out of talent, you do what you have to do… Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive, Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive…

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Youth Service

Liberals (and, to be fair, some compassionate “conservatives”) like to tout the value of youth service. Youth service at McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell or Wal-Mart is worth roughly $8 an hour, depending on location. Unwilling service at the point of a gun (Obama and Rangel’s national service proposals) or service paid for by unwilling taxpayers at the point of a gun (Americorps) is worth the few cents it costs for bullets.

You want more youth service? Put your own money where your mouth is and order some fries with that shake.

The real CIA scandals

According to AP reports, the CIA program about which Dick Cheney supposedly kept Congress in the dark was an effort to gain intelligence and carry out killings of Al Qaeda leaders at close range, rather than through air strikes that risked collateral damage. Congress wasn’t informed because the program never got far enough to justify a briefing. That’s the first real scandal, not that Congress wasn’t informed but that such a common sense measure never got off the ground, probably due at least in part to the destruction of human intelligence networks during the 1990s.

The even bigger scandal. Leon Panetta ordered the program cancelled in June in what is a clear indication of a return to the Clinton era intelligence policies that made the September 11 attacks not merely possible but almost inevitable. While one of the pleasant surprises of the Obama administration has been that Obama and Panetta take the terrorist threat more seriously than many would have expected, if any change in this sort of intelligence operation was called for, it was a redoubling of the effort and troubleshooting to find out why it hadn’t yet yielded results.

There is one other scandal here, though on the Congressional side, not the CIA side. Apparently Congressional leaders had to be explicitly told that this was going on, while the American public for the most part merely assumed, wished and hoped that it was. Proof yet again that Congresscritters aren’t too bright.

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