My Comments and Observations on the 2nd half of the Republican Debate on National Security


I just could not bring myself to watch and write a blog on the first half of the debate as this took so long and it was already late at night

In general, this was a really bad debate because, as is usually the case, instead of answering the specific question they were asked, almost without exception, the candidates talked about something that either had occurred when they were in office or for legislation which they had supported at some time long ago. They habitually criticized the President for, if relevant, the issue about which they were questioned, and if not relevant, for anything and everything else, whether relevant or not to the issue before them. It never mattered if the President was deserving of criticism, and he even was criticized for the inaction of Congress. The questions weren’t that good either.

Some of the questions asked were not difficult, yet these candidates still failed to answer them. I can not fail to wonder why the candidates seemed to have so much trouble answering the questions. Perhaps, and this is pure speculation, it is because some of the candidates are getting desperate On the other hand, the answers were boring generalities and conclusions as opposed to desperate answers designed to stir the voting public. IN fact, I watched the 2nd half of the debate, before the first half, and can’t even bring myself to waste time watching the first half (with the exception of a small part thereof.)

Wolf Blitzer says that the economy is a National Security Issue. It is one thing to hear Republicans talk about how they will [mis]handle National Security. It is another to listen to the people who actually threaten our National Security, as the Republicans in Congress and the Republican leadership has done.

In their opening remarks, almost everyone attacked our President for harming our National Security. Yet, they fail to mention the harm done to our economy and National Security done by the Bush administration and the Republican leadership due to: 9/11; the mishandling of the Afghanistan invasion (due to the military being spread to thin because of the war in Iraq); and, the war in Iraq itself. They also fail to mention that in a mere three years President Obama has crippled Al Queda.

Michele Bachmann mentioned that she served on a Senate committee or sub-committee on Intelligence. How can a Senator serve on a committee on intelligence when that Senator lacks any? I guess it is possible, since Republicans love to prove their points by anecdotal stories instead with real evidence or logic (Michele Bachmann is especially fond of this since she used this method of proving how dangerous it is to vaccinate women against cancer.

In the first half of the debate, Michele Bachmann complained (like an idiot) that the underwear bomber got Miranda warnings. First, it is a long standing and well settled principal rule of law that all defendants are entitled to them. Second, almost every person knows about the rights set forth in the “75% to 80%” of what he wanted.Miranda warnings (right to remain silent, right to counsel, etc.) Lastly, what difference did it make as he was convicted anyway

Mitt Romney claims that “we have a President who pursued an agenda of being friendly to our foes.” I don’t know who he is referring to, unless he is referring to Ronald Reagan and his administration, many of whom served both Bush administrations, when they delivered a cake to Iran and sold arms as well to Iran [remember the Iran-Contra scandal?], or was he referring to giving surface to air missiles to the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan who merged into the Taliban and became allied with Al Queda? These are the type of weapon which can be used, and have been used, to try to cause large civilian aircraft to explode in mid air killing hundreds of innocent civilians).

Newt Gingrich actually said that, if we [America] were serious, we could open up enough oil fields to make the price of oil collapse [which means that the supply of oil would greatly outstrip demand]. Pay attention everyone, as Newt making this statement was history in the making. This is one of the top ten most absurd political statements of all time. Where, Newt, do these oil fields exist anywhere in the world, let alone in a place that a “serious America” could “open them up?”

Aside from a few oil reserves which have gone untouched in Alaska due to the potentially catastrophic harm to the environment of tapping these reserves, no such oil fields exist. Even the fields in Alaska, if fully utilized, would do nothing but provide a temporary source for a fraction of the oil this country needs to import. The truth is, Newt, that you would have us permanently destroy this pristine environment, permanently deplete this reserve of oil, while you and a handful of oil companies get even richer, and once everyone has “pocketed” their riches, and we still are dangerously dependent on expensive imported oil from hostile countries scattered all over the globe, it will be too late to undue the damage you have induced us to do. You will then probably tell us that Exxon and the other companies need further tax break to subsidize the opening of these oil fields.

But if your statement were not absurd enough, you claimed that this could all be achieved in a year. Two things are equally clear: (i) no oil fields exist in America or which can be accessed by America which will have a meaningful effect on the the price of oil or which would reduce our dangerous dependence on imported oil, which dependence threatens our national security. It is the continued lack of a long term, far reaching plan to decrease our dependence on oil by both developing alternative sources of energy and also by increasing the energy efficiency (conservation) of existing usage of energy; and, (ii) no combination of stupidity and intellectual dishonesty can explain this particular statement. After making this absurd statement, Nest continued with an incomprehensible babbling and unsupported statements such as “opening federal lands” will bring jobs… leads me to the conclusion that reality altering drugs must be a critical part of the strategy behind his performance in this debate.

Huntsman was asked about whether cuts to our military and defense spending should be considered as a means of helping to solve the problems with out budget deficit. His answer was circular in reasoning and thus did not answer the question. He claimed that our defense policy needs to follow economic policy. This is not an answer as to whether defense spending should be affected by economic concerns. Each one, according to Huntsman, should depend on the other. We might have some trust for a politician who can answer a simple “yes or no” question with a simple answer of either “yes” or “no.”

Rick Perry was asked if he would compromise with the Democrats on the budget issue to avoid the congressional”gridlock which polls reveal that Americans hate.” The specific issue dealt with the fact that, in the absence of Congress passing a budget which cut the deficit by 1.2 trillion dollars, the budget would be cut automatically, across the board, resulting in a 600 million dollar cut in defense spending.

Wolf Blitzer should also have told him that Americans hate politicians who don’t answer the question which was asked of them but instead answer the question which they wish was asked of them. Perry started talking about his signing into law budgets for the state of Texas as though those state budgets somehow supported his criticism of President Obama. First, a state budget uis different then the national budget. They have different expenditures, different revenue sources, and different economies. Second, a state may prosper or suffer due to factors totally unrelated to the incompetence of the elected officials who govern that state. A state’s natural resources are one example of such a factor. Another factor are the demographics and socioeconomic factors which were in existence at the time the elected official took office. For example, a governor who is elected to lead a state with a skilled labor force which is underpaid will see higher economic growth rate compared to a state which has already seen prosperity which caused its population to achieve high rates of education and high wages. In other words, the failure of one’s predecessor can have more effect on a later governor’s success than the competence and/or success of the later governor’s economic programs.

Rick Perry also ignores the fact that it is up to the legislature to enact the budget, not the executive branch. So the budget problems in America are the fault of Congress, not PREsident Obama. Perry then blames Obama for agreeing to the “across the board” automatic budget cuts. It was this which both parties agreed to in order to avoid the catastrophe of allowing this country to default on its obligations (an unheard of scenario with catastrophic consequences.) There can be no doubt that the failure to reach agreement on a budget belongs exclusively to Congress. In my opinion, it is the Republicans in Congress, especially the Tea Party and those who refuse to consider any tax increases. These extremists include to consider tax increases on people who earn more than one million dollars per year and only on the portion of their income which exceeds one million dollars per year. They also mislabel the failure to renew temporary tax breaks as “tax increases” even though those tax breaks were clearly temporary and were also enacted at a time when economic conditions were very different. For example, the budget was much closer to being balanced, and unemployment was much lower while economic growth was much higher At the same time, other conditions were very different. For example, oil was ten dollars per barrel around the time that tax breaks were enacted to make it profitable for oil companies to explore for and drill and recover oil in areas where the per barrel cost for oil was more than ten dollars per barrel It made sense. But oil prices have exceeded, now, ten times that price and have exceeded One Hundred ($100) Dollars per barrel

So, let’s make this picture real simple. Unemployment was low, the budget deficit low, the economy booming, and oil was around Ten ($10) Dollars per barrel There existed areas accessible in the USA where oil could be located Two reasons existed, however, why it was not feasible to get that oil. Some of that oil was located on places like offshore, where it would be expensive to do exploration to find that oil. Other oil was in existing wells, but the wells had become “unproductive.” A well was “unproductive” because the oil could only be obtained by using expensive methods and procedures which made the per barrel cost of recovering that oil higher than the price of oil on the market. It was cheaper just to buy oil then get it from existing well. Instead of the picture we see in the movie, where oil comes gushing out of a new oil well, nothing was “gushing.” Either the oil was deep in the well requiring more expensive drilling and pumping or the pressure was low which required special methods to get the oil out of the ground.

In that scenario, it made sense to enact temporary tax breaks to get the oil out of the well. But now that oil is well over One Hundred ($100) Dollars per Barrel, oil companies hardly need those tax breaks. In fact, oil company profits are at insanely high record levels of profits, with many companies racking up tens of billions of dollars in profits per quarter.

So now, not only do the tax breaks sever no purpose, but given how bad the economy is, and how large the deficit is, we can not afford to give these oil companies tax breaks. The breaks serve no purpose, and to let them expire will cause no harm.

But the Tea Party and other Republicans, desperate to regain the presidency by calling these super rich oil companies and individuals the “job creators,” don’t care whether it is reasonable and necessary to allow these temporary tax breaks to expire or whether it is reasonable and necessary to to enact new taxes, such as the President’s proposed tax on individuals who make more than One Million ($1,000,000) Dollars per year. They don’t care about the social fairness if someone who works at minimum wage and needs to support a family can’t afford health insurance while a super rich person pays a fraction of the taxes that he/she would pay elsewhere in the world or would have paid 20 years ago in this country.

So Rick Perry said, “We would have never gotten in this place if I were President of the United States.” He was asked whether the automatic spending cuts should include defense spending. Once gain, his answer shows that self-serving rhetoric will triumph over real answers (truth and facts) every time.

Santorum was next. He is a disgrace from my own state who was very lick to get into office under unique circumstances and proceeded to distinguish himself by quickly becoming known for his right wing extremism (which, politically, was probably a good move for him because he lacked the ability to distinguish himself from mainstream politicians because, on his best day, he was just another mediocre politician, but on most days, he was truly lacking in intelligence, experience, or anything else which should cause a politician to be elected.

Because I truly dislike the Republicans running in this election, the reader might come to the conclusion that I dislike all Republicans. In fact, I have liked and voted for Republicans, including Republicans like Senator Spector (when he was a Republican). In the beginning of the race for President four years ago, I even though, for a moment, that I might support Senator McCain, before his candidacy imploded and President Obama’s exploded. But let me be clear that I particularly dislike Santorum. I also think this is an absolutely horrible slate of candidates. While I would not vote for him, the only person running whom I consider to be a reasonable candidate is Romney who is despised for being somewhat moderate. He is also hated by the religious fanatics and religious nuts who have helped destroy the Republican party because they would never elect anyone who was not a white male non-catholic Christian. They definitely would not elect a Mormon whom, despite the reputation of Mormons for being excellent citizens who have served this country with the utmost of morality, sense of public duty, and honesty (and in times of war with bravery).

Santorum was asked whether he would compromise with Democrats if he got “75% to 80%” of what he wanted. I will give him credit for giving an answer that was honest. Unfortunately, it showed he could not comprehend a simple question and further that he was not willing to compromise even if, by the words of the moderator, Wolf Blitzer, “75% to 80% of what he wanted.” Santorum proved that he, (as I contend all of these Republicans are) unreasonable to the point that they will not compromise even if they get most of what they want and even when the alternative is catastrophic damage to this country. He talked about his “record of bipartisan accomplishments.” Without discussing what his accomplishments were, he is admitting he is not now willing to reach a bipartisan agreement, even if that agreement grossly favors his beliefs and stands.

Newt Gingrich was asked a specific question by a participant which Wolf Blitzer noted was a good question,

What entitlement reform proposals would you make to address our long term structural deficit? He should have started listing X program, Y Cut to Z program, etc. Instead, he started talking about Chile and Galveston Texas and their programs and changes involving retirement (which for the reasons noted above are totally not applicable to the United States federal Social Security Program). He finally answered, “ You can have a series of entitlement reforms which make most of the problems go away without the austerity and pain.” He avoided mentioning a single cut to any program whatsoever. Here is a Republican who refuses to raise taxes, wants to blame the President for the budget deficit (which reflects expenditures and obligations incurred, wars entered into, and an economy already gone south all before he was elected) but will not mention a single expenditure cut. If I were an anti-Obama, anti-tax increase hard core Republican, I would want to lynch him. Surely there must be some program which Democrats like which Republicans don’t like which he could have mentioned. He could have attacked public broadcasting,any or all of the programs which help the arts. Surely there must have been a single liberal backed program which is hated by the Republican mainstream. Yet, this man is so desperate to get elected he feared mentioning a single program for fear of alienating a single voter. He is to stupid to realize he has no chance of winning in the first place and no voters to alienate.

On top of his statement about our oil fields, it is clear that Newt Gingrich, regardless of your individual beliefs and opinions, can not, should not, and will not be elected.

Michele Bachmann talked about “drawing a line in the sand, rambled on about the general budget deficit problems and said “… all we need to do is balance the budget.” She then attacked China. How can someone who is known for her opposition to raising any taxes, who attacks the President venomously for the budget deficit, pretend that it is easy to balance the budget and fail to mention a single expenditure cut? What does China have to do with this? They lend us money when we are spending more than we take in? No one forces us to borrow money from China. These people scare me, and I pray that the Chinese understand that people like Bachmann represent a fringe minority attempting to play off the fears of the population and get elected and that they do not represent the American public or her leaders. If China (who is continually portrayed as a malicious enemy of America when all she does is lend us the money which we will be bankrupt without) should get tired of these endless attacks and lend her money (or even a portion thereof) to one of the many other countries who desperately need loans (countries like Greece, Spain, France, and Italy) every American individual and company will suffer as taxes will increase just to pay the increased borrowing rates for the existing budget deficit.

Next, the topic changed to the border situation, an area of debate about which I am extremely conservative. I will give my specific substantive thoughts on this topic since the candidates refused to do so. I have traveled the border and extensively throughout Mexico, speak Spanish, and while I have a great love and respect for the people and culture of Mexico, I recognize that times have changed dramatically from my first trip to the border (in which I was shocked at how easy it was to sneak across the border) when most of the people who crossed the border did so only to find jobs. Unlike many democrats and liberals, I disagree about the desirability of the legal restrictions on the use of the military along the border and even believe that, when armed cartel members cross over the border (or fire from Mexico across the border) the military should have certain rights to enter or fire into Mexico pursuant to some variant of the “Hot Pursuit” doctrine which allows law enforcement officers from one jurisdiction in this country to enter another jurisdiction.

I believe that the US should attempt to negotiate such rights with Mexico, but failing that, should reserve such rights to herself. I note that the drug smuggling and armed violence by cartel members affects Mexico and Mexicans and the biggest detriment to Mexicans who want to cross the border to work are the actions of these armed drug smugglers who have created irrational prejudice and legitimate fear in public opinion as well as create a more militarized border in which well funded smugglers are still able to operate freely but people looking to work are forced to take increased risks to their lives to be able to cross the border. These people are also often used by the smugglers, at the point of a gun, to create diversions where they cross in a way whether it is expected that many of them will get caught but which distracts the Border Patrol agents who spend their time chasing down the migrant workers while the smugglers wait until the Border Patrol and ICE agents are busy.

Lastly, I note that the Swift boat campaign in Vietnam was one of the only campaigns which worked in that war, and our helicopter gunships are our most effective weapon in Iraq and Afghanistan. Helicopters are proving very effective, but costly to acquire and maintain, by the Border Patrol and ICE. As we wind down our involvement in Iraq, we will have many extra helicopters and pilots. I am certain that many of the pilots and support personal that do not want to serve in Iraq would happily serve if based in the USA. Coupled with some of the Swift boats used in Vietnam (or their successor) we could give desperately needed jobs to veterans and quite easily patrol our border.

I would couple that program with a guest worker program which makes it easier for Mexican citizens to come to America and work at low paying jobs which Americans don’t want to work at. There is no reason why our laws can’t be amended to clarify which rights, benefits, and obligations accrue to people here by virtue of such program.

I would also enact stricter legislation which increases both the penalties for and enforcement of those who exploit workers simply because they lacked a “Green Card” (known as “Illegals”). Illegals should have the right to sue employers and certain classes of people/companies (who are known to exploit illegals) without fear of being deported.

While one group of people engaged in illegal border crossing are dangerous criminals, a large percentage are hard working honest people looking merely to work hard, stay out of trouble, and eventually return to their country of birth. In fact, in my first trip to the border, in the mid 1980’s, I was shocked to learn that in parts of this country, many workers crossed every day, worked all day, and returned to Mexico each night, with the then tacit acquiescence of the farmers who employed them, local police, and border patrol agents, who ignored, in certain location, the border and concentrated their efforts at illegals who attempted to travel from the border regions to the interior through a small number of highways and roads which connected the border cities and farms in the USA with the rest of the country.

Most certainly, I would make certain that fear of deportation was no reason that a woman should not report and participate in the prosecution of rapists and human traffickers. Obviously, in certain cases, people who report and participate in the prosecution of such crimes would need to be protected against retaliation by being certain they would not be deported. But there is a difference between allowing someone who has been the victim of a crime or otherwise exploited to report same and participate in a legal action. Even if their status as a victim/exploited person does not warrant the granting of residency, a small numbers of individuals who only wanted to work in the first place and are participating in a legal proceeding against a criminal could at lest be “ignored” by ICE before, during, and for a short time after a legal proceeding (giving that person time to move so they are no worse off for having reported a crime or exploitation of illegal aliens and participating in legal proceedings).

That is my opinion, and I have expressed it before I even watched that portion of the debate. Now lets see what the candidates say.

Rick Perry portrayed Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran as major players in Mexico for the purposes of doing harm to the USA. While I agree that the loose border does present a major security concern, so far it has not been exploited It could be exploited and probably will be exploited, which are reasons it has to be addressed before harm is done. But Perry lied because so far, the terrorists have not come in through Mexico. In fact, Canada has so far proved to be the greater problem. Additionally, it is not Hamas and Hezbollah who present the reasons for worry. It is Al Queda and similar groups.

Perry then lied about the Venezuela Iran connection. While Hugo Chavez is openly hostile to the USA and presents legitimate security concerns, as most clearly does Iran, there is no evidence to date that Mexico has anything to do with either country. Their alliance is a direct economic, political, and military alliance. Only Rick Perry, and a select few, could accurately state that we have a legitimate need for border security and then absolutely misstate the reasons and groups responsible for that. Finally, he says that “Within 12 months that border would be shut down.” This is on par with Gingrich’s 1 year ability to cure our dependence on foreign oil. The border is so large so porous that it can not be “shut down” within one year. He notes that he is from Texas, so he must have some knowledge of the border. He must know how close the border is to town in Texas, in some places, a few hundred yards. There are literally, in other places, a fence with a city on both sides of the fence. While there is much we can do, and must do, and we can, with the assistance of the military, do much to solve the problem, it will require money and time.

Ron Paul said we should “Cancel the drug war.” He then rambled on without making sense. He started deflecting the issue by talking about states being mandated to give benefits to illegal workers. His answer made no sense, but since he is not a probable candidate, what does it matter? He did note, correctly, that the war on drug was a failure, but did not explain what should be done about it. He did not answer whether drugs should be legalized.

Herman Cain accurately described the problem, but only vaguely spelled out the solution in terms like, “Enforce the laws.”

An interesting exchange occurred between Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann Gingrich said that some people who have been here for decades and have been law abiding citizens might be able to become legal, but he never said he would endorse “Amnesty.” Michele Bachmann kept insisting that Gingrich did endorse amnesty for 11.2 million people and all of the benefits that went along with it. He never said that.

Mitt Romney was finally given a chance and he jumped on Michele Bachmann’s false criticism of Gingrich and complained that giving people amnesty was a magnet for more illegal immigration. But he never said that. He used the example of someone who has been here for 25 years, paid taxes, been a productive member of society, had family here, should not be deported simply because they were illegal.

The next topic was Syria

Herman Cain’s answer to Syria was unremarkable except that part of his solution was to urge countries to stop buying oil from Syria. Considering that Syria has no meaningful oil exports, this statement revealed his ignorance on the topic and the fact that he probably ignorantly grouped all “Arab” countries together. The part of his answer which was not unremarkable somehow involved the US economy. It is absolutely crystal clear that growing the US economy will not pressure the Syrian government.

Rick Perry is in favor of a “No Fly Zone” for Syria. Not a bad idea except that I do not believe that Syria has relied on air strikes to combat dissenters. It seems that machine guns and mortars have done the job, so far.

Misc. Comments

Little else was said that was comprehensible, responsive, or noteworthy, until Perry made the absolutely absurd, irresponsible, and aggressive statement that “Communist China was headed for the ash heap of history.” China is growing economically and politically and growing in a way which makes them more and more an ally and friend of the United States. So Perry’s scapegoating and rascist statement was wrong and irresponsible. Someone who wants to be President of the United States of America has to be “presidential.” Leaders are supposed to be careful, diplomatic and save such rhetoric for despicable enemies like Al Queda, not a nation with a population of 1.5 billion people which is growing, economically, like a powerhouse, and has history to back its claim that it is a peaceful country which wants to be left alone, something which the western countries and Japan and Russia have historically refused to do.

We want and need China to play a greater role in the “community of nations” instead of playing the isolationist role they desire. But there is no comparispon between a country which wants to be an isolationist, as China does, and a country which seeks to invade and dominate the entire world, as the Soviets did (especially under Stalin.) If Perry were elected President, which fortunately seems like a very low probability, he would have to deal with China in an entirely different manner then he has. Statements like the one he made might make that impossible, and all of America would suffer for his fear mongering ambition. Rick Perry and the rest of the Republicans need to realize that George Bush played a major role in running up a bill which has put America into poverty. China did not put us in that position, but they are keeping us out of bankruptcy. Many conservative Republicans are calling this group of Republicans “irresponsible fanatics.” That has been true on many areas of their platform, including economic. Richard Nixon, Ford, both Bush presidents, and even Reagan found it necessary and advisable to engage China. Nixon and Ford were dealing with a far more conservative, far less powerful, and far further left China under Mao Tse Tung. If these conservative Republicans saw that it was in America’s interests to have good relations with that China, who does Rick Perry think he is, and what does he think he knows, that he would make such a reprehensible comment, which I personally disavow.

Michele Bachmann said, “We won the peace in Iraq.” Which Iraq was she referring to? Which peace? We invaded Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction. The same Republicans who criticize President Obama for the fact that the budget needs to be cut by one trillion dollars ignore the fact that the Iraqi war cost about the same amount.

4,000 lives were lost in Iraq. While it is not as high as Vietnam, it is not an insignificant number. Additionally, one big difference between Vietnam is the percentage of casualties as opposed to permanently and seriously injured. Our ability to save lives, when someone is permanently and seriously injured, increased greatly. So the number of people missing a limb or suffering another similarly serious and permanent injury is much higher vis a vis the number of casualties.

Furthermore, the war is not over, and the final chapter is not written. It is clear that Iran is stronger for our intervention, and many suspect Iran is just waiting until US troops leave Iraq to really begin regional hegemony in Iraq.

The peace Michele Bachmann claims we won certainly cost a tremendous number of Iraqi lives, and destabilized the entire country. Many were made homeless or placed in poverty. To claim that we won the peace in Iraq, or that we won anything, is self serving wishful thinking which is false.

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Posted in Republican National Convention Debate National Security Candidates for Nomination for President Election CNN Heritage Foundation Mitt Romney Michele Bachmann Herman Cain Huntsman Newt Gingrich, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Occupy America!!! An analysis of the Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Philadelphia, and Other Movements and why We Should Support Them


 

In Philadelphia, as in Wall Street, and throughout the USA and world, people are occupying cities and institutions. I call it, “Occupy America.” I may not be the only one to use that overall name, as the name is natural, but I did think it up on my own. These movements are America’s Tienanmen square protests, a loose coalition of disenfranchised citizens exercising their right to freedom of speech and protest to complain about the social and financial inequality facing America during this period of America’s demise.They are also complaining about excessive greed and corruption, political paralysis, and the financial demise of America.

 

Just like the Chinese protests, there are many misunderstandings about both the Chinese and American protests, and there are many commonly misunderstood similarities:

 

  • No single group(s), cause(s), or leader(s) is behind the protests;
  • The protests enjoy popular support by the public at large;
  • The protesters do not seek radical change of the destruction of society or the government; and,
  • The protesters come from a variety of socio-economic sectors which, when combined, represents the great majority of sectors of America.

 

What we are witnessing, just as China witnessed, was a reaction to excessive greed, corruption, and governmental ineptitude. The protesters (here and several decades ago in China) are/were more interested in seeing the government function (for once) as it is supposed to function and, unlike the typical protester, are/were not really interested in changing or destroying the fundamental values and institutions of each respective government.

 

Unfortunately, due to a lack of transparency: (i) corporate and individual greed; (ii) political ambition; and (iii) the promotion of narrow self interests above the good of the nation have wrecked large scale and catastrophic damage to of our critical institutions, such as our commercial and investment banking industry, the housing market, and even the political/democratic process, each of which has caused wide spread and catastrophic ripple effects throughout the economy. And these are just some examples, as are the following statistics. Mortgage foreclosures are worse than in the great depression. Our national Budget Deficit has exceeded critical maximum limits (self-imposed). Unemployment is twice the rate normally considered as “high and unacceptable.”

 

An example of what went wrong can be seen in the misuse of investment and loan facilities by both the commercial and investment banks (which were recently effectively allowed to merge, most unfortunately. While the industry was consolidating and executive compensation skyrocketing into sickening numbers in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and severance packages and golden parachutes were put in place to protect those insanely high compensation packages (which insured a very select few would be very very rich no matter how badly they, and the companies they managed, performed), the same companies were facing total mismanagement, catastrophic financial losses, and even being forced out of existence due to poorly understood and highly reckless investments and loans in a very non-diversified manner. Due to the consolidation in the industry, when these firms imploded, they dragged the entire country down with them, and we remain down.

 

Because of the injuries to our financial sectors, credit is tight, thus choking the future forecast for job creation, income generation, and economic growth. With  this stranglehold on jobs, income, growth, and the housing market, the real estate market can not recover as there are no buyers to buy houses and no lenders to lend the buyers the mortgages necessary to buy houses. Without economic growth, there will be no increases in overall gross US income to create additional revenue and thus taxes without increasing income tax rates.

 

With individuals and corporate investors watching their wealth shrink, there is no money being invested in or with commercial and investment banks, and thus, their capital for lending and investing continues to shrink. This is a vicious circle.

 

It is exacerbated by the high costs of imported oil, which are far higher than the price at the pump, – (Click here to see my post on the hidden costs of imported oil). Although we have slowly and slightly begun to enact an energy policy, we need to do much more and act much faster! Separately, our commitments and past expenditures (and resulting debt) from the Iraqi debacle (which was the fault of the Republican administration and congress, further constrains this government’s ability to correct the situation and inhibit us from taking minimal action in such places such as Syria where a small investment would go a long way.

 

Lastly, and most urgently, our nation’s infrastructure structure continues to crumble. Incredibly, we desperately need jobs in the industries which would be necessary to repair and improve our infrastructure. That is the one area where there is a shortage of skilled workers. Simultaneously, we face the possibility of unbelievably sudden catastrophe in some geographic areas (such as northern California) if certain events should occur (such as a failure of the damns and levies necessary to protect the water supply in northern California), while we also face the certain long term demise of our national economic strength if more national and extensive infrastructure improvements and projects are not made. It  has been a long time since the Hoover Dam and TVA were built. For example, we need new bridges, while others need to be replaced, repaired, or expanded. The same goes for our power grid, highway system, mass transportation system, and on and on. China is making that investment, yet America doesn’t even consider it.

 

It is not surprising that America would not consider tackling her major decline and decay in infrastructure when there is already a huge budget deficit and national debt. This is most unfortunate insofar as tackling the biggest threat this nation has faced since World War II is also the key to restoring this country to her strength and greatness and prosperity which she enjoyed after World War II.

 

The permanent solution to eliminating those annual deficits, paying down that national debt, increasing national wealth, and getting people back to work would be solved, in the long term, by training and educating our workers and then hiring them to restore this country’s historic superiority in her infrastructure. People needs jobs, and the jobs we needed filled pay six figure incomes yet, incredibly, increase the real wealth of this nation and meet the future needs of our society,. These jobs, and the work which needs to be done, which are necessary to restore our national infrastructure to a state of preeminence in the world.

 

We need to stop teaching and our children that to be successful, one must wear a suit and make a seven figure income by “shuffling” existing wealth. Casinos, stock brokers, and even lawyers do not, for the most part, create real wealth. They simply protect or redistribute existing wealth. The problem is that it will take decades to begin to train, fix, and then begin effectuate the repairs necessary to our infrastructure. These projects will not be complete for decades, and the profits from the necessary investments will not be realized for a few decades even more.

 

Our elected officials have very short term horizons. The longest a President can hold office is for 8 years. There is no chance that any long term policy will see any positive benefits during the political life of any politician who enacts the policy. The myopic focus on our budget deficit is a flawed analysis. It is acceptable, and even desirable, to borrow money, if that borrowed money is being put to good use and will create real wealth in the long run. As any person with a shred of economic or business knowledge will tell you, there is a tremendous difference between a dollar spent for capital improvements and capital investments compared with a dollar spent on current or past expenses (such as the Iraqi war.)

 

Since politicians, especially those currently calling themselves the Tea Party (who demand expenditure cuts as and oppose any revenue increases, under any and every circumstances) are blindly blocking any and all possible economic measures which have been or could be advanced by our democratically elected President, despite the mandate he received by the voters. As long as this continues, there is no chance of politicians having the political will or ability to incur the massive debt and expenditures necessary to begin the necessary infrastructure projects that this country will pay dearly for not immediately commencing.

 

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Posted in Occupy Wall Street Philadelphia Rome America China USA Economy Econometrics Recession Recovery Depression Growth Income Taxes Trade Foreign International Infrastructure Unemployment Jobs, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Democrats Sweep Republican Controlled Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and Send a Message to Republicans for the National Presidential and Cognressional General Elections


Montgomery County of Pennsylvania contains some of the most affluent areas and zip codes in the nation and is renown for its conservatism. It, and some of the surrounding counties, still retain such icons of old conservatism as debutante balls, fox hunts, and private clubs which still discriminate against minorities including People of Color and Jews (like myself).


Any conflict involving wealth tends to be between “old money” and “new money” and not between “money” and “the lack thereof [of money].” Accordingly, it has been a bastion of Republican conservatism. It has been thought, ever since President Bush (the first one and only intelligent one) lost the election that if the economy were bad, the incumbent President, and other incumbent elected officials, would be voted out of office.

I have been arguing, however, in my blog (and as a graduate of the Wharton School of Business who majored in Economics and graduated Magna Cum Laude I might have some iota of a clue) that there is a many year lag effect between the actions of a President and the effect on the economy. I have been arguing that the current financial crisis we are experiencing is the fault of  Republicans and not our President or the Democrats: (i) George Bush (the second one who was mentally absent from the White House); and, (ii) Republicans in Congress who, along with the 60% vote required to pass a bill in the Senate were committing treason by refusing to pass the President’s necessary legislation because their of their fanatical special interest group pandering and desire to get elected by “tanking” the country and then blaming our great President.

I  believe that: (i) the statements of many old time Republicans who distance themselves from modern Republicans and the Tea Party; (ii) the current and spreading “occupy Wall Street” movement which has spread throughout this country and even the world; and (iii) now this recent unexpected Democratic sweep in Montgomery County Pennsylvania evidences the fact that the American public is, wisely, refusing to accept the principle that the incumbent President and his/her [some day I hope we will also be able to elect a woman (and/or also a gay/lesbian/transgendered person) as the Democratic President of this Country] party are responsible for the current financial crisis in America. I believe that the American public realizes what I have been arguing in my Blog (not because they are reading my Blog – because although readership is pretty high, and growing and a rapid pace, it is not that high or accelerating that rapidly) that Republicans, and not Democrats or President Obama (or even China) are to blame for this fiscal crisis

I have also been arguing, and I believe it will come to pass (and I have been prescient in my Blog), that if Congressional Republicans do not do an “abrupt about face and change of face,” they will be deservedly and necessarily voted out of office and their party, its power (and misuse thereof) will be eviscerated. Montgomery County, PA is an example and a warning of things to come. So to Republicans – take heed, and to Democrats, keep the faith!

Posted in Budget Deficit Crisis Ceiling Monetary American Tax Spending Cuts Credits Republican Democrat Hypocrites treason betrayal fault Senator Reid Speaker Boehner House Representatives Senate Congress, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

WE WON!! Cheryl Austin and Richard Haaz are elected as Judges to the Court of Common Pleas in Montgomery County


WE WON!!! Congratulations and thank you everyone!!!! Two excellent Judges were elected to the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County and will serve with excellence and distinction. Cheryl Austin and Richard Haaz, each Democrats, were elected by more than Six Thousand (6,000) Votes over their rival Republicans.

Dan Clifford came in Dead Last! Despite a last minute effort to mislead the public by pretending he had bi-partisan support and the endorsement of Democratic State Representative Mike Gerber. Click Here to see the newspaper coverage which described his conduct as “…another sign of low standards in Montco politics” [which is exactly the kind of behavior I have witnessed and feared that Mr. Clifford would commit which should be an abomination a candidate for judge who should display the highest standards of conduct and utmost regard for the truth].

  • Thank you to the hundreds of friends and family who allowed me to bend your ear and then voted.
  • Thank you to the thousands of people who read my blog posts and then voted.
  • Thank you to the more than a thousand strangers I spoke with since during this summer who allowed me to bend your ear and then voted.
  • Thank you to the hundred or so people I met with at the poll who allowed me to talk to you and then voted.
  • Thank you to the newspapers who printed my comments for you readers.
  • Thank you to the thousands of people who read my flyers left on your cars and voted.
  • Thank you to the people on Facebook and all the other social networking and other sites who read my repeated posts, articles, news flashes, requests, and other repetitious over and over and then voted.
  • Thank you to the dozens of other people who donated time and money to help me convince voters about this election for Judges to the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, a county where I grew up and live all my life and where I practiced law for almost a quarter of a century.
  • Thank you to the voters who constantly ratify and reconfirm my belief in the American system of democracy but who are helping me to regain my trust in the Montgomery County Judiciary.

It has been said that, “All it takes for evil to prevail is for a few good people to do nothing.” Well a few good people did some things and good did prevail.

I would like to state that Maureen Coggins ran an excellent race according to high standards and is to be wished well and congratulated and would probably have also made a good Judge, even though she ran as a Republican. I am especially touched by her past work as prosecuting animal cruelty cases on behalf of the ASPCA.

Cheryl Austin served her country patriotically and heroically as a Captain in the United States Navy. Her legal and non-legal experience are diverse and extensive, as a qualified judge should be. She is probably one of the most qualified candidates ever to run for the judiciary. She even served in the highly prestigious position of staff attorney to the Ohio Supreme Court. She has lived and worked in Montgomery County for more than fifteen years with a diverse and prestigious practice, including working for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office. As a Judge should have, she has extensive and diverse trial experience. She is widely respected and known for her fairness, honesty, integrity, intelligence and pragmatism. While I am not privy to the facts, she seemed to have spent the least amount on her campaign yet did very well winning over her Republican rivals by a wide margin.

Richard Haaz, who came in first by a slight margin of Cheryl Austin, [two Judges were elected from four candidates], has also served with honor, distinction, and recognition in this area for an extensive period. He has extensive and diverse trial experience, as a judge should have, and also served as a hearing committee chairman for the Disciplinary Board of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Lastly, he has extensive experience volunteering and working on his own time for charitable causes and organizations. I believe, but am not certain due to the fact that it just happened, spearheaded the injunction against Dan Clifford’s misleading “flier” and should be given credit, as well, for fighting for truth.

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Posted in Maureen Coggins Cheryl Austin Richard Haaz Dan Clifford Judge Election Montgomery County Court Common Pleas Republican Attorney Norristown 2011 Election Information Victory Winners Fake Endorsement, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Republican Senate Bill to Punish China for Her Currency Exchange Rate is Dangerous Selfish Politics


Once again, Republicans are at it again. They propose to punish China for her currency which they feel is undervalued and costs American jobs. They will focus our attention anywhere but on what really is necessary to cure our problems: tax increases on the rich and on wealthy corporations like the oil industry (which includes the repeal of “temporary” breaks) and cuts on our defense spending.


They blame China again as a “bogeyman” but ignore the fact that China is a poor country who is entitled to raise the standard of living of her people. Much of her poverty has been caused by the oppression of China by foreign powers, especially the British who invaded China to sell her Opium, thereby destroying her national security, her political and social institutions, and addicting perhaps half of the population to a substance very similar to heroin. Let us not forget the invasion by Japan, another foreign power who was given a free “pass” by America after World War II because of our fear of communism. No trials for war criminals who were as evil as Hitler’s Nazis and SS, no war reparations, and no national admission or recognition of Japan’s crimes.

China has a very justified fear of foreign intervention, which is exactly what America now proposes to do, albeit in an economic form. Foreigners have intervened in China for over a Century. China’s currency exchange rate is her own business. As I have argued in another post, if China does not have a proper exchange rate, she hurts herself and benefits America as much as she might gain advantage in certain aspects. She faces inflation, if her currency exchange rate is not set properly, and eventually, what the USA experienced inflation with economic stagnation. I am not saying that is her future. But that is the risks of an abnormally low exchange rate. She has to pay more for the all-important and increasingly scarce commodity, oil. And as I have pointed out, there are certain commodities where the demand remains relatively the same regardless of the price, such as oil, such that it is to the advantage of a country to have a high exchange rate, and thus pay less, for that commodity. China’s alleged artificially low exchange rate only makes her spend more of her foreign reserves on oil, thus infusing the world with much needed economic stimulus.

More critically, at this time where our budget deficit is in crisis, and we are more dependent on foreign loans than ever for our very survival, when liquidity threatens every financial institution and system in America and Europe, how can we risk a trade war with the one country which extends us a lifeline by lending us their foreign reserves?

It is more politics, and politics as usual, which has become political treason. Our elected officials, especially Republicans, care only for their own reelection and the election of their friends and cronies so they can increase their own power at the expense of our entire country. Due to our system of “checks and balances” which require both houses of Congress and the President to enact legislation, nothing ever gets done. Our infrastructure is crumbling at the same time as people go unemployed. Has anyone noticed how China invests in her infrastructure? Shall she be criticized for that as well? I have never doubted our two party system and short terms for elected officials before, but in the hands of people who care nothing for our country, these hallmarks of our democracy have caused paralysis instead. At least, as an aside, we need to abolish the Senate filibuster and the 60% majority required for closure.

Let’s stop blaming others for our problems and set about fixing them. We need a much better system of education, with a focus on the jobs our society will need done in the future. We need to focus on our crumbling infrastructure (which initially made us wealthy) and employ the massive numbers of unemployed (with the proper training and education) to begin to effectuate these projects. Yes, they will be costly. But the investment is well worth it. Perhaps now is not the time to worry about our budget deficits. The problem is not how much money we spend, but where and how we spend it. Furthermore, if we need to reduce these, there is only one clear moral and practical approach. The President’s Jobs Bill sought to tax those who earn more than a million dollars a year. That is not to tax “Millionaires.” The definition of a “Millionaire” is someone with assets which exceed in total one million dollars. Someone who earns more than that a year can certainly afford to be taxed some more beyond our reduced tax rates (remember, our tax code was drastically changed to cut the taxes such people paid, which used to be around 50%).

People are being kicked out of their homes due to foreclosure rates which exceed those of the great depression. Unemployment levels are reaching catastrophic levels (due to the mismanagement of the economy by George Bush, the lag effect of economic policies, and the paralysis in the Congress). Protests are filling Wall Street, and lately cities around the world, and, as I heard last night, going worldwide. We need brave new measures, from caring politicians, such as those enacted by FDR during the Great Depression (which seems to be where we are headed). Republicans need to stop worrying about their theocracy of religious intolerance and related agendas and stop serving the special interest groups who keep them in power through large political donations.

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Posted in Budget, Budget Deficit, China, Congress, Deficit, Depression, Exchange Rate, FDR, IMF, Infrastructure, Monetary, Opium, Oppression, President Obama, Protests, Public Works, Punitive, Recession, Republican, Senate, Uncategorized, Wall Street | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amanda Knox is Set Free


Free at Last! Amanda Knox is Free at Last! Thank God Almighty Amanda Knox is Free at Last! After four extensive years in prison, Amanda Knox has finally been released and all of her charges except defamation have been overuled.

Finally justice for Amanda Knox and her boyfriend, Rafael. I won’t go into the details as they have had massive legal coverage. You can also find much more legal information about Amanda Knox on my other two posts, “Help Win the Freedom of Amanda Knox,” and “Update to trial on Amanda Knox.” Besides why do the legal facts even matter? There was no evidence against Amanda except tortured and forced confessions and a faulty, weak DNA test, and the Appellate Court finally recognized this.

We must hesitate in our celebration to feel for her wasted four years in prison and wonder how many like her, with less press coverage of the injustice are out there. Amanda Knox is only one is a thousand equally absurd and unfair cases.

The West Memphis Three was finally released after almost two decades in jail, one of whom was on death row. This case was in the USA, and proves that injustice is not limited to foreign Courts.

All of the conviction stem is rooted to confirmation bias which is referred to as “Tunnel Vision.” It is time for it to stop. We must stand up to make change for not just Amanda Knox, but millions of other people around the world.

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Stop the Trafficking in Engangerd and Protected Fish and Animals


In the Eastern USA, the Eastern Cougar is Extinct and that time is running out for the tiger (Link to my source, “All about Wildlife”.)

“Popular Science, November 2010 reports, in an article by Lauren Allen, Dinner Detectives, at p. 56 that much of the Tuna served at Sushi restaurants throughout the USA (indeed the world) is in fact endangered Bluefin Tuna, and that some species of bluefin tuna have been fished to near extinction, but that many of those species are still being served at sushi restaurants and [mislabeled] as simply “tuna,” fatty tuna,” or “medium fatty tuna.”

Some of the most endangered species are used for clothes and apparel and accessories. Others are used for scientifically ridiculous medical purposes. Many are eaten, incredibly, despite the availability of safe and abundant supplies of alternative sources of meat and fish. In fact, it is will suspected that AIDS was transmitted to humans through the slaughter and consumption of wild monkeys, yet rare and endangered “bush meat,” including monkeys continues to be eaten, even smuggled at great expense from source countries to rich consumers around the world.

Much of the public are familiar with the courageous actions of the Sea Sea Sheppards. They have many operations, including to protect seals, sharks, blue find tuna, but are most well known for their campaign to protect the whales in Antarctic ocean by Japanese whaling vessels. This particular campaign is well known because of the “Whale Wars” on the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet. The whale meat is sold in Japan as a delicacy, despite the intelligence of the hunted whales and the scarcity of their numbers (who are protected by treaties world-wide) from commercial fishing. The Japanese fish them because a limited number are allowed to be “harvested” for Scientific Purposes, an excuse an 8th grader wouldn’t buy.

I was in China while the events were unfolding. The show in fact airs several months after the campaign ends. On the news, I read about a protest in Japan over the arrest of a Sea Sheppard member who risked his life to, non-violently, protest the whaling by boarding one of the Japanese commercial whaling vessels. I expected the protest to be by environmentalist in Japan about the arrest of this courageous, self-less, and peaceful environmentalist, Incredibly, the protest was by right-wing nationalistic fanatics who were protesting their right to eat whale meat.

In fact, the Japanese government has a very poor record in enforcing existing laws prohibiting the illegal and/or questionable importation of protested and endangered species. According to Popular Science, in 2006, Japanese customs officials confiscated an incredible amount of 5,310 pounds of elephant ivory, but the smuggler was find the equivalent of only $7,500 (less than 1/10th of 1 percent of the ivory’s market value.)

The problem is not limited to Japan. It is world-wide. In 2008, a USA congressional report announced the trade in protected species may be worth more than Twenty ($20,000,000.00) Billion Dollars!. And this is protected species, not merely endangered species (the later or which should and may need to be protected but the killing and consumption of which are not necessarily illegal.) Even the USA has just 10 Fish and Wildlife Inspectors in J.F.K. Airport (the busiest entry point for illegally smuggled animal products) and only 100 such inspectors to serve the entire country (according to Popular Science.) Just imagine the traffic over the hundreds of border points along the US-Mexican border. Yet these products can come in on plane, boat, mail, ship, and truck from all over the world.

What can be done. First and foremost, write your congressman and tell him/her that you want more funds and stricter enforcement of existing laws and regulations. Remember, each US citizen has one representative to the US House of Representative, two Senators, and One President, each of which can easily be contacted over the Internet. Tell them also that the citizens of the USA demand that the USA, in world-wide conventions and discussions regarding international treaties, demand stricter laws protecting a broader amount of endangered species, the closing of “loop-holes,” more money for enforcement of existing laws, and increased penalties for violators of the law. These violators include everyone from the poacher in the jungle and the fisher in the ocean to the diner in the restaurant or the shopper in the clothes store.

Other worthwhile organizations include:

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Prosecuting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is a Mistake


I was overjoyed by the Arab Spring, especially with the overall lack of violence and speed of the transition to democracy in Egypt. Compare what happened in Egypt with what is still going on in Libya, Syria, and throughout the rest of the Arab world. But prosecuting Hosni Mubarak is a mistake for Egypt and sets a bad precedent. Most of all, he does not deserve the prosecution.


Nelson Mandela was confronted with a similar but more egregious situation. He personally suffered for decades, languishing in prison. His people were oppressed, in every context, for decades. He and all People of Color in South Africa were treated as sub-humans, deprived of educational opportunities, social justice, legal justice, and on and on. The ruling party and race was as guilty of racism, murder, corruption, and crimes far more extensive and institutionalized than ever suffered in Egypt. But Mandela wisely adopted “Amnesty” so that the country could move forward. South Africa did undergo rapid and wonderful peaceful change without the armed, social, and politic upheaval one would have expected, and the entire country of South Africa benefited from his wisdom. No doubt, Mandela’s program of Amnesty saved extensive suffering both of : (1) the previously disenfranchised oppressed minority; and, (2) the minority previously ruling white class. Investors were not scared away. Violence was almost non-existent. People did not flee the country, and people stopped sending their assets abroad.

No group of people had more claim to justice then the Black South Africans. But having a claim does not mean one must enforce it. Nelson Mandela was very wise, and his entire country, and all groups therein, benefited tremendously from his wisdom, guidance, and decision.

Mubarak, compared to white leaders in South Africa and other Arab leaders where social and political change is underway, moved very quickly and without major or prolonged resistance to democratic change. I am not saying that he did this instantaneously, or that there was no resistance Clearly, the current prosecution underway, and some stories of wrongdoing at the hands of a few police man and/or army officials shows that there was some wronging But for each act of wrongdoing, there seem to have been more and overriding orders to protect the demonstrators. When one compares the level of violence with that which occurred over decades in South Africa, or which is occurring daily in Libya, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, Mubarak is relatively a “good guy.” Clearly, he could have done so very much more to delay, hinder, and inflict pain on the pro-democratic movement.

One must remember that, even in a dictatorship, the dictator has his constituents which help keep him in power, benefit from that power, and can also remove him from power. It not only remains to be seen what Mubarak’s personal involvement was in the crimes he is alleged of committing, but one must question what the consequences to him, to Egypt, and to the revolution had he not acted in the way he did. Had he suddenly announced, “Let’s have a democracy,” he might have been deposed and replaced by a dictator who would have resisted change with more violence and determination than Mubarak. Just look at Gorbachev, and the attempt to depose him, when he went along with the change sweeping over Russia.

Furthermore, what example does the prosecution of Mubarak set for the leaders of other countries who may be tempted to allow democracy ? What will the leaders (including the army officers, police leaders, government leaders) of Syria and Libya do? Clearly, if Mubarak can be prosecuted, these guys have even more reason to resist democracy until the very end, and use whatever means necessary to suppress democracy.

Lastly, Mubarak is an old man, who has done a lot for Egypt. Egyptians respect the Egyptian army and its response to the democracy movement, but they forget that Mubarak came from that same army and remained its leader until he resigned. Mubarak did not give order after order to kill and torture that are being given in Syria and Libya day after day. This is a sad and unnecessary final chapter in the life of Mubarak, and a sad and unnecessary chapter in the history of change in Egypt.

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Posted in Hosni Mubarak amnesty Egypt prosecution war crime Arab Spring democracy revolution dictato Mandela Africa Philadelphia Pennsylvania lawyer legal Blog, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Update to Amanda Knox Case


In my original post almost three months ago, I stated that, “The DNA evidence is at worst, meaningless, and at best, exonerates her. That is because I was paying attention to the evidence submitted at the original trial. Unfortunately, the Italian Jury, Judges and Italian Prosecutor Mignini (who wanted to convict Amanda Knox for his own selfish corrupt reasons regardless of the truth of her innocence) were not paying attention to the evidence.

Last week, after this poor girl has been languishing in an Italian prison for years, her case is finally having an appeal. Fortunately, unlike the USA system (and probably because Italian trials are so bad), an appeal in Italy is like a new trial. In the USA, one has to show error which really couldn’t have been attacked at the original trial. Despite public perceptions, it is much harder to win on appeal in America. In fact, it is rare to overturn a jury verdict in a criminal prosecution.

In the appeal, the DNA evidence again came under scrutiny. This time, it was made even more obvious that both the results of the DNA tests and the methodology by which the DNA was collected were flawed, in other words, did not in any way prove Amanda Knox was guilty. If anything, the absence of DNA tended to prover her innocent.

Let’s hope that the Italian Judicial System finally “gets it” and this poor innocent girl is finally freed and some way can be found to compensate her for the wrongful prosecution, imprisonment, and conviction she has endured, as well as the resulting financial and emotional suffering she and her friends and family have endured.

As an aside, it seems prosecutor Mignini is really out of his mind, and it seems that freedom of speech and press are selectively banned in Italy. I have heard, but not investigated, that Prosecutor Mignini has sued Amanda Knox’s mother and/or brought charges against her, and has done the same thing to other bloggers and commentators. This, if true, is incredible, as he did nothing as the Italian press published, during Amanda Knox’s first trial, many highly prejudicial and factually false stories about Amanda Knox which prosecutor Mignini admitted (during the trial) were entirely false but did nothing to silence the papers or correct their reporting. I think Prosecutor Mignini should replace Amanda Knox in prison when she is finally released.

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Confirmation Bias, the Reason for Wrongful Prosecutions and Convictions


I have been discussing the Amanda Knox and Casey Anthony cases in my blogs. Both cases attracted worldwide attention because of perceived injustices. In the Amanda Knox case, there was an injustice at the hands of the Italian legal system which is not nearly as good as ours. In the Casey Anthony case, the legal system worked, despite the public perception of guilt. Both cases can be explained by a problem known as “confirmation bias” which has as its roots cognitive therapy.

It is a very very good reason for preserving our jury system as it is in America, because, rest assured, injustices occur at the hands of the most well meaning judges, prosecutors, and jurors in America. These cases, and knowledge of confirmation bias, and how it affected the Amanda Knox and Casey Anthony cases is a good lesson for judges, prosecutors, and policeman.

“Confirmation bias” which is where people look at selective facts and look at particular facts in a way that tends to confirm their pre-disposition to reach a pre-determined result. Some people call this tunnel vision. It is really explained by “cognitive therapy” and if one really wants to understand this, I highly recommend reading a book titled “Feeling Good” by David D. Burns, MD. a top psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania and leading expert in the field of cognitive therapy. While the book is written to help combat depression, and was proven to be more effective than anti-depressant medications (in most cases), it helps explain how we think and why we reach certain conclusions, including whether someone is guilty or innocent.

Just as self-awareness of this problem (in how we think and interpret objective facts) can be very effective in solving depression, in the context of the legal system, it can also help us avoid miscarriages of justice. Further work needs to be done on the application of cognitive therapy in the legal field.

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Posted in Jurisprudence Legal Justice Injustice System Analysis Confirmation Bias Cognitive Therapy Wrongful Conviction Acquital Appeal Jury Juries Anamda Knox Casey Anthony, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Republicans (especially Tea party and Special Interest Groups) Falsely Blame Democrats and President Obama for Economic Problems which are the Fault of Republicans and try to do this by unfairly scaring Americans about China


Republican special interest groups, PAC’s and especially TEA party nuts continue to attack President Obama by falsely airing advertisements suggesting that the President’s mismanagement of the economy will allow China to somehow “take over” America, or at lease become more powerful than America. This advertisements contain, like an onion, layers and layers of smelly lies and are false misleading scare tactics seeking to place the blame on Democrats and and unfairly criticize China for problems which are the fault of American Republicans.

Fact: Our budget deficit problem began a long time before China became economically powerful. Ronald Reagan, in 1980 ran on a platform of cutting the budget deficit in half. Instead, after eight years of his rule, the deficit had instead doubled.

Fact: David Stockton, a Republican, who worked in the Reagan administration, and was the author of “trickle down economics” and has tremendous credentials as an economist and wall street expert, has come out and attacked Republican refusal to increase taxes on the very rich and admitted that “trickle down economics” does not work!!!

Fact: In the 31 years since Ronald Reagan was elected, Republicans have controlled the White House for 20 years. The economy during the last three years, under Obama, were clearly the result of overspending during the Bush years and the lag effect it takes for an economy to recover from mismanagement, which lag effect can take a decade. During the 11 years which Democrats controlled the White House, their efforts were hampered by Republican controlled congress. Even those very few years in which Democrats also controlled Congress, the inability of Democrats to get 60 votes in the Senate and prevent Republican filibusters has cemented the Republican ability to prevent Democratic administrations from effectuating real change.

Fact: One major component of America’s budget deficit is our excessive defense spending. We have a half a million soldiers scattered on bases all over the world. China has zero soldiers on zero bases and has zero history of military expansionism. The only foreign policy issues they are criticized for is Tibet and Taiwan. Most certainly, Taiwan was formerly part of China, is arming itself and anti-China. The invasion of Tibet occurred a long time ago, under the era of Mao Tse Tung and China was also historically part of Tibet (although I must confess I am not an expert on this subject.)

Fact: China has its own Islamic terrorist fears and problems. I have discussed this with party officials who informed me they were very concerned with Bin Laden for years. In the last few days, in fact, Islamist extremists committed terrorist attacks in China.

Fact: We associate North Korea with China as though the two are close allies. Nothing could be further from the truth. North Korea is a big problem for China, in a manner similar to the way Iraq is to America.

Fact: We associate our war in Vietnam with China. According to the Republican appointed Ambassador of President Bush (the father) who served during the Tianamin square massacre and a CIA operative in Cambodia during the Vietnam war, China was having problems with Vietnam even during the war. US intelligence noticed roads being build in China to the border with Vietnam and suspected these were built in order to supply Vietnam with weapons. We have learned, according to this Republican Ambassador and CIA operative, that China build those roads so they could be prepared for war with Vietnam way back then. Within the last decades, we have become trading partners and friends with Vietnam, yet there have been hostilities between China and Vietnam.

Fact: We associate the massacre in Tianamin square with an “evil repressive government.” In truth, Zhao Ziyang, the Premier of China and a leading member of the Communist Party, was against the violence, and spent the rest of his life home imprisonment for his opposition. The violence was caused by a few hard liners left over from the Mao era who went around the government. My source, a book which is banned in China, The Secret Journal of Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang which was smuggled to Hong Kong. Those hardliners are all dead.

Fact: China is a poor hard working country. We can’t blame the government or the people for wanting to work and produce goods so that they can provide for themselves the basis of education and food, which are still at a level far below our own country. Their budget surplus is not an “act of aggression.”

Fact: No one forces us to borrow from the Chinese, and they are not to happy about the instability of our deficits and borrowing. The recent budget crisis made the Chinese very worried. In summary, the budget crisis in the USA is of our own creation and the Chinese are essentially saving us by lending us the money which they earned.

CONCLUSION: Our budget problems are strictly an American creation, largely due to Republican mismanagement of our economy. China posses no threat to the USA, and our fiscal problems are of our own creation, including though an unnecessary and inordinately expensive defense spending and refusal to increase taxes (and repeal tax credits) on the very rich. Continued attacks on President Obama, and Democrats, which use scare tactics regarding the Chinese are racist, slanderous, libelous, false, and unfair. They are designed to do what Republicans do best: steal elections through obfuscation of the issues and lies and scaring an uninformed American public.

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Rebublicans are Intentionally, Clearly Responsible for Entire Budget Crisis and Are Selling Out This Country to Try to Win the Next Presidential Election


Most politicians, but especially Republicans, are betraying America with their shenanigans about the budget deficit. The debate has, pathetically, abandoned any home about even balancing the budget. Instead, they are debating merely when the new limit to the deficit should expire, because the Republicans want the crisis to reemerge before the Presidential election. This begs the issue. We don’t care when the crisis revisits us. We want it cured. It should be cured, and can be cured, and that is what our politicians were elected to do. And while there is the pretense that there is a theoretical intellectual debate regarding tax increases versus spending cuts (two different economic theories) in practice, most politicians care more about their own special interests.

Case in point. George Bush gave a four billion dollar tax cut to oil companies when oil was Ten ($10) Dollars a gallon. At that point, we were desperate to decrease our dependency on imported oil from Arab countries who had a monopoly and there was the well founded fear, after 9/11, that a portion of our money was going to fund Arab terrorist groups. Moreover, due to the instability in the Arab world, we had a lot of troops diverted to those areas where oil was drilled and shipped. We had to protect shipping lanes, and oil producers. Remember the war to protect Kuwait (and Saudi Arabia)? Does anyone really doubt that this was a war to protect our supply of oil? Same issue arose when hostilities with Iran threatened oil tankers passing through the straights near Iran.

So, as existing wells on US land dried up, it became more expensive to bring up oil from existing wells and to drill in more and more difficult and expensive places, like off shore. Because oil was only Ten ($10) Dollars a barrel, a tax cut was temporarily given to the oil companies. But oil has shot up ten fold, and Exxon, for example, just posted another quarter of profits of more than Ten Billion Dollars!!! It is absurd to claim that the oil companies need or deserve the Four Billion Dollar Tax Break. Remember, Four Billion Dollars is for the entire industry. The entire industry is profitable. If Exxon alone made Ten Billion Dollars dollars in a single quarter, how can this tax cut be justified? It can’t be.

Yet, the industry claims that repealing the tax credit (which was temporary) amounts to a tax increase. They say “ No New Taxes!!!). This is an absurd lie and argument. Taxes aren’t being increased, nor is anything new being imposed. A per-exisiting tax is being restored because the circumstances in which the credit was granted have disappeared and furthermore, the country desperately needs the money. While it is clear that even this four billion dollar tax credit, if repealed, would not solve the budget problem, it is a big single item, and quite easy to be implemented. The American population, if asked, would never support keeping this credit. But big oil companies have lots of money which they donate to politicians. So they basically have all the republicans, and a number of democrats, who won’t touch this ridiculous gift to the oil industry. The legislation which would have repealed the tax credit to the oil industry was correctly described by CNN as “Dead on Arrival.” This is a betrayal of the American Public by politicians that is incomprehensible. Every politician who voted to retain this credit, even those who did not actively campaign for its repeal, should find their re-election campaigns “dead on arrival.” They should also have any and all campaign contributions, and all compensation to their friends, family, and staff, and even themselves after they leave office, disclosed and investigated. We need full transparency here. If we had it, the American public would never stand for this. This is not a partisan issue. This is not an issue which is subject to legitimate economic debate. This is the “sell-out” of the American public due to a lack of transparency.

A similar issue arises with respect to certain temporary tax credits given to the very rich which are set to expire. These people are rich and don’t need the tax credits. America is broke and does need the tax revenue. Republicans are describing these people as “Job Creators.” That is a nice title. But there is not a shred of evidence linking the restoration of the taxes to any detrimental effect on jobs. In fact, the jobless rate is at an all time high? Why didn’t these “job creators” create some jobs with all of the tax breaks they have received for almost a decade? What is clear is that, if America defaults and/or doesn’t get its budget deficit under control, our entire economy will be destroyed, and that includes jobs and a whole lot more.

President Obama is willing to cut expenditures. But honestly, I don’t see where or how he can do this. It is not like people on social security are getting that much. And social security is something workers paid for and earned. As far as other expenditures, like education, the real long term answer to all of our problems is education. The answer to crime, drug abuse, drug dealing, teenage pregnancy, unemployment, and so many ills is education. And also, if you want to talk about job creation, teaching is a job. We need more teachers, not less. Teachers are underpaid and overworked. To talk about cutting expenses for education instead of making rich people “job creators” pay a little more money in taxes is absurd. Any republican who makes that argument should receive a full battery of drug and psychiatric tests.

Let’s look at programs for the poor. In this economy, statistics prove that we have a lot more poor people, they are a lot poorer then before, and a lot of them are educated hard working people who lost jobs and can’t find new jobs. They don’t get that much aid to begin with. Does it make sense to make these people starve, literally, so a multimillionaire can die and have his/her heirs pay no inheritance tax? Morally, there should be no argument. As a graduate of the Wharton School with honors and having majored in economics, I can assure you that it is better to give a dollar to a starving person who will spend the dollar than a rich person who will just save it. You see, there is a ripple effect. The person who gets the dollar to eat buys food from a local store, which in turn, can employ people to work in the store, Instead of going on welfare themselves, they get jobs, and spend their money at other businesses. They also buy homes, or can pay their existing mortgage. And on and on. The answer to our current economic woes is to get money to the poorest people who need it and will spend it, and the only place to get that money (given the budget deficit) is to take it from those people who have more than enough money to give it.

A Congressman from Wyoming (a Republican), whom CNN interviewed, said President Obama “should show leadership” by trying to forced Democratic Senators to pass the [Republican] House Bill on the Budget Ceiling and then by signing it himself. I am so disgusted by this intellectual dishonesty by yet another Republican. What he The Republican Congressman really was saying is that the President should capitulate to the Republican House Members who have totally abandoned the wishes of the American public who wanted a balanced budget and instead are [the Republican congressmen] focused only on trying to sabotage the next Presidential election.

Why does this bill have to create a crisis just before the next presidential election? Because Republicans have learned they can’t win an election by running an honest election on the merits. They need to lie or steal an election or create irrelevant and obfuscating drama and issues. Since this President has kept himself free of any sex or other scandal, like so many Republican and Democratic politicians before him, the Republicans need to create a financial crisis just before the election.

So it is Republicans (and a few Democrats) who are preventing the problem from being cured. It was Republicans who caused the problem from the beginning.

It is not a partisan opinion that (i) George Bush ran the country for 8 years (and until three years ago); (ii) Democrats can not pass effective legislation to solve the budged deficit because they need (and don’t have)60% of the vote in the Senate to avoid filibusters (which Republicans do to get their way); (iii) Democrats can not pass effective legislation to solve the budget deficit because the Republicans control the house of Representatives; (iv) under his administration, Bush greatly outspent revenues at an ever accelerating pace such that the budget crisis now facing us was, if not created by Bush, was made far worse by Bush [due, for example, to the costs of the Iraqi war, Bush tax cuts, and lack of regulation of such companies like Enron and the resulting economic catastrophes]; and (v) the debt ceiling was raised many times during Bush’s eight year term, but all of a sudden, now that a Democrat is elected President, they have a problem raising the Budget Deficit ceiling.

It is also not a “partisan opinion” that people are really suffering due to the extremely high costs of gasoline, the still rising costs of health care (both of which were just reported on CNN today), the loss of jobs, and the loss of wealth due to the housing crisis (including the rising foreclosure rates). How can it be argued that the rich should not have their taxes cut but the little money which is going to help the poor in this country should be cut, especially when those poor are growing in numbers and getting even poorer.

Republicans need to obfuscate the issues, because all Americans, like me, will want to know why, for example, Exxon Mobile announced that their profits again were astronomical 10.7 Billion Dollars (this quarter) but the oil companies were able to keep their tax credits? We will want to know, “When is enough enough?”

The Republicans disingenuously call these ultra-rich the “job creators.” But when and how are they going to create jobs? In the oil company example, USA Refineries are running at full capacity and it will take years to get approvals for and then build more refineries. These same oil companies oppose other forms of Green energy. What jobs are they going to create? I hope they aren’t asking us to make them even richer so they can create a handful of jobs in third world countries where they will exploit their workers and the USA will get no benefit. The only thing which will come our way (to the USA) is the effects of the pollution and global warming and the bill for the defense of foreign sources of oil since these foreign operations do not face the same environmental regulations they do in the USA.

Even the taxes these companies supposedly pay on their income is false, since they don’t pay taxes on their foreign operations. The only jobs being created are a handful of jobs for already very rich international tax lawyers and international tax accountants. Perhaps I am being to shortsighted. When our servicemen and women get killed defending our foreign oil interests, some people will get jobs burying our deceased. And some of our service men and women will only be maimed, and this, some people will get jobs as physical therapists and other health care providers. I guess that is the kind of jobs we can expect by making these “job creators” even richer.

We all want, no demand, to know why Republicans are refusing to repeal the 4 billion dollar tax cut oil companies get (especially since the tax cut was enacted when oil was Ten ($10) Dollars a barrel but it is now One Hundred ($100) Dollars a barrel at the same time) which they obviously no longer need. Personally, I think the President is to soft on Republicans and Republican interest groups. I would not only repeal the tax breaks on oil companies, I will impose a windfall profits tax and give half of the proceeds of that tax to design in the USA, patent in the USA, and manufacture in the USA devices, equipment, machines, etc. to produce (or increase the production or efficiency of the product) of energy from alternative “green” renewable sources. If you read my other blog which I wrote a long time ago, you will see that the costs of continuing to import oil from foreign countries is far worse than the $100 per barrel and includes astronomical economic and non-economic costs (such as National Security costs), environmental costs, etc.

We all know, as well, that there is a lag effect, and no president, or his administration, can effect change in just a couple years, especially when any attempt at legislative action is thwarted by Republicans who are only concerned about getting elected and re-elected and protecting a few special interest groups, mainly really wealthy businesses like oil companies. They really don’t even care about their usual special interest groups, like the “moral majority” as through their own personal examples of how they live their own lives, at the state and local levels, and even certain congressman abandon their opposition to gay marriages (and I am glad they did). The problem is they abandon their opposition to such issues not because they really care about these issues, one way or the other, but because they want to capture as many votes as possible, and they recognize that they get more votes, overall, by voting for the “center” on such issues, as the die-hard liberals will never vote for them, and the :”die-hard” conservatives will never vote for a democrat, so the votes they can capture, the so called “centrist” votes, are overwhelmingly in favor of gay marriage. That, and the fact that republicans who are constantly being caught in sex scandals, including “gay sex scandals” and occasionally, inferences of inappropriate behavior towards children and male children (like with the congressional page issue) make them seem like hypocrites (which they are).

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Watch for My Upcoming Book, “A White Tear in Red China”


Watch out for my upcoming book, A White Tear in Red China by David Michael Ginsberg, © 2011 David Michael Ginsberg, which I had written over the last few years in hand during my many trips to and adventures in China. I am finally typing it up and editing it. Don’t be mistaken by the use of the word “Red” in the title. That is the way I was taught to refer to China as I was growing up. But China, I have found, is one of the most exciting, dynamic and rapidly changing countries in the world. Far from the foreboding I felt as a child hearing about “Red China,” I found China to be a warm, friendly modern and safe country where I felt free and as ease, far more then I had ever felt in America. I developed a love and respect for the people, culture and government of China.

The later may evoke surprise in America, but we, in America, tend to look at China from a static and out-dated point of view. China has been evolving, in all respects (including her government) and will continue to evolve, while America is frozen in static paralysis. To truly know and understand China requires one to know and understand where China has come from, how it got there, and how rapidly it has changed and evolved over the last century, and how it continues to evolve.

I have read extensively about China, and many of the books I have read (which have given me a deep respect for China, her people, and her government) are in fact currently not welcome or available in China. Yet, even the valid intellectual criticisms of China lead one to develop a deeper understanding and respect for China. It is ironic (but understandable due to the history of foreign intervention and imperialism in China) that China doesn’t like foreign criticism yet is renowned for “self-criticism” in the name of “self-improvement.”

It is my first book, and is non-fiction, and is very favorable to China and the Chinese people and government (especially when compared to the public perception and criticism elsewhere in the world). It not only looks at where China is currently, but where it has come from and where it is heading and how it is getting there. All of this is relevant in understanding the positive direction and optimistic expectations of China and its future place in this world, internally and externally. My book discusses my wonderful and happy adventures in China, while at the same time watching and suffering from injustice and oppression in my own country and my disillusionment with life, economic policies, justice, politics, and government in the USA.

 

I can only hope I am a good enough author to tell the stories which are definitely well worth reading.

“A White Tear in Red China” is also a trademark of David M. Ginsberg. All rights reserved.

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China’s Monetary Policy Should Not Be Criticised


Contrary to the conventions and misguided wisdom, China is wrongly criticized for not allowing her currency to float. This is absolutely misguided and is based on the simple, yet incorrect, assumption that the more Chinese goods cost, the less quantity of them the USA will buy, and the cheaper USA goods are, the more quantity of USA products the USA can sell. The theory goes that if currencies float freely, trade deficits will decrease, and more Americans will get jobs. Historically, this hasn’t worked. Closer examination of the underlying theory explains why. If the Chinese currency floats freely, we in the USA will just spend more money for the same amount of goods, further aggravating our balance of trade deficit.

At the theoretical level, it assumes that certain goods are like freely tradeable, completely available commodities like Gold. A bar of gold is a bar of gold, and there is an ample supply if you are willing to pay for it. Chinese goods, like oil, are not similar commodities where market forces will solve all problems. There is a limited supply of oil, regardless of the price. The US is in no position to substitute domestic production of goods for cheaper imported goods, especially those imported from China.

First and foremost, given what we in the USA pay and buy for Chinese goods, a price increase will not diminish demand. We will just pay more money for the same things, and thus have less money for others. Why is this? Because imported Chinese goods are not substitutable for USA made goods. Whether a Chinese worker is paid $1,000 US Dollars a month for wages, or $1,200 a month for wages, we still can’t compete. Our workers are simply not prepared to work in factories for minimum wage and produce low cost goods.

USA economic strength lies in higher end, high technology goods, which is the reason the USA should focus our policies on education and on research into cutting edge technologies and into supporting the later. For example, the airline industry is a perfect example. Since the invention of the airline, until Airbus, only the USA manufactured and produced the largest and most technology advanced aircraft, especially for commercial (non-military) uses.

There are other structural reasons as well. Our economy is structural and not easily changed. Even if the price of goods suddenly shot up, we can’t just build factories for low cost substitutes for imported Chinese products.

Imported oil is a perfect example. We need what we need, and we will purchase what we need, as long as we have the money to do so. Being an affluent country, we have many assets. When the price of oil rises, as it has, we do not stop driving or filling our gas tanks. The tremendous rise in the costs of a gallon of gasoline caused us to complain and hurt our wallet, but we have not cut our use of our automobile.

Not allowing their currency to float actually hurts the Chinese. By selling their goods at an artificially low price, they are only throwing away hard currency revenues which would make their country richer and more affluent. Since quantity of exports won’t diminish, we would just pay more for each item exported. The Chinese would have more money without losing exports. There mistake is the USA’s benefit, and that is a shame. Because we have no one to blame but ourselves (in the USA) and our complacency and laziness. On the other hand, no people have suffered so extensively (much of which suffering was at the hands of foreign powers including the Western countries and their allies) as much as the Chinese for thousands of years, yet are so decent and hardworking and ethical. They have an ancient culture which was prescient and enlightened and very ethical which remains engrained in the lives of the Chinese to this day. They remain poor and suffering, and deserve to have decent lives.

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Summary of Hidden Costs of Not Switching to Alternative Sources of Energy


 

 

 

Co-Authored by David M. Ginsberg and Etan J. Ginsberg

I. INTRODUCTION

While many consumers and governmental officials are concerned about the environment, and desire to go “green” no matter what the cost or inconvenience, many people and decision makers care primarily about the monetary cost of energy. This is seen when energy companies seek rate hikes, for example, or when consumers complaint about increased costs of gasoline at the pump. People want cheap utility bills, cheap gasoline, and cheap cars. (Chua, 2008)

“Green” Alternative sources of energy are often referred to as renewable sources of energy. To some extent, there is tremendous overlap. But depending upon a person’s definition of “green” and a person’s opinion of the particular impact of a particular source of energy, there are some differences. Most significantly, nuclear energy, while considered “renewable” is not considered “green” (see discussion later). On the other hand, hydroelectric and even windmills have been attacked for their effect on fish and birds, respectively. Windmills have also been attacked as detracting from the beauty of our country by being aesthetically unpleasing. Insofar as definitions differ, and it is clear that changes need to be made (and as technology and innovation reduces the criticisms), they are not addressed in this paper.

It is the considered opinion of this author, and the purpose of this blog, that the true costs of conventional sources of energy are actually more expensive then “green” alternative energy, when the hidden costs of conventional energy are added back. This will become even more true in the long run, as the hidden costs increase, and as the costs of “green” alternative energy decreases, which it will, in the same manner as computers of today are hundreds of times more powerful than they were a decade ago yet are a fraction of the cost.

2. DESCRIPTION OF SOURCES OF “GREEN” ALTERNATIVE ENERGY

There are many sources of alternative energy and now many of them are no longer available just to utilities and big companies, but even homeowners have real options to go green for energy matters. (Chua, 2008) For the purposes of this paper, we are addressing only the already well developed sources as there are hundreds of ideas in various stages of development and exploration, including ocean/wave generated energy, energy from bacteria, and on and on.. It is submitted that the reasons for going green on the known and better understood sources may apply to new ideas and technologies if science proves that they work well. Additionally, nuclear and related sources as many do not consider these sources “green” due to the potential for environmental damage due to nuclear waste and the radiation caused when accidents occur, as was seen so recently in the unfortunate disaster in Japan.

     Solar Power

The cost effectiveness of solar power can vary upon how much sun an area gets (Chua, 2008). Of course, solar power has to be used either in connection with storage of electricity through batteries or other means as the country is dark for part of each day (during the evening and night), which also fortunately corresponds to the time period where usage is decreased due to lessor usage by some workplaces which close, and ultimately, people sleeping who use even less electricity.

The reliability also depends on how solar energy is used to create energy. As it can be used by photoelectric cells to directly create energy, that energy dissipates quickly, if not stored. On the other hand, it is also used to heat hot water, and if properly insulated, that water can retain heat for hours.

Wind Power

Wind poser has been around for thousands of years. The first know B.C.E. when used to power sailboats.

The cost effectiveness of wind power also depends upon the relative on the geographical location, as some areas are windier then others. Additionally, overall the amount of wind can vary. Unlike solar power, however, and due to the nationally connected electric grid, this is less of a problem as there are many areas which are very windy most of the time and windiness varies from region to region within the United States, as opposed to solar energy which has a period of time in which the entire country is dark.

Geothermal

Geothermal energy comes from the Greek words “geo” and “therme” heat. Geothermal energy is continuously being produced inside the earth and is found in large areas called “geothermal reservoirs. These include volcanoes, hot springs, geysers, and holes (where volcanic gases are released) called “fumaroles.” We recover this energy by using the heat directly as steam or hot water for heating, and also to generate electricity similar to the way nuclear power or water power turns turbines which due to the laws of physics, generate electricity.

Hydroelectric

Hydroelectric power has been around for a long time, and has many clear advantages. By disrupting the natural flow of a river, and the power of the water going downstream turns turbines which generate electricity. The amount of electricity produced can be increased tremendously by creating huge damns, such as Hoover Dam, which generates tremendous amounts of electricity. While this dams are expensive to build, this source is generally reliable and cheap, one built. (Chua, 2008)

One significant disadvantage, and one reason many people concerned with the environment, is that they disrupt the natural flow of the water. This adversely effects the fish and wildlife along the river, and is especially problematic for fish which return and travel upstream to spawn, such as Salmon. Many damns are currently being dismantled, and Hydroelectric power would not be recommended in many ecologically sensitive areas.

3. SUMMARY OF EXISTING SOURCES OF ENERGY

Oil

Oil comes from many sources and is arguably the most problematic, at least according to the reasons and opinions of the author and explained herein. They include domestic drilling, offshore drilling, and imported oil. This occurs both in their refining for use as well as in their actual use, such as in automobiles. Oil is also a source of electricity, which is vital to our existence and quality of life.

The last two major sources of obtaining oil are the most problematic. Offshore drilling for oil is not only more expensive, but possesses significant environmental risks, as was evidence by the recent disaster in the Gulf of Mexico which caused damage to our environment and wildlife which can not even be determined. Because of the “web of life” theory, in which every aspect of life and the environment is considered vital to every other (for example phytoplankton in the ocean is considered vital in the food chain to our sources of food and trees around the world considered vital to the earth’s atmosphere, elimination of oxygen, and so forth), we will never really know how badly this disaster affected the health, economy, and wildlife and environment of the entire earth.

Unfortunately, as our demand for oil grows, and existing cheaper and relatively safer means of obtaining oil are depleted (such as domestic drilling on land) offshore drilling is being held in deeper waters and in more fragile ocean environments, thus increasing the risks and monetary costs.

Importing foreign oil is also expensive and has many additional costs. To the extent that it is obtained by offshore drilling, the same risks as domestic offshore drilling occur, but may be enhanced by governments that fail to enact or enforce the same safety regulations in the USA. Moreover, war and conflicts further increase that risk. As is addressed in this article, there are other hidden costs of imported oil. One other environmental risk is that imported oil must be shipped to the USA, and there is a significant risk of catastrophic environmental damage, as was evidenced by the Exxon Valdez incident in Alaska.

Coal

While one advantage which is cited about coal is that there are abundant supplies contained in America and it is a cheap source of energy. (Tallying Coal’s Hidden Cost, 2011), it has two major disadvantages. One is that it also produces carbon and other emissions, as does oil, when it is used to produce energy, as oil does. Another is that it is generally used to produce electricity, and cannot replace oil for use in automobiles and the trucking industry.

Natural Gas

While it is important to note the use of this existing source of energy, it is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss it except to note that it exists and contains many of the same problems as Oil and Coal. On the other hand, its use is still under scientific development and innovation. It is currently being imported by the means of liquefying it (after freezing it) and shipping to terminals in the USA where it is offloaded.

4. THE REASONS WE HAVE NOT SWITCHED

There are many reasons that the use and implementation of alternative sources of energy has not occurred as quickly and extensively as possible. There are many reasons, and again, it is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss in detail every reason, such as political lobbying, artificial price reduction. While they will be mentioned, the most important reason, the relative monetary costs will be addressed.

Political and Industry Influence

The existing oil, coal, and natural gas industry, and the foreign countries who export these products, are among the richest and most powerful in the world. Alternative sources of energy represent their only competition and threat to their profits, especially as it become more readily available on a smaller scale by relatively smaller competitive companies.

They have spent inordinate amounts of money to prevent the development, use, and switching to alternative sources of alternative energy. They have taken advertisements on TV and the print media, and spend untold tens or hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying congress and the government improperly influence governmental decisions. Money for research into alternative sources has been limited. Tax subsidies which should have been implemented have been delayed, reduced, or prevented. Tax subsidies, credits, and accounting rules have been enacted which have helped make conventional oil artificially cheap.

Price Fixing to Discourage Green Alternative Fuels and Oil Efficiency Increases

Unlike most of the products produced, sold and bought throughout the world, the prices of conventional sources of energy are controlled by a few companies and countries. Most of the foreign countries who produce oil, for example, are members of, or follow OPEC. “Russia’s stance towards OPEC is a critical question for the world’s oil markets” (Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, October 30, 2003), OPEC, which is a cartel which artificially sets prices and productions levels of oil which is exported to the rest of the world, including the United States.

It has been alleged that when the political and/or economic climate causes the American public and government to turn to the development and use of alternative sources of energy, OPEC and the oil companies have intentionally temporarily reduced prices to “take the wind out of the sails” of the movement to develop and switch to alternative sources of energy. Unfortunately, a reasonable discussion and documentation of this point is again beyond the scope of this paper and would require hundreds of pages to discuss and document, and, at least within the last few years, may have become less relevant as the price of oil has indeed skyrocketed.

The Monetary Cost

The principal reason that the public has not researched, developed, and implemented “Green” Alternative Sources of Energy is that it has been, so far, more expensive than conventional sources of energy, and this is a major reason that “Green” alternative energy sources are not favored by many as they are price sensitive. (Wald, Costs Work Against Alternative Energy Sources in Times of Recession, 2009)

5. THE HIDDEN COSTS OF CONVENTIONAL SOURCES AND THE REASONS WE MUST SWITCH

Economic

First, the price reflected at the gas station does not reflect the true monetary cost of gasoline. The federal government subsidizes the oil industry with numerous tax breaks and government protection programs worth billions of dollars annually. (Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, 2011).

The economic penalty from our undue dependence on imported oil exacts from the US economy the loss of 828, 400 jobs and $159.9 billion dollars from our GNP annually, and if reflected, these monetary “hidden costs” would raise the price of gasoline to over $525 a gallon. (Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, October 30, 2003)

Coal power’s rock bottom price for utilities and consumers omits a host of attendant costs associated from its production, from public health impacts to local and global environmental effects. (Tallying Coal’s Hidden Cost, 2011) Coal costs the US economy between $140 billion and $242 billion a year in public health impact. (Wald, 2008)

Pollution

All three conventional sources of energy cause emissions, including carbon dioxide emissions which cause pollution and contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer, and curbing these emissions seems necessary and inevitable. (Wald, Costs Work Against Alternative Energy Sources in Times of Recession, 2009)

     Environmental

Because we have discovered most of the existing supply of oil on the land in the United States, and have drilled and depleted these wells, while at the same time our demand has increased, we need to find other sources. As stated previously, The last two available sources of obtaining oil are the most problematic. Offshore drilling for oil is not only more expensive, but possesses significant environmental risks, as was evidence by the recent disaster in the Gulf of Mexico which caused damage to our environment and wildlife which can not even be determined. Because of the “web of life” theory, in which every aspect of life and the environment is considered vital to every other (for example phytoplankton in the ocean is considered vital in the food chain to our sources of food and trees around the world considered vital to the earth’s atmosphere, elimination of oxygen, and so forth), we will never really know how badly this disaster affected the health, economy, and wildlife and environment of the entire earth.

Unfortunately, as our demand for oil grows, and existing cheaper and relatively safer means of obtaining oil are depleted (such as domestic drilling on land) offshore drilling is being held in deeper waters and in more fragile ocean environments, thus increasing the risks and monetary costs.

Importing foreign oil is also expensive and has many additional environmental hazards. To the extent that it is obtained by offshore drilling, the same risks as domestic offshore drilling occur, but may be enhanced by governments that fail to enact or enforce the same safety regulations in the USA. Moreover, war and conflicts further increase that risk. As is addressed in this article, there are other hidden costs of imported oil. One other environmental risk is that imported oil must be shipped to the USA, and there is a significant risk of catastrophic environmental damage, as was evidenced by the Exxon Valdez incident in Alaska.

National Security

Our dependence on foreign oil makes us dependent upon the supply of foreign oil. Thirty years ago, in an attempt to influence US Middle East policy (especially our alliance with Israel), the OPEC cartel composed of either anti-Israel Arabic states or Arabic friendly states, decided to cut oil supply to the US. (Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, October 30, 2003)

This has come into question again, as the current war in Libya, recent political hostilities by the head of Venezuela, and Russia’s supply cut of oil or natural gas to certain eastern European pipelines has shown that this is a real and reoccurring threat. (Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, October 30, 2003)

Almost 49.1 billion dollars is spend in annual defense outlays to maintain the capability to defend the flow of Persian Gulf Oil. (Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, October 30, 2003) This does not include aid to governments, political deals, which are either against our moral, long term, or other interests. For example, to protect our supply of oil from a vicious dictator who was friendly to the USA, we supported the Shah of Iran. Although we are a democracy which finds torture and oppression to be abhorrent, we helped keep the Shah in power. Unfortunately, when overthrown, one factor behind the tremendous hatred of the USA by the Iranian country was our support for this dictator. Iran has become a major enemy of the USA and severely threatens our national security, both directly and by supporting other enemies and terrorist organizations. They are even developing nuclear weapons and have threatened to use them against Israel, which would not only cause the world to suffer extreme environmental damage, but would drag us into a major and perhaps nuclear war (not to mention the human costs to Israel.)

If the United states does not decrease its use of Middle Eastern oil and develop alternative fuel methods, it risks even greater reliance on the Arab world, according to one expert, and Saudi Arabia, which has demonstrated its willingness to use its vast oil reserves as a foreign policy tool, has not acted to aid US efforts to rebuild Irag. (Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, October 30, 2003)

Natural Gas possess similar risks regarding our dependence on foreign supplies, and an additional security risk. While a disaster at sea may pose less risk to the environment, an accident while being offloaded possess the risk of acting like an atomic bomb. For example, currently, Liquefied Natural Gas is currently offloaded after passing right next to Boston. Were an explosion to occur in close proximity to Boston, it has the potential of killing tens of thousands of people or more. It is vulnerable to terrorist attacks. (Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, October 30, 2003)

6. FUTURE & CONCLUSION

Because our demand for energy increases, and our supply of relatively safer, cheaper, or reliable sources of conventional energy decreases, the importance or our switching to “Green” alternative sources of energy become more compelling. Stated differently, the hidden costs of not switching will increase. Similarly, while we cannot predict whether the world will become politically and militarily more dangerous or safer, we cannot take that gamble.

Because the effects of conventional energy on our environment and pollution are often cumulative (pollution), often catastrophic (oil spills), perhaps cataclysmic (in the case of the depletion of the ozone layer), these hidden costs of conventional energy are not only increasing, but reaching a critical level and becoming unacceptable.

On the other hand, there will be significant cost reductions in low carbon energy systems die the learning curve, reduction of technical barriers, changes in industry structure, increased demand and economies to scale. (Nemet, 2006)

In conclusion, the actual monetary costs of conventional energy must be added to the hidden costs of conventional energy and when compared to the true costs of “Green Energy”, compel us to rapidly invest in the development and use of “green” alternative sources of alternative energy. This will only become more true as the hidden costs of conventional energy increase and the costs of “Green” Alternative Sources of Energy Decrease.

The compelling conclusions I reached were best described in the last article read for this blog.

“World competition for dwindling oil reserves will force the US to increase its footprint in the [Persian Gulf] region where oil generated wealth would continue to provide extremists the capital to market and implement their ideas worldwide. The unavoidable result is even more terrorism and instability. So when it comes down to the question of whether we can actually afford to shift away from petroleum-based energy system one should remember that the combined impact of wars, terrorism, and environmental degradation is likely to send the price of oil firth through the ceiling over the next two decades. Alternatively, the cost of emerging technologies is likely to decrease over time, as mass production and commercialization takes place.” (Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, October 30, 2003)

Bibliography

Tallying Coal’s Hidden Cost. (2011, Ferbruary 17). NYTimes.Com.

Chua, J. K. (2008, October 6). True Cost of Renewable Energy. Live Science.Com, p. Web.

Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. (2011). How Much Are We Paying for a Gallon of Gas. Institute for the Analysis of Global Security.

Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. (October 30, 2003). NDCF Report, the Hidden Costs of Imported Oil. Institute for the Analysis of Global Security.

Nemet, G. (2006). Behind the Learning Curve: Quantifying the Source of Cost Reductions In Phiotovoltaics. Doctorate Thesis, University of CA. At Berkley.

Wald, M. (2009, October 28). Costs Work Against Alternative Energy Sources in Times of Recession. New York Times.

Link to Go to My Google Blog’s Main Page

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Posted in Alternative, Alternative Sources of Energy, Coal, Energy, Geothermal, Greem, Hidden Costs, Natural Gas, Oil, Solar, Solar Power, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Wind | Leave a comment

Free Amanda Knox


Who is Amanda Knox? She is a young American college student wrongfully convicted in Perugia Italy of murder. While there is not a shred of evidence to sustain her conviction, nor was there at trial, she was prosecuted by an incompetent prosecutor with a political agenda and history of similar misconduct. Italy is not known for an effective police or judicial system, and it clearly failed this young innocent college student.

Why should you care? First, she is a young American girl, and she could be your daughter or sister, and next time, perhaps it will be. Second, she is an innocent American facing injustice and looking at spending the rest of her life in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. Lastly, she is innocent, and an injustice anywhere, as it was said, is an injustice everywhere.

We all know that innocent Americans were wrongfully imprisoned in Iran (and they also deserve our support) and God knows how many innocent people, including perhaps Americans, are wrongfully imprisoned in North Korea. But we expect that of these totalitarian dictatorship where the rule of law is totally absent. We think of Italy as a western, democratic country where the rule of law prevails. History teaches us otherwise. It is closer to Columbia or Mexico. They have great difficulty prosecuting major criminals like the Mafia, and even Judges and prosecutors who try to prosecute these criminals are often assassinated. Corruption and incompetence are rampant. Even the Italian Prime Minister seems not only to have legal problems, but to be “above the law.”

 

On a personal note, of all the countries I have traveled to, including Mexico, China, France, England, etc., Italy is the only country where I was the victim of crime, and within an hour of my arrival. My wallet and passport were stolen, and such thefts are a common occurrence and the police are indifferent and ineffective in dealing with this. As Mayor Rudolf Giuliani realized when he was mayor of New York City, preventing low level crimes like these, so called “quality of life” crimes, was the first step in creating a climate where more major crimes would not be tolerated. Italy has surrendered, in many respects, its efforts at all levels of effectively combating crimes.

 

The prosecutor in this case is clearly responsible for procuring the wrongful conviction. There is no meaningful evidence against Amanda Knox except a coerced confession. The DNA evidence is at worst, meaningless, and at best, exonerates her. There is no credible eyewitness testimony which implicates her. The key and main eyewitness has recanted. He was a homeless man addicted to and using heroin. He has recently admitted that, contrary to Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini’s statements, this eyewitness was at that time under investigation for narcotics trafficking, which investigation was coincidentally dropped [clearly in exchange for his testimony.] This alone would be grounds for a mistrial in the US [not disclosing a quid pro quo for the testimony of a witness, much less a critical witness whose veracity and even memory were clearly in doubt.]

Another key difference between the USA and Italy was that, during the trial, the Italian Press ran wild with false, prejudicial accusations which the jury was readily and extensively exposed to every evening during the trial. Even the Italian Prosecutor, who was so biased against Amanda Knox, admitted that the stories in the Italian Press were complete fabrications (of course all of which condemned Amanda Knox and falsely accused her, among other things, of being involved in satanic rituals and of purchasing bleach to destroy evidence at the crime scene.)

That the confession was coerced and false was proven by several clear and convincing evidence. First, many of the facts in her confession have been proven to be untrue. She explained that she was beaten and interrogated for something like 36 hours by a bully prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, and deprived of water. We know that people will confess to anything given the right pressure and methods.

Second, that such wrongful interrogation techniques were used is evidenced by a separate unrelated and similar prior occurrence which strongly suggests that Amanda Knox’s version of the coercion, and her explanation for a false confession, are true. A US author (living temporarily in Italy), as interviewed on May 9, 2011 on CNN, [See CNN’s Coverage of Amanda Knox story] was writing a book on a serial killer in Italy. The same prosecutor outrageously accused him of being the serial killer and used the same interrogation techniques on the reporter. The prosecutor has denied he ever used these techniques. While the reporter had enough skepticism and fled Italy immediately, Amanda Knox believed, to her detriment, in the Italian system of justice. Clearly, Prosecutor Mignini lied, and does use these coercive interrogation techniques. Accordingly, Amanda Knox’s explanation in her recantation of her alleged confession is credible, and Prosecutor Mignini’s defense of the credibility of the confession, and his denial of his abusive interrogation techniques, are not credible.

Second, other wrongful investigative techniques used by the same Italian prosecutor caused him to be criminally convicted of “Abuse of Office” and receive a 16 month suspended sentence.  Italian Prosecutor Mignini was under investigation for this prior misconduct at the time he investigated the Amanda Knox case, had the motivation to, need for, and predilection to “rush to judgment” and find somebody to quickly accuse for the crime to rescue his severely tarnished reputation. Then having accused that person, he had even greater motivation to make sure the prosecution was successful He still has the same motivation to ensure that the  conviction be upheld (it is now under appeal).

If all of the above were not bad enough, prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, admitted that he effectively made a “rush to judgment” when he claimed that he knew, the minute he saw Amanda Knox, that she was involved in the murder. This was because she, among other things, kissed her boyfriend and at one point in the multi-week investigation appeared happy. Again, this is exactly the type of “rush to judgment” which often results in injustice. It is the reason the parents of Jon Benet Ramsey retained lawyers immediately. It is the reason everyone should, if ever questioned by the police in a matter where they might be a suspect, regardless of their guilt or innocence, immediately and persistently insist on exercising their fifth and sixth amendment rights to remain silent and to have a lawyer, respectively. This is true whether you are totally guilty or 100% innocent.

What should you do?

Write the Italian Embassy and Italian Mission to the UN and demand the immediate release of Amanda Knox. If you are so inclined, boycott travel to Italy, and inform the Embassy and Mission that you will do so, until Amanda Knox is free.

Here are the addresses:

Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Embassy of Italy

3000 Whitehaven Street, N.W.

Washington, DC 20008

Tel.: (202) 612-4400 – Fax: (202) 518-2151

 

Italian Mission to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations

Two United Nations Plaza, 24th Floor

New York, NY 10017

Tel. (212) 486-9191 – Fax: (212) 486-1036

 

Some other links if you are interested in this story:

Link to Main Page of My Google Blog

E-Mail Me with your comments

Posted in Amanda Knox, Courts, Free, Injustice, International, Italian, Italy, Justice, Legal, Mignini, Perugia, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

STOP HUMAN TRAFFICKING


Human Trafficking is more prevalent than one could possibly imagine, yet is a terrible evil in this world and existing in every country therein. It exists in each state of the USA, each province and territory of most major countries, and almost every city in every country.  If you live in any populated area in the USA or elsewhere, it is probably going on with a mile or two within your home. If you don’t believe this, please see the link in this blog to the statistics on Human Trafficking just in the USA.

It is hard to fathom moral intelligent individuals turning a blind eye to this problem. One can hardly claim to be religious or moral and engage in practices which support, condone, or even turn a blind eye to this evil. Inaction and indifference are as bad as actively contributing to the problem. Stopping it now is a moral imperative for everyone everywhere!!! 

I am in the process of supplementing and revising this post. Some of it has not yet been proof-read, and there may be references to occurrences (like the airing of specific documentaries which occurred after I wrote this initially.) Forgive me, but this is a very important topic, and extremely important to me.   

Lots of organizations publish lots of statistics, and it is always incumbent to analyze the publisher of the statistics to determine whether they have the: (i) foundation (resources, basis and knowledge) to prepare accurate statistics; and, (ii) their bias or agenda (are the statistics being published by an organization who wants to create concern and collect donations or by an organization, such as the garment industry (including manufacturers, importers, and retailers) who profits from Human Trafficking. The United States government, for example, has the resources organizations, and knowledge to collect and prepare accurate statistics. It is also, like the United Nations, unbiased and credible. The statistics I cite (and link to) include those prepared and published by the government of the United States relating to Human Trafficking which is known in the United States!!

      What is Human Trafficking?

There have been a lot of TV shows on Human Trafficking, or certain instances of it. The phrase “Human Trafficking” can be misunderstood, if one watches those shows, even though they are extremely worthwhile and compelling. Similarly, there are many organizations which deal with different types of “Human Trafficking” or “Human Trafficking” which occurs in different parts of the world, to different types of people, etc. The focus on specific segments of “Human Trafficking” can lead to confusion about the problem, and lead to underestimation of the prevalence of trafficked humans, both geographically and nymerically.

In a broad, philosophic sense, “Human Trafficking” is forcing, tricking, or coercing  any human to engage in an activity without their consent (including taking advantage of that person’s impoverishment or abuse of drugs). Don’t mistake the use of the words “broad, philosophic” to mean merely theoretical. Instead, it is very real, very serious, and extremely inhumane and immoral. By virtue of the definition of consent, minors are unable to consent to the activities implicated in Human Trafficking (see below), and often their own parents are morally and legally unable to give such consent, even when such consent is given (usually as a result of poverty and/or discrimination against women and especially girls).

More specifically, there are many types and instances of “Human Trafficking” and it is important to separate the different types and instances in order to understand the entirety, scope, and prevalence of the problem. “Human Trafficking” occurs in two different kinds of work: (i) the non-consentual sex trade; and, (ii) unlawful labor. It occurs to two types of persons: (i) minors; and, (ii) adults. It occurs in the USA and abroad. It arises from: (i) force (including coercion, trickery, threats to the victim or the victim’s family); and, it arises from poverty. It involves inter-country trafficking, and intra-country trafficking (transporting people from one country to another, for example, to work in sweat shops, brothels, or even as domestic servants to the wealthy.)

While I don’t usually give much credence to famous and rich actors getting involved in charitable organizations or social cause issues, Demi Moore and her husband, Ashton Kutcher, started the DNA Foundation  addressing this problem, or certain aspects thereof. I do believe them to be sincere. What shocked me was that Demi Moore was in a CNN documentary (linked below) which exposed the problem in Nepal. Even though I was familiar with the issue, and had in fact written an earlier version of this Blog post several months ago, I would never have guessed that problem could be so pervasive in a country as remote, isolated, and religious as Nepal. What I forgot is that Nepal is also poor, and poverty is a major contributing factor Human Trafficking. This just evidences how extensive and pervasive the problem is.

Looking at the issue another way, Human trafficking victimizes the most vulnerable disenfranchised people who are least able to protect themselves. They include, first and foremost, children, especially young girls. They also include young boys, woman, and even poor uneducated men. They are forced to work as prostitutes or in sweatshops. They are bought and sold like property, and have no choice in the matter. It is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world, with at least 100,000 children in the sex trade in the United States alone (See Link to the Polaris Project.) This does not even come close to the numbers (percentage wise especially) in countries like Vietnam. Not all victims are in the sex trade. Some are in forced labor. Some work in factories, farms, and homes even in the United States and its territories, where our wealth, education, morals, laws, and law enforcement capabilities would presumably be an impediment to the prevalence of this evil. But this is not the case. In fact, for an egregious example of the complicity of three of the richest, most powerful, extremely educated, and most trusted men in America in Human Trafficking in America, see the revolting truth discussed below about the sweatshops in Saipan (a US Territory) and the role the three men played in actively preventing the US government from stopping Chinese workers being used as slave labor. And we sit in judgment, moralize, and criticise the Chinese government for their alleged use of prison labor!!!

The use of forced labor (and sex trafficking) is not new. We all know of our history with slavery, and after that, the quasi-slavery of segregation, discrimination, and sharecropping. But few know of the importation of immigrants from China, known as “coolies” many of whom were essentially kidnapped and sold into slavery. The phrase “Shanghaied” comes from the kidnapping of Chinese peasants (in China) and sent through the port of Shanghai to work in such places as the Western United States in sub-human conditions. The port of Shanghai was used because the British forced the Chinese government (in what has come to be known as the Opium Wars) to allow trade through that port because, incredibly, the British wanted to sell opium from India (which was then a British colony) to China. The British sale of opium caused much of the poverty which led to the conditions which caused the Chinese peasants to be sold and trafficked. The vestiges of the British sales of Opium continue to be evidenced in the poverty of the Chinese, and only the Communist party did an incredibly good job at stopping both the trafficking of Chinese peasants and the importation of Opium. Again, I ask how we can criticise the Chinese?

Human trafficking occurs from many sources. Some victims are literally kidnapped. Others are tricked and fooled into thinking they are getting a better life, especially legitimate jobs, in another place. Others are forced into this slavery, or kept and controlled, by reason of threats to their family who remain in their home countries. The traffickers may charge a “fee” for taking the trafficked person to the “better life.” The victim and/or the family are often held responsible for the debt. Lack of money and documentation which would enable a victim to escape and return home are other factors which often occur. Others, especially children and young woman, are literally sold into slavery by their own parents, sometimes due to extreme poverty, and kept as prisoners with the threat of violence. Incredibly, this occurs throughout the world, and recent exposes have exposed this in both the USA and UK, two of the countries where one would least expect to witness this most extreme form of Human Trafficking.

As I mentioned previously, one of the worst examples, in the sense that it occurred in the USA by three people one would least expect to be participants in this vile evil, (which devastated my personal trust in our legislative system), was exposed in a documentary originally on, I believe, MSNBC. But the truth of the facts exposed on MSNBC was documented by all major news organizations (including CN and ABC), so those who would attack the MSNBC documentary on the basis of the presumed liberal bias of MSNBC are looking for excused to “close their eyes. I watched in shock, and cannot begin to convey what occurred. In summary, Tom Delay, then the Republican Whip of the House of Representatives to the US Congress, acting at the direction of Ralph Reed (so called head of the “Christian Coalition”) who each took bribes from Jack Abramoff, actively prevented regulation(which would have stopped the human trafficking of Chinese workers [who were tricked into believing that they were “coming to America” to be free to live and work here when instead they were held as real prisoners in “sweat shops” in Saipan which is part of the United States (it is an island in the pacific governed by the United States and completely subject to United States laws, rules, and regulations)]. See CNN’s coverage of Tom Delay’s involvement and also Democracy Now’s Coverage of the Issue.

What is worse, Ralph Reed, who is making his political comeback, ignored the forced abortions these workers were forced to endure and tricked his devout Christian followers into believing that these workers being able to work in Saipan was a “Christian Issue” as they were being exposed to Jesus. He didn’t reveal the money he was receiving to make this false claim, the fact that these workers were held as virtual slaves in accordance with the wishes of the sweatshops they worked for, and forced to undergo abortions (not exactly in accordance with Christian tenants). He used his money (from Jack Abramoff who was a lobbyist for the sweatshops) and influence with the Christian Coalition, to get Tom Delay to block legislation which would have closed down these sweatshops (which were already in violation of US law.) In fact, as President Clinton was President, and the US Department of Labor had Democrat appointees running it, a well intention, honest worker, who was aware of the problem and fought strenuously to enforce existing US regulations in Saipan had his career destroyed by Ralph Reed, Abramoff, and Delay, who falsely made this issue a Republican Christian issue.

Since Abramoff and Delay have been imprisoned for similar misdoings, and have been disgraced, they are no longer relevant. But Ralph Reed is making a comeback and rising again to prominence in the Republican party. Regardless of your religious or political conviction, he has forfeited any claim to morality or to any position of leadership of any religious or moral cause, party, or coalition. He should be banished to obscurity. His hypocrisy and betrayal (of even his own constituent base) is incomprehensible and unforgivable, as is his misuse and abuse of his own followers who trusted him and as is his perversion of the very causes he purported to represent.

 While Abramoff and Delay were disgraced and imprisoned, Ralph Reed is making a comeback, and regardless of your political or religious convictions, he represents no one’s interest but his own. He is a hypocrite who stands for nothing other than his own pocketbook, accumulation of power, and status.

Why is this relevant to Human Trafficking? Because it shows how the monied interests behind Human Trafficking cross political, religious and geographic boundaries, and enter even into the US though the supposed highest, most law-abiding, advanced, and moral form of government in existence ever. Jack Abramoff was, like me, a Pro-Israel Jew. Ralph Reed was a member of the Christian Coalition (whom I despise as an extremist Republican Group bent on replacing our democratic free secular government with a Christian Theocracy). Tom Delay was one of the most powerful and respected and trusted congressional officials at the time, and supposedly above all the religious, partisan politics, and corruption and entrusted with enforcing US laws and principles (which laws and principles he obstructed the enforcement thereof).

If Ralph Reed, Tom Delay and Jack Abramoff can be intentionally responsible for human trafficking, do any of us share responsibility? You may be directly responsible for this heinous evil industry merely by purchasing cheap clothing, cheap agriculture goods, and especially by using the services of a prostitute. While I have nothing against the clothing or agriculture industries (we all need clothes and fresh produce J), and certainly believe that whatever occurs between two consenting adults (services rendered) is no one’s business (referring to the sex trade), it is incumbent on each of us to make sure that these goods and “services” were produced by consenting adults.

The sex trade includes forced prostitution of minors and also includes minors and women tricked, coerced, and/or forced to travel to foreign countries where they have no choice but to work as prostitutes, in the pornography business, or in strip clubs, either because of fear of poverty, fear of violence against them or their families back home, or even because they are virtual prisoners. It happens to American born women and children, women and children brought to America, women and children in other countries who may be taken to another country or even forced to engage in such practices in their own countries.

The complicity of family members, policeman, and governmental officials, especially in foreign countries, often is a contributing factor. The indifference of police, governments, and the people in every country are always major contributing factors. The purchase of products and services of those trafficked humans is the worst contributing factor. That purchaser can be a person or company who unknowingly purchases a product, even a shirt, which is inexpensively produced by an unknown factory and then sold to a well-respected retailer or wholesaler. That person may be you or me. If you purchase or use the services of those engaged in the sex trade, you may be directly participating in the exploitation of trafficked humans and supporting the practice of Human Trafficking in the same way that users of narcotics support the drug cartels and gangs who supply and sell those drugs.

Even the mere fact that this occurs anywhere in the world is unacceptable and must be stopped by the affirmative action of all of us, wherever we live and whatever we do. Indifference and inaction are as much a part of the problem as those who intentionally profit from human trafficking. And as I have tried to point out, and as many of the web sites I list, the organizations I discuss, and the links contained herein demonstrate, it is virtually impossible for any of us not to profit from the trade of humans. It is reflected in the lower price we pay for clothes and produce, for example. It is reflected in the lower wages paid for workers in certain industries, and the profits we receive as shareholders in those companies. But, if you think the problem lies in some distant country for which you are powerless to prevent, you are wrong. If you don’t believe me, look to our own government for information about human trafficking. The US Department of Education’s Fact Sheet and Good Links about the Issue of Human Trafficking [this is a link which you may or not be able to see depending upon your browser.]

 I began thinking about  writing this blog post in February of 2011. I began researching and writing this post (along with several other) in March and April of 2011. I published it on May 13, 2011. Since then there has been a lot of public media attention, including documentaries, about this subject. I mention this not because (even though I do) want to brat that, as with most of my posts, I seem to be ahead of the curve (including the media on the issues in my blog) but because I want to discuss some of the documentaries and information I gained after I wrote my original post on May 13, 2011 (which is one major reason I am rewritten and reposting this post.

First, CNBC has been airing a documentary about this topic. Even before I published my post, MSNBC has been airing a series about this topic (which I tried to record on my DVR but was unable to watch, by coincidence, because at the time I set my DVR to air, the programing was interrupted due to the breaking news story of the death of Osama Bin Laden (also another blog topic I briefly discuss). I believe MSNBC is still airing this series. Additionally, as I mentioned briefly above, recently CNN has begun coverage of Human Trafficking. They have what they call the Freedom Project. While I haven’t seen much of it, it included the show by Demi Moore about trafficking in Nepal. Here is a link to one of CNN’s many web sites on this issue. Click Here to go to CNN’s Web Site on their “Freedom Project”.

Remember, Human Trafficking comes in many forms. A lot of these shows talk (or appear to talk – I haven’t seen them all and those that I have seen I have not always seen in their entirety) about human trafficking in the sex trade. While Human Trafficking includes the sex trade it also includes forced labor, indentured labor, and the unlawful labor of minors. In involves Americans and foreigners and occurs in America and abroad. It includes children and adults, men and women. Both illegal and legal immigrants of all ages and both genders are often victims, in America and abroad, of forced and indentured labor. In watching these shows, which I urge you to do, please don’t view them as though they define the scope of the problem. They are mere examples, albeit compelling and tragic, examples of a worldwide problem that takes place in many forms.

Another MUST GO TO LINK IS WORLD VISION’S ASIA PACIFIC Discussion of Human Trafficking. Here is the link Human Trafficking Compelling Information and Facts by World Vision

Human Trafficking is the most vile evil in the world. As citizens of the world, being people of intelligence and conscience, supposedly with morals and believing in the rule of law, we are all responsible for taking affirmative steps to stop it everywhere in the world. Because it occurs in this country and/or is caused by actions in this country, we are all very specifically morally responsible. After the Holocaust, most Germans claimed that they were not responsible. Some claimed to have had no knowledge of the evil wrongdoings. Others claimed to have  had no participation. Others claimed to have been unable to prevent the holocaust. Others, we know, either profited, directly or indirectly or otherwise supported the holocaust. While a mere fraction of the German population was actively physically involved in the exterminations, we know that the entire country (except the very small percentage that took up arms to try to stop it) had varying degrees of moral culpability. The same goes for Human Trafficking. It is time for educated moral informed people to stand up and accept personal responsibility and do something affirmative and substantial to stop Human Trafficking.

Posted in Forced Labor, Forced Prostitution, Human Trafficking, Indentured labor, Sex Trade, Slave Labor, Slavery, Stop Human Trafficking, Uncategorized | Leave a comment