Thursday, September 29, 2011

Another of the Greatest Generation Gone ...

What a day that will be
When my Jesus I will see
When I look upon His face
The One who saved me by His Grace
When He takes my by the hand
And leads ME through the promised land
What a day, glorious day, that will be!

That is the first verse of one of the greatest songs ever written.  Today, a special day for me, the reality of the precious message of that blessed assurance was reborn at a funeral.  A dear, sweet man from my church passed away this week and I was asked to sing for that funeral.  That is pretty normal for me now but today was, well, special. 

Special came in sitting in back of the auditorium and watching family and friends join at the casket to embrace, share, laugh, cry, feel the loss of a husband, a father, a grand father, a great grand father and as much as anything, a great friend to so many including me.  As I watched the unfolding of the viewing from fifty feet away before the service began, I sat with the eldest son, as I am in my family, and engaged him in giving me one word of description of his dad. That word, "tough!" I asked if his dad ever talked to him about his Navy time at Normandy as a pilot of a landing ship that ferried troops from ships off shore into the cauldron of death on the beaches; beaches I have walked and explored and studied and the American Military Cemetery that resides on Omaha beach. His answer, "no, he never did." I can say the same about my father as well, tough and never spoke of WWII.

Now two years ago, I sang at the funeral of my wonderful father-in-law that gave me his baby girl now almost forty-one years ago that came ashore at Normandy. He was a gentle, sweet man but rarely spoke of his WWII days once in combat.  But today a reality hit me ... my father-in-law and my friend were both at Normandy and my friend could well have transported my father-in-law to the beaches from the hell the Germans established.  That reality left me spellbound and humbled.  For the freedom we take so much for granted was granted by men like my friend, my father-in-law, my father and millions more with now a thousand each day leaving this world to a final destination.  This destination today was certain where eternity will be for my friend; it will be Heaven.

Just yesterday another Marine was buried in a small town just south of here killed in Afghanistan last week and you might remember my words of the Army Four Star General Starry that died a few weeks ago.  Each served, served gloriously and allows me and each of us to do what we take for granted; enjoy the luxury of freedom!  So through the tears and the hugs and the stories and the gentle touches this day, a widow is saddened, a family is longing for their patriarch but there is a silver lining to this ... seek to be ready to go for it can come in a moment!

Today, find a veteran and thank him or her, give them a hand salute and a hand shake, tell them you appreciate what they did.  I still love to see my two grandsons when then see me render the hand salute and hand shake to an old veteran come to attention and salute with their Poppy!  Maybe that will be the greatest legacy I will leave them when my time comes. If so, PRICELESS!  Today as the funeral ended a lady I did not know walked up to me, shook my hand, thanked for me the songs and hugged me thanking me for my service to my country; our country. I was humbled into my own tears of thanks and reflection of so many friends killed in Vietnam. Tears are, by the way, a language god does understand!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Whine - O - Gram

One of the great movie lines ever was in Jerry McGuire where he was forced to say and then to scream, "show me the money," "I can't hear you Jerry, louder!"  "SHOW ME THE MONEY""""!  Now we have all laughed at that but something that has rolled around in the pit of my gut for a long time has made its way to my fingertips and now to you ....  it SICKENS ME when I realize that what politicians are truly measured by and to is the amount of money they prostitute themselves for. There is simply something fundamentally wrong with the geometry of the process.

CNN, just now, is talking about the millions of dollars being raised, while the country and individuals sink more deeply into the slime of blood money in debt while the Air Force One I am helping to pay for and Air Force Two I am helping to pay for and the millions, MILLIONS of dollars of support paid for security, additional vehicles, secret service recon and stationing and on and on and on is expended. So I guess you could say China is paying for our presidential election, right?

It make me sick to my stomach at the process.  So this is not a singular aimed head shot to our President but at the process that has evolved.  It really is, simply, all about the stinking money and remember principle number one ... whomever owns your debt owns your future! Can I get a witness????

I have some political friends that will see this and their input is sought and appreciated for I simply do not understand the logic of the process when I find myself really thinking about it.  Why should a politician be made winnable simply because of his / her ability to fill a coffer when untold millions are below the poverty level. It is simply WRONG!  There has to be a better, fairer and more disciplined way to elect our political leaders.  So you can know I have never nor will I ever contribute one nickel to a political campaign for in doing that, in my humble opinion, I am enabling bad behavior and life has taught me that destroying safety nets / bad behaviors is the only way to steer the ship of life in a right course with a deep rudder.

So all the campaigning is not really campaigning then is it for it really is about flying all over the US lavishly and telling people exactly what they want to hear and move to the next microphone.  I know I am a rebel but let's "campaign" to eliminate all teleprompters, sound bytes, speech writers and let us, WE THE PEOPLE, see and hear what the person is really made of; THAT is who I want to give my vote and support and yes, my prayers to in support.  Why anyone on earth would seek to a political work, public service is the politically correct term I suppose, is beyond me!  I have had many that have asked and encouraged me to do just that and my standard response is something like, they have not yet printed enough money to cause me to even entertain such a crazy idea.

Oh, and once the elected is then officed, as Lincoln has written much about, most of your time is spent in trying to appease those that, well, paid your ticket to the office and not the business of the State which, I think I am right here, is the sole purpose for them being there and why the system exists, right?   Yes, today, I am an angry white, male, Vietnam era veteran, Baby Boomer, Christian, singer, professor, father, grandfather, brother, husband, friend to many, retired, ahhhhh, have I missed a demographic, oh yes, have a goat tee that is quite stylish I believe ... are you getting my point?

THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN so why should we expect the system to make things better, right?  Remember the definition insanity which is to do the same thing you have always done and expect things to be different. THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN and I see NOTHING nor ANYBODY on the horizon to FIX A BROKEN SYSTEM!  But I guess that is why I do what I love to do which is to educate the future. I see such hope and capability in the students of today. Yes, the future can be brighter I am convinced!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Czar is back!

The last five years have been relatively neutral in Russia history with Mr. Putin's step down to Prime Minister but everyone knew he was there in some way but out of the camera lights. HE'S BACCCCK!

Russian history is pocked with tsars, upheaval, wealth unimaginable and famines of biblical proportion, strong leaders and corruption is a norm. Mr. Putin has, not doubt, spent his last five years laying the infrastructure politically to firm the footing for the journey ahead. Russia as a nation is rich in raw materials such as oil, natural gas and coal. 
Almost all, ALL, natural gas the heats Europe transits from Russia through the Ukraine pipeline system into Europe. One can thus imagine the leverage Mr. Putin possesses to change the thinking in Europe; a Europe that is weak, broken and debt ridden. An opportunity? I think yes!

I am quite sure the EU leaders in trying to save the European Union and the euro have been looking East knowing this succession step was inevitable. The geometry has now changed for Europe and I believe the world with Mr. Putin's rise or return. It is just another handful of gravel in the economic engines of the world struggling already. Here is what you should watch .... CHINA and her relationship with Russia. There is Biblical implication to these two countries joined by geography but separated by thousands of years of war, racism, bloodshed and angst.

Vladimir the Eternal

Russia faces the prospect of a quarter-century of Putinism.

The dream of a post-Communist democracy in Russia faded years ago, but this weekend the Kremlin made it official. Vladimir Putin will once again run for President, continuing his 11-year reign as de facto czar for what could be another dozen years.
This weekend's meeting of Mr. Putin's United Russia party merely clarified the method of coronation. Prime minister since 2008, Mr. Putin will take back the presidency in an election next year that will offer only the appearance of democratic competition. He held the presidency for eight years from 2000, hand-picking Dmitry Medvedev as his four-year placeholder to evade the constitutional limit of two consecutive terms. Mr. Medvedev will likely return to his previous post of prime minister.
This is what Mr. Putin once famously called "managed democracy." With the presidential term recently extended to six years, he will have a chance to stay at the Kremlin at least until 2024, when he'll be 72. Leonid Brezhnev died in the job at 75.
So much for the conceit that Mr. Medvedev was potentially an independent reformer. The Obama Administration's "reset" of relations with Russia was supposed to court and strengthen Mr. Medvedev. While relations are smoother than they were after Russia's invasion of Georgia in 2008, the policy has delivered few other dividends and has been irrelevant to Russia's antidemocratic turn.

The timing of this switch is slightly surprising, and perhaps revealing. Kremlinologists expected Mr. Putin to wait until after December's parliamentary elections to show his cards. The early move suggests some vulnerability. Security and business elites are bickering openly. So Mr. Putin seems to have decided that he needed to re-assert his authority over the boyars and end any uncertainty over who will run Russia in the future.
A political system so dependent on a single personality is by nature unstable. For now, the Kremlin can count on high oil and gas prices to finance half its budget, but foreign investment has fled and Russia is a stagnant place. In his remarks on Saturday, Mr. Putin acknowledged as much and promised an economic shake-up. But genuine reform would require that he allow alternative bases of power to emerge, economic and political, and this is not something that czars do.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Perhaps it is just me, but ...

As I have watched the back-and-forth which is normal in the lead up to a presidential race and all the especially almost perverted polarization of the current state, the only man I have seen that I was really impressed with was Mr. Ryan.  He acts, speaks, looks and conduct himself presidential.  My greater hope and belief was the Ryan could transcend this escalating mess and give us, we the American people, a candidate we could look up to, stand behind and charge forward but ....

Yup, big but!  For reasons I, right now, will never understand is why the Republicans have chosen to in essence bury the best they had.  I have never witnessed a rising star fall in the ocean of obscurity as I have watched Mr. Ryan's plummet.  You can read the article and it is well written but when you read the white space, that real message between the black print, it becomes obvious the GOP has either decided to self destruct, which is likely, or a master strategy is underway to "bury" Ryan for a while meaning to let the current Romney / Perry self destruction continue and raise Ryan up as the best option when the shrapnel has cleared ,,,, hum me thinks??!?!!?

This announcement has been made remarkable gently and quiet which is surprising to me that the media has not climbed all over this.  It simply does not pass the sniff test for me for I have wondered in my looking to see when Ryan would face the cameras but alas, below the surface.  This has to be great news for the Democrats at least for now.

All of this, to me, is about as easy to understand the logic of as the plummeting price of gold with the equity markets in free fall this week. Simply defies logic!  But then I remember my readings in the books of Daniel, Isiah and especially Revelations where the end times will be marked by confusion, lack of logic, a pathway for a global leader as an agent of Satan called the Antichrist that will exert leadership on a grand scale in the end times.  Simply baffling isn't it?  Those of you that really know me knows how much music reaches me deeply.  A great song entitled UNDER CONTROL has a first verse that captures it all for me. Please watch my great friend Tim Riley and Gold City Quartet sing this great message of hope!


The Bible speaks of famines and trials
In the last days how they’ll sweep through our land
But we have His assurance
That through all these trials
We’ll be led by His Mighty Hand
Manna from God will come down from above
To restore and to nourish our soul
So through all of your trials
And all of your fears
Remember God has it under control

Rep. Ryan to head key 2012 RNC fundraising trust
Washington (CNN) - Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, seen by many as a rising star among Republicans, was tapped Friday to head up a key fundraising group for his party ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

"I am delighted to announce the appointment of my good friend Paul Ryan to chair the RNC Presidential Trust," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said. "Paul is a visionary leader for our Party and it is fitting that he play a crucial role in the upcoming election where our nation's future hangs in the balance."

According to the RNC's release, the RNC Presidential Trust is able to make "coordinated expenditures" on campaign costs in concert with the eventual GOP presidential nominee. The group can also coordinate staffing in cooperation with state Republican parties.

Ryan said Friday that his role in raising money for Republicans in the 2012 election would be essential in changing policies put in place by President Barack Obama.

"Americans struggling under the Obama administration's failed economic policies cannot afford another four years of high unemployment, unchecked government spending and record deficits and debt," Ryan said in a statement. "Raising the resources necessary to get out the vote in 2012 will be the difference maker in determining what kind of future we will have."

Ryan, who serves as chairman of the House Budget Committee, has received increased attention in the past several months for his role in crafting a controversial budget proposal that cuts trillions of dollars in federal government spending.

Ryan's name is frequently mentioned as a potential vice-presidential candidate. Ryan has said that he will not seek the GOP presidential nomination.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Let's talk about taxes!

I awoke about 0400 this morning and as I lay there the subject of Taxes floated onto my slumbering mind's billboard. Not sure why but as I opened up today's Wall Street Journal I found numerous writings on the topic. Hum, am I losing it? (don't answer that, please.) Perhaps the thoughts flamed up because of a phone call I received yesterday in which, on my flat screen TV cable system, the caller's ID popped up and it said, "US Government" thus my attention was immediately focused.

Could it be Obama needed me? Perhaps the State Department needed and envoy to Alabama or maybe Karzai was asking for me in Afghanistan to advise him on how to lead a nation? My mine was whirling for some noble cause the U.S. Government was calling me ... maybe I was being recalled to active military service so I grabbed my brass cavalry crossed sabers and looked for my can of polish ... oh what would the U.S. Government be calling me?

So, with hands shaking and heart rate elevated, my sweat glands in hyper drive, I picked up the phone and said, "yes sir, may I help you?" What I heard was a very nice gentle female voice that said, "hello Mr. Williams, this is April from the Social Security office in Chicago and hope you are having a wonderful evening." Deflated I went forward with the call that lasted somewhere between 10-15 seconds about a check mark on question 4 of a form I had received about six months ago. Deflated with all I have envisioned, downtrodden from the valuable contribution I no doubt could have given my US Government is only asked. But alas, one question, one answer and a thank you, CYAH goodbye ... Deflated but then a mountain top experience ... realized it could have been the IRS. YESSSSSSSS!

 So I went to bed thinking not about Social Security but on the multifaceted dilemma our nation faces with the burgeoning mountain of borrowing to pay for government, such as Social Security, that is unfixable, I believe, with eh current revenue generation system called the US Tax Code. So it was taxes that awakened my brain this morning. So the article below, one of several on the topic, was selected for Mr. Reynolds is an excellent writer and the article goes to the very core of the matter; we are trying to patch or band aid a gushing well of red debt.

 If you listen to the rhetoric, the politicians, the pundits, the soothsayers, anyone, some realities strike home.
  • everybody hates to pay taxes
  • the government is funded by taxes
  • the government outspends the inflow of taxes
  • the government wants to increase taxes but does not want to call it that
  • the tax code structure of this nation is, well, defunct and is the problem
  • the US is the only nation of the G20 that uses income as the basis of taxation
  • the tax code is a hodgepodge of legislative culminations of years of pork belly philosophies
  • the tax system is BROKEN
  • everybody hates to pay taxes

So today, please, think about taxes not as burden but as part of the price we must pay for living in a democracy. I think the paying of taxes, like the tithe to your church, is right and noble but it must be fair and not confusing nor lend itself to corruption and political meandering which our system reflects blatantly. Yes, the system is COMPLETELY BROKEN. Hey Washington ... FIX IT!! If you need help, I will be looking for US GOVERNMENT to pop up on my flat screen again and I will do my best, honest, I will.


The Spend Now, Tax Later Jobs Bill

The president says we can lower the corporate tax rate if we get rid of 'special deals.' But his plan doesn't include a lower rate.

The president's "Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction" mainly hinges on persuading Congress to trade $447 billion in temporary payroll tax cuts and spending increases—the "jobs plan"—for permanent income-tax increases of $150 billion a year. Mr. Obama also calls on the 12-member congressional super committee to undertake "comprehensive tax reform," which he defines in peculiar fashion as trading lower deductions for higher rates.

According to the Sept. 19 White House fact sheet, "The President calls on [the super committee] to undertake comprehensive tax reform, and lays out five principles for it to follow: 1) lower tax rates; 2) cut wasteful loopholes and tax breaks; 3) reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion; 4) boost job creation and growth; and 5) comport with the "Buffett Rule" that people making more than $1 million a year should not pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than middle-class families pay."

But the administration's tax plan violates these principles. It raises rather than lowers tax rates, shrinks tax deductions to pay for more spending, makes no believable contribution to economic growth, has nothing specific to say about the Buffett Rule, and allocates a third of the proposed $1.5 trillion tax increase over the next decade to such miscellany as the temporary payroll tax break, more subsidies for state and local government jobs, and prolonged unemployment benefits.
Nearly all of Mr. Obama's

The Treasury Department's more candid explanation of these same proposals in the 2011 budget estimated that raising the top two tax rates would bring in only an extra $36.4 billion a year from 2011 to 2020, which adds up to little more than $400 billion from 2012 to 2021. The administration's 2011 proposal to raise the tax rate on capital gains and dividends to 20% from 15% on upper incomes was estimated to raise an even punier $10.5 billion a year. But the 3.8% surtax in ObamaCare already raised those tax rates to 18.8% to finance health-insurance subsidies, leaving no meaningful revenue from that source.

In other words, most of that large, $866 billion 10-year tax hike comes from phasing out personal exemptions and deductions. These are not "tax breaks that small businesses and middle-class families don't get," as the president claimed on Monday in his Rose Garden remarks. The phase-outs apply to the same exemptions and deductions enjoyed by those earning less than $250,000, including deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and state income taxes.

Mr. Obama's second biggest tax increase, supposedly worth $410 billion over 10 years according to the fact sheet, comes from further reducing "the value of itemized deductions and other tax preferences to 28% for those with high income." The phasing out itemized deductions for upper-income taxpayers would shrink those deductions by as much as 80%, so this additional cap would limit any remaining deductions to 28 cents on the dollar. The combination would be severe. Ask any charity.

As for corporate taxes, Mr. Obama said in the Rose Garden that "We can lower the corporate rate if we get rid of all these special deals." But his plan does not include a lower corporate rate. Instead it earmarks the revenue from eliminating any loopholes and "special deals" to pay for the $447 billion jobs bill.

This brings us to the president's puzzling remarks about "the Buffett Plan," which has no clear connection to anything in his own plan. Mr. Obama has said that anyone who thinks "somebody who's making $50 million a year in the financial markets [i.e., Warren Buffett] should be paying 15 percent on their taxes, when a teacher making $50,000 a year is paying more than that" should "have to defend that unfairness. . . . They ought to have to answer for it."

Editorial board member Steve Moore on why some Democrats are opposing Obama's deficit plan.

Warren Buffett's large capital gains (mostly unrealized) and token $100,000 salary are by no means typical. IRS statistics show those earning more than $1 million paid 28.9% in federal income taxes in 2009, compared with 24.6% for those earning from $200,000 to $500,000 and 11.6% for those earning from $50,000 to $75,000.

However, if Mr. Obama is seriously suggesting that marginal tax rates should be the same for the working teacher's salary as for the retired teacher's capital gain, then he may be flirting with a rerun of George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign theme that, "Money made by money should be taxed at the same rate as money made by men."

Unlike Mr. McGovern, though, Mr. Obama has not yet proposed a capital gains or dividend tax higher than 20%. If the rhetorical Buffett Rule has any meaning at all, it appears to be nothing more than a presidential hint to the congressional super committee that he would like them to propose (as he has not) that incomes above $1 million face a 28% tax on capital gains and dividends.

The trouble is that such a Buffett Rule would quite certainly reduce rather than enlarge federal revenue. That's because we know from experience that a 28% tax on selling stock or property greatly reduces the amount offered for sale. Wealthy people then sit on more unrealized capital gains rather than subjecting themselves to a stiff tax penalty on selling those assets. The 28% tax on long-term capital gains brought in only $36.9 billion a year from 1987 to 1997, according to the Treasury Department, while the 15% tax brought in $96.8 billion a year from 2004 to 2007.

Putting aside the seemingly empty threat of a Buffett Plan tax on capital gains, the president's new-old plan to raise income taxes on families and small businesses earning more than $250,000—to pay for temporary tax gimmicks and extra spending—is just stale wine in a new bottle.

Any plan that would impose permanently higher tax rates on income to pay for temporarily lower tax rates on payrolls is no stimulus or jobs plan under any sort of economics. Neither is a tax-financed extension of unemployment benefits. It's a tax-and-spend plan, and a bad one.

Mr. Reynolds, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute, is the author of "Income and Wealth" (Greenwood, Press 2006).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Leaves of Fall and the Call to Leave

As I watch the golden levels gently floating to the ground from the woodlands behind our home, it presents a brilliant beauty and I look forward to each year.  In watching I am reminded that, like the snowflake, the leaf is an individual creation by our God.  As I was teaching my class this morning about several connecting points about leadership, the leaves and the snowflakes and those minds and lives listening and watching me were all a parallel for each of them are alike in so many ways and unique in so many ways.

Last evening I was honored to sing to a group of approximately fifty elder folks in a near nursing care facility and what a blessing that was.  To get to sing God's glory to people that are tired, aging, mentally affected as well as physically and with loved ones there that visit with them always takes me to tears. Like those leaves and those snowflakes, age makes no real distinction in its relentless quest to consume our uniqueness, our joy and our enjoyment of things so easily not even thought about ten or twenty short years earlier.  Seeing those eyes light up when I sang, hands clamping when possible,  husbands and wives for over sixty years just holding each other through tears, seeing a toe tap to the rhythm and a few mouthing the lyrics ... what a plethora of joy that was and I realized all over again I am getting to do what I believe God put me on this earth to do.

So in a twelve hour time frame yesterday, I touched the hearts of fifty people I may never see again, some of them and got to teach twenty-one your minds all, like the leaves, will be green and strong, turn a shade as age comes and then will be blown to the ground of time by a puff of wind at God's timing.  Can you see why I love doing what I do now more clearly?

Life is short and fragile and so beautiful.  Seeing life through the heart of an eighty year old woman in tears as her daughter sitting behind her with the exact same eyes and smile and tears just loving that few remaining hours or days together with me makes it all worth it.  Yes, these twelve hours have affected me deeply but in a great and joyous way ... a blessing I wanted to share this day.

So the question, when time comes and that puff of wind God sends takes you from your firm footing to a destination, do you know that destination for you can you know? 

Through my disappointments
Strife and discontentment
I cast my every care upon the Lord
No matter what obsession
Pain or deep depression
I am standing on the Solid Rock.

I sung that song last night but the meaning is this day much, much deeper and richer and sweeter to me.  I want you to be able to sing that song with your heart!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Federal Reserve of the World --- China like it or not!

We have heard for well over a year about the impending disaster in Europe with the Greek debt calamity.  The drum beats louder and we can see the demonstrations, protests, strikes; all those things that people do when they realize their country is now underwater but still expects the entitlement safety nets to remain in play.  Oh, by the way, we have been hearing as well about all the PIGS ... Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain and let's not forget Ireland.  But in doing some research a really hard ball hit me squarely in the context head ... if you take the sovereign debt of Portugal, Greece, Spain and Ireland and add it together, they still would not owe as much as Italy. Think about that for a second!

So, we have the European Union on the periphery of potential collapse at worst or breaking into a two or three tier confederation with apparently Germany holding the trump cards in either scenario.  We have the US in an order of magnitude worse situation from a debt perspective than anything in the EU and ahhhh, a totally dysfunctional political system in the US to counter the waves that are collapsing the shores of financial protection around us.  But wait, hold it, ummmmmmm, what is faster than a speeding bullet, leaps tall building and bounds whatever it wants to when it wants to in the early part of the 21st century ... that's right, CHINA!

China now finds herself on the threshold of becoming the greatest global power less because they are that good but more because the rest of the world has become less good.  China has a surplus of foreign currency holdings including US$ in excess of THREE TRILLION DOLLARS.  That does not count a couple of trillion in gold reserves.  China has been spreading her wings relatively calmly and quietly in the emerging world for the last five years. Brazil, Venezuela, throughout Africa, Poland, the Baltics and the Balkans and yes, the United States and the EU.  Now China can, if she decides and I believe she will decide if she is smart and she is very smart, can invest in relieving the sovereign debt of these nations in the EU and be the Long Ranger riding in on his steed Silver.

But old Hi Old Silver is really a Trojan horse for comes with debt relief offered by the platonic China Central Bank comes ownership and influence on a grand scale as China's growing hunger for raw materials, commodities, production assets, technology sources and resources to support China's massive middle class build up goes forward.  Remember my old adage ... whomever owns your debt owns your future?  Well, this is the case study unfolding.

As I have said before on these pages, like China or not, there are some brilliant strategic global minds moving the levers of decision making as we witness growth coupled with well paced acquisition strategies, infrastructure development to support this growth all being orchestrated in a successful manner.  But at the aggregate of the whole capability China is  having rests one powerful catalyst ... her holdings in global currencies and gold with almost no debt.

The 21st century miracle, and it is, will be studied by my great grand children in their education and will probably be taking, required, Mandarin in the second grade. Yes, I fully believe that is what rests beyond the horizon.  The predicament the global economy now resides within a corral of seemingly incapable political leaders or initiatives to stem this rolling tide is real and becoming more evident with each passing day.  But even within that I wish to restate that I believe this reality if embraced and not fought can be the greatest opportunity to strengthen America's position in the world and the same holds true for the EU.  As we have heard and it is true, a rising tide does lift all ships and in this case now, the tide is red and rising fast.  Those ships that remaining anchored will be pulled under the rising tide and drowned while the ships that align in rising with China's tide and grow will become better as a result.

Who knows, I may be completely wrong but all evidence to the contrary, we are witnessing a return of Chinese greatness on a global scale and it is a sight to behold I must admit.  The Chinese students I have been honored to teach are all evidence of what I am say. Quiet, low profile, focused, astute, works harder to understand than their American counterparts and seeks ways to do more ... THAT is China 21st Century!

As a sidebar, by the way, you really need to watch Turkey and her role in Egypt and the growing noise again of Israel and Palestine. Yes, that same Turkey Europe has raped and pillaged for nearly one hundred years as has been done in the colonialism period of Africa, is now becoming a force to be reckoned with. So if we are smart, and we are smart, I believe  the countries to really watch ahead is Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Turkey and South Korea. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Greek Trojan Horse is Parked at a Wal Mart Near You

Remember the questions on SAT tests that went .... an apple is to a tree as a pineapple is to a goat with multiple choice answer selections?   As I read this latest obit about Greece I was struck with that same seeming disconnect but let's apply the Greek situation with that same logic: Greek debt default is to the EU as the US debt default is the the global economy as it is to each of us.  Greece has been broken for decades. They were the first in the Eurozone just to glean from the coffers of this new Salvation Army we could call the Federal Reserve. NOBODY in Europe in the 90s felt Greece was fiscally capable or disciplined to stay within the guidelines of the EURO. voila. They were right!

The greatest truism in the article is that there are no longer banks or countries capable of lending or bailing our sovereign debt so where does leave the world's economy headed by the US debt debacle?  We are now a debtor AND welfare global economy.  There are not enough food stamps, not enough agencies to forces business to hire inept workers, not enough tax loop holes to allow income to the governments .... Greece is the world's debt Trojan horse but people still refuse, including the Greeks, to accept that alcoholic reality.  You have to first admit there is a problem; not the politicians for they have become professional beggar class for the populace.  Historically poor producers, lazy, union driven, strike prone work force which continues in the midst of when the exact opposite is needed by a debtor nation.

But wait, how is Greece different then than the gargantuan giant US debt nation economy? It's not but just much larger and more impactful in the global debt Wal Mart.  This is all so very true and so very sad and so very telling of how countries mature in stages. We have the Roman Empire as the mirror for they collapsed from the inside out and not invaded from the outside and collapsed inside.  The exact stages for Greece, the EU and Europe.  And China and the BRICS are taking full advantage of the sovereign flea markets with so much for the picking!

Oh what evil webs we weave once we set out to deceive!  

Greece says it's not leaving the euro, and everyone else says Greece must default on its euro debt. What does such a scenario portend?
Athens, no longer able to borrow euros and hardly able to extract enough euros from its own population, won't be able to pay its bills. Many of the hundreds of thousands in the Greek government's employ stop coming to work because they stop receiving paychecks. Many private businesses that depend on their patronage also cease to function and cease to pay their employees. Savings vanish in a rash of bank failures.

What happens next? Greeks do what anybody would do when they can't grub up an income. They find things to sell: cars, houses, businesses, islands, beaches, historic sites and ouzo distilleries to tide themselves over.
Associated Press
Eventually the euro prices of a Greek vacation or a Greek factory or Greek-made goods become attractive and euros rush in from abroad. Jobs start to rematerialize. The economy, after taking a sound thrashing, begins to grow again.

All this is impeded, unfortunately, by riots and political instability and mass privation. Quite possibly, things keep getting worse for a long, long time, before they start getting better.

To the rest of Europe, this would merely be a matter of sorrow, regret and charity to keep the Greeks afloat—if it weren't for the fact that if Greece is allowed to default, investors might naturally wonder which other countries might default.

Private money, if it hasn't already, might then stop being available to roll over the debts of other heavily indebted European governments. These states would become even more dependent on loans from stronger neighbors, and finally only from the Germans, who are presumed always to have access to the private markets for loans.

Except for one thing: Who says the Germans would always have access to private loans? This is the hole in the theory that Berlin's taxpayers only need to step up. You can overtell the story of Germany's strength among the wreck of its neighbors. Germany's government today is heavily-indebted; its vaunted reforms in the mid-2000s were impressive relative only to those of, say, France. Its recent prosperity depended precisely on selling BMWs and Mercedes to its overspending neighbors.

In a world in which there is nobody left to borrow from, not even Germany, life affords one other option: The central bank prints money. What will stop contagion is the European Central Bank (ECB) drawing a line somewhere—at some group of countries that would trigger the bank's willingness to print unlimited euros.

But this has also been the political stumbling block all along. Those wailing for a European TARP, either to bail out its banks or bail out its governments, fail to notice that doing so would necessarily force a decision about which governments will be inside the magic circle of the saved and which won't. Yet that's exactly what's necessary to forestall a complete meltdown. Let the world know which countries the ECB (which is still pretending to be a virtuous, nonmoney-printing central bank) will keep afloat at any price.

eurozone in the future unless bond markets have seen that default is a real possibility.

One way or another, Europe was likely to end up on massive injections of monetary glucose. This won't necessarily lead to massive inflation; it depends on how quickly the member countries respond with "real" reforms that change "real" things in their economies. And expect the ECB, which has become practiced at gilding its interventions with talk of sterilization, to become even more practiced at it.

Behind the euro was an ahistorical dream of a European superstate, in a world that—if you haven't noticed—has been moving steadily in the opposite direction. European elites may crave unification, but most societies seem to crave democratic independence. The United Nations boasts 193 member states today, up from 127 in 1970.

The European superstate is dead, but the common currency isn't necessarily dead. The euro is finally achieving at least one of its goals—forcing economic reform, though probably not the salutary, clean reform that many hoped for. More likely sub-par reform, with bouts of inflation, stagnation and pitched battles over political allocation of scarce opportunity and resources.

Sadly, a similar destiny probably lies ahead for the U.S. Only after a series of panics, possibly quite destructive ones, will politicians have leeway seriously to address the unsustainability of the current welfare state. Every move will be too little to ward off another crisis, another showdown, and potentially decades of political strife and economic uncertainty.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Shadows That Keep Us from Being our Best!

This day has been a day of reckoning with what is easily missed or goes unseen unless you search for and seek them out; the shadows in our lives. Yes, we all have them admittedly or not.  They start early, they really never go away, they loom in the rafters of our lives that make strange sounds, create this sense of unsure footing and worst of all create the barriers that hold us back from accomplishing what we otherwise would attain.  The shadows are the scars of our past and are induced from an array of firing positions.

Bad or nonexistent parenting is a rich source of these shadows that usually serve as evils in our lives.  They can come, and usually do, from really bad choices we make with our lives, our hearts, our bodies, our families, our friends and worst of all, ourselves!  Just today a very clear reality was brought to me in the midst of a difficult yet rich conversation with a young person wanting to right a life for the journey still ahead. That reality .... the only thing that will make a shadow disappear is the admitting of light, right?

So the deep introspection of this day has taken me down the pathway of ferreting out the shadows in my own life but as importantly in realizing all over again that sitting in each seat in my classes, around me at church, listening to me sing are hosts of shadows many of which will never see the light of day but will haunt, impede and wreck an otherwise wholesome, productive, Godly life!

Having now taught over seven thousand students since my retirement from Goodyear now eight years ago, as I have engaged and gotten to really know so many of those young minds and lives, it is haunting to think about some of the giant shadows those seats house within the fragile bodies we possess for but a relatively short while.  Drugs, bad company, addictions, poor choices, following bad leadership, rationalizing away the wrong (cognitive dissonance reduction) are all part of the legion of shadows far too many fight with or try to ignore. 

I have decided long ago that what separates Man from the animals is that animals cannot cannot rationalize their world but Man can and does. Rationalization is that mental means that allows us to sleep at night even with the wrongness of our lives by convincing our minds that it, whatever the it is, is really not that bad and it will be better tomorrow.  

The operative term is "light" for I have realized all over again how powerful a force light is in a dark world. Truth, when it hurts, rests at the core of this thesis but such a difficult place to arrive at times isn't it! Being truthful first with yourself is perhaps the most difficult song to sing I have learned and seen and yes, experienced.  When transparency is absent, shadows of constraint abound!

My students have all heard me speak about safety nets.  If you see a trapeze artist operating above a safety net, he is cheating me, the paying customer, of seeing his best for if he fails, death and injury flow in. Remove the safety net and the artist will fly more flawlessly, right?  The shadows of a life can be part of the arsenal of safety nets we all aspire to have around us for they ease the pain, keep us from being our best and allow us to muddle in place instead of stretching to the best we can be!  My daily walk is now focused at safety net destruction in my students. I want them to do their best for when they hit that hallowed place, competitiveness can be achieved in long term. That is where I want all my students to reside and grow.

This day I have seen the effects of lifelong shadows in a life that is now deeply anchored into the very fiber of a life. That great news is that that life is now seeking to cut away all the debris of the shadows and move to the light of day.  That light, however, is a capital L for it is the LIGHT of  our Lord that created us and wants the very best for each of us.  So today I have been made aware all over again that leaders run to the sound of the gunfire and winners seek more and more of the Light; that Light that saves and does not destroy. That Light and gives more than it takes. That Light that perfects and not demands.

I will close by asking you the question ... have you done a Shadow inventory lately?  I have and i highly suggest that exercise for each of you, please.!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

As the World Turns ....

No, have not been watching soap operas but have, in the quiet of this day, found myself thinking deeply about many things. Some of the news bullets that have caught my attention thus as mental fuel for my mind's washing machine:
  • Student loan bankruptcies are highest in the history of the US
  • Italy economy growing on China's indication of purchasing Italy debt / bonds
  • The Republican Tea Party debates actually left me feeling upbeat
  • Watching our President beat the same out of tune drum in Ohio three times today already
  • People in Canton per the obituaries are dying younger generally
  • Highest number of people below the US poverty level in US history now
  • Newt, like him or not, is a brilliant man of great depth and articulation (so shoot me)
  • College MBA enrollments highest in history due to poor economy; not better education
  • the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan under major artillery / ground attack
  • Just read a university academic study group summary indicating most professors pay no attention to student evaluations of the class and the professor
  • I think this list is long enough but there are many more but ...
So given those points above as a short list, my mind immediately goes to seeking the core, the nuggets of connectivity to answer the question as to what does it all mean and I realize that the complexity around the pathway of understand is strewn with mines and booby traps.  However, me being me, I have some thoughts I wish to share so hang on!

Our world is a very different, more volatile, more interconnected and more dangerous world than at any time in the last two generations I know of for I have lived through both of those.  My father fought in WWII and what I have learned from him and life and research is that there was a defined, uniformed enemy.  That may sound simple but it is very important to grasp the implication of that reality.  In today battlefronts, the lines described in the bullets above, there is no defined, uniformed enemy thus it is very hard to assess just who, what, when, where and how and not to mention why an individual or a business can / should marshal their forces to combat the cancer of uncompetitiveness. 

I used to hear, and believe, everybody needs and enemy!  Let that sink in. If you have an adversary then you know which direction the acrimony, the frustration and the pain is coming but less the enemy, the tracers can and do come from the 360 firing range.  That is precisely where we are; in the middle of that virtual 360 firing range and not sure which direction to aim our weapons and which quadrants to call fire into thus never ending frustration and growing angst and fear.  I see this first hand in the interface with my students.  The mountain of student loan debt is, well, staggering and I see nothing to stem its growth and implication.

Just yesterday I have a student, excellent young man, pose an unanswerable question to me which put simply, "what do African Americans in NE Ohio find it nearly impossible to get a break in securing solid, well paying work ..."  That was a profound, electrifying question that has burned into my wiring pretty deeply for it is a societal question thus no easy answer but still the question is on the table.

As I run the bulleted list through my software, I see trends ... China is investing in debt ridden locations around the world and hoarding commodities thus driving the prices for other nations higher.  I do not believe we see a real exit from Afghanistan nor Iraq and I believe the monarchies of the Middle East will fall in bloody coups but will be replaced with even more Sharia law-based military dictatorships thus exacerbating an already volatile global reality.  My eyes rarely leave the price of gold for it is an excellent global indicator of instability and therefore it continues to edge toward the $2,000 per ounce level with predictions for $2,500. Crude oil is easing back toward $100 per barrel and all that entails translating to $4 per gallon gasoline; remember how good that feels?!?!?!

I will close but stating that the political rancor and pugnacious rhetoric is not helping anyone nor anything.  The Super Debt Commission will be probably the great negative legacy Mr. Obama shall have laid and the cut triggers will add to the points I make above. So does it get better before it gets worse? Me thinks the worse is yet to come, frankly.  Watching Europe implode is frightening and has tremendous both epic and Biblical implication when viewing Europe through the lens of the old Holy Roman Empire!  Asia is moving headlong into the driver's seat for this new century but I see still more push back and lack of acceptance of that by our US and European leaders for Asia is the globe's greatest opportunity ahead I believe.

Stay focused, Stay tuned, Stay educated, Seek to understand, Connect the dots ... see why I love teaching so much!!! the fields are so fertile and I think this semester is going to be amazing!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Our Generation's Pearl Harbor

At sixty-three, I grew up hearing the stories of World War II and Pearl Harbor. My father and his brothers fought in that War so Pearl Harbor is burned into my hard drive. That is not a bad thing but a reality yet it is a reality that determined the value systems of a global culture that led to major events such as Vietnam, the Cold War, the Civil Rights decade, desegregation, etc, etc. So many of the events of my early childhood, teen years and adult working life were brush strokes dipped from the color palette of Dec 7, 1941.  That event defined a generation, my generation!

My wife and I were talking yesterday morning as we moved toward a decade anniversary of 9/11, this generation's Pearl Harbor I realize more and more.  In our conversation, she was telling me that her class of second graders have no clue about 9/11 she realized in trying to teach the meaning of the event to those young students.  Then I realized that my class of big kids, 19-20 year olds might remember it for they were second graders when it happened but this is the generational parallel of my generation which was under the shadow of Pearl Harbor.  So when I read the article from today's WSJ, my mind began to churn on what that all really says about our world going forward.

Media has now coined the term "post 9/11 generation" which really is correct. The myriad of events, news stories, blogs, CNN, etc, have all worked in their own respective way to craft out a value system and behaviors that thus define a culture.  How to characterize the children of the post 9/11 events is still too early but there are distinct traits one can clearly see in the generation entering adulthood. 

Traits such as being more open to others not like themselves is, I believe, a great thing.  I grew up in a generation defined by race and have seen that wall of horror pretty much implode.  Even in my own family, we are so blessed to have a black African grand daughter than has caused each of us to stop and assess what was so real and "right" in our 1960's generation only to realize how wrong the right was. This is a great thing!

9/11 will continue to not only describe the new young adult generation but will define that generation in ways we cannot begin to imagine now.  The advent of wireless technology, instantaneous communication, decade-long wars in an all volunteer military environment, the slippage of America's preeminence globally to a second tier, the caverns of debt that will shadow the real growth potential for this generation into the next generation ... all these and many yet to surface will define this generation that will be linked directly to this thing we call 9/11, I believe.

The clarity of where I was and what I was doing when JFK was shot resounds in my mind with the same clarity of the four decades later calamity of 9/11.  To realize we have a new generation where neither of those defining events will only perhaps find voice in a teacher's voice or a book read is really interesting for me. Thus the sands through the hour glass, right ... so are the days of our lives!

So as tomorrow looms and the horrific memories are shared in churches, around dinner tables, etc, I believe the operative term is that we are blessed to live in a great nation and that we should be proud of our heritage as painful as it may be at times.  The days ahead will be fraught with more pain and suffering such is the life span of the human but the human can rise above, learn from and craft the future of a next generation.

So the question ... what did you learn from the 9/11 aftermath and what are you doing to positively teach , educate and thus craft the new generation's value system? Yes, you have the capability so please, use it by example for it, the next generation, is worth it. The joy of getting to teach college students resides right there for me ... I get to touch the future every day!

The Wall Street Journal

The 9/11 Decade

The U.S. is safer and has not sacrificed its civil liberties.

    On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the World-Wide column of The Wall Street Journal carried items on a suicide bombing in Istanbul that killed two policemen, fighting between Israelis and Palestinians and Muslim-Christian violence in Nigeria. A longer front-page story warned of another menace: the increasingly violent tactics of anti-globalization activists. "In Europe," the Journal reported, "security forces see themselves as facing an urban-guerrilla movement, a view that justifies sterner means than might be acceptable in the U.S."


    Would an early-morning reader of the Journal have been able to detect in these news flashes any hint of the furies that would burst upon America within hours? Probably not. As Roberta Wohlstetter noted in her classic study of why the U.S. was taken by surprise at Pearl Harbor, information that seems meaningful in retrospect tends, in real time, to be drowned out in a static roar of information, all of it contending for our attention. In September 2001, seers might as easily have predicted that the great global challenge of the next decade would have been containing the spread of the human variant of mad-cow disease (a case of which had just been found in Japan), rather than the threat of global Islamic terrorism.

    Ten years on, nobody worries about a mad-cow pandemic, an excellent case study of how the West routinely talks itself into bogus panic. There is, however, plenty of talk about how the threat of terrorism has been overhyped, or how America's efforts against terrorists have been a costly distraction from the challenges of a rising China or the faltering economy or global warming or any other crisis, real or hypothetical, that supposedly demands our single-minded focus.

    Yet there was nothing hypothetical about what happened in New York, Pennsylvania or at the Pentagon that day, nor anything bogus about the anthrax attacks, still not definitively solved in our view, later that month. The same can be said of subsequent atrocities in Karachi, Tel Aviv, Bali, Madrid, Beslan, London, Amman, Baghdad, Mumbai and Fort Hood, among many other places. And while the risk that terrorist groups could use weapons of mass destruction so far remains mostly speculative, there is little doubt that they will use them to kill unlimited numbers of people if only they can acquire them.
    Put simply, by the evening of 9/11 it was clear that the threat of Islamic terrorism was real, urgent and growing, and that it would require from the Bush Administration a serious and sustained response, both on offense and defense. Few Members of either party doubted this when the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists passed the Senate 98-0 a week after 9/11, or when the Patriot Act passed in the Senate by a vote of 98-1 the following month, or when the authorization for the war in Iraq passed the Senate 77-23 a year later.

    Nor were many doubts expressed by senior members of the House and Senate (including Nancy Pelosi) when they were repeatedly briefed by the Bush Administration on the use of "enhanced interrogation" techniques, including waterboarding, or on the warrantless wiretap surveillance program, or on the CIA's use of "black sites" to interrogate terrorist suspects. "We understood what the CIA was doing. . . . On a bipartisan basis, we asked if the CIA needed more support to carry out its mission against al Qaeda," recalled Porter Goss, then the Chairman of House Intelligence Committee, in an April 2009 Washington Post op-ed.

    The comity wouldn't last. Yet from the perspective of a decade, what's notable about the counter-terrorist architecture erected by the Bush Administration (with initial bipartisan support) is how effective it has been. On 9/12, few people would have dared venture the prediction that the U.S. would not suffer another major attack for at least a decade. But that's what happened—or, to put it more accurately, what has been achieved.

    This has not been for lack of trying by terrorists. A list recently compiled by the Heritage Foundation records 40 foiled plots since 9/11. Some of these have been amateurish, and others were uncovered as a result of FBI sting operations in which there was no immediate risk to civilians. A few, like the near-misses of shoe-bomber Richard Reid and underwear bomber Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab, were averted at the last instant thanks to the vigilance of watchful passengers.

    But other, potentially more deadly, plots were detected and foiled thanks to the mandate and backing given the CIA and other agencies in the wake of 9/11. According to Justice Department memos released in 2009 by the Obama Administration, "since March 2002, the intelligence derived from CIA detainees has resulted in more than 6,000 intelligence reports and, in 2004, accounted for approximately half of the CTC's [Counterterrorism Center's] reporting on al Qaeda. . . . The substantial majority of this intelligence has come from detainees subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques." Our friends on the left often call these memos the "torture memos." The real torture is what happens to maimed victims of terrorist atrocities that intelligence agencies were blind to prevent.

    Related Video

    Former editorial page deputy editor Melanie Kirkpatrick recollects her experiences on September 11th.

    That's a lesson the Obama Administration has taken to heart. Though the President came to office promising to undo his predecessor's antiterror legacy, he has for the most part preserved it. That goes for re-authorizing key provisions of the Patriot Act (including that favorite ACLU bugaboo, the so-called library-records provision); moving forward with military tribunals for Khalid Sheikh

    Mohammed and other detainees; keeping Guantanamo open (albeit grudgingly), and giving the CIA authority to dramatically increase the use of drones against terrorist leaders. As for some of Mr. Obama's other promises, such as ending the use of enhanced interrogations or closing down the black sites, these were already accomplished facts well before George W. Bush left office.
    Constrained interrogations excepted, these developments not only increase America's margin of safety against another attack, but also put the Democratic Party's visible imprimatur on the war on terror, much as Dwight Eisenhower's foreign policy put the GOP stamp on Harry Truman's containment policies.

    They also expose the accusation that President Bush was trampling America's civil liberties as a particularly vulgar partisan maneuver—one that magically disappeared the moment Mr. Obama came to office. We certainly don't like removing our shoes at the airport, but the larger truth is that American civil liberties are as robust today as they were on the eve of 9/11. Then again, we shudder to think of the kinds of measures the American public would have demanded had there been further attacks on the scale of 9/11. The internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, it's worth recalling, was mainly the doing of those two great civil libertarians Franklin Roosevelt and Earl Warren.

    That point is also worth noting when considering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with operations the U.S. has conducted everywhere from the Philippines to Somalia. It is hard to see how the U.S. could have inflicted the hammer blows it has against al Qaeda—bringing it, as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has argued, to the edge of "strategic defeat"—had it not confronted them directly in their own heartlands. Though the Iraq war had its own justifications, it remains the fact that al Qaeda sustained some of its hardest military reversals in the Sunni triangle north of Baghdad.
    As for Afghanistan, it's worth asking whether Osama bin Laden would be dead today if President Obama had taken the advice of those who, from the moment he took office, wanted a full and immediate withdrawal from the country. We would add that not least among the reasons for the U.S. to remain militarily engaged in Afghanistan is to prove bin Laden's central contention—that Americans have no stomach for a long-term fight—wrong.

    Weakness, Donald Rumsfeld once observed, is provocative. Taking care to avoid a perception of weakness ought to be a chief consideration of U.S. policy makers as they consider their next steps in the Middle East. The regime in Tehran, closer now than they ever have been to realizing their nuclear ambitions, is certainly watching.


    This week reports surfaced of credible threats of a terrorist strike on tomorrow's anniversary. The war against Islamic militancy is far from over. But having waged a Cold War against the Soviet Union for 45 years, Americans are no strangers to long struggles in defense of freedom, our own as well as that of others. The course of the first 9/11 decade should, for all of the pain it has imposed, give us confidence that we can see the battle through. We only hope we won't need our enemies' reminding that there is no alternative.

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    A Scorecard .... my, my my!

    I have now read the post below twice and each time I find myself shaking my head in wonder and amazement at how this country and this President has taken a bad situation and turned it to disaster in such a short period of time.  Then you weigh that against the rancor that exists, as we witnessed in Congress with the debt ceiling debacle early in the summer, and you know, YOU KNOW, the depth of the disaster has yet to be reached.  I am not a doomsday prophet and still the eternal optimist but ...

    For three years, actually about six years, I have watched this man, Obama, smoothly glide through the chairs of Congress as a chosen one with his silver tongue, always in campaign mode, able to connect with any demographic group in speech and frankly, had great hopes for this man, Obama.  If you know me you know I have tried to remain center of the politics but still offending some Tea Party friends of mine with my comments and thus realizing it is impossible to remain in the center of the road of not stepping on someones toes in a such a poisonous environment.

    What is most poisonous, as I look at this morass through the leadership lens is, well, no leadership.  The WSJ article below is masterfully pieced together with facts and not political jabbing I don't think.  Having worked forty years almost for a Fortune 100 company, as the  article points out rightly, there is no CEO that would have survived such a performance and I saw some good ones and some not so good ones flow through the Fifth Floor. But even the not so good ones FAR surpass the performance of this man, Obama, as the CEO of our once great nation. It really is sad, sickening, but so sad!

    My position, versus many friend and colleagues of mine that the country is being  navigated down a distinct course or pathway toward socialism, is that no, there is no way, we are better than that, that simply cannot be!  Well, as I read the numbers and the benchmarks I must admit that I have moved more clearly into the congregates to this sermon of socialism which makes me want to throw up. 

    I watched a portion of the Republican debates last night.  I thought Mr. Perry in response to a hardball thrown at him hit the nail squarely on the head when he responded with something close to ...  Obama is either this poorest advised president in history or is an abject liar ... honestly, right now after the scorecard read, I am going with the abject liar leaning as much, as an American, wish I did not. I feel such an internal conflict about this reality as I view it with the darkness still abounding outside.

    I have never been sicker of the town halls before the cameras, the teleprompter speeches on seemingly any subject meaning the responses are written by someone else and read and not from the heart.  I keep looking for this man, Obama, and his heart and values and frankly my eyes are tiring from the viewing. 

    This man has proven himself incapable of pulling this country out of the ditch which inescapably I keep having this crawling sense that somewhere there is a piece of paper / document that road maps the benchmarks of moving this great nation more to subjugation of the Government.  I think I need another read of ANIMAL FARM ... wait, my students are required to read that this semester so I guess I will be reminded via their comments of what can be and frightfully, seem to be painfully trodding that path.

    And all that is the good news! The bad is when I look at the Constitutional succession should something happen to this man, Obama, and see the landscape of Biden and Boehner and numbers two and three in line.  In finishing our morning devotion this morning with my wife, I was so moved by all of this via the article that I prayed yet again for this man, Obama, this nation and for a returning to the principles based on God that made this country the great nation it was.  I do not want to think Obama an evil man but it is getting harder to keep those thoughts out of my mind's eye and my mind's eye is 20/20.  I want to be proud of my nation. I want others to respect and be proud and fearful of this nation but with each passing day that becomes a more distant prospect.

    So I guess my glass is really half empty this morning!  Hey sun, hurry up and shine ... I need to see the light of day, please! 

    The Wall Street Journal

    The Obama Presidency by the Numbers

    The president constantly reminds us that he was dealt a difficult hand. But the evidence is overwhelming that he played it poorly.

    When it comes to the economy, presidents, like quarterbacks, often get more credit or blame than they deserve. They inherit problems and policies that affect the economy well into their presidencies and beyond. Reagan inherited Carter's stagflation, George H.W. Bush twin financial crises (savings & loan and Third World debt), and their fixes certainly benefited the Clinton economy.

    President Obama inherited a deep recession and financial crisis resulting from problems that had been building for years. Those responsible include borrowers and lenders on Wall Street and Main Street, the Federal Reserve, regulatory agencies, ratings agencies, presidents and Congress.

    Related Video

    Editorial page editor Paul Gigot on President Obama's jobs plan.

    Mr. Obama's

    And there's plenty to evaluate: an $825 billion stimulus package; the Public-Private Investment Partnership to buy toxic assets from the banks; "cash for clunkers"; the home-buyers credit; record spending and budget deficits and exploding debt; the auto bailouts; five versions of foreclosure relief; numerous lifelines to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; financial regulation and health-care reform; energy subsidies, mandates and moratoria; and constant demands for higher tax rates on "the rich" and businesses.

    Consider the direct results of the Obama programs. A few have performed better than expected—e.g., the auto bailouts, although a rapid private bankruptcy was preferable and GM and Chrysler are not yet denationalized successes. But the failed stimulus bill cost an astounding $280,000 per job—over five times median pay—by the administration's inflated estimates of jobs "created or saved," and much more using more realistic estimates.

    Cash for clunkers cost $3 billion, just to shift car sales forward a few months. The Public-Private Investment Partnership, despite cheap federal loans, generated 3% of the $1 trillion claimed, and toxic assets still hobble some financial institutions. The Dodd-Frank financial reform law institutionalized "too big to fail" amid greater concentration of banking assets and mortgages in Fannie and Freddie. The foreclosure relief program permanently modified only a small percentage of the four million mortgages the president promised. And even Mr. Obama now admits that the shovels weren't ready in all those "shovel-ready" stimulus projects.

    Perpetually overpromising and underdelivering is not remotely good enough, not even for government work. No corporate CEO could survive such a clear history of failure. The economic records set on Mr. Obama's watch really are historic (see nearby table). These include the first downgrade of sovereign U.S. debt in American history, and, relative to GDP, the highest federal spending in U.S. history save the peak years of World War II, plus the highest federal debt since just after World War II.

    The employment picture doesn't look any better. The fraction of the population working is the lowest since 1983. Long-term unemployment is by far the highest since the Great Depression. Job growth during the first two years of recovery after a severe recession is the slowest in postwar history.
    Moreover, the home-ownership rate is the lowest since 1965 and foreclosures are at a post-Depression high. And perhaps most ominously, the share of Americans paying income taxes is the lowest in the modern era, while dependency on government is the highest in U.S. history.

    That's quite a record, although not what Mr. Obama and his supporters had in mind when they pronounced this presidency historic.
    President Obama constantly reminds us, with some justification, that he was dealt a difficult hand. But the evidence is overwhelming that he played it poorly. His big government spending, debt and regulation fix has clearly failed. Relative to previous recoveries from deep recessions, the results are disastrous. A considerable fraction of current joblessness, lower living standards, dependency on government and destroyed savings is the result. Worse, his debt explosion will be a drag on economic growth for years to come.

    Mr. Obama was never going to enthusiastically embrace pro-market, pro-growth policies. But many of his business and Wall Street supporters (some now former supporters) believed he would govern more like President Clinton, post-1994. After a stunning midterm defeat, Mr. Clinton embarked on an "era of big government is over" collaboration with a Republican Congress to reform welfare, ratify the North American Free Trade Agreement and balance the budget. But Mr. Obama starts far further left than Mr. Clinton and hence has a much longer journey to the center.

    The president still has time to rebound from his economic policy missteps by promoting permanent, predictable policies to strengthen forecasted anemic growth. But do Mr. Obama and his advisers realize their analysis of the economic crisis was flawed and their attempted solutions mostly misconceived? That vast spending, temporary tax rebates and social engineering did little of lasting value at immense cost? That the prospect of ever more regulation and taxation created widespread uncertainty and severely damaged incentives and confidence? That the repeated attempts to prevent markets (e.g., the housing market) from naturally bottoming and rebounding have created confusion and inhibited recovery?

    Can Mr. Obama change course, given the evidence that the economy responded poorly to top-down direction from Washington rather than the bottom-up individual initiative that is the key to strong growth? Is he willing to rein in the entitlement state erected under radically different economic and demographic conditions? And will he reform the corporate and personal income taxes with much lower rates on a broader base? Or is he going to propose the same failed policies—more spending, social engineering, temporary tax cuts and permanent tax hikes?

    On the answer to these questions, much of Mr. Obama's, and the nation's, future rests.
    Mr. Boskin, a professor of economics at Stanford and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, chaired the Council of Economic Advisers under President George H.W. Bush.