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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Saturday, April 09, 2005

"The struggle for freedom and against lunacy is never over."

Nineteenth-century historian Alexis de Tocqueville once observed,
"Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference:
while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."

More Thoughts on China

From Neal Asbury (Neal Asbury is the president of "Greenfield World Trade which is the largest foodservice equipment and related services export management company in the industry." He has extensive overseas business experience including Southeast Asia.) :
Today we find two Chinas running side by side at near light speed. They are totally incompatible. One China is supported by unprecedented levels of foreign investment, an unlimited pool of low cost labor and unsurpassed economic growth rates. Just ask anyone in the steel, scrap, plastics, cement and lumber business about the scarcity of these resources and the soaring prices. All of this stuff is going to China to feed its domestic construction projects and export manufacturing industries.

The “other” China is one of the few Communist Governments left on Earth that routinely interferes with its domestic market forces and manages trade. Foreign investment has become the “opium” that creates the illusion of health and prosperity. There is a growing economic gulf between the coastal regions benefiting from Economic Reform and the 900 million peasants inland still living as they did centuries ago. The restructuring of State-Owned Enterprises has left hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers. There are well-documented incidents of increasing civil unrest throughout the country (over 60,000 in 2004 according to the New York Times).

He also predicts:
The next generation of leaders will be the first to have grown up under the Economic Reforms. Once they take control of government and business, we will know the China of the 21st Century.

I like this observance of his:
If China today has a capitalist economy and capitalism means economic freedom, the logical next step is political freedom. The emerging class of Chinese industrialists, entrepreneurs and yes, capitalists are generating enormous wealth. You can now see them everywhere you go. It is their wealth and influence that will finance the growing demand, at all social levels, for political freedom. Economic freedom will not be enough and anyone who thinks the two can in perpetuity be separated is nuts.

This will not be an easy journey for China. Neal says, "China must still reconcile its economic freedom versus its political stranglehold. This could be very painful and destabilizing."

He summarizes:
Is it possible under Capitalist Communism that two conflicting realities can co-exist? I don’t think so. I reflect back to the 1980’s and the steady flow of books regarding all aspects of Japanese business and work ethics. Many writers and journalists fervently believed (as well as many Japanese) that they would bury us economically.

Then came the pin prick that quickly deflated the bubble economy and Japan has been crawling ever since. Prior to the collapse of the Japanese economy in the early ‘90’s, many Japanese businessmen would assure me that their out of sight P/E ratios and real estate values were possible only in Japan as Japan was different (translation: Japan was superior). They insisted the economic rules that applied to the rest of the world did not apply to Japan. They were wrong.

Can China defy world economic principles while suppressing political freedom thus allowing the boom to continue? Or like South East Asia, Korea and Japan before, must it swallow hard medicine with an inevitable major market correction just around the corner?

It is delusionary to believe the former and deny the latter.

Southeast Asia Optimism

Can democracy be taking root throughout Southeast Asia?

Neal Asbury is the president of "Greenfield World Trade which is the largest foodservice equipment and related services export management company in the industry." He has extensive overseas business experience including Southeast Asia. He says that since Southeast Asias' financial crisis in 1997, there has been some rough times in South East Asia. As usual, the United States was being blamed for everything wrong in the world and so it should be no surprise that some blamed the 1997 Financial Crisis on the U.S. as well because “"the Americans did not want to see the Asians become successful and powerful.”"

When in actuality, the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis was caused by and "attrributed to cronyism, corruption, non-transparency, non-accountability, insolvent financial institutions, crooked legal systems, government waste and large scale funding of unjustifiable projects. It was also blamed on the cozy relationship between government and business where staggering sums of money and influence flowed both ways."

Many hardworking families in the region lost everything. Those families who lived in poverty for generations now had a reason to be hopeful about their future. With their acceptance of free (or at least "freer") markets came a huge influx of foreign investment. This influx of capital of course meant new factories and decent paying jobs. Unfortunately, it ended. "Just as they were starting to believe the system could work for them, their currency was reduced to meaningless paper and their jobs vanished. They were back in the dark ages of Asia once more."

But now there is, once again, optimism in this region. Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand are essentially democracies with free markets. They are positive and hopeful, once again, about their countries futures and are now receptive towards American products.

The Philippines has many problems. The Philippines has terribly hostile labor unions - maybe one of the most hostile unions in the world. One of the more positive things they have going for them, though, is that they have Asia’s most open society and freest press, due largely to America's influence. The Philippines economy is starting to percolate. It is not unreasonable to assume that we should continue to see a comparatively prosperous market - a market that historically has always had a penchant for American products and services.

It should be pointed out that Thailand is also moving forward in a positive way. Thailands' Prime Minister is a very successful entrepreneur as well as a graduate of the police academy. He is very much interested in fighting corruption. Potentially, it could be an exciting country in the Southeast Asia region to watch and see if it develops into a country with which we could do a lot of business.

Recently there has been a major shift in attitude towards American products throughout the region. Now that the Euro is at an all time high, many Asian companies are trying madly to find US import substitutes. "Asian importers of European products have held on as long as they can with the hope that the Euro would go back to an exchange rate of 1:1 versus the Dollar. This is not going to happen for a long while."

Viet Nams' time has not come yet; and it may not arrive for awhile yet. They just don't get it yet - due in large part to the strong Communist influence. More than likely, a best case scenario may mean it could be a decade, but probably more, before we see any real promise here.

What I am wondering is if this optimism for this area of the globe materializes, how does it (if at all) impact China? Will it be a positive influence? And, will it help in shaping Chinas' continued economic revolution and embrace of capitalism?

"Letter to the editor"

From Chrenkoff

Marc Fencil, a senior at Ohio University, currently serving in Iraq, writes to his fellow students:
"It's a shame that I'm here in Iraq with the Marines right now and not back at Ohio University completing my senior year and joining in blissful ignorance with the enlightened, war-seasoned protesters who participated in the recent 'die-in' at College Gate. It would appear that all the action is back home, but why don't we make sure? That's right, this is an open invitation for you to cut your hair, take a shower, get in shape and come on over! If Michael Moore can shave and lose enough weight to fit into a pair of camouflage utilities, then he can come too!

"Make sure you all say your goodbyes to your loved ones though, because you won't be seeing them for at least the next nine months. You need to get here quick because I don't want you to miss a thing. You missed last month's discovery of a basement full of suicide vests from the former regime (I'm sure Saddam's henchmen just wore them because they were trendy though). You weren't here for the opening of a brand new school we built either. You might also notice women exercising their new freedom of walking to the market unaccompanied by their husbands."

As Marc concludes, "If you decide to decline my offer, then at least you should sleep well tonight knowing that men wearing black facemasks and carrying AK-47s yelling 'Allahu Akbar' over here are proud of you and are forever indebted to you for advancing their cause of terror. While you ponder this, I'll get back to the real 'die-in' over here. I don't mind."

What else can you say, except thank God for people like Marc Fencil."

Amen to that. Thank you Mark Fencil and all of our great servicemen and women wherever you may be.

"If I Only Had a Brain"

“I hate to say this to Iraqis, but I pray for chaos and civil war,” Nina from Toronto emailed the BBC. "It's the only way to stop Bush's policies and show that peace can never come through force. If Iraq gets peace, Bush gets credibility. It cannot be allowed to happen."

Poor Nina does not know history. While a last resort, since good people desire to do good things, using force does and has brought peace throughout history - appeasement does not. It is a dangerouse tactic.

Poor Nina and her kind are souless and morally confused. To wish for chaos and civil war is to wish for death. And to wish for death and destruction so that one man can be proven wrong or lose credibility illustrates that Nina is a pathetic human being.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Bush Dilemma

Victor David Hanson has written a piece for National Review Online called the "Bush Dilemma". In it he wonders why Pres. Bush is willing to take risks abroad, but not at home. A fair question. His opening paragraph reads,
Who would have believed a year ago that there would now be headlines reading, "Was George Bush Right?" in the European left-wing newspapers, or admissions in the New York Times, Washington Post, and The New Republic that the removal of Saddam Hussein and the efforts at democratization of the Middle East might have been right all along?

VDH says we are at the crossroads of history and I cannot argue that we may very well be; time will tell. His position is that we are at these crossroads mostly due to the "resoluteness of the United States military and its commander-in-chief." He ignored his critics, the naysayers and the pundits and was able to grasp that Islamic fascism was not a criminal justice matter.

Note too that all the past expert advice — set a time-table for withdrawal, delay the elections, trisect the country, invite in "moderate" Sunni participants from neighboring countries, and turn over the "occupation" to the U.N. — has in retrospect proved flawed and is now quietly abandoned.

VDH also notes that Pres. Bush was successfully re-elected, there was the startling success of the Iraqi voting and its heartening effects in other areas of the region, low unenemployment, moderate inflation, affordable interest rates, real growth is strong, but yet he is enjoying only an approval rating of only about 50 percent.

He asks, "Why, then, the discontent?" Go read the rest here.


HEH, HEH ! This pearl from "The Great Chrenkoff",
Sean Penn has a theory why people are so critical of his pre-liberation trip to Baghdad and his anti-war activism:
"It's interesting. I haven't broken this down but I would say that about half of the loudest talking heads are people who are on the record as failed actors, people who are envious."
At last, thanks to Penn we now know what happens to Hollywood wannabes when they finally get tired of washing dishes in LA restaurants: they become right-wing pundits. Did you know that Rush only got into radio talk shows after his brief appearance in "A Nightmare on Elm Street Part IV" had failed to translate into further roles?

Honestly, Sean, you're just too cool for us mere mortals and sad failures.

Apparently, too, Sean is so exhausted by film-making that he's planning to take a few years off. At least there are still plenty of places to visit for a breather. Teheran, Damascus, Pyongyang, here he comes.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Martinez says his staffer produced Schiavo memo

From The Washington Times (Nation/Politics)
Martinez says his staffer produced Schiavo memo / Brian DeBose and Stephen Dinan
(Registration required)

Sen. Mel Martinez said last night that his office was the source of the anonymous political talking-points memo on the Terri Schiavo situation and that he unwittingly passed the memo to Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat.

Mr. Martinez said in a statement last night, after repeated inquiries by The Washington Times, that unbeknownst to him, one of his staffers had produced the memo and it came into his possession.

He said the staff member, whom he did not name, has resigned. A Senate aide identified the staffer as Brian Darling, legal counsel for Mr. Martinez's office.

Mr. Martinez said Mr. Harkin told him about the memo yesterday. The Republican said he had meant to give Mr. Harkin a document describing Mr. Martinez's bill to prolong Mrs. Schiavo's life while federal courts reviewed her situation.

"Until this afternoon, I had never seen it and had no idea a copy of it had ever been in my possession. I have vehemently denied the memo and its sentiments, as has my staff," he said in a statement."
This settles it. Or does it?
Mr. Martinez's explanation still doesn't square with the contention of some Democrats that the memo was knowingly given by a disgruntled Republican to a Democrat.

"A Democratic senator received the memo from an outraged Republican senator," a Senate Democratic aide said yesterday, on the condition of anonymity."

Captain Ed, Powerline, and Michelle Malkin all have written on this, and done their usual superb job.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Chinas' Future

Dr. Demarche emailed me and invited me and other bloggers to post some thoughts on what and where China might be a decade down the road on the world stage, so to speak, in regards to their military, economy and culture. So here goes:

Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Congressman Henry Hyde said:
Of the many competing forecasts of the century now unfolding, all agree that the rise of China will be a central determinant of its course. So great is China's potential that some have prematurely termed this the "Chinese century." Once hazily distant, that imagined prospect is rapidly becoming a tangible reality right before our eyes."

I have had some concerns over China for quite some time now; and I often felt, I was alone in this assessment based on a number of conversations I've had with others. But, I simply just don't trust China. Remember, this is a country that openly cheered as little as 3 1/2 years ago when planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon.

This is a country that has about 4 1/2 times the population as that of the United States and represents 1/5th of all humanity. One estimate from July, 2004 put their population at 1,298,847,624 and the United States third in world population at 293,027,571.

"We are witnessing the emergence of a new and powerful actor on the global stage, one whose actions and decisions will reach deeply into every country on the planet.Whether that impact will be positive or negative, cooperative or combative, cannot yet be predicted with any confidence. That will in large part be determined by the evolution of China's political system."

They have a booming economy, but its’ true strength and stability is a bit of a mystery it would seem. Granted, the potential is vast, due to its’ large population - but economically poor population.

To be sure, almost every country would ideally like to increase its trade with China, and many will over the next decade. Since all countries will act out in whatever manner they think serves them best - what they think is in their best interest - China will not be lacking in trade partners.

Many people from around the globe, see China as this wonderful country of business expansion that has undergone economic reform and that it holds great economic opportunity. Today, for example, we see Japanese industries all too happy to rush into China and set up factories so that they can bring back home cheap products.

Due to this high rate of economic growth, China is experiencing unprecedented levels of foreign investment. They have an unlimited pool of low cost labor in its citizenry, and as already mentioned, are currently experiencing unsurpassed economic growth. In order to supply its domestic construction projects and export manufacturing industries, their demand for steel, plastics, and lumber, to name just a few, is raising havoc with supply and demand on these and other resources, causing prices for these resources to soar. We must also consider their need of oil which has skyrocketed and has caused the global energy markets to heat up.

The flip side of this is despite all the foreign investment pouring into China, the Chinese are taking vast sums of money out of China. Billions, in fact, of private money (and government money, for that matter) is being invested elsewhere around the world where it is deemed safer to invest. This of course hurts their economy because the money is not being plowed back in for further expansion.

According to Jack Wheeler,
"All four of China's main banks (all state owned) have more uncollectable debts than they have assets and loans."
"The Shanghai Composite, China's largest stock market, has gone nowhere for five years.”

It is not a stretch to imagine this economic boom in China could carry through for the next decade. The need for and the resulting competition for fuel and other resources would only heighten the supply problem of these resources and drive prices up.

Victor David Hanson thinks,
“we will soon enter an age in which China may well change the world's environment, affect the price of oil, and govern the world's trade as much as the United States.”

What other problems could arise with a continuation of this growth? According to VDH,
“China is on the move and far more likely to disrupt environmental protocols, cheat on trade accords, and bully neighbors.”

Like Taiwan, perhaps? I don’t think there is much that would be done if (when?) China were to attack Taiwan. “Enemies” or not, I do not see Russia, or India, coming to the rescue of Taiwan. I’m not sure that America would have the appetite for it either. Economic sanctions? No doubt. War against China. I don’t see it.

Victor David Hanson observes,
“China and India are the new tigers, but their rapid industrialization and urbanization have created enormous social and civic problems long ago dealt with by the United States. Each must soon confront environmentalism, unionism, minority rights, free expression, community activism, and social entitlements that are the wages of any citizenry that begins to taste leisure and affluence. China is fueled by industrious laborers who toil at cut-rate wages for 14 hours per day, but that will begin to moderate once an empowered citizenry worries about dirty air, back backs, inadequate housing, and poor health care.”

Jack Wheeler points out there were over 60,000 riots, disturbances and public protests throughout China in 2004.
"People can see how corrupt the government is while they barely have enough to eat," Wheeler quotes a demonstration leader as saying. "Oursociety has a short fuse, just waiting for a spark."

Part of that spark could be caused by the bleak economic outlook that feeds discontent among China's 1.3 billion people.

I think our most likely strategy would be economic and hope for internal fracturing and uprising. Since Internet dissidents and religious believers are being thrown in jail, families (and women) are being persecuted for violating the nations policy of only one child per household, forced abortions and sterilzations taking place, a growing economic divide between the coastal regions and the inland peasants, and increasing civil unrest (over 60,000 incidents in 2004), we might very well choose the “passive method of attack”.

There will be ups and downs in our relationship with China in the next decade. But I do agree that it is very unlikely that China will do anything to lessen "their standing" until the 2008 Olympics (which they will be hosting) are over. The world has a critical stake in making sure that "China's rising power is channeled into productive directions and away from the threat of a revolutionary impact that would wreak havoc on the international system in which its presence and influence will steadily increase."

We can hope that they continue their economic expansion AND continue their move, albeit slow, away from Communism. "The most beneficent outcome can best be ensured by an increasingly democratic and cooperative China, one in which its dynamism and stability are in balance, and one that is prepared to accept broad responsibilities commensurate with its increasing power."


While it is too early to tell, the Minuteman Project, made up of volunteers, who will (formally) begin extensive patrols along the Mexican border is off to a good start as they "rescue ill alien", according to an article by Jerry Seper of the THE WASHINGTON TIMES.

From the Nation/Politics section

PALOMINAS, Ariz. -- Minuteman Project volunteers, during limited weekend patrols along the U.S.-Mexico border here, rescued a tired and thirsty Mexican who had become separated from a group trying to illegally enter the United States.
Was he beaten, incarcerated, held captive, shot, murdered, or had his civil rights violated in any way by the Minutemen? No..........
The unidentified man was described as dehydrated and emaciated. He was turned over by volunteers to U.S. Border Patrol officials and later was returned to Mexico.
Was this the only encounter over the past weekend with illegal aliens? Was there any violent confrontations that critics (such as the ACLU and human rights organizations) of the project predicted would happen? No.............
It was one of two weekend encounters by Minuteman volunteers with illegal aliens, neither of which resulted in the violent confrontation predicted by some civil liberties and human rights organizations.
In the second encounter, the volunteers caught sight of 18 illegal aliens entering the United States and called the Border Patrol, which acted quickly and took the aliens into custody.
Ray Ybarra, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Arizona, said there had been no incidents of violence or suspected abuse of the aliens during limited patrols by the volunteers Saturday and yesterday.

Mr. Ybarra, who manned a seven-person ACLU observation site on the border south of Bisbee -- within shouting distance of two Minuteman patrol posts -- said "everything was going very well."
"We're here to protect the civil rights of everyone involved and, so far, everything has gone very nicely," he told The Washington Times.
According to the story, several people had been seen crouching together south of the U.S. border presumably stymied by the presence of the Minuteman volunteers.

Volunteers from the Minutemen Project confirmed that they saw two separate groups, totaling approximately 2 dozen people, turning back when they saw the Minuteman patrols.