Category Archives: Niall Ferguson

Editor’s Thoughts on the Romney/Obama Foreign Policy Debate – UPDATED

UPDATE – About that Apology Tour…..

Complete transcript fact-check of the debate – LINK

Frank Luntz Reaction From Undecided Voters Immediately After Final Presidential Debate – LINK

Hi all. I live blogged it while I was listening to it on the radio. I will outline my thoughts and clean it up later as I am dead tired.

I had three initial observations.

1- Obama is trying to posture Romney by talking down to him.

2- On some issues such as Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood neither of them is willing to say what needs to be said about the leadership and our strategy there. It is the elephant in the room that they are both dancing around.

3 – Obama’s strategy is smart as a matter of rhetoric: Find every slight inconsistency in every statement Romney has ever made on these issues over the last few years and make a mountain out of it…. thus distracting people from the “its because of the video” lie and other lies coming from this administration (like fast and furious and other issues). Of course as time goes on the situation on the ground changes and thus what Obama’s critics say will change in light of that…. so 100% statement consistency over the course of several years would show foolishness and Romney should have said so.

Romney was smart to ding Obama on skipping Israel on his apology tour. Obama, responds by talking about about what he did much later, not even addressing the apology tour. Of course what he did much later doesn’t help the bad message that Obama sent when he did that as it set an attitude that shaped what has happened in the middle east since. I think that to the uninformed Obama won. Obama’s narrative on the middle east was such utter nonsense and so easily demonstrated so and Romney really failed to capitalize on that. I think that Romney went in with a strategy of being agreeable and safe, but is THAT the kind of leadership we are looking for?

And Obama takes credit for the Iron Dome missile defense shield in Israel when he and his party opposed this technology from minute one?

On Mubarak and Egypt:

Leave him there or side with him? First of all let’s be clear, the people especially women and Christians were better under Mubarak. Muslim Brotherhood is seeking out political enemies and crucifying them, using armored vehicles against Christians etc.

When we worked with Britain and The Vatican to undermine the communists in Eastern Europe we cultivated that resistance over the course of years. We knew who they are and we were ready for the big push when the time came.

But in the so called “Arab Spring” we didn’t know who we are helping and the Muslim Brotherhood played the State Department and the White House like a Stradivarius.

And after it became obvious that we were helping the bad guys who were talking peace and democracy and never meant it this White House was committed and wouldn’t change course…probably for political reasons…or worse.

Obama worked to set up a narrative or vision of his policy in the middle east, of course it was wishful thinking and a total coverup of the evils that are going on there as perpetrated by the Muslim Brotherhood whom Obama helped bring to power. Romney was weaker on the battle of the narratives. I sorta wish we had Newt tonight because this would have been such a one sided blowout if he was there.

Also, foreign policy debates like this require boldness and the ability to construct/deconstruct a narrative expertly. What if you face a situation like the old Iran/Iraq war when it served global interests to make sure that neither side won that war? Or what if you have the Muslim Brotherhood/Al-Qaeda vs Assad in Syria and a “bait & bleed” strategy serves interests best? Sometimes there are no good answers and the options are “terrible and “more terrible”.

Mitt had a few good moments, but not enough to warrant a sweeping win:

Obama’s crack “The Cold War is Over” may sound cute, but someone forgot to tell Putin

On a side note – I am watching a video of Sarah Palin’s post debate analysis and she has this thing nailed pretty well. I want to know who is advising her because she has been hitting home-runs for about the last 20 months on this stuff.

My worst fear with Mitt Romney is that he may have failed into the Bill Kristol/State Department false narrative which I wrote about HERE:

There are/were many in the State Department, elite media and some in the Republican Party who have totally bought into the propaganda from the Muslim Brotherhood–that they want peace, free elections, and so forth–when anyone who studies their history going back to WWII knows very well what their agenda is. Bill Kristol from the Weekly Standard, as well as some on the famed internet Republican Security Council, fell for the “Arab Spring” false narrative. How quickly we forget history. The Mullah’s in Iran spoke to the Carter Administration about freedom, democracy and social justice; look at what they did as soon as they got into power. The same goes for what happened in Lebanon, and then Gaza when they had elections. Now look at the disaster that is Egypt and Libya, and yet some Republicans continue to say we should help Syrian rebels with arms, which would essentially be handing Syria as well to the Muslim Brotherhood/Al-Qaeda.

Republicans would love to see a genuine democratic, pro-western revolution in the Muslim world as we had in Eastern Europe, but today many forget that it took years of cooperation between Reagan, Thatcher, and the Vatican to cultivate pro-western forces and influences in secret right under the communist’s nose. We were ready to come in with monetary, logistical and other support when those forces made a major push. We knew very well who it was we were supporting, and we had an overall strategic concept in mind. Many Republicans jumped on the Arab Spring bandwagon because they bought the pie in the sky narrative from the State Department and they really wanted to believe it. Why? Because the false narrative targeted the freedom loving sensitivities of most Republicans perfectly. In short, they selected tidbits of truth, omitted others, and made a false reality that fit ever so perfectly into an ideological box.

I am concerned because Dan Senor is Mitt Romney’s chief foreign policy adviser and Kristol is one of Senor’s mentors, but that is as far as I can go with my concern’s with Senor because the sins of the mentor do not necessarily fall on the student and I have no idea what Senor is telling Romney. In my opinion, based on what I saw tonight, it is clear that Niall Ferguson has a much more objective and more intelligent view on middle east policy.

Here is a fact check of the debate from Chris Wallace:

..

False Narratives, Group Think, & Ideological Boxes.

Editorial by Political Arena Editor Chuck Norton

People like to believe in the veracity of their own perceptions; literally they want to believe what they believe is in fact true. That has always been a fact of life, and this writer isn’t going to change it. However, what has changed is that our culture and society no longer reinforces practices, ideas and daily rituals that helped to keep that particular problem in check, making Americans better critical thinkers, and gave Americans a special collective wisdom.

Years ago Professor Christopher Lasch penned an article in Harpers titled “The Lost Art of Argument” where he lamented the so called “objective journalism” (which is anything but) model (from Walter Lippmann) as a tool for elites to set agendas and control the conversation on main street. The power of the elite media narrative is difficult to overstate, as it is much like group think. Everyone wants to be included and accepted, and if you stand out against such group narratives some will resent it. Most people do not realize just how easily they are persuaded by manufactured group narratives.  Allow me to demonstrate with a few examples of popular group think narratives that many people still believe.

“Gravitas”. For those who are politically aware, and were so before the 2000 election, the word gravitas conjures up an image of former Vice-President Dick Cheney. Why? Dr. Thomas Sowell explained it well:

RUSH LIMBAUGH has been having some fun lately, playing back recordings of politicians and media people, who have been repeating the word “gravitas” like parrots, day after day. Before Dick Cheney was announced as Governor George W. Bush’s choice for vice presidential candidate, practically nobody used the word. Now everybody and his brother seems to be using it.

The political spin is that Governor Bush lacks “gravitas” — weight — and that Dick Cheney was picked in an effort to supply what the governor lacks.

In other words, the fact that Bush picked somebody solid for his running mate has been turned into something negative by the spinmeisters. The fact that media liberals echo the very same word, again and again, shows their partisan loyalties — and their lack of originality.

How many people believe that “former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is ignorant”?

Perhaps some of you who are reading this very piece continue to buy into this false narrative. Just so you realize how much you have been effected I will pose the following: did you know that in her infamous interview with ABC’s Charlie Gibson ABC had edited out portions of her substantive answers to make her look ignorant? Did you know that ABC did this again in her interview with Barbara Walters. Remember when Charlie Gibson asked her a question about the Bush Doctrine that “Palin got all wrong”? Well, depending on what political historian you talk to there are five or six Bush Doctrines of which Governor Palin and Charlie Gibson each described one accurately. Atlantic Monthly, a left-wing political magazine, went back and did an exhausting review of her time as governor and concluded that she did a great job and pointed out how she was an innovative and competent executive. Odds are that people who buy into the false narrative that Palin is ignorant don’t know any of this.

“Republicans want to gut Social Security.”

The truth is that Reagan (Republican) saved the program with key reforms without decreasing benefits. It was President Clinton (Democrat) who increased the tax on Social Security benefits on the middle class which amounted to a benefit cut. It was George W. Bush (Republican) who tried to get at least a part of Social Security put into individual growth accounts so that Congress couldn’t spend your money (Democrats in Congress stopped him), and it was President Obama (Democrat) who has kept up a Social Security payroll contribution cut that is blowing an even bigger whole in the program. Odds are that people who bought into this narrative didn’t know any of that.

“Republicans want to get rid of Medicare.”

I regularly encounter uninformed voters who buy into this particular false narrative. It was Democrats, with Obamacare, who gutted $716 billion (over 10 years) from an already in trouble Medicare program without a single Republican vote. It was Republicans who added the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit (Part-D) which is not only popular, but gives seniors a choice of plans. This was accomplished at 40% under budget because the program was designed so well. One current Republican idea is to redesign the other parts of Medicare to work in a way that is similar to Medicare Part-D, so that it too can be more efficient and save money to help rescue the program. Democrats say no. Odds are that people who bought into this narrative didn’t know any of that (gee I am getting repetitive).

“Democrats want to tax the rich.”

This is perhaps the biggest false narrative of all. The Democratic Party leadership has never been interested in taxing the very rich. They have been “taxing the rich” for 50 years. Is it just a coincidence that they just happened to keep missing the target? President Obama gave the speech at Google, which paid 2.4% federal tax on 3.1 billion in income. In that speech he trashed the Chamber of Commerce for fighting against raising the tax on most small businesses which actually employ people from 35.5% to 39.9% . In the 2008 elections President Obama railed against Wall Street, but not only did he take more money from Wall Street and “the big banks” and such, but as if to add insult, their executives became the who’s who of those running his administration (LINKLINK). Keep in mind that CNN once said Obama attacks private equity at 6am and is fundraising with private equity at 6pm. Wall Street and the big banks made more under three years of Obama than they did under eight years of Bush. His Treasury Secretary says that taxes on small businesses must rise so that government doesn’t shrink, and Obama’s new health care taxes target you, not just the rich. All of the stimulus and spending and so forth all in the name of the poor sounded nice, but look who got rich.  Odds are that people who buy into this narrative know none of this (really there is a point to this).

Such false narratives are not merely myths that people fall into, they become emotionally invested in them, to the point where some people will say anything to support them:

MORE – Watch people lie about the political debate they never saw – VIDEO

False narratives rely on three crutches:

1 – The first is the selective promotion of key facts, combined with the suppression and/or omission of key fundamental truths. The use of a key fact that is partially true, when inserted into the false narrative, creates clear disconnects from the fundamental truths of the situation or event.

Politicians are masters of this. The second Obama/Romney debate is a classic example. In the debate section on the brutal slaughter of Americans at our consulate in Libya, the administration knowingly put out a false narrative that our people were killed by a flash mob upset by a video on YouTube. The White House created this deception because it was caught in a “Mission Accomplished” moment from having created a false narrative which stated that because Usama bin Laden was out of the picture, Al-Qaeda was beaten (The truth is that Al-Qaeda’s umbrella organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, has been actively helped by this Administration) . When caught, the White House tried to rewrite history, and focused on a key assertion–that Obama used the word terror in one speech describing the attack, as if that somehow dismantles two weeks of willing deception.

2 – Delivery of the few selected facts delivered with an attitude (an emotional trigger) that creates the false narrative.

A good example of this comes from a piece I read in the Washington Post some years ago. The article stated there had been documented misuses of the Patriot Act in order to wrongly access the private information of innocent citizens, and the Attorney General refused to state whether he would press criminal charges. This sounds quite ominous doesn’t it? Thirteen paragraphs later we learn that the error rate had been about 1.5%, comprised of honest mistakes, and all were caught by the internal Justice Department Inspector General whose job it is to find and correct errors. Consider the entirety of the pertinent facts, remove the emotionally charged delivery, and the message is quite different from the headline, would you not agree? Most newspaper editors know that the majority of readers never get passed the fifth paragraph in a newspaper piece. This type of deception is known as attitude change propaganda. Attitude change propaganda is not produced by accident.  [Note – today reported abuses of the Patriot Act are higher. We are aware of this, so please do not blow up our inbox – Editor]

3 – Repetition. Joseph Goebbels said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie”.

This is why truth itself can become an enemy to some, and why those telling the truth are often disregarded, maligned and ridiculed. Once again we can look to the Washington Post for an example. Remember the Valerie Plame story? Remember when the White House outed a CIA Agent because her husband, Joe Wilson, had written a letter saying that President Bush made false claims in a speech? Well there was one problem; this entire story was based on a small stack of lies, and virtually none of the narrative that was repeated over and over in the Washington Post and the elite media was true, and the Post well knew it. This very writer wrote a 40 page article on the Washington Posts’ coverage of this story. Day after day, on page one, the Post repeated Joe Wilson’s lies and perpetuated the false narrative, while at times even on the very same day on the editorial page or buried in the paper, they would tell the truth about what was going on and explain how the evidence clearly showed that Wilson lied about nearly every aspect of his story.

I have been pretty tough on the left in this article because deception and propaganda is fully endorsed by many leftist/progressive thinkers such as Mao, Walter Lippmann, Joseph Goebbels, nearly all writers from the Frankfurt School, and Saul Alinsky. The progressive leadership in this country uses lies as a tool for calculated aggression.

This is not to say that the American right is free of the problems of false narratives, group think, and ideological boxes either.

There are/were many in the State Department, elite media and some in the Republican Party who have totally bought into the propaganda from the Muslim Brotherhood–that they want peace, free elections, and so forth–when anyone who studies their history going back to WWII knows very well what their agenda is. Bill Kristol from the Weekly Standard, as well as some on the famed internet Republican Security Council, fell for the “Arab Spring” false narrative. How quickly we forget history. The Mullah’s in Iran spoke to the Carter Administration about freedom, democracy and social justice; look at what they did as soon as they got into power. The same goes for what happened in Lebanon, and then Gaza when they had elections. Now look at the disaster that is Egypt and Libya, and yet some Republicans continue to say we should help Syrian rebels with arms, which would essentially be handing Syria as well to the Muslim Brotherhood/Al-Qaeda.

Republicans would love to see a genuine democratic, pro-western revolution in the Muslim world as we had in Eastern Europe, but today many forget that it took years of cooperation between Reagan, Thatcher, and the Vatican to cultivate pro-western forces and influences in secret right under the communist’s nose. We were ready to come in with monetary, logistical and other support when those forces made a major push. We knew very well who it was we were supporting, and we had an overall strategic concept in mind. Many Republicans jumped on the Arab Spring bandwagon because they bought the pie in the sky narrative from the State Department and they really wanted to believe it. Why? Because the false narrative targeted the freedom loving sensitivities of most Republicans perfectly. In short, they selected tidbits of truth, omitted others, and made a false reality that fit ever so perfectly into an ideological box.

Some so called “neo-cons” (by their critics) of the GOP may like to shape reality into something neat and tidy, but they aren’t the only ones. Many Ron Paul supporters are just as guilty of this. They argue that the U.S. should adopt some form of neo-isolationism. While it is clear that for the sake of finances we need to have a foreign policy that is less flamboyant, trade still needs to be protected with a serious Navy; the diplomatic credibility of the United States must still be backed up with military capability. If you want to see an economic collapse like the world has never witnessed, park the US Navy at home and it won’t take long. Many Ron Paul supporters say that “neo-cons” are “chicken-hawks” who have never served in the armed forces, and who would never send their sons to die “in some Middle East hell hole” (their words not mine). While it is true that some who may be labled as neo-cons have never served, the truth is that many who agree with at least some of that policy have served and have family who are serving.

Another example of taking reality and manipulating it is the often heard claim from Ron Paul supporters that militant Islamists attack us because of our foreign policy, and the argument that if it wasn’t for “neo-cons” we would not get attacked. When I run into people who say this I ask them, “Militant Islamists attack and kill Hindus in India. What is it about Hindu foreign policy that makes Islamists do this? How about the Buddhists who lived in Afghanistan? In Afghanistan the Islamists ran the Buddhists out and blew up their monasteries and artifacts. What about the Islamists in Southern Thailand who like to kill school teachers who dare to educate little girls? When the Muslim Brotherhood took over Egypt with the aid of the Obama Administration, what is it that Coptic Christians did to cause the Muslim Brotherhood to attack them with armored vehicles? This is usually about that time where I start getting called all sorts of colorful names. The most experienced Middle-Eastern war correspondent says that those who believe the “its because of our policy” argument are fooling themselves.

We are experiencing a wholesale breakdown of critical thinking in this country and most of the learned academics I know have confided this to me directly. I have noticed this myself in my studies. How did this happen? Professor Lasch was rather fond of the old fashioned “partisan press” that we used to have before the “Lippmann Objective Model”. In those days each town had two or more newspapers, each with its own partisan or philosophical viewpoint. Each day citizens would read them all and discuss the arguments of the day at the local barber shop, soda shop, or even at work. There is no better exercise for creating an informed, thinking electorate. Today we live in an electronic society where people can just push a button and anything that puts them out of their comfort zone vanishes instantly.

We have an elite media that too often behaves as state-run apparatchiks, and we have a public university system that states openly that “A debate is something we are highly disinterested in. This is not something our university would want on our campus”. As a result we have educated people, and even professors, who strive for ideological conformity. We have a major university whose administrators reportedly “forged an agreement to conceal sexual attacks” against children, and we have a Climategate scandal in which professors from multiple universities were caught in their own emails actively conspiring to pervert the peer review process and smear anyone who would challenge the global warming alarmist orthodoxy.

American society has become a place where people get beyond offended when told that they are wrong. We have teachers who too often cannot understand the difference between being presented an inconvenient truth that scuttles their narrative and a personal attack. We have people who refuse to take the argument of another seriously, so any truths another may have will not be accepted or even considered. Truth has become the new hate speech.

This must stop.

The sting in any rebuke is the truth – Ben Franklin.

 

[Editor’s Note – For a short video followup on this story click HERE – you won’t regret it.]

Prof. Niall Ferguson: Obama’s Gotta Go

Niall Ferguson, MA, D.Phil., is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford.

His books include Paper and Iron: Hamburg Business and German Politics in the Era of Inflation 1897-1927 (1993), Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals (1997), The Pity of War: Explaining World War One (1998), The World’s Banker: The History of the House of Rothschild (1998), The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700-2000 (2001), Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power (2003), Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (2004), The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006) and The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World (2008).

Ferguson has written and presented five major television series, including The Ascent of Money, which won the 2009 International Emmy award for Best Documentary. His most recent books are High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg (2010) and Civilization: The West and the Rest, also a major TV documentary series. Civilization will be published in the U.S. on November 1 and will air on PBS in 2012.

See our other Niall Ferguson coverage HERE.

Prof. Niall Ferguson:

Why does Paul Ryan scare the president so much? Because Obama has broken his promises, and it’s clear that the GOP ticket’s path to prosperity is our only hope.

I was a good loser four years ago. “In the grand scheme of history,” I wrote the day after Barack Obama’s election as president, “four decades is not an especially long time. Yet in that brief period America has gone from the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. to the apotheosis of Barack Obama. You would not be human if you failed to acknowledge this as a cause for great rejoicing.”

Despite having been—full disclosure—an adviser to John McCain, I acknowledged his opponent’s remarkable qualities: his soaring oratory, his cool, hard-to-ruffle temperament, and his near faultless campaign organization.

Yet the question confronting the country nearly four years later is not who was the better candidate four years ago. It is whether the winner has delivered on his promises. And the sad truth is that he has not.

In his inaugural address, Obama promised “not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.” He promised to “build the roads and bridges, the electric grids, and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.” He promised to “restore science to its rightful place and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost.” And he promised to “transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.” Unfortunately the president’s scorecard on every single one of those bold pledges is pitiful.

In an unguarded moment earlier this year, the president commented that the private sector of the economy was “doing fine.” Certainly, the stock market is well up (by 74 percent) relative to the close on Inauguration Day 2009. But the total number of private-sector jobs is still 4.3 million below the January 2008 peak. Meanwhile, since 2008, a staggering 3.6 million Americans have been added to Social Security’s disability insurance program. This is one of many ways unemployment is being concealed.

In his fiscal year 2010 budget—the first he presented—the president envisaged growth of 3.2 percent in 2010, 4.0 percent in 2011, 4.6 percent in 2012. The actual numbers were 2.4 percent in 2010 and 1.8 percent in 2011; few forecasters now expect it to be much above 2.3 percent this year.

Unemployment was supposed to be 6 percent by now. It has averaged 8.2 percent this year so far. Meanwhile real median annual household income has dropped more than 5 percent since June 2009. Nearly 110 million individuals received a welfare benefit in 2011, mostly Medicaid or food stamps.

Welcome to Obama’s America: nearly half the population is not represented on a taxable return—almost exactly the same proportion that lives in a household where at least one member receives some type of government benefit. We are becoming the 50–50 nation—half of us paying the taxes, the other half receiving the benefits.

And all this despite a far bigger hike in the federal debt than we were promised. According to the 2010 budget, the debt in public hands was supposed to fall in relation to GDP from 67 percent in 2010 to less than 66 percent this year. If only. By the end of this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), it will reach 70 percent of GDP. These figures significantly understate the debt problem, however. The ratio that matters is debt to revenue. That number has leapt upward from 165 percent in 2008 to 262 percent this year, according to figures from the International Monetary Fund. Among developed economies, only Ireland and Spain have seen a bigger deterioration.

Not only did the initial fiscal stimulus fade after the sugar rush of 2009, but the president has done absolutely nothing to close the long-term gap between spending and revenue.

His much-vaunted health-care reform will not prevent spending on health programs growing from more than 5 percent of GDP today to almost 10 percent in 2037. Add the projected increase in the costs of Social Security and you are looking at a total bill of 16 percent of GDP 25 years from now. That is only slightly less than the average cost of all federal programs and activities, apart from net interest payments, over the past 40 years. Under this president’s policies, the debt is on course to approach 200 percent of GDP in 2037—a mountain of debt that is bound to reduce growth even further.

And even that figure understates the real debt burden. The most recent estimate for the difference between the net present value of federal government liabilities and the net present value of future federal revenues—what economist Larry Kotlikoff calls the true “fiscal gap”—is $222 trillion.

The president’s supporters will, of course, say that the poor performance of the economy can’t be blamed on him. They would rather finger his predecessor, or the economists he picked to advise him, or Wall Street, or Europe—anyone but the man in the White House.

There’s some truth in this. It was pretty hard to foresee what was going to happen to the economy in the years after 2008. Yet surely we can legitimately blame the president for the political mistakes of the past four years. After all, it’s the president’s job to run the executive branch effectively—to lead the nation. And here is where his failure has been greatest.

On paper it looked like an economics dream team: Larry Summers, Christina Romer, and Austan Goolsbee, not to mention Peter Orszag, Tim Geithner, and Paul Volcker. The inside story, however, is that the president was wholly unable to manage the mighty brains—and egos—he had assembled to advise him.

According to Ron Suskind’s book Confidence Men, Summers told Orszag over dinner in May 2009: “You know, Peter, we’re really home alone … I mean it. We’re home alone. There’s no adult in charge. Clinton would never have made these mistakes [of indecisiveness on key economic issues].” On issue after issue, according to Suskind, Summers overruled the president. “You can’t just march in and make that argument and then have him make a decision,” Summers told Orszag, “because he doesn’t know what he’s deciding.” (I have heard similar things said off the record by key participants in the president’s interminable “seminar” on Afghanistan policy.)

This problem extended beyond the White House. After the imperial presidency of the Bush era, there was something more like parliamentary government in the first two years of Obama’s administration. The president proposed; Congress disposed. It was Nancy Pelosi and her cohorts who wrote the stimulus bill and made sure it was stuffed full of political pork. And it was the Democrats in Congress—led by Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank—who devised the 2,319-page Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank, for short), a near-perfect example of excessive complexity in regulation. The act requires that regulators create 243 rules, conduct 67 studies, and issue 22 periodic reports. It eliminates one regulator and creates two new ones.

It is five years since the financial crisis began, but the central problems—excessive financial concentration and excessive financial leverage—have not been addressed.

Today a mere 10 too-big-to-fail financial institutions are responsible for three quarters of total financial assets under management in the United States. Yet the country’s largest banks are at least $50 billion short of meeting new capital requirements under the new “Basel III” accords governing bank capital adequacy.

And then there was health care. No one seriously doubts that the U.S. system needed to be reformed. But the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 did nothing to address the core defects of the system: the long-run explosion of Medicare costs as the baby boomers retire, the “fee for service” model that drives health-care inflation, the link from employment to insurance that explains why so many Americans lack coverage, and the excessive costs of the liability insurance that our doctors need to protect them from our lawyers.

Ironically, the core Obamacare concept of the “individual mandate” (requiring all Americans to buy insurance or face a fine) was something the president himself had opposed when vying with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. A much more accurate term would be “Pelosicare,” since it was she who really forced the bill through Congress.

Pelosicare was not only a political disaster. Polls consistently showed that only a minority of the public liked the ACA, and it was the main reason why Republicans regained control of the House in 2010. It was also another fiscal snafu. The president pledged that health-care reform would not add a cent to the deficit. But the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation now estimate that the insurance-coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net cost of close to $1.2 trillion over the 2012–22 period.

The president just kept ducking the fiscal issue. Having set up a bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, headed by retired Wyoming Republican senator Alan Simpson and former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles, Obama effectively sidelined its recommendations of approximately $3 trillion in cuts and $1 trillion in added revenues over the coming decade. As a result there was no “grand bargain” with the House Republicans—which means that, barring some miracle, the country will hit a fiscal cliff on Jan. 1 as the Bush tax cuts expire and the first of $1.2 trillion of automatic, across-the-board spending cuts are imposed. The CBO estimates the net effect could be a 4 percent reduction in output.

The failures of leadership on economic and fiscal policy over the past four years have had geopolitical consequences. The World Bank expects the U.S. to grow by just 2 percent in 2012. China will grow four times faster than that; India three times faster. By 2017, the International Monetary Fund predicts, the GDP of China will overtake that of the United States.

Meanwhile, the fiscal train wreck has already initiated a process of steep cuts in the defense budget, at a time when it is very far from clear that the world has become a safer place—least of all in the Middle East.

For me the president’s greatest failure has been not to think through the implications of these challenges to American power. Far from developing a coherent strategy, he believed—perhaps encouraged by the premature award of the Nobel Peace Prize—that all he needed to do was to make touchy-feely speeches around the world explaining to foreigners that he was not George W. Bush.

In Tokyo in November 2009, the president gave his boilerplate hug-a-foreigner speech: “In an interconnected world, power does not need to be a zero-sum game, and nations need not fear the success of another … The United States does not seek to contain China … On the contrary, the rise of a strong, prosperous China can be a source of strength for the community of nations.” Yet by fall 2011, this approach had been jettisoned in favor of a “pivot” back to the Pacific, including risible deployments of troops to Australia and Singapore. From the vantage point of Beijing, neither approach had credibility.

His Cairo speech of June 4, 2009, was an especially clumsy bid to ingratiate himself on what proved to be the eve of a regional revolution. “I’m also proud to carry with me,” he told Egyptians, “a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: Assalamu alaikum … I’ve come here … to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based … upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition.”

Believing it was his role to repudiate neoconservatism, Obama completely missed the revolutionary wave of Middle Eastern democracy—precisely the wave the neocons had hoped to trigger with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. When revolution broke out—first in Iran, then in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria—the president faced stark alternatives. He could try to catch the wave by lending his support to the youthful revolutionaries and trying to ride it in a direction advantageous to American interests. Or he could do nothing and let the forces of reaction prevail.

In the case of Iran he did nothing, and the thugs of the Islamic Republic ruthlessly crushed the demonstrations. Ditto Syria. In Libya he was cajoled into intervening. In Egypt he tried to have it both ways, exhorting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to leave, then drawing back and recommending an “orderly transition.” The result was a foreign-policy debacle. Not only were Egypt’s elites appalled by what seemed to them a betrayal, but the victors—the Muslim Brotherhood—had nothing to be grateful for. America’s closest Middle Eastern allies—Israel and the Saudis—looked on in amazement.

“This is what happens when you get caught by surprise,” an anonymous American official told The New York Times in February 2011. “We’ve had endless strategy sessions for the past two years on Mideast peace, on containing Iran. And how many of them factored in the possibility that Egypt moves from stability to turmoil? None.”

Remarkably the president polls relatively strongly on national security. Yet the public mistakes his administration’s astonishingly uninhibited use of political assassination for a coherent strategy. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London, the civilian proportion of drone casualties was 16 percent last year. Ask yourself how the liberal media would have behaved if George W. Bush had used drones this way. Yet somehow it is only ever Republican secretaries of state who are accused of committing “war crimes.”

The real crime is that the assassination program destroys potentially crucial intelligence (as well as antagonizing locals) every time a drone strikes. It symbolizes the administration’s decision to abandon counterinsurgency in favor of a narrow counterterrorism. What that means in practice is the abandonment not only of Iraq but soon of Afghanistan too. Understandably, the men and women who have served there wonder what exactly their sacrifice was for, if any notion that we are nation building has been quietly dumped. Only when both countries sink back into civil war will we realize the real price of Obama’s foreign policy.

America under this president is a superpower in retreat, if not retirement. Small wonder 46 percent of Americans—and 63 percent of Chinese—believe that China already has replaced the U.S. as the world’s leading superpower or eventually will.

It is a sign of just how completely Barack Obama has “lost his narrative” since getting elected that the best case he has yet made for reelection is that Mitt Romney should not be president. In his notorious “you didn’t build that” speech, Obama listed what he considers the greatest achievements of big government: the Internet, the GI Bill, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam, the Apollo moon landing, and even (bizarrely) the creation of the middle class. Sadly, he couldn’t mention anything comparable that his administration has achieved.

Now Obama is going head-to-head with his nemesis: a politician who believes more in content than in form, more in reform than in rhetoric. In the past days much has been written about Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s choice of running mate. I know, like, and admire Paul Ryan. For me, the point about him is simple. He is one of only a handful of politicians in Washington who is truly sincere about addressing this country’s fiscal crisis.

Over the past few years Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” has evolved, but the essential points are clear: replace Medicare with a voucher program for those now under 55 (not current or imminent recipients), turn Medicaid and food stamps into block grants for the states, and—crucially—simplify the tax code and lower tax rates to try to inject some supply-side life back into the U.S. private sector. Ryan is not preaching austerity. He is preaching growth. And though Reagan-era veterans like David Stockman may have their doubts, they underestimate Ryan’s mastery of this subject. There is literally no one in Washington who understands the challenges of fiscal reform better.

Just as importantly, Ryan has learned that politics is the art of the possible. There are parts of his plan that he is understandably soft-pedaling right now—notably the new source of federal revenue referred to in his 2010 “Roadmap for America’s Future” as a “business consumption tax.” Stockman needs to remind himself that the real “fairy-tale budget plans” have been the ones produced by the White House since 2009.

I first met Paul Ryan in April 2010. I had been invited to a dinner in Washington where the U.S. fiscal crisis was going to be the topic of discussion. So crucial did this subject seem to me that I expected the dinner to happen in one of the city’s biggest hotel ballrooms. It was actually held in the host’s home. Three congressmen showed up—a sign of how successful the president’s fiscal version of “don’t ask, don’t tell” (about the debt) had been. Ryan blew me away. I have wanted to see him in the White House ever since.

It remains to be seen if the American public is ready to embrace the radical overhaul of the nation’s finances that Ryan proposes. The public mood is deeply ambivalent. The president’s approval rating is down to 49 percent. The Gallup Economic Confidence Index is at minus 28 (down from minus 13 in May). But Obama is still narrowly ahead of Romney in the polls as far as the popular vote is concerned (50.8 to 48.2) and comfortably ahead in the Electoral College. The pollsters say that Paul Ryan’s nomination is not a game changer; indeed, he is a high-risk choice for Romney because so many people feel nervous about the reforms Ryan proposes.

Mitt Romney is not the best candidate for the presidency I can imagine. But he was clearly the best of the Republican contenders for the nomination. He brings to the presidency precisely the kind of experience—both in the business world and in executive office—that Barack Obama manifestly lacked four years ago. (If only Obama had worked at Bain Capital for a few years, instead of as a community organizer in Chicago, he might understand exactly why the private sector is not “doing fine” right now.) And by picking Ryan as his running mate, Romney has given the first real sign that—unlike Obama—he is a courageous leader who will not duck the challenges America faces.

The voters now face a stark choice. They can let Barack Obama’s rambling, solipsistic narrative continue until they find themselves living in some American version of Europe, with low growth, high unemployment, even higher debt—and real geopolitical decline.

Or they can opt for real change: the kind of change that will end four years of economic underperformance, stop the terrifying accumulation of debt, and reestablish a secure fiscal foundation for American national security.

I’ve said it before: it’s a choice between les États Unis and the Republic of the Battle Hymn.

I was a good loser four years ago. But this year, fired up by the rise of Ryan, I want badly to win.

So of course, leftist bloggers had a cow, tried to get Prof. Ferguson fired etc, all without actually responding to his core arguments. They try to nitpick and vilify. The tactics of the far left have not changed in decades. They are in fact, laughable.

Prof Ferguson responds:

“We know no spectacle so ridiculous,” Lord Macaulay famously wrote, “as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality.” But the spectacle of the American liberal blogosphere in one of its almost daily fits of righteous indignation is not so much ridiculous as faintly sinister. Why? Because what I have encountered since the publication of my Newsweek article criticizing President Obama looks suspiciously like an orchestrated attempt to discredit me.

My critics have three things in common. First, they wholly fail to respond to the central arguments of the piece. Second, they claim to be engaged in “fact checking,” whereas in nearly all cases they are merely offering alternative (often silly or skewed) interpretations of the facts. Third, they adopt a tone of outrage that would be appropriate only if I had argued that, say, women’s bodies can somehow prevent pregnancies in case of “legitimate rape.”

Their approach is highly effective, and I must remember it if I ever decide to organize an intellectual witch hunt. What makes it so irksome is that it simultaneously dodges the central thesis of my piece and at the same time seeks to brand me as a liar. The icing on the cake has been the attempt by some bloggers to demand that I be sacked not just by Newsweek but also by Harvard University, where I am a tenured professor. It is especially piquant to read these demands from people who would presumably defend academic freedom in the last ditch—provided it is the freedom to publish opinions in line with their own ideology.

***

Let me begin by restating my argument. President Obama should be judged on his record in office. In my view, he has not only failed to live up to the high expectations of those who voted for him, but also to the pledges he made in his inaugural address. (In order to be fair, I deliberately did not judge his performance against his campaign pledges.) The economy has performed less well than the White House led us to expect, despite a bigger increase in national debt than it led us to expect (exhibit 1).

1. FY2010 Budget and Outcomes / Latest Projections

Source

Note, however, that I cut the president some slack on the economy. He inherited a bigger mess than most people appreciated back in November 2008. And forces beyond his control (Europe) have clearly dampened the recovery. Here’s what I wrote:

It was pretty hard to foresee what was going to happen to the economy in the years after 2008. Yet surely we can legitimately blame the president for the political mistakes of the past four years. After all, it’s the president’s job to run the executive branch effectively—to lead the nation. And here is where his failure has been greatest.

Notice, then, that my central critique of the president is not that the economy has underperformed, but that he has not been an effective leader of the executive branch. I go on to detail his well-documented difficulties in managing his team of economic advisers and his disastrous decision to leave it to his own party in Congress to define the terms of his stimulus, financial reform, and health-care reform. I also argue that he has consistently failed to address the crucial issue of long-term fiscal balance, with the result that the nation is now hurtling toward a fiscal cliff of tax hikes and drastic spending cuts.

The second part of my argument is that these failures of domestic leadership have fed into a failure of foreign policy. As commander in chief, President Obama has earned a relatively strong public reputation mainly thanks to a campaign of assassination that liberal bloggers would have excoriated if it had been conducted by his predecessor. His withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan will, in my view, prove to have been premature. More importantly, he has been indecisive in his responses to the revolutionary wave that has swept the Middle East since the Iranian “green” revolution of 2009. And, finally, he has been inconsistent and ineffective in his handling of the major strategic challenge of our times, the rise of China. (By the way, I base these judgments on a great many off-the-record conversations with influential policy-makers here and abroad. When a very senior military man asks you: “Have we any global strategy beyond just trying to hang on?,” you have a right to wonder if the answer might be “No.”)

I concluded by arguing that, for all these reasons, voters would be better advised to vote for Mitt Romney, especially now that he has picked Paul Ryan as his running mate. (Repeat disclosure: I made it clear in the piece that I was a John McCain supporter four years ago and am a friend of Ryan’s.)

So much for my argument, which not one of my critics has addressed. Instead, they have unleashed a storm of nit-picking and vilification. Well, let’s start with the nits.

I have already dealt with Paul Krugman’s opening salvo on the effects of the Affordable Care Act on the deficit. The point (still not grasped by Andrew Sullivan, who thinks I was just talking about the gross costs) is that the net effect of ACA on the deficit is not positive if you look at the likely costs and the likely revenues from the tax hikes that will finance it. To get to the Congressional Budget Office’s conclusion that, over 10 years, the ACA will reduce the deficit, you need to believe that the act will half the rate of growth of Medicare costs. I am not inclined to be optimistic about that.

Incidentally, while we are on the subject of the CBO’s projections, since March 2010 it has already increased its estimate of the gross costs over 10 years from $944 billion to $1,856 billion, its estimate of total revenue from $631 billion to $1,221 billion, and its estimate of total Medicare cuts from $454 billion to $743 billion. This really is a fast-moving target.

But the clincher is the CBO’s latest long-run budget forecast, according to which total federal government expenditure on health care is projected to rise from 4.9 percent of GDP this year to between 13.8 and 15.1 percent in 75 years’ time (see exhibit 2). The two scenarios the CBO presents imply either a massive tax hike, taking federal revenues from 15.8 to 29.8 percent of GDP, or a massive rise in the debt, to above 250 percent of GDP.

2. Health-Care Spending Projections

Matthew O’Brien followed up Krugman with “A Full Fact-Check.” Actually, this isn’t actually a fact check because O’Brien doesn’t successfully identify a single error. He just offers his own opinions.

Let’s take all 11 of them one by one. (It’s boring, I know, but necessary.)

1. NF: The total number of private-sector jobs is still 4.3 million below the January 2008 peak.

MO’B: The private sector has actually added jobs since Obama was sworn in.

Both these statements are true. I picked the high point of January 2008 because it seems to me reasonable to ask how much of the ground lost in the crisis have we actually made up under Obama. The answer is not much. You may not like that, but it’s a fact (exhibit 3).

3. Total Private Employment From the Current Employment Statistics Survey (National)

2. NF: Meanwhile real median annual household income has dropped more than 5 percent since June 2009.

MO’B: I can’t replicate this result. It’s difficult, because Ferguson does not cite his source.

Well, either Newsweek starts publishing footnotes or Matthew O’Brien reads a little more widely than just official statistics, which generally lag months behind. The monthly data for Median Household Income Index (HII) is produced by Sentier (exhibit 4).

4. Real Median Household Income, 2000–2012

3. NF: Nearly half the population is not represented on a taxable return–—almost exactly the same proportion that lives in a household where at least one member receives some type of government benefit.

MO’B: It is true that 46 percent of households did not pay federal income tax in 2011.

In other words, my fact is true. Because I specifically said “taxable return.” You don’t tend to record your sales tax payments on those.

4. NF: By the end of this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), [debt-to-GDP ratio] will reach 70 percent of GDP. These figures significantly understate the debt problem, however. The ratio that matters is debt to revenue. That number has leapt upward from 165 percent in 2008 to 262 percent this year, according to figures from the International Monetary Fund.

MO’B: This is incorrect. Ferguson had it right the first time—the number that matters is debt-to-GDP, not debt-to-revenue. The former reflects our capacity to pay; the latter our willingness to pay right now.

Again, O’Brien is offering here an opinion as a fact. He should read my book The Cash Nexus (2001) to understand why he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Governments don’t pay interest and redemption with GDP but with tax revenues. If it were easy to increase the tax share of GDP, we wouldn’t be heading for a fiscal cliff. My numbers are correct and can be checked using the IMF’s World Economic Outlook online database.

5. NF: Not only did the initial fiscal stimulus fade after the sugar rush of 2009, but the president has done absolutely nothing to close the long-term gap between spending and revenue.

MO’B: Ferguson wasn’t always a critic of the stimulus. Back in August 2009, he wrote that “the stimulus clearly made a significant contribution to stabilizing the U.S. economy.”

This earlier statement does not contradict my article. As anyone who looks at the data knows, the stimulus had a positive but very short-run impact and failed to achieve self-sustaining growth in the way Keynesians hoped (exhibit 5).

6. NF: The most recent estimate for the difference between the net present value of federal government liabilities and the net present value of future federal revenues—what economist Larry Kotlikoff calls the true “fiscal gap”—-is $222 trillion.

MO’B: That’s a lot of trillions! But if our fiscal gap is “really” this many trillions, why can we borrow for 30 years for a real rate of 0.64 percent? It’s because this number is meaningless.

Well, O’Brien is welcome to share his opinion with Larry Kotlikoff, the world’s leading authority on generational accounting and long-term fiscal stability. What he can’t claim is that my statement is factually inaccurate. As for the argument that current low borrowing costs mean we don’t need to worry about the debt—which is like saying that mortgage default rates in 2006 meant we didn’t need to worry about subprime—that has been comprehensively demolished in a new paper by Carmen and Vincent Reinhart and Ken Rogoff.

7. NF: The country’s largest banks are at least $50 billion short of meeting new capital requirements under the new ‘Basel III’ accords governing bank capital adequacy.

MO’B: This would be damning if we had already fully implemented the Basel III bank rules. We have not.

But I didn’t say that we had already implemented Basel III. So that’s another fact “checked” and found to be … correct.

8. NF: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 did nothing to address the core defects of the system: the long-run explosion of Medicare costs as the baby boomers retire, the “fee for service” model that drives health-care inflation, the link from employment to insurance that explains why so many Americans lack coverage, and the excessive costs of the liability insurance that our doctors need to protect them from our lawyers.

MO’B: There are reasons to think the ACA will fail to address the core defects of the health care system. But it’s wrong to say it does nothing to address them. Here’s a partial list of the things Obamacare does. It tackles the long-run explosion of Medicare costs. It tries to move away from the fee-for-service model that drives healthcare inflation. And it cuts the link between employment and insurance.

Now let’s check O’Brien’s facts. So the ACA “tackles the long-run explosion of Medicare costs.” Right. That’s why the net cost of Medicare is still projected by the CBO to treble from 3.2 percent of GDP to between 9 and 10 percent by 2087.

9. NF: Having set up a bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, headed by retired Wyoming Republican senator Alan Simpson and former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles, Obama effectively sidelined its recommendations of approximately $3 trillion in cuts and $1 trillion in added revenues over the coming decade. As a result there was no “grand bargain” with the House Republicans—which means that, barring some miracle, the country will hit a fiscal cliff on Jan. 1 …

MO’B: Now, Obama did not push Congress to adopt Simpson-Bowles, but neither did Congress adopt it.

So that’s another fact “checked” and found to be correct. And if you want to gauge the president’s share of the responsibility for the failure of a fiscal grand bargain, read Matt Bai in The New York Times.

10. NF: The World Bank expects the U.S. to grow by just 2 percent in 2012. China will grow four times faster than that; India three times faster. By 2017 the International Monetary Fund predicts, the GDP of China will overtake that of the United States.

MO’B: China has 1.3 billion people. The United States has 300 million people. China’s GDP will pass ours when they are only four times poorer than us. That might happen in 2017; it might happen later … It doesn’t really matter if and when this happens. There’s nothing Obama can do to prevent China from catching up—nor should Obama want to!

Well, there you have it. It “doesn’t really matter” that for the first time since the 1880s the United States is about to cease being the world’s largest economy. Fact checked, found to be correct, and countered with an utterly naive opinion.

11. NF: In his notorious “you didn’t build that” speech, Obama listed what he considers the greatest achievements of big government: the Internet, the GI Bill, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam, the Apollo moon landing, and even (bizarrely) the creation of the middle class. Sadly, he couldn’t mention anything comparable that his administration has achieved.

MO’B: It’s bizarre that Ferguson thinks government policies didn’t help create America’s middle class. America was the first country to make high school compulsory.

Fact checked and—oh no! I really did get that wrong. It was the government that created the middle class, as well as the Golden Gate Bridge! Remind me to tell Karl Marx about this. It will come as news to him that, contrary to his life’s work, the superstructure in fact created the base. (Come to think of it, this is going to come as shock to a lot of American liberals too. Imagine! The state actually created the bourgeoisie! Who knew?)

***

Now, we come to the third part of the strategy. First, duck the argument. Second, nitpick. Third, vilify.

First prize goes to Berkeley professor Brad DeLong, whose blog opened with the headline “Fire-His-Ass-Now.” “He lied,” rants DeLong. “Convene a committee at Harvard to examine whether he has the moral character to teach at a university.” My own counter-suggestion would be to convene a committee at Berkeley to examine whether or not Professor DeLong is spending too much of his time blogging when he really should be conducting serious research or teaching his students. For example, why hasn’t Professor DeLong published that economic history of the 20th century he’s been promising for the past six years? It can’t be writer’s block, that’s for sure.

Runner up is James Fallows of The Atlantic for his hilariously pompous post “As a Harvard Alum, I Apologize.” Well, as an Oxford alum, I laugh.

In third place comes Krugman with his charge of “unethical commentary … a plain misrepresentation of the facts” requiring “an abject correction.” The idea of getting a lesson from Paul Krugman about the ethics of commentary is almost as funny as Fallows’s apologizing on behalf of Harvard. Both these paragons of the commentariat, by the way, shamelessly accused me of racism three years ago when I drew an innocent parallel between President Obama and “Felix the Cat.” I don’t know of many more unethical tricks than to brand someone who criticizes the president a racist.

And, finally, a consolation prize for righteous indignation goes to Dylan Byers of Politico (“ridiculous, misleading, ethically questionable”).

I could, of course, go on. By tonight there will doubtless be more. The art of the modern witch hunt is to get as many like-minded bloggers as possible to repeat and preferably exaggerate the claims until finally it becomes received opinion that you are on the brink of being fired and indeed deported in chains.

I don’t usually waste time on this kind of thing. In the Internet age, you can spend one week writing a piece and the next three responding to criticism, most of it (as we have seen) worthless.

But there comes a point when you have to ask yourself: has the American public sphere so degenerated that it is now impossible to make the case for a change of president without being set upon in cyberspace by a suspiciously well-organized gang of the current incumbent’s most ideologically committed supporters?

Now that really would be something to dislike about this country.

Newt Gingrich Defends Bachmann about Muslim Brotherhood and Huma Abedin (video)

Let us be clear. Huma Abadin  is not under allegation. Her brother is a big shot in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (her mother is also a prominent figure) and has stated that the pyramids and such in Egypt should be blown up because they are idols and he says that all Christians are mentally ill – LINK  [Note – the source for this is Walid Shoebat who is an Arab Palestinian so claims that this is some sort of racist play is nonsense – Editor].  The Muslim Brotherhood wants Sharia Law through any means, be it an election, or take over by force in Jihad. They say so when speaking in their native language, but in English they talk about peace, love and social justice.

Why does it matter who her brother is? Because, according to security regulations which have been in place for decades, if you have had contact with an enemy or sworn enemy of an ally your security clearance is limited. The greater the contact the greater the limits. For national security reasons conflicts of interests have to be nipped in the bud. The question is, and this is just one question asked, why was she not properly vetted?

By the way, notice how agitated and hostile the clearly biased reporter from Politico is. This is just a single example of many why Politico has not well respected as a news organization.

Andrew C. McCarthy has two very informative articles on this issue that should be read before anyone can have a truly informed opinion on this issue:

Questions about Huma Abedin: A State Department adviser has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood – LINK

Huma Abedin’s Muslim Brotherhood Ties: Michele Bachmann has every right to ask questions – LINK

Note: Frank Gaffney and John Bolton also agree – LINK and the Center for Security Policy has a piece on this issue HERE.

Harvard’s Niall Ferguson: If the young knew what was good for them they’d join the Tea Party

Niall Ferguson is an award winning historian and economic historian who’s work is recognized around the world. This very web site contains several pieces of his work.

Daily Telegraph UK:

The economic historian, who is affiliated to Oxford and Harvard Universities, says wise young voters should insist politicians pay off debts as soon as possible for the benefit and security of their own financial interests.

Speaking at the Reith Lectures on Tuesday, Professor Ferguson will argue the “young should welcome austerity,” adding they “find it quite hard to compute their own long-term economic interests.”

In his first lecture, which will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday, Prof Ferguson will insist the current public debt “allows the current generation of voters to live at the expense of those as yet too young to vote or as yet unborn.”

“It is surprisingly easy to win the support of young voters for policies that would ultimately make matters even worse for them, like maintaining defined benefit pensions for public employees,” he says in an article ahead of the lecture.

He adds: “If young Americans knew what was good for them, they would all be in the Tea Party.”

Professor Ferguson argues the true size of government debt in Western democracies is many times larger than “deeply misleading” figures issued in the form of bonds because they do not record unfunded liabilities of social security and health care schemes.

“The last corporation to publish financial statements this misleading was Enron,” he wrote.

“These mind-boggling numbers represent nothing less than a vast claim by the generation currently retired or about to retire on their children and grandchildren, who are obligated by current law to find the money in the future, by submitting either to substantial increases in taxation or to drastic cuts in other forms of public expenditure,” he said.

He argues one of the ways out of the current economic “mess” would be for “a heroic effort of leadership” to persuade all generations to “vote for a more responsible fiscal policy.”

Read the rest HERE.

Analysis: Obama proposes $800 million in aid for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Had enough of this presidency yet?

Why would Obama want to fund the umbrella organization that oversees Hamas, the PLO, parts of Hezbollah and other terror organizations? The Muslim Brotherhood is who Obama helped to take over Egypt and Libya and they have been using armored military vehicles to mow down Christians and people who protest actions by the new government that Obama helped put in place. The Muslim Brotherhood has promised Sharia Law, persecution of women and swears to have war with Israel.

Obama has been arming the middle-east with weapons sales (including 125 M1 Tanks to Egypt) and now wants to hand them $800 million of your money while Americans are losing their homes. Be sure to look at the “related” section below.

Here is perhaps the world’s greatest living historian Prof. Niall Ferguson predicting what a disaster this would likely blow up into back in late February 2009 and time has proved Prof. Ferguson to be spot on:

Reuters:

The White House announced plans on Monday to help “Arab Spring” countries swept by revolutions with more than $800 million in economic aid, while maintaining U.S. military aid to Egypt.

In his annual budget message to Congress, President Barack Obama asked that military aid to Egypt be kept at the level of recent years — $1.3 billion — despite a crisis triggered by an Egyptian probe targeting American democracy activists.

The proposals are part of Obama’s budget request for fiscal year 2013, which begins October 1. His requests need the approval of Congress, where some lawmakers want to cut overseas spending to address U.S. budget shortfalls and are particularly angry at Egypt.

Related:

Islamic militants receive two-thirds vote in Egypt – LINK

AP: Egyptian Women March Against Abuse by Military – LINK

It’s official, Egypt is a disaster – LINK

Marxist Left allies with Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Middle East – LINK

Carter Vouches for Muslim Brotherhood – LINK

Prof. Niall Ferguson Blasts Obama and MSNBC on Egypt – LINK

My Concerns About the Operation in Libya & Egypt – LINK

Former head of CIA “bin Laden Unit”: Libyan rebels are like the Taliban – LINK

Libya’s transitional leader says Islamic Sharia law will be the “basic source” of all law – LINK

John Kerry in Egypt meeting with Muslim Brotherhood – LINK


Prof. Niall Ferguson Blasts Obama and MSNBC on Egypt

[Flashback February 2011. Since our Egypt and Libya policy are ending in disaster with the Muslim Brotherhood taking power in both countries, with Christians being slaughtered and in the case of Egypt, being attacked by government armored vehicles, and the Obama administration selling tanks, choppers, small arms, and missiles to Egypt and other countries in the Islamic world, we thought a second look at the editor’s previous coverage of this category is in order. The category list is on the lower right hand pane of the page. – Editor]

Niall Ferguson is the kind of academic that one ideally thinks of when it comes to a first rate academic. He is a Senior Fellow at Harvard, Oxford and Stanford.

Niall Ferguson is brilliant and his credentials are second to none. He has no regard for sacred cows or political correctness. This makes sense because an academic should first be a truth teller who makes every effort to avoid putting on rose colored glasses.

Ferguson plays no favorites. He is happy to write for Newsweek, be a regular on MSNBC, and then feels perfectly comfortable telling accurate history and making analysis for Glenn Beck. No matter who Prof. Furguson is in front of he pulls no punches and tells things as they are to the best of his ability. This is exactly the kind of ethical courage and fortitude that every academic should strive for.

One quality that many good academics have is that they go out of their way to correct ignorance no matter who is spewing it. I understand Ferguson’s frustration with the Obama Administration and the State Department who sit back and get their analysis on Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood completely wrong.  Prof. Ferguson cops a bit of an attitude when it comes to this because anyone who just does a few hours of history homework could tell Mika (or Obama) what Ferguson explains here.

The State Department is on the campus of George Washington University. If one studies far left academia and its myopic culture, one soon understands the State Department.

Prof. Ferguson took Mika to school when she challenged Ferguson saying that she thought Egypt was a success for the President. This is a great example of how far removed the elite media is from reality.

This is a must see video.

Ironically, what Prof. Ferguson says about what the Middle East thinks about the naivety of this administration mirrors what Donald Trump says that hid Chinese government contacts are telling him.

UPDATE – Walid Shoebat agrees with Prof Ferguson – LINK.

Prof. Ferguson has little tolerance for spin and nonsense. I am going to start reading his books.

Niall Ferguson: Decline of the USA and the Rise of Asian Economies

Ferguson: Chinese economic growth has been almost 10% but more importantly China’s consumer growth has been even higher.

[Editor’s Note – America’s “recovery” if that is what you want to call it is not consumer friendly, it is not investor friendly, it is not production friendly which means it is just not business friendly unless of course that business is well-connected to government, but even that is not a guarantee when one looks at Solyndra and these other “green jobs” boondoggles that have proved to be a colossal waste of money with the only people who benefitted were those who were politically connected who paid themselves ridiculously.

China and even Canada’s recovery has been more consumer and risk taker friendly. China has no capital gains tax and they are still bringing in revenue in a big way which is another indicator of the utter brokenness of our gargantuan tax code.

I disagree with Ferguson that we need to weaken our dollar even further, quite frankly enough is enough.  We have weakened it plenty and we have not seen the desired/theoretical increase in manufacturing exports. Why? Confidence in America, its leadership, and as a place to do business cannot recover while we are trashing the dollar. Of course this interview was done in June 2010 so perhaps Ferguson has moderated his view on this by now. There are other reasons the consumer and the risk taker have lost confidence besides the deliberate trashing of the dollar, but it is a significant reason nonetheless.

Ferguson correctly states that what is bigger than our current economic problem is the lack of those in power to deal with our unsustainable fiscal path. The Paul Krugman/leftist idea of trillion dollar deficits for the next 70 years is ridiculous because those who by our bonds will just stop loaning us the money. The TEA Party zeal to tackle this problem combined with the genius of those like Paul Ryan/Mitch Daniels/Herman Cain etc may yet save America.]

Niall Ferguson speaks out on Paul Ryan, Paul Krugman, and America’s debt

Pardon the dopey 15 second introduction before the substance of the video begins (we didn’t edit this piece), but watch this video.

The Chinese have noticed what the rest of the worlds investors pretend not to see: The United States is on a completely unsustainable fiscal course with no apparent political means of self correction…

Prof Niall Ferguson: Paul Krugman is a joke, Keynesianism is dead, China is more capitalist than we are, get the debt under control or Western Civilization is done for…

Have you ever heard one of those sports guys on the radio who can tell you the stats of every football and baseball game since 1940 right off the top of their head? Prof. Niall Ferguson is like that, but with history and the history of economics. Prof Niall Ferguson is accepted by many academics as the most brilliant historian alive and judging by all I have seen in recent years I have only seen one man in my lifetime who is in the same ballpark as far as ability in this area is concerned. Take a look at his bio HERE.

Ferguson said in another interview that only one time in history has a major power emerged from this kind of debt and survived and that was England after the wars of the 1800’s. It doesn’t look good unless we change course now.

The volume is low on some of the videos so you may have to adjust your speaker volume.

Prof. Niall Ferguson on Obama: A colossal failure of American foreign policy.

Niall Ferguson


WANTED: A Grand Strategy for America

By Niall Ferguson

“The statesman can only wait and listen until he hears the footsteps of God resounding through events; then he must jump up and grasp the hem of His coat, that is all.” Thus Otto von Bismarck, the great Prussian statesman who united Germany and thereby reshaped Europe’s balance of power nearly a century and a half ago.

Last week, for the second time in his presidency, Barack Obama heard those footsteps, jumped up to grasp a historic opportunity . . . and missed it completely.

In Bismarck’s case it was not so much God’s coattails he caught as the revolutionary wave of mid-19th-century German nationalism. And he did more than catch it; he managed to surf it in a direction of his own choosing. The wave Obama just missed—again—is the revolutionary wave of Middle Eastern democracy. It has surged through the region twice since he was elected: once in Iran in the summer of 2009, the second time right across North Africa, from Tunisia all the way down the Red Sea toYemen. But the swell has been biggest in Egypt, the Middle East’s most populous country.

In each case, the president faced stark alternatives. He could try to catch the wave, Bismarck style, by lending his support to the youthful revolutionaries and trying to ride it in a direction advantageous to American interests. Or he could do nothing and let the forces of reaction prevail. In the case of Iran, he did nothing, and the thugs of the Islamic Republic ruthlessly crushed the demonstrations. This time around,

in Egypt, it was worse. He did both—some days exhorting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to leave, other days drawing back and recommending an “orderly transition.”

The result has been a foreign-policy debacle. The president has alienated everybody: not only Mubarak’s cronies in the military, but also the youthful crowds in the streets of Cairo. Whoever ultimately wins, Obama loses. And the alienation doesn’t end there. America’s two closest friends in the region—Israel and Saudi Arabia—are both disgusted.  The Saudis, who dread all manifestations of revolution, are appalled at Washington’s failure to resolutely prop up Mubarak. The Israelis, meanwhile, are dismayed by the administration’s apparent cluelessness.

Last week, while other commentators ran around Cairo’s Tahrir Square, hyperventilating about what they saw as an Arab 1989, I flew to Tel Aviv for the annual Herzliya security conference. The consensus among the assembled experts on the Middle East? A colossal failure of American foreign policy.

This failure was not the result of bad luck. It was the predictable consequence of the Obama administration’s lack of any kind of coherent grand strategy, a deficit about which more than a few veterans of U.S. foreign policy making have long worried. The president himself is not wholly to blame. Although cosmopolitan by both birth and upbringing, Obama was an unusually parochial politician prior to his election, judging by his scant public pronouncements on foreign-policy issues.

Yet no president can be expected to be omniscient. That is what advisers are for. The real responsibility for the current strategic vacuum lies not with Obama himself, but with the National Security Council, and in particular with the man who ran it until last October: retired Gen. James L. Jones. I suspected at the time of his appointment that General Jones was a poor choice. A big, bluff Marine, he once astonished me by recommending that Turkish troops might lend the United States support in Iraq. He seemed mildly surprised when I suggested the Iraqis might resent such a reminder of centuries of Ottoman Turkish rule.

The best national-security advisers have combined deep knowledge of international relations with an ability to play the Machiavellian Beltway game, which means competing for the president’s ear against the other would-be players in the policymaking process: not only the defense secretary but also the secretary of state and the head of the Central Intelligence Agency. No one has ever done this better than Henry Kissinger. But the crucial thing about Kissinger as national-security adviser was not the speed with which he learned the dark arts of interdepartmental turf warfare. It was the skill with which he, in partnership with Richard Nixon, forged a grand strategy for the United States at a time of alarming geopolitical instability.

The essence of that strategy was, first, to prioritize (for example, détente with the Soviets before human-rights issues within the U.S.S.R.) and then to exert pressure by deliberately linking key issues. In their hardest task—salvaging peace with honor in Indochina by preserving the independence of South Vietnam—Nixon and Kissinger ultimately could not succeed. But in the Middle East they were able to eject the Soviets from a position of influence and turn Egypt from a threat into a malleable ally. And their overtures to China exploited the divisions within the Communist bloc, helping to set Beijing on an epoch-making new course of economic openness.

The contrast between the foreign policy of the Nixon-Ford years and that of President Jimmy Carter is a stark reminder of how easily foreign policy can founder when there is a failure of strategic thinking.  The Iranian Revolution of 1979, which took the Carter administration wholly by surprise, was a catastrophe far greater than the loss of South Vietnam.

Remind you of anything? “This is what happens when you get caught by surprise,” an anonymous American official told The New York Times last week.

“We’ve had endless strategy sessions for the past two years on Mideast peace, on

containing Iran. And how many of them factored in the possibility that Egypt

moves from stability to turmoil? None.”

I can think of no more damning indictment of the administration’s strategic thinking than this: it never once considered a scenario in which Mubarak faced a popular revolt. Yet the very essence of rigorous strategic thinking is to devise such a scenario and to think through the best responses to them, preferably two or three moves ahead of actual or potential adversaries. It is only by doing these things—ranking priorities and gaming scenarios—that a coherent foreign policy can be made. The Israelis have been hard at work doing this. All the president and his NSC team seem to have done is to draft touchy-feely speeches like the one he delivered in Cairo early in his presidency.

These were his words back in June 2009: America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles—principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

Those lines will come back to haunt Obama if, as cannot be ruled out, the ultimate beneficiary of his bungling in Egypt is the Muslim Brotherhood, which remains by far the best organized opposition force in the country—and wholly committed to the restoration of the caliphate and the strict application of Sharia. Would such an outcome advance “tolerance and the dignity of all human beings” in Egypt? Somehow, I don’t think so.

Grand strategy is all about the necessity of choice.  Today, it means choosing between a daunting list of objectives: to resist the spread of radical Islam, to limit Iran’s ambition to become dominant in the Middle East, to contain the rise of China as an economic rival, to guard against a Russian “reconquista” of Eastern Europe—and so on. The defining characteristic of Obama’s foreign policy has been not just a failure to prioritize, but also a failure to recognize the need to do so.  A succession of speeches saying, in essence, “I am not George W. Bush” is no substitute for a strategy.

Bismarck knew how to choose. He understood that riding the nationalist wave would enable Prussia to become the dominant force in Germany, but that thereafter the No. 1 objective must be to keep France and Russia from uniting against his new Reich. When asked for his opinion about colonizing Africa, Bismarck famously replied: “My map of Africa lies in Europe. Here lies Russia and here lies France, and we are in the middle. That is my map of Africa.”

Tragically, no one knows where Barack Obama’s map of the Middle East is. At best, it is in the heartland states of America, where the fate of his presidency will be decided next year, just as Jimmy Carter’s was back in 1980.

At worst, he has no map at all.

Niall Ferguson: Civilization – Is the West History?

This is the complete documentary of the six “killer apps” or ideals that made Western Civilization great by Prof. Niall Ferguson.

This six part series that explains the rise of the West, why it rose and why other civilizations did not. After looking into why our civilization became great, you will realize we are now struggling because we are abandoning those things that made us great. Get ready to learn and understand history better in a few hours than years of college would bring you. This series is entertaining and mega-informative. Every person alive should watch them as they are invaluable.

Competition

Science

Property

Medicine

Consumerism

The Protestant Work Ethic

Prof. Niall Ferguson: school history lessons ‘lack all cohesion’

Niall Ferguson is one of my very favorite academics. He creates narratives based on verifiable evidence and will not hesitate to rhetorically unravel anyone who skews history or what is obvious due to ideology or partisanship. Niall Ferguson is a site to see in a debate. Former professors of mine who thought I was too rough on people for displaying inexcusable ignorance, wait till you get a load of Niall.

Here is an example:

Interesting that Niall takes the same position that several on talk radio have (Limbaugh, Beck), as well as this web site has, that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a pro-democracy movement at all as the “establishment” insists and that is merely the organizations smiley front face. This video was from early last February. The Muslim Brotherhood is taking power, this is tantamount to 1979 in Iran and they want to break the peace treaty with Israel and impose Sharia, which will devastate their economy even more and create more instability. Notice what he says at the end, “This is a high probability scenario and the President is not even considering it.” He called it.

The Guardian:

Historian says too few pupils are spending too little time studying history, particularly in state schools.

The Harvard academic Niall Ferguson has warned that too few pupils are spending too little time studying history – and what they do study lacks a sweeping narrative.

He offers his own lesson plan to remedy what he says is a lack of cohesion, in which pupils place six “building block” events, including the Reformation and the French revolution, into the right order.

His plan aims to give pupils an overview of the years 1400 to 1914, and encourage them “to understand and offer answers to the most important question of that period: why did the west dominate the rest?”

Ferguson, who has been invited by the education secretary, Michael Gove, to play a role in overhauling the history curriculum, directs the teacher to show their class a map of the world circa 1913 “showing the extent of the western empires”.

The class then divides into groups to defend the merits of six ingredients of western success, ranging from “competition” to – perhaps more controversially — “the work ethic”.

Ferguson, who works as a consultant for a software developer that creates history-based games, encourages the class to play five rounds of the multi-player game Commerce, Conquest and Colonisation, as a supplementary activity. The plan is aimed at a mixed-ability class in year 10, the first year of a history GCSE course.

In an article for the Guardian’s education supplement, Ferguson disagrees with a recent Ofsted survey that praised history teaching in secondary schools. While Ofsted criticised “disconnected topics” in the primary history curriculum, it said that provision was good or outstanding in most secondaries they visited.

Ferguson says: “Clearly, all last year’s talk by Michael Gove, Simon Schama, myself and others about the urgent need for reform was mere alarmism, doubtless actuated by some sinister political motive.”

Ofsted’s report said it was a “popular and inaccurate myth” that students at GCSE and A-level only studied Hitler. Students were required to study a range of topics, including a substantial amount of British history, the school inspectors said.

Ferguson’s fellow celebrity historian Simon Schama has agreed to advise ministers on an overhaul of the national curriculum intended to restore a narrative “island story” of Britain.

Ferguson writes: “History is emphatically not being made available to all in English schools. Too few pupils, especially in the state sector, spend too little time doing it. And what they study lacks all cohesion.”

The academic criticises “an unholy alliance between well-meaning politicians and educationalists” for reshaping history teaching to focus more on skills such as analysing sources while neglecting facts.

“The challenge for the education secretary, Michael Gove, is to make sure that he is not the latest in a succession of politicians to see his plans for reform subverted by an educational establishment – here exemplified by Ofsted – that is still in deep denial about the damage its beloved new history has done.”

Ferguson laments the fact that England is the only country in Europe where history is not compulsory after the age of 14, and expresses concern that design and technology is a more popular subject at GCSE.

He quotes a survey of first-year undergraduates that found that around two-thirds did not know who was monarch at the time of the Armada, while 69% did not know the location of the Boer war. The survey was a quiz set by an economics lecturer at Cardiff University, which tested first years’ historical knowledge over a three-year intake.

Ferguson writes: “Such evidence should make us very skeptical indeed about Ofsted’s claim that history is ‘a successful subject in schools'”.

The historian approves of a passage in Ofsted’s report, which highlights a lack of narrative in primary school history teaching.

“The only thing wrong with this observation is that Ofsted seems to think it applies only to primary school pupils, whereas it could equally well be applied to those in secondary school – and students at a good few universities, too.”

The “long arc of time” has been replaced by “odds and sods”, Ferguson says.

Niall Ferguson’s history lesson plan is available to download from the Guardian Teacher Network.