Saturday, April 30, 2011

History is No Help to the Federal Reserve ... Alan Caruba

History is No Help to the Federal Reserve

By Alan Caruba

Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, gave a press conference on Wednesday and, try as I did, I fell asleep almost immediately. For those suffering from insomnia, I would recommend you “take two Bernanke’s and call me in the morning.”

At the time of his appointment Bernanke was widely known as an expert on the history of the Great Depression. It was commonly thought that he would avoid putting the nation through a similar experience, but a long, deep recession has put that in doubt.

In “New Deal or Raw Deal”, historian Burton Folsom, Jr., identified three major causes of the Great Depression, beginning with a Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act on imported goods that was signed in June 1930 by Herbert Hoover. It was the highest tariff on imported goods in U.S. history. Other nations retaliated. “Our exports, therefore, dropped from $7 billion in 1929 to $2.5 billion by 1932.” The result was that “By July the stock market had lost one-third of its value in ten months”, a second major cause of the Depression whose beginning is generally dated to the Wall Street crash of October 1929.

The other cause was due to the fact that, in the three years leading up to the bill, “the national debt balloon(ed) from $1.3 billion to $24 billion.” Our current national debt is equal to our entire Gross Domestic Product, the value of all of the nation’s goods and services.

Folsom identified the third leading cause as “the poor performance of the Federal Reserve. “In practice, the Fed had raised interest rates four times, from 3.5 percent to 6 percent, during 1928 and 1929. That made it harder for businessmen to borrow money to invest, which hindered economic growth.”

Under former Chairman Alan Greenspan and Bernanke, the Fed has kept the interest rates it charges banks to nearly zero. Bernanke is no doubt aware that the Fed’s failure to lend money to cash-hungry banks led to the collapse of hundreds during the Great Depression.

Fast-forward to present times and we see that the Fed has literally flooded the economy with cash, essentially by simply printing money out of thin air. All of it is backed by the “full faith and credit” of the government.

On April 25, The Wall Street Journal headlined an article, “Fed Searches for Next Step” noting that it “is likely to begin closing a wide-open credit spigot this week—but faces a major decision: when to start draining the excess credit out of the economy by raising interest rates.”

Whether the economy was infused with great gobs of cash or whether that liquidity is slowed, the Fed—then and now—is caught in a vice because history demonstrates that neither action had the desired purpose. If this was a game of Monopoly, the players could put the board away in its box, but neither history nor current trends point to anything other than a severe depression.

The rating service, Standard & Poors, recently issued a warning that the U.S. debt was slipping into a “negative” situation and this has been followed with a prediction by the International Monetary Fund that the U.S. economy will be overtaken by China in just five years. S&P is famous for its failure to spot bad guys like Enron, to whom it gave high ratings right up to the day it collapsed, nor should we believe the IMF propaganda which suspiciously tries to panic Americans.

The Fed was created by a small group of bankers and came into being in 1913. In good times and bad it has functioned in concert with international banks to control the volatility of the financial marketplace and sustain the viability of the individual nations they represent. The Fed functions largely in secret. The oversight that Congress is supposed to exercise is much the same of its regulatory agencies that have rarely seen trouble brewing, nor been able to do much about it except to clean up the mess with taxpayer’s funds.

The problem in the 1930s and now is the national debt, the result of insane, profligate spending. Those in the White House and the Democratic Party are opposing any rational steps to reduce it.

Instead, it enacted Obamacare, legislation that will further crash the economies of individual States. Some twenty-eight States are already on record opposing it. An effort to have it declared unconstitutional was greeted by the Supreme Court with a refusal to expedite the case just before the judges began a three month vacation.

An April 27, 2010 Cato Institute briefing paper by Arnold King presciently noted that “Recently, the Federal Reserve has significantly altered the procedures and goal that it had followed for decades. It has more than doubled its balance sheet, paid interest to banks on reserves held as deposits with the Fed, made decisions about which institutions to prop up and which should be allowed to fail, invested in assets that expose taxpayers to large losses, and raised questions about how it will avoid inflation despite an unprecedented increase in the monetary base.”

The Cato paper was titled “The Case for Auditing the Fed is Obvious.” The fate of the nation is held in the hands of the Federal Reserve. It performed poorly in the late 1920s and 30s, and confidence in its ability to extricate the nation from its enormous debt may well be misplaced.

A combination of unsustainable entitlement programs, too much spending, and the collapse of the housing market that resulted from Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s belief that housing prices would never fall has brought us to this point in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

The response by the government, however, was to buy the bank’s bad debts and engage in multi-billion dollar “stimulus programs” which we were told would create employment and put the economy on track to recovery. It has not happened.

Instead, taxpayers have had the nation’s future put in jeopardy into the next and further generations, some of whom are as yet unborn.

Despite the Fed’s printing presses, the U.S. dollar is in decline at the same time that the price of gasoline, food, and everything else is rising.

The 2010 elections that put Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives, the branch of government that initiates spending bills, has resulted in partisan warfare on Capitol Hill as the GOP weighs what steps it can take. Ambivalence about raising the debt ceiling reflects GOP concerns regarding the 2012 national elections and their fear that they, not the Democrats that regained control of Congress in 2006 will be blamed for the current crisis.

Suffice to say that both political parties deserve blame for years spent initiating excessive spending and ignoring the warning signs.

Meanwhile President Obama has declared his candidacy airily demanding that taxes be raised on “the rich” at a time when raising taxes is the worst possible choice to make as the economy struggles to recover. For the passed two years, the Obama administration has engaged in every effort to undermine and destroy the economy.

John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers and the nation’s second President, warned “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

2012 looms as an election year in which Americans will decide whether to change course or, indeed, commit suicide.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Sorry State of Education in America


The Sorry State of Education in America
J. D. Longstreet

I was somewhat busy yesterday, along with many other Tar Heels, dodging our second attack of tornadoes in less than a month.  As a result, I had little time to think and write a commentary suitable for publication. But, as I continue to be troubled by the state of our public education system in the US, I decided to re-submit to the editors an article written back in 2005 that addresses my concerns about the horrible state of public education in the US. 

Even though this piece was written six years ago, it could have been written today. 

A great disservice is being done our youngsters today and until the parents of our kids decide enough is enough -- and demand an overhaul of the American public education system -- that disservice will continue and we will continue to produce graduates who simply do not measure up to the graduates of education systems around the world. It places America at a distinct disadvantage in, well, everything.  It is, in fact, a matter of national security, let alone national survival.

Here now is the commentary I wrote six years ago.  I hope it will stir parents to evaluate the quality of their child’s education in the existing public education system of America and pledge to take action on the behalf of their children’s future -- and the future of America.

Please – read on.

The American Public School System Is A Failure And Should Be Trashed!
By: J. D. Longstreet
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The Public Schools system of the US has crashed and burned! No longer are our children the best educated in the world. Now our scholars rank among the LESS well educated even among a few of the third world countries. This is a shame we have brought upon ourselves by inviting the Federal Government and the Unions into our schools.

One-room schoolhouses turned out scholars of unequaled accomplishment when compared to today’s graduates. A high school education, just 50 years ago, is the equivalent of a college degree today. Our Public School teachers are barely qualified to teach. But, they have a Union to see that they are paid well, whether the can teach or not! Oh, you thought teachers unions were for the welfare of the students??? Surely you jest!

Our local school boards have gorged themselves from the federal trough at the expense of local control of the curriculum and the rules and regulations.

Pupils are not challenged by the courses they study and fall short of goals set by the federal government. So, the schools are now “teaching the tests.” Indoctrinate the students in the questions and answers on the test in hopes of attaining the sought after number of students passing the tests. A well-rounded education is lost to the efforts to make a good showing on the tests.

Students are forced to remain in school even though they have no interest in what is being taught and are a distraction to that handful of youngsters who really do want to learn.

Self-esteem is the number one course of study. Our students are dumb as fence posts but, by golly, they think highly of themselves! They can’t read their diplomas but they sure do feel good about it!

So what do we do about it?

Take back our schools for a start. Refuse federal money and all the strings that go with it. If we have to teach school, again, in one-room school buildings, then so be it.

Test the teachers. If they have no business in a classroom, see to it that they are removed.

Make school voluntary. If a student does not want to be there, then don’t make them. This will allow those students who do wish an education to get one without the continuous interruptions by the bored kids who’d rather be someplace else.
Having a small percentage of illiterate Americans is preferable to an entire population of semi-illiterates!

Discipline? Yes. Expulsion. Period. Expel troublemakers for a few days, a few weeks, or a full school year, or even forever, depending on the infraction. Make school a serious business again. We owe an environment, suitable for learning, to those students who are there for the purpose of learning and making a better life for themselves, their families, and for our society.

We can take our schools back. We have to want to do so and we have to be ready to make the sacrifices necessary to insure our children a good education, not the pitiful excuse for an education they are getting now.

One of a parent’s primary obligations, as a parent, is to see that their children have a shot at the brass ring in life. The first, and most fundamental, step in that process is a solid education.

Government vouchers were killed by the teachers unions because they rightly understood that the public school system would crumble, and collapse, as parents pulled their children out of those near useless institutions and placed them in private schools where they, the parents, had some say, and some control, over the quality of education their kids were getting.

In my opinion, the public school system is near collapse -- right now. I don’t think a collapse of the US public education system would be a bad thing, actually. When an institution is so badly damaged, that it no longer serves it’s primary purpose, it should be trashed and a new institution begun in its place. We desperately need to create an institution to educate our kids.

Parents, we owe our kids that! We owe them a chance to make the best of their talents. We owe them a shot at a good, solid, education. Get them out of the public schools and into a private, or parochial, school where there are qualified teachers who still have an incentive to teach our kids, the will to teach our kids, and the desire to teach our kids.

The public school system in America is a failure. It should be put out of its misery.

J. D. Longstreet

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Some Americans Still Dream

 Some Americans Still Dream

A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet

Yes, I am a dreamer. Always have been. I hope I always shall be.

As I reach that point in the human life cycle where one can sense the end approaching, my dreams are now blunted by the knowledge that much of the “stuff” I dream about will not become real until I have left this plain of existence.  That makes me sad.

As I was looking through the archives of Longstreet’s Commentaries a while back, I came across a piece I wrote way back in 2007, in which I stressed how important it was for man to continue the exploration of space… not just near space but on out into the stars.  I was then, and I remain today, convinced that THAT is where man’s future lies.

OK.  I DO know America is broke, at the moment.  And I admit to being pessimistic about America’s complete recovery due to, as I see it, a lack of intelligent, and brave, and innovative leadership.  I long for a GOP presidential candidate I can support and for whom I can vote.  A candidate that can stir my heart and mind as Ronald Reagan did with his “Morning in America” philosophy of optimism that brought America roaring back from the depressing doldrums of a Jimmy Carter Administration that seemed to believe it was Carter’s calling in life to preside over an America in decline.  

It is obvious the Obama Administration feels the same as Jimmy Carter.  We see the evidence everyday right before our eyes as Obama pulls America out of the global leadership role in favor of allowing other countries to take the lead in solving problems that affect everyone on the globe.  (See the war in Libya)

Not studying history condemns one, including nations, to make the same mistakes over again.  We are seeing the results of Obama’s lack of historical knowledge and perspective playing out in the war in Libya today.

If America withdraws from its global leadership role chaos will reign on the globe.  How do I know?  How can I make such a bold statement?  Simple.  History teaches us that.  Read it.  Study it.  You will find I am correct.

If I have learned anything, at all, in my many decades on this earth, it is that we will survive and we will create a new country, or countries, on this continent.  I must say, that I do not see how the fifty state country we know as the “United” States of America can survive, at all. We are simply too divided.  Differences in regional cultures and political philosophies will not allow us to remain a single people, a single nation. 

Understand: many of the states now in “The union” cannot abide socialism.  On the other hand, many of the states are pushing for more socialism.  That alone will be the single most important factor in shattering the US and creating at least two separate countries, maybe more.

It is a nightmare for me.  But, I have come to believe it will, eventually, be the only way freedom-loving people will be able to preserve their freedom. 

The US monetary system now employed will, of necessity, be dropped in favor of a new monetary system to meet the needs of the new country domestically and for worldwide trade.  In fact that may happen even before the separation becomes a reality.
Needless to say, I will be among those who refuse to live under socialism.

Now here’s the rub, at least ONE of them:  Man’s time on this planet is not unlimited. To ensure the continued existence of the human race we have no alternative but to explore and seek out new worlds to settle where we can propagate and flourish.

I say again: Man MUST look to, and MUST go to, the stars.  It is our destiny.  It is what we humans do.  We have reached our limits here on Earth, so now we must stretch out into the myriad of worlds awaiting our arrival. 

The sad thing is, we should already be there.  Curbing America’s space program, after the visits to our moon, was the biggest mistake the US has ever made.  I am convinced history will prove the sagacity of that statement.

While our space program is nearly 4 decades behind where it should be today, we have no choice but to gear up, suck it up, pay the price, and get back on track… as soon as is humanly possible. 

We Americans must never give up our dreams and we must never allow ourselves to cease dreaming.  America, itself, was a dream. Remember?  To some around the world it remains a dream.

I am convinced man’s destiny lies out there, among the stars.  Some even speculate that man originated out there someplace.  If so, we will simply be going home! 

Whatever the case, I am convinced we are treading a path that can be trod only once.  There is no going back. We can only go forward – IF, that is, we wish to survive -- not only as Americans -- but also as a species.

J. D. Longstreet

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Middle East Mess ... Alan Caruba

 

The Middle East Mess

By Alan Caruba


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Anyone such as myself who lived through the long years of the Vietnam quagmire knows that the United States is repeating the same errors in the Middle East that we did with that nation. We seem incapable of recognizing a civil war when we see one and incapable of not inserting ourselves in the midst of it.

I speak specifically of Libya and the inchoate decisions and measures taken by the Obama administration. To suggest that the present White House and State Department have a Middle East “policy” is to vastly overstate and misunderstand their ignorance of that region of the world and the forces at work within it.

The United States has been militarily involved in Afghanistan since 2001, shortly after 9/11. What should have been a short sortie to inflict punishment on the al Qaeda and the Taliban has turned into a classic “quagmire”. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 reflects this as well.

Like many, I thought that the application of U.S. military intervention would somehow drag the Middle East into the 21st century, but clearly the region remains subject to the seventh century religion of Islam and its schism between the majority Sunnis and the minority Shiites. Islam, plus a tribalism that reaches back millennia, renders the Middle East intractable to the West’s efforts.

Billions have been squandered in Afghanistan and Iraq, while the real enemy, Iran, has been allowed to go unscathed in its pursuit of regional hegemony and its pursuit of nuclear parity with its “neighbors”, Pakistan, India, and Russia.

As this is written, Saudi Arabia has concluded that the United States will take no action to stop the Iranian nuclear program and is seeking to pull together a Gulf State coalition to end the expansionist ambitions of the Iranian ayatollahs. The Saudis have also consulted with Israel.

Forty years seems to be the limit that Middle Eastern populations will tolerate the various despots that have controlled Islamic nations. In Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt and Syria those in charge have found themselves under siege and, in some cases, removed.

In two cases, Libya and Egypt, the Obama administration has openly sided with the rebels. At the same time, it has incomprehensibly offered a weak defense of Syria’s dictator, Bashar el-Assad, Iran’s strongest ally in the region. Sensing a shift in power, even Egypt’s new ruling body has reached out to Iran to thaw decades of antipathy.

The only consistent Middle Eastern policy of the Obama administration has been its hostility to Israel, the region’s only democracy and America’s traditional ally since its founding just over sixty years ago. For all the caterwauling about the Palestinians, they have long since been abandoned by the Arab nations and are now well within the Iranian orbit of influence and support.

The Palestinians could have had a separate state decades ago but have always pursued an all-or-nothing policy aimed at the destruction of Israel. It is widely believed that they will initiate a new war as Iran’s proxies, from Lebanon in the north and Gaza in the south.

The Palestinians, in fact, have a sovereign nation. It is called Jordan which lost the West Bank, part of ancient Israel, to modern Israel after attacking it in 1947-48 and 1967.

Iraq has made it clear to the United States that it wants to see American troops withdrawn as agreed by the end of the year. Its Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki recently ordered an attack on Camp Ashraf, home to 3,500 Iranian dissidents for the past twenty-six years. That should tell even the casual observer that Iraq is now in the Iranian orbit. This is true as well of Lebanon, first occupied by Syria for decades and now in the grip of the Palestinian Hezbollah.

As to the Iranian people, the Obama administration made it clear they have been abandoned after protests against Mamoud Ahmadinejad’s stolen election last year received no support whatever by a U.S.

America has severely weakened itself since 9/11 with ill-advised military excursions that, like the Vietnam debacle, have proven costly in treasure and lives sacrificed in an area that is resentful of our unwanted incursions, coupled with our addled “nation building” schemes.

There is a massive realignment occurring as the result of the popular uprisings against despots across the North African Maghreb and the heart of Middle Eastern nations, several of which were the artificial creations of Western interests. Resentments against the tyrannies of former despots will likely give way to new despots, not democratic reform.

There is no end to the resentment against America and the West.

Lacking any kind of cohesive policy toward Arab nations except for the oil they provide, the only sensible policy America should pursue would be to drill for our own extensive oil reserves to prevent a severe shock to our economy and security. So long as Obama is President, this will not happen.

There is no perceivable policy in place to stand against Iran and has not been since the Carter administration abandoned the Pahlavi regime in 1979. The fall of Tunisia’s Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, Egypt’s Mubarack, Syria’s Assad, and the resistance to Gadhafi, along with unrest in Yemen and Bahrain will be seen, in retrospect, as inevitable.

What remains is a Maghreb and Middle East in a volatile struggle to determine whether it returns to an Islamism reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire or an enlightened embrace of Western values.

There is little reason to hope for a good outcome.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

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Alan Caruba's commentaries are posted daily at "Warning Signs" his popular blog and thereafter on dozens of other websites and blogs. If you love to read, visit his monthly report on new books at Bookviews. To visit his Facebook page, click here For information on his professional skills, Caruba.com is the place to visit.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I Fear For My Country

 I Fear For My Country

A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet


In 2009 I wrote the following:  I fear for my country.  America has gone from a vibrant capitalist society to a dying socialist society almost overnight.  We have become an impotent sleeping giant sprawled across the globe whiling away our days dreaming of a socialist utopia that does not exist and never has.  If anything, we among all, people are the most to be pitied.  How pathetic we have become.  We have traded our shining city on a hill for a government low-rent housing project.  The worst of it is… we did it of our own free will!

Yes, democracy can be a dangerous way to govern a country as the German people learned when allied bombs were raining down on their cities.  They chose the Furher of their own free will and they paid a price no nation should ever have to pay.

For democracy to exist, to thrive, and to survive, it is incumbent, it is REQUIRED, that the electorate is intelligent, learned, and knowledgeable people.  Because it is they who decide, by their votes, whether democracy, in a free country, lives or dies.

The overriding question today is… Can America even survive?  The answer, realistically, is… NO, she cannot… not if she continues the course she chose in 2008.  Having said that, we must also say that YES, America can survive… IF she changes course and returns to her roots as a capitalist, democratic representative republic. 

There is likely to be a historic internal struggle in America over the next few years to decide the issue of whether America lives or dies.  It will be ugly as such struggles always are.  The first indication of which form of government Americans really want is likely to come in 2010 when Americans return to the polls.  If socialist candidates are thrown out and defeated, there is REAL HOPE.  If not, rest assured the struggle will go on for many decades into the future.  America will be a troubled land for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Old America is gone.  This New America cannot hold a candle to the greatness of the old America.”

Earlier this week we learned that China’s economy will surpass that of the US by 2016.  In an article by Brett Arends, MarketWatch, entitled:  “IMF bombshell: Age of America nears end” Mr. Arends says: “According to the latest IMF official forecasts, China’s economy will surpass that of America in real terms in 2016 — just five years from now.

Put that in your calendar.

It provides a painful context for the budget wrangling taking place in Washington right now. It raises enormous questions about what the international security system is going to look like in just a handful of years. And it casts a deepening cloud over both the U.S. dollar and the giant Treasury market, which have been propped up for decades by their privileged status as the liabilities of the world’s hegemonic power.”

Mr. Arends goes on to say:  “According to the IMF forecast, whoever is elected U.S. president next year — Obama? Mitt Romney? Donald Trump? — will be the last to preside over the world’s largest economy.” (You may read the entire article HERE.)


Well, there it is. I actually never thought I would live to see America brought low.  But, what we are experiencing here in America is the death of our country at our own hands.  It is suicide.

It has been known, for an exceedingly long time, that democracies have a few fatal flaws.  In the case of America, we have murdered our country through the use of two of those fatal flaws. Number one:  As soon as the electorate realizes it can vote itself money from the country’s treasury, it will break itself, financially, and thus collapse.  Number two:  In a democracy, it is entirely possible to elect leadership that is not interested in the betterment of the country. In our case, we elected leadership determined to “fundamentally change” America.  He has kept his promise.

Honestly, I don’t think we CAN save America.  I think the only hope for a free country, on these shores, rests with a small nucleus of Americans who saw this coming, warned, and warned, and warned -- anyone who would listen -- that it WAS COMING, and are now considered a threat to those elements of the US government who fear, now that their fa├žade has broken and fallen away, that those freedom lovers just might, through political resistance, impede their progress in continuing to disassemble America and remake it into a communist/marxist third-world dung heap.

And don’t forget this: If you think the world has been troubled before, wait until there is NO American leadership.  We are getting a taste of it right now in the Middle East.

The point is – the decline of America means the decline of the world … period. We can expect a world in chaos, utter and complete.

So, once more I am going to issue my warning:  The stage has been set for a one-world government (Global Governance) to take charge of all the countries of the world.  It will be dictatorial – it must be.  Preparations have been underway for such a global government for many years now.

Such a government will bring nothing but continued war around the globe. The so-called “Responsibility to Protect” will guarantee it.  In a hundred years, or less, the planet will resemble a cinder pockmarked by the ravages of multiple wars raging simultaneously on this once beautiful jewel of our solar system.

This is what America chose.  This is what the WORLD chose.

Is there hope?  Keep your eye on the remnant.

J. D. Longstreet           

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter: The High Holy Day of Christianity

Easter: The High Holy Day of Christianity

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Today Christians worldwide celebrate the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ.  Belief in this event is the foundation of the Christian faith. 

Below is a description of those events as recorded by the Greek physician Luke:

King James Version: Luke Chapter 24

1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
8 And they remembered his words,
9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.
10 It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.
11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.
12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.
13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Islam: A Battle Plan to Conquer the World ... Alan Caruba

Islam: A Battle Plan to Conquer the World

By Alan Caruba

As Christians around the world celebrate Good Friday and then Easter, it behooves them to understand what the Koran, the book held sacred as the word of God (Allah), says about Christianity, Judaism and all other faiths.

This is particularly pertinent in an era in which Islam, the religion of more than a billion people throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and in increasing numbers, Europe, has entered upon a period of terrorism and warfare to advance its domination of the peoples of the Earth. Suffice to say Islam is not about tolerance.

In 2001, Diane Drew wrote a comparison of Christian scriptures with the teachings of Muhammad as found in the Koran, as well as a collection of his sayings, the Hadith. Ms. Drew makes no claims to being anything other than a Christian. She knows her Old and New Testament, and the Koran. Her website provides a clarity that is a gift to Christians who should make the effort to understand a religion that divides humanity between Dar es Islam and Dar es Harb, the world of Islam and the world of War.

I have taken the liberty of quoting from her exegesis—interpretation—that reveals not just the deep differences between Christianity and Islam, but the threat it poses to Christians, Jews, and all other “infidels”.

“Islam rejects the concept of the Trinity. The Koran misrepresents the teaching of Christianity regarding the Godhead, claiming Christians believe in ‘three gods’—Father, Mother, and Son.” (Sura 5:116, 5:73-75;cp. – Koran 5:114)

“Islam regards Jesus a prophet just like Moses, Abraham, and Noah” whereas, at the heart of Christianity is the belief that “Jesus was more than a prophet. He is God.” (Matthew 17.5; Mark 1:1; Luke 1:35; Philippians 2.6; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 4:15). “Islam rejects the divinity of Jesus Christ.” Other religions share this view, but they do not call for the death for those who refuse conversation or death for Muslims that convert to other faiths.

“Islam rejects the doctrine of original sin” citing Muhammad’s assertion that “Every human being is born in a state of a pure nature; but through the influence of his parents, he may become non-Muslim.”

Islam denies the crucifixion of Jesus. “They denied the truth and uttered a monstrous falsehood against Mary. They declared ‘We have put to death the Messiah Jesus the son of Mary the apostle of Allah. They did not crucify him, but they thought they did…They have no knowledge thereof but the pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain, but God took him up to Himself.” (Koran 4:154-158).

Of particular concern for Christians and Jews is the way that “Islam both allows and forbids murder and violence, depending on who is the recipient of the act,” says Dew, noting that the Koran calls on Muslims to “Make war on them until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion (Islam) reigns supreme, (Koran 8:37)

“The Koran instructs not to make friendship with Jews and Christians (Koran 5:51), but to war against them: ‘When the Sacred Months are over, kill those who ascribe partners to God wheresoever ye find them; seize them, encompass them, and ambush them; then if they repent and observe prayer and pay the alms, let them go their way’.” (Koran 4:5)

More to the point, the Koran instructs Muslims to “…kill the disbelievers wherever we find them” (Koran 2:191) and “murder them and treat them harshly” (Koran 9:123), and “Strike off the heads of the disbelievers” (Koran 8:12, cp. 8:60).

What Ms. Dew’s scholarly comparison of the texts of the Old and New Testament with the Koran reveals is less a religion than a battle plan for the conquest of the world. It is not the religion of love that Christianity professes, but of hatred for the unbeliever (the infidel) who must either convert or be killed.

Islam’s holy scriptures are regarded by Muslims as the word of God (Allah) and Islam regards Muhammad’s life as a guide to the practice of Islam.

I can make no claim to any great knowledge of Judaism, Christianity or Islam, but like anyone else, I can read and compare their holy scriptures. You can, too.

Islam is a religion divided by two sects, Sunni and Shiite, the members of which do not hesitate to kill each other, attacking each other’s mosques, murdering those attending funerals.

No one, not Jew, nor Christian, nor Buddhist, nor Hindu, nor atheist, is safe from Islam.

Americans and others around the world learned that afresh on 9/11. As Christians gather for Good Friday and for Easter, they must absorb, understand, and gird themselves against this harsh and dangerous reality.

© Alan Caruba, 2011
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 Alan Caruba's commentaries are posted daily at "Warning Signs" his popular blog and thereafter on dozens of other websites and blogs. If you love to read, visit his monthly report on new books at Bookviews. To visit his Facebook page, click here For information on his professional skills, Caruba.com is the place to visit.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day or Good Friday. Which Will It Be?


Earth Day or Good Friday.  Which Will It Be?
Paganism and Christianity Forever At Odds
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet

Today is Good Friday.  Traditionally the Day Christ was crucified.  Today is also Earth Day.  It is a date set aside to worship the earth (paganism).  Today is also the birthday of Vladimir Lenin, (April 22nd 1870).  Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary, author, lawyer, economic theorist, and political philosopher among other things.   Lenin created the Soviet Communist Party.

We agree with the folks at “TheBlogProf” who say:  “It is no coincidence that Earth Day, April 22, was chosen to coincide with the birthday of Vladimir Lenin. A day that celebrates communism as the gold standard of human civilization. Never mind that it has never worked as advertised, creating disorder rather than order. Environmentalism, the religion du jour of the 21st century, has very similar ends of government control under the guise of being good stewards of the planet.”  (We recommend you read the entire article HERE.)

Please note how the writer at TheBlogProf refers to environmentalism:
“Environmentalism, the religion du jour of the 21st century … ”

In our opinion, the writer is dead on.  Environmentalism has become a full-fledged religion.

As I have said before: we have a hodge-podge of religions is America.  Having said that, we have to admit that some are uplifting while others are, well, just plain goofy.

I learned early on in my education that one of the most interesting discoveries, made by anthropologists, is that the human animal will, somehow, create a religion – or religions.  Scientists tell us the human animal must have belief in something that gives meaning to his, or her, existence.  We human animals long for a power greater than our own.  It seems to come in our wiring. I happen to believe that is true.

If I may be allowed to explain:  If one believes in the divine creator, as I do, then one believes the human animal was created by that divine creator referred to simply as God.  Just as a child will long for his parents I believe humans long for their parent – God.  Seems to me, that is an explanation for the longing man has for a divine being and leads him to create an “idol” of practically anything that will provide him a focus point for that parent he instinctively knows is there -- yet remains unseen. 

I am not a theologian.  But, I must tell you I think my explanation for man’s endeavor to close the gap between man an God, existent since the Garden of Eden, is as good as any.  Christians will tell you that Christ, God’s Son, came to this earth and closed that gap 2,000 years ago.  He was perceived by the corrupt government of his day as a threat and, as a result, he was executed.  Christians believe that three days later he rose from the dead and returned home but not before promising to return and clean up the mess we have made.

That was around 2,000 years ago.  Things have changed for the worst. In this century, and the last, so many have turned from the worship of a supreme being, we call God, to what we used to call “paganism”… the worship of nature, or the environment, or… more specifically… Environmentalism.

Yes, Environmentalism HAS become a religion.  Well, actually, it always was, it has just come back into favor in the past 100 years, or so.

One thing I want to set straight before continuing, nature is not God. It is my belief that GOD created nature.  Now, we can continue.

Michael Crichton, in his “Environmentalism as Religion” remarks made before the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco in 2003, summed it all up rather nicely, I think:

“The believers in environmentalism believe and preach that we should live in unity with nature, or the environment.  They believe that in the beginning we did. They believe that we are now living in sin because we have polluted the earth.  We will be visited with a judgment day and the judgment will be death, for the whole planet, unless we repent, (which means to turn around and go the other way) and make our way back to sustainability. You see, in the environmentalism religion, sustainability IS salvation.””   …    Michael Crichton.  See Crichton’s remarks here: HERE.

The environmental religionists are calling for us to repent.  We are doomed, they say, as a result of pollution, global warming, running out of oil, the whole list of tribulations the environmentalist faithful are so sure are coming.

They believe that man and nature should co-exist in one accord. Humans have never done that.  Why …  because it is impossible.  Man has always been at nature’s mercy. Nature is unforgiving.  Nature will kill you in a split second!  The evidence is all around me as I sit here writing in North Carolina where we were ravaged just last weekend by an assault force of tornadoes killing scores and damaging property that will take decades to repair, if ever. 

Today, we have all the preachers of the Church of Environmentalism, preaching at us non-stop.  They preach fear.  They preach gloom and doom. They preach forsaking progress and returning to the days when man lived in harmony with nature, even though no such period ever existed in the history of mankind.

Many feel that inside that outer shell of green, the environmentalists so proudly wear, is the red of communism.  Like a watermelon, on the outside it is green.  Conversely, on the inside it is red.  And therein lies the connection with Earth Day’s observance on the birthday of Vladimir Lenin one of the founders of communism.

The environmental movement is in direct conflict with the Christian religion and, in our opinion; Christians should stir clear of any involvement with the greenies, the “useful idiots” of the Marxists and communists, intent on the destruction of all those rights granted to man by God.

Earth Day is a pagan celebration, and I want no part in it.

J. D. Longstreet 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Obama’s War in Libya Now A Quagmire

Obama’s War in Libya Now A Quagmire

A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet

It was headed in that direction from day one.  The war in Libya, I mean.  Only a fool could have missed it.  All the markers were there.  But as the wise men of old told us:  “There are none so blind as those who will not see.”   I think what the ancient wisdom is saying is there are none so blind as those who are too arrogant to see.

The US had no business involved with the Libyan mess.  Well, how the heck did we get involved, anyway?  Glad you asked.

See, we Americans made a ghastly error in 2008 and we elected a man to the presidency who does not believe in American exceptionalism.  He felt and, apparently, still feels, that America ought not lead in world affairs and that we must bring America down to the level of other nations and instead of leading allow someone… anyone … else to lead. Well, we all see how great that worked out, now, don’t we?

Look.  There was a reason America was the world leader -- and must be again -- if there is to be any hope of anything remotely resembling peace on this globe.  We were, and (for now) remain the “biggest and the baddest” dude on the block.  No bragging here.  It is a fact.  America is the guy in your squad you want next to you in a firefight. (Combat veterans will know exactly what I am saying.)

Until 2008, America’s leadership had the skills to understand America’s power and how to apply that power to produce the results it wanted with the least amount of damage. Frankly, there is no leadership in Washington today.  All we have are followers.

Our fearless leader, Obama, in a state of “constant campaign”, has no time to actually study world affairs, and apply the wisdom of his predecessors, he handed the Libyan crisis off to our good friends the French (?) and the Mother Country, the UK, and eventually, an organization that has never been able to completely agree on anything, NATO.  By the way:  NATO stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  Do you realize some of the countries in NATO today can’t find the North Atlantic without the aid of a map?

After America kicked Gaddafi’s door in for our friends to establish a “no-fly zone.”  America, unwilling to take the leadership, went home leaving the Libyan mess in the hands of, well, you know. It was at that moment that things fell apart. 

But our fearless leader cannot be bothered. Gambling on somebody, anybody (?), getting a bead on Gaddafi and taking him out and bringing the conflict to a speedy end, Obama hit the campaign money trail where he remains today.

And so, the Libyan campaign went into spiral mode, with the rebels circling the drain.

Gaddafi is embarrassing NATO, and Obama, by remaining alive and delivering withering attacks on the rebels and their strongholds… that just happen to be the cities where the women and children are located.  You know, the women and children this campaign was supposed to protect. 

That is extremely embarrassing for those in the Obama regime who are pushing the “obligation to protect” policy and philosophy of the United Nations.  Those naive idiots, educated, apparently, beyond their ability, are unable to discern the truth about their self-imposed guilt, actually believe the world has an obligation to protect those in danger around the globe with massive military intervention.  Back in the old days of reason we called that “Noblesse Oblige.”  Oh, and by the way, it didn’t work then, either.  However, what it WILL do is insure the US will remain at war somewhere on the globe -- perpetually.

Now we learn the US is giving US taxpayer money in the sum of 25 million dollars to the Libyan rebels in the form of “non lethal” support.  Sounds more and more like some sort of New Age war fighting, right? 

This is Obama’s way of fighting a war.  Give the rebels supplies such as medical supplies, uniforms, boots, tents, personal protective gear, radios, and Halal meals -- but nothing with which to actually fight Gaddafi. 

You can’t make this stuff up!  This is a bad joke. It only serves to make Obama look as limp-wristed and impotent as Jimmy Carter. 

Obama’s War in Libya is sucking the US in, little by little, like quicksand or a quagmire.  But you will not hear Obama condemned by the Obama propaganda machine we refer to often as the Mainstream Media.  As Obama’s lapdog, they dare not publish or broadcast the truth.  The dare not declare the obvious: The emperor has no clothes.

It now appears that only an act of God can deliver America from being sucked in deeper and deeper in a war in which we had no compelling reason, no nation interest, to commit America’s blood and treasure.

But here we are -- embroiled in Obama’s War -- a “splendid little war” that will go on and on and on.

J. D. Longstreet

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Greens Really Believe ... Alan Caruba

 

What Greens Really Believe


By Alan Caruba

Earth Day was established in 1970 and millions of Americans and others around the world have been steadily brainwashed to embrace the impression that environmentalism is about protecting the Earth, but when Greens talk among themselves, it is a very different story and a frightening one at that.

The massive propaganda program that supports the Green agenda is impressive in its scope. Its locus is the United Nations whose Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was revealed in 2009 to be a complete hoax based on the manipulation of computer models to predict a warming due to excess carbon dioxide. There never was any threat from CO2. It is a gas that is vital to the growth of all vegetation on Earth. It represents a very minor, even miniscule, part of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Nothing, however, deters the Green agenda and, since the first Earth Day, it has penetrated the nation’s schools and, of course, its politics, deliberately deterring and thwarting access to the nation’s vast reserves of oil, coal, and natural gas; the greatest such reserves in the world! It is a drag on business development. It is the ultimate nanny state seeking to alter people's lifestyles through coercion, legislation, and persuasion.

What most people are unaware of is the fascistic hatred of mankind that underlies the philosophic basis of environmentalism.

Kenneth Boulding, originator of the “Spaceship Earth” concept, was quoted by William Tuck in “Progress and Privilege”, 1982, as saying “The right to have children should be a marketable commodity, bought and traded by individuals, but absolutely limited by the state.” Lamont Cole, an ecologist, has said, “To feed a starving child is to exacerbate the world population problem."

Stewart Brand, writing in the Whole Earth Catalog, wrote, “We have wished, we ecofreaks, for a disaster or for a social change to come and bomb us into the Stone Age, where we might live like Indians in our valley, with our localism, our appropriate technology, our gardens, our homemade religion—guilt-free at last!”

I doubt most people are wishing for a disaster and, when they occur such as the earthquakes in Haiti and in Japan, the first instinct of decent people worldwide is to mobilize to help those affected. This is a very human reaction, but it is not a Green one.

Helen Caldicott of the Union of Concerned Scientists characterized capitalism, saying “Free enterprise really means rich people get richer. They have the freedom to exploit and psychologically rape their fellow human beings in the process…Capitalism is destroying the earth.”

It is no coincidence that Earth Day is also the birthday of Vladimir Illich Lenin, the founder of the former Soviet Union and devotee of Karl Marx, the creator of Communism. The Communist revolution worldwide led to the murder of an estimated one hundred million throughout the last century.

At the heart of environmentalism, aside from its wish for far fewer humans, is a hatred of capitalism. The failures of communism and socialism everywhere attest to the way state control of all aspects of life is ignored by Greens.

David Foreman, founder of Earth First!, said, “We must make this an insecure and inhospitable place for capitalists and their projects…We must reclaim the roads and plowed land, hold dam construction, tear down existing dams, free shackled rivers and return to wildness millions of tens of millions of acres of presently settle land.”

Thus, agriculture, the key to civilization, is decried as harming the Earth and all manner of business and industrial enterprises, dependent on the provision of energy, is regarded as evil.

Major environmental organizations, Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club to name just two, oppose the use of coal, oil, and natural gas to provide energy.

So much of what environmentalism preaches and claims in its propaganda is utterly false, but telling lies is part and parcel of the Green message.

Timothy Wirth, a former U.S. Senator (D-CO) said, “What we’ve got to do in energy conservation is try to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, to have approached global warming as if it is real means energy conservation, so we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.”

Virtually everything being advocated by the Obama administration represents this willingness to take action and tell lies about the nation’s need for energy, with the exception of the worst ways of producing it, wind, solar, and biofuels. Even before gasoline prices climbed to new highs, negatively affecting all aspects of life in America, Dr. Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy, was advocating higher prices.

The few quotes cited here do not begin to illuminate the horrors that environmentalism would visit on mankind or the nihilistic view it holds, but they represent a far greater body of Green writings and statements over the years that indicate the extent of the threat it poses to humanity.

A deluge of environmental propaganda will precede Earth Day, April 22, 2011. It should be seen as a warning to all who believe in the Creator and all who wish to advance a world at peace, one in which humanity benefits from trade, prosperity, and modern technology worldwide.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

China and the End of the Deng Dynasty


China and the End of the Deng Dynasty

By Matthew Gertken and Jennifer Richmond
Beijing has become noticeably more anxious than usual in recent months, launching one of the more high-profile security campaigns to suppress political dissent since the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989. Journalists, bloggers, artists, Christians and others have been arrested or have disappeared in a crackdown prompted by fears that foreign forces and domestic dissidents have hatched any number of “Jasmine” gatherings inspired by recent events in the Middle East. More remarkable than the small, foreign-coordinated protests, however, has been the state’s aggressive and erratic reaction to them.
Meanwhile, the Chinese economy has maintained a furious pace of credit-fueled growth despite authorities’ repeated claims of working to slow growth down to prevent excessive inflation and systemic financial risks. The government’s cautious approach to fighting inflation has emboldened local governments and state companies, which benefit from rapid growth. Yet the risk to socio-political stability posed by inflation, expected to peak in springtime, has provoked a gradually tougher stance. The government thus faces twin perils of economic overheating on one side and overcorrection on the other, either of which could trigger an outburst of social unrest — and both of which have led to increasingly erratic policymaking.
These security and economic challenges are taking place at a time when the transition from the so-called fourth generation of leaders to the fifth generation in 2012 is under way. The transition has heightened disagreements over economic policy and insecurities over social stability, further complicating attempts to coordinate effective policy. Yet something deeper is driving the Communist Party of China’s (CPC’s) anxiety and heavy-handed security measures: the need to transform the country’s entire economic model, which carries hazards that the Party fears will jeopardize its very legitimacy.

Deng’s Model

Former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping is well known for launching China’s emergence from Mao’s Cultural Revolution and inaugurating the rise of a modern, internationally oriented economic giant. Deng’s model rested on three pillars.
The first was economic pragmatism, allowing for capitalist-style incentives domestically and channels for international trade. Deng paved the way for a growth boom that would provide employment and put an end to the preceding decade of civil strife. The CPC’s legitimacy thus famously became linked to the country’s economic success rather than to ideological zeal and class warfare.
The second pillar was a foreign policy of cooperation. The lack of emphasis on political ideology opened space for international maneuver, with economic cooperation the basis for new relationships. This gave enormous impetus to the Sino-American detente Nixon and Mao initiated. In Deng’s words, China would maintain a low profile and avoid taking the lead. China would remain unobtrusive to befriend and do business with almost any country — as long as it recognized Beijing as the one and only China.
The third pillar was the primacy of the CPC’s system. Reform of the political system along the lines of Western countries could be envisioned, but in practice would be deferred. That the reform process in no way would be allowed to undermine Party supremacy was sealed after the mass protests at Tiananmen, which the military crushed after a dangerous intra-Party struggle. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the People’s Armed Police would serve as Deng’s “Great Wall of steel” protecting the Party from insurrection.
For three decades, Deng’s model remained mostly intact. Though important modifications and shifts occurred, the general framework stands because Chinese-style capitalism and partnership with the United States have served the country well. Deng also secured his policy by establishing a succession plan: He was instrumental in setting up his immediate successor, Jiang Zemin, and Jiang’s successor, current President Hu Jintao.
Hu’s policies have not differed widely in practice from Deng’s. China’s response to the global economic crisis in 2008 revealed that Hu sought recourse to the same export- and investment-driven growth as his predecessors. Hu’s plans of boosting household consumption have failed, the economy is more off-balance than ever, and the interior remains badly in need of development. But along the general lines of Deng’s policy, the country has continued to grow and stay out of major conflict with the United States and others, and the Party has maintained indisputable control.

Emergent Challenges

Unprecedented challenges to Deng’s model have emerged in recent years. These are not challenges involving individuals; rather, they come from changes in the Chinese and international systems.
First, more clearly than ever, China’s economic model is in need of restructuring. Economic crisis and its aftermath in the developed world have caused a shortfall in foreign demand, and rising costs of labor and raw materials are eroding China’s comparative advantage even as its export sector and industries have built up extraordinary overcapacity.
Theoretically, the answer has been to boost household consumption and rebalance growth — the Hu administration’s policy — but this plan carries extreme hazards if aggressively pursued. If consumption cannot be generated quickly enough to pick up the slack — and it cannot within the decade period that China’s leaders envision — then growth will slow sharply and unemployment will rise. These would be serious threats to the CPC, the legitimacy of which rests on providing growth. Hence, the attempt at economic transition has hardly begun.
Not coincidentally, movements have arisen that seek to restore the Party’s legitimacy to a basis not of economics but of political power. Hu’s faction, rooted in the Chinese Communist Youth League (CCYL), has a doctrine of wealth redistribution and Party orientation. It is set to expand its control when the sixth generation of leaders arrives. This trend also exists on the other side of the factional divide. Bo Xilai, the popular Party chief in Chongqing, is a “princeling.” Princelings are the children of Communist revolutionaries, who often receive prized positions in state leadership, large state-owned enterprises and the military. This group is expected to gain the advantage in the core leadership after the 2012 transition. Bo made himself popular by striking down organized-crime leaders who had grown rich and powerful from new money and by bribing officials. Bo’s campaign of nostalgia for the Mao era, including singing revolutionary songs and launching a “Red microblog” on the Internet, has proved hugely popular. It also has added an unusual degree of public support to his bid for a spot on the Politburo Standing Committee in 2012. Both sides appeal to the inherent value of the Party, rather than its role as economic steward, for justification.
The second challenge to Deng’s legacy has arisen from the military’s growing self-confidence and confrontational attitude toward foreign rivals, a stance popular with an increasingly nationalist domestic audience. The foreign policy of inoffensiveness for the sake of commerce thus has been challenged from within. Vastly more dependent on foreign natural resources, and yet insecure over prices and vulnerability of supply lines, China has turned to the PLA to take a greater role in protecting its global interests, especially in the maritime realm. As a result, the PLA has become more forceful in driving its policies.
In recent years, China has pushed harder on territorial claims and more staunchly defended partners like North Korea, Iran, Pakistan and Myanmar. This trend, especially observable throughout 2010, has alarmed China’s neighbors and the United States. The PLA is not the only institution that seems increasingly bold. Chinese government officials and state companies have also caused worry among foreigners. But the military acting this way sends a particularly strong signal abroad.
And third, Deng’s avoidance of political reform may be becoming harder to maintain. The stark disparities in wealth and public services between social classes and regions have fueled dissatisfaction. Arbitrary power, selective enforcement of the law, official and corporate corruption, and other ills have gnawed at public content, giving rise to more and more frequent incidents and outbursts. The social fabric has been torn, and leaders fear that it could ignite with widespread unrest. Simultaneously, rising education, incomes and new forms of social organization like non-governmental organizations and the Internet have given rise to greater demands and new means of coordination among dissidents or opposition movements.
In this atmosphere, Premier Wen Jiabao has become outspoken, calling for the Party to pursue political reforms in keeping with economic reforms. Wen’s comments contain just enough ambiguity to suggest that he is promoting substantial change and diverging from the Party, though in fact he may intend them only to pacify people by preserving hope for changes in the unspecified future. Regardless, it is becoming harder for the Party to maintain economic development without addressing political grievances. Political changes seem necessary not only for the sake of pursuing oft-declared plans to unleash household consumption and domestic innovation and services, but also to ease social discontent. The Party realizes that reform is inevitable, but questions how to do it while retaining control. The possibility that the Party could split on the question of political reform, as happened in the 1980s, thus has re-emerged.
These new challenges to the Deng approach reveal a rising uncertainty in China about whether his solutions are adequate to secure the country’s future. Essentially, the rise of Maoist nostalgia, the princelings’ glorification of their Communist bloodline and the CCYL’s promotion of ideology and wealth redistribution imply a growing fear that the economic transition may fail, and that the Party therefore may need a more deeply layered security presence to control society at all levels and a more ideological basis for the legitimacy of its rule. Meanwhile, a more assertive military implies growing fears that a foreign policy of meekness and amiability is insufficient to protect China’s access to foreign trade from those who feel threatened by China’s rising power, such as Japan, India or the United States. Finally, a more strident premier in favor of political reform suggests fear that growing demands for political change will lead to upheaval unless they are addressed and alleviated.

Containing the Risks

These emerging trends have not become predominant yet. At this moment, Beijing is struggling to contain these challenges to the status quo within the same cycle of tightening and loosening control that has characterized the past three decades. Though the cycle is still recognizable, the fluctuations are widening — and the policy reactions are becoming more sudden and extreme.
The country is continuing to pursue the same path of economic development, even sacrificing more ambitious rebalancing to re-emphasize, in the 2011-15 Five-Year Plan, what are basically the traditional methods of growth. These include massive credit expansion fueling large-scale infrastructure expansion and technology upgrades for the export-oriented manufacturing sector, all provided for by transferring wealth from depositors to state-owned corporations and local governments. Modifications to the status quo have been slight, and radical transformation of the overall growth model has not yet borne fruit.
In 2011, China’s leaders also have signaled a swing away from last year’s foreign policy assertiveness. Hu and Obama met in Washington in January and declared a thaw in relations. Recently, Hu announced a “new security concept” for the region. He said that cooperation and peaceful negotiation remain official Chinese policy, and that China respects the “presence and interests” of outsiders in the region, a new and significant comment in light of the U.S. re-engagement with the region. The United States has approved China’s backpedaling, saying the Chinese navy has been less assertive this year than the last, and Washington has since toned down its own threats. China’s retreat is not permanent, and none of its neighbors have forgotten its more threatening side. But China has signaled an attempt to diminish tensions, as it has done in the past, to avoid provoking real trouble abroad (while focusing on troubles at home) for the time being.
Finally, the security crackdown under way since February — part of a longer trend of security tightening since at least 2008, but with remarkable new elements — shows that the state remains committed to Deng’s general deferral of political reform, choosing strict social control instead.
The Deng model thus has not yet been dismantled. But the new currents of military assertiveness, ideological zeal and demand for political reform have revealed not only differences in vision among the elite, but a rising concern among them for their positions ahead of the leadership transition. Sackings and promotions already are accelerating. Unorthodox trends suggest that leaders and institutions are hedging political bets to protect themselves, their interests and their cliques in case the economic transition goes wrong or foreigners take advantage of China’s vulnerabilities, or ideological division and social revolt threaten the Party. And this betrays deep uncertainties.

The Gravity of 2012

As the jockeying for power ahead of the 2012 transition has already begun in earnest, signs of vacillating and conflicting policy directives suggest that the regime is in a constant state of policy adjustment to try to avoid an extreme shift in one direction or another. Tensions are rising between leaders as they try to secure their positions without upsetting the balance and jeopardizing a smooth transfer of power. The government’s arrests of dissidents underline its fear of these growing tensions, as well as its sharp reactions to threats that could disrupt the transition or cause broader instability. Everything is in flux, and the cracks in the system are widening.
One major question is how long the Party will be able to maintain the current high level of vigilance without triggering a backlash. The government effectively has silenced critics deemed possible of fomenting a larger movement. The masses have yet to rally in significant numbers in a coordinated way that could threaten the state. But the regime has responded disproportionately to the organizational capabilities that the small Jasmine protests demonstrated, and has extended this magnified response to a number of otherwise-familiar spontaneous protests and incidents of unrest.
As security becomes more oppressive in the lead up to the transition — with any easing of control unlikely before then or even in the following year as the new government seeks to consolidate power — the heavy hand of the state runs the risk of provoking exactly the type of incident it hopes to prevent. Excessive brutality, or a high-profile mistake or incident that acts as a catalyst, could spark spontaneous domestic protests with the potential to spread.
Contrasting Deng’s situation with Hu’s is illuminating. When Deng sought to step down, his primary challenges were how to loosen economic control, how to create a foreign policy conducive to trade, and how to forestall democratic challenges to the regime. He also had to leverage his prestige in the military and Party to establish a reliable succession plan from Jiang to Hu that would set the country on a prosperous path.
As Hu seeks to step down, his challenges are to prevent economic overheating, counter any humiliating turn in foreign affairs such as greater U.S. pressure, and forestall unrest from economic left-behinds, migrants or other aggrieved groups. Hu cannot allow the Party (or his legacy) to be damaged by mass protests or economic collapse on his watch. Yet, like Jiang, he has to control the process without having Deng’s prestige among the military ranks and without a succession plan clad in Deng’s armor.
More challenging still, he has to do so without a solid succession plan. Hu is the last Chinese leader Deng directly appointed. It is not clear whether China’s next generation of leaders will augment Deng’s theory, or discard it. But it is clear that China is taking on a challenge much greater than a change in president or administration. It is an existential crisis, and the regime has few choices: continue delaying change even if it means a bigger catastrophe in the future; undertake wrenching economic and political reforms that might risk regime survival; or retrench and sacrifice the economy to maintain CPC rule and domestic security. China has already waded deep into a total economic transformation unlike anything since 1978, and at the greatest risk to the Party’s legitimacy since 1989. The emerging trends suggest a likely break from Deng’s position toward heavier state intervention in the economy, more contentious relationships with neighbors, and a Party that rules primarily through ideology and social control.

"China and the End of the Deng Dynasty is republished with permission of STRATFOR."