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TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

2008 articles
Yet another terrorist attack in the USA
Wrong again
The state of the Bush economy
Iraq and the presidential candidates
Bush is still dragging his feet on Iraq
Terrorists kill 17,000 USA citizens
The ever-expanding axis of evil
How the anti-immigration crusade is crippling the middle class
Harry Reid is the enemy
Arnold Schwarzenegger, global warmer
Let's not get over it
The Republican Sex Machine
The middle class is still getting poorer
How the Internet (and corruption) crippled the USA
The Democratic debates
The Democratic Congress
Withdrawing from Iraq: why the polls are wrong
The Supreme Court vs the will of the people
George W Bush, banana dictator
The terrorists rule the USA
An anti-USA world: the end of an era
Congress: the solution or the problem?
Who is the real radical on abortion?
Newt Gingrich vs Al Gore
Oddities of the USA report on terrorism
The first debate
The Innocence Project
The USA releases an international terrorist
The largest terrorist organization in the world kills 32 USA citizens
The USA, former superpower
Corruption at the World Bank
An open letter to Nancy Pelosi
Pelosi vs Bush, the USA vs the Arab people
The difference between Iraq and Syria
Al Gore's global warming
Another war that the USA is losing
The enemy within: crime
Condi's quiet diplomacy
Where the USA is winning
The collapsing dollar
2006 articles

  • Click here for 2008 articles
  • (december 2007) Yet another terrorist attack in the USA. The largest terrorist organization in the world, the NRA (National Rifle Association), has killed again: eight people were killed in a Omaha shopping mall by a 20-year old man who proudly displayed his gun-loving ideology. It is the second mass shooting at a mall this year, after an 18-year old killed five people in Salt Lake City. As more and more deadly guns becomes available to more and more people, does anybody really expect that these numbers will start going down? A class of corrupt politicians (veritable traitors) have sold the security of USA citizens to the gun lobby. USA citizens will keep dying like flies until someone starts fighting terrorism for real (not the terrorists in distant countries but terrorists that train right in the USA, right in their backyards, right in your woods). The massacre continues. And the politicians do nothing, or even praise it. Impeach the whole political class for not taking on the terrorists of the NRA.
    (Also see The largest terrorist organization in the world kills 32 USA citizens, Baghdad, USA The real terrorists strike again in the USA, etc etc).
  • (december 2007) Wrong again. In 2002 the Bush administration told the whole world that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was relentlessly working on "weapons of mass destruction", that the United Nations inspectors did not find them because they were a bunch of incompetent idiots, that France was "old" and stupid for opposing the invasion of Iraq. Their friendly media, notably the Republican cheerleaders at Fox News (Bill O'Reilly, Sean Connity, etc), launched a witch hunt that created consensus for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
    Guess what. It turned out that there were no WMDs, that the Bush inspectors reached the identical conclusions that the United Nations inspectors had reached (all WMDs had long been destroyed by Saddam Hussein), and that France was right. The credibility of the USA was literally annihilated.
    Over the last few years Bush and his master Dick Cheney have been telling the whole world that Iran was working relentlessly on building a nuclear weapon. They cited overwhelming evidence with the same fanatical certainty that they displayed in 2002 over Iraq's WMDs. This time the world was more willing to listen: the Europeans (having undergone significant political changes under new leaders) stood solidly behind the USA, even France and Germany. The opposition to the USA campaign of sanctions against Iran came from Russia, whose experts claimed that Iran posed no immediate threat to anyone, and from China, that wondered openly what all the fuss was about. In december 2005 Dick Cheney stated unequivocally that "there's good reason to believe that Iran continues to aggressively pursue the development of a nuclear weapon." Russia's skepticism was scorned by both officials and the Bush cheerleaders on Fox News. Fox News openly derided the IAEA, the United Nations organization that concluded time and again that there was no evidence of a recent nuclear weapons program in Iran.
    Guess what. In december 2007 a CIA report reveals that Iran halted its nuclear program years ago and that, even if it restarted it, it is not even close to building a nuclear bomb. At best they will have a nuclear bomb in 2015. This is an insignificant threat compared with the number of countries around the world that could get a bomb before then, if they decide to do so. Thus Russia and the IAEA were right (yet again), Fox News was wrong (as usual) and the credibility of the USA plunged a bit further down. One wonders if Bush and Cheney and Fox News work for the enemy and have a plan to continuously harm the USA on the world stage. So far no enemy has caused more damage to the USA than them.
    Needless to say, international support for sanctions against Iran has dissipated overnight. Needless to say, the next time the USA will claim that anyone is building any sort of weapon of mass destruction the whole world will laugh. Russia's envoy declared "We have always been saying that there is no proof that they are pursuing nuclear weapons". Fox News did not even report it. So much for sore losers. The rest of the world hailed the report with a sigh of relief. This time the "mistake" was discovered before the USA dropped thousands of bombs on a country, before tens of thousands of civilians died.
    The Western Europeans are now puzzled. The timing of the CIA report (just days before the United Nations was scheduled to vote new sanctions against Iran) makes them look silly at best. This time the USA had France and Germany on its side. The France of Sarkozy looks positively naive compared with the France of Chirac, who stood against Bush throughout the Iraqi crisis. The Germany of Merkel looks positively naive compared with the Germany of Schroeder, who stood against Bush throughout the Iraqi crisis. Why in heaven would the USA derail this process and embarrass its won allies? The release of the report must have been authorized by Bush in person. It will take months to understand what in heaven went on inside the Bush administration. Even someone as hapless as Bush must have been aware that this means the de facto termination of any trust between his government and the European allies (or, for that matter, any kind of ally).
    One can speculate that the timing of the report may be meaningful from the point of view of Iraq and Annapolis. The USA has been talking to Iran about limiting their interference in Iraq, notably reducing the flow of weapons into Iraq. The USA has not invited Iran to the peace talks at Annapolis between Israelis and Palestinians, but the USA is aware (like everybody else) that Iran is very much part of the equation, being the main sponsor of the two groups opposed to peace with Israel (Hamas and Hezbollah). There is going no security in Irag unless Iran agrees, and there is going no peace for Israel unless Iran agrees. Under the leadership of Condy Rice, the Bush administration has shifted its attitude from military threats to diplomacy. The sticking point with Iran was the nuclear issue, that, once set in motion, was not easy to stop. Maybe this report was timed by someone who wanted more diplomacy and less isolation for Iran, in the hope that this will help Iraq and the Palestinians.
    The report also comes at a time when Iran's president Ahmadinejad is under attack by both liberals and conservatives in his own country. Relenting the pressure on the nuclear pressure might help the opposition gain popular support (the Iranian public is widely siding with Ahmadinejad on the nuclear issue: if Israel has nuclear weapons, and even Pakistan has them, why shouldn't Iran that is completely surrounded by enemies?)
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (november 2007) The state of the Bush economy. House prices are likely to keep falling for a while, as fewer and fewer households can afford them and fewer and fewer banks will be willing to fund those households crazy enough to want to borrow the money.
    The dollar has sunk to historic laws against every currency you can name, whether European, Asian, Middle Eastern or Latin American. This makes USA citizens poorer than their counterparts abroad, but also makes USA goods cheaper for those counterparts to buy. The trade deficit has slowly improved but it is still a far cry from getting even. The USA still imports a lot more than it exports. Therefore the dollar is likely to continue its decline. It also reflects the realignment of wealth. As USA households get poorer and foreign households get richer, the relative value of the currency simply reflects that trend. The Japanese yen has tripled in value since the 1960s, when Japan was a poor country.
    Stocks are expensive by any standard. They are at least 20% more expensive than they should be if they simply reflected the probability of return (see for example this article). Basically, anyone who holds a stock right now is betting in an economic boom in 2008, when in fact all economists are predicting a slow-down if not a full-fledged recession. Those who hold high-tech stock are betting that those high-tech companies (such as Google) will double or triple their revenues and profits in the next two or three years. It will soon become apparent that those companies will have trouble even maintaining the current profits.
    House prices, stocks and the dollar are therefore likely to keep declining for a while. For foreign investors the only good news is that USA assetts are becoming cheaper by the day. If you want to own a piece of the USA economy (whether a skyscraper or a bank), this is the best time ever to buy. Basically, we are witnessing a giant sale of the whole USA.
    For USA citizens, the only good news is that a cheaper dollar will create more demand for USA goods, i.e. growing international business. With a different government (that cared for the middle class) this could translate into a boom of small businesses. Alas, the Bush administration has consistently penalized small businesses to favor their friends in the big multinationals.
    It might be inevitable that the USA gets poorer while the developing world gets richer (the same way than in the 1980s the USA got poorer while Japan got richer), but the world economy might pay a huge price. The world is still too dependent on the USA. No economist can fully evaluate the effect that 300 million poorer USA citizens will have on the rest of the world. The euro might be the strongest currency in the world, but European stocks still routinely ape the behavior of USA stocks. The average Japanese and South Korean household might now be richer than the average USA household (once you subtract the debts) but it is still the USA household that Japanese and South Korean companies depend on. The economies of the developing world might be growing at a fast rate, but millions of their jobs have been created (directly on indirectly) by USA multinationals.
    The world's economy of 2007 is, ultimately, the USA economy, with everybody else, from oil producers to shoe manufacturers, being cogs in its huge clockwork. The shock wave of a poorer USA might be felt for generations to come in every corner of the world.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (november 2007) Iraq and the presidential candidates. Iraq was the main issue when the Democratic presidential hopefuls started campaigning. Now the Democrats would rather not talk about it. Many suspect that the Democrats were betting on a humiliating defeat in Iraq, and now are taken aback by the success of the surge (that they bitterly criticized). As the situation improves, they are beginning to contemplate the nightmarish possibility that the public will see them as too ready to surrender. Had it been for Nancy Pelosi, the USA would have already left Iraq and added another defeat to its record of military failures (Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia). Had it been for Nancy Pelosi, the civil war in Iraq would still be out of control. Thanks to the Republicans, instead, things have improved. While Iraq is far from being a peaceful place yet, it finally looks like the USA does have a chance of coming out of this adventure as a winner, not a loser. If the situation keeps improving, Iraq will be a deadly issue for the Democrats, who will increasingly look like the ones who wanted to surrender.
    However, the public is not rewarding the one man who was right about the surge: John McCain. He always criticized the president for not sending enough troops to maintain order in Iraq. He was the one who consistently advocated a surge and predicted that it would reduce both sectarian violence (i.e., civilian casualties) and USA casualties. Statistics show that, so far, he was right on both counts. The public has not given him credit for being the one who had the right strategy. Republican voters are more in love with flip-floppers like Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, who never really articulated any strategy for Iraq.
    The bottom line is that Iraq is not an issue that would determine the winner, but it might determine the loser. Democrats have a tendency to lose elections that they should have easily won. Just a few months ago it looked like the Republicans had no chance of winning the presidential election, given the unpopularity of George W Bush. The Democrats thought they were smart to seize the issue of Iraq and run with it. Even Hillary Clinton (who had voted in favor of the war) joined the ranks of those calling for a troop withdrawal. It may have been a fatal mistake.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (october 2007) Bush is still dragging his feet on Iraq. It took Bush a long time to admit that the situation in Iraq was getting worse, not better. It took Bush a long time to admit that Rumsfeld was the problem, not the solution. It took Bush a long time to admit that the USA did not have enough troops in Iraq. Each and every time Bush dragged his feet until nothing could possibly help him anymore. By that time, thousands of Iraqi and USA lives had been lost. (The average number of people killed declined from more than 100 before the "surge" of USA troops to an all-time low of four on the 12th of october 2007).
    There is now an obvious remedy to the ridiculous situation of the Iraqi government, that does not even control Baghdad: federalism. It may not be the only solution, but it is the one that is de facto being implemented on the field while the USA still formally recognizes prime minister Maliki as the leader of all Iraq. The very USA army is applying different strategies in different regions and making different kinds of deals with the regional leaders. Maliki can hardly visit any place outside Baghdad without risking his life. And he'd be ignored anyway.
    Both Iraq's president Jalal Talabani, who hails from Kurdistan, and Ammar al-Hakim, a political leader of the largest Shiite party, favor a federalist solution. In the USA the movement in favor of the federal solution was started by senator Joe Biden and vehemently opposed only by the Bush administration.
    Bush has few allies on this issue, and not the kind he would like to have: the Sunni terrorists oppose the idea because it would leave Sunnis the middle of Iraq, which is the poorest of natural resources; Al Sadr opposes it on principle, but probably because he still dreams of becoming the Iranian-backed dictator of the whole Iraq; Maliki's Dawa Party opposes it on principle as well, but probably because it would reduce the corruption of the centralized government and therefore their own power.
    Bush indirectly helped the Sunni insurgents become an organized and deadly force in Iraq. Bush indirectly helped the Shiite militias become powerful armies. Bush indirectly helped them kill each other by the thousands. It is too late to dream of a truly united Iraq. If the West split Yugoslavia to stop a bloody civil war, why not split Iraq?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (october 2007) Terrorists kill 17,000 USA citizens. In october alone, first a sheriff's deputy killed six people at a party and then a 14-year-old suspended student opened fire in a Cleveland high school killing five people. All of this thanks to the guns made available by the "gun lobby", mostly run by the National Rifle Asspciation (NRA), the largest terrorist organization in the world. The FBI just published its report about violent crime in 2006: 17,034 people were murdered in just one year. Last year Iraqi insurgents killed a little over 800 USA soldiers. The NRA is a lot more deadly than the Iraqi insurgents, or, for that matter, Iran, that disn't kill any USA citizen at all. Senator John McCain once joked "bomb bomb bomb Iran". How about we target first the ones who kill us for real, day after day?
    See also The terrorists rule the USA
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (september 2007) The ever-expanding axis of evil. Bush began his career of international demagogue by declaring war on three regimes: Iraq, Iran and North Korea. North Korea went on to become a nuclear power. Iran has become the symbol of anti-USA sentiment across the Islamic world. Iraq has become the USA's worst nightmare.
    The success of the old axis of evil is perhaps not as embarrassing for the Bush administration as its expansion. More and more countries are joining the axis of evil. Besides Cuba, Burma, Belarus, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Syria (who were already evil at the time but were somehow overlooked for a few years), free elections have installed several democratically-elected anti-USA heads of state which represent a much thornier problem: Chavez in Venezuela, Ortega in Nicaragua (the same Ortega that president Reagan fought via the Contras), Morales in Bolivia, Hamas in Palestine, and a few moderate leftist governments in Latin America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile). Not to mention an ever more hostile Russia and an ever more threatening China. Most of these leaders enjoy approval ratings that are far higher than Bush's own approval rating.
    The only good news for Bush has come from Western Europe (Sarkozy and Merkel replacing Chirac and Schroeder), from Canada (with the victory of the conservatives), from Australia (landslide of the conservative prime minister), from India (now a strategic USA ally) and from a few vastly unpopular dictators who are still in power thanks to USA military aid (from Pakistan to Egypt). Most of the rest of the world has been slipping away rather than rallying around the USA.
    Despite what the cheerleaders of the Bush administration (such as Fox News) claim, Ahmadinejad and Chavez are probably the most successful members of the new axis of evil. They are the most outspoken critics of the USA and they have both become magnets of anti-USA sentiments in their respective regions. Ahmadinejad is a hero for most of the Islamic world, that sees him as the rare Islamic leader who stands up to Western arrogance and promotes the conspiracy theories that are popular in the Middle East. Chavez is a hero for large sectors of the Latin American world that views the USA as a bunch of corrupt, brutal and greedy exploiters of the people (and haven't forgotten tens of thousands of victims of USA-sponsored dictatorships). They are both serious thorns because they amplify popular beliefs about the evil nature of the USA. It is not true that they simply feed on pre-existing anti-USA sentiment: they also create their own following. Their propaganda seems to be more effective than the old propaganda of the Soviet Union. And they are not isolated at all. Ahmadinejad and Chavez can do what they do because they have oil, lots of oil, in a world that the USA turned into a voracious consumer of oil. Other world leaders would love to do the same but they don't have oil. The fact that they cannot afford to speak out does not mean that they and their constituencies do not sympathyze with the axis of evil. Many of them do, and routinely give standing ovations to the likes of Ahmadinejad and Chavez at the United Nations.
    That the axis of evil is winning is obvious. The USA can do very little to influence the countries who become members of the axis. The countries of the axis, on the other hand, are able to wreak havoc in the rest of the world: Iran is winning in Iraq, and has turned Lebanon and Palestine (two examples of the USA push towards democratic regimes) into battlefields; Venezuela is funding and supporting anti-USA candidates all over Latin America. Both are winning more and more allies in the developing world with a combination of oil money and ideological propaganda.
    Bush's axis of evil has been so far a staggering debacle. The ranks of this axis of evil are swelling by the day. And, yet, Bush seems to be completely oblivious to the fact that he is more and more isolated around the world, while his enemies are making more and more friends around the world. As it has always been the case with his administration, Bush lives in denial of something that is very visible. Therefore he is not doing anything to remedy the problem. When you refuse to admit that there is a problem, you will not find the solution and the problem will only get bigger and bigger. That has been Bush's story from Al Qaeda to Iraq to the Katrina hurricane to the cronies he appointed in Washington.
    Ironically, the country that was behind the 2001 terrorist attacks and that is behind the worldwide spreading of Islamic fundamentalism has never made it to the axis of evil: Saudi Arabia. They are the ones printing textbooks that invite children to despire non-Muslims. They are the ones funding and providing bodies for the Sunni insurgency in Iraq. They are the ones funding and providing bodies for the Taleban in Afghanistan. They are the ones who rush to help any Muslim anywhere in the world who is willing to blow up civilians for whatever grievance. They are the ones whom Bush has always condoned. One has to wonder if the conspiracy theories that are ubiquitous in the Middle East couldn't perhaps contain a grain of truth, that Bush engineered the 2001 terrorist attacks in cahoots with Saudi Arabia. Either that, or utter stupidity.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (september 2007) How the anti-immigration crusade is crippling the middle class. The damage that antipimmigration demagogues are causing to the USA is staggering. Because of them, Congress has not changed the quota for labor permits. Because of the quota, we are sending back thousands of brilliant scientists. We are literally doing the opposite of what we used to do. We used to "steal" the best brains from all the countries in the world. Now we train them and then we literally force them to leave the USA. Most of them go to Europe and the Far East, where they are welcome. They have to leave the USA not because they want to but because there is no way that their sponsors can hire them legally. There are also thousands of brilliant scientists who have obtained the labor visa after being sponsored by USA companies, but they still choose to go back to their countries because the green-card process is just too humiliating. Thanks to the anti-immigration fanatics.
    On the other hand, the middle class is struggling to cope with skyrocketing health-care costs. Families are literally letting their sick ones die alone because they cannot afford a nurse. Only very rich people (like the anti-immigrant demagogues themselves) can afford it. Ordinary people rely on the illegal immigrants that anti-immigrant demagogues hate so much in order to provide their loved ones with adequate day and night care. The witch hunt unleashed by the anti-immigration fanatics has scared the middle class away from this cheap (and often more professional) form of assistance, but now the middle class cannot afford the "legal" ones (meaning the legalized robberies of nursing homes, day care centers, etc), which in fact becoming more expensive by the day (not having to compete with the cheaper illegal immigrants anymore). And, again, we are sending back to their countries the good, honest, kind, hard-working illegal immigrants who were providing a desperately needed service to the middle class. The anti-immigration crusaders are literally killing the middle class. They are happy that we send back brilliant foreigners so that idiots like them and their children can still get a job. These anti-immigration crusaders and the crooks in Congress that they support are not just idiots: they are traitors. To borrow an expression coined by one of them, they are the ones conducting a war on the middle class. Unfortunately, they are winning the war.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (september 2007) Harry Reid is the enemy. Washington has more corrupt politicians than Osama has suicide bombers. That is one reason why we should look for the enemy among us before we look for the enemy abroad. And sometimes fanaticism of a different sort than the Islamic one can cause more damage to the USA.
    The USA (and the world in general) desperately needs nuclear power. It is the only form of energy that can substitute fossil fuels and even reduce harmful gas emissions. Even the most fanatical of the anti-nuclear fundamentalists are beginning to accept reality. The one problem that the nuclear industry has not solved yet is what to do with the nuclear waste. No country has come up with an adequate solution. The USA did. The USa identified an old nuclear test site in Nevada as the ideal place to bury nuclear waste for one million years. It would be the safest disposal ever of nuclear waste.
    Except that Harry Reid, the powerful Democratic senator, is from Nevada. He has boycotted the whole project (offering neither a decent explanation nor a decent alternative), simply on the grounds that he has the power to do it.
    Meanwhile nuclear waste is being piled up, day after day, in much less safe containers in much less safe sites. If one of those containers leaks nuclear waste, or if one of those sites is infiltrated by a terrorist, Reid will certainly blame the nuclear industry for the incident. But we all know who is the real enemy.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (september 2007) Arnold Schwarzenegger, global warmer The former actor and current governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has frequently boasted of having presided over the greenest laws passed in the world since the global-warming scare started. At the same time, Arnold Schwarzenegger has launched a project to modernize the aging communication infrastructure of California and, having the imagination of a second-rate actor, has mostly focused that effort on expanding the size of the existing highways (instead of, for example, expanding public transportation). What his advisors failed to explain to him is that one of the main causes of climate change around the world has been and still is: deforestation. Deforestation is responsible for about 25% of all carbon emissions entering the Earth's atmosphere.
    California's highways were famous for the thousands of trees that were planted in the median dividing the two senses of direction. Schwarzenegger's modernization plan entails cutting them down, all of them, to make room for extra lanes. Freeway 280 connecting San Jose to San Francisco used to have a sign that said "the world's most beautiful freeway". The reason was the endless line of colorful oleanders and other trees that stretched all the way to San Francisco. No more. These were tens of thousands of trees, the equivalent of a little forest. The trees have been serially cut down. A fitting symbol of Schwarzenegger's deforestation plan is the barren, yellowish landscape that now stands out next to the freeway. Ditto for freeway 99 to Fresno.
    This case of state-mandated state-wide deforestation is particularly serious in California, a state that penalizes home-owners who plant trees: as a state that is chronically short of water for its citizens, California charges higher rates to home-owners that consume more water. Needless to say, this does not encourage anyone to keep trees on their property, let alone to plant new trees.
    The net effect of Schwarzenegger's policies will be to cause a staggering loss of green in California.
    It is yet another case of politicians' hypochrisy and/or incompetence.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (september 2007) Let's not get over it. In 2001 George W Bush became president of the USA on a technicality: he won the electoral college despite having lost the popular vote. More people voted for Al Gore than George W Bush, and many more people voted for the candidates of the Left (Gore plus Ralph Nader) than for the candidates of the Right (Bush plus Buchanan). The will of the people was clearly ignored.
    Since then, nothing has been done to change the Constitution and rectify this anomaly: a candidate can become president even if that candidate was voted by fewer people than another candidate.
    Since then, in fact, both Republicans and Democrats have been trying to tweak the technicality so that their candidates would have an advantage, regardless of how many votes they actually get from actual voters.
    This can hardly be called a democracy.
    After Bush got elected, Republicans kept saying "get over it", as if the whole business was not worth discussing. It is very much worth discussing. In fact, little else is worth discussing. Either the USA is a democracy or it is not. Right now, it is not.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (august 2007) The Republican Sex Machine. Not many Republicans seem to be immune to a wild sex life, that the most liberal Democrats must envy. The list of "sex scandals" in the Republican Party is very long since they won and rewon the majority in Congress. However, most of them simply reveal the disgusting arrogance of elected politicians, regardless of party affiliation. More telling is how little publicity surrounded the confession by former House speaker Newt Gingrich that he was having an extramarital affair with a congressional aide during the same period of time that former president Bill Clinton was being impeached by Congress (then dominated by Gingrich's Republican Party) for an extramarital affair with intern Monica Lewinsky.
    This will hopefully educate naive members of the Republican Party who thought that the Republican Party was defending the moral values of the USA when, under Gingrich's leadership, they persecuted Bill Clinton.
    It is also telling that the Republican Party's best known candidates for president, Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich, have both been married three times. No candidate from the Democratic Party can boast of such an exciting sex life.
    Gingrich just published a book titled "Rediscovering God in America." Are the register voters of the USA "that" dumb?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (august 2007) The middle class is still getting poorer. According to data released in august 2007 by the Internal Revenue Service, USA taxpayers earned a smaller average income in 2005 than in 2000. Bush can be proud that this is the fifth consecutive year that average income declines in the USA. He may go down as the only president during whose eight-year tenure the standard of living in the USA consistently declined. The numbers are even more devastating if one does not consider the wealthy portion of the population, whose income increased and therefore tends to increase the national average (the growth in total incomes was concentrated among those making more than $1 million). The income of the middle-class has simply collapsed. At the same time, the cost of living has more than doubled in many areas that affect the middle class: health care, education, gasoline.
    Remember Bush's tax cut? Statistics now show that 28% of the savings went to just 11,433 of the 134 million taxpayers of the USA, namely those who earn $10 million or more, saving them almost $1. This small group of wealthy citizens saved some $21.7 billion in taxes thanks to the Bush tax cut. On the other hand, the nearly 90% of USA citizens who earn less than $100,000 a year (51% of whom were dumb enough to vote for Bush) saved on average of $318 each thanks to the Bush tax cut.
    It will take a generation to undo the damage that Bush has caused to the USA economy. It will probably take even longer for the middle class of the USA to get out of the tunnel. But then wasn't the middle class that voted Bush into power in the first place? We got what we deserved. Maybe we will learn to switch off Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, and start reading the New York Times and watching Michael Moore's documentaries.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (july 2007) How the Internet monopolies crippled the USA. Throughout the 1990s the USA was the ruler of the Internet. In fact, the vast majority of websites, services and sales were based in the USA. The rest of the world accounted for a tiny portion of the whole Internet world and traffic. Those were the happy days when people used "dial up" (i.e. a regular phone line) to get on the Internet. The reason the USA led the world was that, quite simply, regulations forced phone companies to compete. This kept the prices for dial-up very low and service very good. I was rarely unable to get on line: each provider was providing so many phone numbers to call if one was not working, and, in any event, it was so easy to switch between hundreds of competing providers. (It still is, if you are willing to live with dial-up).
    Then came the Bush administration and their corrupt officials. They were told by the big telecommunication corporations to make sure that competition would not spoil their party. The Bush officials obeyed and crippled competition in the key area of high-speed Internet. At the same time, the rest of the world was regulating the industry precisely to achieve the opposite: more competition among providers of high-speed Internet and, if necessary, government intervention to guarantee that every citizen would be able to use a high-speed connection to get online.
    No surprise that in 2007 most European and Far Eastern countries have passed the USA as percentage of the population that has a high-speed Internet line. No surprise that, even at a higher cost, high-speed Internet service is lousy in the USA. Most USA citizens are stuck with one provider. If you don't like Comcast, your only alternative is to go back to dial-up. (And virtually nobody but Comcast employees likes Comcast's service and their prices).
    Limiting competition to favor their cronies in the telecommunication industry appeared to be merely yet another manifestation of the Bush administration's chronic corruption, but it turns out to have created a serious problem for the country: it has sent the USA to the second tier of nations in the race towards the digital world. The USA is now 25th in the world, and it is below the average of the developed world. A decade ago it was not only first, but the gap between the first and the second was colossal.
    It doesn't take much to cause the downfall of an empire.
    See this report
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (july 2007) The Democratic debates. Never has a presidential campaign started so early. While this makes money even more important, it also allows for a long series of debates which are having a beneficial effect: we get to know more of the candidates before the party-manipulated caucuses and primaries.
    Bill Richardson is the favorite of the greatest terrorist organization in the world, the National Rifle Association. Enough said.
    Barack Obama cannot answer (in a straight manner) the simplest questions: he answers by a collage of stereotypical sentences that mean absolutely nothing.
    Joe Biden has a record in the Senate that speaks volumes on why he should not be president.
    Hillary Clinton is perhaps the most competent of the batch, but sounds more like a well-prepared student than a compassionate leader. She leaves the impression that she will be driven by special interests no less than the last few presidents, and that there are scant chances that she will care for ordinary people. Last but not least, do Americans truly want another dynasty after the Bushes?
    That leaves John Edwards, whose private life is not always consistent with his public stand, but at least seems to embrace all the right causes and really mean them. He may not be as competent as some of the others, but he might be the one who best represents the will of the people.
    The biggest problem that the Democratic Party has is that none of its credible candidates can be trusted with change. None of them really wants to change. They are candidates because of the existing system. They have no interest to change the system, otherwise they would all be unemployed (or employed in more decent jobs).
    The Democratic candidates have to explain why, seven months after they won the last parliamentary election, absolutely nothing has changed in the USA. No universal health care, no immigration reform, no change in Iraq, etc. They keep blaming the president, as if Congress had no power and they were mere spectators of what the president does, which is, at best, a wild misrepresentation of the USA constitution. Whom do they think they can fool?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (july 2007) The Democratic Congress. Ask anybody in the street what the Democratic Congress has achieved since it was elected in 2006, and nobody will know what to answer, not even the ones who voted for the Democratic Party.
    The lobbies still rule Washington. The Democratic Party bent to the National Rifle Association and did not pass any gun-control measure. Then it hastily approved a $286 billion package of subsidies for farmers (Nancy Pelosi spent her political career criticizing farming subsidies only to sign on to the largest such subsidy the first time she had the power to block it).
    There has been no immigration bill and no energy bill. Illegal immigrants will keep coming by the millions. And oil companies will keep making money while the USA becomes more and more dependent on foreign oil. Ironically, the Democratic Party has not even acted on "global warming", except for promoting ethanol as an alternative to gasoline (too bad that ethanol is not any friendlier to the environment) and for proposing subsidies to the most polluting of all industries (coal). The reason that the USA is so dependent on oil is that the government helps (even subsidizes) the oil economy. The Democratic Party has done nothing to change that. Therefore nothing has changed.
    The only area in which one can feel the impact of the Democratic Party is drugs. There seems to be a lot less determination to fight drugs. The Democratic Party is even openly condeming Alvaro Uribe, the Colombian president who, more than anyone else, has risked his life to fight the drug cartels. He enjoys a much higher approval rating than the USA Congress (more than 70% versus less than 20%). Nonetheless, the USA Congress feels that it is its duty to criticize Uribe (as opposed to asking Uribe for advice on how to run a country). The Democratic Party has announced that it will boycott a free-trade agreement with Colombia because of Uribe's human-rights record. The very same party was very much in favor of ratifying a similar treaty with mainland China, that Amnesty International considers one of the worst offenders of human rights in the entire world.
    The Congress ruled by the Democratic Party is on its way to be as corrupt, inefficient and incompetent as its Republican-led predecessor. The USA desperately needs a third party.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (july 2007) Withdrawing from Iraq: why the polls are wrong. The polls consistently show a majority of USA citizens wants to withdraw USA troops from Iraq. Polls among the House of Representatives and the Senate show a majority of politicians wants to do the same. In other words, the "no" are more numerous than the "yes".
    What the polls do not show is how divided the "no" front is. It is misleading to claim that the majority wants the USA to withdraw from Iraq, because the truth is that there are countless theories of what this means in practice. It's like asking someone if they want fish for dinner. Their "no" does not mean that they don't want to eat dinner. It simply means that they don't want fish.
    To start with, there is no agreement on the fundamental question whether the USA should care of nor for that part of the world. Given that the USA is the main consumer in the world of oil, and that nothing seems to upset USA consumers more than an increase in gasoline prices, should the USA stay in the Middle East at least to protect the oil? There are some who say "no" but fail to explain what happens in the next few months, when presumably oil prices skyrocket causing a worldwide economic crisis. There are many who say "yes" but most of them can't quite reconcile that "yes" with the "no" to staying in Iraq.
    Then there is the humanitarian question. Should the USA intervene when genocide is about to happen? Was Clinton right to ignore the massacre of 900,000 Rwandans? Are we right today in protecting the people of Darfur from genocide? Which one is the right strategy: let people slaughter each other or use the USA's military power to prevent the genocide? Needless to say, the chances that Shiites and Sunnis and countless factions will ruthlessly attack each other will greatly increase once a) USA troops are no longer there to police the hot spots and b) USA troops are no longer there to (alas) function as the main magnet for "insurgents". Then they can really turn against each other with all the weapons they have.
    Then there is the question of government. Should the USA influence the outcome? Do we care if Iraq ends up being a puppet state of Iran? Do we care if it ends up becoming an Islamic state like the one created by the Taliban in Afghanistan? Do we care if another Saddam Hussein seizes power? If the USA abandons the democratically-elected governmentis to its destiny, very few optimists believe that it will survive. How can the USA prevent a collapse of the government? What should the USA do to prevent the rise of a new dictatorship?
    Then there are the neighbors. If the USA withdraws, foreign interference is likely to increase. Iran will help the pro-Iranian religious Shiite groups. Saudi Arabia and Syria will presumably help the Sunnis survive. Israel will be extremely nervous about any new Saddam Hussein seizing power and directing the people's anger towards Israel (a classic Arab trick to create consensus whenever consensus is missing). Should the USA let this game take place? Should the USA try and influence the outcome? If yes, how?
    The answers to these questions vary wildly among the "no" front. They are opposed to the war but, just like George W Bush, they are clueless about how to manage the aftermath of their actions. Bush couldn't answer the question: "After you invade Iraq, then what?" The anti-war camp cannot answer the question: "After you withdraw the troops, then what?"
    In a sense, they are no better than the Bush administration. The biggest problem with the Bush administration has never been the objectives (removing dictators, especially Saddam Hussein, is a good deed) but the state of denial in which they operated for too long. They kept denying the problems until it was too late to solve them. The anti-war front suffers from the same disease: denial. They keep living in denial of the problems that would arise once the USA withdraws. The effect of this new kind of denial is likely to be as bad, if not worse, than the previous one.
    The polls should offer more than a yes/no answer when they ask "should the USA withdraw from Iraq?" They should ask to flag one: withdraw all troops now, withdraw all troops over a number of years, withdraw most troops but maintain some, withdraw troops but deploy them in neighboring countries, keep troops in this or that province, send troops in again if X or Y happens, etc etc, and, finally, don't withdraw the troops until Iraq is stabilized. The truth is that the opposition is so confused and divided that Bush might still win this poll.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (july 2007) The Supreme Court vs the will of the people. Poll after poll shows that the majority of USA citizens favors abortion (62% according to a 2007 Gallup poll). Poll after poll shows that the majority of USA citizens favors stem-cell research (61%). Poll after poll shows that the majority of USA citizens favors stricter gun control (60%). Poll after poll shows that the majority of USA citizens favors the separation of church and state.
    In other words, the silent majority of the USA is not all that different from the majority of other western countries where exactly those measures have been enacted in the past.
    Surprisingly, though, the USA lags behind most western countries on all these fronts. The reason is to be found in an archaic system that gives the president the power to appoint justices to the Supreme Court and that gives the Supreme Court what amounts to veto power. The current Supreme Court was largely created by George W Bush and leans disproportionately to the right (given that Bush won both elections with the scantest of margins, and actually lost the popular vote in the first one, and given that Congress has now switched to a Democratic majority). In a few weeks that Supreme Court has de facto reopened the debate on abortion, has overturned a key element of campaign-finance law designed to limit the influence of lobbies (so that the National Rifle Association will be entitled to help elect pro-gun candidates), has cracked down on a student who insulted Jesus (something that the West thought was a prerogative of Islamic fundamentalists).
    In other words, the Supreme Court made of right-wing justices appointed by George W Bush has consistently ruled against the will of the people.
    Isn't that how revolutions start?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (july 2007) George W Bush, banana dictator. Most people didn't even know who Scooter Libby was until George W Bush pardoned him. Now that George W Bush pardoned him, Scooter Libby is famous: he is a man who was convicted by a court for some crimes that he committed (and does not even deny committing) but then pardoned by the president in person. Needless to say, there are thousands of people convicted and jailed whom the president never even dreamed of pardoning. In general, if you are convicted, you go to jail. George W Bush thinks that this rule should apply, except when he feels that it should not apply.
    This shows three aspects of his administration, that, alone, would grant an impeachment process. First, the pervasive cronysm of his administration. Bush literally appointed family friends to important posts, sidelining any concern for competence and fairness. Gonzales was the ultimate example of Bush's cronysm: an incompetent, biased and unfair attorney who now runs the justice system of the USA, despite being loathed by both right and left politicians, and trusted by nobody in the entire country.
    Second, the contempt of his administration for the democratic process. These are presidents, vicepresidents, ministers and assorted officials who get offended if someone reminds them that the people have rights. They are annoyed by the "checks and balances" of the USA constitution. In fact, they are plainly annoyed by the USA constitution. They ignore both the will of the people and the will of the democratically-elected parliament. No surprise that they should also ignore the will of a court.
    Third, the power of the vicepresident, Dick Cheney, one of the most sinister figures in recent USA politics. Most USA citizens would rather have Al Capone as vicepresident than Dick Cheney. In another (more democratic) country this man would probably be in jail or banned from the country. In the USA, this man sits in a Washington office and tells the president what to do. Books will be written to explain how this terrifying figure (one of the few people in the world who can really be called "terrorists" in that they inspire terror in the masses) came to exercise so much power. There is a widespread belief that much is unknown of what went on behind the curtains from the very first day that an idiot called George W Bush (mostly known for running a baseball team, for doing drugs and for executing more people than Saudi Arabia) decided to run for president of the USA.
    Critics who compared Bush to Hitler paid him a compliment. Day after day, Bush has come to resemble Robert Mugabe, the pathetic semi-dictator of Zimbabwe: completely isolated around the world, despised at home, entangled in an endless struggle against a growing number of domestic enemies, de facto powerless, but surrounded by a group of cronies that are willing to use all means in order to maintain at least the vestige of power.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (june 2007) The terrorists rule the USA. It wasn't even reported by the media, but the terrorists scored another victory in the USA. The "gun lobby", mostly run by the National Rifle Asspciation (NRA), managed to push through Congress new measures aimed at protecting criminals and arming them. The new measures deny police the right to request information about guns used to commit crimes. They also explicitly threaten police officers with incarceration if they try to get such information. The law is so vague that it basically intimidates police officers against pursuing any armed gangster, no matter what: if you try to catch a killer, be aware that you may end up in jail. It clearly sounds like the NRA wants to make sure that every murderer in the country is entitled to carry his gun, use it and protected from police officers to try stop him or catch him. Basically, all police investigations on gun trafficking and the likes will come to an immediate stop. Corrupt gun dealers (the NRA's favorite customers) can celebrate: they will be able to sell guns to just about anybody who has the money to pay for them. Thousands of USA citizens will die as a consequence of this provision, enacted with the votes of Republicans and Democrats alike. Osama bin Laden is an amateur compared with the NRA.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (june 2007) The end of an era The Pew Center has published its annual Global Attitudes poll. It shows that the USA is by far the most disliked power in the world, that foreign countries (even Western countries) trust even Vladimir Putin as a leader better than George W Bush, that the image of the USA keeps deteriorating around the world.
    The vast majority of USA politicians, philosophers and historians are convinced that the whole world aims for USA-style democracy. They fail to read the statistics that consistently show a global dislike for USA-style democracy. No wonder that groups such as Al Qaeda and Hamas can easily enroll so many fighters: Al Qaeda and Hamas promise people precisely what they want, while the USA is trying to force on them what they don't want (democracy).
    The world has changed, and the USA just doesn't get it. The USA is rapidly becoming as unpopular as Hitler's Germany was in 1939 with its obsession to export its political system.
    When the choice was between the Soviet Union and the USA, the USA was the most popular country in the world, and its political system was indeed what most people wanted. Now that most people have it, they begin to see the details and they don't like what they see. The USA is blamed for just about every evil in the world, from tsunamis to wars, from terrorism to global warming.
    When Muslims had to choose between communism and capitalism, they preferred capitalism. But now that communism is not an option anymore, they can say that they don't really like capitalism either.
    When Europeans had to choose between communism and capitalism, they preferred capitalism. But now that communism is not an option anymore, they can say that they like capitalism only with a number of caveats.
    Latin Americans never liked the USA anyway. Some of their dictators did. But this only made the USA even less popular. Poll after poll has shown that dictators like Fidel Castro and demagogues like Hugo Chavez are more popular in Latin America than the current or even the previous USA president.
    Therefore the end of the Cold War has changed the equation, enabling people to choose from a broader portfolio of political systems, not just between two. Now that the competition has increased, the USA political system appeals to precious few people. Most people perceive it as evil and corrupt.
    The USA should take notice of the spots where the USA is still very popular: sub-Saharan Africa, India, the Far East, Eastern Europe. Why invest in the Middle East, Western Europe and (worse of them all) Latin America, if these places hate the USA? What for? The more the USA has invested, the more hatred it has generated. Even Egypt and Jordan have a more favorable view of the USA than Argentina. Their feelings towards the USA are not just feelings against the current president: they have been around for decades and reflect deeply seated prejudices against the USA. In Argentina's case, it is sheer jealousy that the USA achieved what Argentina could have achieved (they were both equally rich at the beginning but, alas, Argentina was run by Argentinians). The problems of the Middle East, Western Europe and Latin America have been largely created by those people themselves. The USA is a convenient scapegoat.
    Turkey has the worst opinion of the USA of them all. In Turkey's case it is the USA's support for the Kurds and Armenia: as these former victims of Turkish imperialism and ethnic cleansing are unlikely to be reconciled any time soon with Turkey, especially if Turkey refuses to admit past wrongdoing, The USA needs to choose once and forever which side it is on. Did the Armenian holocaust happen or not? Do the Kurds deserve a homeland like the Palestinians or not? If the Turkish public opinion answers "no" to both, then maybe it is good news that the USA is disliked in Turkey.
    The USA needs to readdress its commitment to countries that do not like the USA's policies. By rewarding the "enemy" within (Western Europe, Latin America and the Middle East) and neglecting the real friends (sub-Saharan Africa, India, the Far East, Eastern Europe), the USA may be committing suicide.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (june 2007) The solution or the problem? There is only one entity in the USA that is less popular than president Bush: Congress. The USA public is clearly not amused by the inefficiency and corruption that have become a chronic disease in Washington. This is a Congress that has not addressed any of the pressing problems of the USA: guns (that kill way more USA citizens than Al Qaeda ever dreamed of), health care (still elusive in the USA despite being provided for free to most citizens of the other Western countries), and, last but not least, immigration.
    How ironic then that leading candidates of both the Democratic and Republican parties are members of Congress, from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama to John McCain.
    If, on election day, the USA people remember who they *don't* trust with government, whichever party fields a governor or former mayor or businessman may have a huge advantage over the one that fields a member of Congress.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (june 2007) Who is the real radical on abortion? Most of the developed democratic world has accepted that abortion should be legalize and that the woman should decide. The USA has the largest opposition in the developed democratic world to this idea. The "pro-life" vs "pro-choice" debate is largely a USA debate, as anywhere else the "pro-choice" faction wins overwhelmingly.
    However, it is only in the USA that the issue has become so identified with a specific party. Pro-life (anti-abortion) is a Republican bastion. Democrats often view the Republican Party as a party of fanatics because some in the Republic Party are pro-life. What the same Democrats fail to see is that the real fanatics are the Democrats: there isn't a single major Democratic leader who is pro-life. The "pro-choice" stand has become a dogma of the Democratic Party. Whether this is a good or bad thing is besides the issue. But it is a fact that it is the Democratic Party, not the Republican one, that enforces just one view of the debate.
    It would probably help Democrats win a few million votes if they granted the opposition at least the right to speak out. After all, the people who oppose abortion do so based on the belief (whether correct or not) that abortion kills a human life. It doesn't sound like such an abominable principle.
    The dogmatic approach on abortion by the Democratic Party is all the more surprising if one compares attitudes towards gun ownership and the death penalty. Those are truly abominable habits, abhorred by the whole civilized world. Nonetheless, leading Democratic politicians are willing to concede the right to own guns (and thereby massacre thousands of USA citizens) and the legitimacy of the death penalty (thereby associating the USA with totalitarian regimes such as mainland China's and Saudi Arabia's). These leaders of the Democratic parties seem to think that free abortion is far more important than gun control or abolishing the death penalty. An odd position, to say the least, from the point of view of life: it sounds like Democrats stand for killing, in all its forms.
    If the Democratic Party wants to be perceived as a defender of life, wouldn't it make more sense to abolish the death penalty (like most of the democratic world has done), outlaw guns (like most of the world, whether democratic or not, has done) and try to minimize the need for abortion?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (may 2007) Newt Gingrich vs Al Gore. While an incredible number of mediocre candidates debate in may 2007 what they would do in january 2009 if elected president, two serious candidates are staying out of the fray and probably enjoying the spectacle. Newt Gingrich is the only Republican who has a consistent story about Iraq: he approved of the invasion, but disapproved (in june 2003) of the way it was being handled. He is the one politician who project the image of someone who could win that war. Al Gore is also very consistent, although on the other side of the barricade: he opposed the war as a bad idea from the very beginning. Both can claim to have predicted the disaster that followed. And both have the experience and reputation to boast that they can find a solution, albeit in opposite directions (militarily in Gingrich's case, diplomatically in Gore's case).
    Compared with Gore, Hillary Clinton is a diligent amateur who, after voting in favor of the war, may be able to tap into her husband's experience to explain why she is now against it and what she would do to end it (but not win it), and Barack Obama is mostly a clueless inexperienced defeatist. Compared with Gingrich, Giuliani is a provincial major who can, at best, offer ideas on how to police the streets of Baghdad, and McCain is a charming old veteran who can, at best, cheer up the troops. Both Gore and Gingrich, for opposite reasons, are more likely to galvanize and, more importantly, convince their base.
    If Iraq becomes the central issue of this presidential campaign (i.e., if Bush's new plan fails to stop the civil war), these are the two men who can obliterate the competition.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (may 2007) Oddities of the USA view of terrorism. The report on worldwide terrorism prepared by the State Department of the USA highlighted a simple fact: terrorism is on the rise in the two countries where the USA is increasing its military presence: Iraq and Afghanistan. Terrorist attacks in Iraq increased 91%, and in Afghanistan 53%. Terrorist attacks in the rest of the world have actually decreased.
    One can draw different conclusions from this simple fact. The most superficial conclusion is that USA soldiers deployed abroad cause terrorism. This is certainly true to some extent: the presence of USA soldiers on Islamic lands (or, better, lands currently occupied by Muslims) is a powerful excuse to rally radical Muslims and recruit even moderate Muslims. A less obvious conclusion is that there is a war going on between Islam and the rest of the world (declared by Islam, not by the rest of the world) and we all live in denial (trying to distinguish "moderate" Muslims from "radical" Muslims, and trying to find excuses for every Muslim who becomes a terrorist, and trying to blame everyone else, from Russia to India to Israel to the USA, for what is simply the mission of Islam, i.e. spread Islam throughout the world). In between these two extreme viewpoints, there is a world of anti-USA media, led by Al Jazeera, that have capitalized on both extreme viewpoint, depicting the USA as bent on a new crusade and Islam as a nationalistic issue. THere is no question that the USA has played into the hands of Al Jazeera by invading Iraq. There is no question that Al Jazeera has outsmarted the USA by turning that invasion into an excuse for terrorism against non-Muslims or even fellow Muslims.
    What is happening now is that Al Jazeera is basically lecturing all the Muslims in the world about the international jihad. Thanks to media such as Al Jazeera, insurgents in Afghanistan are learning from insurgents in Iraq. It is just a matter of time before others (in Algeria, Somalia, Lebanon and so forth) will start copying whatever strategy works. The USA report is odd in that it downplays the importance that the media have in propagating terrorism around the Islamic world. It is unlikely that the Taliban would be employing the (deadly) tactic that they are employing in Afghanistan if they had not seen how successful it is in Iraq.
    Another oddity of the report is that it lists five countries as the main sponsors of terrorism: Iran, Syria, North Korea, Sudan and Cuba. This sounds more like the list of countries that show disrespect for George W Bush than a credible list of state sponsors of terrorism. No Cuban has ever been even remotely associated with Al Qaeda (whereas an anti-Cuban terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles, who killed scores of civilians, is being protected by the USA). Ditto for North Korea: has anyone explained to the CIA that communist countries are atheistic, i.e. even worse than Christian countries from the viewpoint of Islamic fundamentalists? What next: Venezuela?
    On the other hand the report failed to include India, which is guilty of not stopping the flow of arms to the Sri Lankan terrorists, and does not include RUssia, which is guilty, if nothing else, of arming most of the terrorists in the world (the Kalashnikov is the preferred weapon of both Taliban and Iraqi insurgents), and does not include Colombia, whose government is widely believed to be associated with right-wing death squads, and, most importantly, does not include the whole West, which is the main consumer of the drugs that fund terrorist groups all over the world.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (april 2007) The first debate among candidates to president of the Democratic Party had two protagonists and one loser. The two protagonists were Hilary Clinton and Joe Biden. They both proved to be competent. Clinton also proved that she would be a tough "man", a key factor to appease all those who believe that a woman cannot be trusted with presiding over the world's superpower. In a sense, Barack Obama lost the duel with Clinton on both fronts: he seemed to be both less competent and less determined. During a crisis, one would rather trust Hilary Clinton than Barack Obama with immediate and effective action. However, Obama is probably paying the price he didn't pay earlier for his inexperience.
    Dennis Kucinich gave a lesson to everybody on what "honesty" means. One may or may not like his ideas, but at least he does what he means and means what he does. Besides, it is likely that the majority of USA voters actually agrees with this views (who doesn't want Dick Cheney impeached outside of the Fox News "fair and balanced" commentators?) Kucinich is likely to become the Nader of the future, and a good candidate to eventually start the third party that the USA desperately needs to get rid of the totalitarian regime created by the two main parties. Ralph Nader has a successor.
    The only disappointment (and a major one) came from the man who was supposed to be the most competent of the candidates: Bill Richardson. It turns out he is the one who defends the largest terrorist organization in the world, the National Rifle Association, responsible for the killing of thousands of USA citizens every year. He, de facto, stood up to defend the right to kill at will. Is this the new face of Washington that the Democratic Party is trying to project? The same old lobbies mandating self-serving laws on the same old unscrupulous politicians?
    John Edwards was not a disappointment because he had long lost his credibility as a champion of the poor. A wealthy attorney who spends a fortune in hairdressers, he keeps repeating that his father was poor for the simple reason that he has nothing else to show as evidence of his dedication to the poor.
    Clinton and Obama are the most respectable Democratic candidates because they were not ashamed of admitting that they never owned a gun in their life, a crime for which the National Rifle Association and Al Qaeda will certainly persecute them. If you are a patriot, vote for Clinton or Obama.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (april 2007) The Innocence Project. The Innocence Project is a non-profit organization founded in 1992 by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld at the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University to help exonerate innocents who have been wrongly convicted of a crime they did not commit. The organization uses DNA to succeed where a popular jury failed.
    In april 2007 the Innocence Project celebrated the 200th person to be exonerated by DNA testing. Many of these 200 people had served more than 20 years in prison. On average they had served 12 years. Fourteen of them were on death row (awaiting execution for a crime that they did not commit).
    If one does a simple proportion (DNA-exonerated cased divided by total number of cases examined by Innocence Project), one infers that the USA has probably executed at least a few hundred innocents in the past, and that at least 30,000 innocents are in jail right now. This means that at least one every 10,000 USA citizen is sent to jail for a crime that s/he did not commit (if one considers only the adult population, that percentage almost doubles).
    If these numbers sound staggering, remember that these are "only" the numbers of people who could be exonerated by DNA testing. It does not mean that everybody else in jail is guilty. In most cases the DNA is not helpful to establish if a person was or was not guilty of a crime. There might be thousands of innocents in jail whose innocence cannot be proven by DNA testing.
    The USA relies on "popular juries" to administer justice. This means that, once accused by a prosecutor (who may or may not know what s/he is doing, as countless cases have proven), your destiny will be decided by a dozen people chosen more or less randomly from the population. These are the same people who are routinely fooled by marketing campaigns, not to mention political campaigns. You will be judged by someone whom you yourself wouldn't trust for any kind of advice.
    If you can afford to spend a fortune in attorneys, you are likely to prove your innocence (whether you are innocent or not), for the same reason that these jurors are victims of marketing campaigns. If you cannot afford to spend a fortune in attorneys, you may end up being the Innocence Project's next case.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (april 2007) The USA releases an international terrorist. In 1976 a bomb blew up a Cuban airplane and killed 73 people. At the time Luis Posada Carriles was a CIA operative based in Venezuela. Investigations led to two suitcases that were checked in by men working for him. Cuba requested his extradition but that never happened. However, Posada was arrested by Venezuela (then run by a pro-USA government), tried and convicted. The evidence overwhelmingly proved his involvement in the bombing of that civilian plane. But he managed to escape in 1985. He moved to El Salvador where he helped USA colonel Oliver North run a terrorist organization to fight the communist government in Nicaragua. After that venture was successfully completed, Posada returned to his original aim of overthrowing Fidel Castro. Posada is suspected of involvement in the 1997 bombings of several tourist hotels in Cuba and of a plot to assassinate Cuba's dictator Fidel Castro. He was again arrested in Panama but then pardoned by Panama's president (a strong USA ally).
    He finally entered the USA illegally and was arrested for illegal immigration. Cuba again requested his extradition. The USA has responded by releasing the terrorist on bail. Needless to say, both Cuba and Venezuela (now run by anti-USA crusader Hugo Chavez) have accused the USA of a double standard: pretending to fight a war against terror when in fact protecting a convicted terrorist. The whole of Latin America (and the whole world) is likely to draw the exact same conclusion. As George W Bush once famously said: "you are either with us or against us".
    If this is the way that the Bush administration wants to compete in popularity with Hugo Chavez throughout Latin America, we already know who is going to win.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (april 2007) The largest terrorist organization in the world kills 32 people in the USA. Every few months i publish the very same article. Because the very same episode happens again: thanks to the easy availability of guns in the USA, and thanks to a culture of violence, someone goes on a rampage and kills a lot of innocents at random. (See Baghdad, USA; The real terrorists strike again in the USA; Tom Delay, anti-American terrorist; The largest terrorist organization in the world strikes again; etc).
    The culture of violence is created by a society that emphasizes physical activity over mental activity (kids want to become sport champions, not win Nobel prizes) and by a society that still administers the death penalty. But it would be difficult to kill a crowd using just knives and hammers. What makes it terribly easy is the laws that protect the people who manufacture, the people who sell and the people who buy guns. There are more guns in the USA than in any other country of the world. No wonder that there are also so many murders. Corrupt politicians (especially but not only in the Republican Party) routinely pass laws that protect serial killers, handing them even more guns and even more deadly ones. Tom DeLay once pledged to do everything he could to make semi-automatic guns legal (in other words, to maximize the number of people that a murderer can kill in a minute). The National Rifle Organization has enough money to bribe enough politicians to effectively produce a mass campaign of arming all USA citizens.
    As the New York Times wrote on April 26: "The National Rifle Association and the gun lobby have silenced every legislature in this country. Instead of stricter laws, tighter controls and better background checks, the gun lobby proposes more guns. And what the gun lobby proposes, lawmakers deliver."
    The result? Virginia is second in the nation for ease of owning a gun. It does not take Albert Einstein to figure out why this carnage happened in Virginia. It is surprising it did not happen earlier.
    USA citizens own 240 million guns, i.e. almost one per person. No other democracy has that demented percentage of guns. In most western countries the percentage is less than 1 in 100. About 30,000 USA citizens are the victims of guns every year. Not surprisingly, no other democracy has that demented percentage of gun fatalities.
    A gun kept at home is 22 times more likely to kill a friend or family member than an intruder, as proven by a study of the "New England Journal of Medicine", and USA citizens do not fail to do so: 1,000 people die very year in "gun accidents". On average eight children are killed "by accident" by guns every day, the equivalent of a school massacre.
    George W Bush said: "The best way to protect our citizens from guns is to prosecute those who commit crimes with guns.". Go tell the parents of these 31 people who died at the Virginia Tech campus, that the best way to protect their lives is to prosecute the gunman (who is dead anyway). Dear idiot: the only way to protect those 31 people would have been to make sure that noone owned guns in the first place, except for the police. Amend the Constitution so that we can finally live in a peaceful society, not in the Wild West, and so that parents can send children to school knowing that their children will come back home alive. Is it too much to ask?
    This will never end. Tomorrow it will be a shopping mall. Or a gas station. Or a post office. Or a restaurant. Or an amusement park. And what next, Wayne LaPierre?
    The National Rifle Organization is the largest terrorist organization in the world. It keeps the country under a constant atmosphere of terror. We are terrorized to go to work, to go to school, to go shopping. Its actions help to kill more USA citizens than Al Qaeda and the Iraqi insurgents combined. What are we waiting for? That they kill us all?
    Imagine the irony in the case of the Romanian-born professor, a holocaust survivor, who survived the folly of Hitler but did not survive the folly of the NRA.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (april 2007) The USA, former superpower. The gross national product of the European Union has passed the gross national product of the USA. China's GDP will pass the USA's in 2027, according to USA projections. Germany alone has already passed the USA as the world's main exporter and China is about to pass the USA in second place. The largest car manufacturer in the world is now Japanese (Toyota) and the largest company in the world is Saudi (Aramco). Asians are now the biggest consumers of luxury goods. The dollar is one of the weakest currencies in the world.
    The USA is still the leader is several sectors. It is the world's biggest consumer of drugs (marijuana, cocaine, heroin, you name it). It executes more prisoners than any democracy in the world. It has the largest prison population in the world. It has the highest number of serial killers and mass shootings ever recorded in history. It has the largest trade deficit (i.e. debt) ever recorded in history. It is the most polluting country in the world. It consumes more energy (and in particular oil) than any country in the world.
    It won't be easy for the USA to retain its status of superpower.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (april 2007) Corruption at the World Bank. After winning his second term, president George W Bush openly challenged his critics and nominated his two most controversial advisors, John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz, to two prestigious international positions: respectively, ambassador to the United Nations and president of the World Bank. The rest of the world, said Bush, will just have to live with his decisions. Bolton's tenure at the United Nations was marred by so much controversy that he had to resign one year later.
    Wolfowitz was sent to the World Bank to deal with an organization that, according to George W Bush, was wasting money and mismanaged.
    In april 2007 it surfaced that Wolfowitz was dating an employee of the World Bank, Shaha Riza, and that he had magaged to get a promotion for this girlfriend. The promotion came with a comfortable new salary: $200,000, and tax-free (technically speaking, she's a diplomat). Wolfowitz is now under pressure to resign. A statement released by his staff reads: "his conduct has compromised the integrity and effectiveness of the World Bank Group and has destroyed the staff's trust in his leadership."
    In the meantime Shaha Riza is enjoying her $200,000 salary while thousands of honest USA workers are making not even one third of this amount (and have to pay taxes on their salary). Another lesson to be learned for the youth of the USA: sleep with a powerful man and you'll get rich and powerful (the former lesson was that if you do drugs in college and drink & drive, then you become president of the USA).
    (The fact that the United Nations is demanding the resignation of Wolfowitz over a $60,000 raise but did not ask for the resignation of Kofi Annan as secretary general over the $12 billion oil-for-food scandal, that starved the Iraqi peoople and supported Saddam Hussein, is telling about the dirty politics of the United Nations, but that's another story).
    This follows by a few weeks a scandal involving Bush's personal friend Alberto Gonzales, whom Bush appointed Attorney General against an unusually strong opposition by the Democratic Party. Gonzales was not qualified for the job and held very partisan views, but Bush guaranteed that the man was a model of fair and balanced judgement. So much so that Gonzales fired several prosecutors for not conforming to the ideology of the White House, and pressured others to issue sentences that investigations have proven worthless. (A Georgia Thompson spent a year in jail for a crime that was never committed, accused of it by a Gonzales crony, Steven Biskupic, at a time when the Republicans needed to smear the Democratic candidate. In Arizona the US attorney, Paul Charlton, was discouraged from pursuing the investigation of the Republican candidate for Congress, Rick Renzi, who was suspected of corruption; and in fact Renzi was elected and now sits in Congress, while Charlton has been fired. Get it?) Gonzales made a mockery of the USA judicial system, that now looks very similar to the patronage system that ruled under Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
    This followed the repeated allegations that Dick Cheney and Karl Rove masterminded the act of treason committed against CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson in retaliation for her husband's political views, a demented conspiracy worthy of a Hollywood movie.
    This followed the resignation of Tom DeLay, Bush's strongest ally in Congress, who was found guilty of all sorts of "unethical' actions.
    Is there anyone in the Bush administration who is not corrupt? Is George W Bush simply an idiot in the hands of cunning crooks, or is he in person the greatest crook who ever became president of the USA?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (april 2007) An open letter to Nancy Pelosi. You have consistently argued in favor of withdrawing as soon as possible from Iraq and letting the Iraqis solved their problems by themselves. Whatever you are going to call this, the entire world (both friends and enemies and indifferent observers) will call it "surrender". The USA will be viewed as having lost the war.
    I have three questions for Nancy Pelosi:
    1. Can the USA afford to lose yet another war? The USA is largely seen worldwide has having won virtually no war in its history, except against very small countries such as Panama. The USA entered Word War I at the very end, when the Germans were already on the brink of defeat. The USA certainly helped close the conflict earlier, but can hardly claim to have "won" that war since they did not fight most of it. In World War II there is no question that the British and the Soviet Union were the real winners against Germany. The USA did win the war against Japan but USA's history books neglect what the rest of the world knows: that China lost a lot more people in the fight against Japan, and so did the British. Then the USA lost in North Korea, in Vietnam, in Lebanon, in Somalia. In all of these places the USA had to withdraw and allowed the enemy (China, Vietcongs, Syria, Al Qaeda) to install friendly governments. The world perceives the USA has having lost all these military confrontations. These repeated defeats have greatly damaged the international prestige of the USA and increased the defiance of anti-USA regimes (from Al Qaeda to Iran to Venezuela). Can the USA afford to lose yet another one? (In a tape released in may 2007, Osama bin Laden's deputy Al-Zawahri said that Al Qaeda is "nearing closer to victory over the enemy", i.e. the USA: he was referring to you).
    2. Do you really think that the Iraqis will solve their problems by themselves? Don't you think that, the moment the USA withdraws from the scene, the neighboring countries (to say the least) will greatly increase their influence over the various fighting factions? Don't you think that in history the vacuum left by a vanishing power has always (always) been filled by other powers? Can you name a case in history in which a power abandoned a sphere of influence and no other power took over? Don't you think that, by calling for the Iraqis to solve their problems by themselves, you are de facto asking for the neighboring powers to increase their meddling into Iraq's affairs?
    3. Do you care at all for the will of the Iraqis themselves? The democratically elected government of Iraq has repeatedly opposed any plan for a timetable for the withdrawal of USA troops. Do you care at all for what will happen to millionsof Iraqis under your plan? If not, why should they or anyone else care for the USA? Isn't this precisely what fuels anti-USA terrorism, the indifference of the USA for the lives of others?

    P.S. Can you also explain why your party's bill for the withdrawal of the troops from Iraq includes $74 million to help peanut farmers store their crops and $25 million for California spinach producers?

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (april 2007) Pelosi vs Bush, Syria vs Israel, the USA vs the Arab people. Nancy Pelosi has should not be proud of legitimizing the Syrian dictatorship by visiting the president of Syria amid great fanfare. But her visit underscores two different ideological views of the Middle East, that the entire West (not just the USA leadership) is struggling with. One view is that Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist groups because in the past they supported and encouraged suicide bombings targeting civilians (Bush would define them as terrorists simply on the ground that they kidnap Israeli soldiers, but every army in the world does that). The opposite view (obviously held by the vast majority of the Islamic public opinion and probably by a majority of the European public opinion) is that Hamas is both a legitimate political party (that won the most recent elections in the Palestinian Territories) and a legitimate movement of freedom-fighters, and that Hezbollah is a legitimate Lebanese political party equipped with "bodyguards" just like any party in Lebanon.
    It is hard to believe that these views cannot be mediated and differences resolved. Both Hamas and Hezbollah do represent the will of millions of people. So it is pointless to call them "terrorists". Some of their members indeed were and probably still are. But the movements as a whole represent millions of people, including many peaceful Arabs who are simply interested in schools and jobs (and possibly freedom, if it's not asking too much of the Western powers).

    The way to make sure that the "moderate" arm of these movements prevails over the "military" arm is not to isolate them and insult them and reverse the results of fair democratic eletions. The way to help the "moderates" is to educate the Arab people that there are better ways to create a viable and prosperous society than to send your children to blow themselves up in a market or a bus station. For example, it is popular in the Arab world to say that the Palestinians only have their bodies to fight with. When i am in the Middle East, i always reply that the Jews, persecuted for many centuries by the Christians, only had their "minds" to fight with: they became scientists, economists, writers and philosophers, not suicide bombers. The Arabs produced a lot of terrorists, but very few scientists, economist, writers or philosophers. Who is doing better today, the Jews or the Arabs? This argument works wonders. If the West emphasiszed this kind of arguments (instead of simply criminalizing the Arab mind), the popular tide would turn against the suicide bombers. TOday precious few Hamas and Hezbollah members want their children to win a Nobel Prize in Physics. At best, they want their children to emigrate to the West (and sending the best minds overseas does not help the Arab societies but helps the Western ones). At worst, they want their children to continue the endless fight against Israel and the whole West.
    Therefore Nancy Pelosi's visit to Syria may be the beginning of a reassessment of Western strategies towards these two very popular Arab movements.
    One thing should be clear by now to even the dumbest USA president: you cannot win the hearts and minds of the Muslims by simply declaring that their heroes are evil people. You paint yourself in a corner, and, indirectly, you end up boosting the very dictators (such as Syria's) that you want to weaken.
    The USA should recognize both Hezbollah and Hamas as representating millions of people in their countries. And, in parallel, the USA should try to change the cultural psychology of these lands, where too many parents and priests and teachers are still convinced that martyrs go to paradise, no matter what.

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (april 2007) The difference between Iraq and Syria. Two distinguished USA politicians traveled to the Middle East and visited a local market. One was John McCain, desperate to prove that the situation in Iraq is improving, and walked into a Baghdad market. He was wearing a bullet-proof vest and was surrounded by USA soldiers holding machine guns to defend McCain from the many snipers, militia men and suicide bombers. The other one was Nancy Pelosi, on a semi-private mission to Syria, who walked into a market of Damascus. She was wearing a headscarf instead of a bullet-proof vest, and was escorted by Syrian police officers, who protected her from a crowd of cheering shop-owners who were offering her their goods. Pelosi was warmly welcomed by the Syrian people, while McCain hardly made any contact with a cold and distant Iraqi people.
    No metaphors could better explain the mood in the Middle East. Iraq is a democracy whose dictator has been deposed and executed. Syria is a dictatorship whose dictator is still in power. Not only are the Syrians doing a lot better than the Iraqis, but they also seem to like the USA a lot better.
    If the invasion of Iraq was meant to conquer the hearts and minds of the Arab world, it has obviously failed miserably. On the other hand, if Bush's verbal attacks against Syria were meant to create hostility between the two countries, it has instead boosted the popularity of the USA opposition in the Arab world.
    Assad, probably one of the architects of the mess in Iraq and in Lebanon, has consistently outsmarted Bush.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (march 2007) Al Gore's global warming. Al Gore's global warming is not real. It is mostly in his head. Al Gore has redefined himself as a champion of what he considers the main problem facing the Earth today: global warming. He testified in front of the Congress and his testimony is exemplary of the distortions that fanatics use to prove a theory that is not scientifically sound.
    He said that the planet's temperature has increased by one degree Fahrenheit (the USA is the only country that does not use centigrades, otherwise he would have said "centigrade", which is actually a lot more). It turns out that such fluctuations have been going on for centuries. In fact, the planet "has" been mostly warming up, otherwise our race would not exist: human civilization emerged after the end of the Ice Age. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the planet has been warming up between the Ice Age and now (luckily for the human race). Even assuming that the rise in temperature becomes a constant for many decades, Gore does not explain what is wrong with the warming of the planet. He mentions that the oceans would rise by almost seven meters. With all due respect, the worst estimate from climatologists is about 7 cm. Regardless of whether you believe the apocalyptic prophecies, most of the world would probably go along with the theory that we have to cut carbon-dioxide emissions (because it's unlikely that they do any good to our atmosphere). He calls for a cut in emission of carbon dioxide. But he does not mention the easy solution to the problem, that would also solve a lot of other problems, from Islamic terrorism to the crises with Iran and Venezuela: abandon oil in favor of nuclear power. Nuclear power does not produce carbon dioxide. What he asks us to do, instead, is basically go back to the stone age. Most of the planet would rather wait for the oceans to rise 7 cm.
    (See also The US reneges Kyoto: idiot or savant?).
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (march 2007) Another war that the USA is losing. The "war on drugs" was declared by president Bush I, who promised to eradicate the problem from the American continent. His failure is as bad as his son's failure in Iraq. Not only drugs have become even more widespread (Americans who have never done drugs tend to blush), not only his own son admitted of having used drugs before becoming president, but the business of drug trafficking has never been so profitable. Even better: as long as you are white, the chances of ending up in jail are almost zero. The number of people serving time in jail for drug offences is indeed very high, but they are almost all black and Latino (more than 70%). Statistics say that the vast majority of drugs are actually consumed by white middle-class people of all ages and genders, but those who end up in jail are overwhelmingly poor blacks and poor Latinos. Police routinely arrest people in poor neighborhood when they find them with drugs, but virtually no police officer in his own mind would check if white middle-class people are doing drugs at one of their respectable parties. Thus the "war on drugs" becomes an even bigger joke.
    It would be comedy if it weren't tragedy: those white middle-class folks who support the drug trade are funding terrorism in places such as Afghanistan and Colombia.
    All the USA does to stem the plague is put in jail poor blacks and Latinos who are selling drugs to rich white people because that's what the demand is. If white yuppies demanded bananas, these kids would be selling them bananas. If white yuppies and their children demand pot and cocaine, the poor kids sell them pot and cocaine. The drug traffickers are simply an effect, not the cause.
    If you really have to punish someone, start punishing the people who cause the problem. The USA society would probably greatly benefit from getting rid of a few million of dumb white yuppies and their children. An idea: send them to more civilized places such as Singapore that have the death penalty for drug offenses.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (march 2007) The enemy within: crime. While there has been no terrorist attack since 2001, the USA has witnessed a dramatic increase in all kinds of violence. (Report on crime increase in the USA)
    This trend is hardly surprising if one lives in the USA. It is self-evident that good manners are rapidly becoming a thing of the past and violent behavior is pervasive.
    The Clinton era witnessed a considerable drop in violent crime around the country, so one wonders what did Bush "undo" that caused the current rise in crime rates?
    Bush is only partially responsible. He is certainly responsible for a simultaneous reduction in both social programs and police force, which, of course, is a recipe for disaster. As more and more youths are thrown into the streets with nothing else to do, fewer and fewer police officers are there to watch over them.
    Bush's tax cut for the rich caused a big problem for everybody else: his tax cuts included a cut in both social programs and police funding.
    But Bush's budget deficit is only part of the problem. It would be unfair for the USA society to blame only the economic factor. Truth is that there are way too many broken families, that "raise" way too many dysfunctional children. This is a problem that started in the 1960s and is only getting worse with every new decade. A majority of USA citizens (not including recent immigrants) do not know how it feels to have just one mother and one father who have always been together. Thus they cannot appreciate the argument. In fact, they are bound to repeat their parents' mistakes in the belief that what happened to their childhood is ok. What happened in their childhood is the foundation of many social problems.
    Next, of course, is the mother of all problems: guns. The USA has more guns than any other country in the world, including Iraq. No surprise therefore that so many USA citizens gets murdered every year, almost as many as the number of Iraqis killed last year in the civil war (30,000). There is a de facto civil war in the USA, one waged by the "gun lobby" (the National Rifle Association and the corrupt politicians that work for it in Washington) against the people of the USA. This kind of teerrorism is far more effective than Al Qaeda's terrorism in killing USA citizens.
    Last but not least, the USA is pervaded by a culture that rewards violence, from rap music to videogames. If you kill, you become a star. If you kill, you win the game. The death penalty is part of this culture: if it is ok for the government and the state to kill, why isn't it ok also for a private citizen to kill?
    At the same time that the (Police Executive Research Forum published its report on crime another statistic was published, that showed the USA leading the world in number of people behind bars (prisons and jails). The USA has the highest number of prisoners in the world and the highest number of executions in the democratic world, but crime keeps increasing. They just don't get it.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (march 2007) Condi's quiet diplomacy. There was a time when Bush would scream "you are with us or against us" and proclaim the "axis of evil" and proceed to invade and destroy in the name of God. Six years later a largely anti-USA mood pervades the world, even where friends outnumber enemies. As a popular sticker goes, "we are creating enemies faster than we can kill them".
    NOt all was wrong. In fact, most of Bush's foreign policy moves were long overdue and it is sad that it took a terrorist attack to wake up the USA to the need to remove the Taliban and Saddam Hussein from power. The USA also sided with countless underdogs, from Georgia to Liberia, helping democratic worldwide.
    However, the Bush administration learned the hard way why humans invented diplomacy: because whether you are right or wrong matters a lot less than the way you are right or wrong. Stepping over everybody's toes is not a good way to make friends, regardless of whether your argument is valid or not. As much as everybody hates it, the truth is that there is a practical reason why diplomacy exists.
    Enters Condoleezza Rice. Since she became the foreign minister of the USA, the attitude has changed quite dramatically. The ideology is the same, and Rice wastes no opportunity to reminds her international audiences of her crusader's belief in exporting democracy. But the means she employs are clearly different. It is also surprising how effective her quiet diplomacy has been,
    It is emblematic how the USA dealt with Somalia. Not a single USA soldier was employed. Not a single minute was wasted in trying to phrase a United Nations resolution that would please France and Russia. Not a single threat was launched on the air waves. The USA basically subcontracted the case of Somalia to two trusted allies: Ethiopia and Uganda. It was Ethiopia that invaded Somalia and expelled the Islamists. It was Uganda that volunteer to patrol Somalia and maintain order. They can both be more ruthless than the USA, without the scrutiny of western media and the persecution of Al Jazeera.
    North Korea suddenly agreed to get rid of nuclear weapons, after resisting and provoking for a decade. (Note of july 2007: North Korea eventually gave in and agreed to shut down a disputed nuclear reactor).
    The USA has also managed to keep their Arab allies in line while letting Israel massacre Hezbollah militias and assorted Palestinian insurgents. In fact, the Arabs even resurrected an old peace plan with Israel, at the very time when Israel has done precious little to ingratiate itself with the Arab masses.
    Progress has been made in isolating Venezuala in South America. Uruguay threatened to leave Mercosur rather than abandon plans for a treaty with the USA. And Brazil signed a major deal with the USA while Venezuela's president Chavez was contesting Bush in a parallel event. Brazil may have not necessarily showed support for Bush, but it certainly ridiculed Chavez's anti-Bush campaign by doing precisely what Chavez did not want them to do. Chavez looks more like the one left behind than the one leading the troops. Only Argentina, the bastion of anti-USA sentiment, supports Chavez (Argentina and the USA were the emergenging powers one century ago, but one went on to become the world's superpower while the other one became of th eworld's greatest failures).
    The USA is also being successful in isolating Iran and Syria within the Islamic world. For a while it looked like the rhetoric of Iran's president Ahmadinejad would conquer the hearts and souls of the Islamic world that the USA had so badly lost, but it now looks like Ahmadinejad has lost support within his own country and the Arab masses, reminiscent of so many demagogues who promised triumph and only brought defeat, got tired of his empty tirades. (Note of july 2007: Iran eventually gave in and agreed to United Nations inspections).
    The Palestinian factions manage to form a government of coalition, one that falls far short of Israel's demand for recognitiion but one that represents a step forward (and away from civil war).
    The democratically-elected Lebanese government has survived all attempts by Hezbollah to change the rules of democracy, and is receiving massive amounts of money for reconstruction.
    After a weekend visit by John Negroponte (who works for Rice), in april 2007 Sudan agreed to let the United Nations deliver aid to the Darfur refugees, thus stopping an escalation that was leading to military confrontation.
    Even the European Union looks more pro-USA than it was in 2003, especially should Sarkozy win the elections in France (following Merkel's victory in Germany).
    The USA may not win the war in Iraq, but it has won a number of difficult diplomatic wars, proving that, when it wants, it can outdo Europe even at what Europe is (or was) best: diplomacy.

    In a July article in Business Week, Rice said: "If I look back, though, what I'm most glad we did is to put the promotion of democracy at the center of American foreign policy. I'm a firm believer that unless America stands for the fact that every man, woman, and child deserves to live in a system that permits them a say in who governs them, that permits them to educate their boys and girls, to be free from the knock of the secret police at night_unless we stand for those very basic human rights, no one will. But in the Middle East, we had a policy of exceptionalism. We somehow argued that stability was what mattered. And I know when you look at the Middle East today, you say: "Whoa, it's not very stable." Well, it wasn't very stable before, either. It was a false stability in which dictators like Saddam Hussein put 300,000 people in mass graves, where Syria occupied Lebanon for decades, where healthy political forces were squeezed out because authoritarian regimes gave them no place to develop. Instead, al Qaeda become the expression of politics in the Middle East."

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (January 2007) Where the USA is winning There is no question that the Bush administration has so far failed badly to turn Iraq into a viable democracy after liberating it from the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. (See How to win in Iraq).
    At the same time, one has to recognize that the USA is winning in several other places of the world, that are not as advertised precisely because the USA is winning and not losing.
    To start with, the USA seems to be prevailing over the insurgents in Afghanistan. For a while the Taliban had staged a comeback and seemed intent in copying the bloody tactics of their Iraqi brothers. It looks like the USA has reestablished control over several regions and greatly diminished the threat coming from the Taliban that take shelter across the border in Pakistan. This may also be due to the fact that Pakistan has quietly increased its cooperation with the USA and Afghanistan, a fact which in itself counts as a positive achievement.
    Another front where the USA is doing better is North Korea. In 2006 the initiative was taken by North Korea and the USA was clearly on the defensive (See North Korea and the new Far-Eastern order). But it looks like Kim Jong Il's decision to test a nuclear bomb (and the rather unimpressive size of that test) has backfired against the regime itself. China got really upset over it and did what it had previously been reluctant to do: put real pressure on Kim Jong Il's regime to stop its nuclear program.
    Relationships with China in general seem to have improved dramatically. China has helped broker a deal with North Korea. China has become more accomodating with Japan. And China has stopped threatening Taiwan with invasion every other month.
    However, the real success story of early 2007 (if it lasts) has to be Somalia. Somalia had fallen into the hands of Islamists in a way that was eerily reminiscent of what happened a decade earlier in Afghanistan. The USA successfully striked a deal with Ethiopia and let Ethiopia clean up the mess in Somalia. An internationally-recognized government was reinstalled in Somalia by Ethiopian troops. Once the Islamist troops had been dislodged from the highly-populated area of the capital, the USA then finished the job by using high-technology arms to destroy the army of the retreating Islamists. The combined effort of Ethiopian ground troops and USA high-tech weaponry may be an important new element in USA military thinking. One wonders if an Sunni Arab army backed by USA weapons wouldn't be more effective at bringing stability to the Sunni triangle and the western region of Iraq than the current combination of weak Iraqi troops and sparse USA soldiers.
    So far the USA has also been successful in keeping a democratic government in power in Lebanon. The USA has not acted in Lebanon, but it has used its regional allies to stem Syria's influence on Hezbollah and to prop up the democratic regime. So far it seems to have worked while avoiding a new civil war.
    Last but not least, the USA seems to have succeeded in isolating the regime of Iran. Iran's president is much less outspoken than he used to be. He has lost a domestic election to more moderate clerics, and (more importantly) he has lost the support of just about every country in the world except Syria. Russia and China are now joining the USA and the European Union in striking Iran with sanctions. While those sanctions are largely symbolic, they send a message that Iran did not want to hear: that more may be coming if Iran does not change attitude. Worse: the price of oil is retreating, which greatly reduces Iran's financial leverage over oil-hungry countries.
    Generally speaking, the USA has been successful in creating around the world a new level of cooperation against Islamic fundamentalists. Whether Bush likes to admit it or not, the USA has recognized that Islam "is" the problem. Whenever an Islamic movement (whether Sunni or Shiite) gets armed, terrorism and civil war ensue. (One can argue forever why this happens. See Not Islamic fascism but Islamic denial). The USA has created awareness around the world that Islamic movements must be prevented from creating their own militiae. Believe in Allah and Mohammed if you wish, but do not match that belief with bullets. This message is reverberating around the world. While much still has to be done to disarm Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan, there has been progress in Indonesia, the Philippines, Central Asia, Africa, and Russia itself. The most significant help has come from the very countries that used to support Islamic fundamentalists: the Arab countries. Militiae such as Hezbollah and Hamas are not finding donors the way they used to twenty years ago.
    Thus there are many achievements that the USA can mildly be proud of. Unfortunately the failure to establish a Palestinian state and the failure to establish an Iraqi state are so visible and dangerous that everything else pales in comparison.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (January 2007) The collapsing dollar. Since its peak, the dollar has already declined by 35% against the euro and broadly against every currency you can name. The main reason of this steady decline is the huge USA current-account deficit (the largest in the history of the world), which is mainly due to the trade deficit (the largest in the history of the world), which is mainly due to the huge wave of imports from all over the world. The USA imports cheap goods from "developing" countries (countries such as South Korea and Taiwan which are now often more developed than many of the states of the USA) and imports high-tech goods from former developing countries (Japan) and former European "colonies" (Germany). And of course it imports oil from the oil-producing nations. The result is that the USA owes the rest of the world a few trillion dollars. The trade deficit now stands at about 900 billion dollars a year. Every year, on average, the debt of each American citizen towards the rest of the world increases by about $4,000. This makes the USA currency (the dollar) weaker.
    The dollar will get even weaker as two forces start working in cahoots. On one hand, USA investors themselves will keep shifting towards foreign investments in order to maximize their return (foreign stock markets are booming too and a USA investor gains money just by having non-dollar investments). On the other hand, governments that have ammassed huge fortunes in dollars (such as mainland China) will keep shifting their foreign-exchange reserves towards non-dollar currencies, precisely to minimize the losses due to the decline of the dollar. These two trends will combine to push foreign currencies up and therefore the dollar futher down.
    Since there is little that is likely to change the dependence of the USA economy on foreign materials and goods, this situation is likely to continue for at least a generation. It is difficult to see what could reverse the trend. If the USA introduced protectionist measures to stem the flow of imports, USA consumers would have to pay a lot more for their clothes and electronics, which would make them a lot poorer. Furthermore the huge corporations (such as Walmart) that got rich by selling cheap goods to USA consumers would risk their profits. Thus it is unlikely that politicians will do anything to stop USA consumers from purchasing foreign goods. And there is little that the USA can do to stop purchasing oil from oil-producing nations.
    Another reason that the USA government has little interest in stopping the decline of the dollar is that, ultimately, it helps. USA corporations are seeing higher profits because the gains from their international operations are denominated in foreign currencies that are appreciating. If you sell the same amount of goods in Europe, you may be making 38% more than ten years ago just because the euro is worth 38% more. Second, the cheap dollar does help exports, that are in fact booming (even though not enough to significantly correct the trade deficit). This also brings profits in. This all contributes to economic growth and to the boom of the stock market.
    So far foreigners also seem to be willing to invest much of their dollar wealth into the USA itself, thus bringing back most of the dollars that the USA spends in imports, thus further fueling economic growth and the stock market.
    Who is paying for the collapsing dollar? Ultimately, the average USA citizen, who is now 38% poorer than corresponding European citizens. However, USA citizens tend to travel little abroad and know little about the rest of the world. Thus they will realize how poor they have become only the day they are in Rome and have to pay $2 for a can of soda, or the day they are in Tokyo and have to pay $20 for a pizza. But this will probably happen only once or twice in their lifetime.
    More worrying for the future of the USA is that a weak dollar may deter many world brains from moving to the USA and encourage many USA brains to move elsewhere in the world. The USA became a superpower also (mainly?) because it was able to attract an amazing number of brains from all over the world. Those brains account for many (most?) of the USA inventions and USA companies. If the brain drain ends, or, worse, starts flowing in the opposite direction, the USA is likely to lose whatever competitive advantage is left with. Thus the decline of the dollar may spell a bigger kind of trouble for the USA: a decline of its entire civilization.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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