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TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

2005 articles
How Soros missed the point
What if the USA split in two?
Condoleeza Rice takes over the world
Absolute chaos
Tom DeLay, the USA's public enemy number one
Mortgaging the future of the USA
Like father like son
The USA elections and the world
Appeasing terrorist states
The education gap
Reform the electoral system
Bush the big spender
The 2004 elections
Tom Delay, terrorist
What is disheartening about the USA?
Ken Starr: more than a terrorist
Do not exaggerate Clinton's achievements
What the next presidential elections should be about
Health care's robbery and outsourcing
The USA Senate did not learn its lesson
Replace Dick Cheney with Condoleeza Rice
What Fahrenheit 911 teaches us
Scandals in Washington
Remembering president Reagan
Another Rwanda?
The damage to USA credibility
Bush's responsibilities for September 11
What's the secret all about?
How the USA became a poor country
Kerry/Edwards vs Bush/Rice
Bush kills USA space exploration
Winners and losers of 2003
Older articles

  • (November 2004) How Soros missed the point. The Hungarian-born billionaire (a staunch anti-Bush campaigner) George Soros was probably the main financial force behind... Kerry's defeat. Soros invested millions of his own money to smear Bush and support Kerry. It looks like that money was not well spent.
    What Soros (and most of us) did not realize is that Bush was not being supported by big money (not only, at least) but by a much more powerful entity: thousands of the churches around the country. Those churches are supported by the community, not by some wealthy capitalist. But they turned out to be more powerful than all the money that Soros could pour into the campaign.
    Soros conceived the elections as a fight between two economic powers. After all, Bush and Kerry represent the interests of different lobbies. This is true, but the lobbies are much more successful at bribing senators and members of the house than presidents. It turned out that this presidential campaign was more about morals than financials. Soros fought the thousands of US churches by flooding the tvs of ads. Those ads made only a passing impression on the minds of the people of the USA. But the churches who brainwash weekly their communities made a lasting impression on the American people.
    Kerry lost because, basically, there was no equivalent of the religious network on his side. The closest to a liberal equivalent of the religious network would be the university campuses, where, in fact, Kerry did win, but the population of the campuses is a fraction of the population of church-goers. Soros would have spent his money in a more efficient way had he tried to create some kind of network to counter the gigantic propaganda machine of the churches.
    An efficient antidote to the religious network would be a network of free schools. Many Americans who put moral values ahead of the Iraqi war or the economy are not as stupid as the anti-Americans depict them: but they are, indeed, as ignorant as the anti-Americans depict them. They tend to know very little about the world, and very little about their own country. A poll showed that the vast majority of people in the Bush states thinks that weapons of mass destruction "have" been found in Iraq. I mean, even Bush admitted that there were no weapons of mass destruction. An even greater majority thinks that links between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden have been proven. Regardless of how you feel about the invasion of Iraq (I still think it was a good idea, no matter how bad it was implemented), it is stunning that people can have such unfounded beliefs. They are ignorant, that's all: they read local newspapers, listen to confusing media like Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, listen to country music and watch baseball. Little of what happens daily in the world penetrates their lives. Sometimes they also lack the basics to be curious about the world: how many Americans can find Burma or Sudan on the map? how many Americans know the names of the ancient empires of Mesopotamia? how many Americans know the difference between the budget deficit and the trade deficit? When you don't have these foundations, you have no motivation to find out what is happening around the world and in your own country. You become passive and simply recite what the churches, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News teach you. In fact, these Americans are quite similar to the Muslims who only hear the news at the mosque, and whose education is only the Islamic classics they study at the madrasa. These Americans are incapable of forming an opinion the same way that those Muslims are incapable of forming an opinion.
    Once, a person with a master told me "My fund lost 50% of its value this year, but next year it should go up 50%, so I should get my money back..." A child in a high-school of Rwanda wouldn't make mistakes like this. How can these people follow any discussion on the economy?
    Educate them. That would be the most powerful anti-Bush campaign. Soros should have invested in a network of free schools, where people can learn about history, geography, science and philosophy. Once people learn who Alexander, Einstein and Plato did and wrote, they are likely to get more curious about the other scientists and philosophers and leaders. Eventually, they have enough knowledge of the world to be curious about Burma or Sudan. They start reading newspapers, magazines and even history book. The more educated you are, the more organized religion becomes organized superstition. Educated people believe the scientist, the historian and the economist, uneducated people believe the pastor, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. The latter will never know what the scientist, the historian and the economist think: they will only know what the pastor thinks. And vote for Bush.
    Soros got it all wrong. In a sense, the best news of these elections was that money is not that important, after all. The grass-roots network is much more important.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (November 2004) What if the USA split in two? After the reelection of George W Bush, the USA is even more divided than it used to be. For four years, the anti-Bush movement was convinced that Bush "stole" the election, or at least that he was only damn lucky. But now Bush has won with a huge margin, he won 60 million votes. Sixty million American voters consciously, deliberately, willingly chose Bush as their president. The states that voted against Bush mostly voted "passionately" against him. Those states border each other. The states that voted for Bush also border each other. Oddly enough, the "liberal" states that voted against Bush occupy two areas that are antithetic in time: the new west (led by California) and the old northeast (led by Boston, New York and Washington). In between, it's all Bush land: the south, the midwest, the prairies. "Bush-landia" has become more and more conservative, valuing issues such as gay marriage more relevant than the war in Iraq or the state of the economy. The northeast and the west have become more and more "intellectual", caring much more for the international reputation of this country and the welfare of future generations than for moral issues such as gay marriage. Bush-landia is a moral country, in which there is a limit to how much progress and democracy can be implemented. The northeastern and the western states is a "liberal" country in the full sense of the word (progress and democracy at pretty much all costs). The USA is now two nations. One listens to rock music and hip-hop, the other one listens to country music. One watches Hollywood movies, the other one goes to church. One reads the New York Times, the other one reads Rick Warren. One watches CNN, the other one listens to Rush Limbaugh.
    Now that it has become apparent that the two countries will not be reconciled any time soon, some people among the losers are beginning to ask: why do we force half of Americans to live under the rule of the other half? why can't we just be two countries, each with its fundamental values? why can't some Americans live in a country that has no guns, has no death penalty, provides health care to everybody, balances the domestic budget and international trade, replaces oil with alternative sources of energy, allows women to choose and gays to wed, and cares for the other nations of the world, while some other Americans live in a country full of guns, frying more convicts than Iran, indulging in domestic deficit and trade deficit, depending on the Middle East for oil, leaving millions without health care, banning abortion and gay rights, and ignoring the rest of the world?
    It is indeead a good question. What is the point of keeping half the American population in a bad mood for four years, forcing them to accept policies that they strongly disapprove and resent? Is this what democracy was meant to provide, unhappiness for half of the people?
    Was the business of the American civil war left unfinished? Bushlandia comprises all the confederate states: they lost the civil war, but today they run the country, with the winners of the civil war footing the bill.
    What if the USA truly split in two countries? It's an intriguing scenario. Anti-Americans routinely complain that having only one superpower is bad for the world, because there is no counterbalance to the actions of the USA. The president of the USA is rapidly becoming the dictator of the world. In many ways, they are right: the power of the president of the USA is becoming a little ridiculous. What if that counterbalance came from within the USA itself? What if Liberal America became the second superpower, competing against its own cousin, Bushlandia? After all, they do represent the two poles of the world's ideologies that survived the collapse of fascism and communism. Now we only have capitalistic democracy to choose from, but it can be implemented in two very different ways, which are represented by the Democratic and Republican parties of the USA. If they become two separate countries, the capitalist democratic world will have two ideological poles instead of just one.
    What would Bushlandia do without Liberal America (the northeastern and western states)? California's gross national product is larger than Canada's or Mexico's. A union of California and New York would still be the most powerful economy of the Americas. Add the rest of the northeast and the rest of the west, and Liberal America would still be the main economic power of the world, ahead of Japan. Texas and Florida would lead Bushlandia (they are currently the third and fourth largest economies in the USA), but Bushlandia would only be the world's fourth economic power, after Liberal America, Japan and China. Most of the big cities (Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington, San Francisco Bay Area, Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit) would be in Liberal America, thus making it an urban society; whereas Bushlandia would be mostly rural (its biggest cities, such as Dallas, Huston, Atlanta and Miami, are far smaller than the firsth eight). The western states receive most of the investment from Asia, and the eastern states receive most of the investment from Europe. So Liberal America would have the strongest economic and cultural ties with the rest of the world. Bushlandia, by contrast, would be mostly trading with Latin America. California, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Illinois account for 50% of the USA's research investments. Liberal America would have most of the great universities (Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Princeton, CalTech, etc) and most of the Nobel prize winners. Bushlandia, by contrast, would be a more agricultural society, dominated by Christian fundamentalist organizations.
    Liberal America would be ideologically very close to Canada, Britain and western Europe, possibly leading to some kind of new political, economic and military union (a United Liberal States of North-America and Europe). Bushlandia would be a much more isolated country. It is hard to imagine which country would want a political, economic or military union with Bushlandia; and which country would Bushlandia's people like to be federated with.
    Today, Liberal America provides the backbone of the USA's power. The USA is a superpower because of the society created by Liberal America. But Bushlandia wins the elections and choose the president, which means that the superpower created by Liberal America serves the ideological principles of Bushlandia. What is happening today is, in a sense, an oxymoron: the economic and technological power of Liberal America is supporting the political agenda of Bushlandia. Because of the wealth and technology provided by Liberal America, Bushlandia can impose its ideology to the USA and, by extension, to the entire world.
    What is even worse is that the Christian fundamentalists have, in turn, hijacked the Republican Party which rules Bushlandia, the USA and the world. Thus, indirectly, the Christian fundamentalists (the old curse of the West, which has caused hundreds of millions of deaths over the course of two thousand years) control the superpower that is created by Liberal America. This is not only bizarre: it is downright scary.
    How long can this contradiction last? Is it time to undo Lincoln?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (November 2004) Condoleeza Rice takes over the world For four years, Colin Powell was the dissenting voice within the Bush administration. He was the one who mediated between Bush's hardline stance and the recalcitrant allies. He is being replaced by Condoleeza Rice, who was (most likely) the real brain behind Bush's foreign policy. An erudite historian (so much for French accusations that "Americans are ignorant"), Rice was an expert in the Cold War: she learned that the USA wins when it gets tough, not when it turns soft. Rice is likely to increase the pressure on the enemies of the USA and likely to dispense with diplomacy. The next four years of the Bush reign could witness a dramatic realignment of the western world, as Rice looks for more reliable allies (Britain and Italy being the only ones she can trust in western Europe) and works to dismantle the United Nations as it is now (why a veto power for France and not for India or Japan?).
    Condoleeza Rice is doing for Bush what Aristotle did for Alexander: educating a brutal idiot who happened to become the most powerful person in the world. The difference is that Aristotle was never part of the government, whereas Rice is now in charge of the entire USA foreign policy (de facto, she already was). This is new for humankind: an academic figure (a former Stanford provost), originally from a poor family, who rose to become the second most powerful person in the world. Her advisors include distinguished historians, Nobel Prizes and political scientists. The anti-Americans will keep ranting against "American ignorance", but the truth that, whether you support it or not, American foreign policy is dictated by one of the smartest and most knowledgeable politicians in the world, and of all time.
    Replacing Rice with Powell might be a way to signal the age of compromises: it is time to look into the "oil for food" scandal at the United Nations (who helped Saddam steal the money that was meant for the Iraqi people?), it is time to stop listening to small failed countries that used to be world powers.
    Condoleeza Rice is known to have proposed a foreign policy based on a trinity: "punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia". Good luck, France.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (November 2004) Absolute chaos. George W Bush has completely lost control of the USA economy. In order to fabricate an economic recovery that doesn't exist, he is heavily borrowing (thus mortgaging the future of the American people) and sending the dollar to its lowest levels ever. The first thing that Congress has done after the elections is... increase the debt limit for the president, so the president can make the national debt even bigger (up to a staggering eight trillion dollars).
    The trade deficit is ballooning, month after month, to the point that the USA now has to beg foreigners to invest in the USA in order to balance the USA foreign debt (and unfortunately it's the central banks of countries such as China that foot the bill mostly). The USA now depends so heavily on money lent by foreigners that, should foreigners unload their investments in USA stocks and bonds, both the stock market and the bonds market would collapse, causing a new depression and sending interest rates to the sky.
    Americans routinely deride Europe, but the USA's budget deficit is about 4.5% of GDP, almost three times higher than the Eurpean average, the American household saving is 0.5% compared with Europe's 12% (yes, 24 times higher), and the trade deficit is about 6% of GDP while Europe has a trade surplus, not a trade deficit (unlike the USA, it actually makes money out of international trade).
    It has never happened before that the world's most powerful country is also the world's biggest debtor. Britain at the peak (1913) was the world's largest creditor. Even the Soviet Union was a net creditor.
    Oil prices are fluctuating wildly, under pressure from Iraq, Venezuela, Nigeria and Russia, all major producers and all unstable politically. And this at a time when the USA is becoming more and more dependent on foreign oil (blame it on your SUV).
    The dollar is worth so little, and so many people think that it has to fall more, than, on a recent trip to the southern African countries of Malawi and Zambia, it was not easy to find a currency trader willing to exchange dollars to the local currency. The Polish currency has appreciated 18% over the dollar in just one year. In fact, it is difficult to find a currency in the world that has not appreciated compared with the dollar.
    This article should be titled "how a dogma destroyed a superpower": the dogma of not raising taxes. The USA is now run by an idiotic dogma, that raising taxes is evil, that raising taxes is almost tantamount to treason. Thus neither Bush nor governors such as Schwarzenegger can pay off their federal or state debts, and the debt keeps increasing. It would be simple to raise taxes for a few years and pay off the debt, but the "no new taxes" dogma has become as powerful as a cancer. It is eating America alive.
    And the first things that should be taxed (heavily) are all the things that Americans have to import, starting with gasoline.
    Americans have never been so poor and so weak compared to the rest of the world:
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (November 2004) Tom DeLay, America's public enemy number one. How can the American people tolerate this? Tom DeLay is at the center of a series of ethical and criminal investigations. He has been indicted in Texas, he has been reprimanded in Washington. His methods smell of old mafia tactics. He has lobbied for all sorts of terrorist groups. He is probably the single gravest danger for American democracy in 2004, way more dangerous than Osama bin Laden:
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (November 2004) Mortgaging the future of the USA The USA is the biggest debtor in the world. In 1985, the United States still had more assets than liabilities abroad: it was due more money than it owed. In 2004, the USA's net foreign liabilities are about 22% of its gross national product, and rapidly increasing; the USA owes a lot more money than it is due. (See for example this article) Who is paying for this gigantic debt? Foreign governments foot the bill, notably Asian governments: in 2003 China, Japan and assorted Asian governments provided $249 billion (about half of the total net capital inflow into the USA). How long can this last? Economists differ, but one thing is sure: future generations of Americans will have to pay for their parents' debts, one way or another. The easiest way out would be for the dollar to collapse, which, as Soros has repeatedly noticed, amounts to having foreigners pay for it (debts are contracted in dollars, so a devaluation of the dollar is, de facto, a devaluation of the debt). But that would make Americans much poorer than the Europeans and the Japanese, and, possibly, even of the Chinese.
    The culprit? Don't blame it on Bush. Blame it on the millions of Americans who keep spending and not saving as if nothing was happening and this party could last forever.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (November 2004) Like father like son. Kerry was right to proclaim "Like father like son" about George W Bush. But he applied the adage to wrong domain. Like his father, who started the "war on drugs" (an imagined war that has killed thousands of poor peasants in South America but never stopped the flow of drugs to the USA), the son has invented a "war on terrorism", an imagined war against 19 Arabs who hijacked four airplanes armed with paper-cutters and against a man who lives in a cave in one of the poorest countries in the world, Afghanistan. His father thought correctly that the average American family would be very concerned about drugs: they destroy the neighborhood, they may destroy the lives of your children. The son thought correctly that the average American family would be very concerned about terrorism. Except, of course, the images of two skyscrapers falling down are much more powerful than the headcount of people killed by drugs (although the statistics seem to show that drugs kill more Americans than terrorism does).
    The theme worked: it captured the imagination of the American people and unified them around their president.
    The truth is that Islamic terrorism has existed for centuries, and in this century it has caused thousands of deaths in several countries, from the Philippines to India to Nigeria to Afghanistan to Russia, way before september 2001. The USA simply paid a price for ignoring Islamic terrorism until it struck at home. Credit Bush with turning a failure of USA foreign policy (ignoring the biggest threat to western civilization) into a major theme to win reelection. And for expanding the reach of Islamic terrorism, that now strikes also in western Europe (Madrid) and in Arab countries themselves (Morocco, Saudi Arabia).
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (November 2004) The USA elections and the world. Bush has survived his national elections. It will be interesting to see if Blair (his ally), Berlusconi (his ally), Chirac (his enemy) and Schroeder (his enemy) also survive their national elections next year. So far the winners are Putin (who at the last minute decided to endorse Bush), Berlusconi (who has always endorsed Bush) and, above all, Blair. China and India also benefit: Bush is unlikely to change the trade agreements with these countries, whereas Kerry would have probably introduced some protectionist measures to defend USA jobs.
    Turkey benefits politically: Bush is a strong supporter of Turkey's entry in the European Union.
    Bush's reelection is, instead, really bad news for Iran and Syria, who will be now fully exposed to the wrath of the White House. Khameini and Assad should start planning for a new career.
    It is also bad news for the European Union, because Bush has clearly been a wedge between Britain-Italy and the rest of Europe, between western and eastern Europe, between the old imperial powers of the continent (Spain, France, Germany) and the small countries (Holland, Denmark, Portugal). But one could object that it is not Bush who creates divisions, it is each country's reactions to Bush's actions that creates the divisions: for example, infight within the European Union is often caused by French positions that other members do not support, and how to react to Bush's policies is one such case (France advertised its op-position as an independent world power instead of first trying to reach a consensus with the rest of the European Union).
    However, leaders count less than the masses they (pretend to) govern.
    The USA has never been so isolated (and hated) around the world. But until october 2004. the masses had a simple explanation: we hate Bush, not the USA. From Germany to South Africa, from Argentina to Canada, you would hear the same answer: "I don't hate the USA, just Bush". And this was a convenient excuse: after all, Bush lost the elections against Gore in 2000 by half a million votes (more than two millions if you also count Nader's votes). Thus Bush did not represent the majority of the American people, just a bunch of southern bigots and assorted crooks.
    A consequence of the 2004 elections is that the world will now have to swallow an unpleasant reality: Bush was reelected by the vast majority of Americans (the first president to be elected by a full majority of votes since 1988, something that not even Clinton ever achieved). Bush "is" the USA. You can't hate one without hating the other one.
    This may go either way. It may increase anti-American sentiment around the world, and further isolate the USA. There are already calls to abandon the USA dollar as the international currency, to abandon English as the international language, to dissolve NATO, to move the United Nations to Europe, and even to stop trading with the USA altogether.
    Or it may go the other way. The world may spend a few seconds to figure out why in heaven would Americans reward Bush's failures, and realize that not all of them were failures; that, after all, Afghanistan and Iraq did create a safer world; that, perhaps, this president will be remembered in history like a previous much-hated president (Reagan) is remembered for winning the Cold War. In a sense, the American electorate might end up educating the snobbish world elite that looks down on America as a country of ignorant and violent barbarians.
    The problem is that Europeans think that Bush (not Osama) caused global terrorism, and it is hard to blame them: there was no global terrorism before Bush started his "war on terrorism". There was a small terrorist group bent on attacking the USA, and only the USA. Three years later, terrorists are striking in Spain, Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq. Europeans think that Bush, not on Osama, has exported terrorism to the whole world.
    The USA had never been so isolated in its entire history. In fact, it is difficult to find any country in recent memory that has been so isolated. Even the Soviet Union had allies throughout the world (and plenty of admirers in Western Europe). Even Hitler had allies throughout the world (and admirers even in Britain and the USA). The world's popular opinion has been split for centuries. This is the first time in centuries that the world's popular opinion is massively against one country (yes, even in Britain and Italy, which are the USA's staunchest allies).
    Americans just created a brand new world, and it may have dramatic consequences for many generations of Americans to come.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (November 2004) Why? Bush won by a large margin: 3.5 million votes. He won the majority of the popular vote (Clinton never did). Furthermore, his party increased its majority both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. Bush will now have the power to nominate the future justices of the Supreme Court. Tom Dashle, the Democratic leader, has been defeated in his own state and is now jobless. For the left-wing, this is not just a defeat: it is a disaster.
    And all of this came at a time when the anti-Bush camp was convinced it would win: a bad economy (after eight years of good Clinton economy), a mess in Iraq, Osama still at large, countless scandals (from Enron to Halliburton), the biggest budget deficit in history, the biggest trade deficit in history, the weakest dollar in generations, and world-wide isolation (for the first time in USA history). (See What Bush has accomplished). What else do Americans need to figure out that Bush hurt the USA more than Osama bin Laden?
    Well, apparently voters needed more than the Eden that Democrats promised them. Pundits will now spend four years trying to explain why so many Americans voted a failure like Bush back in office.
    A big turnout was supposed to reward the Democrats: both young people and minorities were supposed to prefer Kerry over Bush. Despite those millions of new votes for Kerry (six out of nine million, apparently), Bush gathered millions more votes than he had in 2000. Democrats forgot that the majority (in any country) is not made of Nobel prizes but of ordinary folks who hardly know what is going on in the world: a massive turn-out reduces the influence of the intellectual elite, the only one that truly voted massively for Kerry; a large turn-out "dilutes" the failures of the Bush administration and is more susceptible to the charisma of the sitting president; a large turn-out favors the issues that the media are "not" discussing, but that ordinary Americans care most for... such as moral values.
    Before the elections, pundits (including this website) were split on whether the economy or Iraq would matter more. It turned out neither was decisive: it was "moral issues" that decided the elections. In a sense, we all failed to see the real reason for Gore's loss: Monica Lewinsky mattered more than eight years of good economy and eight years of peace.
    We missed other warning signals. Without any marketing campaign and any major financial backer, pastor Rick Warren, who in 1980 founded the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest (California), the fastest growing Baptist church in history, and the largest church in the Southern Baptist Convention, and who preaches the "Purpose-Driven paradigm" for church health, climbed to the number one spot on the New York Times' best-seller list with his book "The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?" (2002), selling seventeen million copies in its first nineteen months (almost one million copies a month), making it the bestselling hardback nonfiction book in the history of publishing. This happened without any major tv network publicizing it, without any public figure endorsing it, without any media conglomerate launching it worldwide. So much for the power of money: money mattered zero, because the books that followed Warren's book in the best-seller list had been backed by much bigger marketing campaigns. So how did it happen? Word of mouth. The USA is the only country in the world where word of mouth can still create such a mass-market phenomenon. And it was word of mouth from church to church, much more powerful than any other force in the country.
    True: the USA is a country at war, and, in wartimes, Anglosaxon people tend to unite behind their leader. True: the USA economy is in shambles, but ordinary people tend to blame Osama more than Bush. However, the real news out of this election is that the USA is, first and foremost, a "moral" country. That was the decisive factor, not the war and not the economy. It is hard for Europeans to believe it, but in the USA, in 2004, issues such as abortion, religion and marriage matter more than terrorism, Iraq, health care, unemployment, gun control, or the stock market. The massive turnout benefited Bush because it brought a lot of ordinary folks to the polling station: these are people who hardly ever read international news, but they are very opinionated about moral values. They identified the Democratic Party with the issues of gay marriage, free-for-all abortion and marijuana sold over the counter; and they rejected that vision of a pot-smoking, decadent America in favor of the traditional, decent, well-behaved, Christian family (never mind that the "decent" American of the South and the Midwest is a drinker-and-driver, fries convicts at the rate of Iran, and of course mainly negroes, that divorces, cheats on his wife and rapes little girls, and occasionally shoots neighbors and family with his beloved gun; and never mind that this president was a drunk driver and a drug addict). The perception matters. Once the Democratic party was identified with those controversial issues, Kerry was doomed. The Democratic Party never did anything to dispel the notion that it supported the most decadent agendas (possibly because it does, ultimately, support them).
    Imagine if Kerry had been a drunk driver and a drug addict: Republican ads would have mercilessly reminded people of his reckless past. The Democrats, instead, never did this to Bush: the Democratic Party does not run an ad accusing politicians of drinking and doing drugs because... most Democrat voters do drink and do drugs!
    Imagine if Bill Clinton had been a drug addict at Yale University, had been arrested for drinking and driving, had been involved in a shady deal about a Texas baseball team; imagine if his vice-president were close to the top managers of Enron and Halliburton, companies implicated in two of the biggest scandals in USA history: imagine what uproar the Republican Party and the conservative media would have caused. The Democratic Party, instead, was largely silent about the private and public scandals of Bush and Cheney: going after scandals is not the ideology of the Democratic Party.
    The Democrats dug their own grave by going after the wrong weaknesses of George W Bush. They could have proven that he was not the saint he pretends to be, but they didn't (because it is not part of their agenda to demonize alcohol or drugs).
    Bush's failures, on the other hand, were not so clear. After all, a second terrorist attack against the USA was widely expected. Experts all over the world predicted a second attack: more skyscrapers, nuclear power plants, suicide bombers, etc etc. Regardless of whether Bush was right or wrong in attacking Afghanistan and Iraq, it is a fact that there has been no attack on USA soil.
    Voters may have also overreacted against those media (and the intellectual elite in general), which were biased against Bush (the CBS reports, Michael Moore's documentary, CNN coverage, the New York Times). It didn't help that on election night the media took so long to accept what was becoming more and more obvious: Bush was winning big time. At midnight, CNN was still pretending that the race was "too close to call": Bush already had 3.5 million votes more than Kerry, one of the largest margins in recent memory.
    On the other hand, whether one likes their methods or not, the ultra-conservative media (FOX News, the unfair and unbalanced network, or Bill O'Riley and Sean Hannity, the psychos of talk shows, or Rush Limbaugh, the great liar of talk radio) succeeded. The so-called "liberal media" (which are mostly not liberal at all) tried to keep a bit of intellectual depth in their analysis, but that only helped the unfair, biased, propagandist approach of FOX News, O'Riley, Hannity and Limbaugh: millions of Americans were exposed to only one side of the story. FOX News was successful in detroying one after the other all the Bush critics: anyone who speaks up against Bush knows that he or she will be attacked by FOX News, and that there will be no defense attorney. Any "trial" of Bush turns into a trial of the person who provided the evidence against Bush. FOX News and Rush Limbaugh were able to discredit anyone who provided valid criticism of Bush. Critics of Bush are routinely depicted as enemies of the country, a technique that FOX News learned from the communist regimes. Polls show that viewers of FOX News believe that weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, that world opinion supports Bush and that a link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden has been proven. Sure, these sinisters demagogues (O'Riley, Hannity, Limbaugh) used extremely unfair methods (they are famous for interrupting whoever dares contradict them and for insulting rivals when they are not present to defend themselves), but the point is that it worked. That is why they keep doing it. You can blame it on how gullable Americans are, but, at the end of the day, what really matters is that... it worked. Yes, they are the American equivalent of Al Jazeera, they are as ethical as Osama bin Laden. Yes, FOX News is all lies: but it worked.
    But, most importantly, political movements are driven by ideas. You may not like them, but Bush has ideas, particularly when it comes to moral values, and also when it comes to foreign policy (again, whether you like them or not). The Democratic Party projects the image of a "reformist" agenda, a bureaucracy that would improve health care and education and foreign policy, but a bureaucracy that, fundamentally, doesn't have any major ideas. Worse: there are so many souls in the Democratic Party (from anti-war activists to gay-right activists) that one doesn't quite know what the Democratic Party stands for: if I vote for the Democratic Party, what exactly am I voting for? Am I voting for staying in Iraq or for pulling out? Am I voting for gay marriage or against it? Am I voting for universal health care or not? Am I voting for the death penalty or not? Not even the leaders of the Democratic Party can give an answer to such simple (and very important) questions. If I vote for the Republicans, on the other hand, it is very clear what I vote for: we stay in Iraq, gay marriage is banned, there will be no universal health care, and the USA will remain the only western country with the death penalty. Whether I like it or not, I know what Republicans stand for.
    Inevitably, all the major Democratic candidates "flip flop" on all these issues. Republicans were right to call Kerry a "flip flopper": any Democrat ends up having a "voting record" that is confusing at best, if not openly contradictory. One thing that these elections prove (and a big difference with European politics) is that the "voting record" does matter: people do want to know where you stand, and they decide it on your record (on your past actions), not on today's marketing campaign. And so the fact that this president was a drunk driver and a drug addict matters less to the USA than the fact that, at least, we know exactly his voting record, whereas Kerry's voting record is a mess.
    Consistently with this confused agenda, Democrats wasted energies defending unpopular themes such as gay marriage and medical marijuana, instead of working on an idea that would inspire the nation.
    Is it a coincidence that the only Democratic politician to stage a triumph was Barack Obama? Isn't he one of the few Democrats who can articulate in a few sentences what he stands for, and is not ashamed of it?
    Too many groups, from college graduates to seniors, voted for Bush. The only groups that voted massively for Kerry were Jews and Blacks. Kerry also mustered a significant advantage amoung very young people and women, but young people are likely to change their attitudes as they grow up, and women have been shifting more and more to the right. It does not bode well for the future.
    The media are reporting that Bush's reelection is good news for at least one Democrat: Hillary Clinton. The Dedmocratic troops are supposed to rally around her as the best chance to upset the Republicans in 2008. After all, the other charismatic Democrats (Gore, Gephard, Dashle, Kerry) have been buried after embarrassing defeats. But Hillary Clinton does not solve the problem: what is her grand idea for the future of the USA? Just reforming this and reforming that? Are you sure that is enough to defeat the likely competition (John McCain, Rudi Giuliani, Condoleeza Rice, or even just Arnold Schwarzenegger)? Statistics say that the only three Democrats to become president over the last 44 years came from southern states (Johnson, Carter, Clinton): basically, they borrowed "ideas" from the Republicans. Is that all the Democrats can do to inspire a nation? The last Democratic president to come from the north was John Kennedy: he did inspire the nation, he did have a grand idea (the "New Frontier").
    Fundamentally, Democrats keep losing elections because they deserve to lose. It is not the Republicans who win, it is the Democrats who lose.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (November 2004) Appeasing terrorist states. Now that the world has to live four more years with George W Bush, let us hope that Bush will focus on his main achievements (removing two of the worst dictatorships in the world, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein) and not on his main failures (social and economic policy).
    The omens are not good. The Bush administration has decided to forgive North Korea, Iran and China for what Saddam Hussein was punishing: oppression of its own people, aggressive stance against neighbors and program of weapons of mass destruction.
    Both Iran and North Korea have learned the wrong less from Saddam Hussein: you need to have and keep your weapons of mass destruction if you want to be respected by the USA. Alas, Bush is abiding by that logic. He is willing to negotiate with them, offering money in exchange for their restraint. There is no talk of removing the ayatollahs from Iran or Kim Jong Il from North Korea, despite the fact that both regimes compete with Saddam Hussein in friendly relationships with terrorists and anti-American attitude. Why the Taliban but not the ayatollahs? Aren't they both Islamic dictatorships? Why Saddam Hussein but not Kim Jogn Il? Aren't they both mad dictators threatening their neighbors?
    Inconsistency has always been the main USA weakness. It not only sends the wrong message to the enemy, but also confuses the allies. It is no surprise that millions of Europeans think Bush a hypocrite on Iraq: the USA applies a different logic for each country. How does it expect to convince the European masses, who see Bush bombing the hell out of Iraq but then negotiating with North Korea?
    And what about China, the country that did precisely what Saddam Hussein wanted to do (invaded and annexed two neighbors, Turkestan and Tibet) and is openly admitting that it wants to annex Taiwan? Why is China, another brutal totalitarian regimemand another owner of weapons of mass destruction, exempt from Bush's wrath, and, in fact, a net beneficiary of the USA economy ("privileged partner", as the officials put it).
    This is the way we create problems, not the way we solve them. We created Saddam Hussein by doing business with him and tolerating that he was exterminating Kurds and Shiites. We created the Taliban by letting them continue in their fanatical pursue of the Islamic state. We have not learned our lesson. How do we expect the ayatollahs, Kim Jong Il or the Chinese communist party to learn a lesson that we ourselves have not learned?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (October 2004) Reform the electoral system. The USA used to be the model democracy of the world. That is no longer the case. Countless countries have become democratic, and have a more fair system than the USA, whose system has not been updated since the early times.
    It was obviously not very democratic that George W Bush became president after losing the election to Al Gore by about half a million votes.
    It was even less democratic that a conservative candidate won the election after the two conservative candidates (Bush and Buchanan) obtained two million fewer votes than the two liberal candidates (Gore and Ralph Nader).
    It was even less democratic that two families (Bush and Clinton) account for so many presidents of the last 16 years (100%) and candidates to president.
    It is obviously not democratic that every state sends two senators to the Senate, regardless of the number of people who live in that state.
    Last but not least, it is not very democratic that 95% of the current members of Congress were reelected, many of them virtually unopposed. Not even Fidel Castro can generate that kind of unanimous consensus.
    The existing electoral system made sense when a) any kind of democracy (no matter how imperfect) was better than dictatorship, and b) the states that formed the USA were roughly of the same size and same population. Neither is true in 2004.
    At least six reforms are badly needed.
    1. Today the president is elected according to the "electoral" votes, not to the "popular" vote. That means that your vote counts only to the extent of determining who wins your state. If California is won by Kerry and you voted for Bush, your vote does not count. Whether California is won by Kerry with 100% of the votes or with 51% of the votes makes no difference: in either case he wins all the electoral votes of California. Worse: the popular vote (the will of the American people) and the electoral vote (who becomes president) may differ wildly. Last time the loser became president, but he had lost by only 500,000 votes (ditto in the previous two cases when this happened), but next time the loser could become president even if he lost by millions of votes. Imagine if a vast majority of voters voted for Kerry, but they were all in the bigger states, while Bush won only 51% of all the other states. Technically, Bush would win the vast majority of the electoral votes, despite having lost the vast majority of the popular votes. He would become president even if the vast majority (not just a tiny majority) of Americans voted against him! As the disparity in population between the large states (California, New York, Texas) and the small states increases, this scenario becomes more and more likely. Imagine if this ever happens, if the loser becomes president despite millions of votes for the real winner: would the supporters of the winner accept that the loser becomes president? This incredibly stupid law lays the foundations for a civil war. The solution? Very simple: one vote, one vote. If Kerry wins 60% of California, he should get 60% of California's electoral votes (today he gets 100%, because he "won the state "). Ditto for the loser: if Bush gets only 40% of California's votes, he should get 40% of the electoral votes (today he gets zero, because he "lost the state").
    2. Most countries have adopted a system with two rounds of elections because a multitude of candidates may yield a "false" winner. Let's say that only one Republican runs for president, but ten Democrats run for president: the Republican candidate would almost certainly win because the ten Democrats would "split the vote". The Republican candidate could become president with a minority of votes even if the ten Democrats combined got the vast majority of votes. In the last election, Gore + Nader obtained a lot more votes than Bush + Buchanan, but that didn't matter: the current system doesn't give Nader supporters a chance to day "but if the choice is only between Gore and Bush, then I'd rather have Gore". This system helps the two large parties monopolize elections, but doesn't quite help people choose the best candidate: voters are intimidated into thinking "a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush". There will never be a third party because voters of one or the other ideological side will think that a vote for that third party would favor the party on the opposite side of the ideological spectrum. The solution is the two-round system: anyone can run for president (just like today), but the two candidates that get the most votes run again (one against the other) in the second round. The outcome of the last election would have probably been different: many Nader supporters would have voted for Gore. With the current system, the votes of Nader's supporters did not count (or, worse, counted for the opposite of what they really wante Ditto che the Bush-Clinton election: a third candidate, Ross Perot, "stole" more votes from Bush than from Clinton, but those voters were never asked "if Perot does not win, who would you prefer between Bush and Clinton?" Their vote did not count, or, better, counted the other way: their vote favored the candidate they liked the least. The solution is to have a second round of elections between the two candidates who got the most votes: then every vote will truly count, and will count for what it was meant to count for.
    3. Today, the vote of a person in Connecticut or Delaware counts thousands of times more than the vote of a person in California. They both elect two senators. The two senators of Delaware represent 600,000 people. The two senators of California represent 30 million people: 50 times more people. But their votes count exactly the same, which means that the vote of a Delaware citizen counts 50 times more than the vote of a California citizen. There are two possible solutions to this problem. The first one is to give each state a number of senators proportional to its population, which probably means that smaller states would get zero senators (if Delaware gets two senators, California should be entitled to 100 senators, which is clearly not feasible). The other possible solution is to change the states: split large states into smaller states, and incorporate small states into larger states.
    4. There is a term limit for the president, but there is no term limit for senators and representatives. In today's politics, money is important: a newcomer can't win an election against an established politician who has the support of all the lobbies he has worked for. De facto, senators and representatives are elected for life: very few of them ever lose an election. Change only comes when they die, retire or are indicted of a crime. Otherwise it is just too difficult for the challenger to compete against the political machine of the incumbent. The solution is to introduce a two-term limit for both senators and representatives. It is ridiculous to pretend that a human being is the only person in a state or district who can represent that state or a district for more than eight years: there's got to be at least another one.
    5. Some kind of law is needed to stem the rising influence of lobbies, which now control everything from taxation to foreign intervention. For example, polls have repeatedly proved that Americans overwhelmingly favor gun control and even an all-out gun ban (a December 2004 poll by Gallup), but no state has ever undertaken steps to curb the tsunami of guns that are killing many more Americans than all terrorists and wars combined. On the other hand, 34 states (thirtyfour) felt the need to pass laws guaranteeing the right to own a gun, a totally unnecessary step since that right is (alas) already guaranteed by the Constitution.
    6. The USA president is chosen among the candidates who are presented by the parties. This is no less and no more than the system used in every communist country in the world: it is the party, not the people, that decides who is going to stand for president. Given a choice, how many people who vote Republican would have chosen Bush as their candidate? Probably very few. The members of a party, and the country at large, are spectators who root for this or that candidate, but have little power to influence the outcome. If this system is undemocratic when communist countries or Iran use it, why isn't it undemocratic when the Republican or Democratic party use it? The USA needs to make sure that presidents are elected by the people, not by the parties. In a sense, all candidates should be independent.

    Other reforms are needed in the tax code to ensure a redistribution of wealth to provide those least favorite by birth with the means to improve their conditions. Bush's abolition of the "death tax" has achieved just the opposite: the creation of European-style dynasties of wealth: if your parents were smart enough to create an economic empire and you are a complete idiot, you would still have a big advantage over a genius born of a poor family. That is flies only in the face of the spirit of the American Constitution, but against the history of what made the USA a superpower: equal opportunity. The new tax code is basically trying to create a new aristocracy, that will rule the USA simply on the grounds of birth, not competence.

    Lawyers would require a chapter of its own. Lawyers have come to dominate not only business but also politics. THeir lobby is one of the most powerful in Washington. Lawyers are presidential candidates, senators, secretaries, etc. Law was not invented to grant political privileges to the people whose job is to uphold the law, but that is precisely what has been happening over the last 50 years.

    Today, it is simply not true that the USA is a democracy. It is simply not true that "every vote counts". Some vote counts and some don't. Some votes count more than others.
    Why haven't Americans already reformed their system? Americans may give you many answers, but I believe that the real answer is a bit embarrassing: thanks to a failed educational system, the vast majority of Americans are really bad at mathematics, and can't quite grasp what I have written in this article.

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (October 2004) The 2004 elections are certainly among the most important in the history of the USA. At stakes is the very soul of the USA. George W Bush represents an arrogant USA that scorns international treaties, ridicules allies and ignores history. George W Bush represents a uncompassionate USA that abandons its homeless, its jobless, its elderly and its sick people to die of their misfortunes. George W Bush represents a violent USA that worships guns and executions. George W Bush represents an isolated USA, not feared but despised in every corner of the world. Clearly, this is not the USA that the founders founded 200 years ago, and this is not the USA that the world used to adore and envy. The trouble with this picture is that Bush might be reelected by the majority of USA citizens. Even if he is not reelected, he will get close to 50% of the vote: an alarming number of USA citizens believe in that arrogant, uncompassionate, isolated and violent USA.
    I have already discussed what Bush has accomplished. Let me simply add a few quotes from much more qualified scholars.
    Alan Ryan, warden of Oxford's New College: "Tony Blair is as unpopular... but he has presided over a steadily growing economy, rising employment, improving schools and an improving health care system", unlike Bush. Ryan points out Bush's "habit of treating foreign critics as either idiots or terrorists" and then concludes: "It is the friends of America who most fear what four more years of Bush will do."
    Bush's "contempt for those who questioned it has antagonized international opinion at a time when worldwide solidarity against fundamentalist terrorism is desperately needed... The stature and credibility of the USA are at their lowest ebb". (Brian Urquhart, former undersecretary general of the United Nations).
    "George Bush... has never seemed truly up to the job; let alone his own ambitions for it.... Bush's credibility has been undermined... by the sheer incompetence evident in the way in which his team set about the rebuilding of Iraq... Thousands of Iraqis have died as a result". (The Economist, 30 October 2004, page 9).
    "It will be an... irony that the USA acted in Iraq in a way that gave the world the specter, for the first time, of what an untrammeled American unilateralism would look like". (Mark Danner, New York Review of Books, 4 november 2004).
    "We delivered to Al Qaeda the greatest recruitment propaganda imaginable and made it difficult for friendly Islamic governments to be seen working closely with us". (Richard Clarke, former Bush's counterterrorism czar).
    Bush the big spender has "turned government into an agency of conservative values" (John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, authors of "The Right Nation", 2004).
    "With our growing income inequalities and child poverty; our underperforming schools and disgracefully inadequate health services... our suspect voting machines and our gerrymanded congressional districts; our bellicose religiosity and our cult of guns and executions; our cavalier unconcern for institutions, treaties and laws... we should not be surprised that America has ceased to be an example to the world." (Tony Judt, director of the Remarque Institute, 2004)
    A reader wrote to me that Bush is "a man of conviction, who fights for what he thinks is right, with a strong faith in moral values, who believes in God and fights for universal justice".
    I replied: "So does Osama".
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (October 2004) Bush the big spender has turned the conservative agenda upside down. Traditionally, conservative presidents (such as Nixon and Reagan) have undone the big-spending policies of liberal presidents (such as Kennedy and Carter). Regardless of how you feel about the specifics, this has provided a welcome balance of government spending and fiscal responsibility. In some cases it has saved a nation from collapsing, as Margaret Thatcher proved in Britain during the 1980s (whether you like the specifics of her spending cuts or not). Bush is the first exception to the rule: he overspent (big time) his Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton. Even if you don't count the cost of the Bush wars, Bush has still spent more than Clinton on domestic policies. Unlike his conservative predecessors, Bush has created a "conservative big government spending".
    Liberals have little to rejoice, because Bush has de facto invented a new way to fight liberal ideas, an innovation that is likely to remain long after Bush has disappeared. Bush has basically decided that big spending by the government is good as long as it fosters the conservative values. Government spending has been traditionally associated to liberal programs (universal health care, free education, social security, affordable housing, etc). Bush has conceived government spending as a way to advance and enforce the conservative agenda: he has spent billions to promote religious values and a pro-life ideology. For example, conservatives wanted to abolish the department of education, while Bush has invested more in education than Clinton, but with a catch: as long as it promotes "moral values" (Bush's moral values, of course).
    Ultimately, Bush is using your tax money to create a state that will dictate a specific way of life. It is not different from the tactic used by totalitarian states of both sides (fascists and communists). The beauty of it is that it is perfectly constitutional and had been possible for a long time: let's give credit to Bush for being the first one to realize it. Government spending used to be the very definition of the liberal ideology: but it can also be used to promote the conservative agenda. A liberal tool to achieve a conservative goal: what a stroke of genius.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (November 2004) The education gap. Contrary to common wisdom, post-election polls show that George W Bush won the majority of votes even among educated people. This is, in many ways, Kerry's biggest defeat.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (September 2004) Tom Delay, terrorist. Who kills more Americans: Al Qaeda or guns? Guns, by a ratio of ten to one. i
    But Tom DeLay, leader of the Republic Party, has done everything he could to repeal the ban on semi-automatic guns. Guns are killing many more Americans than Osama bin Laden ever dreamed of killing, and Saddam would have had to use his best weapons of mass destruction to cause the same number of casualties that the NRA (National Rifle Association) causes to the USA every single year. In fact, an Al Qaeda manual founds in Afghanistan specifically told its followers that the easiest place to get an assault weapon was the USA, thus showing the direct line linking Tom DeLay in the USA (the man who makes this strategy of terror possible) and Osama Bin Laden (the man who takes advantage of it).
    As USA soldiers are dying in Iraq while trying to disarm the country, Tom DeLay is trying to arm Americans in order to turn the USA into the next Iraq: a country destroyed by an unnamed civil war.
    Tom DeLay has ignored the outrage among police officers (the people who risk their lives to fight crime, not the people who sit in Congress and get a fat salary for their speeches) when statistics revealed that 25% of police officers killed on dury were killed by semi-automatic weapons (no, they were not killed by criminals: they were killed by the guns, i.e. by the NRA and its puppet Tom DeLay).
    While we are fighting across the globe a bloody war against terrorism we should not forget our enemies here at home: Tom DeLay is even more dangerous than Osama Bin Laden because there are no special forces inside the USA trying to stop him.
    Tom DeLay has just made Americans an easier target of terrorism.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (August 2004) What is disheartening about America. Listening to both Kerry's and Bush's speeches, and to the speeches of their collaborators and supporters, one thing is evident: neither has any clue on how to reduce the budget deficit, on how to reduce the trade deficit and how to reduce the dependency on oil. And this simple fact is the scariest thing today in the USA, scarier than terrorism and anything else.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (August 2004) $78,460 is the average saving this year for the top 1% richest households in the USA, thanks to George W Bush's tax cut. That is more than the entire annual salary of an average household.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (August 2004) Ken Starr: more than a terrorist. Bill Clinton published a useless story of his presidency. Someone should publish a book on the real story of his presidency: how a modest attorney, Ken Starr, tried to overthrow the government of the USA, almost succeeded and was never punished for it.
    Starr was appointed by a Republican Congress to investigate Bill Clinton's investments. He was suspected of having profited illegally from some business deal. We now know that there was nothing illegal about it. But Starr probably knew from the beginning, because he never seriously investigated that charge. He used all his powers (and our tax money) to investigate something else: everything about the president. He carried out a devastating jihad against the president of the USA. De facto, the president of the USA was rendered powerless, incapable of running the country, as this "independent" prosecutor implicitly accused him of just about every possible crime, from murdering a Vincent Foster (he committed suicide) to having extramarital sex. Having exhausted all other charges, Starr ended up focusing his investigation on the latter: Clinton's sex life. Starr had never been given the mandate to investigate anyone's sex life, but he continued undisturbed an investigation that had proven Clinton's innocence. It appears that Starr was simply trying to find something, anything, to bring down the president. In the meantime, the president was largely incapable of doing his job, something that certainly helped Osama Bin Laden and all enemies of the USA. Eventually Starr stumbled on a solution to his problem (the problem being that Clinton was innocent of all accusations): get Clinton to lie about his sex life live on tv. Having extramarital sex is not a crime (and, alas, hardly unusual in politics), but lying in front of 280 million Americans is at least embarrassing. The problem is that even this investigation, which Starr had no mandate to carry out, involved so many dubious tactics and Mussolini-style intimidations that one would imagine it could never take place in the USA. Surprisingly, it happened. And, even more surprisingly, it continued despite its obvious violations of the spirit and the letter of Starr's office. And, even more surprisingly, it eventually led to the impeachment of the president, not because he was guilty of the original charges (related to a business deal) but because he lied about sex.
    Note that Starr released his findings about Clinton's sex life before the election, but released his findings about Clinton's business deals (that cleared Clinton of all charges) after the election. Somehow Starr decided that it was important to let Americans know about Clinton's sex life, but not important to let Americans know that Clinton was innocent of any wrongdoing. A continuous flow of "leaks" (widely believed to have been planned and directed by Starr in person) generated enough interest in the media and the public to propel an investigation that had no reason to exist. Witnesses were coerced and truth was repeatedly withheld or distorted.
    It was, in other words, a veritable attempt at a coup d'etat, aimed at overthrowing the democratically elected president of the USA.
    Ken Starr was probably only the puppet of Richard Mellon Scaife, a shadowy millionaire who has been often accused of running a right-wing conspiracy. That charge has never been fully investigated. This is surprising in a country in which all sorts of books are published about all sorts of conspiracy theory. One wonders what keeps writers from writing about Scaife's alleged network of conspirators: the fact that the network doesn't exist, or the fact that writers are being intimidated? And why hasn't Ken Starr ever been held responsible for what countless legal experts consider a continuous, shameless breach of ethics and laws? How can this man hold a chair at a distinguished college (one which, coincidentally, accepted a rich donation from Scaife)?
    It is scary to think that such a terrorist tactic was used in the USA, and failed narrowly from succeeding. And that a smarter, luckier Starr could some day succeed.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (July 2004) Do not exaggerate Clinton's achievements. Only right-wing extremists can deny that the USA economy has been lousy from the day that Bush became president, and most analysts believe that Bush's policies, not terrorism or an inevitable recession, caused the problems (such as the gigantic deficit) that the USA will have to face for the next generation or two. (See What Bush has accomplished)
    But democrats should be careful not too exaggerate Clinton's merits. Yes, those were the only eight years of consecutive growth in the history of the USA. But credit goes to his predecessor, George Bush senior, who increased taxes (knowing that it would cost him his job). Without that tax increase, Clinton would not have balanced the budget. Balancing the budget was instrumental in propelling the USA economy to the heights of the 1990s. Second, the stock market did not rise as much while Congress was in the hands of the Democratic Party. It started skyrocketing when the Republicans won the 1994 elections. The curve is in fact rather flat before 1994, and very steep after 1994. Too much of a coincidence.
    The official statistics prove that the recession started in the last of Clinton's quarters (GDP declined by 0.5%). The dotcom bubble burst in 2000, when Clinton was president. The stock market was already declining in the last months of the Clinton presidency. Bush was probably one of the reasons: during his whole campaign he kept talking down the economy, which is not a good way to help the USA economy. But the fact is that the recession started during the Clinton years.
    The corporate scandals (such as Enron), which are usually associated with the Bush administration, actually started during the Clinton years. Executives are going to jail for what they did when Clinton was president.
    Even Clinton's main achievement, balancing the budget and producing the first surplus in a generation, must be taken in context: Clinton benefited from the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union (both happened the year before he was elected), which allowed him to shut down a lot of military bases and projects. The big saving came almost exclusively from reducing military expenditures. Anybody could have balanced the budget, when you can do without billion-dollar weapons and fire thousands of military personnel. He also benefited from the tax increase that cost his predecessor the job.
    Where George W Bush's record is truly dismal is in jobs (only right-wing extremists such as Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Riley can claim that unemployment is the same that was under Clinton) and the deficit (the largest ever recorded in history) and the dollar (Americans have become 40% poorer than Europeans since Bush became president). It took Bush four years to almost (almost) recreate the jobs he has lost, and the only way he could do that was by not counting all the people who stopped searching for a job. It will take many many years to pay for the careless spending of the Bush years. And the dollar may never return to its past strength (the dollar never regained the value it had before a similar slide was caused by Reagan's policies: Japan and western Europe have been "rich" since then, mainly because their currencies appreciated against the dollar during the Reagan years).
    Stem cell research? At the Democratic convention, a big fuss was made of the fact that George W Bush curtailed research on stem cells. True. But nobody mentioned the amount of money spent by Clinton in eight years on stem cell research: zero. Clinton banned embryo research throughout his presidency.
    Bush the divider? The country became so divided during the Clinton years. Blame it on the Congress (that crucified Clinton on his private life) or on Clinton himself (whose reckless private life brought that calvary on himself). But the fact is that the country was divided when it went to vote for either Gore or George W Bush. Bush did not divide America: America was already divided.
    In foreign policy, Clinton's achievements are also questionable. September 11 happened under George W Bush's term, but Al Qaeda planned it during the Clinton years. Bush is guilty of neglecting terrorism, but Clinton is at least guilty of not capturing Osama (he had eight years to do so).
    Bush may have turned Iraq into a mess, but Clinton let 900,000 Rwandans get slaughtered live on tv (at the current rate, it would take about 500 years for Iraq to accumulate as many deaths as Rwanda accumulated in just a few weeks).
    For those who claim that Clinton was better than Bush at building coalition and dealing with allies, well, let's see. Serbia never attacked the USA and never posed any threat to any western country, but Clinton bombed it the same way Bush bombed Iraq. The United Nations never approved it because Russia said it would veto any resolution. There actually was a United Nations resolution threatening the use of force against Iraq, but there never was one threatening the use of force against Serbia. So Clinton was clearly in violation of international law, whereas Bush could argue that he simply "interpreted" international law.
    For those who claim that Bush attacked Iraq when in fact the USA was attacked by Osama Bin Laden, well, let's see: Clinton dropped hundreds of bombds on Serbia, which never attacked the USA, but only dropped one bomb on Osama Bin Laden, who had repeatedly attacked USA interests around the world, including two embassies and one air carrier.
    And, surprise, Clinton was the first one to link Saddam Hussein to Osama bin Laden. Today, democrats accuse Bush of fabricating the evidence linking terrorists to Iraq, but it was actually Clinton who first proclaimed the link, as documented by the 9/11 commission. On 20 august 1998, Clinton ordered the bombing of a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan (by the way, a country that had not attacked or threatened the USA, and therefore the first example of the "preemptive strike" that Bush would later adopt as an official policy). The reason given by Clinton was simple: Sudan had received technology from Iraq (Saddam Hussein) to build chemical weapons on account of Osama bin Laden. If that factory was indeed manufacturing the deadly VX nerve gas, then the know-how almost certainly came from Iraq, because Iraq was the only Arab country to have that know-how. Many Europeans disputed Clinton's claim, but that was Clinton's explanation: the USA had the right to strike a third country because of the presumption that it might some day help an attack against the USA, and that presumption was based on another presumption, that Saddam Hussein was helping Osama bin Laden; no more and no less than what George W Bush did and said five years later.
    For those who think that Clinton was more humanitarian and respectful of human rights than Bush, well, let's see: Clinton tolerated the Taliban regime and Saddam's regime even if he knew that both regimes had slaughtered civilians by the thousands, whereas Bush removed both.
    So let's be fair: Bush has an appalling record of failures, but Clinton wasn't perfect either.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (July 2004) What the next presidential elections should be about: getting rid of the oil-based economy. Today's economy relies in a dramatic and dangerous way on oil, something which the USA does not own.
    Saudi Arabia owns 263 billion barrels of oil reserves, which is about 25% of the world's oil reservers. Iran, Iraq, Emirates and Kuwait own about 40%. If Islamic fundamentalists or unfriendly dictators take over these countries (all of them politically unstable), the USA would get into some serious trouble.
    Next in the rankings are Venezuela, Russia, and Libya, countries that can hardly be defined faithful friends of the USA (or the West in general).
    The USA has a mere 2.5% of the world's oil reserves, and consumes oil faster than anyone else. In 11 years, the USA will have no more oil of its own: for the first time in history, the world's superpower will depend on other countries for its survival. (The whole of Europe together has even less oil than the USA).
    The last of the idiots would understand that this is an extremely dangerous situation, and something must be done immediately. We can use the old European system (invade, destroy and steal), which is not exactly what the USA stands for, or we can get rid of oil. Get rid of the oil economy.
    It is irresponsible for the presidential candidates, both Kerry and Bush, to be talking about gay marriages or abortion while the ship has only eleven years before it starts to sink.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (July 2004) Health care's robbery and outsourcing. When analyzing why so many American companies outsource jobs to other countries, very few analysts point to the obvious culprit: skyrocketing health-care costs in the USA. The USA has had for decades a failed model of health care that relies on companies buying health care insurance for employees (if you don't have an employer, most likely you don't have health care insurance and you are either ruined or dying). This model simply offers hospitals and doctors a unique chance to blackmail companies. It is thus no surprise that they do. Companies are robbed daily by the health care industry, and the loot is in the range of the billions of dollars. No surprise, therefore, that so many American companies decide to move their operations to countries where this kind of robbery is not allowed.
    The average cost of an hospital visit in the USA is now $10,000. That is the equivalent of 100 nights at a Best Western Inns, or ten round-trip tickets to Rome. In the 1980s, individuals became the first victims of this robbery: they couldn't afford health-case coverage anymore, and the number of uninsured Americans ballooned to 40 million. Twenty years later, as the frequency and amplitude of robbery increases, not even companies can afford to provide health-care insurance anymore. So they move elsewhere.
    A solution to the problem is not difficult to envision: if the government were to run its own universal health-care program, hospitals and doctors would have to compete with governmental fees instead of being free to charge unlimited amounts for the silliest services. In the USA, many believe that hospitals and doctors would simply stop providing a good service, if they were not allowed to rob as much as they want to. Well, that should be considered a crime, and they should be treated just like any saboteur, bank robber, terrorist and gangster.
    If the USA does not provide cheap health care, the exodus of businesses towards more friendly countries will continue. The only ones who benefit are the crooked members of the health-care mob.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (July 2004) The USA Senate did not learn its lesson. A senate that kills a program to promote American values in the Islamic world is clearly a senate that has not understood anything of what happened. The USA was bombed by terrorists who believed the USA is evil, and those terrorists are tolerated (if not supported) by a broader Islamic public that thinks the USA represents something unpleasant. Their regimes and their clerics brainwash them to think so. It is essential that one billion Muslims can hear the American version of the facts.
    George W Bush proposed a wise program to promote American ideals in Islamic countries. The senate (whose majority is Republican and should easily approve the president's initiatives) cut it by ten million dollars. What are ten million dollars for the USA? Absolutely nothing. Well, in july 2004 the USA senate decided that even ten million dollars is too much for the single most important initiative the USA wanted to carry out in the Islamic world. Eightyseven Republicans voted with all Democrats to reduce the scope and the budget of Bush's program for the Islamic world.
    Needless to say, every week the same senate approves the silliest pork-barrel projects worth billions of dollars.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (July 2004) Replace Dick Cheney with Condoleeza Rice. George W Bush may lose the election anyway, but Dick Cheney makes it almost a certainty. Dick Cheney has been attacked both from abroad and in Washington for his shady relationship with the companies that benefited the most from the 60 billion dollars that Congress voted for Iraq's reconstruction (the vast majority of that money is a gift to USA companies, most of whom have enjoyed a close relationship, to say the least, with vicepresident Cheney). Cheney is widely considered responsible for the biggest blunders of this president: Saddam Hussein never purchased uranium from Africa, and never entertained friendly relations with Osama (in fact, they hated each other). Cheney has created a parallel White House that makes Bush look like a farcical traveling salesman: Cheney makes the decisions that really matter, and Bush simply spells them out to the American public.
    Keep in mind that Bush lost the 1999 elections by 2.5 million votes (Gore got half a million votes more than Bush, and Nader got two million votes). Keep in mind that the demographics has made that gap even bigger: liberals grow faster than conservatives, because immigrants, blacks and latinos tend to be liberal. Bush can hope that the crazy American law (the president get elected by electoral votes not by the real votes) will again elect the man who has not received the most votes, but it would be an amazing distortion of democracy.
    A presidential race between Kerry/Edwards and Bush/Cheney is totally unfair: Kerry is already more qualified than Bush to be president, and Cheney simply sinks the Bush ship even before it leaves the harbor. A Bush/Rice ticket would be more competitive. It is not only in the interest of the Republican Party but of the entire American democracy to offer a real alternative to the USA electorate. Dump Cheney.
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  • (July 2004) What Fahrenheit 911 teaches us. Of course, it is not a good idea to get an education on history from a filmmaker. There are better documentaries, there are better books, there are better historians. But Michael Moore's documentary (that broke all records of audience in the USA) can teach us at least two things.
    The first one, and most important, is that a USA filmmaker made an anti-Bush documentary and the documentary is out and is being seen by million of Americans. What is the big deal? Well... no French filmmaker ever made an anti-Chirac documentary that was actually shown and viewed by millions of French people, right? And, still, Chirac has been around for decades and has more skeletons in his closet than any other living western leader. And certainly no Arab filmmaker could make a documentary criticizing his own government and... survive. So Michael Moore's documentary proves something important (and reassuring) about the USA.
    The second one is, alas, that the "vast right-wing conspiracy" was not just a paranoia of Hillary Clinton: the conspiracy does exist, and it immediately tried to silence this documentary. It failed, and it is now trying to demonize Michael Moore. Sure, Moore has a clear political agenda, but so does Fox News (the "fair and balanced" network, which is actually a propaganda machine for Bush's reelection). Nobody has managed to prove that Michael Moore lied about any of the facts he describes. He might have exaggerated them, he might have omitted others, but, hey, he is an artist, not a historian. There is no reason to try to obliterate this film. If millions of Americans are allowed to watch soap operas (that turn them into ignorant idiots incapable of checking the actions of their own leaders), they might as well be allowed to watch a documentary that will, at least, prompt them to check the news more often.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (June 2004) Scandals in Washington. It is fairly amazing how modern society (even the most modern of all) is attracted to sex scandals, but hardly pays any attention at all to much bigger scandals.
    Donald Rumsfeld has been criticized even by the CIA, generals, and even his own people for the colossal mistakes he made in Iraq. Iraq is a mess not because it was a bad idea, but because the implementation was so awful. Rumsfeld excels at offending both enemies (the Democrats) and allies (the Europeans) but obviously did not excel at understanding that the USA needed a lot more troops and that a war needs a peace in order to be truly "won".
    Dick Cheney has been attacked (correctly) both from abroad and in Washington for his shady relationship with the companies that benefited the most from the 60 billion dollars that Congress voted for Iraq's reconstruction (the vast majority of that money is a gift to USA companies, most of whom have enjoyed a close relationship, to say the least, with vicepresident Cheney).
    In the old days, both Rumsfeld and Cheney would have resigned long ago. Unfortunately, we live in a world dominated by greedy, selfish and unscrupolous politicians (starting from their own boss, who accepted to become president even if he had lost the popular vote by half a million votes). There is no decency or honor left in politics. The only people who can rejoice are America's enemy, such as Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, who can claim "after all, they are not any more honest than us".
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (June 2004) Remembering president Reagan. Now that he is dead, commentators worldwide are busy explaining that Reagan's legacy will be with us for a long time.
    In his heydays, Ronald Reagan was hated around the world no less than George W Bush is today. Reagan ordered the bombing of Libya in retaliation for Libya's terrorist activities. Reagan sent the marines to "pacify" Lebanon. Reagan "liberated" the country of Grenada (as big as the White House's backyard). Reagan supported fascist dictators such as Marcos in the Philippines and Pinochet in Chile. There were plenty of reasons for anti-Americans to rejoice in Reagan's actions, that justified their anti-Americanism. Domestically, Reagan curtailed funding for the arts, helped the gun lobby become the largest terrorist organization in the world, increased the gap between the rich and the poor, caused the average income of USA citizens to shrink, created the largest budget decific in history (it took George W Bush to beat Reagan's record), weakened the dollar (it never truly returned to the heights of the post-war period) and turned Japan and Western Europe into rich countries compared with the USA. Before Reagan took office, the USA was an economic superpower. After Reagan left office, several western countries were richer than the USA. Today, it is taken for granted that the Japanese or the Italians are rich people. It was not that way before Reagan became president. Today, it is common knowledge that American tourists cannot afford a coffee in Rome or sushi in Japan. Before Reagan, American tourists were the rich tourists of the world, and for them both Italy and Japan were extremely cheap places. In other words, Reagan crippled the American economy for generations to come. Americans have never been rich again as they were before Reagan became their president.
    But his abysmal record in economic matters pales compared to the damage he caused to the USA in the international arena. The most famous episode, the "Iran-Contra scandal", is so grotesque that modern generations don't believe it truly happened: Reagan's administration sold weapons to a country (Iran) that was a sworn enemy of the USA, and then used the money to illegally fund terrorism in Nicaragua against its communist regime. And, talking of Iran, in 1988 a missile fired by a USA warship downed an Iranian civilian plane killing all 290 passengers aboard: the USA never punished anyone for that incident, which basically started the tit for tat between Muslims and the USA (in retaliation, few weeks later terrorists blew up a Pan Am flight).
    In retrospect, his "voodoo" politics had three unwanted consequences. First, he decided to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan by funding and training Islamic volunteers from all over the world. One of them, Osama Bin Laden, would become quite famous twenty years later as the first man to attack the USA homeland. Second, Reagan decided to side with the young dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, when this madman invaded a neighbor, Iran. It would become a personal passion of Saddam Hussein, who ten years later would invade Kuwait. Third, Reagan sent the marines to pacify Lebanon, but quickly withdrew the marines when terrorists blew up their barracks. That was the first time that the USA had been defeated by terrorists. Terrorists learned that lesson. Years later, Osama would mention that episode as the episode that opened his eyes: the USA cannot be defeated by a regular army, but can be defeated by terrorists.
    President Reagan is thus responsible for a) supporting Islamic terrorism when it was fighting the Soviet Union, b) supporting Saddam Hussein when he was invading Iran, c) showing to the entire world how the USA could be defeated. Indirectly, Reagan caused September 11 and two Iraqi wars.
    "The United States finds the Iranian regime's intransigent refusal to deviate from its avowed objective of eliminating the legitimate government of Iraq to be inconsistent with accepted norms." (Press release by the Reagan administration) Somehow 20 years later the USA ended doing just that: eliminating the "legitimate" (Reagan's definition, not mine) government of Iraq.
    His legacy will, indeed, be with us for a long time.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (May 2004) Another Rwanda? Bill Clinton is guilty of the murder of 900,000 Tutsis, who were massacred live on tv while he was busy courting interns. The USA did not do anything to stop the carnage. Not a single bullet was fired to stop the Hutus that carried out the ethnic cleansing in Rwanda.
    Will George W Bush commit the same crime? Up to 50,000 people have already been exterminated by Arab militias in Darfur, a non-Muslim region of Sudan. Up to one million have moved into Chad and other areas to escape the scientific extermination carried out by the Arab militias and Sudan's own airforce (those who survive the machine gun are bombed by warplanes). How many innocents have to die before the USA stops the killing?
    See The Arab League fails again.
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  • (May 2004) The damage to USA credibility. There have always been anti-Americans who did not believe the American version of the facts. And sometimes they were right (most often, they were wrong, and even they knew it). But never has the credibility of the USA been so damaged as by the Bush administration. It has not been a deliberate act of lying to the world, but the result has been worse than if they had done it deliberately. It will take generations (if ever) for the USA to regain the credibility it used to enjoy (at least within the free world).
    First, there was Bush's claim that Iraq had tried to acquire nuclear material from Niger. That was quickly proven to be false. Powell was wise enough to omit that statement from his presentation at the United Nations. Nonetheless, that presentation was (in retrospect) an absolute disaster: almost nothing of what Powell showed as "proof" proved to be accurate. It is not the first time that a president "lied" (or exaggerated) to the nation in order to justify going to war: Johnson fabricated the "Gulf of Tonkin incident" to justify the full-fledged invasion of Vietnam, and Bush senior used the false testimony of a Kuwaiti girl (who was not even in Kuwait during the time when she claimed to have been raped by Iraqi soldiers) to justify the first invasion of Iraq. But this time the government did not just "lie" to the nation: it lied while speaking to the entire world.
    Now comes the news that USA soldiers tortured (at least psychologically) some of their Iraqi prisoners. The real victims are not the Iraqis (presumably, the prisoners were members of Saddam's militias, who deserve very little sympathy): the real victims are, again, the USA and its credibility.
    The damage done by the Bush administration is colossal. There is no question that the commander in chief (Bush) is ultimately responsible for what USA soldiers do. There is no question that the president (Bush) is ultimately responsible for the statements that its government makes. The sensible thing to do would be for George W Bush to resign, admitting his responsibility in defaming the USA. This could help prove to the world that he "didn't mean it". If Bush does not resign, Congress should impeach him: if we impeach presidents for having an extramarital affair, what should we do to presidents who damage the reputation of their country in a way that will cause more anti-American sentiment around the world and therefore more American deaths? If Congress does not impeach the president, the American people should vote them out: a massive vote against the Republican party would remove any doubt on where the American people stand on these issues.
    Unfortunately, all of these are unlikely to happen. Generations of USA citizens will pay the price.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (May 2004) Animals. Lynndie England has become an international celebrity, possibly the only USA citizen besides Bush to be well known in all five continents. She is the USA soldier who features prominently in the pictures of abuses of Iraqi prisoners. She has become a symbol: a symbol of what the USA should not be. People around the world (whether friends or enemies) are still in disbelief that USA soldiers actually tortured prisoners. It sounds like the usual Al Jazeera propaganda. Both friends and enemies of the USA are shocked that this time it is not just anti-American propaganda. It sounds too good for American enemies, and too un-American for everybody else.
    The causes may be various (an administration that does not believe in micro-management but only in delegating, a president who hardly knows what his collaborators order, an army that is relying ever more on violent citizens who hardly represent the average American) but, ultimately, the message is very simple: this is no longer the USA that liberated Europe. The Americans who were welcomed as liberators in France and Italy, and were soon respected even in Germany, were good generous people. Despite the horrors of the war, they made friends with the natives. There is a problem, and it will not be easy to fix because it is merely the reflection of changes that happened in the USA society: the USA of 2004 is not the USA of 1944.
    Not all is lost, though. The USA is being terrible at communicating with the world, and with the Islamic world in particular. This episode could actually be used to communicate an important message: when a USA citizen does these things, he gets punished; when an Islamic terrorist does these things, he is hailed as a hero. Americans (including the president) are disgusted by the behavior of these USA soldiers. Islamic extremists are ecstatic at the behavior of Islamic terrorists. If the USA manages to emphasize this difference in moral values, this episode could still be useful to show what values we believe in and "they" (the Islamic fundamentalists, the Arab dictators) do not believe in. Of course, it takes a USA president who addresses directly the Islamic world, apologizes (one expression that the USA has to learn is "I'm sorry"), explains that these were only a few bad people, that bad people exist in every society, that our society punishes bad people and that we will make sure that this never happens again. Then the difference between "us" and "them" would be clear.
    The main victims of the USA soldiers who committed those abuses are the millions of Americans who served honorably in the army. From now on, for many generations, being an American soldier will mean something less honorable.
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  • (March 2004) Bush's responsibilities for September 11. Electing incompetent people to the job of president (especially people who were alcoholics and drug addicts, and spoiled rich kids who dodged the draft and have a record of cowardice and a record of dismal performance in school) is not a good way to prevent terrorist attacks. Maybe the september 11 attack was inevitable no matter what, but certainly Bush's victory made Al Qaeda's life a lot easier in the USA.
    His administration failed to see any of the signs that Al Qaeda was preparing a terrorist attack in the USA (including Osama Bin Laden's interviews in which he personally said so). There are now doubts that Bush even knew that there was such an organization in the world, despite the fact that Al Qaeda had already killed scores of Americans around the world. There are multiple sources that confirm how Bush's cabinet consistently downplayed the threat of terrorism and removed terrorism from the list of priorities: John Ashcroft wrote in a memo that terrorism was not a priority; Condoleezza Rice demoted the counterterrorism office; Bush himself never (not once) asked to be briefed by the man in charge of counterterrorism. In fact, Bush debuted as president by claiming that the USA needed a missile defense to protect against enemies: it turns out that the enemies were preparing to attack the USA with knives, not intercontinental missiles. But Bush asked (and obtained) billions of dollars to fund the development of the missile defense, while he cut the funds for anti-terrorism. Osams must have thought: "gee, this idiot must be sent by Allah in person".
    The threat of terrorism was relatively clear to the Clinton administration. Unfortunately, the Republicans spent eight years trying to impeach him on all possible grounds rather than working on solving America's problems. No major Republican leader ever dealt with terrorism in person, while all major Republican leaders dealt personally and directly with the various Clinton scandals, thus proving that for them the security of the nation was a secondary (or totally negligible) issue. The Republican witch hunt against the Clinton administration basically helped Al Qaeda infiltrate into the USA and prepare, relatively undisturbed, the september 11 terrorist attacks. The Republican party was fundamentally a key ally of Osama Bin Laden.
    When Bush became president, he simply swept away whatever actions had been planned to stop Osama Bin Laden. Whether it was possible to stop the terrorists or not will never be known, but certainly Bush did everything in his power to facilitate the terrorists' plans.
    After september 11, which caught the whole Bush administration by surprise, Bush reacted in a mostly correct way (taking out the Taliban regime). But we now learn details that border on a Marx Brothers' slapstick, like when secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld proposed to bomb Iraq instead of Afghanistan simply because it was a better military target. And his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, was pathetically out of touch with the reality of the Middle East, almost unaware of who Osama Bin Laden was, but comically obsessed with Saddam Hussein. Too bad Charlie Chaplin is dead: he could make a fantastic comedy out of the Bush administration.
    There are also countless reports from countless staff of the administration that Bush engaged in a systematic campaign of intimidation of anyone who dared tell the press about his "shortcomings". Enough to truly impeach a president.
    Not only was Bush elected without the majority of votes; not only did he perceive his accidental election as a mandate to promote his agenda; not only did he fail to learn anything from the previous administration; but his ignorance and incompetence basically turned into key assets of the enemies who were preparing to strike the USA.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (March 2004) What's the secret all about? The Bush administration has a unique flair for denying the public information. Two and a half years after September 11, journalists are still forbidden from interviewing the people detained in Guantanamo. Some of the people in Guantanamo know Osama better than any of the tv commentators that speculate daily on Osama's motives and ideology. Why can't we hear from the people who really know what happened and what this terrorism is all about?
    The USA has captured the mastermind of September 11, Khalid (See Khalid, not Osama, did it): not a single word has been released of what Khalid has been telling the USA.
    The USA has captured almost all of the most wanted Baath leaders who are still alive, last but not least Saddam Hussein in person. But we know almost nothing about what they are telling. Tariq Aziz has been in USA custody for months: why haven't we heard a single word about what he has been saying. What about Saddam? What is he saying about the weapons of mass destruction? What was his reasoning before the war? Why did he refuse to cooperate with the United Nations inspectors? Where was he when the USA started bombing Baghdad? These are some of the obvious questions that have been asked for one year, and debated in talk show after talk show. Why can't we get simple answers to these simple questions?
    What about the many terrorist attacks in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq? Do we know who carried them out? The USA has repeatedly claimed that there are foreign terrorists in Iraq, but has not exhibited a single foreign terrorist caught in Iraq: who are they? What are the investigations revealing? Has anyone ever been arrested for the bombings of the Jordanian embassy, of the United Nations headquarters, of the Shiite leader, of the Italian barracks, etc etc? We know more about the investigation of domestic murders in the USA than about the investigations of mass murders in Iraq.
    Why all the secret?
    Is it because both Al Qaeda and Iraqi leaders know stories that would be very embarrassing to the Bush administration? Or just a bad habit of keeping the truth from the people?
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  • (February 2004) How the USA became a poor country. As the dollar keeps decreasing in value compared with pretty much all the currencies of the world, the USA has been getting poorer under George W Bush for three years now. This is not the first time that this phenomenon happened: president Reagan also caused a decline in the value of the dollar from which the dollar never fully recovered. The decline of the dollar caused countries like Germany and Japan to suddenly become "rich" because their currency kept appreciating agains the mighty dollar. In both cases (Ronald Reagan and George W Bush) the cause for the decline of the dollar was the same: tax cuts that caused massive deficits at home. A country that has a huge debt is, by definition, not a rich country, and the decline of its currency simply reflects that fact.
    Americans still have to accept the simple truth that they got poorer during the Reagan years. During the Reagan years, a poor country like Japan became a rich country, and Western Europe almost passed the USA in terms of gross national product. Americans didn't realize it until it was too late, mainly because they were focused on the rivalry with the Soviet Union. The devastating effect of the Reagan years are still with us: the USA has never managed to regain its lead over Europe and Japan. Western Europe and Japan are still rich and expensive countries compared to the USA. They were cheap for Americans before Reagan took power.
    Today, George W Bush is causing the same process of "relative impoverishment" by which Americans (the ones who have jobs) feel that things are not dramatically different, when in reality the dollar has plunged almost 40% (it used to buy 1.20 euros, and now it only buys 0.70) and thus they are almost 40% poorer than Europeans. In other places of the world, there would have been panic and riots in the streets. Bush is lucky that Americans know so little about the rest of the world that they can't even judge if they are getting richer or poorer as a nation. Imagine if the Mexican peso collapsed 40%: there would be lines in front of banks to withdraw pesos and exchange them to strong currencies. And the Mexican government would probably have to resign. In the USA, none of this happened. Bush can afford to cause a massive reduction of USA wealth without facing even a single march in the streets. But the USA may pay a price for a long, long time.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (January 2004) Kerry/Edwards vs Bush/Rice. The big loser in Iowa was general Clark. He miscalculated that Kerry would not fare well. Instead, Kerry won, and the next primary, in New Hampshire, will be a duel between Kerry and Dean. It is unlikely that Clark will manage to take the spotlight away from the two stars of New England. The second loser was Gephard, whose political career is, de facto, finished. Gephard was too much of a Washington insider, and an old-fashioned populist. In the age of services (not manufacturing) and of neocons (not old liberals), he will not be missed. As people get over the polarization on the Iraqi war, they will realize that there is precious little to justify a Dean campaign. As people realize that, whether you like it or not, the USA "is" in Afghanistan and Iraq, the limits of Dean (the most inexperienced candidate among the main ones) will show. As the situation in Iraq gets better (not worse), the real issue will boil down to Bush's main failure: a giant deficit that may cripple the USA economy for generations to come. Even conservatives who applauded Bush's tax-cuts on ideological grounds do not feel comfortable at all with the deficit figures (especially knowing that Washington's projections are always too optimistic). The the real anti-Bush is not a vague and incompetent "pacifist", but a new kind of populist, who wants to cut taxes for the poor, not for the rich.
    Bottom line: this race is likely to narrow down to Kerry versus Edwards. Whichever way it ends, this would be a very competitive ticket (whether it's Kerry with Edwards the youthful southerner as vice-president, or Edwards with Kerry the experienced populist as vice-president). George W Bush's tenure at the White House may have just begun to end.
    Bush's wildcard is Condoleeza Rice (or Powell, if the recalcritant general-turned-politician can be convinced to enter the fray). If Bush dumps Cheney (a massive liability with independent voters who associate Cheney with the oil industry and high-level corruption), and replaces him with Rice, he will make history (first African-American person on a presidential ticket) and will regain a lot of the female vote that he lost with his ridiculous anti-abortion stand. Otherwise, Bush/Cheney look rather weak against Edwards/Kerry (and no Nader to hijack two million liberal votes).
    (Of course, there is the perennial question: will Hillary jump on the bandwagon as vice-presidential candidate? But that only increases the appeal of the Democratic ticket, because it would bring even more female votes).
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  • (January 2004) Bush kills USA space exploration. In Bush's own words, here is how the USA capitulated their leadership in space exploration. The USA will content itself with
    • completing the international space station by 2010 (it was supposed to be already finished, so Bush basically announced it is postponed by another six years)
    • retiring the shuttle program by 2010 (not exactly a triumph)
    • developing a new kind of space-exploration vehicle by 2014 (which means that, for a few years, USA astronauts will be able to take off only on Russian and Chinese spacecrafts, not exactly something to be proud of)
    • returning to the Moon between 2015 and 2020 (two generations after the last Moon landing, or about 50 years)
    • sending a man to Mars sometime after 2020 (basically, there is no plan for a Mars landing)
    Hidden in Bush's announcement was another sad news: NASA is canceling all space shuttle servicing missions to the Hubble space telescope, which is thus condemned to die within a few years. That's how Bush is going to pay to complete the international space station: by killing the space telescope. What a genius. The space telescope was the last great USA triumph in space. (Incidentally, the international space station will remain empty for the first time since its creation when the two astronauts return to Earth in february 2004).
    (In july 2004, on the 35th anniversary of the moon landing, the USA cut funds for space research).
    Let's hope that Russia and China come up with a better plan to explore the Solar System. This one is basically an abdication by the USA.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (January 2004) Winners and losers of 2003.
    1. Islam (more than ever affecting world politics and terrorizing the whole world, from Nigeria to the Philippines, from the USA to Sudan)
    2. Vladimir Putin (virtually annihilated the opposition)
    3. China (became the second economic world power)
    4. Qaddafi (resurrected politically via a spectacular series of Machiavellian moves)
    5. Osama bin Laden (still alive and free)
    6. George W Bush (won the war in Iraq)
    7. Condoleeza Rice (architected the USA's foreign policy and a likely candidate to become the USA's first female vice-president and, not too far in the future, its first female president)
    8. Hillary Clinton (became the most popular Democratic politician in the country, and the other likely candidate to become the USA's first female president)
    9. Junichiro Koizumi (survived Japan's turbulent politics and led Japan to economic recovery)
    10. Hugo Chavez (survived Venezuela's worst economic crisis and several attempts to call for a referendum)
    1. France (lost what little influence it still had on world politics, thanks to Jacques Chirac's grotesque statements and actions)
    2. Saddam Hussein (from a life of palaces to a rathole to a jail)
    3. Ariel Sharon (turned Israel into a poor and fearful country, and lost the sympathy of the world)
    4. The Palestinian people (their main supporters, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, are largely powerless, and Palestinian leaders have lost control on their own terrorists)
    5. The Democratic Party (lost one election after the other, and, worse, elections that they were widely expected to win)
    6. The United Nations (deadlocked on just about every important decision, an institution considered important mainly by the dictatorships that only the United Nations considers legitimate)
    7. The Pope (lost whatever little political credibility the Papacy still had)
    8. The Arab dictators (pressured towards western democracy by the USA invasion of Iraq, and, at the same time, towards Islamic fundamentalism by Arab terrorists)
    9. Yassir Arafat (less and less relevant, thanks to his own mistakes)
    10. The European Union (less united than ever)
    In a limbo:
    1. Tony Blair (won a war, but few noticed - mainly has a future as a political commentators in the USA)
    2. Gerhard Schroeder (an amazing survivor, who caused Germany's worst crisis since the Great Depression but became a pacifist just in time to get reelected)
    3. Silvio Berlusconi (managed to change all the laws that could be used to convict him, but more isolated than ever in the world)
    4. Karzai (a leader loved by his people, but hardly in control of his country)
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • January-December 2003
  • January-December 2002
  • January-December 2001
  • January-December 2000
  • January-December 1999

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