Plan Long To Make It Short

We continue to make the error: looking short term when a longer-range solution might be more profitable. Putin has given us an opening, and we should take advantage. By publicizing his plans to use contractors to bring in foreign fighters, probably from Syria, he opened the door to the Democracies to do the same. It is not an escalation to do the same thing. Their foreign fighters are armed to the teeth. We can do the same. The problem for Putin is we can do it on a grander scale.

Foreigners fighting in someone else’s war is nothing new. The Lafayette Escadrille in World War I, the Eagle Squadrons, and the Flying Tigers in World War II were made up of Americans before we entered. Many Americans and other non-Spaniards fought in the Spanish civil war. We had more contractors in Afghanistan than we had military.

Given our long experience with contractors and CIA black ops, speeding up “Freedom Units” assembly areas with air defense systems in Western Ukraine is well within reach. Air and ground units trained and integrated. The number of the volunteers left open-ended. Good pay, conditions, and high purpose provide an ever-expanding force. So far, plenty of people is already showing up.

Given the Russian battlefield performance to date, these air and ground units could be a body blow to Russian morale. The Russians might divert forces to attack the assembly areas, but they would pay a steep price if we recruited the right people with solid weapons. Pulling Russian Resources away from the Ukrainians in the East gives them respite and raises the cost of victory beyond Putin’s resources, especially if the sanctions are in place. Maintaining Ukraine’s supply lines allows their forces to continue fighting. Instead of time theoretically being on Russia’s side, we bleed Russia for however long it takes.

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Rot

The Ukraine crisis is more evidence of incompetence. To deter Russian President Putin from an attack, continuing to expand the lethal aid deliveries started in the Trump administration is just common sense. Russia began to move forces to the Ukraine border last spring. Making Ukraine a much harder nut to crack could’ve raised the price of an assault to the unacceptable. Instead, we paused our lethal aid. Biden even O.K.’d the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to appease Germany and Russia.

The Trump era deliveries, especially the Javelin anti-tank missiles, allowed the Ukrainians to stabilize their eastern front. Adding anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles could’ve raised the price of invasion higher than the Russians could afford. The prospect of a long sustained war for an economy about the size of Italy while under sanctions might not seem palatable to an aggressor.

Recently, we’ve resumed deliveries, but with the invasion already begun, it is far more challenging to get them in the hands of the defenders. Still, the Ukrainians are valiantly holding out. Think how much better their position is if we had sent arms earlier. Maybe there wouldn’t even be an attack. 

How could we have made such mistakes? One has only to look back at the Afghanistan fiasco. Could anything have gone worse? The same climate zealots who failed to acknowledge relinquishing energy independence had dire national security consequences are still calling the shots in Washington. The same people producing our greatest humiliation in decades are still in charge. Unbelievably, not one person in our national security establishment has lost their job. The better question is why we expected better.

I think this is evidence of a rot infecting our bureaucratic establishments. Look around. We spend more on healthcare than almost any other advanced nation. Yet, we will be suffering from our disastrous lockdowns far into the future. We relied on data from other countries, such as Israel, throughout the pandemic for accurate data. This is despite the billions given to these bureaucrats. Again most of the major players are still in place. 

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Prisoners of Dogma

The current inflation gives us insight into our inability to use common sense and logic to solve problems. We know inflation results from too much money chasing too few goods. You can end inflation by severely restricting the money supply. The Federal Reserve stopped the inflationary spiral of the 1970-80s by tightening to the point where interest rates were higher than the rate of inflation. Rates went above 18% while inflation was t 14%. The result was a deep recession with unemployment above 10%. 

Today it would take interest rates above the current 7 1/2% inflation rate. This move would mean mortgage rates about triple g from where they were at the beginning of the year. The resulting recession would probably end rapid inflation but at a horrible price. Anyone with variable rate loans or an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) would be in a dark place. 

If we only slowly raise interest rates, it adds to costs and feeds rather than stopping inflation. Interest rates are a blunt and cruel instrument.

The other path is to increase supply. The most visible commodity affecting almost all our endeavors is energy. Today most of our energy comes from fossil fuels. Every time we fill up at the pump or open our heating bill, we are made painfully aware of inflation.

Expectations drive inflation. If we feel prices will be higher in the future, we buy now and buy more in anticipation. This perception adds to demand. Inflation’s upward march is most visible in the price of gasoline. If the price is still rising at the pump, we know prices are still going up. For this reason, it is essential to stop the upward march of oil and natural gas prices.

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The Next Time

As lockdowns and mandates fade away, now is an excellent time to consider steps we should take the next time we face a pandemic. By all accounts, we got off to a terrible start and never got ahead of the disease. The media blames the Trump administration. But what exactly did Trump do wrong?

Where else to look for the answer than the New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist David Leonhardt. In a March 15, 2020 column, he listed all the things Trump should’ve done but didn’t. He should’ve listened to the “experts” because he did everything wrong.

He downplayed the pandemic and failed to provide for adequate testing. Even though he restricted travel between China and Europe, it was far too little and possibly racist. Were these Trump’s mistakes or failures of the Government medical establishment? 

The testing debacle resulted from the CDC and FDA developing their tests rather than being open to those created by others. Even if Trump knew what the CDC and FDA were up to, could he have ordered tests from private parties and other labs without cries of interference? The CDC test was flawed, setting us back, and we have never fully recovered. A terrible result, but not Trump’s.

The last thing a President should do is create panic. Trying to maintain calm while assembling the correct data is part of the job. The idea he was underplaying is contradicted by Dr. Anthony Fauci going on natioal TV on Fe. 29, 2020, and telling us there was no need to make any changes in our lifestyles. 

If there was confusion and a testing disaster, it came from our “medical experts.” Presidents rely on our top brass for military advice and readiness. Like any other president, Trump had to trust his medical team. That team even failed to provide enough PPE for a pandemic. Did the NYT expect Trump to count our N95 masks? 

Let’s not forget Trump used a different team for Operation Warp Speed to bring us vaccines and therapeutics in record time.

Who did our government medical establishment tout as one doing all the right things? Dr. Fauci lauded N.Y.Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in contrast to Trump as the one doing everything right. The media echoed his praise.

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We Need Change-Not Vindication

My series on Covid 19 started on March 20, 2020. It seems almost a lifetime ago when the US shut down “to slow the spread.” At the time, I looked at what was known and the data available and concluded a general lockdown was a terrible idea—a targeted approach protecting those at most risk and ending lockdowns before they did significant damage was the right way. Chapter and verse of my proposals to keep the nation, especially the schools, open while doing everything possible to limit the loss of the vulnerable are there for anyone to see.

The government bureaucratic establishment, relying on Neil Ferguson’s Imperial College model, came down solidly in favor of lockdowns and not for just a few weeks. They told us if we didn’t close down, millions more would be sure to die—anyone coming to a different conclusion labeled as favoring mass death. Even though many people quickly concluded the Imperial College model was defective, much of the world remained shut down.

This week a John’s Hopkins economic Metastudy concluded the lockdowns were a disaster. Researchers looked at 22 studies and found no gain while enumerating the massive costs. A .02% reduction in deaths didn’t come close to offsetting the enormous harm they caused. This study vindicates all those suffering establishment abuses for predicting this outcome and proposing a different path from the beginning.

Neil Ferguson of defective Imperial model fame and University of Oxford’s Seth Flaxman challenged the study. The latter is the lead author on a 2020 study that estimated that lockdowns had likely saved up to three million lives across Europe. So far, I haven’t found r any others.  Flaxman’s figures appear based on the Imperial Model.

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