Obama – devious and dishonest – about time people noticed

Editor’s Note – It has amazed us at SUA for a very long time that so many on the opposite side of the aisle from Obama and his toadies in Congress actually treated them with respect and thought they could deal with them as honest brokers of law-making. These people are what the author of this articles refers to as:

…the broad, stable, nonradical, non-birther right.

It took what seems like ages for them to identify that which many of us already knew, these people are charlatans who speak out of more than two sides of their mouths and cannot be trusted on any level. And, despite that description, the so-called ‘birthers’ (Begun by PUMA Clinton supporters) have had it correct all along.

The 'Emperor has no clothes' - people are finally noticing, on both sides of the aisle.

However, we are encouraged that many are now seeing that the king and his men are not wearing any clothes after all. They have shown us time and again that they will say and do anything to get their way, and that includes stomping all over the constitution and our ‘balance of powers’ system.

Now, if the political machinery of the Republican Party can see the folly of their ways as well, we might actually start to heal and repair this broken system, this house of cards.

Not-So-Smooth Operator

Obama increasingly comes across as devious and dishonest.

By PEGGY NOONAN

Wall Street Journal

Something’s happening to President Obama’s relationship with those who are inclined not to like his policies. They are now inclined not to like him. His supporters would say, “Nothing new there,” but actually I think there is. I’m referring to the broad, stable, nonradical, non-birther right. Among them the level of dislike for the president has ratcheted up sharply the past few months.

It’s not due to the election, and it’s not because the Republican candidates are so compelling and making such brilliant cases against him. That, actually, isn’t happening.

What is happening is that the president is coming across more and more as a trimmer, as an operator who’s not operating in good faith. This is hardening positions and leading to increased political bitterness. And it’s his fault, too. As an increase in polarization is a bad thing, it’s a big fault.

The shift started on Jan. 20, with the mandate that agencies of the Catholic Church would have to provide birth-control services the church finds morally repugnant. The public reaction? “You’re kidding me. That’s not just bad judgment and a lack of civic tact, it’s not even constitutional!” Faced with the blowback, the president offered a so-called accommodation that even its supporters recognized as devious. Not ill-advised, devious. Then his operatives flooded the airwaves with dishonest—not wrongheaded, dishonest—charges that those who defend the church’s religious liberties are trying to take away your contraceptives.

What a sour taste this all left. How shocking it was, including for those in the church who’d been in touch with the administration and were murmuring about having been misled.

Events of just the past 10 days have contributed to the shift. There was the open-mic conversation with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in which Mr. Obama pleaded for “space” and said he will have “more flexibility” in his negotiations once the election is over and those pesky voters have done their thing. On tape it looked so bush-league, so faux-sophisticated. When he knew he’d been caught, the president tried to laugh it off by comically covering a mic in a following meeting. It was all so . . . creepy.

Next, a boy of 17 is shot and killed under disputed and unclear circumstances. The whole issue is racially charged, emotions are high, and the only memorable words from the president’s response were, “If I had a son he’d look like Trayvon.” At first it seemed OK—not great, but all right—but as the story continued and suddenly there were death threats and tweeted addresses and congressmen in hoodies, it seemed insufficient to the moment. At the end of the day, the public reaction seemed to be: “Hey buddy, we don’t need you to personalize what is already too dramatic, it’s not about you.”

Now this week the Supreme Court arguments on ObamaCare, which have made that law look so hollow, so careless, that it amounts to a characterological indictment of the administration. The constitutional law professor from the University of Chicago didn’t notice the centerpiece of his agenda was not constitutional? How did that happen?

Maybe a stinging decision is coming, maybe not, but in a purely political sense this is how it looks: We were in crisis in 2009—we still are—and instead of doing something strong and pertinent about our economic woes, the president wasted history’s time. He wasted time that was precious—the debt clock is still ticking!—by following an imaginary bunny that disappeared down a rabbit hole.

The high court’s hearings gave off an overall air not of political misfeasance but malfeasance.

All these things have hardened lines of opposition, and left opponents with an aversion that will not go away.

I am not saying that the president has a terrible relationship with the American people. I’m only saying he’s made his relationship with those who oppose him worse.

In terms of the broad electorate, I’m not sure he really has a relationship. A president only gets a year or two to forge real bonds with the American people. In that time a crucial thing he must establish is that what is on his mind is what is on their mind. This is especially true during a crisis.

From the day Mr. Obama was sworn in, what was on the mind of the American people was financial calamity—unemployment, declining home values, foreclosures. These issues came within a context of some overarching questions: Can America survive its spending, its taxing, its regulating, is America over, can we turn it around?

That’s what the American people were thinking about.

But the new president wasn’t thinking about that. All the books written about the creation of economic policy within his administration make clear the president and his aides didn’t know it was so bad, didn’t understand the depth of the crisis, didn’t have a sense of how long it would last. They didn’t have their mind on what the American people had their mind on.

The president had his mind on health care. And, to be fair-minded, health care was part of the economic story. But only a part! And not the most urgent part. Not the most frightening, distressing, immediate part. Not the “Is America over?” part.

And so the relationship the president wanted never really knitted together. Health care was like the birth-control mandate: It came from his hermetically sealed inner circle, which operates with what seems an almost entirely abstract sense of America. They know Chicago, the machine, the ethnic realities. They know Democratic Party politics. They know the books they’ve read, largely written by people like them—bright, credentialed, intellectually cloistered. But there always seems a lack of lived experience among them, which is why they were so surprised by the town hall uprisings of August 2009 and the 2010 midterm elections.

If you jumped into a time machine to the day after the election, in November, 2012, and saw a headline saying “Obama Loses,” do you imagine that would be followed by widespread sadness, pain and a rending of garments? You do not. Even his own supporters will not be that sad. It’s hard to imagine people running around in 2014 saying, “If only Obama were president!” Including Mr. Obama, who is said by all who know him to be deeply competitive, but who doesn’t seem to like his job that much. As a former president he’d be quiet, detached, aloof. He’d make speeches and write a memoir laced with a certain high-toned bitterness. It was the Republicans’ fault. They didn’t want to work with him.

He will likely not see even then that an American president has to make the other side work with him. You think Tip O’Neill liked Ronald Reagan? You think he wanted to give him the gift of compromise? He was a mean, tough partisan who went to work every day to defeat Ronald Reagan. But forced by facts and numbers to deal, he dealt. So did Reagan.

An American president has to make cooperation happen.

But we’ve strayed from the point. Mr. Obama has a largely nonexistent relationship with many, and a worsening relationship with some.

Really, he cannot win the coming election. But the Republicans, still, can lose it. At this point in the column we usually sigh.

 

When is a war not a war? Yemen!

Editor’s Note – When is a war not a war? Nine years of pounding Yemen apparently does not constitute a war. Whether it began as a by-product of the “War On Terror” or the renamed Obama version: “Overseas Contingency Operation”, its still warfare. The armed forces of the USA and our covert CIA have been quite busy under the Obama watch.

How does this jive with the rhetoric prior to Obama taking the helm in 2009? Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan… but NOT Syria…? Assassinations, targeted drone strikes, heavy gunships, naval launches…

Arab spring brings steep rise in US attacks in Yemen

by 

Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Covert US strikes against alleged militants in Yemen have risen steeply during the Arab spring, and are currently at the same level as the CIA’s controversial drone campaign in Pakistan, a new study by the Bureau reveals.

At least 26 US military and CIA strikes involving cruise missiles, aircraft, drones or naval bombardments have taken place in the volatile Gulf nation to date, killing hundreds of alleged militants linked to the regional al Qaeda franchise. But at least 54 civilians have died too, the study found.

In the latest attack, US drones struck three areas of the rebel-held city of Zinjibar on March 22, killing up to 30 al Qaeda-linked militants, according to Yemen intelligence officials. Naval vessels – possibly American – also bombarded the city.

The missile strike ‘targeted vehicles and bases of the al Qaeda group. A lot of people were apparently killed and their vehicles were completely destroyed at the scene’, eyewitnesses told news agency Xinhua.

At least five US attacks – some involving multiple targets – have so far taken place in Yemen this month alone, in support of a government offensive to drive militants from key locations. In comparison, Pakistan’s tribal areas, the epicentre of the CIA’s controversial drone war, have seen just three US drone strikes in March.

The recent surge in attacks appears linked to the appointment of the new president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. In his inauguration speech he called for ‘the continuation of war against al-Qaida as a religious and national duty.’

Despite multiple confirmed reports of American military action in Yemen, the US rarely acknowledges its secret war. A State Department spokesperson, speaking on background terms, would this week say only: ‘I refer you to the Government of Yemen for additional information on its counterterrorism efforts.’

Hundreds killed
A detailed examination of US military activity in Yemen over nine years reveals that most attacks – as many as 35 – have taken place after May 2011, as Arab spring-related protests gripped the country.

Total US attacks 26 – 44 (some multiple) with up to 34 since May 2011
Total killed 275 – 516
Civilians reported killed 54-104

All but one of the strikes have taken place under President Obama, who has taken a personal interest in the Yemen campaign. By the time he came to office al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) had grown to become, in his words, ‘a network of violence and terror’ that had attracted a number of US citizens to its cause, including radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

AQAP even began publishing online propaganda magazines in English, and was behind a number of attempted terrorist attacks against the US, the UK and their allies.

With the CIA heavily engaged in Iraq and Pakistan, the job of crushing AQAP was handed to the Pentagon’s elite Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) – the same unit that had captured Saddam Hussein and would later kill Osama bin Laden.

But from the start, JSOC’s operations were mired in controversy.

Acting on intelligence that an AQAP meeting was taking place in the southern Yemen desert on December 17 2009, JSOC launched at least one cruise missile loaded with cluster bombs at the gathering. A Yemen parliamentary commission later found that 14 alleged militants died in the attack. But so too did 44 civilians.

The massacre the United States won’t admit or deny

A copy of the commission report obtained by the Bureau identifies by name all of the civilians killed, which include five pregnant women and 22 children, the youngest just a year old. Eight families were effectively wiped out, the commission found, although it did not attribute blame to either US or Yemen forces.

A secret massacre
Two years on, the US will neither confirm or deny whether any investigation into those deaths has taken place, or if any compensation has been paid to the families of victims. The Pentagon, Centcom, the State Department and US Senate Armed Services Committee all declined to comment on the matter this week.

A spokesman for Sheikh Himir Al-Ahmar, the commission’s chairman and now Yemen’s deputy speaker, told the Bureau: ‘The families of the victims were indeed paid appropriate compensation by the Yemeni Government (according to the standard of compensations given out to victims in Yemen). The American authorities did not get involved in this process in any way.’

In contrast, affected families of a killing spree carried out by a US soldier in Afghanistan recently received $50,000 (£31,500) for each victim.

The US refusal to acknowledge the attack is undermined by a secret diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks revealing that then-Centcom chief General David Petraeus – now director of the CIA – and Yemen’s president and prime minister at the time, Ali Abdullah Saleh had sought to hide the US’s role in the incident.

According to the secret cable, ‘[President] Saleh lamented the use of cruise missiles that are “not very accurate” and welcomed the use of aircraft-deployed precision-guided bombs instead. “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours,” Saleh said, prompting Deputy Prime Minister Alimi to joke that he had just “lied” by telling Parliament that the bombs in Arhab, Abyan, and Shebwa were American-made but deployed by the ROYG.’

Amnesty International, which carried out its own investigation into the December 2009 attack, said this week that the US failure to investigate credible reports of civilian deaths was troubling.

‘With an increase in such operations in places like Yemen, unless one gets to the bottom of who was killed, why, and what precautions were taken to protect civilians, then there is a risk such mistakes will be repeated in the future,’ said Philip Luther, director of Amnesty’s Middle East programme.

There have been other Pentagon errors too. When its elite Special Forces hit a supposed militant convoy in May 2010, they instead killed the region’s popular deputy governor, Jaber al-Shabwani. That error led to a year-long pause in US attacks, after local tribes strongly protested.

It took the chaos of the Arab Spring to see the US return to the offensive. As Yemen’s people revolted against President Saleh and his cronies, JSOC and CIA drones took to the skies, supplemented by US naval and air assets. President Obama has been fighting an almost unreported war in Yemen ever since.

Yemen’s ramshackle air force
At least 20 US strikes have taken place in Yemen since May 2011, the Bureau understands. The actual number may be as high as 34. But reports are often confused, with the US and Yemen governments unwilling to clarify events.

There are also claims that the Yemen Air Force carries out some precision strikes. Yet an investigation of its capabilities reveals it to be a ramshackle, low-tech outfit, wracked by the recent political unrest.

‘Barely functional’ – why US is likely to be behind Yemen’s precision strikes

Alan Warnes, chief correspondent at defence publication AirForces Monthly, says Yemen’s air force is incapable of precision or night-time attacks: ‘The only aircraft they have capable of night flying would be quite antiquated fighters. I think it’s the Americans who are doing it rather than the Yemenis.’

Recent close co-operation between the CIA and JSOC does appear to be paying off. Some two dozen named Al Qaeda militants and their associates have died since last spring, with the group under almost constant attack. Civilian deaths are also now reportedly rare – although there have been further errors.

Obama’s greatest success in Yemen came on September 30 last year, when two US citizens were among four high-value militants killed. Anwar al Awlaki, the radical preacher, died with Samir Khan, editor of AQAP’s English-language propaganda magazine Inspire.

Days later a follow-up attack killed other militants – but also Awlaki’s 16-year-old son and 17-year-old nephew. AQAP’s ability to speak to an English-language audience was apparently destroyed, possibly terminally. Yet these deaths of American citizens continue to generate significant controversy in the US.

"Hoodies" – Cong. Rush escorted off House floor

Editor’s Note – It is becoming very clear that the race-divide is being fanned into flames once again. It is troubling when an ex-Black Panther member, who was himself convicted in 1972 of weapons violations and subsequently became a United States Representative from a Chicago neighborhood has to be escorted off the floor of the House for violating rules of decorum.

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) on Wednesday morning was asked to leave the House floor after removing his suit jacket to reveal a “hoodie,” then putting the hood on his head to protest the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida.

“Racial profiling has to stop,” Rush said. “Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum.” Rush also put on sunglasses.

The Illinois Democrat quoted the Bible while presiding officer Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) repeatedly interrupted him, then asked the sergeant at arms to enforce the House prohibition on hats in the chamber.

“The chair must remind members that clause 5 of rule 17 prohibits the wearing of hats in the chamber when the House is in session,” Harper said after Rush left.

“The chair finds that the donning of a hood is not consistent with this rule. Members need to remove their hoods or leave the floor.”

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus have taken to the House floor for the last week to call for the arrest of George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old Neighborhood Watch patrolman who allegedly shot Martin last month in Florida.

While these calls have escalated, Florida police have said some witnesses saw Martin beat Zimmerman before the shooting, and Zimmerman’s lawyers have said he acted in self-defense.

Zimmerman said he shot Martin after the teen punched him in the nose and smashed his head into the pavement — an account corroborated by witnesses, according to reports citing local authorities.

Zimmerman’s gun was confiscated, but he was not arrested. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law permits deadly force in some cases of self-defense. (From The Hill)

1968 - Bobby Rush, Black Panther Member

However, the facts are not completely known, yet race trumps facts, and people like Congressman Rush are fanning the flames.

Then there are the other New Black Panther episodes that are fresh in our minds, yet the US Department of Justice, and its head, Eric Holder do nothing to enforce laws already on the books, like intimidating voters at a polling place and incited and calling for kidnapping. Both, severe felonies.

What a sad state of affairs.

Chirp, chirp, chirp…

Below are two videos of the way the Black Panthers are fanning the flames now, and in 2010 where they were brandishing weapons at a polling site in Philadelphia.

Holder let’s Black Panthers skate…again Fox News

J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Department Attorney, talked to Brian Kilmeade on Fox & Friends this morning about why he felt the New Black Panther party were being ignored by Attorney General Eric Holder, despite their illegal threat to ‘capture’ Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman.

Adams argues that the Justice Department needs to focus on them because “You cannot solicit kidnapping in the State of Florida, it’s a felony.”

“The new Black Panthers think they are above the law” and Adams attributes this thinking to Eric Holder’s Department of Justice.

This is not the first time the New Black Panther party have gotten a pass from the Attorney General after a voter intimidation case (see video below) was dropped.

Published June 30, 2008 | FoxNews.com

A former Justice Department attorney who quit his job to protest the Obama administration’s handling of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case is accusing Attorney General Eric Holder of dropping the charges for racially motivated reasons.

J. Christian Adams, now an attorney in Virginia and a conservative blogger for Pajamas Media, says he and the other Justice Department lawyers working on the case were ordered to dismiss it.

“I mean we were told, ‘Drop the charges against the New Black Panther Party,'” Adams told Fox News, adding that political appointees Loretta King, acting head of the civil rights division, and Steve Rosenbaum, an attorney with the division since 2003, ordered the dismissal.

Peace Through Nuclear Strength – Adm. Monroe

Editor’s Note – In light of the recent revelation of Obama getting caught on an open microphone telling Russian President Medvedev: “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility,” we must be very weary of anything regarding missile defense and nuclear test treaties involving Obama.

It is clear to many in America that Obama has designs that whittle away our defenses to a point that emasculates us on the world stage.

Obama’s faux pas was not a mis-statement to Medvedev, it was that he got caught saying it. He meant what he said and that does not bode well for a strong America. Few trust this President anymore, save those who blindly follow, because his words to us are hollow, but he speaks volumes to our quasi-enemies, and bows to Emirs in earnest.

Trust is not a strong suit for this non-leader.

Signing Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is still a bad idea

By Vice Adm. Robert R. Monroe, The Washington Times

On March 30, a National Academy of Sciences committee will release a report with implications for the Obama administration’s hopes to gain Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Ratification was roundly defeated by the Senate in 1999, and the strong arguments that prevented ratification then still apply, augmented by new ones. No report can change the fact that ratification of the CTBT is not in the United States’ interests.

First, ratification of the CTBT would not help prevent proliferation. U.S. testing has never contributed to a single case of proliferation, nor will it in the future. Belligerent, irresponsible states acquire nuclear weapons to serve their aggressive ends. This stimulates neighboring states to acquire nuclear weapons in response. Today, because of our failure to stop Iran and North Korea, proliferation threatens to become a cascade. But U.S. testing has nothing to do with it. Little proliferation occurred during the four decades of U.S. testing. Much more has occurred during the past 20 years, during which the U.S. has not tested.

In fact, ratification would stimulate proliferation. Adversaries and rogue states would see our restraint as weakness and accelerate their acquisition of nuclear weapons. The many allies who depend on our “nuclear umbrella” would recognize our weakness and go nuclear themselves. Other nations, seeing that America’s nuclear guardianship had lapsed, would proliferate in self-defense. U.S. ratification brings no benefits to the world.

Nor would ratification be a step toward “a world without nuclear weapons.” This noble objective is unachievable. Nuclear weapons technology is known throughout the world, and global growth of nuclear power makes fissile material available. If large, responsible states did not have effective nuclear weapons for deterrence, the world would descend into nuclear horror and chaos – at the mercy of every aggressor, rogue nation, failed or failing state, fanatic, proxy, terrorist, criminal, extortionist or disaffected individual.

Second, ratification would seriously undermine our national security. Nuclear deterrence is the cornerstone that keeps us safe in a highly dangerous world. However, our existing nuclear weapons – designed for a totally different threat – are virtually irrelevant in deterring today’s principal adversaries. More states have nuclear weapons than ever before, and each of them – except the U.S. – is modernizing, with Russia and China in the lead. Fourth-generation weapons are being developed. Rogue states and terrorists urgently seek nuclear weapons. U.S. nuclear testing is required to develop new-design weapons to deter these new threats. New weapons (for example, those with high security, low-yield, earth-penetrating capability; ability to neutralize biological and chemical agents; and reduced residual radiation) are needed urgently to regain a credible deterrent – one that our adversaries know we have the capability and the will to use. CTBT ratification would deny this.

Our existing nuclear weapons – overage and deteriorating – also will soon require testing. They must carry us safely through the decades it will take to produce our new stockpile. At any moment, we may discover a critical fault disabling many hundreds of weapons. Most critically, our experienced human resources are virtually gone. Nuclear testing is essential in training replacement scientists, designers and engineers.

Ratification also would seriously undermine American science. Mankind’s advances have, for centuries, been the result of employing the “scientific method.” Testing is its central element. Many new technologies and approaches must be tested to see if they can solve the fresh challenges we face. The CTBT would not allow this. America’s future security depends upon our nuclear technology being superior to that of anyone else in the world. Our scientists must not be denied use of the scientific method.

Third, the treaty itself is fatally defective in critical areas. The CTBT bans nuclear tests, but it does not define them. Each signatory is free to create its own definition. Our U.S. definition is “zero-yield,” denying all testing. Other nations are free to adopt definitions allowing them to test new nuclear weapons. Ratification would put the U.S. at an immense disadvantage in a field where we must be No. 1.

The treaty is unverifiable. Low-yield tests, decoupled tests, contained tests and tests hidden in seismic activity enable other nations to gain a huge advantage over us in nuclear technology and weapons. This cannot be permitted.

Ratification would be a hopeless “feel-good” gesture, carrying a huge penalty. The CTBT can never enter into force. This requires North KoreaIran, Pakistan, India, Israel, Egypt, China and the U.S. to ratify it. Each of these states has powerful reasons for not ratifying, and very few would be swayed by U.S. action. Our ratification, however, would carry an immense penalty for us. If we ratified the CTBT, we would be bound by international law to observe its provisions, decade after decade, even though it had not entered into force. This does not apply today.

In summary, the national security costs of CTBT ratification are immense, while the nonproliferation benefits are illusory.

Retired Vice Adm. Robert R. Monroe was director of the Defense Nuclear Agency.

The Sun Also Sets – Mark Steyn

By Mark Steyn

National Review Online

I was in Australia earlier this month and there, as elsewhere on my recent travels, the consensus among the politicians I met (at least in private) was that Washington lacked the will for meaningful course correction, and that, therefore, the trick was to ensure that, when the behemoth goes over the cliff, you’re not dragged down with it. It is faintly surreal to be sitting in paneled offices lined by formal portraits listening to eminent persons who assume the collapse of the dominant global power is a fait accompli. “I don’t feel America is quite a First World country anymore,” a robustly pro-American Aussie told me, with a sigh of regret.

Well, what does some rinky-dink ’roo-infested didgeridoo mill on the other side of the planet know about anything? Fair enough. But Australia was the only major Western nation not to go into recession after 2008. And in the last decade the U.S. dollar has fallen by half against the Oz buck: That’s to say, in 2002, one greenback bought you a buck-ninety Down Under; now it buys you 95 cents. More of that a bit later.

I have now returned from Oz to the Emerald City, where everything is built with borrowed green. President Obama has run up more debt in three years than President Bush did in eight, and he plans to run up more still — from ten trillion in 2008 to fifteen and a half trillion now to 20 trillion and beyond. Onward and upward! The president doesn’t see this as a problem, nor do his party, and nor do at least fortysomething percent of the American people. The Democrats’ plan is to have no plan, and their budget is not to budget at all. “We don’t need to bring a budget,” said Harry Reid. Why tie yourself down? “We’re not coming before you to say we have a definitive solution,” the treasury secretary told House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan. “What we do know is we don’t like yours.”

Nor do some of Ryan’s fellow conservatives. Texas congressman Louie Gohmert, for whom I have a high regard, was among those representatives who appeared at the Heritage Foundation to express misgivings regarding the Ryan plan’s timidity. They’re not wrong on that: The alleged terrorizer of widows and orphans does not propose to balance the budget of the government of the United States until the year 2040. That would be 27 years after Congressman Ryan’s current term of office expires. Who knows what could throw a wrench in those numbers? Suppose Beijing decides to seize Taiwan. The U.S. is obligated to defend it militarily. But U.S. taxpayers would be funding both sides of the war — the home team, via the Pentagon budget, and the Chinese military, through the interest payments on the debt. (We’ll be bankrolling the entire People’s Liberation Army by some point this decade.) A Beijing–Taipei conflict would be, in budget terms, a U.S. civil war relocated to the Straits of Taiwan. Which is why plans for mid-century are of limited value. When the most notorious extreme callous budget-slasher of the age cannot foresee the government living within its means within the next three decades, you begin to appreciate why foreign observers doubt whether there’ll be a 2040, not for anything recognizable as “the United States.”

Yet it’s widely agreed that Ryan’s plan is about as far as you can push it while retaining minimal political viability. A second-term Obama would roar full throttle to the cliff edge, while a President Romney would be unlikely to do much more than ease off to third gear. At this point, it’s traditional for pundits to warn that if we don’t change course we’re going to wind up like Greece. Presumably they mean that, right now, our national debt, which crossed the Rubicon of 100 percent of GDP just before Christmas, is not as bad as that of Athens, although it’s worse than Britain, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, and every other European nation except Portugal, Ireland, and Italy. Or perhaps they mean that America’s current deficit-to-GDP ratio is not quite as bad as Greece’s, although it’s worse than that of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and every other European nation except Ireland.

But these comparisons tend to understate the insolvency of America, failing as they do to take into account state and municipal debts and public pension liabilities. When Morgan Stanley ran those numbers in 2009, the debt-to-revenue ratio in Greece was 312 percent; in the United States it was 358 percent. If Greece has been knocking back the ouzo, we’re face down in the vat. Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute calculates that, if you take into account unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare versus their European equivalents, Greece owes 875 percent of GDP; the United States owes 911 percent — or getting on for twice as much as the second-most-insolvent Continental: France at 549 percent.

And if you’re thinking, Wow, all these percentages are making my head hurt, forget ’em: When you’re spending on the scale Washington does, what matters is the hard dollar numbers. Greece’s total debt is a few rinky-dink billions, a rounding error in the average Obama budget. Only America is spending trillions. The 2011 budget deficit, for example, is about the size of the entire Russian economy. By 2010, the Obama administration was issuing about a hundred billion dollars of treasury bonds every month — or, to put it another way, Washington is dependent on the bond markets being willing to absorb an increase of U.S. debt equivalent to the GDP of Canada or India — every year. And those numbers don’t take into account the huge levels of personal debt run up by Americans. College-debt alone is over a trillion dollars, or the equivalent of the entire South Korean economy — tied up just in one small boutique niche market of debt which barely exists in most other developed nations.

“We are headed for the most predictable economic crisis in history,” says Paul Ryan. And he’s right. But precisely because it’s so predictable the political class has already discounted it. Which is why a plan for pie now and spinach later, maybe even two decades later, is the only real menu on the table. There’s a famous exchange in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Someone asks Mike Campbell, “How did you go bankrupt?” “Two ways,” he replies. “Gradually, then suddenly.” We’ve been going through the gradual phase so long, we’re kinda used to it. But it’s coming to an end, and what happens next will be the second way: sudden, and very bad.

By the way, that decline in the U.S./Australian exchange isn’t the only one. Ten years ago the U.S. dollar was worth 1.6 Canadian; now it’s at par. A decade ago, the dollar was worth over ten Swedish Kroner, now 6.7; 1.8 Singapore dollars, now 1.2. I get asked with distressing frequency by Americans where I would recommend fleeing to. The reality is, given the dollar’s decline over the last decade, that most Americans can no longer afford to flee to any place worth fleeing to. What’s left is the non-flee option: taking a stand here, stopping the spendaholism, closing federal agencies, privatizing departments, block-granting to the states — not in 2040, but now. “Suddenly” is about to show up.

— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. © 2012 Mark Steyn