'Tis Only My Opinion!

August 1999 - Volume 19, Number 8

Twas Pilot Error!

and other Observations.

The Dream of Camelot was revisited by the liberal press via the tragedy of JFK, Jr.

Camelot existed only in the minds of those who failed to see the mistakes JFK made during his three years in office. My long-time readers know the truth about Camelot. Camelot was a fiction. The JFK administration was nearly as lawless as the Clinton administration.

If ever there was an event that showed the bias of the media, it happened last month. From the moment that JFK, Jr.'s plane was discovered missing until after the memorial services were shown, analyzed, and commented ad nauseam, the bias of the Press was clearly on view!

An accident waiting to happen!

The death of any pilot and their passengers is a tragedy but in so many cases, it is due simply to their belief that they can somehow make it through to their destination.

A relatively low-time pilot transitioning from a relatively simple, medium performance, high-wing Cessna Skylane to a complex, low-wing, high-performance Piper Saratoga and flying in haze at night over water in an airplane for the first time without an instructor aboard is a recipe for disaster.

The odds are that this non-instrument-rated pilot simply became spatially disoriented and lost control of his "slick" airplane. Whether he was capable of using the autopilot to land the plane is unknown but once control is lost, the autopilot won't recover the airplane. The fact that most of the airframe was discovered in a small area about the size of a football field indicates that the plane was most likely in a "death spiral."

A media frenzy!

According to the media, this airplane crash was the only news worthy of their attention for over a week. This was more attention than the media gave JFK upon his assassination. Ludicrous . . . an accident involving the son of a President merits more air-time and newspaper and magazine print than his father's assassination. Makes you wonder.

In this democratic republic, the media labeled him "the people's prince" and often stated that the family of Joe Kennedy, ex bootlegger, stock manipulator par excellence and admirer of Adolf Hitler, was our political royalty. Perhaps, they have been in the Northeast too long! I sincerely doubt if the rest of the country has the same image.

So what did important news did you miss?

First, the confrontation between the IRS and the Western Journalism Center.

One of the articles calling for the impeachment of President Nixon concerned using the IRS for harassment of taxpayers. The Clinton White House has targeted many conservative groups for IRS audits but to date, no wide spread media and/or Congressional outcry has been heard.

From the editorial in the July 26, 1999 Investors Business Daily.

A lot of smoke surrounds whether the Clinton administration used the Internal Revenue Service to target political foes -as in smoke screen. The IRS' latest move confirms what we've been saying all along - it has a lot to hide.

The Landmark Legal Foundation's battle for information about politically motivated audits from the IRS has taken a predictable turn.

The IRS is still not talking.

The foundation is seeking papers about third-party requests for audits of conservative nonprofit groups through the Freedom of Information Act. It filed its first FOIA request in January 1997. It still doesn't have the documents.

The latest reasons the IRS has given for failing to produce the papers? Some documents have been lost - 114 of 1,586 to be precise. We wonder if they'll turn up in the White House some two years from now, a la Hillary's billing records.

And anyone who sicced the IRS on conservative groups has ''an expectation of privacy.'' That includes political operatives, members of Congress and their staffs, and possibly the White House itself.

It's true FOIA has a privacy exception. But it only applies to documents such as tax return information, medical records, personnel files and passports.

The IRS claims that revealing the names of third parties who requested audits could reveal some tax return information about the targets of the audits.

Giving the lie to that reasoning, though, is that none of the 20 or so groups that were audited has complained about tax-return privacy, or moved to stop Landmark's suit. Nor does Landmark want the IRS to tell it the specific groups that were audited, much less look at their tax returns.

As we've reported before, based on Landmark's work, a senior IRS official detailed at a regional conference some ways to hide who asked for the audits - particularly congressional offices. The same official also acknowledged that some third-party audit requests were shredded.

The IRS has thrown up every roadblock possible. And the judge in the case seems to have been dragging his feet. A meeting Aug. 6 on the status of the case with the judge may break the logjam.

But don't look for it. The IRS looks like it has a lot to hide. So its legal chicanery continues.

Stall, deny, obfuscate, stonewall . . . the Clinton Administration in action!

Second, the continued new lows in the corn and soybean markets could cause between 20 and 30% of all farmers in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana and Ohio to go bankrupt this fall.

Cash corn dropped to 24 year lows and cash soybeans to 30 year lows as traders continued to drive prices lower. At prices under $1.50 per bushel for corn and $4.00 per bushel for soybeans, farmers based upon normal yields stand to lose $1.00 per bushel on corn and $1.50 per bushel on soybeans for every bushel they harvest. One banker in Nebraska stated that he fully expects to have to foreclose on about 40% of his farm loans this fall. Now that is a disaster waiting to happen. The ripple effect of this loss will devastate the rural Midwest.

Most Americans don't know and probably don't care that the corn flakes box costs more than the farmer gets for the corn in the box. But at these prices, they sure have the lowest cost food in the world and the farmers are going broke.

Third, the fact that the Kosovo mess is still not solved.

From the New York Times, July 27, 1999

Kosovo's Incomplete Peace

The ambush murder of 14 Serbian farmers in the Kosovo village of Gracko last week is a grim sign that six and a half weeks after the first NATO soldiers began entering the province, basic security has not yet been established. With the international peacekeeping force now nearing full strength, NATO's first order of business must be creating a climate of civil peace.

That will not be easy. Serbia's stranglehold has ended, leaving the province without police or civil administration. The temporary United Nations trusteeship that will replace Serbian rule, including more than 3,000 armed international police, is just gearing up. For now that leaves NATO's 35,000 troops in charge of everything from controlling road traffic to protecting civilians.

Fear is most intense among Kosovo's Serbs. Close to half of the 200,000 Serbs present at the end of the war have now fled to Serbia. But armed thugs have been attacking Kosovar Albanians and Gypsies as well. Some of the violence may be coming from rogue elements of the Kosovo Liberation Army. Top K.L.A. leaders, who have pledged to cooperate with NATO, now have a responsibility to try to curb any members carrying out such attacks.

Nearly 200 murders have been reported in Kosovo during the last six weeks, and the number of ethnic Albanian victims nearly equals the number of Serbian ones. Scores of Gypsies have also been killed and hundreds burned out of their homes in apparent retaliation for Gypsy collaboration in the mass expulsion of ethnic Albanians last spring.

The international community cannot tolerate such violence. While murder, arson and looting have been declining since early July, all are still at unacceptably high levels. NATO forces must move more aggressively to protect Serbs and Gypsies as well as ethnic Albanians.

The first American soldiers killed in Kosovo were brought home. The peace keepers continued to dig up graves which appear to contain evidence of Serb atrocities. But the KLA with the protection of the peace keepers continue to shoot Serbs. NATO admits that during the intense bombardment of Kosovo, they managed to destroy three (3) Serb tanks. Great shooting! Also, the cost to rebuild the infrastructure of Kosovo and the region will probably exceed $30 billion not including the loss from the destruction of the Yugoslav's productive capacity until it is rebuilt perhaps something on the order of another $80 billion. And the cost to re-equip NATO and US weapons will add another $10-$20 billion to the cost of this Clinton escapade to smother the Cox report. What a fiasco!

As American units are rotated back, members of the Air Force and Army are getting out in record numbers. Part of the reason is just fatigue and some are refusing to take the Anthrax vaccine. Pilots in the National Guard and Reserve units are refusing to take the shots. Thirty five persons who have taken the anthrax shots at Dover Air Force Base have come down with unexplained illnesses, according to the Army Times. As a result, many of these units are at less than 50% strength. Many military commanders privately doubt if the US can fight a one front war successfully in the next 18 months.

Fourth, the rhetoric between the Taiwanese and mainland China is heating up and could lead to a military confrontation before September.

President Lee Teng-hui of Taiwan recently made a speech in which it appeared that he was calling for independence for Taiwan. As expected, the Chinese hierarchy immediately began rattling sabers and moving troops towards the coast. An article in the South China Morning Post brought the dispute into focus.

The South China Morning Post
Tuesday, July 27, 1999
Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan warned the world yesterday against interfering in China's stormy affairs with Taiwan.

He also stressed any move towards separatism or foreign forces seeking independence for Taiwan would provoke war.

Mr. Tang's comments came during high-level international security talks in Singapore.

He warned the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Regional Forum that the Taiwan question was purely an internal matter for China.

"If there occurs any action for Taiwan independence and any attempt by foreign forces to separate Taiwan from the motherland, the Chinese Government and people will not sit back and do nothing," he said at the talks attended by the United States, Russia, South Korea, Japan, the European Union and all 10 Asean nations.

"Prosperity and development are associated with unity, while war and conflict come with separation," Mr. Tang said, quoting a proverb.

"China's territory and sovereignty are indivisible and brook no violation," he said.

His warning to overseas nations to avoid involvement succeeded in derailing any serious debate during the talks on current tensions in the Taiwan Strait stirred by Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui's new statehood claims.

In opening remarks to the forum, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright did not mention Taiwan, but said: "America's relationship with China is a key to the Asia-Pacific's future.

"My Government is strongly committed to its policy of purposeful engagement with China."

Beijing has stepped up its "psychological warfare" against Taiwan to force Mr. Lee to back off.

In the last five days, the war of words has heated up dramatically. If China does decide to play the military card, one must seriously worry about the U.S. response. In fact as our carriers are not in the Pacific at this time, it is doubtful if we could even do anything.

Fifth, the passage of a tax reduction bill in the House that is sure to be vetoed by the President.

The Republican controlled House passed the largest tax cut in history (so they say) including a 10% across the board income tax cut, a reduction in capital gains taxes and the elimination of estate taxes. The White House is saying that it will veto the bill. Their primary arguments seem to be

  • we can spend the money more wisely than the taxpayers

  • the poor don't benefit (but they also don't pay taxes)

  • we must save social security and Medicare and pay down the debt

  • plus we have all these new domestic programs that need funding.

The fact that none of these cuts start until 2003 seems to have gained scant notice. And since when can any Congress hold the feet of another Congress to the fire. Let's see, perhaps, if we pass a tax bill that begins in 2007 and calculate the savings for the next century, we could have a several trillion tax reduction bill to trumpet to the unsuspecting and gullible American voters. Believe me, it is just smoke and mirrors!

Sixth, the sharing of donor lists between the Public Broadcasting stations and both political parties but primarily the Democratic party.

The charter of the Public Broadcasting System clearly prohibits the sharing of donor lists with any outside organization. But upon the appointment of Diane Blair, an old friend of President Clinton, to the PBS Board, access to the lists by primarily Democratic party groups became common place. It is true that a few Republican groups also got access to the lists. Upon exposure of this serious infraction, Ms. Blair issued "mea culpa's" galore and the PBS Board stated that henceforth the lists would not be shared. Another case of closing the barn door after the horse had gotten out. But, of course, no one resigned or will be prosecuted. After all, it was only illegal.

Seventh, the resurgence of the military in Russia.

NATO's foray into Kosovo has enabled the military to gain political strength in Russia. Funding for new weapon systems and modernization of its missile force have raised the resolve of the Russian military. The struggle to gain power upon Yeltsin's step-down or removal from office has pitted the military against both hard-line communists and the Russian Mafia. The military is forging new alliances with the Balkans and well as the Chinese government. India and Pakistan are both being courted in a new attempt to draw those feuding nations into the Russian orbit. Stay tuned.

Eighth, Greenspan believes the economy is still plagued by inflation.

In his testimony before Congress, Fed Chairman Greenspan indicated that the Fed might increase interest rates to keep inflation under control. Well, I got news for him, the problem is not inflation . . . but deflation!

But since he is not a student of history, a common fault of politicians and economists, he can not read the tea leaves. It is a new ball game. One very astute investor recently decided to buy zero-coupon U.S. Bonds because he believes that deflation is here and he expects to see a 3% prime rate within 24 months. As he said, just look at commodity prices, the balance of payments and the lack of manufacturing capability, it does not take much more to tip the scales.

Ninth, the North Koreans are about to test another missile.

The North Koreans have upped the ante in their quest to avoid a economic collapse and to focus their population's anger away from the threat of starvation. From the BBC news of July 27, 1999,

North Korea's decision to launch a missile was not entirely unexpected.

In the past few days, the United States has even moved sophisticated ballistic missile tracking equipment into Japan.

The test also comes just a few weeks after Pyongyang said it would continue to develop, test and export ballistic missiles - its first official admission of a hitherto clandestine trade. But if this really was a maiden test of the Taepo-dong 1 missile, then alarm bells will be ringing around the region.

More advanced technology

The Taepo-dong is a more advanced version of the Rodong 1 missile which was first tested in 1993. That test caused huge alarm because it demonstrated that not only South Korea, but also parts of Japan, were easily within the missile's range of at least 1,000km. South Korean officials and independent defence analysts say the range of the Taepo-dong could be up to twice as long, putting the whole of Japan within its range. Diplomatically, the missile appears to be aimed squarely at the United States, which has imposed a near total economic embargo on North Korea.

Officials from Pyongyang are currently holding talks in New York on the agreement to freeze the North's nuclear programme in exchange for two new reactors to be built and fuelled by the United States, South Korea, Japan and the European Union.

That agreement has run into trouble, partly because of concern about North Korea's missile exports. Pyongyang has accused Washington of reneging on the deal.

Raising the stakes

So the missile test could be an attempt by the North to raise the diplomatic stakes. Pyongyang knows full well that advertising its missile programme to the international market in this way will place enormous psychological pressure on Washington, which is agitated about the proliferation of ballistic missile technology to countries such as Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq and Syria.

There is also a clear internal logic behind the latest test.

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-il probably calculates that a display of military might will boost his prestige as North Korea prepares for the 50th anniversary of its founding. The North Korean state enters its second half century in a state of isolation and impoverishment, its population suffering from chronic food shortages.

The missile test is a reminder that its leadership remains intent on manipulating international fears to try to wring concessions
that might rescue it from total collapse.

These are just some of the more important stories that the entertainment news forgot to mention to you.

The tragedy that befell the People's Prince and his wife and sister-in-law won't affect our nation nearly as much as any of these nine news stories in the year to come.

But then - 'Tis Only My Opinion!

Fred Richards
August 1999

This issue of 'Tis Only My Opinion was copyrighted by Adrich Corporation in August 1999.

It is intended to provoke thinking, then dialogue among its readers. Quotation with attribution is encouraged.


Tis.gif 'Tis Only My Opinion Archive Menu

Last updated - July 3, 2008