Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas From The Audacity of Logic

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Artwork By Kitty Sivertson
Hilton Head, SC

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's Never Enough, Is It?

Obama has nationalized the banks, health care and student loans, but that's not enough. Now he wants to take over the Internet. What arrogance. The government can't even run a post office and they want to regulate the net??? What's wrong with this picture? These bozos obviously don't even understand the fundamental business concept of, "If it aint broke, don't fix it!"


FCC Approves Plan to Regulate Internet

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday approved a plan to regulate the Internet despite warnings that it could strangle industry investment and damage an economy that is still struggling to recover.

The 3-2 vote fell along partisan lines with Democrats capitalizing on their numerical advantage.

The rules would prohibit phone and cable companies from abusing their control over broadband connections to discriminate against rival content or services, such as Internet phone calls or online video, or play favorites with Web traffic.

Lawmakers in both parties have been arguing for months that Congress, not the Obama administration, should take the lead role in deciding whether and how much to police the web. But despite a brief backing-off earlier in the year, the FCC has pushed ahead with its new regulatory plan.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski secured the three votes needed for approval, despite firm opposition from the two Republicans on the five-member commission.

Commissioner Robert McDowell, a Bush appointee, said the FCC's plan "appears to some as an obsessive quest to regulate at all costs."

"Some are saying that instead of acting as a cop on the beat, the FCC looks more like a regulatory vigilante," he said.

Genachowski's two fellow Democrats voted for the rules, even though they have said they consider them too weak.

Commissioner Michael Copps said Tuesday that he "seriously" considered voting against the plan.

"But it became ever more clear to me that without some action today the wheels of network neutrality would grind to a screeching halt for at least the next two years," he said.

The outcome caps a nearly 16-month push by Genachowski to pass "network neutrality" rules and marks a key turning point in a policy dispute that began more than five years ago.

Genachowski said he's proud of the process and the results, saying that the plan has drawn a wide range of support from technology and Internet companies to investors to labor, civil rights and consumer groups.

"Our framework has been supported by a number of broadband providers, as well, who recognize the sensible balance of our actions and the value of bringing a level of certainty to this broad issue," he said.

But the move raises concern that the FCC could soon have its regulatory foot in the door of the wild wild West of the Internet -- with an eye toward eventually exerting tighter control over content at a time when sites like WikiLeaks openly snub the government.

Republicans warn that the new rules would impose unnecessary regulations on an industry that is one of the few bright spots in the current economy, with phone and cable companies spending billions to upgrade their networks for broadband.

Burdensome net neutrality rules, they warn, would discourage broadband providers from continuing those upgrades by making it difficult for them to earn a healthy return on their investments.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told President Obama on Tuesday to leave the Internet alone, arguing that his administration has already nationalized health care, banks and student loans.

"That's why I and GOP senators have urged the FCC chairman to back off," he said on the Senate floor.

Republicans, who will control the House and an additional five seats in the Senate in the next Congress, may try to overrule the regulation. Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can strike down a regulation by passing a joint resolution.

A number of big Internet companies, including Netflix Inc., Skype and Amazon.com Inc., have previously expressed reservations about the plan as well.

But the FCC defended the new rules.

"The open Internet is a crucial American marketplace, and I believe that it is appropriate for the FCC to safeguard it by adopting an order that will establish clear rules to protect consumers' access," Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a longtime supporter of net neutrality and author of the first ever net neutrality bill, said the FCC plan is not perfect and does not contain all the protections and priorities that he has advocated.

"Still, it does represent a step forward in the process of preserving the Internet as a vibrant marketplace for commerce and communications while fostering innovation and job creation now and in the future," he said in a statement.

The chairman's proposal builds on an attempt at compromise crafted by outgoing House Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., as well as a set of broad net neutrality principles first established by the FCC under the previous administration in 2005.

The rules would require broadband providers to let subscribers access all legal online content, applications and services over their wired networks -- including online calling services, Internet video and other Web applications that compete with their core businesses.

But the plan would give broadband providers flexibility to manage data on their systems to deal with problems such as network congestion and unwanted traffic like spam as long as they publicly disclose their network management practices.

Senior FCC officials stressed that unreasonable network discrimination would be prohibited.

They also noted that this category would most likely include services that favor traffic from the broadband providers themselves or traffic from business partners that can pay for priority. That language was added to help ease the concerns of Genachowski's two fellow Democrats.

The proposal would, however, leave the door open for broadband providers to experiment with routing traffic from specialized services such as smart grids and home security systems over dedicated networks as long as these services are separate from the public Internet.

Public interest groups fear that exception could lead to a two-tiered Internet -- with a fast lane for companies that can pay for priority and a slow lane for everyone else.

They are also worried that the proposal lacks strong protections for wireless networks as more Americans go online using mobile devices.

The plan would prohibit wireless carriers from blocking access to any websites or competing applications such as Internet calling services on mobile devices. It would require them to disclose their network management practices too.

But wireless companies would get more flexibility to manage data traffic as wireless systems have more bandwidth constraints than wired networks.

"Individuals who depend on wireless connections to the Internet can take no comfort in this half-measure," said Joel Kelsey, political adviser for the public interest group Free Press.

Still, Genachowski's proposal is likely to win the support of the big phone and cable companies because it leaves in place the FCC's current regulatory framework for broadband, which treats broadband as a lightly regulated "information service."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Trusted Traveler Program Sparks Fears That Mexican Drug Cartels Could Bypass U.S. Airport Security

A Global Entry Trusted Traveler Network kiosk awaits arriving international passengers who are registered for the service at the newly-renovated customs clearance area at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)





Mexican citizens will soon be eligible to apply for a "trusted traveler" status that will allow them to bypass some elements of airport security when they fly into the United States — a U.S. government-approved program that critics say could be exploited by violent drug cartels.

Under the program, Mexicans who have undergone background checks and are deemed low security risks will be able to fly into major U.S. cities and breeze through customs without being questioned by U.S. Customs agents.

Meanwhile, back here in the U.S., American citizens are electronically strip searched, or felt up and molested, if they want to fly home for the holidays... go figure.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Bill of Rights

Today we celebrate the 219th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, December 15, and it is imperative that we take a moment to reflect upon and embrace the forethought of our Founding Fathers and apply their wisdom to the context that we live in today. This collection of ten amendments to the United States Constitution are what guarantee the sanctity of our individual rights and freedoms and what in the end sets America apart from any nation before or since.


The Founding Fathers understood that when left to its own devices, government will eagerly trample the individual God given rights of the people and that it was their duty as enlightened leaders to protect at all cost the humanity of law and the freedom of the individual. They declared for people everywhere that a government by the people must not infringe on the basic human rights of man to speak, worship, and assemble with whom they choose, and that ultimate power and authority rests in the hands of the governed not those that would govern.

Be ever vigilant. Freedom is never free.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bureaucracy at its finest.

This was supposedly a real letter sent to the U.S. Passport Office. Even if it wasn't actually a bona fide letter sent to them, it still makes a point.

Dear Mrs. Ms. Or Sir:

I'm in the process of renewing my passport and still cannot believe this.

How is it that Radio Shack has my address and telephone number and knows
that I bought a cable TV from them in 1987 (23 years ago), and yet, the
Federal Government is still asking me where I was born and on what date.

For Christ sakes, do you guys do this by hand? Ever heard of computers?

My birth date you have in my social security file. It's on EVERY income tax
form I've filed for the past 30 years. It's on my Medicare health insurance
card and my driver's license, It's on the last eight damn passports I've
had, It's on every stupid customs declaration form I've had to fill out
before being allowed off the plane for the last 30 years. And it's on all
those census forms that we have to do at election times.

Would somebody please take note, once and for all, that my mother's name is
Maryanne, my father's name is Robert and I'm reasonably confident that
neither name is likely to change between now and when I die.

Between you an' me, I've had enough of this bureaucratic bullshit!

You send the application to my house, then you ask me for my #*&#%*&
address.

What is going on? You must have a gang of bureaucratic Neanderthal morons
working there!

Look at my damn picture. Do I look like Bin Laden? And "No," I don't want
to dig up Yasser Arafat, for shit sakes. I just want to go and park my ass
on a sandy beach. And would someone please tell me, why would you give a
damn whether I plan on visiting a farm in the next 15 days?

If I ever got the urge to do something weird to a chicken or a goat, believe
you me, I'd sure as hell not want to tell anyone!

Well, I have to go now because I have to go to the other end of the city and
get another #*@&#^@*@& copy of my birth certificate to the tune of $100.

Would it be so difficult to have all the services in the same area so
I could get a new passport the same day? Nooooo, that would require planning
and organization. And it would be too logical for the @&^*^%@% government.

You'd rather have us running all over the place like chickens with our
heads cut off. Then, we have to find some asshole to confirm that it's
really me in the damn picture - you know, the one where we're not allowed
to smile........Hey, you know why we can't smile?

We're totally pissed off!

Signed,

An Irate Citizen.

P.S. Remember what I wrote about getting someone to confirm that the
picture is me? Well, my family has been in the United States of America
since 1776. I have served in the military for something over 35 years and
have had security clearances up the ying yang. However, I have to get
someone important to verify who I am - you know, someone like my
doctor........ WHO WAS BORN AND RAISED IN INDIA !

And you assholes want to run our health care system?????

Monday, December 13, 2010

What If Your Loved One Was a Hero and No One Cared?

By Peter Johnson Jr.

In the hopeful advent of Christmas and in the optimistic wake of Hanukkah there is a sad, baleful September song playing in the halls of the U. S. Capitol and it echoes from New York’s Harbor to San Francisco Bay.

It creates a miasma as thick and acrid and wrenching as the toxic fumes, dust and smoke experienced by more than 60,000 first responders and clean up workers at the site of the 9/11 World Trade Center attack.

Some say 1,000 of them have died of disease caused by their exposure and their courage and their trust of our government. The survivors hope that the next X-ray or CAT scan doesn’t bring word of an incurable cancer or lung disease.

Last week Congress told them that they could drop dead.

The United States Senate refused to bring the James Zadroga 911 Health and Compensation Act to the floor for a vote. Some opponents of the bill said that Congress needed to know how it’s 7. 4 billion dollar price tag would be paid for over the next ten years.

I guess they failed to understand that these folks already gave at the office-- a hellish pit of death and desperation where strangers and siblings dug side by side for the remains of firefighters and cops and EMT’s and office workers. That they paid the bill in full with their courage. And are still paying today with their lives.

Shame .Embarrassment. Outrage. Anger. All are proper reactions to the conduct of our Senators who will now find one excuse after another to explain away the fact that they have turned their back on American heroes. Heroes whose only sin was to expect nothing for their service and were then promised the world by politicians who couldn’t take enough pictures with them.

And now they will get nothing more as we fund one give away program after another to rich and poor alike in this country. By a Congress who decides to begin deficit reduction on the wide shoulders and strong backs of people who define the term, great American. Some Senators said these 911 programs are full of waste fraud and abuse. I would suggest that the U.S. Senate proves it has the corner on that market.

We are fighting a lot of wars in this country. The fight against terror. The fight for a strong economy and new jobs. The fight against complacency.

In this fight, America fought America. And we all lost. And so the halls of Congress will reverberate forever with a haunting September 11 song as our heroes pray that the next cough they utter is not the beginning of their days dwindling down to a precious few.

People on TV are sometimes practiced at outrage. The injustice of this makes words hard to come by. All I can ask is what if your father or son, or wife or sister was a hero and no one cared? What if it was you and you were counting on America the same way America once counted on you? In this terror stained world what will happen if it is you?

Peter Johnson Jr. is a lawyer and legal analyst.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Clueless Press Can't Decide If Espionage Is Journalism

By Dan Gainor

Imagine the year is 1942 and the German government runs a news bureau in Washington, D.C. collecting government secrets. Even FDR would have laughed at claims they were actual journalists, locked them up and thrown away the key.

He would have been right. There’s a huge difference between an individual or an organization reporting abuses in government or business one at a time and the same people stealing enough classified material to run a spy agency.

But sleazy Julian Assange and his spy agency WikiLeaks are trying to pretend they are journalists. He even calls himself “editor-in-chief,” sort of like Mata Hari calling herself H.L. Mencken or the Rosenbergs claiming to be Woodward and Bernstein. Assange even argued in a recent column that “WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism.” As a sign just how far that profession has fallen, many in the media are agreeing with the spin.

The Society of Professional Journalists (to which I belong) can’t even decide. SPJ President

Hagit Limor released a press release and blogged making it clear “we can’t even agree on the most basic question: Is WikiLeaks journalism?”

The why is easy. It seems many journalists are more worried about protecting their industry than national security. Limor claims “the question of whether WikiLeaks is journalism matters not a whit to the general public.” She followed that line with the journalistic equivalent of the Internet adage that “information wants to be free.” To Limor, “the world audience just wants information.”

Well, I guess that makes it all OK. Some traitor can give away U.S. secrets to the world or to a spy agency, but that’s fine because the world wants information. I imagine the world wants Limor’s bank account information too. Or those of the staff of The New York Times or other news outlets running with this story. Should that information be public? How about every personal e-mail journalists write? We saw what a little sunlight brought to the concept that reporters are neutral when the Journolist story broke.

Unfortunately, SPJ reflects the confusion and self-centered concerns of the profession. Some old school journalists have come out against WikiLeaks. Former Washington Post Managing Editor Steve Coll, now president of New America Foundation, said of WikiLeaks, “so far it lacks an ethical culture that is consonant with the ideals of free media.” For that seemingly mild criticism, he was in turn criticized by David Samuels in the Atlantic. Samuels claims “Julian Assange and Pfc. Bradley Manning have done a huge public service.”

Samuels is not alone. The Spectator UK headlined one piece “Yes, Julian Assange Is A Journalist.” Another example of Assange’s news support comes from a petition headlined “Journalists from more than 60 countries join in support for WikiLeaks.” They claim Assange has made “an outstanding contribution to transparency and accountability on the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars.” Of course, most of those supporters aren’t from the United States and couldn’t care less about our national interest.

The Centre for Investigative Journalism earlier had Assange teach classes over the summer and calls Assange “the main architect of the remarkably successful public interest project Wikileaks.” The group posted comments from the International Federation of Journalists accusing the United States of “attacking free speech.” That statement gets to the heart of the issue that criticisms of Assange and Manning “show a mood of intolerance and persecution that is dangerous not just for the two men but for all journalists engaged in investigating public affairs.” (Italics added.)

In other words, they have to protect their jobs, forget about American lives.

This isn’t the first time there’s been confusion over whether journalists act as spies. It was a huge concern during the Civil War when generals feared reporters would leak troop movements. Those concerns continued for decades and got even worse as the media took an active role undermining the Vietnam War.

But WikiLeaks is nothing like that. It is an organization based on theft of classified documents that then reveals communications that could cost lives, crush American diplomatic efforts or cause wars.

Then when Assange gets in trouble, he threatens to release more data, his so-called “insurance file” of even more dangerous, but encrypted, information. That completes the circle by adding blackmail to his list of daily activities.

Now the Associated Press is reporting WikiLeaks “has put out a secret cable that lists sites worldwide that the U.S. considers crucial to its national security.” American officials “said the leak amounts to giving a hit list to terrorists.” And speaking of terrorists, Assange supporters have attacked websites of “perceived enemies of founder Julian Assange,” including MasterCard.com. Hardly Pulitzer Prize material.

That’s because WikiLeaks isn’t a news organization. It’s a crime syndicate that aids the enemies of the United States. It must be shut down and its operatives and helpers jailed at bare minimum.

Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

You Are Living In Historic Times

A famous author was para-phrased as saying if you fail to learn the lessons of history, you will be doomed to repeat them. No truer words were ever spoken. We are probably living currently in times that will be looked at historically as the same as when ancient Rome fell - meaning the United States, as we know it, will probably emulate the Romans and enter into a period of decline, and possible extinction. Impossible you say? Think again. Many forget that Rome, referred to as The Roman Empire, started out as a republic, much as we did. How did they go from being a fair and freedom loving republic, to an empire that fed people to the lions for sport?


There were many reasons the Roman Republic, and then the empire it became, failed. But, three reason stand out more than all the rest:

* Declining moral values and political civility at home.

* An over confident and over extended military in foreign lands.

* Fiscal irresponsibility by the central government, a government that by-passed their legislative body and centralized power, given to a few individuals.

Sound familiar?

This nation we currently live in is at a precipice. If it continues on it's present course, it will ultimately fail. The current administration, and it's party members, will be wholly to blame for pushing us over the edge, an edge that is fast approaching. If this happens, we won't see the full effects for some time, maybe 30-50 years. But make no mistake, when we reach that rapidly approaching tipping point, nothing can stop it after that. The only good thing about this is, for me at my age, I won't be around to witness the decline and fall of the United States.

Wake up America! There is still time to stop the demise of our country. But, that time is slipping away very quickly. Demand that the government stop spending money it doesn't have, demand that we return to a more moral-centric nation, and vote those out of power who steal our money and use it to put themselves in positions of power over us, who then circumvent our laws and legislative branch to further their own ideals of a progressive, socialist society where we become dependant on that very form of government, rather than be dependant only on ourselves.

Who Knew? Cutting Government Spending IS Actually Possible

By John Lott

Federal government spending is on a course with disaster. $2.7 trillion has been added to the national debt in just 2009 and 2010. Under current budget plans, the federal government's debt will likely exceed our income in just over a decade from now. President Obama's Debt Commission (The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform) released its solution today.

The commission, composed of twice as many Democrats as Republicans, proposes limiting federal government revenue and spending to 21 percent of GDP. Assuming that promises are actually kept, that would mean an increase in what revenue the federal government has traditionally taken in and a return to what government spending has been prior to the huge surge we have seen over the last two years. -- Over most of the last 60 years, federal government revenue has been about 19 percent of GDP. Spending over that period has been around 21 percent or less.

To make up this revenue, some people with high incomes are going to be hit with large tax increases. One change would dramatically raise the current maximum taxable income for Social Security. In today's dollars, that effectively means a 12.4 percentage point increase in income taxes for those making between $106,800 and $168,000. Higher income individuals will also bear a disproportionate share of the benefit cuts.

Nevertheless, the commission did accomplish something important: it showed that cutting government spending is indeed possible. While their approaches on Social Security and Medicare can only be classified a timid and many other policies may be criticized, a reasonable observer can easily infer from their suggestions that the budget can be balanced without any tax increases.

Take the commission's proposed gradual increase in the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare from the current 67 years to 68 years by 2050. Even such a small change would save $21 billion per year immediately and $127 billion per year by 2030. By contrast, a three-year increase to 70 years of age by 2050 would save $351 billion per year in 2030.

Using a more accurate measure of price changes for indexing Social Security benefits -- the so-called Congressional Budget Office option -- would make a big difference immediately. In contrast to the current measure, it does not overestimate inflation and therefore Social Security benefits would not rise as fast. Such a change would likely save another estimated $60 billion a year immediately.

When Social Security started paying out benefits in 1940, babies born in the United States had a life expectancy of 63 years, compared to today's 78 years. Though some of this increase is the result of declining infant and child mortality, it is very clear that the one year increase in the Social Security retirement age proposed by the commission will not come close to keeping pace with the increased longevity past 65. This isn't saying that people can't retire earlier if they want to. Just that if they do want to retire early, they should save up the extra money to pay for it. A safety net would still be there for those who are unable to save the extra money.

The debt commission is a good starting point. Reducing discretionary spending back to its 2008 levels after accounting for inflation seems to be conceded as reasonable. But we should be able to do much more in order to avoid the wealth destroying tax increases. According to the Cato Institute at www.downsizinggovernment.org, over a trillion dollars in annual government spending can be cut without much adverse consequences.

For instance, the Department of Education should be eliminated altogether as education is not the federal government's business to begin with. Education aid, public housing subsidies, and state and local government aid involves taking money from the states and then giving it back with a lot of federal strings on it.

Competition between states would help ensure the money is spent more efficiently and creatively. Let states make those decisions and cut out the middleman.

Indeed, even more savings are possible. Cato never explains why it only wants to cuts the Department of Health and Human Services grants to state and local governments by 50 percent.

It is hardly obvious why the government should be picking the winners and losers in small and large businesses and what types of energy usage is the most efficient. People who have their own money at stake have better incentives in determining what investments make sense. Cato proposes gutting the Small Business Administration and the Department of Commerce business subsidies. These programs throw away taxpayer money, making us all poorer, but create political corruption as the government buys votes.

Cutting the federal budget will not only be about saving money, but it will also cut down on the many stifling rules and regulations that states and businesses now have to suffer under. Federal control prevents states from innovating and discovering new policies that work. But change won't be easy. There are obviously many interest groups that have a vested interest in getting this money. It is therefore essential that the sweeping cuts be made at the same time so that no particular group feels that they in particular are singled out.

John R. Lott, Jr. is an economist and author of "More Guns, Less Crime"(University of Chicago Press, 2010), the third edition of which was published in May.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Biden Says Civilian Terror Trial Outcome Better than a Military One

Vice President Joe Biden is not only painting the single Ahmed Ghailani guilty verdict as a victory, but saying that the outcome of this first-of-its-kind trial is better than if Ghailani had been tried in a military tribunal.

"He's getting a longer sentence. He'll be in jail longer than if any other method were tried. Same thing George Bush did with the shoe bomber. Same thing he did with the 24th hijacker," Mr. Biden told Larry King Thursday night.

Ghailani was found guilty of conspiracy in connection to the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; the only guilty verdict among more than 280 charges. He faces a minimum of 20 years in prison without parole.

Trying enemy combatants in a civil setting has long stuck in the craw of many lawmakers, who fear civil trials could provide a result that is too lenient. Ghailani's was the first such trial of a Guantanamo Bay detainee and a big test of the Obama administration's plans to bring many of those held in detention for years to civilian court.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the result revealed civil trials are a failure and that the outcome was "all the proof we need that the administration's approach to prosecuting terrorists has been deeply misguided and indeed potentially harmful as a matter of national security."

Republicans have instead urged President Obama to pursue military tribunals for enemy combatants and other terror suspects. The president has said some military trials are an option, but each case will be reviewed on its merits and some may warrant a civilian trial.

Complicating the process are claims by some detainees, including Ghailani himself, that they were tortured while in U.S. custody. As such, the judge deemed some evidence was not admissible in his case. But Biden says, "Had he been tried in a tribunal, which some of the critics say he should have been tried in a military tribunal...the same evidence would have been inadmissible."

As detainees' cases continue to be reviewed, there remains the looming promise President Obama made to close the main facility that houses those detainees. Both Presidents George W. Bush and Obama have said they want the Guantanamo Bay detention facility closed, but it was Mr. Obama who promised to close it within a year of taking office. The facility is still open.

Mr. Biden told King such an aspiration was perhaps premature, "I speak for myself. I spoke too soon because, quite frankly, we didn't have all the detailed data on every single prisoner, the status of that prisoner, what that prisoner's circumstance was, whether we could move them into an Article 3 court, whether they should be released, et cetera, or whether they should be tried in a military court."

Can you believe the unmitigated gall of this idiot? I wonder if he's willing to tell the families of the over 200 people this animal was responsible for killing, that they should be happy he was only convicted on one of 280 charges, and that charge WAS NOT MURDER. When you send clowns like Biden and Obama to Washington to govern, you shouldn’t be too surprised when things turn into a circus!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

We Don't Need More Inflation, We Need to Put An End to Obama's Job Killing Policies

By John Lott

The current inflation rate of 2 percent is "too low." That is at least if you believe Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. With the economy growing "too slowly to bring down unemployment," Mr. Bernanke's solution is to increase inflation.

The Federal Reserve last week started printing up $600 billion to buy U.S. Treasury Bonds and another almost $300 billion to buy mortgages. The printing more dollars will reduce the value of the dollar just as doubling the number of apples will reduce the price of apples.

A falling value of the dollar is what is called “inflation.” The problem is that this "stimulus" will only temporarily reduce unemployment and get the economy growing by tricking people into making mistakes that they will later regret, mistakes that will cost the country much more in the long run than will be gained by these temporary improvements. With unemployment stuck at least at 9.5 percent for a record 15 months, the desire "to do something" is understandable, but the only people who this policy will help are the politicians currently in office.

You would think that all economists would have learned the lessons of the 1960s and 1970s: higher inflation rates only temporarily reduce unemployment. As the late Milton Friedman warned all the way back in his 1968 presidential address to the American Economic Association, the end result of those inflationary policies was just more inflation and unemployment. During the late 1970s, this phenomenon even had its own name: "stagflation." Mr. Bernanke seems to ignore the economic suffering that occurred when President Reagan had the courage to finally wring the inflation out of the economy in the early 1980s.

Unexpected increases in the inflation rate temporarily deceive workers into thinking that they are getting a better wage offer and lets companies hire workers at a lower real wage. Thus, unemployment is temporarily cut. Conversely, when the inflation is eventually wrung out of the economy, workers' wage increases in dollar terms will turn out to be less than anticipated with resulting increases in unemployment. Double digit inflation rates during the late 1970s were brought under control, but the cost was an unemployment rate that reached 10.8 percent.

Two percent inflation may seem "too low" to Mr. Bernanke (during the last three months inflation has actually averaged an annual rate of 2.8 percent), but inflation has real costs: it diverts businesses and people from making productive investments to making that protect them from inflation. Higher inflation rates are also much more difficult control.

With the next election no more than two years away, few politicians other than Reagan have been willing to bear the short-run electoral costs of reducing inflation. Let the next president face the higher unemployment rate from reducing inflation, they seem to say.

Besides only artificial short term gains on unemployment, the value of the dollar took a big hit on Mr. Bernanke's announcement. More inflation means that the value of dollar is lower, and foreigners immediately reduced how much they were willing to pay for them. Higher inflation also means that interest rates will rise, lowering bond and stock prices. One cost of higher inflation is the threat that it poses to Americans’ investments.

There might be another unstated explanation for increasing inflation -- more inflation will devalue the awful levels of our government debt, including the debt held by foreign countries such as China. If China bought Treasury bonds paying 3 percent interest and we can raise the inflation rate to 4 percent, the U.S. government will effectively make the Chinese pay us 1 percent per year for borrowing our money.

The economy is indeed growing "too slowly." But the problem is due to the chaos created by the stimulus as well as the disincentives created by higher taxes and increased regulations. The solution isn't more inflation. The solution is to end President Obama's job destroying economic policies.

John R. Lott, Jr. is an economist and author of "More Guns, Less Crime."(University of Chicago Press, 2010), the third edition of which was published in May.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Are We About to Become the New Europe?

By Mike Baker

I've just spent a few days in Europe on business. Business and eating. Possibly more eating of excellent foods than business, I can't be sure due to the quantities of tasty wine consumed. Regardless, as I sit here on the plane in my seat measuring approximately 14 inches wide, I can report the following with some certainty:Without honest governance, serious financial sacrifice and a willingness to focus on individual responsibility America will be Europe in another 15 or 20 years. It's really that simple.

Remember the recent strikes that threatened to shut down France because the government plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62?

Or the riots in the streets of Athens because the government is trying to rein in spending by restructuring pensions and trimming the size of the government workforce, which currently employs every Greek citizen except one guy named Costas in the town of Thessaloniki?

How about in the U.K. where firefighters almost went on strike this past week to protest possible changes to their benefits? Ooh, wait...my favorite, BBC journalists went on strike the other day because the BBC, an organization that hasn't made a profit since the days of Queen Victoria, needs to cut costs in order to reduce the size of their annual losses. -- This of course gives us hope that perhaps NPR journalists will follow suit and go on strike.

And let's not forget the kids... they should have the same right to strike as the grown ups.

In many parts of Europe striking and joining in street protests is considered a right of passage, much like getting a tattoo or body piercing in order to show how unique and nonconforming you are compared to all the other tatted up protesting kidlets with various metal bits stuck in their gob.

Why, even now there are thousands of British students (many of whom are paying nothing for their education) taking to the streets in London to protest the UK government's plan to raise tuition fees.

Much to the chagrin of the young and their parents, it could soon cost anywhere between 6,000 and 9,000 British pounds per year for higher education. Many in the U.K. support the protests, believing that education should fall under the category marked "Paid for by Government."

Anyway, the kids are out in force... throwing bricks through windows, chanting, smoking clove cigarettes and "flash mobbing"... a hip activity where at the spur of the moment lots of folks receive a text message instructing them to descend upon a particular location all at the same time. I know, I don't get it either, but I'm kind of old.

So what conclusion are we to draw from the current events in Europe?

How about this...in Europe folks got used to loads of free stuff over several decades. Hey, who doesn't like free stuff? Ladle on some free education with that excellent government job and maybe a heaping helping of no-cost health care and a splash of reduced work hours so you have more time to enjoy life with your free stuff. Huzzah!

Here's the bit that, as simple as it sounds and as common sensical as we all know it to be, seems to have been left off the equation. There's no such thing as free stuff. Okay...I know many of you right now are saying "well yeah, no s**t, Sherlock." Right... We all get it -- if you spend more than you make you're eventually going to be in a fiscal goat rope.

Europe is painfully dealing with this right now -- decades of free crap have created generations of folks who really, really like their free crap. When the various governments now try to steer their ships towards the magical land of fiscal responsibilty, the populations mutiny and someone has to walk the plank.

Here in America, where we often like to wittily scoff at the Europeans and their vast quantities of free stuff and socialist leanings, we are once again at the point where there is talk about sailing to fiscal responsibility land. This happens every now and then, usually right after a midterm election.

Why, just look at last week's elections...all the people crying for Democrats to walk the plank because of their reckless ways and efforts to turn us in to Europeans. "Cut spending" the people shouted... "Rein in the deficit" was the rallying call.

So now we have a Congress that has made a pinky swear to reduce spending. And a population that has demanded fiscal responsibility. We stand on the cusp of not continuing our march towards becoming Europeans.

But, uhh, we kind of like our entitlements. I mean, who wants to take on Social Security or Medicare? What's that? Raise the Social Security age to 70? Are you insane? Surely we can set those sacred cows aside and still get tough on spending. And then there's education. Cutting that can't be good. And defense...how we gonna do that when the world's a scary place?

Now, with those items off the table, how much savings do you think can be gleaned from the budget? The answer is $27 dollars and 14 cents. Currently that's the equivalent of one Euro.

No matter -- the people have spoken and the people demand deficit reduction and serious spending cuts. I'm sure all those newly elected Republicans and Democrats who profess to have heard the demands of the people can find some entitlements somewhere that the people won't mind losing. And just like all the other voters out there, I demand that they get busy.

Just don't be touching my free stuff.

And soon, maybe in a few years time, I won't have to wedge my bottom in a 14 inch wide seat to visit Europe. I can just walk out my door. Et voila.

Mike Baker served for more than 15 years as a covert field operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, specializing in counterterrorism, counternarcotics and counterinsurgency operations around the globe.


Since leaving government service, he has been a principal in building and running several companies in the private intelligence, security and risk management sector and has recently returned to Diligence LLC, a company he cofounded in 2000, as president.


He appears frequently in the media as an expert on counterterrorism, intelligence and homeland security.


Baker is also a partner in Classified Trash, a film and television production company. Baker serves as a script consultant, writer and technical adviser within the entertainment industry, lending his expertise to such programs as the BBC's popular spy series "Spooks," as well as major motion pictures.



Tuesday, November 9, 2010

California Borrowing $40 Million a Day To Pay For Unemployment Benefits

With one in every eight workers unemployed, and empty state coffers, California is borrowing billions of dollars from the federal government to pay unemployment insurance, money that comes from your taxpayer dollars.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the state owes $8.6 billion already, and will have to come up with a $362-million payment to Washington by the end of next September, which of course they won't be able to pay back.

The continued borrowing means federal unemployment insurance taxes are going to increase, upping the annual payroll costs $21 a year per worker.

California tops the list of 32 states that have borrowed a total of $41 billion to pay claims.

The state took out its first loan from the federal government early last year, to deal with rising payment of benefits and number of claims. The current level of unemployment in California is now at about 14%, well above the national average of just under 10%.

So, the entire country is now paying for the folly of California's failed policies, which have sent them down the road of ruin.

One of the main reasons California is in the mess it finds itself now is that they taxed companies, and jobs, out of existence, mainly to pay for all the entitlement programs the state offers. California amounts to about 12% of the population, but is responsible for well over a third of the welfare paid out in this country.

Who does a good chunk of the money paid to entitlement programs in California go to? Illegal aliens, of course. They don't call it Mexifornia without good reason.

The Fed is already in the process of monetizing the national debt with what is called 'quantitaive easing' (we're on the second round or what's being called QE2) which essentially means the Fed is printing money to pay down the national debt.

This practice has most economic experts starting to talk about doomsday scenarios, which have the U.S. and the dollar relegated to bankruptcy and third world status. If the federal government also starts monetizing the debt of each state that is in trouble, you can expect to see that doomsday scenario speed up exponentially.

Monday, November 8, 2010

MSNBC Reinstates Olberman After Only Two Days

Obviously, the word "indefinitely" only means two days at MSNBC, because that's how long it took to decide putting Keith Olberman back on the air. What is also obvious is that this smells of some kind of publicity stunt. One question I had was why Olberman would do something so overtly that he knew would cause a big stir. Could it be that he and MSNBC have colluded to boost their sagging ratings by concocting this whole scheme? I wouldn't put it past them. In any case, MSNBC - also obviously - doesn't care much about instilling journalistic ethics or credibility at their network, if all you get is a two day suspension when breaking the rules. What a huge sham this is. Anyone who can't see what is the obvious motive here is either demented or is simply a fool.

Friday, November 5, 2010

MSNBC Suspends Keith Olbermann Indefinitely for Contributing to Democratic Campaigns










Reuters

MSNBC announced Friday that it has suspended prime-time host Keith Olbermann indefinitely and without pay for making political contributions to the campaigns of three Democratic candidates.

The MSNBC host admitted to donating to three Democratic campaigns.

In a statement provided to FoxNews.com, Phil Griffin, president of the network, said he “became aware of Keith’s political contributions late last night. Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay.”

Olbermann acknowledged to NBC that he donated $2,400 apiece to the campaigns of Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway and Arizona Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords.

NBC News prohibits its employees from working on, or donating to, political campaigns unless a special exception is granted by the news division president -- effectively a ban. Olbermann's bosses did not find out about the donations until after they were made.

The website Politico first reported the donations.

According to the Politico report, the contributions were made this fall, including one that came just hours after Grijalva appeared on Olbermann’s program.

Olbermann's "Countdown" show, which airs at 8 p.m. ET, is MSNBC's most popular program. He was a co-anchor of MSNBC's election coverage this week.

Chris Hayes will fill in for Olbermann on Friday's program, the network said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. The way I look at it, one down, three to go. Matthews, Maddow and that Ed guy, should be next.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's Not Only Something In The State Of Denmark That Smells Rotten; Nevada Is A Close Second.

Harry Reid was consistently polling 5 - 6 points behind his opponent with about 43% of the vote.
He won with about 53% of the vote... A 10 point turn around.
Most other seats in Nevada went Republican.

From FOX News a few days ago:

A conservative watchdog group is calling on Nevada officials to intervene to ensure SEIU workers who operate one county's voting machines don't skew the results to boost their endorsed candidate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.



A contract between SEIU Local 1107 and Clark County -- where voting glitches were reported Tuesday -- makes the SEIU the sole union representative for, among other professions, voting machine technicians.


Nevada SEIU spokesman Nick Di Archangel called the suggestion that SEIU or its technicians would manipulate voting machines "absolutely false."


But Americans for Limited Government called the union agreement "positively outrageous" considering SEIU's political stake in the race. ALG has urged the U.S. Marshals, the state attorney general and the U.S. attorney's office to step in to uphold the integrity of the election.


"For all intents and purposes, the SEIU has control over those ballots boxes, because they're the people who work on them ... which puts us into a new realm of potential fraud," ALG spokesman Richard Manning told FoxNews.com.


Manning said it is "suspicious" that glitches were just reported in that county's machines, referring to complaints from voters in Boulder City that Reid's name was already checked when they went to cast their ballots for his opponent, Republican Sharron Angle. Fox5Vegas.com reported that several voters in the Clark County jurisdiction experienced the same problem.


Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax explained that highly sensitive touch-screens may be to blame and fraud is not the issue. He told Fox5Vegas.com that nobody reported the problem to his officials and that it would be impossible for the machines to pick a candidate without the voter's consent.


He also said in a statement that the supervisors are not part of the union, even if the technicians are, and that the technicians are not involved in programming. He said "extensive security measures are in place" to prevent tampering, adding that SEIU-eligible employees have worked in the Election Department for years without incident.


Di Archangel said Lomax "ensures both the security and reliability" of the machines. "The machines cannot be compromised," he said in an e-mail to FoxNews.com. He added that despite the county contract, all workers are free to stay out of the union if they wish.


"The agreement does not mandate in any way that only union members be assigned to specific jobs," he said.


Secretary of State Ross Miller's office said in a statement that despite wide-ranging "rumor and speculation" about suspicious voting activity, no formal complaints have been lodged with Nevada's Election Integrity Task Force.


"I will not tolerate any attempt by an individual, organization or campaign, to deny any Nevadan the right to freely cast their vote in a safe, secure and private manner. But neither will I stand by and allow the public's confidence in the electoral system (to) be undermined by unsubstantiated rumors and allegations," Miller said.


But Manning said SEIU's involvement in the process raises concern about the integrity of the election.


The union is putting big money into the Nevada Senate race to support Reid and recently went up with an ad that described Angle as "too dangerous" to have power in Congress.


Though the Clark County/SEIU contract is dated March 2007 to June 2010, it is still in effect.


The SEIU said that voters, to ensure the accuracy of their selections, should use the machines' "fail-safe system" to review their picks before leaving the polling station.



"The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything." - Josef Stalin

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

They Just Don't Get It

video

Barney Frank Still Doesn't Get It

By Peter J. Wallison

It’s unusual for Barney Frank to create confusion. The outspoken chairman of the House Financial Services Committee usually doesn’t waffle about his positions—or what he thinks about other’s ideas—and he’s intelligent enough to see inconsistencies in his views.

So, as I waited to be interviewed on a TV show last August, I was surprised and pleased to hear Mr. Frank concede that he had erred: “I hope by next year we’ll have abolished Fannie and Freddie” he said, referring to the two government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), “... it was a great mistake to push lower-income people into housing they couldn’t afford and couldn’t really handle once they had it.” Then he added, “I had been too sanguine about Fannie and Freddie.”

I have been a long-term critic of Fannie and Freddie, and Congressman Frank had been their principal supporter in Congress. Not only did he now seem to be withdrawing his support, but he was doing it for the right reason. He had finally recognized, it appeared, that forcing Fannie and Freddie to make loans to people who could not really afford to repay them was not good either for the taxpayers (who will probably have to pay $400 billion to bail out Fannie and Freddie) or to the borrowers themselves.

Indeed, until that startling TV moment, it seemed that Barney Frank would never slacken in his effort to use Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as a source of financing for loans to low income borrowers.

Beginning in 1992 and continuing through 2007, Fannie and Freddie were required to meet affordable housing goals established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. For most of these years, Frank was the staunchest defender of this policy.

An “affordable” housing mortgage was a loan made to a borrower who was at or below the median income in the area where the home was located. A special sub-goal also required the GSEs to make loans to borrowers who were at or below 60 percent of the median income. These requirements were gradually tightened over time, so that by 2007 55 percent of all mortgages Fannie and Freddie acquired had to be “affordable” under this standard.

There are only so many borrowers with good credit who are at or below the median income in the areas where they live, and there was a lot of competition for Fannie and Freddie.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), a government agency, also needed loans to borrowers who were at or below the median income, and under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)—also beginning in the early 1990s— banks were required to make loans to borrowers who were at or below 80 percent of the median income in their areas. So there was a competition among all these entities to find low income borrowers who were willing to take out home mortgages, and by 2008 half of all mortgages in the U.S.—27 million, a completely unprecedented number —were subprime and other high risk loans. Of this total, the federal government was responsible—through Fannie and Freddie, FHA, and the CRA—for 19 million of these deficient and risky loans.

When the housing bubble started to deflate in 2007, these mortgages began to default at unprecedented rates, weakening the financial institutions that held them, forcing Fannie and Freddie into insolvency, and causing the financial crisis and the subsequent recession.

So imagine my astonishment when I heard Barney Frank admit that pushing low income people into home they couldn’t afford was a “great mistake.” I thought: well, there’s a testament to the power of democracy. Barney Frank was finally being seriously challenged for re-election, and this has caused him to rethink positions he had previously held inviolable.

But alas, it was not to be. On September 29, just before Congress recessed for the election, a few Democratic members of Congress introduced legislation that would extend the CRA to all financial institutions—not just banks. And Barney Frank declared that this bill would be his top priority in the lame duck session after the election.

This was very confusing. If Frank thought it was a “great mistake to push low income people into homes,” why would he favor extending the CRA to the entire financial system? That would mean insurance companies, auto finance companies, credit card firms and securities firms would be required to provide credit and other services—not just mortgages—to the same people who couldn’t afford to repay their mortgages.

Here’s my guess: despite my initial impression, Barney Frank actually doesn’t get it. Instead, his real views had only been imprisoned for the election. When the idea of extending CRA came along, they escaped.

Peter J. Wallison is the Arthur F. Burns Fellow in Financial Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute


I've always said, from the very beginning, who was responsible for the current economic crisis we find ourselves in. It wasn't Bush's fault. In fact, Bush and McCain  tried to head off the disaster and were thwarted by a Democrat Congress.

It was the policy started with Jimmy Carter, the CRA, which was reinforced under Clinton and then brought to the level of nearly science by people like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Angelo Mozilo, and yes, Barack Obama. The facts are all there; all you have to do is the research, and not very much of that, to find all this out.

 And, the motivation for all this wasn't altruistic in nature either. Providing homes to the poor was nothing more than a vehicle; the driving force was nothing more than greed, money and power.

We’re In Denial, America, About Our President

By Dr. Keith Ablow

The greatest gift of my training in psychiatry has been the ability my mentors nurtured in me to really listen to what people say. This is harder than it sounds.

It took me years to overcome the natural tendency to gloss over the very important things people say—the ones that might trigger anxiety or sadness or anger if focused upon clearly or at length.

This avoidance of hearing messages that people convey is a very human reaction when what they are saying is almost too big to take to heart.

The same dynamic explains why people fail to recognize predators even in the face of much data that they are unsafe, why they fail to hear the desperation in the words of a loved one who later goes on to commit suicide, why they fail to internalize expressions of genuine (and boundless) love from another person and why they fail to follow-up with questions about true revelations another offers about his or her deepest feelings and most powerful experiences.

It is as if the mind and soul are fitted with shock absorbers triggered only by the biggest bumps in the road—a kind of onboard, on call denial—so that special focus is required to register them.

I believe this internal shock absorber has prevented many Americans from really listening to the most significant messages President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have delivered.

One of these messages is that the Obamas are profoundly ambivalent about whether America and Americans have historically been a force for good or ill in the world. This is why the president has repeatedly apologized for America’s behavior, in a way that not only signals other nations that our leader is at best uncertain about our moral character, but may plant self-doubt about our decency in own population.

It is why the first lady honestly stated during the campaign that "for the first time in my adult lifetime" she was proud of her country.

It is why the president would remain in a church where the pastor has been quoted as saying, “God damn, America!” and would bring his children to that church to listen and learn.

These are not accidental facts. They are not meaningless. They encourage denial because they are so stark and so massive in scope that they make us not want to grapple with the inevitable conclusion that our country is being led by someone who isn’t so certain he likes his countrymen.

Another significant message from the president is that he is sincerely suspicious of businesses—large or small—unless those businesses are controlled by the government in a way that approximates government ownership of them.

This is what is meant by stating plainly that redistributing wealth is good, by teaching businesses to come to the trough to drink up bailout monies, by seeking oversight over which executives companies hire and how much they are paid and by burdening businesses with social agendas like “health care reform” and other red tape that can bring them to their knees.

Again, these are not accidental facts, nor meaningless. We can screen out the huge impact and import of them because they are almost unthinkable—constituting, as they do, this reality: Our commander-in-chief isn’t so sure he likes us, or our way of life. In fact, it certainly sounds, if you listen, to him, that he does not.

Americans are behaving a lot like the children I treat who grew up in homes in which their parents did not love them. They deny it. They do everything they can to believe, otherwise including wondering whether they themselves are to blame.

If we were deprived of denial, if we were willing to really listen and really be shocked, if we were willing to be wrong and wronged, we would have to admit that we elected a man to lead our country who just doesn’t express much love for it—or us.

Dr. Keith Ablow is a forensic psychiatrist.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why Do We Keep Ignoring the WikiLeaks Threat?

By Christian Whiton

On Friday, WikiLeaks again released a massive amount of classified information stolen from the U.S. government. This time is was 392,000 files about the Iraq war. In July, it was more than 70,000 controlled government documents about Afghanistan. More illegal disclosures are promised. What have Congress and the Obama administration done since WikiLeaks started this? Scandalously little as it turns out.

First and foremost, it is important to understand that this is a serious challenge to our national security. It’s not about government transparency or free speech, which is the claim WikiLeaks and its leader, a certain Julian Assange, are making.

Rather, this is an act of political warfare against the United States. WikiLeaks is a foreign organization that obtained these documents as a result of espionage and it means to use the information to thwart and alter U.S. policy. Mr. Assange said as much himself. He reportedly responded to a journalist’s question recently by e-mailing, “I’m too busy ending two wars.”

More correctly, he is busy getting the free world to lose two wars.

In addition to possibly getting some cooperating individuals named in these reports killed, this mass compromise of classified data will make it much harder to find people willing to cooperate with the United States. This will harm information-gathering that remains critical to our defense, whether it is being conducted by an Army sergeant in an insurgency area or a civilian U.S. intelligence officer in a hostile foreign capital.

So far, the Obama administration appears to have been asleep at the wheel in responding to this. The same is true of the Democratic-controlled Congress, which has no fewer than ten committees of jurisdiction that could be doing something about this—but which are not.

Here are some of the things the U.S. could do:

1. Indict Mr. Assange and his colleagues for espionage, regardless of whether he is presently in a U.S. jurisdiction, and ask our allies to do the same.

2. Explore opportunities for the president to designate WikiLeaks and its officers as enemy combatants, paving the way for non-judicial actions against them.

3. Freeze the assets of the WikiLeaks organization and its supporters, and sanction financial organizations working with this terrorist-enabling organization so they cannot clear transactions denominated in U.S. dollars.

4. Give the new U.S. Cyber-Command a chance to prove its worth by ordering it to electronically assault WikiLeaks and any telecommunications company offering its services to this organization.

5. Holding meaningful congressional hearings to look into how this much classified information could ever be compromised and how the U.S. can better identify and combat political warfare organizations like WikiLeaks.

Of course, none of this will happen unless President Obama and congressional Democrats start taking national security more seriously. The initial compromise of this much sensitive information is shocking by itself. But the intervening period of inaction is scandalous. While the Pentagon has done some damage control, it appears to have no help from the Obama White House, other government agencies, or the Congress.

How much will our information-collection capabilities have to be diminished, and how many of our friends and collaborators around the world must die, before President Obama and his friends on Capitol Hill start caring more about national security?

Christian Whiton is a former State Department senior adviser.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

America's Last Chance?

By Troy Senik

If, as expected, a new generation of economic conservatives join the ranks of the United States Congress in the wake of the upcoming midterm elections, they will face a momentous challenge: how to finally deliver on the promises of fiscal restraint that have so often eluded recent Republican majorities.

To do so, they will need to understand how past congressional failures have set us on the road to reckless spending and how dire the consequences will be if we don’t change paths soon.

In 1995, Congress came within inches of passing a Balanced Budget Amendment.

In that moment, we stood on the precipice of long-term fiscal responsibility. But the amendment failed -- by one vote.

By 2020, the total gross federal debt, including liabilities for Social Security and Medicare,-- is anticipated to reach 122 percent of GDP. Even without factoring in entitlement obligations, this will translate to a debt burden of more than $170,000 for every American family.

Apart from being fiscally unsustainable, this is a formula for economic decay. A recent study by Harvard University and the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that when the U.S. carries a debt burden greater than 90 percent of GDP, average economic growth is negative two percent. In any set of circumstances, this would lead to stagnation. But in the midst of the current economic downturn, it is a national suicide pact.

If this trend continues unbroken, the United States will find itself poised for the same kind of decline that has beset nations like Greece and states like California. But there’s still a limited window left for us to stave off disaster.

Any serious approach to our economic travails will have to tackle three issues simultaneously: the need for balanced budgets, the danger of tax increases during a time of recession and the prevention of an expansion of the nation’s debt load. The current national consensus for common-sense budget reforms provides leaders in Washington the impetus and the opportunity to address all three.

What’s needed is a Constitutional Amendment requiring 60 percent of the Senate and House of Representatives to vote in the affirmative for any piece of legislation that increases the debt ceiling, raises current taxes or imposes new taxes. The Constitutional Amendment should also require Congress to pass a balanced federal budget annually.

By embracing balanced budgets, these common-sense reforms embrace the legacy of the original Balanced Budget Amendment campaign of the mid-1990s. But they also recognize that balancing the federal ledger is a necessary, but not sufficient, step to getting our fiscal house in order.

Too many pundits treat the national debt as our great economic malady, not realizing that it is a symptom rather than the cause of our current malaise. The fundamental problem is the size of government. Every federal expenditure—whether paid for in the present or the future—is extracted from the productive private economy. Requiring only a balanced budget leaves Congress room to make up the government’s shortfall through higher taxes. But weakening the private sector’s ability to generate value is a recipe for increased stagnation, not an economic recovery.

The message from legions of taxpayers is abundantly clear: The budget should be balanced, the debt should be reduced, and the Congress should accomplish these ends by ceasing its reckless spending instead of by increasing taxes to compensate for its lack of self-control.

Fifteen years ago we missed our opportunity, by just one vote, to keep the U.S. economy on a path that could support consistent growth and prosperity. If we fail this time, the opportunity to right our course may not present itself again.

It’s time for the American people to use their vote and their voice to deliver one more vote for reform in Washington.

Troy Senik, a former White House speech writer for President George W. Bush, is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF), the organization leading the “One More Vote” initiative (www.OneMoreVote.org).

Monday, October 18, 2010

There Are No Atheists In Foxholes -- Or In Coal Mines

By Larry Gatlin

 It's said that there are no atheists in fox holes. I would add... or in a coal mine if you are there for 69 days.

"And JESUS was in the tomb for three days and on the third day the stone was rolled away."

The account of JESUS' RESURRECTION, is a remarkable story of a man, literally being "raised from the dead." To those in Christendom, the RESURRECTION is symbolic of the earthly salvation that turns miraculously into an eternal salvation in heaven with the RISEN LORD!!

The story has been told and re-told for the 20 centuries that have transpired from that resurrection at Jerusalem, in Israel, to this resurrection at the San Jose mine, in Chile.

This RIGHT NOW RESURRECTION is a miracle of almost Biblical proportions, and it is happening in front of our eyes -- in front of over a billion pair of eyes -- thanks to another miracle, at least to a simple man like me: satellite television.

Dear LORD, and I mean that in it's reverent context, how does satellite TV work?

Anyway, it was not lost on me, and I'm sure not on other Christians either, that every rescued miner, made the sign of the cross, looked heavenward, and thanked GOD for HIS mercy and protection.

My Spanish is very poor, at best, but there is NO doubt that the rescued miners, now known as "the 33", were expressing, not only their belief in God, but their praise, honor and gratitude for HIS MIGHTY HAND, at work in their RESURRECTION, from a rocky would-be grave, a half a mile down, under solid stone.

I think that it would be hard for anyone, "believer" or non- believer...anyone who was watching this event transpire, to miss the symbolism in The Miracle of the SAN JOSE MINE, as it unfolded in hi-def, for all the world to see.

What the world DID NOT see, was any folderol about the "separation of church and state."

What the world DID NOT see was a protest of any kind against the people "on the ground," or, in fact, under the ground, who were invoking GOD's blessing.

What the world DID NOT see was any protesting against the many references to prayers and GOD and DIVINE intervention, that SO INFURIATE a certain faction of our citizens in this, once MIGHTY, but now increasingly SPIRITUALLY BANKRUPT COUNTRY...AMERICA!!

What the world DID see, was a BRAVE, PRAYING PRESIDENT, Sebastian Pinera, who had the spiritual COJONES to "stay the course, fight the good fight, and run the race" against unbelievable odds, in order to be GOD's hands on earth, by putting all of the resources at his command, and by enlisting the help of the United States, and other countries, into trying to save his fellow Chileans and a couple of visitors, and in so doing, unite the whole of Chile, as ONE NATION UNDER GOD....sound familiar?

THERE USED TO BE ANOTHER COUNTRY THAT CALLED ON THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE, PROTECTION, AND PRESENCE OF GOD IN TIMES OF TROUBLE, BUT THOSE DAYS ARE LONG GONE.

Those days have had their own"near-death" experience. POLITICAL CORRECTNESS has eviscerated almost every vestige of the country that was once THE UNITED STATES... ONE NATION UNDER GOD.

I heard a rumor...I do not know whether or not it is true. But from a historical perspective, I have absolutely no trouble believing that it is true. The "story" is, that the ACLU has filed suit to make chaplains stop praying for the safety of our troops ON THE BATTLEFIELD!! I was also told by a good friend, who I trust explicitly, that it was true. I will look into it.

You know the old saying," if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck"...this "ACLU PRAYER THING REALLY LOOKS LIKE A CLASSIC DUCK DEAL," brought to you by those supreme haters of liberty, the "good folks" at the ACLU, who hide in plain sight, dressed as "the champions of liberty." Even if it is not true (if I find out that it is not true,I will issue a retraction and an apology)...even if it is not true, it sounds just like that bunch of "patriots"...don't you think?

But enough about that. Let's get back to the " story of the year" (or the decade) and to a GLORIOUS VICTORY... a VICTORY that could have morphed from victory to tragedy, in a CHILEAN MINUTE, IF THE CHAIN HAD BROKEN, IF THE RESCUE CARRIAGE HAD GOTTEN STUCK, IF ONE OF THE MINERS HAD PANICKED, IF THE WHOLE THING HAD CAVED IN ON TOP OF THEM...BUT THAT DID NOT HAPPEN, and after 69 days in "the tomb," the stone was rolled away, and 33 of GOD's CHILDREN, were lifted to safety, in what Shepard Smith has called their "CHILEAN CHARIOT."

They were lifted out of what was almost THEIR TOMB, into the arms of their loved ones, and in truth, into the loving arms of the entire world.

The thing that struck me?? THE FIRST THING OUT OF THEIR MOUTHS WAS PRAISE TO GOD...Their courage never wavered. Their strength never waned. Their sense of pride never faltered. Their loyalty to one another is now the stuff of legend....but through it all, it was their FAITH IN GOD THAT PULLED THEM THROUGH.

This HEAVENLY DYNAMIC WILL NOT BE COVERED BY THE "DRIVE BY MEDIA", or if it is, it will be downplayed so as to make "IT," incidental, at best.

Well, all I know is what I, and 1.2 billion of GOD's other children around the world saw, and heard.

One of "the 33" ( JESUS was 33 when he descended into "HIS" tomb so long ago) said, " I was in a fight between GOD and the DEVIL, and GOD WON. YES, GOD HAD A GOOD DAY.

We have all been blessed and treated to a glorious manifestation of ALMIGHTY POWER, LOVE, AND GRACE.

The world will long remember "the 33"... I wonder how long the world will remember their first words upon being resurrected from their tomb...GLORIA A DIOS!!

BY THE WAY, to my brothers and sisters who do not share the Christian faith, to you who practice another faith, or are atheists or agnostics, and even to you in the "drive by media"...WAIT...I apologize, AND I SINCERELY MEAN IT, I'M SORRY...TO YOU WHO ARE MEMBERS OF THE TRADITIONAL PRESS, I offer this...let us put aside old hurts, ancient prejudices, and long-cherished catechisms, for ONE DAY, AND SIMPLY REJOICE IN THE MIRACLE FROM THE MINE...THE RESURRECTION AT SAN JOSE.

Larry Gatlin is a writer and country music entertainer.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Tax Man Cometh

Read this before November’s elections.

"It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to lose it. If you think about that, you will do things differently"
-Warren Buffett

In just a couple of months, on January 1, 2011, the largest tax hikes in the history of America will take effect. They will hit families and small businesses in three great waves. On January 1, 2011, here’s what happens... (read it to the end, so you see all three waves)


First Wave:

Expiration of 2001 and 2003 Tax Relief
In 2001 and 2003, the GOP Congress enacted several tax cuts for investors, small business owners, and families.These will all expire on January 1, 2011. Personal income tax rates will rise.

The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (this is also the rate at which two-thirds of small business profits are taxed). The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent. All the rates in between will also rise. Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as highermarginal tax rates.

The full list of marginal rate hikes is below:

The 10% bracket rises to an expanded 15%

The 25% bracket rises to 28%

The 28% bracket rises to 31%

The 33% bracket rises to 36%

The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%

Higher taxes on marriage and family.
The "marriage penalty" (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of income.
The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child. The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level. The dependent care and adoption tax credits will be cut.

The return of the Death Tax.
This year only, there is no death tax. (It’s a quirk!) For those dying on or after January 1, 2011, there is a 55 percent top death tax rate on estates over $1 million. A person leaving behind two homes, a business, a retirement account, could easily pass along a death tax bill to their loved ones. Think of the farmers who don’t make much money, but their land, which they purchased years ago with after-tax dollars, is now worth a lot of money. Their children will have to sell the farm, which may be their livelihood, just to pay the estate tax if they don’t have the cash sitting around to pay the tax. Think about your own family’s assets. Maybe your family owns real estate, or a business that doesn’t make much money, but the building and equipment are worth $1 million. Upon their death, you can inherit the $1 million business tax free, but if they own a home, stock, cash worth $500K on top of the $1 million business, then you will owe the government $275,000 cash! That’s 55% of the value of the assets over $1 million! Do you have that kind of cash sitting around waiting to pay the estate tax?

Higher tax rates on savers and investors.
The capital gains tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 20 percent in 2011.
The dividends tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 39.6 percent in 2011.
These rates will rise another 3.8 percent in 2013.



Second Wave:

Obamacare
There are over twenty new or higher taxes in Obamacare. Several will first go into effect on January 1, 2011. They include:

The "Medicine Cabinet Tax"
Thanks to Obamacare, Americans will no longer be able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin).

The "Special Needs Kids Tax"
This provision of Obamacare imposes a cap on flexible spending accounts (FSAs) of $2500 (Currently, there is no federal government limit). There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children. There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States , and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington , D.C. ( National Child Research Center ) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can not be used to pay for this type of special needs education.

The HSA (Health Savings Account) Withdrawal Tax Hike.
This provision of Obamacare increases the additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAsand other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent.


Third Wave:

The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and Employer Tax Hikes
When Americans prepare to file their tax returns in January of 2011, they'll be in for a nasty surprise-the AMT won't be held harmless, and many tax relief provisions will have expired. The major items include:

The AMT will ensnare over 28 million families, up from 4 million last year.
According to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center , Congress' failure to index the AMT will lead to an explosion of AMT taxpaying families-rising from 4 million last year to 28.5 million. These families will have to calculate their tax burdens twice, and pay taxes at the higher level. The AMT was created in 1969 to ensnare a handful of taxpayers.

Small business expensing will be slashed and 50% expensing will disappear.
Small businesses can normally expense (rather than slowly-deduct, or "depreciate") equipment purchases up to $250,000. This will be cut all the way down to $25,000. Larger businesses can currently expense half of their purchases of equipment. In January of 2011, all of it will have to be "depreciated."

Taxes will be raised on all types of businesses.
There are literally scores of tax hikes on business that will take place. The biggest is the loss of the "research and experimentation tax credit," but there are many, many others. Combining high marginal tax rates with the loss of this tax relief will cost jobs.

Tax Benefits for Education and Teaching Reduced.
The deduction for tuition and fees will not be available. Tax credits for education will be limited. Teachers will no longer be able to deduct classroom expenses.

Coverdell Education Savings Accounts will be cut.
Employer-provided educational assistance is curtailed. The student loan interest deduction will be disallowed for hundreds of thousands of families.

Charitable Contributions from IRAs no longer allowed.
Under current law, a retired person with an IRA can contribute up to $100,000 per year directly to a charity from their IRA. This contribution also counts toward an annual "required minimum distribution." This ability will no longer be there.

AND WORSE YET?

Now, your insurance will be INCOME on your W2's! One of the surprises we'll find come next year, is what follows - - a little "surprise" that 99% of us had no idea was included in the "new and improved" healthcare legislation . . . those who backed this administration will be astonished!

Starting in 2011, (next year folks), your W-2 tax form sent by your employer will be increased to show the value of whatever health insurance you are given by the company. It does not matter if that's a private concern or governmental body of some sort.

If you're retired? So what... your gross will go up by the amount of insurance you get. You will be required to pay taxes on a large sum of money that you have never seen. Take your tax form you just finished and see what $15,000 or $20,000 additional gross does to your tax debt. That's what you'll pay next year.

For many, it also puts you into a new higher bracket so it's even worse.This is how the government is going to buy insurance for the15% that don't have insurance and it's only part of the tax increases.

Not believing this? Here is a research of the summaries.....

On page 25 of 29: TITLE IX REVENUE PROVISIONS- SUBTITLE A: REVENUE OFFSET PROVISIONS-(sec. 9001, as modified by sec. 10901) Sec.9002 "requires employers to include in the W-2 form of each employee the aggregate cost of applicable employer sponsored group health coverage that is excludable from the employees gross income."


People have the right to know the truth because an election is coming in November. And, elections have consequences. Make your vote count... and let your voice be heard.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Can You Keep Absorbing the Pain Obama Inflicts On Us?

By Jon Kraushar
 Every American president ends up owning one word or phrase that tends to define him. Kennedy had “Camelot.” Johnson had “Great Society.” Nixon was “Watergate.” Ford was “Pardon.” Carter was “Malaise.” Reagan was “Shining city upon a hill.” George H.W. Bush was “Thousand points of light.” Clinton was “Slick.” George W. Bush was “Dubya.”

Barack Obama’s words have been “Hope and change.” But shortly before the midterm elections, we’ve heard another word association with Obama that may be more fitting.

In Bob Woodward’s book, “Obama’s Wars,” President Obama is quoted as saying, "We can absorb a terrorist attack. We'll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever . . . we absorbed it and we are stronger."

Obama’s key word is “absorb.” He sees America getting stronger to the extent that it can “absorb” pain—crises, loss, costs and consequences.

We have seen Obama’s “absorb the pain” philosophy and policies in service of what he contends will make the country stronger.

Beginning with his nearly trillion-dollar stimulus, his hundreds of billions in bailouts, and his record-setting debt, the president insisted that the country needed to “absorb” all his spending and government intervention to cure massive unemployment and an economic meltdown. Today, America is deep in joblessness and unsustainable debt and is still deeply mired in an economic stall.

Then came the need for the nation to “absorb” the reconstruction of its health care system with Obamacare as the president’s prescription. That was followed by Obama’s crusade for the free market to “absorb” an overhaul of financial regulations. Never mind that in both cases, costs, competition, choices, and other adverse effects have been grossly misrepresented by the president and his allies.

Now, the president has left all Americans to “absorb” the prospect that because Democrats wouldn’t vote to extend the Bush tax cuts, everyone’s taxes are scheduled to go up next year. If the president has his way, the nation will also need to “absorb” the following:

• Record tax increases on energy if Obama’s “cap and trade” bill passes.

• Millions of illegal immigrants. Is Obama planning some kind of amnesty next and what about border security?

• A nuclear Iran. While Obama blusters, the dangerous and demented leaders of Iran build their nuclear capability and mock the United States.

• The job-killing and bankrupting effects of union demands. Obama’s enabling of outrageously high pension, pay and other sweetheart deals for unions buys him union votes and buys America economic pain.

• Continuing seizure of states’ rights and individuals’ rights by a statist government. On just about any issue—including spending, taxing, health care, education, the environment and illegal immigration—Obama’s big government encroaches on laws and decisions best made by individual states (see the Constitution’s 10th Amendment) and individual citizens (see the Bill of Rights).

• The abuse by terrorists of America’s democratic systems. Obama’s Justice Department grants terrorists captured domestically the “right to remain silent” and fights to give them civilian rather than military trials.

• Apologies, appeasements, aid and arms to foreign foes. Physically, financially, militarily and in every other way, Obama has bowed to America’s adversaries such as Saudi Arabia and China.

• Corruption by elected or appointed officials. This includes our tax cheat Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. It extends to loan scandals involving Democratic Senators Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Kent Conrad of North Dakota and also encompasses ethics investigations into Democratic Congress Members Charlie Rangel of New York and Maxine Waters of California.

Bill Clinton claimed to feel our pain. Barack Obama wants us to absorb the pain he inflicts on us for what he believes are higher purposes and a stronger America. If you vote in the November midterm elections, consider whether you prefer to "absorb" or reject the pain Obama keeps dishing out.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Expiration of Bush Tax Cuts: How Will It Affect You?

By Joshua Rhett Miller

Benjamin Franklin wrote that "nothing is certain but death and taxes," but that is only half-true. There is absolutely nothing dead-certain about taxes this year.

Unless Congress acts soon, almost all of the "Bush tax cuts" and credits that were enacted in 2001 and 2003 will expire at the end of this year. Most financial analysts and Washington insiders say they don't expect that to happen. But if it does, you -- the American taxpayer -- are in for a tax hike. A big one.

Here's what it will mean to you:

-- The standard percent rates -- the baseline percentage of your income that goes to the government -- will universally rise, at an estimated cost of roughly $157 billion annually; from 10 percent to 15 (for lowest-income earners), from 25 percent to 28, from 28 percent to 31, from 33 percent to 36, and from 35 percent to 39.6 percent (for highest-income earners).

-- Indexing of the alternative minimum tax (AMT), which ensures that taxpayers who benefit from itemized reductions and/or credits pay a separately calculated minimum tax, will expire.

-- Taxes on capital gains and dividends will increase, potentially costing investors an estimated $35 billion annually.

-- Married couples who saw their standard deduction raised to that of double the single amount will go back to paying higher rates, at a cost of roughly $32 billion a year.

-- Expanded tax credits like the child tax credit, which previously increased to $1,000 from $500, will expire, costing American families an estimated $26 billion a year.

-- The already-expired estate tax would revert back to 2009 levels, translating to a minimum estimate of $26 billion to heirs and heiresses.

-- The personal exemption phase-out (PEP), which allowed high-income filers to deduct the full value of their personal exemptions and itemized deductions, will expire, potentially costing wealthy households about $21 billion.

"As a general matter, everybody is affected, maybe except for certain seniors," said Chuck Marr, director of federal tax policy for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "All taxpayers have something at stake."

For the family of four bringing in a combined income of $75,000, the expiration of all Bush-era tax cuts will amount to a tax increase of $2,143 next year, according to the Tax Foundation's 2011 Income Tax Calculator.

A family of four earning $150,000 would see its income tax burden increase by $4,510 to $23,150, according to the Tax Foundation.

Single filers, meanwhile, would see their taxes rise by $605 at the $50,000 income plateau and by $1,355 at $75,000. A single filer earning $150,000, including $15,000 in long-term capital gains, would pay an extra $3,269, with a total tax liability of $28,340.

A single parent of one child earning $25,000 would see his tax liability rise by $955, decreasing his tax refund of $1,856 to just more than $900. A low-income family of five earning a total of $45,000 would see their taxes increase by $2,538, equating to a total tax liability of $1,028.

An upper-middle income family of four with two earners pulling in $150,000, including $15,000 in long-term capital gains, would see their taxes increase by $3,802. That family's total tax burden? Roughly $21,600.

A high-income family of four, meanwhile, with a combined income of $300,000 and $20,000 in itemized deductions, would see their taxes jump by more than $11,000 if Congress allows all of the Bush-era tax cuts to expire. That equals a total tax liability of $68,392.

For even higher earners -- such as a married couple with no children making $420,000 in total income and with $20,000 deductions apiece for state and local taxes, mortgage interest and charitable contributions -- that total tax liability grows to $106,815, or an increase of more than $16,600 from 2010.

Further up the income ladder, a married couple earning $700,000 in wages with $300,000 worth of long-term capital gains and qualified dividends and $95,000 in deductions for mortgage interest and state/local income taxes would see their tax share grow by $61,206.

Finally, a retired married couple with a combined income of $60,000 -- including $10,000 in qualified dividends, $25,000 in Social Security benefits and $10,000 in 401(k) distributions -- would see their tax liability increase by $2,676.

"If all the tax cuts expire, everyone stands to lose," said Mark Robyn, a staff economist for the Tax Foundation. "A lot of people like to paint the Bush tax cuts as having only benefited the rich, which is not true -- you can simply look at the estimates."

Citing estimates from the Office of Management and Budget, Robyn said letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire only for high-income people would raise $630 billion over 10 years, compared to $3 trillion during the same period if all the tax cuts were to expire.

Robyn said one of the biggest tax cuts for middle-income earners was the creation of the 10 percent bracket, which will rise to 15 percent if Congress doesn't act. He also cited the significant impact of doubling the child tax credit to $1,000. That, too, will expire unless a compromise is reached in Washington.

"That's a pretty significant tax cut," Robyn said. "If that were to go back, I think a lot of people would feel that. That's a dollar for dollar decrease in your tax liability."

What ever happened to the concept of not kicking a guy who is already down? This country is still on its back from the recession, and these idiots in Congress, who oppose extending the Bush tax credits, are hovering over us with hob-nailed boots ready to stomp us into jelly. And, even if they extend the tax credits before the end of the year, the IRS has already published the filing schedules, which at least for January means we will be taxed at the higher rates. Supposedly, if they pass the extension, somewhere down the road we're somehow supposed to get it back (yeah right).
 



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