Friday, July 29, 2011

Political Digest for July 29, 2011

The Coming Collapse of the American Republic
Info about my book. All royalties go to a charity to help wounded veterans. Please forward and post where possible.

Uzbek accused of buying machine gun in Ala. to kill Obama
I can’t believe the FBI is wasting time on guys like this when everyone in the Obama Administration knows it is veterans and Christians who are the danger. Sell this “undocumented” member of the “Religion of Peace” the gun and go check out the VFW, for gosh sakes. ~Bob. Excerpt: A 22-year-old illegal immigrant from Uzbekistan was charged today with threatening the life of President Obama after purchasing a machine gun from an undercover federal agent in Alabama. Ulugbek Kodoriov, whose 2009 student visa was revoked last year, allegedly outlined his plan to an FBI informant beginning July 9, according to court documents. In subsequent meetings with the informant, Kodoriov expressed interest in assassination plots that included using explosives and "shooting the president from long distance,'' the court documents stated. While living at a Birmingham motel, Kodoriov allegedly expressed support for Islamic extremists and told the informant that he "did not care if he lost his life killing the president.''

AWOL Soldier Arrested Over Concerns of Second Alleged Plot to Attack Fort Hood
See! See! Sappy Nappy is right. Veterans are dangerous. ~Bob. Excerpt: At least one U.S. military serviceman has been arrested after raising concerns over another alleged plot to attack Fort Hood, Fox News has learned exclusively. Pvt. Nasser Jason Abdo, an AWOL soldier from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, was arrested by the Killeen Police Department near Fort Hood and remains in custody there. Authorities, however, will not say if Abdo is the one who raised security concerns.

Boehner's Plan Is Not Perfect, But It Ain't Bad by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: Many of us never thought that the Republicans would hold tough long enough to get President Obama and the Democrats to agree to a budget deal that does not include raising income tax rates. But they did — and Speaker of the House John Boehner no doubt desires much of the credit for that. Despite the widespread notion that raising tax rates automatically means collecting more revenue for the government, history says otherwise. As far back as the 1920s, Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon pointed out that the government received a very similar amount of revenue from high-income earners at low tax rates as it did at tax rates several times as high. How was that possible? Because high tax rates drive investors into tax shelters, such as tax-exempt bonds. Today, as a result of globalization and electronic transfers of money, "the rich" are even less likely to stand still and be sheared like sheep, when they can easily send their money overseas, to places where tax rates are lower. Money sent overseas creates jobs overseas — and American workers cannot transfer themselves overseas to get those jobs as readily as investors can send their money there. All the overheated political rhetoric about needing to tax "millionaires and billionaires" is not about bringing in more revenue to the government. It is about bringing in more votes for politicians who stir up class warfare with rhetoric.

Obama's 'Balanced' Approach by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: Barack Obama's political genius is his ability to say things that will sound good to people who have not followed the issues in any detail -- regardless of how obviously fraudulent what he says may be to those who have. Shameless effrontery can be a huge political asset, especially if uninformed voters outnumber those who are informed. President Obama's big pitch in his Monday night televised talk was that what is needed to deal with the national debt crisis is a "balanced" approach -- not just spending cuts but revenue increases as well. What could sound more reasonable -- especially to those who have not been following what Obama has actually been doing and not doing?

Federal Wildlife Biologist Investigated for Scientific Misconduct in Global Warming Debate
If their science is solid, how come the warmists have to lie and suppress other views so often? ~Bob. Excerpt: A federal wildlife biologist whose observation in 2004 of presumably drowned polar bears in the Arctic helped to galvanize the global warming movement has been placed on administrative leave and is being investigated for scientific misconduct, possibly over the veracity of that article. Charles Monnett, an Anchorage-based scientist with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, or BOEMRE, was told July 18 that he was being put on leave, pending results of an investigation into "integrity issues." But he has not yet been informed by the inspector general's office of specific charges or questions related to the scientific integrity of his work, said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

The Man Without A Plan
Excerpt: President Obama’s been taking a lot of flak lately for not having a plan. First it was about Libya, but now — even more importantly because, as we know, all politics is local (until it’s not) — about the budget. The latest White House porte-parole Jay Carney has consequently been taking all kinds of in-coming himself about “where’s the President’s budget plan,” “why doesn’t he have a plan,” etc. Well, the reason for the latter is simple: because he can’t. The minute the president evinces a budget plan, the game is up. No liberal budget will stand up to scrutiny. There is no money left for deficit spending in our aging society. The welfare state is kaput. It’s gone — probably for generations to come. (…) Plans are dangerous because someone might scrutinize them. Someone might point out that Social Security was enacted in 1935, when life expectancy was 61.7 (It is now 77.9 and increasing), and, if it isn’t overhauled, it’s finished. No, you better stay away from these plans. Better to have vague theories and pronouncements.

Obama administration cancels DHS nuclear detection program
As I say in Collapse, the threats play to one another, the budget threat making it harder to defend against Islamic terrorism, and so on. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Obama administration canceled a $1.2 billion program to install nuclear material detectors at U.S. ports of entry, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. According to Tuesday's DHS statement to the U.S. Congress, the equipment is unreliable as far as its "technical glitches" that included false positives or false alarms.

Taxes, Patriotism and Common Sense
When I was a 16-year-old, delivering groceries on a bike for $1 per hour and a quarter tip if I was lucky, I was so patriotic I didn’t want to file a return for the small refund I was due. Now, know how they waste billions, I’m not nearly so proud. ~Bob. Excerpt: Am I the last American who’s proud to pay his taxes? As a self-employed citizen, I pay quarterly estimated taxes to our national government. And each time I sign that check, I’m proud. I may no longer serve in uniform, but that check means that I’m a productive citizen engaged in honest work who is still doing his small part for his country. I’m not wealthy. But my wife and I work relentlessly, so we have a good middle-class life. Could I use some of the money I pay in taxes for other purposes? Sure. But paying my income tax is, to me, a small thing for the many benefits I receive—from highways and public order to the national defense. It’s the one duty this great country asks of me. I’m also proud to be one of the taxpayers who carry the burden for the feckless connivers and hand-out addicts at the bottom of society, as well as for the vile tax cheats at the top of the income ladder. I would like to see less partisan waste. And I want fewer loopholes for scoundrels. But my expectations of both political parties are low. So I’ll continue to do my small part for the greatest nation in history. Somebody has to. I do get angry, though. Not about paying my taxes. But that 49 per cent of my fellow citizens pay no income tax at all, thanks to political pandering. And that, last year, I paid more taxes from my middle-class income than General Electric did—after that corporation enjoyed a wildly profitable year.

Mitt Romney’s Fully Documented Liberal Left-Wing Social and Fiscal Record
I don’t think he’s so much liberal, as lacking in any core values, goes with the wind. ~Bob. Excerpt: I find it absurd that so many celebrity “conservatives” such as Hannity, Ingraham, Coulter, Hewitt, Perkins, Bopp, Land, Minnery, Dobson, Sekulow, and “conservative” publications/organizations (Human Events, National Review, Fox News, Salem/Townhall, CPAC, Heritage) continue to promote Romney as a Reagan Conservative when Romney’s actual record shows that he is an across the board liberal.

Up Close And Personal
Excerpt: The marines train their recruits to understand that they might have to "fix bayonets" in combat, and that they must know how to fight with a bayonet, and anything else they can get their hands on, or just with their bare hands. Thus, in type of bayonet training, it's the thought that counts. (Having just read Noble Warrior, an autobiography of MajGen James Livingston, USMC (ret) who received the MOH for an action in Vietnam that included leading a bayonet attack, this is very timely. I've read the Brits attacked in Iraq with Bayonets. ~Bob.)

Egypt’s Simmering Rage
Excerpt: With two months remaining until early parliamentary elections, a new Newsweek/Daily Beast poll shows clearly and unambiguously that the political climate in Egypt is moving in a new direction that is inimical to American and allied interests—notwithstanding the billions of dollars in aid that the United States continues to provide. The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest Islamist group, is poised to win the largest share of the vote in parliamentary elections; the man who appears to have a clear shot at the presidency, Amr Moussa, has made his name criticizing Israel; and a large majority of respondents favor amending or revoking the cornerstone of regional stability, the Camp David Accords. (This article continues below the yellow graphic with the results of the other four questions in the poll. None of them are encouraging. Who could’ve imagined this result? Everybody—and we all said it in print. See, just for example: “Egyptian Revolution...,” in the TOJ of 29 Jan 2011. Ron P.)

Gunwalker: Justice Dept. Inspector General Opens Investigation
Excerpt: Operation Fast and Furious — and other alleged “gunwalker” programs — only ended when whistleblowers came forward from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) after a firefight in Rio Rico, Arizona, left Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry dead. NPR – yes, NPR – is now reporting that the Department of Justice inspector general is launching an investigation into whether or not the DOJ illegally retaliated against one of the agents that revealed the gunwalking plot: The Justice Department’s inspector general has opened an investigation into possible retaliation against a whistleblowing agent at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to two people briefed on the inquiry. Watchdogs are examining whether anyone at the Justice Department improperly released internal correspondence to try to smear ATF agent John Dodson, who told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last month that he repeatedly warned supervisors about what he called a reckless law enforcement operation known as “Fast and Furious.” The inspector general is attempting to determine if Obama’s Justice Department leaked one of Dodson’s internal memos to reporters in order to discredit him.

House Panel: al-Shabaab Poses "Direct Threat" to U.S.
Excerpt: More than 40 Somalis living in America and 20 in Canada have traveled to Somalia to join the jihad waged there by the terrorist group al-Shabaab, a House Homeland Security Committee staff report finds. At least 15 of the Americans have died in al-Shabaab violence, but the whereabouts of 21 others remain unknown. Although that violence has been limited so far to Africa, two witnesses who appeared before the committee Wednesday said the United States should consider them, and al-Shabaab, as "a direct threat to the U.S. homeland." Al-Shabaab's recruiting success in the West is unrivaled, said committee chairman Peter King, R-N.Y. "Not al-Qaeda, nor any of its other affiliates, have come close to drawing so many Muslim-Americans and Westerners to jihad," King said in opening remarks.

SF soldiers honored by French government
http://waronterrornews.typepad.com/home/2011/07/sf-soldiers-honored-by-french-government.htmlExcerpt: They are used to their deeds pass as unnoticed as their battlefield movements, but six Special Forces soldiers took the limelight here last night to receive a French military award roughly equivalent to the Silver Star. Special Forces soldiers from the 10th Special Forces Group and the 20th Special Forces Group received the French Croix de la Valeur Militaire, roughly analagous to the Silver Star, during a private ceremony at the French ambassador's residence in Washington, D.C., July 25, 2011. Five National Guard soldiers and one on active duty were honored with the Croix de la Valeur Militaire – or French Cross of Military Valor -- in a private ceremony at the French ambassador’s residence attended by senior leaders including Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Army chief of staff, and Army Maj. Gen. Timothy Kadavy, deputy director of the Army National Guard.

Rick Perry is not a frontrunner (yet)
Excerpt: A new Gallup poll of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents finds that if he got into the 2012 presidential race, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) would immediately challenge former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s status as the frontrunner. Among announced candidates, Romney dominates the GOP field — relatively speaking — with 27 percent of the vote. But if both Perry and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin were to enter now, Romney and Perry would be basically tied, 17 to 15 percent. That’s only if Palin and Perry got into the race. If it’s just Perry, he gets a still notable 18 percent to Romney’s 23 percent — second-place status, but not first place. 9so Romney gets more Palin voters than Perry? Go figure. Name recognition, I guess. ~Bob.)

A Tale of Two Shale States
Having a job and feeding your family is apparently not part of a good environment. People starve and die, but birds and polar bears are hypothetically saved. Green is the new red. ~Bob. Excerpt: Politicians wringing their hands over how to create more jobs might study the shale boom along the New York and Pennsylvania border. It's a case study in one state embracing economic opportunity, while the other has let environmental politics trump development, says the Wall Street Journal. The Marcellus shale formation offers one of the biggest natural gas opportunities. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell recognized that potential and set up a regulatory framework to encourage and monitor natural gas drilling. More than 2,000 wells have been drilled in the Keystone State since 2008, and gas production surged to 81 billion cubic feet in 2009 from five billion in 2007. A new Manhattan Institute report by Timothy Considine estimates that a typical Marcellus well generates some $2.8 million in direct economic benefits from natural gas company purchases; $1.2 million in indirect benefits from companies engaged along the supply chain; another $1.5 million from workers spending their wages, or landowners spending their royalty payments; plus $2 million in federal, state and local taxes. The state Department of Labor and Industry reports that Marcellus drilling has created 72,000 jobs between the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2011. Then there's New York. The state holds as much as 20 percent of the estimated Marcellus shale reserves, but green activists have raised fears about the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing and convinced politicians to enact what is effectively a moratorium. The Manhattan Institute study shows that a quick end to the moratorium would generate more than $11.4 billion in economic output from 2011 to 2020, 15,000 to 18,000 new jobs, and $1.4 billion in new state and local tax revenue. Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he wants to lift New York's moratorium, and the state's recently released draft rules are a step forward. But they must still undergo legal review and a public comment period that could bar New York drilling for the rest of this year, if not longer.

Record Number of U.S. Troops Killed by Iranian Weapons
Excerpt: “We’re seeing a sharp increase in the amount of munitions coming across the border, some manufactured as recently as 2010,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the top U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said in an interview. “These are highly lethal weapons, and their sheer volume is a major concern.” Buchanan said much of the current weaponry is passing into the country through its formal border crossings with Iran. Current and former American military officers claim that those border crossings are guarded by Iraqi security personnel whose long-standing financial relationships with their Iranian counterparts means they will accept bribes or turn a blind eye in order to allow munitions through. (We may not be at war with the Iranians, but they’ve been at war with us since early November, 1979. Thanks again, Jimmy Carter. Ron P.)

Investor Confidence Falls to a New Two-Year Low
Wonder why people with money, those evil rich folks who fly around in corporate jets and don’t pay their fair share, according to Obama, would be losing confidence in investing in businesses to create jobs? Beats me. ~Bob. Excerpt: Consumer confidence inches up less than a point from the two-year low reached yesterday, while investor confidence falls to its lowest level in two-years.

Voters Expect Debt Ceiling To Be Raised, Doubt Long-Term Spending Will Be Cut
Excerpt: With less than five days left until the federal government could begin defaulting on its debts, voters continue to express unhappiness with both sides of the debt ceiling debate. While most voters continue to believe the debt ceiling will be raised before the government defaults, most don’t think the president and Congressional Republicans will agree on significant long-term spending cuts before the 2012 elections.

The Obama EPA's Brave New Future
Excerpt: Say goodbye to cars and trucks as you know them. Say hello to a brave new future ushered in by the Environmental Protection Agency. It's one where the federal government reshapes a major U.S. industry by administrative fiat, all in pursuit of a policy goal that will cost money, jobs, and lives—all to satisfy the left's environmentalist factions while dishing out taxpayer dollars to an Obama-favored unionized industry. That industry is the auto industry, and the Obama Administration is yet again using the mighty fist of the federal government to recast it in its own image. The Washington Post reports that the Obama Administration and the auto industry have reached agreement on new federal regulations that would raise fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, hitting an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025—a 40 percent reduction in fuel consumption compared to today.

Where does money come from?
Good, entertaining explanation of money and markets. ~Bob.

Jacking up your electric bill
And when working stiffs can’t get jobs, feed their families, drive or heat their homes, these liberal statists will blame “the rich.” ~Bob. Excerpt: America faces a European-style debt crisis, but you wouldn’t know it from observing what’s happening on Capitol Hill. At a Senate committee’s request, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Tuesday issued an analysis of proposed renewable (RES) and clean-energy standards (CES). The federal government has grown so large that it’s actually studying how to spend money to make electricity more expensive. In fact, it’s a White House priority. In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for 80 percent of America’s electricity to come from windmills and solar panels by 2035 as part of his Win the Future (WTF) campaign. That can only happen if federal laws and regulations are used to shut down cheaper sources of power, such as coal. As CBO concluded, “Either an RES or CES would also raise the average cost of generating electricity in the United States because, in the absence of the standard, regulators and generators would generally choose the lowest-cost method of producing electricity.” In a sane world, that would be the end of the story, but it isn’t. Currently, coal provides 45 percent of our power and nuclear 19 percent. Wind accounts for 2 percent, and solar power is so weak it earns an asterisk. That’s not going to change, so federal bureaucrats want to tell private companies they must produce 20 percent or 25 percent of their electricity from inefficient, intermittent sources using a complex scheme of production credits to impose their will on the industry.

As The Kabuki Accelerates
My goodness, we are on the downhill side of the last week before the faux debt ceiling deadline. What's next? In my current fantasy, John Boehner is a genius. He will pass his bill in the House by the skin of his teeth and with no time (or votes) to spare. And that's a good thing! Unless Reid and the Senate Dem can quickly rally, the Boehner bill will be the only game in town and there will be only seconds left on the clock. Can the Senate Dems find the time and the will to pass some other bill, with Boehner publicly fretting that he barely had the votes for his own creation and can't promise Reid any Republican help in the House? Or does Reid send the Boehner bill to the Senate floor and let scared Democrats ally with Republicans to pass it? I bet the latter. At which point Obama has a bill on his desk which he has threatened to veto. But there is even less time on the clock (unless Obama wants to contradict his own rhetoric and admit that Geithner has found an extra week), granny's Social Security checks hang in the balance (unless Obama wants to contradict his own rhetoric and announce his sudden discovery of the trust fund), and Boehner has barely corralled the Republican kamicrazies to get this far. Geez, what's a poor President to do? OK, this may all unravel. But Boehner might be a mastermind.

Jodi And Timothy Burr Sued By Homeowners Association To Remove Sign Supporting Son In Marines
Excerpt: The Gardens of Southgate property owners group in Bossier City, La., filed a lawsuit against Jodi and Timothy Burr this month because the couple has refused to take down a streamer that reads "Our son defends our freedom" and that violates the neighborhood's ban on signs. (…) The controversy is unfolding in an area with many active members of the military and veterans. The town is near Barksdale Air Force Base in northwestern Louisiana, and the homeowners group estimates that at least 25 percent of residents in the subdivision "are military." (…) The homeowners association president T.K. Mastny -- who is also the president of the Republican Women of Bossier -- didn't return calls from The Huffington Post. (The HOA likely wanted to avoid election signs and “out-of-the-home businesses.” Instead, they get to look mean-spirited and waste money on lawyers to enforce a provision of their agreement that might well be struck down—as limiting political speech—by any court hearing the suit even before a jury is chosen. Of course, the 25% or so of the locals who are associated with the military will also find this of interest, when they next consider a new abode. If the Burrs are stubborn, this could take decades to finish. Even if the Burrs lose in court, they may still be able to creatively paint their house to accomplish the same end. Beancounters come in all sizes and shapes as well as in all parties. Ron P.)

How Obama's losing the youth vote
Excerpt: Pew Research's figures for 2011 are not good news for President Obama and the Democrats. The Democratic identification edge has been reduced to 47 percent to 43 percent. That's a 4 point drop for Democrats and a 4 point rise for Republicans since 2008. The Pew analysts note, as if they were analyzing a growth stock, that the Republicans' numbers haven't improved since 2010. But the 2010 numbers yielded a 52 percent to 45 percent GOP lead in the popular vote for the House. If Republicans can maintain that standing in party identification, they should be in fine shape in November 2012, even with higher presidential-year turnout. It's interesting to see which groups have moved most in party identification. (They voted for a cool version of Harry Potter and got the magic of a second-rate Jimmy Carter. ~Bob.)

President of the lie
Excerpt: "I hate to disrespect the president, but he's lying." That was TV commentator Dick Morris last night on Fox's "Hannity," talking about Barack Obama's primetime speech in which the president once again warned Americans their government was on the verge of catastrophic default. "This is total fear tactics, and it's a lie – a big lie!" added Morris. (I recently wrote a column explaining the "big lie" of Aug. 2 default in a way any 8-year-old can understand.) But what I want to focus on here is Morris's qualifier, "I hate to disrespect the president, but …" I sympathize with Morris's personal and professional awkwardness in calling the president of the United States a liar. I've seen my good friend Sean Hannity struggle with this same awkwardness many times: He nails an outright lie the president has told, and may even use the word "lie," but his delivery is usually accompanied by a certain discomfort at having to speak the truth so nakedly. There's a good reason for this reticence and awkwardness.

China building electromagnetic pulse weapons for use against U.S. carriers
The growth of China’s military is one of the topics I explore in Collapse. ~Bob. Excerpt: China's military is developing electromagnetic pulse weapons that Beijing plans to use against U.S. aircraft carriers in any future conflict over Taiwan, according to an intelligence report made public on Thursday. Portions of a Center study on the lethal effects of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and high-powered microwave (HPM) weapons revealed that the arms are part of China’s so-called “assassin’s mace” arsenal - weapons that allow a technologically inferior China to defeat U.S. military forces. EMP weapons mimic the gamma-ray pulse caused by a nuclear blast that knocks out all electronics, including computers and automobiles, over wide areas. The phenomenon was discovered in 1962 after an aboveground nuclear test in the Pacific disabled electronics in Hawaii.

Excerpt: In the early morning hours of May 24, an armed burglar wearing a ski mask broke into the offices of Nicira Networks, a Silicon Valley startup housed in one of the countless nondescript buildings along Highway 101. He walked past desks littered with laptops and headed straight toward the cubicle of one of the company’s top engineers. The assailant appeared to know exactly what he wanted, which was a bulky computer that stored Nicira’s source code. He grabbed the one machine and fled. The whole operation lasted five minutes, according to video captured on an employee’s webcam. Palo Alto Police Sergeant Dave Flohr describes the burglary as a run-of-the-mill Silicon Valley computer grab. “There are lots of knuckleheads out there that take what they can and leave,” he says. But two people close to the company say that they, as well as national intelligence investigators now looking into the case, suspect something more sinister: a professional heist performed by someone with ties to China or Russia. The burglar didn’t want a computer he could sell on Craigslist. He wanted Nicira’s ideas.

Excerpt: Reports that China is close to achieving the same spy satellite capabilities as the United States and making advances in its drone and missile technologies are feeding into US theories that Beijing is pursuing a multi-faceted strategy to reshape the dynamics of military power in Asia. However, the Pentagon seems too enamored with the doctrine of "access denial", the belief that China is intent on blocking US access to the region to gain the upper hand in an asymmetrical conflict, that it is failing to take the evolution in Chinese military thinking into account. In July, reports surfaced that advances in China's spy orbiter program in the past 18 months enable it to spy on the same moving target - such as a US aircraft carrier - for up to six hours a day. In the same month, China launched an advanced new communications drone and there were revelations over its anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) program. "China is clearly pursuing a policy of 'access denial' toward pushing the US away from the western Pacific," Joan Johnson-Freese, chair of the National Security Decision Making Department at the US Naval War College, told Asia Times Online. "As part of that, they need to be able to 'see' what's going on, and the improvements in their eye-in-the-sky capabilities will allow them to better do that." (Don’t say I didn’t warn you. ~Bob.)

America's power grid too vulnerable to cyberattack, US report warns
Excerpt: America's power grid remains vulnerable to cyberattack, a result of sluggish implementation of weak computer security standards and insufficient federal oversight, says a tough new report from the US Department of Energy Inspector General. The North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), the lead grid-reliability organization for the power industry, has had approved standards in place since January 2008. Power companies were to have fully implemented those "critical infrastructure protection" (CIP) cyberstandards a year ago, but the standards still aren't doing an effective job, the inspector general's audit found.

A Small Business Dies
Excerpt: A small business shutting down has become too frequent a sight in America. Such enterprises are always coming and going, but recently there have been many more going than coming. While the Commerce Department says 552,600 small businesses opened in 2009, more than 721,700 closed or went bankrupt. And 2010 looks like it was even worse. No small business ends for just one reason. But with fewer conventions coming to Washington, a slow economy and people dining out less, it got gradually tougher to keep Furin's doors open. Its fate is a reminder to Washington politicians all along
Pennsylvania Avenue
that their decisions affect real human beings. Statistics are important, but behind every number is a real person. This is worth recalling during the debt-ceiling debate. This latest chapter of Obama-era high drama comes amid high unemployment, anemic growth, exploding deficits and collapsing public confidence. Americans deeply want a change. They've given the president time for his experiment in spending the country's way to prosperity, and they have concluded that his course has failed. In the debt-ceiling debate, Mr. Obama had his best and last moment to restrain federal spending and thereby change the trajectory of his profligate presidency. But he let it pass.

Torture still rampant in post-revolution Egypt, activists say
Excerpt: Egyptian human rights activists say they've documented hundreds of cases of civilians tortured by police and army forces since the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak, but that none have yet gone to trial. Under former President Mubarak, the security services were notorious for abuses, but since he left office in February dozens of cases have been filed to the general prosecutor's office accusing police and military authorities of torture and other crimes against anti-government protesters. For activists, that's a sign that the interim military government hasn't reined in the security forces, which were all-powerful during the Mubarak era. The only difference in post-revolution Egypt, they say, is that victims empowered by the uprising are speaking publicly of their brutal experiences.

Sugar Keynes
Excerpt: "By a continuous process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method, they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some....The process engages all of the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner that not one man in a million can diagnose." - John Maynard Keynes Economic Consequences of the Peace, 1920

Debunking 6 Myths About Anders Breivik
Excerpt: Anders Behring Breivik was a Fundamentalist Christian. Breivik described himself as not a religious person and mentions praying only once. His plans leading up to the attacks involved multiple visits to prostitutes. In one section of his manifesto he clarifies what he means by Christian. Q: Do I have to believe in God or Jesus in order to become a Justiciar Knight? No, you don’t need to have a personal relationship with God or Jesus to fight for our Christian cultural heritage. It is enough that you are a Christian-agnostic or a Christian-atheist (an atheist who wants to preserve at least the basics of the European Christian cultural legacy. Breivik did call himself a Christian, but meant that in a cultural sense, rather than a theological one. He emphasized that he was not seeking a theocracy, but a secular society. His idea of a Christian Europe had nothing to do with religion. (He also said he was a Darwinist and science must rule over religion. Funny for a “fundamentalist,” as the media describe him. ~Bob.)

New York Times Reader Kills Dozens in Norway
Gotta love the headline. Factual, too. ~Bob. Excerpt: The New York Times wasted no time in jumping to conclusions about Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who staged two deadly attacks in Oslo last weekend, claiming in the first two paragraphs of one story that he was a "gun-loving," "right-wing," "fundamentalist Christian," opposed to "multiculturalism." It may as well have thrown in "Fox News-watching" and "global warming skeptic." This was a big departure from the Times' conclusion-resisting coverage of the Fort Hood shooting suspect, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. Despite reports that Hasan shouted "Allahu Akbar!" as he gunned down his fellow soldiers at a military medical facility in 2009, only one of seven Times articles on Hasan so much as mentioned that he was a Muslim. Of course, that story ran one year after Hasan's arrest, so by then, I suppose, the cat was out of the bag. In fact, however, Americans who jumped to conclusions about Hasan were right and New York Times reporters who jumped to conclusions about Breivik were wrong. True, in one lone entry on Breivik's gaseous 1,500-page manifesto, "2083: A European Declaration of Independence," he calls himself "Christian." But unfortunately he also uses a great number of other words to describe himself, and these other words make clear that he does not mean "Christian" as most Americans understand the term. (Incidentally, he also cites The New York Times more than a half-dozen times.) Had anyone at the Times actually read Breivik's manifesto, they would have seen that he uses the word "Christian" as a handy moniker to mean "European, non-Islamic" -- not a religious Christian or even a vague monotheist. In fact, at several points in his manifesto, Breivik stresses that he has a beef with Christians for their soft-heartedness. (I suppose that's why the Times is never worried about a "Christian backlash.")

Is the President in Recovery?
Excerpt: President Obama does not care much about deficits -- other than worrying that big debt might matter in his re-election campaign. In his first three budgets, Obama borrowed nearly $5 trillion. Currently, the government is borrowing about 45 percent of everything that it spends. Obama's projected 10-year plan would add nearly $10 trillion to existing U.S. debt. This spring he proposed the largest annual deficit in U.S. peacetime history, which is why his $3.7 trillion budget for 2012 was rejected in the Senate by a 97-0 vote. In other words, under Obama, the government during the last three years has borrowed on average about $4 billion each day. That staggering sum is far in excess of the $1.6 billion per day during the eight-year tenure of George W. Bush, who until Obama's presidency had borrowed more than any peacetime president.

Does Sexual Fare Cause Sexual Violence?
Excerpt: "Pornography is the theory -- rape is the practice," wrote feminist author Robin Morgan. In 1986, a federal commission concurred. Some kinds of pornography, it concluded, are bound to lead to "increased sexual violence." Indianapolis passed a law allowing women to sue producers for sexual assaults caused by material depicting women in "positions of servility or submission or display." The campaign fizzled when the courts said the ordinance was an unconstitutional form of "thought control." Though the Bush administration put new emphasis on prosecuting obscenity, on the grounds that it fosters violence against women, pornography is more available now than ever. That's due in substantial part to the rise of the Internet, where the United States alone has a staggering 244 million web pages featuring erotic fare. One Nielsen survey found that one out of every four users says they visited adult sites in the past month. So in the past two decades, we have essentially conducted a vast experiment on the social consequences of such material. If the supporters of censorship were right, we should be seeing an unparalleled epidemic of sexual assault. But all the evidence indicates they were wrong. As raunch has waxed, rape has waned.

Sen Shelby says Soros hypocrite for reforms dodge
Excerpt: Prominent Republican Senator Richard Shelby accused billionaire investor George Soros of hypocrisy on Wednesday for evading new hedge fund regulations he once publicly backed. Soros recently said he would return money to outsider investors and only manage his own family's funds to escape the Securities and Exchange Commission's new hedge fund adviser registration rules. "It appears that Soros talked up financial reform only to sell it short," Shelby told Reuters in a statement. "Don't be surprised to see his fellow Wall Street financiers follow suit. They'll use their political clout and legal muscle to sidestep Dodd-Frank, while their smaller competitors and businesses take the hit." By giving back investors' money -- which is a small slice of the roughly USD 25 billion Soros oversees -- Soros is taking advantage of an exemption in a recently approved SEC rule required by the Dodd-Frank Act. The exemption allows family offices not only to avoid the registration requirements, but also to dodge a greater disclosure burden that requires big fund managers to turn over confidential data to help the SEC police systemic risk.

Dear Yankee ---Eight things you ought to know before you start writing stories about Rick Perry
Excerpt: Here we go again. As you know, Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, is contemplating a presidential run, which means that any day now, your boss will be sending you down here to take the measure of the man. Though he managed to avoid the 2012 spotlight longer than any other candidate, Perry, the nation’s longest-serving governor, has lately become, in the words of a recent NPR report, “the eight-hundred-pound gorilla on the sidelines of this race.” The trickle of stories about him has become a stream, and the minute Perry declares his candidacy, that stream will become a flood, a flood that will carry you straight to Austin. I am writing you this note in the hope that it will help you avoid the political and sociological clich├ęs that Texas is subjected to every time one of our politicians seeks the national stage. It’s an experience we’re all too familiar with. A Texan has occupied the White House in 17 of the past 48 years—just over a third of the time. Texas has become an incubator for presidents, as Virginia and Ohio were in America’s distant past. I’ll grant you that the presidents we have sent to Washington, from LBJ to 
George W. Bush, have not always served as the best advertisements for Texas. Nevertheless, we have endured a disproportionate amount of bad writing about our state from journalists who don’t know very much about the place, and I for one can’t bear to suffer through another campaign of it. So please, heed this advice. Rick Perry, as you have no doubt already discovered, is not the easiest man to write about. He is secretive and leery of the media (sometimes to the point of hostility), and he has a strategically valuable knack for being underestimated by his critics. I have been writing about him since the eighties, when he began his career in the Texas Legislature. Along the way I have learned a few things, which I have arranged in this handy list of Eight Points to Keep in Mind When Writing About Rick Perry.

Witnesses to ATF gunrunner operation to name names: 'By the end of this, they'll prove that orders came from the very top'
Excerpt: The Project Gunrunner, or "Operation Fast and Furious," investigation is moving to the next level with hearings set this week in which the border agents who worked in the field while weapons were being dispatched to Mexican drug lords will testify. "This hearing will focus mainly on how Mexican officials and ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) officials stationed in Mexico were kept in the dark on Operation Fast and Furious," said Becca Watkins, a spokeswoman for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Poll: Arab views of Iran plummet in wake of Arab spring
Excerpt: Arab attitudes towards Iran have worsened sharply in recent years, according to a new six-nation poll released by the Arab American Institute Wednesday. Since 2006, Iran’s favorability has plummeted from the 70-90 percent range among Arab countries to a current range of 10-40%, with the average favorability rating at just 27.5%. Of the six countries surveyed – Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – only Lebanon’s, at 63%, has a majority favorability rating. Saudis’ views are the worst, with only 6% viewing Iran favorably. “Their quest for hegemony is one that is very disconcerting in the Arab world. There’s not an interest in seeing Iran in the role that Iran seeks for itself, which is the main power in the Gulf region,” assessed AAI president James Zogby, who conducted the poll.

Do your share to keep the Pretender-In-Chief "deeply offended" by passing this around.
from the e-mail forward: Steve Bridges is the guy who imitated George Bush on the Jay Leno Show. He has now started imitating Obama and REALLY does it well. The Administration has tried to put a stop to Bridges' act because Obama has made it known that he is deeply offended. So do your share to keep the Pretender-In-Chief "deeply offended" by passing this around... There might also be some educational content.

What Power to Tax and Spend?
Excerpt: Notably, most House conservatives, including the Tea Party freshmen, are standing with Boehner, choosing a pragmatic approach until 2012, when they hope to strengthen their numbers in the House and Senate, and retake the presidency. The current budget debate was the first serious consideration of a BBA since it was advocated by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and later passed by the House as part of the Republican Contract with America in 1995. (At that time, it received 300 votes, including 72 Democrats.) Now, as then, Leftist Democrats in the Senate have created a formidable gauntlet to its passage because it would severely undermine their power to redistribute wealth, power that is the only assurance of their perpetual re-election. A BBA would sunset their dynasty. (…) Across the nation, 49 of 50 states have some form of balanced budget requirement. The federal government, however, recognizes no such limitations and for three decades has been spending far more than it takes in. Not only must the debt accumulation be stopped, it must be reversed. To accomplish this reversal, the most pressing question in the current debate is not "which budget plan is better?" Rather, it is "By what authority does the central government collect taxes, and on what items is it authorized to spend those combined taxes and accumulated national debt?" (How voters choose to answer this one question will determine our national future. Ron P. Or if there will be a “national” future? ~Bob.)

14-Year-OlD U.S. Citizen Gets Three Years For Beheading Hostages As Mexican Cartel Hitman
Excerpt: A hitman for a major Mexican drug cartel was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday for offenses including murder, kidnapping, and drug trafficking. But this assassin is only 14 years old, and the brutality of his crimes — including beheadings – have shocked the world amidst the continuing carnage near the US-Mexico border. Edgar Jimenez, nicknamed “El Ponchis,” (many have said it means “cloak,“ but really it is ”One who likes techno music“) is a U.S. Citizen, born in San Diego. He claims that at age 11 he was kidnapped and soon thereafter became a hitman for the South Pacific Cartel, a notorious drug smuggling syndicate that Mexican police say is responsible for hundreds of murders this year alone. Jimenez’s sentence is the maximum he can receive, as he is under 16 years of age. Mexico has no system for trying juveniles as adults. The murder charges refer to the killing of 4 people whose mutilated bodies were found hanging from a bridge. Jimenez claims he was forced, under threat of death, to carry out heinous acts of torture and murder. At the time of his arrest, Reforma Newspaper quoted Ponchis saying ”When I was 11, they picked me up. They said they would kill me … I’ve killed four people, decapitated them. I felt bad doing it. They made me. They said if I didn’t do it, they would kill me.”

DPS Builds Up Assets Along Border
Excerpt: Standing before a large Texas map that plots drugs, money and weapons seized, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety said the potential threat posed by Mexican drug cartels extends throughout the state. Col. Steve McCraw said six of the seven major cartels are now operating in Texas with "command and control networks" in major metropolitan areas. McCraw added the Mexican Mafia is San Antonio's biggest challenge. McCraw said many Texas-based criminal gangs were working for the cartels, an indication of their reach beyond the border. Asked whether his agency's heightened role of helping the federal government protect the border amounted to an undeclared war against the cartels, McCraw said, "We don't use that term." Still he said, "The enemy is the cartels. That's our enemy."

Big Green blocks an oil pipeline, sacrificing thousands of jobs
Excerpt: TransCanada's second pipeline, the $7 billion Keystone XL, designed to carry crude oil from tar sands near Hardisty, Alberta to the Gulf Coast is delayed indefinitely. What if there was a way President Obama could create more than 100,000 jobs, reduce the price of gasoline at the pump, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil -- all at zero cost to taxpayers? Any sane president would jump at the chance, right? Not Obama. It has been 33 months since TransCanada filed for a permit from the State Department to begin construction on the Keystone XL oil pipeline. They are still awaiting final agency decision. Normally energy companies do not need to win State Department approval for pipeline construction, but the 1,700-mile Keystone XL project would carry about 700,000 barrels of oil a day -- or 255.5 million barrels a year -- from Alberta, Canada, across the U.S. border, and then south all the way to the Gulf Coast. To put that in perspective, Obama recently released 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over a period of 30 days. The Keystone project would also create 7,000 manufacturing jobs, 13,000 construction jobs, and 118,000 spinoff jobs related to the design and management of the pipeline, all in the United States. With unemployment at 9.2 percent, why isn't Obama putting this project on a fast track?

Ice age threat should freeze EPA global warming regs
Excerpt: Rather than spiraling into a global warming meltdown, we may be heading into the next ice age. The U.S. National Solar Observatory, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and astrophysicists across the planet report that the nearly all-time low sunspot activity may result in a sustained cooling period on Earth. The news has sent global warming theory advocates scrambling to discount and explain away the impact on global temperatures. However, the "news" is not really that new. Many reputable scientists have been warning for decades that we are nearing the end of the 11,500-year average period between ice ages. And the last similar crash in sunspot activity coincided with the so-called "Little Ice Age" in the 1600s that lasted nearly a century. Despite increasing evidence that "global warming" climate change is not the unified scientific theory it has been promoted to be, vested interests continue to push for stringent limits on carbon dioxide emissions. (A few degrees decrease would be a LOT worse than the same increase. Why? Food. ~Bob.)

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