Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Political Digest for September 13, 2011

Best older posts for new blog readers

Excerpt: Anyone reading my letter for the last three years cannot be surprised that Greece will default. It is elementary school arithmetic. The Greek debt-to-GDP is currently at 140%. It will be close to 180% by year’s end (assuming someone gives them the money). The deficit is north of 15%. They simply cannot afford to make the interest payments. True market (not Eurozone-subsidized) interest rates on Greek short-term debt are close to 100%, as I read the press. Their long-term debt simply cannot be refinanced without Eurozone bailouts. Was anyone surprised that the Greeks announced a state fiscal deficit of €15.5 billion for the first six months of 2011, vs. €12.5 billion during the same period last year? What else would you expect from increased austerity? If you reduce GDP by as much as Greece attempted to do, OF COURSE you get less GDP and thus lower tax revenues. You can’t do it at 5% a year, as I have pointed out time and time again. These are the consequences of allowing debt to get too high. It is the Endgame. [Quick sidebar: If (when) the US goes into recession, have you thought about what the result will be? A recession of course means lower GDP, which will mean higher unemployment. That will increase costs due to increased unemployment and other government aid, and of course lower revenues as tax receipts (revenues) go down. Given the projections and path we are currently on, that means even higher deficits than we have now. If Obama has his plan enacted, and if we go into a recession, we will see record-level deficits. Certainly over $1.5 trillion, and depending on the level of the recession, we could scare $2 trillion. Think the Tea Party will like that? Governments have less control than they think over these things. Ask Greece or any other country in a debt crisis how well they predicted their budgets.] (Optimists are buying stocks. Realists are buying ammo. ~Bob.)

“I’m Tired” by Bill Cosby?
Snopes.com now says that some e-mails are attributing my “I’m Tired” essay to Bill Cosby. Huh. Well, as Abraham Lincoln said, “You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” ~Bob.

The Costs of German Fear: Energy Fact of the Week
Excerpt: In May the International Energy Agency estimated that the phase out decision would add at least 25 million tons of CO2 to Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions, though this may prove an underestimate if Germany prolongs or expands the use of coal-fired power plants to fill the gap, as is likely. Last week Germany’s economics ministry released a study that estimated that the cost of the nuclear phase out in lost jobs and higher energy prices and carbon emissions permit fees (since Germany is part of the European carbon trading scheme) will be about $46 billion. But wait—Germany has been a smashing success at renewable energy hasn’t it? They are the world’s leading producer of solar power, accounting for 43 percent of the world’s total installed base. The growth numbers are astounding: between 2000 and 2010, according to the latest BP Statistical Review of World Energy, Germany’s wind power capacity grew 516 percent, and its solar power capacity by 22,689 percent! Figure 2 below displays the growth of solar power in Germany during this time period. Wow! Of course, solar power, which Germany has heavily subsidized, started from almost nothing in 2000, so this is a misleading numbers game. After all of this effort, solar power accounts for only 1.1 percent of Germany’s total electricity supply, and supplied only 5 percent as much electricity as its nuclear power plants. Figure 3 shows that for all of the effort and subsidies Germany has put behind wind and solar power, they still both account for a fraction of the power output of nuclear power in 2010. (Not to worry. German will soon be a Muslim country and they have no problems with nukes—see Iran. ~Bob.)

Who knew? Study: 8 in 10 lawmakers lack education in economicshttp://www.politico.com/news/stories/0811/61929.html
Excerpt: Almost 80 percent of lawmakers might need to crack open an economics textbook before the congressional recess ends, a new study on Tuesday suggests. The vast majority of members lack an academic background in business or economics, according to a study by the Employment Policies Institute, a nonprofit group that takes a conservative stand on fiscal issues. Only 13.7 percent majored in business or accounting, and 8.4 percent have an economics degree. “How many members of Congress have an academic background that provided them with a basic understanding how the economy works? The answer, it turns out, is not many,” the report concluded. On the Senate budget committee, five out of 23 members — about 20 percent — have a business/accounting or econ background, EPI research fellow Michael Saltsman told POLITICO. (Like this is a surprise. One of my fantasies about being super rich would be to start a non-profit that delivered a book every week to every member of Congress. These would include, of course, After America by Mark Steyn and my book The Coming Collapse of the American Republic, but also Basis Economics and Applied Economics by Thomas Sowell and Race and Economics by Walter Williams. And electing legislators who care enough to read them. ~Bob.)

How to Fight Black Unemployment
Excerpt: I'm beginning to think that Irving Kristol was correct when he wrote, "It takes a Ph.D. in economics not to be able to understand the obvious." It shouldn't surprise anyone why the economy isn't getting better. If the U.S. wants prosperity, government doesn't need to do something, it needs to undo much of what it already has done. Here is one area where, in the spirit of the late Congressman Jack Kemp, President Obama and I could agree. African-Americans are suffering inordinately in the Obama aftermath of the Bush Great Recession. While overall U.S. unemployment stands at 9.1%, black unemployment has jumped to 16.7%. Black teenage unemployment is bordering on 50%, and that figure doesn't even take into account "discouraged" workers, "involuntary" part-time workers and "underemployed" workers. But even these numbers don't tell the real story. They represent real people who are suffering deeply and have been suffering for a long, long time.

The Light of Freedom Fading in America
Excerpt: As the light of freedom in America begins to dim, as American exceptionalism is questioned, even mocked, those of us who still remember freedom long to return to that America that was, but sadly, there are but a few of us who remember what America was and can see now what she is becoming. Throughout the centuries America has been a force for good around the world. This Heaven blessed land has been a nation, unlike any other. Our pilgrim fathers were chased from the shores of Europe because insisted on living reverently, shunning non Biblical doctrines and keeping Sabbath. They came to America to plant a land where God could be honored, where men could live out their lives in freedom and have the liberty to worship as they were led by the Holy Spirit. This was to be a place where they could build a future of their choosing. They left England because arrogant kings and lords treated them as peasants; enacted laws that controlled every aspect of their lives; and taxed them beyond what they could bear, and those taxes were being used to support causes which many found objectionable, and so they left and they came to this new land, America.

Al-Qaida in Pakistan: Down, But Not Out
Excerpt: A senior al-Qaida leader who planned and executed international operations for the terrorist group was arrested last week by Pakistani security forces with help from U.S. intelligence agencies. Younis al-Mauritani, who was instructed by Osama bin Laden to attack economic targets in the United States, Europe and Australia, was captured along with two associates in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, long known to be a militant hotbed and Taliban stronghold. "He was planning to target United States economic interests including gas/oil pipelines, power generating dams and strike ships/oil tankers through explosive laden speed boats in international waters," the Pakistani military said in a statement following Mauritani's capture. The capture of Mauritani coming so close on the heels of last month's killing of al-Qaida's second-in-command, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, in a CIA drone strike marks another major blow to core AQ leadership in Pakistan.

In Their Own Words …
Sickening. ~Bob.

Diary of a Deranged Liberal
Excerpt: On Sunday, New York Times writer Paul Krugman offered his 9/11 thoughts on the ten year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America. He did so in a brief column, almost in the form of a diary entry. In it, Krugman decided to take a strong stand and call out (by name) the villains of that terrible day. Interestingly, Osama Bin Laden, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and Al Qaeda didn’t make the list. Who did make the list? George W. Bush, Rudy Giuliani, and Bernard Kerik. No, I’m not kidding. His reasoning? He claims that the three became “fake heroes” by racing to “cash in” on the horrors of that day. He doesn’t expand on that assertion any further, other than taking shots at his colleagues in the news media for letting the three get away with it, and at “neocons” for taking us to war. He ended his column by announcing that he wasn’t going to let online readers comment on his thoughts for “obvious reasons”.

Rick Perry On Science
Excerpt: Chait is claiming that Perry simply ignores reality when it is at odds with ideology. Sort of like EPA administrator Lisa Jackson continuing to link ozone levels to the risk of autism or John Holdren, Obama's science adviser, writing about global warming: "Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about?" Or maybe he was thinking about how Centers for Disease Control and Prevention delayed the rollout of the swine flu program. CDC and the White House caved in to the anti-vaccine crazies and pulled multi-dose swine flu shots because they contained thimerasol. By contrast, Perry follows the science when it establishes a causal link between one event or mechanism and a measurable outcome. When his executive order requiring the HPV vaccine for all girls entering sixth grade was overridden by the Texas legislature, Perry rejected arguments by some social conservatives that vaccinating girls and young women against HPV might encourage premarital sex. In a written message about his decision, Perry said even if they do make wrong choices, the "greater imperative is to protect life." Perry also said that attempts to discredit the HPV vaccine amount to "hyperbole that doesn't stand up in light of clinical data." As the headline for a National Public Radio report stated: "Perry Position On HPV Vaccine For Girls Followed Expert Medical Advice." NPR reported, "The vaccine is recommended for girls at age 11 or 12 not just by the federal government's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, but also the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, and Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine."

Must Watch: American flag burned outside US embassy in London on 9/11 - video
Londinistan. It’s still possible for Muslims to believe that Muslims had nothing to do with 9/11, and to at the same time celebrate it as an Islamic victory. ~Bob. English Defence League EDL: An Apology to our American friends on behalf of The British Government & Met Police Hierarchy. We are so sorry for today’s events and would like to say sorry on behalf of the British Public. Our efforts to try and stop MAC today, has resulted in two good lads being stabbed, running battles on Oxford Street, Hyde Park - Speakers Corner, Edgeware Rd and all around your Embassy. It is our everlasting shame that our Government is too weak to make a stand against Radical Islam.

“Islam is Coming in Europe and America” Burn, burn USA! Muslims, rise up!
Excerpt: Below is a more extensive collection of video clips put together by the English Defence League from today’s Muslims Against Crusades demonstration in London, and the EDL’s attempted counter-demonstration. You can see the notorious but cuddly Anjem Choudary doing his usual thing for the crowd. Then there’s another Muslim speaker that I recognize from previous videos, but I can’t remember his name. You can also see the red-headed young convert who was featured recently in MAC propaganda posting “Shariah-Free Zone” stickers in East London. Halfway through the video the EDL demonstrators are read a Section 14 notice and then forcibly relocated by the police. You’ll hear EDL leader Kevin Carroll’s inspirational words in response to the actions of the police: (Now, don’t go all Islamophobic on me. A few more bows from our President and these folks will become pluralistic, tolerant Jeffersonian democrats. ~Bob.)

38% Favor Obama Jobs Plan, 36% Oppose
Excerpt: Voters think Congress may pass at least some of President Obama’s latest jobs plan but have much more confidence in reducing government regulations to create new jobs. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 38% of Likely U.S. Voters favor the $447 billion plan the president introduced to a joint session of Congress last Thursday evening. Nearly as many (36%) oppose the plan which includes the continuation of certain tax breaks, the passage of several stalled free trade agreements with other countries and new spending for education, infrastructure like roads and bridges and the further extension of unemployment benefits. Twenty-six percent (26%) are undecided about the plan.

IOUs Can't Save Social Security
Excerpt: But like millions of seniors then and now, Grandma was convinced that her Social Security benefits were an entitlement she had bought with her own payroll taxes years earlier. She blessed FDR for creating the Social Security trust fund in which she had faithfully invested for most of her working life, and couldn't understand why her grandson had any objection to it. In reality there is no money in Social Security's trust fund and never has been. It is merely an accounting fiction, like the individual Social Security accounts to which workers' payroll taxes are credited. But Grandma could hardly be blamed for believing otherwise. Right from the start, Social Security was promoted to Americans as a straightforward pension fund. "We have set up a savings account for the old age of the worker," FDR told a Pennsylvania audience in 1936. Contributions would be made by employers and employees via payroll taxes, which would be "held by the government solely for the benefit of the worker in his old age." It wasn't true. In a decision the following year upholding the Social Security Act, the Supreme Court confirmed what anyone who read the law would already have discovered: Payroll taxes weren't held by the government solely for the benefit for retirees. On the contrary: Social Security taxes "are to be paid into the Treasury like internal revenue taxes generally, and are not earmarked in any way."

Salve for Our Wounds
Excerpt: The depleted armed forces that have been fighting these wars for a nation not conscripted into any notable inconvenience will eventually recuperate. For mostly oblivious civilians, the only recurring and most visible reminder of the post-9/11 world is shoeless participation in the security theater at airports. It thus seems wildly incongruous that some Americans rushed to proclaim that 9/11 "changed everything." (There’s a graffito from Iraq: “America is not at war. The Marine Corps is at war. America is at the mall.” ~Bob.)

1 Dead in Explosion at French Nuclear Plant
Good news for the Arabs; another reason to scare western populations into increased energy dependence on Mideast oil. ~Bob. Excerpt: A nuclear waste site in southern France had an explosion Monday that killed one person, seriously burned another and slightly injured three others, France's nuclear safety body said. The Nuclear Safety Authority said no radioactive leaks have been detected in the blast at 12:37 p.m. at an oven in the Centraco nuclear site. The accident was under control within the hour, the agency said in a statement.

Jewish right turn? Weiner’s seat may tell
as unlikely as a Republican willing the former Kennedy seat in Massachusetts. ~Bob. Excerpt: What to make of the Siena College bombshell poll placing Republican Bob Turner with a six-point lead -- up from a six-point deficit last month -- over Democrat David Weprin? Does it mean the hotly contested race for the House seat vacated by sex addict Anthony Weiner is really a referendum on President Obama? Or does it finally signal a rightward shift in Jewish voters’ reaction to liberalism’s increasingly anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian stance? Complicating the issue: Weprin himself is an Orthodox Jew, while Turner is Catholic. Yet Weprin’s lead among Jewish voters, who make up about a third of likely voters in the 9th Congressional District, fell from 21 points to just six points in the latest poll.

Turner poised for big upset
Excerpt: Republican Bob Turner is poised to pull a huge upset in the race to replace Anthony Weiner as the Congressman from New York's 9th Congressional District. He leads Democrat David Weprin 47-41 with Socialist Workers candidate Christopher Hoeppner at 4% and 7% of voters remaining undecided. Turner's winning in a heavily Democratic district for two reasons: a huge lead with independents and a large amount of crossover support. He's ahead by 32 points at 58-26 with voters unaffiliated with either major party. And he's winning 29% of the Democratic vote, holding Weprin under 60% with voters of his own party, while losing just 10% of Republican partisans. If Turner wins on Tuesday it will be largely due to the incredible unpopularity of Barack Obama dragging his party down in the district. (I believe PPP has a reputation for leaning Democratic in its polls. Keep your fingers crossed. This one will go to whoever gets their voters to the polls. Ron P. I believe PPP has a reputation for leaning Democratic in its polls. Keep your fingers crossed. This one will go to whoever gets their voters to the polls. Ron P.)

Could Obama bill bleed health jobs?
Excerpt: Health care providers are warning that President Barack Obama’s new jobs plan could actually siphon jobs from one of the few industries still hiring — because the only way to pay for it would be to make deeper cuts in the health care entitlement programs. Over the past year, the broadly defined health sector has created about 74,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industry has provided the Obama administration with one of its success stories during an otherwise gloomy 12-month period for labor, during which the jobless rate has reached 9.1 percent. In fact, the Obama administration has linked some of that job growth to the health reform package passed last year. But Obama’s template to get more Americans back to work could ultimately have the opposite effect on the health care sector because he asked the deficit supercommittee in his Thursday night speech to find extra savings to pay for his $447 billion jobs package. And to do that, the panel would probably have to propose deeper spending cuts for Medicare and Medicaid than it would have done otherwise.

The politics of a USPS default
Excerpt: If the most famous aphorism in Washington — that all politics is local — is true, then the neighborhood post office is about as political as it gets. And it’s been that way for a long time. “Politics have been tied in with the postal service from the very beginning,” said Nancy Pope, a historian at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Perhaps that’s why, barely a month after the bitterly partisan, scorched-earth debt ceiling/deficit fight, Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill vow bipartisan cooperation to keep the perpetually strapped U.S. Postal Service — already considering closing 3,300 offices to offset billions it expects to lose this year and next — from sinking in a sea of red ink. The USPS, which has lost an average of roughly $7.5 billion a year for the past two years, is maxed out on its $12 billion line of credit with the Treasury Department and could default on a $5.5 billion payment it must make to a retiree health benefits fund by month’s end. That’s on top of the estimated $7 billion to $8 billion the USPS is projected to lose this year.

Excerpt: While it’s been the subject of rumor, gossip and misinformation for the last several years, this time it’s real: drilling off the north shore of Cuba is scheduled to begin November 1. Six wells are planned to be drilled with this rig by the various international companies who own exploration rights off the north shore of the island.

Excerpt: Which brings us to the fiscal impact. If you take at face value the defenders of the Social Security status quo, their theory is that Social Security is not supposed to be a welfare program but a pension plan: workers pay into the system, which places their wages in a “trust fund” and later pays them back a defined benefit. As Perry – and Romney, in his book – notes, the system doesn’t actually run that way. The only “assets” in the trust fund are “I owe me” bonds reflecting that the taxpayers will be asked to come up with revenues in the future, the same kinds of “my own debts are my assets” accounting that got Enron in trouble; meanwhile, the government spends the money as soon as it comes in, and hopes that it will continue getting enough future payroll tax revenue to pay future benefits. This is the textbook definition of how a Ponzi scheme operates and precisely why such schemes – as we saw with Bernie Madoff – inevitably go bust when they can’t keep expanding.

Excerpt: In less than two weeks, on September 21st, the public comment period will be closing on a Department of Labor scheme to have employers report the amount of money paid to outside vendors (namely, attorneys, PR firms, website developers, video firms, polling firms and just about every type of communications and human resource consultant) as newly-minted “persuaders.” Once the public comment closes, and because too few people really understand the ramifications to have made comments so far, Hilda Solis and her union cronies inside the Department of Labor will likely issue the new regulations and the union political witch hunt will begin. You see, the information paid by an employer to anyone of these vendors will then be made available to the public—to unions, to be more precise. Think of it as the DISCLOSE Act for private sector businesses. More importantly, because its a criminal offense not to file disclosure forms with the DOL, failure to file could lead to jail time for the newly-named ‘persuaders’ and the employers who hire them. For those who already filed with the Department of Labor, the added paperwork will be cumbersome. However, that may very well be worth it when those close to the Democratic Party realize that Hilda and her union cohorts will have caught them up in her new regulations as well.

Of Course Social Security Is a Ponzi Scheme
Excerpt: So what about Texas Governor Rick Perry’s claim that Social Security is a “lie” and a “Ponzi scheme”? He’s right on both counts. Americans should be singing hallelujah that we have at least one politician not afraid to tell the truth. This isn’t about ideology. It’s about arithmetic. You can’t hear too many times that, despite what many still think, Social Security isn’t any kind of investment plan, and there is no account that you’re paying into that is yours. Social Security is simply about current workers paying a tax that is used to make payouts to current retirees. (My brother Tom, the family liberal, has said for years that he should be able to deduct SS taxes as a charitable contribution. It is different from the average Ponzi scheme because paying Madoff was voluntary. ~Bob.)

Richard Pryor as first black president...32 years ago
Too funny. ~Bob.

Iran and the EMP Threat
Excerpt: The first thing they will notice is there is no power. Another damn power outage, they will grumble — but then again, there has been no storm. Confused, some will try to call for information, but the phones will be down. The TV, the radio — nothing, no reception. The panic will come when cars won’t start. The traffic lights will be out, too. It will get much worse. Most will not survive to see life get back to normal in America. Thousands will be stranded on subways, and over a million passengers who fly daily across the continent will be stuck at airports with flights canceled. Those already in the air will meet a deadly fate as planes plunge from the sky, their electronics fried. Within the next few days, water supplies will run out: water-pumping stations will grind to a halt and electric pumps for water purification will also stop. Remaining water supplies will soon become contaminated. Next is the food supply. Without power, food plants can no longer operate, and without transportation, food inventories in warehouses rot. Many cities will run out of food in just three days, others in just a bit longer. This will be the result of an electromagnetic pulse attack over the atmosphere of the United States. (This type of attack has been the nightmare of many concerned with national security for decades. We have almost no preparation for it in civilian life, other than a few major banks and corporations. Ironically, the safest place to be in a purely EMP attack might be on a military base. Many of the military’s vehicles and much of the equipment will still work; yours and mine, not so much. Time to re-enlist? (Hell, they wouldn’t even let us old farts into the reserves, but maybe some of you younger folks….) Ron P. )

Bush speech on 9/11
This afternoon, Fox News channel, Cspan and others had live coverage of the Flight 93 National Memorial Dedication Ceremony in Shanksville, PA. I was outside working and a friend in North Carolina phoned me about it. I missed most of it and watched the rebroadcast on Cspan tonight starting at 7pm. The speech by President George W. Bush was absolutely positively riveting. The ceremony lasted about 90 minutes, and the 11 minute Bush speech was about 45 minutes into the ceremony. After watching and recording him on Cspan tonight, it was yet another reminder of how much I miss W. This speech is getting well deserved attention and spreading over the internet. I’ve been getting emails from everywhere. – Desiree.

Excerpt: America's post-9/11 increase in homeland security efforts might make you feel safer, or maybe they leave you feeling violated and cramped. But it's made many revolving-door lobbyists feel much richer. The crater in lower Manhattan and the hole in the Pentagon spawned a nearly trillion-dollar homeland security operation, including a new Cabinet department, new congressional committees, and new local government jobs. A Homeland Security-Industrial Complex now towers alongside the Military-Industrial Complex that President Eisenhower made famous in his 1960 farewell address. With $100 billion in Homeland Security contracts since 9/11, defense giants like Lockheed Martin had a new pot of government money to divvy up. Specialized security companies -- like the guys who make airport scanners -- suddenly became huge government contractors. And the politicians and bureaucrats who got in on the ground floor of this new agency cashed out as consultants and lobbyists for this burgeoning industry. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge was George W. Bush's pick as director of homeland security until Congress created the Cabinet department, and then Ridge became the department's first secretary. Ridge left DHS in 2005 but he never returned to Pennsylvania.

Defining ‘Fair’ in Obama’s ‘Paying a Fair Share’ Rhetoric
Excerpt: I mean, everybody should pay their “fair share,” right? And who wants billionaires to have tax loopholes at their disposal? The word “loophole” alone suggests something illicit and dishonest. Unfortunately for America, millions nod approvingly at these specious words, feeling informed as they return to their union jobs, university tenure, or government employment. We need a “balanced” approach to our national debt crisis, he says. Fewer “harsh” spending cuts and more revenue increases. The words are carefully chosen. The logic is compelling; soothing even.  President Obama’s biggest political strength is a keen understanding of human nature. He knows that if he says something over and over that sounds good, the vast majority of his supporters who vote for a living but pay little or no taxes and even less attention to the issues will walk into the voting booth a year from now with a radically skewed perception of political reality. He’s betting on it. Sadly, it’s not a bad bet. (There are a lot of definitions I’d like to see: being in poverty (which is usually expressed as a percentage (can you explain why the bottom 20% wouldn’t be the bottom 20% if everyone gets a raise? So there will ALWAYS be a bottom 20%.), civilian—as opposed to simply non-uniformed, stakeholder (currently a favorite with NGOs that seems to include everyone except whoever they expect to pay for their new whim), public interest/good—that always seems to mean whatever the loudest group is supporting regardless of what the general public thinks of it. I’d actually be quite content with the “normal and accepted” definitions if politicians and pressure groups would stop misusing the terms to suit themselves. Maybe, like the French, we need a language police? Only kidding; in a generation, the language police would all be leftists. Ron P.)

Much more optimistic about the future than I am. ~Bob. Excerpt: A typical family will see their living standards fall by more than £4,600 a year by 2013 because of public service cuts, benefit changes and below-inflation pay rises, the TUC has warned. A report, Unhappy Families, said an average-income single parent living in London with two children will lose the most, seeing their salary reduced by 10%, while a high income, two-earner family living in the South East with three children will lose the least at 6% of their pay. The study, published ahead of next week's TUC gathering in London, warned that living standards had fallen more than at any time since the 1970s.

Why does Puerto Rico have so many SSDI claims?
Excerpt: There is an investigation into why Puerto Rico has so many SSDI claims….note the paragraph below from today’s Wall Street Journal: “….In 2010, the Social Security Administration awarded benefits in 63.4% of its initial decisions in Puerto Rico, compared with much lower rates elsewhere. In Arizona, for example, benefits were awarded in initial applications in 35.6% of the cases. Nine of the 10 top U.S. zip codes for workers collecting Social Security disability benefits are in Puerto Rico, according to government data…”

Democrats Fret Aloud Over Obama’s Chances
Excerpt: Democrats are expressing growing alarm about President Obama’s re-election prospects and, in interviews, are openly acknowledging anxiety about the White House’s ability to strengthen the president’s standing over the next 14 months. Elected officials and party leaders at all levels said their worries have intensified as the economy has displayed new signs of weakness. (First class passengers on the SS Unicorn starting to edge toward lifeboats. –Iowahawk.)

Egypt’s oldest scapegoat
That wonderful, peaceful, democratic Arab Spring doesn’t seem to be working out well for Jews. Or Christians. ~Bob. Excerpt: Friday’s mob attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo was a new instance of an old rule: Whenever Arabs hit a wall, their first instinct is to unite behind Israel hatred. The good news, if any: Washington now seems to recognize that Egypt’s quest for “spring” is in trouble. The mob marched from the now-weekly “freedom” demonstration in Tahrir Square to the nearby Giza district, site of Israel’s embassy. The crowd, including some angry soccer fans, broke down a barrier, entered the building and broke everything in sight, gleefully throwing documents into the street. After initially staying above the fray, Egyptian security forces fought the crowd, killing two, injuring hundreds and making dozens of arrests. The Israeli diplomats escaped by the skin of their teeth. Ambassador Yitzhak Levanon, his family and 85 staffers finally were hustled out of the country in a military jet, leaving only a deputy ambassador and two guards behind. (They took refuge inside the US embassy.)

Important: Obama proposes tax hikes on wealthy to pay for $447B jobs bill
Excerpt: The White House said Monday that President Obama wants to pay for his $447 billion jobs bill by raising taxes on the wealthy and businesses. Jack Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), said the tax hikes would pay for Obama’s entire bill, which the administration is sending to Congress Monday evening. (Nothing like a tax hike on business—which already pays the highest corporate tax rates in the developed world—to get business to spend more money on hiring. Obama knows it won’t pass, just hopes the media will help him blame the Republicans for the economy. I say give it to him, on the condition that if unemployment is over 8% by April, he resigns and agrees not to seek re-election. In writing. Can’t make it much worse than what is going to happen anyway. ~Bob.)

Social Security’s monstrous lie
Excerpt: Social Security was long known as the “third rail” of American politics -- touch it and die. But now one politician is not just touching it, but grabbing it with both hands and giving it a long-overdue yank. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has set the conservative cat among the New Deal pigeons with his increasingly blunt assessments of the 76-year-old program as a “Ponzi scheme” and a “monstrous lie.” Despite warnings from his chief rival for the GOP nomination, Mitt Romney, that Republicans will be “obliterated” as a party if they challenge the program’s legitimacy, Perry’s unlikely to let up in tonight’s “Tea Party” debate in Tampa. Some fearful seniors probably will turn on the GOP, even though none of them stands to lose a penny in any conceivable reorganization of Social Security. But maybe the American people really are finally ready for some straight talk about entitlements. Already Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid account for 43 percent of the federal budget, and their rapacious, auto-pilot growth is inexorable. By 2049, these three major entitlement programs will consume all projected federal revenues. By any rational standard, they are the very definition of “unsustainable.” That’s exactly the message the Republican nominee must deliver to the electorate if the nation is to survive the entitlement cancer.

The Slow, Certain Death of the Global Warming Theory
Excerpt: I have been predicting the death of the global warming theory since late in the last decade when it became obvious that the Earth had entered into a cooling cycle. By 2009 the leak of thousands of emails between the “scientists” whose computer models the claims were based upon revealed they were in a state of panic regarding this obvious phenomenon. Employed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Global Warming (IPCC), those “scientists” have since been protected by the universities who benefited greatly from the huge grants of public funding they received. The issue of whether such men should be prosecuted for deceiving the entire world remains to be decided. (...) Occam’s Razor is the ancient principle that the simplest explanation is the most likely the correct one, but billions in public funding, taxpayer’s dollars, have been diverted to the “research” that corrupt scientists have used to justify the global warming fraud. MIT Professor, Dr. Richard Lindzen, an internationally recognized authority on atmospheric science, said, "Future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early 21st century's developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally averaged temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree, and, on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly uncertain computer projections combined into implausible chains of inference, proceeded to contemplate a roll-back of the industrial age." (The author, Caruba, is right about the slow speed, but the certainty is still in doubt. It will remain in doubt until some other, even bigger scare comes along that also offers an excuse to control all energy use—and, thus, all the economic activity of humanity. For statists, global warming is merely a means to an end, not an end in itself. Ron P. Nah, as the country falls apart and is beset with murder, violence, rape, starvation and a collapse of authority, few will remember, never mind worry about AGW. ~Bob.)

Wall Street Insider: The Complete Interview
Excerpt: A longtime Wall Street insider shares their personal views about President Barack Obama – including shocking details of a meeting that left many in attendance wondering what, if anything, the president understands about the American economy – as well as Barack Obama’s desire to unionize the American military.

Head of U.N. Nuclear Agency Believes Iran Is Building Nuclear Warhead
Excerpt: The head of the U.N. nuclear agency on Monday announced plans to publish new information backing up his belief that Iran may be working on a nuclear warhead — developments that leave his organization "increasingly concerned."  The comments by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano were significant because it was the first time he revealed plans to release some of the most recent knowledge available to the IAEA leading to such worries. Such new intelligence would likely be detailed in the next report on Iran's nuclear activities in November. Speaking at the start of a five-day meeting of the IAEA's 35-nation board, Amano also reiterated that — despite Syrian denials — a target hit in 2007 by Israeli warplanes was a nearly completed nuclear reactor meant to produce plutonium, which can be used to arm nuclear warheads. (No doubt this comes ”unexpectedly” and as a great shock to the previous head of the IAEA, Mohammed El-Baradei, who is now hoping to become the next President of Egypt. Ron P. )

The Assembly tonight sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that would make it a crime to openly carry an unloaded handgun in public. Assembly Bill 144 by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La CaƱada Flintridge, targets the "open carry" movement, marked by gatherings of people displaying their firearms in public places to protest gun-control laws. The lower house sent the bill to Brown on 44-30 vote. Opponents said the measure amounts to a major attack on gun ownership rights, while supporters said the prohibition will diffuse potentially explosive situations. The bill language exempts peace officers, military gatherings, gun shows and hunting. (Even unloaded? ~Bob.)

The War on Terror is a War of Ideas
Excerpt: Just nine days after 9/11, addressing a joint session of Congress, Bush began to lay out an ideological strategy for defeating the jihadist threat.  "Al Qaeda is to terror what the mafia is to crime, but its goal is not making money," Bush said. "Its goal is remaking the world -- and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere." Terrorism was not caused by the religion of Islam but by the Islamists' political fanaticism. "They are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions -- by abandoning every value except the will to power -- they follow in the path of fascism and Nazism and totalitarianism." The war on terror, Bush accurately foretold, would be a long struggle fought on many fronts. But ultimately the only way to prevent al-Qaeda and its allies from imposing an "age of terror" was for America to sustain an "age of liberty, here and across the world." While Bush would get plenty of things wrong after 9/11, this ideological insight -- that the root of Islamist terrorism was the lack of freedom in the Middle East -- was one of the big things he got right.  There were plenty who didn't. Many voices insisted that terrorism was fueled by poverty or lack of education. Other analysts rushed to explain 9/11 as the fruit of US "arrogance," or as a reaction to Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Unfortunately, this is exactly what the current administration denies. Thus, they refuse to call it a "war on terror." Thus, the bowing to kings and hesitancy to assist legitimate opposition to the governments of Iran and Syria. Ron P.)

The End Game For Government Intervention Is Here
Excerpt: If you believe that our leaders have even the slightest clue of how to solve the economy’s problems, Obama’s jobs proposal should rid you of your delusion. This is not a matter of political affiliation nor is it an attack of Obama as a person. It’s a simple matter of basic math. Obama wants to spend roughly $500 billion to create two million jobs (that’s the claim at least). Put another way, Obama would spend roughly $250,000 to create a single job. That’s a heck of a lot of money in an economy in which the average income is $50K or so. That’s just the basic math. I’m not even bothering to assess the fact that the Government is already spending over $1 TRILLION per year and hasn’t created a sustainable job recovery. So how exactly will another $500 billion change things? Also, where is the Government going to come up with this money exactly? Didn’t we just say we needed to hike the debt ceiling by another $500 billion? Aren’t we already running Debt to GDP and Deficit numbers that are on par with Greece: a country that is guaranteed to default in the near future? Folks, this is the hard truth: the US is broke and our leaders have no clue how to solve any of the structural issues our economy and markets are facing. They’ve spent TRILLIONS propping up the stock market but haven’t created new jobs nor have they improved Americans’ quality of life in the last two years.

Obama doesn't know jack about Lincoln
Not quite accurate. Should say, “Obama doesn’t know jack about jack…” ~Bob. Excerpt: If the world needs another example of an Obama gaffe that hardly gets picked up by the news media (and I think it does), here is a good one. In this week's speech to the joint session of Congress, Obama was supposed to read his teleprompter like this: "We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union. But in the middle of a Civil War, he was also a leader who looked to the future – a Republican president who mobilized government to build the transcontinental railroad; launch the National Academy of Sciences; and set up the first land grant colleges." Instead he went off script and began that paragraph: "We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union. Founder of the Republican Party." But as noted by Ed Morrissey: "Er, not quite. Lincoln wasn’t even the GOP’s first Presidential nominee; the first Republican nominee was John C. Fremont in 1856.

Gun store owner had misgivings about ATF sting
Excerpt: When federal agents with Operation Fast and Furious told Andre Howard to sell weapons to illegal purchasers, he complied, but he feared someone would get hurt. Then a border agent was shot.

Swing Voters Recoil From Unions, and Obama
Excerpt: Unions are all that protect America from "barbarians," Vice President Joe Biden said at a Labor Day rally in Cincinnati. But the only barbarian in evidence that day was Teamsters' President Jimmy Hoffa, who threatened to "take out" tea party critics of President Barack Obama's spending, albeit through the ballot box. Mr. Hoffa was a warmup speaker for the president at the Labor Day rally in Detroit. Though he rarely misses an opportunity to lecture others on civility, Mr. Obama had no comment on Mr. Hoffa's remarkable incivility. And though the president didn't adopt Mr. Hoffa's threatening tone, he did imply his critics are unpatriotic. A crowd that Detroit police estimated at 13,000 responded warmly to Mr. Obama. But when Candidate Obama spoke there in 2008, more than 30,000 came to hear him. Unions have had few better friends than Mr. Obama. One of his first acts as president was to stiff Chrysler's bondholders to provide a windfall to the United Auto Workers. His National Labor Relations Board stretches the law to load the dice for unions.

Why The Parties In DC Can’t Cooperate
Excerpt: Yesterday, while I was out walking the dog, I had a neighbor ask me why the Republicans and Democrats in DC can’t cooperate. I explained it like so….Getting the GOP and Democrats to work together would be like getting Adam Smith and Vladimir Lenin to put together a joint economic plan. In other words, it’s not even a case where the Republicans want to fix steak and potatoes and the Democrats want to prepare quiche. It goes beyond that because both sides believe the other side’s “solutions” will actually make things worse. So, the Republicans are preparing “steak and potatoes,” but the Democrats see rat poison. Meanwhile the Democrats think they’re cooking quiche, but actually they’re cooking up Strychnine….and, yes, I’m flat out saying that the Democrats, who are completely dominated by liberals, are in the wrong. “Moderates” tend to look at the whole issue and say, “Gee, why can’t you just split the difference?” Well, how do you split the difference between capitalism and socialism, steak and Strychnine, or quiche and rat poison?

Italy turns to China for help in debt crisis
Excerpt: Italy’s centre-right government is turning to cash-rich China in the hope that Beijing will help rescue it from financial crisis by making “significant” purchases of Italian bonds and investments in strategic companies. According to Italian officials, Lou Jiwei, chairman of China Investment Corp, one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, led a delegation to Rome last week for talks with Giulio Tremonti, finance minister, and Italy’s Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, a state-controlled entity that has established an Italian Strategic Fund open to foreign investors. Italian officials were in Beijing two weeks ago to meet CIC and China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (Safe), which manages the bulk of China’s $3,200bn foreign exchange reserves. Vittorio Grilli, head of treasury, met Chinese investors in Beijing in August. Italian officials said further negotiations were expected to take place soon.

10 years after 9/11: Lessons from the Philippines
Excerpt: Since 9/11, there has been no other al Qaeda attack on US soil or any other al Qaeda attack of a similar magnitude anywhere. Osama bin Laden is dead, and most of al-Qaeda's 'legacy leaders' have been killed and replaced. More than 40 plots have been foiled in the last decade, according to the Heritage Foundation. Some officials have declared all of this a "victory," but lessons from the Philippines show that the next defeat can come from the jaws of "victory." In 1995, the architect of 9/11, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (known in intelligence circles as KSM), evaded arrest in the Philippines in what was then lauded as "the greatest counterterrorism victory." US and Filipino officials foiled "Bojinka," a plot for midair explosions on 11 US airplanes flying from Asia. If KSM's plot had succeeded, more people would have died in the planned "48 hours of terror" than in the Sept. 11 attacks.

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