Saturday, March 31, 2012

Is Conservatism Our Default Ideology?

According to a recent Gallup poll, 40 percent of Americans describe themselves as conservative, while only 21 percent call themselves liberal. (Another 35 percent are self-identified moderates.)
This gap has long puzzled scholars. If left and right ideologies comprise a mutually dependent yin-yang system, reflecting different approaches to meeting our most basic needs, shouldn’t they be held by roughly the same proportion of people?
One possible explanation is that some “conservatives” wear the label quite loosely. Another points to the long-established link between right-wing attitudes and a tendency to perceive the world as threatening. In an era where the latest scare is constantly being hyped on television and the Internet, it stands to reason that conservatism would dominate.
Newly published research proposes a somewhat different, and quite provocative, answer.
A research team led by University of Arkansas psychologist Scott Eidelman argues that conservatism — which the researchers identify as “an emphasis on personal responsibility, acceptance of hierarchy, and a preference for the status quo” — may be our default ideology. If we don’t have the time or energy to give a matter sufficient thought, we tend to accept the conservative argument.

Read more: http://www.miller-mccune.com/politics/is-conservatism-our-default-ideology-40703/

Regulations Govern Our Lives - Then Send Us The Bill

Richard Terrell's cartoon (more a picture of reality) on March 25, 2012 about the maze of regulations thrown up by the Departments of Interior (DOI) and Energy (DOE), as well as by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), really describes the country in which we currently live.
Congress passes the laws that govern the U.S., but Congress has also authorized the EPA and other federal agencies to help put the laws into effect by creating and enforcing regulations.  The list of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is quite long, encompassing every subject from infants to the aged, from drug abuse to health care.  In this list are DOI, DOE, and EPA regulations.
Since we do not have space here (nor the inclination) to list all federal regulations, let's focus on one federal agency featured in Terrell's cartoon: the EPA.  The EPA has literally thousands of regulations, so in the interest of brevity, let's focus upon one example: the regulation, to which Terrell alludes, on oil drilling.


Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/03/regulations_govern_our_lives_then_send_us_the_bill.html#ixzz1qgnQ0hpn

There Goes Obama Again, Misleading About The Energy Industry

As Ronald Reagan famously said, "There you go again."
Of course, Reagan was blaming Jimmy Carter for launching false attacks during a debate. And that line was so effective, it not only helped Reagan win the debate, but a presidential election that would change American history.
But "there you go again" can apply equally to President Obama. Once again this week, the president was out on the campaign trail bashing and oil and gas companies. And he continued to spread major falsehoods about this industry, which I guess is the polite way to put it.
Obama is obsessed with oil and gas. He is a prisoner of the left-wing environmental groups. And really, he's extending his leftist class-warfare attack from rich people to successful oil and gas producers.
What seems to have Obama especially steamed is the fact that the conventional-energy companies are profitable. Especially the five largest. So he wants to tax them. He then wants to redistribute their income to his favorite green-energy firms. Sound familiar?

Read more: http://news.investors.com/article/606251/201203301828/obama-hates-fossil-fuels-favors-income-redistribution.htm

Goldman Should Stop Saying Clients Come First, Levitt Says

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) should stop promoting itself as “putting customers first” because the slogan ignores conflicts inherent in trading, said Arthur Levitt, the former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman and a senior adviser to the firm.
“We probably ought to stop saying that because nobody really puts customers first,” Levitt, 81, said in an interview with Erik Schatzker on Bloomberg Television today. “Business is a tension between sellers and buyers.”
“Our clients’ interests always come first,” has been the No. 1 business policy at New York-based Goldman Sachs since the late 1970s, when then co-Chairman John C. Whitehead drafted a set of 14 business principles to guide the firm. Levitt’s suggestion comes 14 months after a committee on which he served issued a “business standards” report that reaffirmed Goldman Sachs’s commitment to putting clients’ interests first.
“Goldman shouldn’t play to that,” Levitt said in the interview today. “Goldman should play to their competence, which is considerable.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-29/goldman-should-stop-saying-we-put-customers-first-levitt-says.html

Health Care Reform Legislation Revisited

In 2009, as the health care reform legislation made its way through the Congress, many on both sides argued for their respective positions.  (I wrote an article discussing some of the issues which appeared in the American Thinker in November 2009.)  The legislation eventually was passed and signed by President Obama in March 2010.  As of this writing, the Supreme Court is reviewing the constitutionality of this legislation.  Again, both sides are arguing the eventual outcome.  But what does this fight say about the American society and Constitution established over 200 years ago?
Proponents of the federal law feel that the health care system is broken because it does not guarantee equal care to all residents.  They see this legislation as helping to ensure a more equitable distribution of health care, an extension of fairness in the greater society.  This is the daily cry of the president and his supporters.  Whether one agrees with this aim or not, it is commendable.   The question for the Court is whether the legislation meets the requirements under the Constitution.  Clearly, the opposition feel that it does not; they also oppose the remedy that emerged on philosophical grounds.

Plan to merge labs for biofuel research criticized

A plan by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory to merge its energy labs into a major new research facility in Richmond where scientists would work to develop biofuels through genetic engineering came under fire Wednesday by activists who fear that dangerous new microbes would be created there.
And even if the venture succeeds in transforming plants into biofuels by altering the genes of microbes, the activists argued, the Richmond lab could become an unregulated front for corporate interests and turn millions of acres of croplands used to grow food in underdeveloped countries into huge plantations for energy production.
Their protests reflect deep concerns about the dramatic new science called "synthetic biology," an unfamiliar term that in part involves engineering the genes of microbes to transform worthless plants like switchgrass into potentially unlimited sources of energy. The controversy also recalls an epic time in science nearly 40 years ago when manipulating genes was in its infancy and the public was deeply fearful that some genetically altered "Andromeda Strain" microbe might escape and imperil the world with unknown diseases.
That fear was largely ended when, after a 1975 conference at Asilomar near Monterey, biologists, lawyers and physicians agreed on enforceable guidelines for proceeding with genetic engineering projects.
It marked the first time that scientists agreed to be regulated and led to the public start of recombinant DNA research and what would become the huge international biotech industry.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/03/29/MNEC1NRIJ6.DTL&type=printable

Security breach hits U.S. card processors, banks

(Reuters) - Four giant card-payment processors and large U.S. banks that issue debit and credit cards were hit by a data-security breach after third-party services provider Global Payments Inc discovered its systems were compromised by unauthorized access.
It was not immediately clear how many cardholders became victims of the breach, which affected MasterCard Inc, Visa Inc, American Express Co and Discover Financial Services, as well as banks and other franchises that issue cards bearing their logos.
U.S. law enforcement authorities including the Secret Service are investigating and MasterCard said it has hired an independent data-security organization to review the incident.
The shares of Atlanta-based Global Payments, which acts as a credit-checking middleman between merchants and card processors, were halted on Friday afternoon after dropping more than 9 percent on the news.
MasterCard shares fell 1.8 percent to close at $420.54, Visa shares dropped 0.8 percent to $118, American Express shares fell 0.1 percent to $57.86, while Discover rose 1.2 percent to $33.34.
Analysts said any financial losses from the data breach would be shouldered by merchants, card issuers and Global Payments rather than Visa or Mastercard, which operate payment networks.
Global Payments said it determined that an unauthorized entity had accessed its systems and possible customer card data in early March. Krebs on Security, a blog that first reported the incident on Friday, said accounts had been compromised for over a month, between January 21, 2012 and February 25, 2012.

Read more: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/mastercard-tells-banks-possible-security-breach-154439326.html

The Future and Fears of Cyber-Warfare

Ted Bell's latest novel, Phantom, explores the world of cyber-warfare and the role of computers.  After finishing this insightful book, the reader might wonder what the real implications of cyber-warfare are.  American Thinker interviewed many experts to get their opinions on this increasingly important issue in a military context.
Bell wrote his book in part to inform the public about how computers will play an active and significant role in future warfare.  He feels that this issue is not on the public's radar and gets very little attention, yet "the next phase of warfare could be where your enemy can defeat you without direct engagement."
Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), who is currently running for the Senate and was a ranking member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, agrees.  He commented that cyber-attacks are a reality and that America appears to be extremely vulnerable.  "After a major cyber-attack, we will be talking about how we missed the signals and did not connect the dots." Could there ever be a "cyber-Pearl Harbor"?

Augmented 'Superdrugs' Could Wipe Out Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

Researchers in Ireland believe they may have found a solution to the antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" that are increasingly stumping doctors: superdrugs.
Over the past few months, the Centers for Disease Control and other medical experts have warned that bacteria such as gonorrhea and staph are growing increasingly resistant to doctors' best antibiotics.
With no new drugs in the pipeline, the specter of untreatable bacterial illnesses was beginning to look like a certainty. But researchers at University College Dublin believe that by augmenting existing antibiotics with "adjuvant compounds,"—unrelated chemicals that can be added to the antibiotic — they can increase the antibiotic's effectiveness by six-fold.
"We are enhancing the activity of antibiotics we already have," says Marta Martins, one of the researchers working on the problem. "We've found that these commercially-available compounds can resuscitate the effectiveness of antibiotics."

Read more: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/03/28/augmented-superdrugs-could-wipe-out-antibiotic-resistant-superbugs

General Motors pulls funding from climate sceptic thinktank Heartland

General Motors, the world's largest carmaker, has confirmed that it is pulling funding from the Heartland Institute, an ultra-conservative thinktank known for its scepticism about climate change.
The decision by the GM Foundation to halt its support for Heartland after 20 years underlines the new image the carmaker is seeking to project as part of its social responsibility programme. In the past GM has itself been associated with efforts to discredit climate change science, but in recent years it has been investing heavily in green technologies and cars including the electric/petrol hybrid, the Chevy Volt.
In a statement, GM said that it now runs its business "as if climate change is real and believe we have a role to play in developing new cars, trucks and technologies that can make a difference".
The funding cut – just $15,000 a year – is small beer for the institute, which has a multi-million dollar turnover, largely from a single anonymous donor. But it is a blow to the standing of the thinktank and to the leading role it plays as an advocate of climate change scepticism.
The thinktank has long been an incubator of ideas casting doubt that the world is warming as a result of man-made pollution. In 2009 it held a conference in New York under the title "Global warming: was it ever really a crisis?"

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/mar/30/climate-change-general-motors-heartland-institute

State of Construction: The Best and Worst (Mostly Worst)

Let's take a look at national construction employment.  According to the latest available data (February, 2012) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Construction Sector website, national construction employment peaked in April 2006 at 7,726,000 workers.  Today, construction employment stands at 5,554,000 workers.  Over the last six years, 2,172,000 construction jobs have been lost.  The decline is actually larger, given that the undocumented workforce is prevalent on construction jobsites but not in government records.
Looking at the construction un-employment rate is a far more deceptive thing.  Beginning with a few definitions, let's take a look at the BLS national construction statistics.  As BLS defines it, "[t]he unemployment rate represents the number of unemployed as a percent of the labor force[,]" and "[t]he labor force is the sum of employed and unemployed persons."
According to BLS, the national unemployment rate in the construction industry peaked in February 2010 at 27.1% with 5,533,000 employees.  Two years later, in February 2012, the official construction unemployment rate has fallen to 17.1% with 5,554,000 employees.  Given the construction unemployment rate and construction employees, we can calculate the labor force and the number of unemployed, as seen below.

Latest buzz on bee decline: Maybe it's pesticides

WASHINGTON (AP) - A common class of pesticide is causing problems for honeybees and bumblebees, important species already in trouble, two studies suggest.
But the findings don't explain all the reasons behind a long-running bee decline, and other experts found one of the studies less than convincing.
The new research suggests the chemicals used in the pesticide - designed to attack the central nervous system of insects - reduces the weight and number of queens in bumblebee hives. These pesticides also cause honeybees to become disoriented and fail to return to their hives, the researchers concluded.
The two studies were published online Thursday in the journal Science.
Just last week activists filed a petition with more than a million signatures asking the government to ban the class of pesticides called neonicotinoids. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it is re-evaluating the chemicals and is seeking scientific help.
For more than a decade, pollinators of all types have been in decline, mostly because of habitat loss and perhaps some pesticide use. In the past five years, a new mysterious honeybee problem, colony collapse disorder, has further attacked hives. But over the last couple of years, that problem has been observed a bit less, said Jeff Pettis, lead bee researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's lab in Beltsville, Md.
Other studies have also found problems with the pesticide class singled out in the new research. These "strengthen the case for more thorough re-assessing," said University of Illinois entomology professor May Berenbaum, who wasn't involved in the new studies. "But this is not a slam-dunk indictment that could compel a ban. It's complicated."

Read more: http://www.13abc.com/story/17287175/studies-say-commonly-used-pesticide-may-harm-bees

All Parties Ignore the One Way to Reduce Health Care Costs: Single-Payer

In a recent full-page newspaper advertisement, IBM touted massive medical savings through computerization. It's a promise they've made before, starting with a report issued in 1961. If only these promises were true.
For 50 years, we've been told that computers would give doctors ready access to past tests and diagnoses, eliminating duplicate tests that are unnecessary and costly. But it turns out the reverse is true.
Our study published this month examined 28,741 patient visits to 1,187 physicians. We found that when doctors can view X-ray results online, they actually order 40 percent to 70 percent more X-rays, including costly CT scans and MRIs. And the same holds true for blood tests.
Even the most wired doctors - those with full electronic medical records and those in hospital-owned practices where old test results are most likely to be available electronically - showed no signs of moderating their test ordering.
Sparing doctors the inconvenience of tracking down results seems to lead to more testing, not less.

Read more: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/8195-all-parties-ignore-the-one-way-to-reduce-healthcare-costs

Current TV fires Keith Olbermann

"The biggest jerk on television." That will be Keith Olbermann's epithet. Today, he is jobless and it's hard to see how any rational TV executive will touch him with a ten foot poll.
Politico:
Current TV has fired Keith Olbermann, citing a lack of "respect" and "collegiality" in its relationship with him, following months of open warfare between Olbermann and Current executives in the press.
He will be replaced by Eliot Spitzer, the former New York governor who had been a frequent guest on "Countdown" since its earliest days on Current - and whose own show on CNN was canceled last year.
The move comes just over a year after Current hired Olbermann amid great fanfare, announcing its plans to build its new identity as a more progressive alternative to MSNBC around him. But it also comes little more than a year after Olbermann abruptly left MSNBC, announcing his departure during his final show in only the latest in the string of stormy departures that have marked his career.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2012/03/current_tv_fires_keith_olbermann.html#ixzz1qgk1xKmf

The Muslim Manchurian Candidate

Those who fervently believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim generally practice their furtive religion in obscure recesses of the Internet. Once in a while, they’ll surface in public to remind the news media that no amount of evidence can undermine their convictions.
In October 2008, at a town hall meeting in Minnesota for Republican presidential candidate John McCain, a woman called Obama “an Arab.” McCain responded, incongruously enough, that Obama was, in fact, “a decent family man” and not an Arab at all. In an echo of this, a woman recently stood up at a town hall in Florida and began a question for Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum by asserting that the president “is an avowed Muslim.” The audience cheered, and Santorum didn’t bother to correct her.
Though they belong to a largely underground cult, the members of the Obama-is-Muslim congregation number as many as one third of all Republicans. A recent poll found that only 14% percent of Republicans in Alabama and Mississippi believe that the president is Christian.
These true believers treat their scraps of evidence like holy relics: the president’s middle name, his grandfather’s religion, a widely circulated photo of Obama in a turban. They occasionally traffic in outright fabrications: that he attended a radical madrasa in Indonesia as a child or that he put his hand on the Qur’an to be sworn in as president. An even more apocalyptic subset believes Obama to be nothing short of the anti-Christ.

Read more: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/blog/the-muslim-manchurian-candidate/

How Does a ‘Common Citizen’ Know If They Can Be Target of NDAA?

At the start of the first hearing on a lawsuit challenging the Homeland Battlefield Act, a federal judge appeared to be “extremely skeptical” that those pursuing the challenge had grounds to sue the US government. However, by the end of the hearing, the judge acknowledged plaintiffs had made some strong arguments on why there was reason to be concerned about the Act, which passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on New Year’s Eve last year.
Adam Klasfeld of Courthouse News, one of the few media organizations that actually covered the hearing yesterday, reported that Judge Katherine B. Forrest cited the lack of definition of terms such as “substantial support” or “associated forces,” which appear in the law. Without clearly knowing what “substantial support” for terrorism or “associated forces” of terrorist groups could be, Forrest asked, “How does the common citizen know?”
The government lawyers contended that the Homeland Battlefield Law “affirms” the Authorization to Use Military Force passed under President George W. Bush. But, according to Klasfeld, Forrest asked why language had changed. “Congress writes legislation for a reason, right?” There must be a purpose for the change.
There are seven plaintiffs trying to sue right now. Dubbed the “Freedom Seven” by their attorneys, the plaintiffs include: Chris Hedges, a journalist; Daniel Ellsberg, who is known for releasing the Pentagon Papers; Noam Chomsky, a well-known writer; Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir; Tangerine Bolen, founder of RevolutionTruth.org; Kai Wargalla, deputy director of Revolution Truth and founder of Occupy London; and Alexa O’Brien, journalist and founder of US Day of Rage.

Read more: http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2012/03/30/how-does-common-citizen-know-if-they-can-be-target-of-ndaa/

Obama Stoking Racial Warfare Flames?

A week ago, Obama brought his children into his politics; except this time he talked about an imaginary son looking like the slain Trayvon Martin. Pulls at the heartstrings, doesn't it? But it also heightens racial tensions in an already volatile social atmosphere.
That was Friday. Then three days later in South Carolina Annette McCullough, an 18 year old student at Lewisville High School, brutally attacked an opponent during a soccer match. The opponent appears to have accidentally tripped the senior after the two were heading in the same direction for the ball.
In retaliation, McCullough grabbed hold of the other girl's ponytail [see video], then threw her to the ground and began to pummel the girl with her fist at least 10 times.
The sheriff has charged the attacker with "third degree assault," but the unnamed victim's parents have vowed to prosecute the case to the fullest extent of the law. It's been five days since this incident. Where are the rallies?
In my own town yesterday, I saw a young lady about 12 years old standing alone at a busy street corner holding a sign "Justice for Trayvon." Surely the girl believes that's the right thing to do. She has learned to speak her mind and protest in a free America. This is a good thing, but speaking out for justice has to be based on the truth. Otherwise, it contributes to chaos.

Putin’s Philosophy

Imagine that you were to pick up a textbook on American history and find no mention of Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, or Thomas Jefferson. This is pretty much the situation for anyone in the West trying to understand modern Russia. The standard textbooks have almost nothing to say about the conservative ideas currently dominating the political scene. The Soviet Union vigorously suppressed the key thinkers of the right for most of the last century, of course, but even now that it is no longer a crime for Russians to read their books the West has continued to ignore them.
There is a reason for this. Historians tend to have a teleological focus. They have in mind a defining endpoint—the telos—and wish to explain how we got there. Information that does not contribute to this explanation is ignored. In the case of Russia, the telos was, for many decades, communism. Everyone wanted to understand what it was and why it had succeeded in taking power. Studies of Russian intellectual history therefore quite understandably concentrated on the development of liberal and socialist thought. Russian conservatism, by contrast, was considered a historical dead end and unworthy of study.
As a result, Western commentators nowadays, lacking any knowledge of Russia’s conservative heritage, are unable to place contemporary Russian government within the correct intellectual context.


Read more: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/blog/putins-philosophy/

America: The Two Empires

It’s a curious feature of American history that some of its major turning points are best summed up by books. In the years just before the American Revolution, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was the book; it had a huge role in focusing colonial grievances to the point that they were ready to burst into flame. In the years before the Civil War, it was Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin; that’s the book that made the North redefine a troubled national dialogue over a range of regional differences as a moral debate over slavery, pure and simple, and so pushed both halves of the country into positions from which they couldn’t back down short of war.

Both of those books stayed famous long after the issues they influenced were settled, and back when American children actually learned about American history in school, at least, most people knew the titles—though you won’t find many people of any recent generation who read either one. The book that played a similar role in launching America on its career as a global empire didn’t get the same kind of treatment. Unless you know a fair amount about military history, you’ve probably never heard of it. Its title is The Influence of Sea Power upon History, and its author was Alfred Thayer Mahan.

Mahan was an officer in the US Navy; he’d seen combat duty in the Civil War, and remained in the service during the postwar decades when the country’s naval forces were basically tied up at the dock and allowed to rot. In the 1880s, while serving at the Naval War College, he became a leading figure among the intellectuals—a small minority at that point—who hoped to shake the United States out of its focus on internal concerns and transform it into an imperial power. He was among the most original of American military strategists as well as a capable writer, and he had an ace in the hole that neither he nor anybody else knew about when his book saw print in 1890: his good friend and fellow lecturer at the Naval War College, a New York politician and passionate imperialist named Theodore Roosevelt, would become president of the United States just over a decade later by way of an assassin’s bullet.

Read more: http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2012/03/america-two-empires.html

Racism Is for Losers

The first time I became aware of anybody's skin color was at age five in kindergarten.  My mom had come to pick up me and my twin brother, and one of her girlfriends noticed that we were friends with one of the black kids in the school.  My mom's girlfriend remarked, "Isn't that sweet?  They're friends with a little black boy."
Even at five I found that remark unusual -- or maybe it was because I was five.  My brother and I played with kids because we connected on a "fun" level.  It didn't matter if they were different, or for that matter the same, when it came to anything physical. To us, fun was fun.  If you had fun with someone, you played with him.  If you didn't, well, you found someone else to play with.
That's the way it still is in kindergartens today.  Kids are just kids, and they play with the kids who simply like to play with what they like.  That's it.  That's how friendships are formed.
Children don't see a difference.  But as they grow, the world surely teaches them the difference.
There appears to be a movement afoot today to instruct children as young as kindergarten-age in "diversity" in hopes that they'll learn "tolerance" early enough to affect their adult lives.  In other words, as soon as possible, some adults seem to want to saddle kids with their own guilt or phobias or angst.  Good-bye, fun.

Getting Venture Capital Back on Track

The House and Senate recently passed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, a piece of bipartisan legislation initiated by House Republicans that will help right the U.S. venture capital industry. And they did it in a presidential election year no less!
To grasp the importance of this legislation, you have to be aware of the moribund state of the U.S. venture capital industry. For the past decade, the industry has been in decline. In 2010, the real dollar amount of money the industry raised from its limited partners was 44 percentof 2001 levels; the number of active venture capital funds was 63 percent; and the number deals venture capitalists undertook 73 percent .
The industry’s shrinkage has hindered U.S. economic growth and employment. Venture capital-backed companies produce 21 percent of U.S. GDP and 11 percent of employment in the private sector, despite accounting for less than 0.2 percent of all businesses, according to estimates by IMS Global Insight.
In the world of finance, poor returns lead capital to flow to other asset classes, which it has done with a vengeance.
The industry’s decline comes in large part from its poor financial performance. Cambridge Associates reported that the net ten-year “end-to-end pooled return” to the industry’s limited partners was only 2.6 percent in September 2011. In the world of finance, poor returns lead capital to flow to other asset classes, which it has done with a vengeance. Last year, the industry managed 56 percent of the inflation-adjusted amount it managed in 2001, its peak year.

Read more: http://www.american.com/archive/2012/march/getting-venture-capital-back-on-track

GREECE: They're Not Even Trying Anymore

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, while visiting Japan, summarized it eloquently when he said, "The financial aspect of the crisis is over." The ECB, despite any apparently fake German reservations, has jumped with both feet on the money printing bandwagon where it happily joins the Fed, the Bank of Japan, and other central banks around the world. The endless flow of money has started in the Eurozone, and Greek politicians, it now turns out, have figured this out.
Among them, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos who didn't wait long to put the need for a third bailout package on the table. And the difficult reforms are falling off the table one by one. The new priority is the general election on May 6—the flood of euros having been secured for the time being. Politicians are jostling for position to grab whatever votes they can. They're no longer paying attention to their legislative work, the tough reforms that party leaders and the government had promised the bailout Troika. Some of which would have to be completed before the elections. Promises made solely to obtain the second bailout package.

On Restoring American Individualism

Much of the political crisis facing America today stems from a disintegration of the ethical basis of the free society.  That is why the core of the 2012 election fight is not tax rates, job growth, or the national debt.  These issues, though of enormous practical importance, are merely the policy manifestations of underlying moral sentiments.  The fundamental battle to be waged concerns nothing less than the nature of man, and the moral implications of that nature.  If public disapproval of particular Obama policies is to become a lasting movement toward societal renewal, then the conservative's primary objective must be the restoration of American individualism. 
The problem is that the warm quilt of entitlement and dependency which the left has so cozily tucked around American society not only restricts freedom of movement; it also effectively reinforces the anti-individualist morality that makes the left's advances possible.  In the doublethink names of "fairness" and "security," soft despotism of the modern leftist sort produces a siren-song promise of carefree mother's love forever -- with its corresponding appeal to a toddler's moral myopia, the inability to concretize and respect the wishes and wills of other people.  Thus, creeping socialism ushers in a hitherto unknown ethic, which we might dub "collectivist self-absorption."

What Does ‘Fiscal Responsibility’ Mean?

“Fiscal responsibility” is a catch-phrase that seemingly no politician can do without. The White House used “fiscal responsibility” to name a summit meeting, a bipartisan national commission, and one of their webpages. House Democrats named “fiscal responsibility” as a top priority; so did Senate Republicans. An entire Senate subcommittee was named after it. “Fiscal responsibility” was reportedly what the Tea Party counterculture was all about. Rick Santorum is for it; Romney is too.
In short, everybody is for it, nobody is against it. Every politician who has an interest in getting elected or reelected must stake a claim to the virtuous mantle of “fiscal responsibility.” But despite the near-universal popularity of the catch-phrase, there lingers a nagging question: What, exactly, does “fiscal responsibility” mean?
Opinions are diverse. To some, it means paying down the federal debt. To others, it means balancing the federal budget. Wrong, says another group, it means keeping the debt at a sustainable level in relation to the size of the economy. Wrong, wrong, wrong, says an emerging school of thought: it’s not about deficits and debt, it’s about outcomes, it means doing what it takes to sustain the world leadership role of the U.S. dollar and economy.

Read more: http://www.american.com/archive/2012/march/what-does-fiscal-responsibility-mean

Friday, March 30, 2012

20 per cent of America's working age men are unemployed

It makes for sobering reading.
In recent months the job market looked to be on the rise, offering hope that the economy might finally be getting back on track.
But data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that nearly 20 per cent of America’s core workforce are out of a job.


Worrying: Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that nearly 20 per cent of America¿s core workforce are out of a job
Worrying: Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that nearly 20 per cent of America¿s core workforce are out of a job
After five years of struggles, it is a sobering reminder of how far the country still has to go.
Two in 10 or 17 per cent of men aged 25 to 54 – traditionally the backbone of the workforce – are unemployed.

GOP-run House easily rejects Obama budget

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-run House has overwhelmingly rejected President Barack Obama's $3.6 trillion budget for next year after a vote forced by GOP lawmakers to embarrass Democrats.
Republicans have opposed Obama's budget all year, criticizing its tax increases on the wealthy and saying it lacks sufficient spending cuts.
Democrats have defended Obama's budget priorities but they largely voted "no" Wednesday night.
Republicans said Democrats were afraid to vote for Obama's proposed tax increases and extra spending for energy and welfare. Democrats said Republicans had forced a vote on a version of Obama's budget that contained only its numbers, not the policies he would use to achieve them.
The vote was 414-0.
The vote came as the House debated a GOP budget that contains far more deficit reduction than Obama has proposed.

Legislating Greater Wall Street Theft

Political Washington is Wall Street's best friend. Whatever crooked bankers want they get. Their business model features grand theft. Wealth’s amassed through fraudulent double-dealing.
Lawmakers facilitate their racketeering. They're rewarded in kind. Only fleeced households, investors, communities and nations lose out.
Their dirty game continues unobstructed. New legislation enhances what's on the books. Another bill will become law when Obama signs it. Wall Street's again celebrating, and why not. Business is better than ever, courtesy of complicit lawmakers.
At issue is the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (the JOBS Act). On March 8, the House passed it overwhelmingly 390 - 23. On March 22, Senate followed 73 - 26. Doing what he does best, Obama will sign it into law. He'll again betray America's 99% in the process.
When everything comes up roses for Wall Street, ordinary people get scammed. It's the same every time like loaded dice let the house win.

Read more: http://www.thepeoplesvoice.org/TPV3/Voices.php/2012/03/30/legislating-greater-wall-street-theft#more20897

Another $17 trillion surprise found in Obamacare

Senate Republican staffers continue to look though the 2010 health care reform law to see what’s in it, and their latest discovery is a massive $17 trillion funding gap.
“The more we learn about the bill, the more we learn it is even more unaffordable than was suspected,” said Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Republican’s budget chief in the Senate.
“The bill has to be removed from the books because we don’t have the money,” he said.
The hidden shortfall between new spending and new taxes was revealed just after Supreme Court justices grilled the law’s supporters about its compliance with the Constitution’s limits on government activity. If the court doesn’t strike down the law, it will force taxpayers find another $17 trillion to pay for the increased spending.
The $17 trillion in extra promises was revealed by an analysis of the law’s long-term requirements. The additional obligations, when combined with existing Medicare and Medicaid funding shortfalls, leaves taxpayers on the hook for an extra $82 trillion in health care obligations over the next 75 years.

Justices meet Friday to vote on healthcare case

WASHINGTON (AP) — While the rest of us have to wait until June, the justices of the Supreme Court will know the likely outcome of the historic healthcare case by the time they go home this weekend.
After months of anticipation, thousands of pages of briefs, and more than six hours of arguments, the justices will vote on the fate of President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul in under an hour Friday morning. They will meet in a wood-paneled conference room on the court’s main floor. No one else will be present.
In the weeks after this meeting, individual votes can change. Even who wins can change, as the justices read each other’s draft opinions and dissents.
But Friday’s vote, which each justice probably will record and many will keep for posterity, will be followed soon after by the assignment of a single justice to write a majority opinion, or in a case this complex, perhaps two or more justices to tackle different issues. That’s where the hard work begins, with the clock ticking toward the end of the court’s work in early summer.

Read more: http://online.worldmag.com/2012/03/30/justices-meet-friday-to-vote-on-healthcare-case/

Obama unleashed

Politicians and presidents of both parties have occasionally suffered from open-mic syndrome, saying something when they thought the microphone was turned off they wished had not been made public.
The latest to fall prey to that amplification of the mouth is President Obama. The president told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during their Monday meeting in Seoul, South Korea, that once reelected, he would have “more flexibility” to deal with missile defense. The president asked Medvedev to relay to incoming President Vladimir Putin his request for “patience” and “space.”
The comments sent shivers down conservative spines. Conservatives believe the president is a not-so-closeted socialist. They recall his criticism of the Founding Fathers for putting too many restraints on presidential power in the Constitution, limiting a president’s ability to unilaterally bring about change. Unconstrained by the need to run again, they fear a political version of Girls Gone Wild with the Constitution shredded and America transformed beyond recognition.

Read more: online.worldmag.com/2012/03/29/obama-unleashed/

CBO adjusts TARP payback projections

The federal bailout might not be a political winner, but it's looking a bit better on the government's finances.
In a new report released this week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) trimmed how much it expected the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) would eventually cost taxpayers. It now expects that when all is said and done, the program will cost $32 billion, down $2 billion from its December estimate.That projection is rosier than even the White House's. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) currently pegs the cost of the bailout at $68 billion, driven largely by greater expectations about the costs of the government's housing relief programs — OMB estimates $30 billion more than does the CBO on how much will be spent on those programs.

CBO attributed its reduction to the fact that the government's remaining $50 billion investment in American International Group (AIG) had gained value.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/801-economy/219143-tarp-payback-projections-adjusted-upward

AL SHARPTON KEEPS BLACK VOTERS ANGRY AND ILL-INFORMED

You can imagine the justifiable extreme anger and outrage of black America in1987. Six white men including police officers and a New York prosecutor kidnapped, raped and smeared feces over the body of a fifteen year old black girl. Tawana Brawley was found unconscious and unresponsive lying in a garbage bag, her clothes torn and burned. In the emergency room, racial slurs and epithets were discovered written on Brawley's torso with charcoal.
Al Sharpton, eager to launch his national career, ran to the microphones and cameras as Tawana Brawley's adviser. The problem was, it was all a hoax.
Fearful of getting into trouble for staying away from home for four days, Brawley made up the whole horrific racial-hate-inspiring story. After hearing the evidence, or lack of, a grand jury concluded Brawley was lying.
The New York prosecutor whom Brawley accused of being one of her rapists sued Brawley and Sharpton for defamation and won. And yet, Sharpton still says the Brawley incident happened. 

How Americans Have Gotten Played -- Over and Over and Over Again

In the 12 hapless years of this millennium, we have looked on as 3 great bubbles have inflated and burst, each with consequences more dire than the last.
"The “sound” banker, alas! is not one who sees danger and avoids it, but one who, when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional and orthodox way along with his fellows so that no one can really blame him." —John Maynard Keynes
In the twelve hapless years of the present millennium, we have looked on as three great bubbles of consensus vanity have inflated and burst, each with consequences more dire than the last.
First there was the “New Economy,” a millennial fever dream predicated on the twin ideas of a people’s stock market and an eternal silicon prosperity; it collapsed eventually under the weight of its own fatuousness.
Second was the war in Iraq, an endeavor whose launch depended for its success on the turpitude of virtually every class of elite in Washington, particularly the tough-minded men of the media; an enterprise that destroyed the country it aimed to save and that helped to bankrupt our nation as well.

Read more: http://www.alternet.org/story/154735/thomas_frank%3A_how_americans_have_gotten_played_--_over_and_over_and_over_again?page=entire

Funding Government by the Minute

The Federal government is currently spending at a rate of $434,000,000.00 per hour.
If we assume the Federal government were to cut:
  • No NASA
  • No Navy
  • No Army
  • No Air Force
  • No Marines
  • No Nuclear Weapons
  • No Defense Research
  • No Veterans Services
  • No Federal Funding for Police
  • No Federal Funding for Fire Protection
  • No Federal Funding for Education
  • No Federal Transportation Funds
  • No Congress
  • No White House
  • No Waste Management
  • No Street Lighting
  • No Pollution Abatement
  • No Housing Development
  • No Cultural Services
The government would still be short two weeks worth of funding for the year, requiring it to issue more debt to avoid bankruptcy.
Listen to Prof. Antony Davies of Duquesne University explain the current debt situation in terms everyone can understand.

Read more: http://www.libertariannews.org/2012/03/28/funding-government-by-the-minute/

State Dept. memo excuses Islamist Egyptian gov’t, clears path for $1.3 billion in aid

As the U.S. State Department prepares to waive democracy requirements and release as much as $1.3 billion in aid to Egypt, a new Gallup poll shows that the majority of Egyptians would rather cozy up to countries like Iran and Turkey than embrace the United States.
Congress passed legislation in 2011 that tied funding in Egypt to progress on democracy and human rights issues. The law, however, also included a waiver provision that allows the state department to overlook the requirement if it is necessary for “national security interests.”
According to the poll, released Friday, 56 percent of Egyptian adults view “closer relations” with the U.S. as a bad thing for the country. That number is up from 40 percent in December. Just 28 percent of Egyptians now believe closer relations with the U.S. would be good for Egypt.
That 28 percent number compares poorly with the 60 percent who favored closer relations with Turkey and 40 percent who said the same about Iran. And among those three countries, Egyptians most strongly disapprove of the leadership in Washington. America received a 65 percent disapproval rating, worse even than Iran’s 58 percent.

Read the FBI Memo: Agents Can ‘Suspend the Law’

Four Numbers Add Up to an American Debt Disaster

1) 2.2 percent is the average interest rate on the U.S. Treasury’s marketable and non-marketable debt (February data).
2) 62.8 months is the average maturity of the Treasury’s marketable debt (fourth quarter 2011).
3) $454 billion is the interest expense on publicly held debt in fiscal 2011, which ended Sept. 30.
4) $5.9 trillion is the amount of debt coming due in the next five years.
For the moment, Nos. 1 and 2 are helping No. 3 and creating a big problem for No. 4. Unless Treasury does something about No. 2, Nos. 1 and 3 will become liabilities while No. 4 has the potential to provoke a crisis.
In plain English, the Treasury’s reliance on short-term financing serves a dual purpose, neither of which is beneficial in the long run. First, it helps conceal the depth of the nation’s structural imbalances: the difference between what it spends and what it collects in taxes. Second, it puts the U.S. in the precarious position of having to roll over 71 percent of its privately held marketable debt in the next five years -- probably at higher interest rates.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-28/four-numbers-add-up-to-an-american-debt-disaster.html

Obama Outspends Republican Campaigns by Millions

With Republicans locked in a contentious and expensive primary, President Barack Obama has spent a small fortune to build and maintain a campaign operation that's larger, more diverse and more focused on the general election than any of his opponents' organizations.
Republican contenders like Mitt Romney have had to watch their expenses during the primary campaign.
But Obama faces no serious challenger for the Democratic nomination. He has sunk his cash into an expansive brick-and-mortar operation with offices in nearly every state.
An Associated Press analysis of Federal Election Commission records shows that Obama's campaign has spent more than $135 million on operations through February. That's about $3 million more than all his GOP challengers combined.
Obama's paid staff exceeds 500, and many work in the campaign's Chicago headquarters.
© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Obama Argued Against Mandate in 2008

The Supreme Court seems poised to declare Obamacare unconstitutional, based partly on an argument that President Barack Obama used to attack former Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s healthcare plan in 2008, according to Daily Mail Washington correspondent Toby Harnden.

Writing Thursday in his Mail Online blog, Harnden recalled how then-Sen. Obama railed against the idea that government could force individuals to buy health insurance. His attacks came in speeches and in ads he ran against Clinton during their long battle for the 2008 Democratic nomination.

Ironically, the so-called “individual mandate” is now the centerpiece of Obama signature legislation, the Affordable Healthcare Act, which requires people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.

Harnden recalls Obama’s statement in February 2008 that using an individual mandate to solve the problem of the uninsured would be like trying to cure homelessness by ordering people to buy a home.

“I believe the problem is not that folks are trying to avoid getting healthcare,” Obama said at the time during a debate in South Carolina. “The problem is they can’t afford it.”

Later, Obama drew an even harder line against the individual mandate in an April ad attacking Clinton.

Ben Bernanke and the Case of the Missing Jobs

Bernanke's speech on March 26 began with a familiar analytical error. Specifically, he continued to give the impression that the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is the cause of today's low short-term interest rates. It isn't. The .25% rate is the result of Federal Reserve policy, but not FOMC policy. The FED pays commercial banks .25% on excess reserves. If it did not pay an interest rate of .25%, the rate would be even lower. He always gives the impression that, without the FED's intervention, rates would be higher.
The causes of today's low rates are the widespread decisions of commercial bankers to hold excess reserves with the FED, which is what the FedFunds rate reflects. Banks are not borrowing overnight money from other banks in order to meet bank reserve requirements set by the FED. They do not need the money. They have plenty of excess reserves. So, because there is no rival demand for this money, banks put their money with the FED, which pays .25%. Better to earn something than nothing.

Read more: http://lewrockwell.com/north/north1113.html

TSA Manager Arrested for Running Prostitution Ring

SILVER SPRING, Md. - A manager at the Transportation Security Administration has lost his job after being arrested on prostitution-related charges. According to court documents, the agency had received a complaint of "very similar" activities back in 2009.
Bryant Jermaine Livingston, 39, was arrested while on the job as a supervisor of TSA agents at Dulles International Airport. The Manassas, Virginia resident, said by phone he is innocent of the charges, but declined to discuss the details of the case.
According to charging documents, on February 15th, Livingston used cash to rent a room at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring, Md. The hotel manager recognized Livingston as a previous customer who, on earlier occasions had "groups of males and females frequently entering and exiting Livingston's room," according to a court document.

IRS seeks 4,000 agents, $303 million for Obamacare

The Internal Revenue Service wants to add about 4,000 agents to hunt down tax cheats and still plans to spend $303 million building a system to oversee Obamacare even though its future looks bleak in the U.S. Supreme Court.

A new Government Accountability Office review of the IRS 2012 tax return season and the taxman’s fiscal 2013 budget request also found that the agency’s customer service rating has slipped and 5.5 million returns were delayed a week because of a computer programming glitch.

The news isn’t all bad though. A March 20 GAO performance audit found that the agency has seen a steady increase in e-filing and had processed 68 million returns so far, a 3 percent bump. What’s more, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said that the American Customer Satisfaction Index for his team has jumped to 73 percent and he added that for every $1 spent on enforcement, the agency collects a return of $4.30.


Read more: http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/washington-secrets/2012/03/irs-seeks-4000-agents-303-million-obamacare/416051

EU rewards Goldman Sachs for Greek debt scheme

In an earlier articleEU’s selective Lessons from Greece, we saw that EU Parliament’s investigation of the financial crisis (CRIS), and the hearing Lessons from Greece (ECON/7/02578), lacked the resolve to address the Greece/Goldman secret loan that was allegedly improper and exacerbated Greece’s ills.
Goldman Sachs’ explanations contained gaping holes, and that was left unchallenged. Perhaps the most striking example of it is the the claim by its spokesman at a 2010 hearing before the EU parliament that he didn’t know of the single most important restructuring of the deal in 2005:
These superficial initiatives, as pertaining to this particular issue, erode the credibility of the EU parliament. In contrast, the senate panel led by Levin and Coburn produced preliminary investigations of a number of cases in the mortgage crisis that were taken up by the SEC and the DOJ (McClatchy).
It is probably Commissioner Olli Rehn who planted the seed of this unsavory state of affairs. When a Director General for ECFIN says the Goldman/Greece deal is legal, that sets a powerful precedent. But it is flawed in multiple respects.

Read more: http://www.irishleftreview.org/2012/03/29/eu-rewards-goldman-sachs-greek-debt-scheme/

Louisiana Democrat slams Obama’s oil policies

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D., La.) on Thursday appeared displeased with the Obama administration’s energy policies.
“When people say we’re drilling everywhere—well, we’re not drilling everywhere!” Landrieu told Sen. Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.) in a conversation outside the Senate chamber.
She made the remarks shortly after the Senate voted 51-47 to reject a bill that would have eliminated about $4 billion in federal tax subsidies for domestic oil producers.
Landrieu was one of four Democrats who voted against the legislation, which failed to get the 60 votes necessary to proceed.
The vote was a rebuke to President Obama, who earlier in the day had urged Congress to end the subsidies, despite his having supported them in the past.
“Today, members of Congress have a simple choice to make: They can stand with the big oil companies, or they can stand with the American people,” Obama said during a speech in the White House Rose Garden. “Right now, the biggest oil companies are raking in record profits—profits that go up every time folks pull up into a gas station.”
Obama has made a concerted effort of late to convince the American people that his administration is doing everything in his power to encourage the domestic production of oil and gas. It is unclear how eliminating subsides would accomplish this goal.

Read more: http://freebeacon.com/were-not-drilling-everywhere/

Structural Shifts: Comparing the Last Two Recessions

Dave Altig offers the following
If you try, it isn’t too hard to see in this chart a picture of a labor market that is very close to “normalized,” excepting a few sectors that are experiencing longer-term structural issues. First, most sectors—that is, most of the bubbles in the chart—lie above the horizontal zero axis, meaning that they are now in positive growth territory for this recovery.

Second, most sector bubbles are aligning along the 45-degree line, meaning jobs in these areas are expanding (or in the case of the information sector, contracting) at about the same pace as they were before the “Great Recession.” Third, the exceptions are exactly what we would expect—employment in the construction, financial activities, and government sectors continues to fall, and the manufacturing sector (a job-shedder for quite some time) is growing slightly

Read more: http://econintersect.com/wordpress/?p=20467

Spain's general strike shows first signs of rebellion against austerity

With near-empty railway stations, shut factories, mass marches and occasional outbreaks of violence during a general strike on Thursday, Spaniards showed the first signs of rebellion against the reformist, austerity-preaching conservative government they voted in four months ago.
Police and pickets clashed in a handful of places, but it was a largely peaceful general strike in a country whose sinking economy, with 23% unemployment, has become the focus of worry about the future of the whole eurozone area.
Thousands of police officers remained on duty around the country on Thursday night as tens of thousands of flag-waving demonstrators flooded into city centres for protest marches against labour reform and austerity measures introduced by prime minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative People's party [PP].
Demonstrators brought the centres of Madrid, Barcelona and other cities to a standstill as trade unions claimed the strike was more widely supported than previous nationwide stoppages in 2010 and 2002. Rajoy's officials claimed, however, that the 2010 strike against a socialist government had received greater support.

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/mar/29/spain-general-strike-rebellion-austerity

A good week for the good guys – finally.

Hoping to spend the week sliming Paul Ryan and screeching about the mythical Republican “war on women,” the Democrats instead have been set back as the news cycle spun out of their control. Foreign policy, health care, and energy have forced them into a defensive crouch. No wonder I’m in such a good mood.
David Axelrod most likely is not. He must have wished he could go back to bed on the morning of Mar. 26, when news broke of President Obama’s “hot mic” moment at the security summit in South Korea. ABC News had caught the president telling Putin stooge Dmitri Medvedev that he needed the Russian dictator to give him “space” on issues such as missile defense until after “my last election,” at which time he will have “more flexibility.” Medvedev nodded sympathetically throughout the conversation and said, in his best General Orlov imitation, “I will transmit this information to Vladimir.” All that was missing from the ridiculous exchange were fulminations over “moose and squirrel.”
The president embarrassed himself. Not only did Obama give us a glimpse of his backwards statesmanship, in which “diplomacy” involves telling a corrupt strongman that electoral concerns prevent him from further accommodation. He also reminded Republicans and independents of the high stakes in 2012. What would be the results, not a few conservatives wonder, if the president had all the “flexibility” he desires?

Read more: http://freebeacon.com/democrats-in-disarray/

GDP Number Remains Good, Components Shaky

In their “final” revision of their estimate of the fourth quarter 2011 GDP, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) found that the annualized rate of U.S. domestic economic growth was 2.97%, down a mere 0.01 percent from their last estimate for the fourth quarter and still more than a percent higher than their “final” estimate of 1.81% for the third quarter of 2011. This revision to the prior month’s report does not reflect actual monthly changes in the economy, but rather another month’s improvement in the BEA’s understanding of what was happening during the prior quarter.
Even if there was no meaningful alteration in the headline number, there were a few notable changes within the “mix” of the components. The contribution that the consumption of consumer goods made to the headline number strengthened, but it was offset by a nearly equal weakening of demand for consumer services. Similarly, the contribution of fixed investments to the headline number increased (relative to the prior report) by a quarter of a percent, only to be offset by a nearly equal drop in exports.
Although this is the last time that a monthly revision will be issued covering the fourth quarter of 2011, the BEA annually makes substantial revisions to historic data in July of each year — and the scope of those modifications are often substantial in both size and the historic reach. Unfortunately, for the past several years those July revisions have resulted in quiet (and media neglected) acknowledgments that the “Great Recession” was far more severe than was previously reported — long after the potential for market or electoral consequences of those admissions had passed.

Read more: http://econintersect.com/wordpress/?p=20562

Will The 'Real' GDP Please Stand Up?

How do you get from Nominal GDP to Real GDP? You subtract inflation. The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) uses its own GDP deflator for this purpose, which is somewhat different from the BEA's deflator for Personal Consumption Expenditures and quite a bit different from the better-known Bureau of Labor Statistics' inflation gauge, the Consumer Price Index.
Now that we have the third estimate on Q4 GDP, I've updated my charts showing quarterly Real GDP since 1960 with the official and three variant adjustment techniques. The first chart is the official series as calculated by the BEA with the GDP deflator. The second starts with nominal GDP and adjusts using the PCE Deflator, which is also a product of the BEA. The third adjusts nominal GDP with the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U, or as I prefer, just CPI). The forth chart, prompted by several requests, adjusts nominal GDP using the Alternate CPI published by economist John Williams at shadowstats.com
I've calculated the latest GDP in all versions to two decimal places to help highlight the differences.

Obamacare's Preemptive Regulatory Strike

The alleged constitutional justification for Obamacare's individual insurance coverage mandate can be summarized in one sentence: The federal government has the authority to preemptively regulate your economic activity.
President Obama, famous denouncer of preemptive war, declares that he has not only the power but the constitutional authority to regulate every American's economic behavior before it happens in the interest of making the market function the way he would like it to function. It's like Minority Report come to life, but with economic transactions, not crime, as the activity the state intervenes to alter before it occurs.
Arguing before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli asserted that "the system does not work" for Americans who do not have health insurance, therefore Washington has an interest in "regulating the means by which health care is purchased," which he said was all the individual mandate does.
Justice Anthony Kennedy stopped him right there and asked, "Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?"

Read more: http://spectator.org/archives/2012/03/29/obamacares-preemptive-regulato

The Tea Party Call to Duty

At the time of America's founding, the notion of civic duty was commonplace.  Our entire system was predicated on the idea that citizens would take an active role in the governance of their towns, states, and country.  Little was asked of Americans other than self-governance, jury duty, fighting wars when necessary, protecting the homeland, and living by the rule of law.  In time, Americans were additionally "asked" to forfeit a portion of the fruits of their labor to foot the bills the government would incur. 
Over the years, we have handed off most of our self-governing and civic duties to others.  As the Founders anticipated, we elect town council members and state and federal legislators to "represent" us.  But all too often, we leave the voting booth, brush our hands together, and go back to our normal lives thinking we are done...until the next election.  In the meantime, we relinquish considerable power and control over our lives to the very people who are supposed to be working for us.
We have so completely shirked our personal and civic responsibilities that we have inadvertently created a class of professional politicians.  With the economic and personal stakes being so high for these professional politicians, the legislation they enact is often compromised, and their re-election campaigns are motivated more by what's good for the incumbent than by what's good for the People.

Apple, Foxconn set new standard for Chinese workers


(Reuters) - Apple Inc and its main contract manufacturing Foxconn agreed to tackle violations of conditions among the 1.2 million workers assembling iPhones and iPads in a landmark decision that could change the way Western companies do business in China.
Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group, whose subsidiary Hon Hai Precision Industry assembles Apple devices in factories in China, will hire tens of thousands of new workers, eliminate illegal overtime, improve safety protocols and upgrade workers' housing and other amenities.
It is a response to one of the largest investigations ever conducted of a U.S. company's operations outside of America. Apple had agreed to the probe by the independent Fair Labor Association (FLA) to stem a crescendo of criticism that its products were built on the backs of mistreated Chinese workers.
The association, in disclosing its findings from a survey of three Foxconn plants and over 35,000 workers, said it had unearthed multiple violations of labor law, including extreme hours and unpaid overtime.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/30/us-apple-foxconn-idUSBRE82S19720120330

Why everything wants more power

Rising gas prices and turmoil in the Middle East have once again thrust energy issues to the center of the presidential campaign.
As usual, the incumbent is being blamed for failing to ease our pain at the pump. But this time around there’s a new twist in the script. Instead of vowing to lower prices, President Obama is noting that we have little control over the price of energy in a thirsty global market.
Between 1971 and 2009 per capita energy consumption around the world grew by 34 percent, according to the World Bank. It grew another 5.6 percent in 2010; projections only see this upward trend continuing.
By viewing energy in a world context, we’re adding some much-needed reason to the debate. But that does not go far enough. The economic growth of India, China and other developing countries is only a symptom, not a root cause, of the surging demand for energy. A more fundamental dynamic is at work. To take a truly global view of energy we must look past politics to physics — yes, physics.
Widening our lens to include not only human activity but also the natural world, we make a startling discovery: everything around us is doing exactly what we are, using more power to move more mass more easily on the landscape. This is not the result of accident or choice but a manifestation of a universal law — as powerful as the laws of motion and thermodynamics — that has shaped our world, and our selves. It tells us why, despite growing fears of global warming, increased calls for conservation and technological breakthroughs that have increased efficiency, we continue to use more and more power.

Law-Abiding Taxpayers Are Treated As Criminals While The REAL Bad Guys Go Free

Law-abiding taxpayers are treated like criminals while the criminal class of financiers and State apparatchiks are free to loot and pillage muppets and taxpayers alike.
I recently received quite an education about how law-abiding taxpayers are treated by the state of California via dozens upon dozens of emails detailing how the Golden State ransacked the bank accounts of law-abiding taxpayers in other states without notification or due process, as if the citizens being looted were crafty bankers who'd stolen church funds to live tax-free in an offshore tax haven.

As we all know, crafty (and politically protected) bankers are free to loot churches, muppets and the taxpayers at will while taxpayers are looted by lawless government. Here is a typical account of state thievery. It is anonymous for a good reason: As I noted last week, law-abiding citizens are terrified of their governments, local, state and Federal, as they know that these agencies are literally above the law and will exact retribution on anyone who reveals their tyrannical trashing of due process or who questions their feudal pillaging of oppressed debt-serfs.

Read more: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/google/RzFQ/~3/UAA_oFRDnwc/welcome-to-united-states-of-orwell-part_27.html#ixzz1qakF44r5

Democrats Ignore Real Racism while Exploiting Trayvon for Obama 2012

I caught a portion of testimony by a Jewish woman who escaped extermination in a Nazi concentration camp.  She said that upon their arrival, she was separated from her family and herded with other young women who looked strong enough to work.
The women were ordered to strip naked.  Their heads and bodies were shaved.  She said that even sisters did not recognize each other afterwards.
Clueless regarding the Nazis' agenda, the na├»ve new arrival asked a fellow prisoner who had been there a while, "When do we get to see our families?" The woman replied, "Stupid girl.  See the smoke coming out of those stacks over there? That's where they are burning your family." The young woman said that petrifying fear overtook her body.
Folks, can you imagine the horror and all-encompassing fear? I cannot imagine being in that woman's situation, and I pray that I never will.  How could human beings treat fellow human beings with such cruelty?
In 1977, Alex Haley's Roots: The Saga of an American Family hit the airways as a TV miniseries.  It was the story of Haley's family, from Africa to America.  Millions of hearts were broken, black and white, watching the scene in which the African boy, Kunta Kinte, was brutally whipped until he accepted his newly assigned America slave name, "Toby."