Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gary Johnson to drop out of GOP primary to run as Libertarian


Gary Johnson will quit the Republican primaries and seek the Libertarian Party nomination instead, POLITICO has learned.

The former two-term New Mexico governor, whose campaign for the GOP nomination never caught fire, will make the announcement at a news conference in Santa Fe on Dec. 28. Johnson state directors will be informed of his plans on a campaign conference call Tuesday night, a Johnson campaign source told POLITICO.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1211/70727.html#ixzz1l3XXNGNx

Gary Johnson on Spending and the Deficit

Government spends too much because it does too much. Unchecked deficits are the single greatest threat to our national security. Unless we take significant steps soon, our federal debt will equal the entire economic production of the United States.
We should start by reassessing the role of the federal government, and always asking the question: Should the government be doing this in the first place?


Balance the Budget

THE U.S. IS BORROWING OR PRINTING MORE than 40 cents of every dollar the government spends today. The math is simple: Federal spending must be cut not by millions or billions, but by trillions. And it must be done today.

It's time to:
  • End excessive spending, bloated stimulus programs, unnecessary farm subsidies, and earmarks.
  • Reassess the role of the federal government and identify responsibilities that can be met more efficiently by the private sector.
  • Recognize that you can't have limited government at home, but big government abroad.


Enact Responsible Entitlement Reform

MOST PEOPLE IN WASHINGTON SEEM TO THINK that we can control spending and balance the budget without reforming Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. This is lunacy.

  • Identify and implement common-sense cost savings to place Medicare on a path toward long-term solvency.
  • Block grant Medicare and Medicaid funds to the states, allowing them to innovate, find efficiencies and provide better service at lower cost.
  • Repeal President Obama's healthcare plan, as well as the failed Medicare prescription drug benefit.
  • Fix Social Security by changing the escalator from being based on wage growth to inflation. It's time for Social Security to reflect today's realities without breaking trust with retirees.


Audit the Federal Reserve

THE FEDERAL RESERVE SHOULD BE TRANSPARENT and its actions held to the same level of scrutiny as any other federal department.

  • The American people deserve to know the extent to which the Fed has purchased private assets at home and abroad.
  • Many Americans have become interested in the Federal Reserve in recent years. America's representatives in Washington, D.C. need to also become a lot more interested in how this government institution affects the American economy.
  • The role and the activities of the Federal Reserve are long overdue for examination, reassessment, and ultimately, thoughtful reform. Can the Federal Reserve pursue both stable prices and full employment, or does its currency manipulation cause malinvestment, inflation, and prolonged unemployment?
  • Conduct an audit to provide true transparency of the Federal Reserve's lending practices.
  • Establish clear Congressional oversight.
  • Get the Federal Reserve out of the business of printing money and buying debt through quantitative easing.

FDA Accused of Spying on Staff Over Complaints to Congress

By Henry J. Reske

The personal e-mails of a group of scientists and doctors alerting Congress about possibly unsafe medical devices were monitored by the Food and Drug Administration. The monitoring occurred over a two-year period, according to documents filed in a lawsuit against the FDA, The Washington Post reported.

The six scientists and doctors accessed their personal e-mail accounts from government computers. The suit charges that the six, who worked in an office responsible for reviewing devices for cancer screening among other things, were harassed or dismissed with the help of the information, the Post reported.

Read more on Newsmax.com: FDA Accused of Spying on Staff Over Complaints to Congress
Important: Do You Support Pres. Obama's Re-Election? Vote Here Now!

Warnings on Costs of Federal Government

By: Kevin Derby

On Thursday, with all eyes on Jacksonville and the Republican presidential debate, political and policy leaders gathered on the First Coast to warn about the threats of the increasing cost of the federal government.

At a forum held at Jacksonville University, former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez joined David Walker, a JU alumnus who served as comptroller general of the United States and the current CEO of the Comeback America Initiative, and Robert Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition.

The Concord Coalition, founded by former U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman, R-N.H., and the late former U.S. Sen. Paul Tsongas, D-Mass., is dedicated to fighting for fiscal responsibility for the federal government. The group is currently chaired by Rudman and former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., who -- along with Tsongas -- ran for the Democratic presidential nomination back in 1992 and is now contemplating running again for the U.S. Senate from Nebraska.

Walker started the forum off with a warning about the federal fiscal situation. 

Read more: http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/print/4455996

1st cut: The Obamas' and Congress' salaries

by Mychal Massie

Let me be as forthright as possible in my rejection of Obama’s screed. The United States is not in debt, nor are we, as such, in need of more money, because people aren’t paying their fair share. It’s because Obama and Congress have refused to cut spending. And gutting the military as a means to appease his socialist base is not synonymous with spending reductions, but that’s a subject for another day.

Congress has been on an uncontrolled spending spree for the last 50 years, and Obama has exacerbated that problem by increased spending in a way that was heretofore unparalleled, even if not unimagined.

Read more: http://www.wnd.com/2012/01/1st-cut-the-obamas-and-congress-salaries/

U.S. deficit to top $1 trillion for 4th year in a row

The federal budget deficit will top $1 trillion for a fourth straight year, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday in a report that predicts a nearly $1.1 trillion gap between government spending and tax collections for 2012.

That figure is the smallest – both in nominal terms and as a percentage of the economy – since the Great Recession began taking a heavy toll on the federal budget in 2009.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/us-deficit-to-top-1-trillion-for-4th-year-in-a-row/2012/01/31/gIQAWmKweQ_story.html?wpisrc=al_comboNE_b

Congressional Budget Office estimates federal budget deficit to dip slightly to $1.1T

Home prices drop more than expected in November: S&P

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Single-family home prices fell more than expected in November, highlighting the struggle for a sector yet to make a meaningful recovery, a closely watched survey showed on Tuesday.

The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of home prices in 20 metropolitan areas declined 0.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, a bigger drop than the 0.5 percent economists had expected.
The decrease added on to the 0.7 percent decline seen in October.

"The consensus view was that the rate of decline in home prices was slowing, and in fact what we've seen at the end of the year is that the rate of decline in home prices is accelerating," said Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial in New York.

Read more: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/home-prices-drop-more-expected-140253741.html

Treasury 10-Year Yields at Almost Five-Week Low Amid European Debt Crisis

Treasury 10-year note yields traded at almost the lowest in more than five weeks as European leaders worked toward a financial rescue for Greece.

Benchmark yields were less than 2 percent for a fifth straight day as European Central Bank Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny said he “can’t be sure” that Greece will be able to carry out the necessary fiscal and economic measures and stay in the 17-nation shared currency. Thirty-year bond yields dropped as the Federal Reserve prepared to buy longer-term debt.

“It’s all about Europe,” said Jason Rogan, director of U.S. government trading at Guggenheim Partners LLC, a New York- based brokerage for institutional investors. “It’s all about the fear of how that could trickle out to other peripherals. People keep looking to buy dips because it looks like Europe is kicking the can down the road as opposed to coming up with a concrete plan.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-31/treasuries-snap-four-day-gain-before-u-s-home-prices-confidence-report.html

The end of the road for Newt Gingrich?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It was approaching 11 p.m. at the Hyatt hotel bar here on Sunday, and reporters covering Newt Gingrich’s campaign were enjoying a few drinks when a familiar figure approached.

Gingrich put a hand on the shoulders of two women at the table and imparted a big scoop. “There’s a new poll coming out,” he announced. “I’m within five points of Romney. . . . I’ve got all the momentum.”

Read more:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-end-of-the-road-for-newt-gingrich/2012/01/30/gIQALmfZdQ_story.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions

Is Mitt Minding the Store?


Mitt Romney's performance in last Thursday's GOP debate in Jacksonville was widely praised for his assertiveness against Newt Gingrich and it may have effectively neutralized the former House Speaker's victory five days earlier in South Carolina. If Romney earns a decisive victory in Florida, it could prove to be the turning point in winning the Republican nomination. But his debate performance should have instead raised a big red flag.

Romney hoisted and waved the red flag early in the debate during a discussion about illegal immigration. When debate moderator Wolf Blitzer asked Romney about an ad his campaign was running which asserted that Newt Gingrich had called Spanish the language of the ghetto, Romney said, "I haven't seen the ads. I'm sorry. I don't get to see all the TV ads." Romney then turned to Gingrich and asked him if he had said that Spanish was the language of the ghetto. Gingrich denied singling out Spanish and emphasized the importance of learning English. To which Romney replied, "I doubt that's my ad but we'll take a look and find out." Blitzer said he would do just that.

Read more: http://spectator.org/archives/2012/01/31/is-mitt-minding-the-store

All the President's Props


Last week's State of the Union address was a sad and pathetic affair, full of transparent rhetoric and demagoguery, brimming with incandescent hypocrisies, variegated with an expansive assortment of half-truths and lies, palled by a mediocrity that almost seemed intentional, detached from reality like an unmoored hot-air balloon that slowly ascends to the heavens, stuffed with dense and infuriating arrogance, and draped over our nation like a several-sizes-too-small coat with promises and ideas rendered diminutive in the shadow of the historical moment.

All this was clear last Tuesday night. And yet somehow over the past week, the address actually grew worse.

Read more: http://spectator.org/archives/2012/01/31/all-the-presidents-props

California Issues Clown Car Mandate

Green Politics: Golden State regulators have passed sweeping emission standards requiring one in seven new cars sold in the state in 2025 be an electric or other zero-emission vehicle. What can go wrong?

Plenty, for if we've learned anything in recent years, it's that industrial policy and telling consumers what they need and must have vs. what they want and find useful doesn't work.

Only the marketplace can accurately pick winners and losers. The government, having no competition, usually picks losers.

Read more: http://news.investors.com/Article.aspx?id=599405&p=1&ibdbot=1

EU Nears Greek Confrontation Amid Fiscal Pact

European governments moved toward a confrontation over a second rescue package for Greece, just as a dimming fiscal outlook in Portugal opened a new front in the debt crisis.

Bargaining with Greece over a debt writedown and its economic management came as European Union leaders signed off on key planks of the strategy to end the financial crisis. They agreed to accelerate the setup of a full-time 500 billion-euro ($659 billion) rescue fund and endorsed a German-inspired deficit-control treaty. Stocks and the euro rose.

Euro leaders left a Brussels summit late yesterday with no accord over how to plug Greece’s widening budget hole and German Chancellor Angela Merkel voicing frustration with the Athens government’s failure to carry out an economic makeover.

Newt Battles Mush From the Wimps


Palin targets Establishment GOP "cannibals" terrified of party's conservative base.
"Ford Declares Reagan Can't Win" -- Headline in The New York Times, March 1, 1980
Yet still more mush from the wimps.

To borrow a famous Reagan phrase: "Well, there they go again."

Somewhere an exasperated Gipper is doubtless shaking his head.

The war between conservatives and the Republican Establishment -- and make no mistake, this is a war -- is on once more.

Read more: http://spectator.org/archives/2012/01/31/newt-battles-mush-from-the-wim

Energy Expert: Germany’s Renewable Energy Transition “Will Fail Spectacularly – Heavily Damaging The Economy”

The European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE) issued a press release on a 28-page report that German energy expert Dr. Guenter Keil wrote concerning Germany’s transition to renewable energy, and away from nuclear and fossil fuel energy.


As the report shows, Germany’s transition to green energy is turning into a real horror story. The 28-page full report will keep you up at night!

Read more: http://notrickszone.com/2012/01/25/energy-expert-germanys-renewable-energy-transition-will-fail-spectacularly-heavily-damaging-the-economy/peacka

Latest ECB data shows how bad things have become in Euroland

I was reading the recently published January 2012 Monthly Bulletin from the ECB yesterday. It provides a massive amount of interesting data about the developments in the Eurozone plus analysis. The descriptive analysis is fine (this went up, this went down) but the conceptual analysis leaves a lot to be desired. This is an institution that still talks about reference values of broad money as a policy target to control inflation. Basically, that idea has no application in our monetary system. But that aside, the release of the latest M3 data tells us how bad things are getting in the Eurozone and do not augur well for the coming year, despite the up-beat forecasts for real GDP that the ECB are still providing. The latest ECB data shows how bad things have become in Euroland.

You will note that in Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) there is very little spoken about the money supply. In an endogenous money world there is very little meaning in the aggregate concept of the “money supply”. I will come back to that.

Read more: http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=17991

Mass Sterilization


Can a judge, without even holding a hearing, order a woman sterilized in a state where compulsory sterilization has never been the law?

As North Carolina prepares to pay reparations to victims of its decades-long eugenics campaign, Massachusetts strangely enters a sterilization debate that most had thought long over. Norfolk County Probate and Family Court Judge Christina L. Harms earlier this month ordered that a bipolar and schizophrenic woman be "coaxed, bribed, or even enticed…by ruse" to abort her pregnancy and undergo sterilization. If the mentally ill woman were sane, the judge determined, she "would not choose to be delusional" and therefore, she would choose abortion.

Does "our bodies, our choice" still apply when we are not in our right minds?

Read more: http://spectator.org/archives/2012/01/31/mass-sterilization

Don't Blame School Food For Obesity

Obesity: Don't blame the on-campus sale of snacks for making kids fat. So says a study of 19,000 middle-schoolers. Shouldn't it be clear by now that good health starts at home?

It's time to chill out about the Cheetos, if these or similar guilty pleasures are being sold at your kids school. It's not that they're nutritious. It's just that they're not the dangerous fat bombs that many dietary activists have made them out to be.

And another thing: Don't expect school to teach your children how to eat. That's up to you, Mom and Dad.

Read more: http://news.investors.com/Article/599443/201201301844/school-junk-food-not-causing-fat-kids.htm

ProPublica’s Off Base Charges About Freddie Mac’s Mortgage “Bets”

Yves Smith

A new ProPublica story, “Freddie Mac Betting Against Struggling Homeowners,” treats the fact that Freddie Mac retains the riskiest tranche of its mortgage bond offering, known as inverse floaters, as heinous and evidence of scheming against suffering borrowers.

The storyline in this piece is neat, plausible, and utterly wrong. And my e-mail traffic indicates that people who are reasonably finance savvy but don’t know the mortgage bond space have bought the uninformed and conspiratorial ProPublica thesis hook, line, and sinker.

Read more: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/01/propublicas-off-base-charges-about-freddie-macs-mortgage-bets.html

The TRUTH About Herman Cain And Newt Gingrich

Grace Wyler

Less than two weeks ago, Herman Cain told the world he would not back an actual Republican candidate, but was endorsing "We The People" for President. Then he set off on a quixotic tour to bring his signature 9-9-9 tax plan to a legislator near you, and drove off into political oblivion in a bus with his face on it.

But now The Hermanator is back. The former pizza titan popped up in Florida this weekend to endorse Newt Gingrich, and has spent the past few days there rallying the grassroots troops in the leadup to the state's all-important Republican primary.

Gingrich's March


What happens after Florida's Republican primary today, which polls show Mitt Romney leading by double digits as the official ballot-casting day arrives? For Newt Gingrich, the answer may lie in some of his state's most famous military history.

First, the other candidates:

Mitt Romney will be working to solidify his lead. The fact that there are only caucuses over the week after the Florida contest (except for a meaningless primary in Missouri which will not result in the allocation of delegates) can only help the former Massachusetts governor whose caucus organization is only matched by Ron Paul's.

Read more: http://spectator.org/archives/2012/01/31/gingrichs-march

Obama's Words Again Don't Match Actions

Brett McMahon

Last week's State of the Union address by the President sounded great. If one didn't follow any other news about the economy, jobs, bailouts, regulations, etc and just happened to catch the speech, the easy takeaway would be that the President understands what it takes to move us forward and has it in hand (if it weren't for those ostensible scoundrels in Congress). But for those of us who know the real story, its again an amazing display of words that are in stark contract to actions.

For instance, the President said in the speech, "No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts." So either he agrees now it was a bad idea to bailout GM or Solyndra or his support of TARP and even larger bailouts he has called for, or he wants us to forget he had any part of that. Sounds also like a copout. Not to mention after making that statement, in the same speech making a case for more handouts and spending.

Understanding Carried Interest

By Alan D. Viard

Mitt Romney’s release of his tax returns has pushed the arcane issue of “carried interest” — the share of an investment fund’s profits given to its managers as payment for their services  back into the headlines. Critics have renewed their calls to tax the carried interest as ordinary income. Unfortunately, the populist rhetoric used by some critics can obscure the facts about how carried interest is actually taxed.

Some critics assert that all carried interest is taxed at the lower 15 percent that applies to capital gains and dividends. They complain that these funds are able to “turn” ordinary income into capital gains and dividends by paying managers in carried interest rather than salary, and that the funds are exploiting a special loophole not available to other firms. Looking at how carried interest works reveals that none of these things are true.

Read more: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/289610/understanding-carried-interest-alan-d-viard

A Deep Dive Into The Current State Of US Manufacturing

Hale Stewart

As we close out January, let's take a look at the overall state of US manufacturing.

New York appears to be rebounding somewhat:
The Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that manufacturing activity expanded in New York State in January. The general business conditions index climbed five points to 13.5. The new orders index rose eight points to 13.7 and the shipments index inched up to 21.7. The prices paid index was positive and slightly higher than it was last month while the prices received index jumped twenty points to 23.1, indicating a significant pickup in selling prices. Employment indexes were positive and higher, pointing to higher employment levels and a longer average workweek. Future indexes conveyed a high degree of optimism about the six-month outlook, with the future general business conditions index rising nine points to 54.9, its highest level since January 2011.

Alexander Hamilton and the TSA

Lee Cary

In Federalist Paper No. 8, Alexander Hamilton writes about the Transportation Safety Administration, accidently.

Nearly every week, the TSA makes news by strip-searching an elderly woman, or suffering an inexplicable breach in security, or detaining a U.S. Senator (Rand Paul), accusing him of being hostile when a security camera clearly indicates that "passive" better describes his demeanor.

Many frequent business travelers, also known as "road warriors," can recount, on demand, their own unflattering anecdotal stories involving the TSA. (One of my favorites is how a TSA screener angrily jerked a rag doll out of the hand of a one-armed girl, about seven years old, who was reluctant to give up her doll to a stranger to put on the x-ray conveyer belt. Another is how a screener demanded that my now-deceased, then elderly mother-in-law get up out of her wheelchair and walk through the metal detector. The screener couldn't understand that Ola couldn't walk a step.)

Truth is MF Global Stole $1.2 Billion

Jeff Carter

Read an article in the WSJ that the $1.2 Billion of customer funds that are missing will never be recovered. Sad news indeed.
However, why are the reporters sugar coating the incident with soft verbiage? The money hasn’t vaporized as they write,
As the sprawling probe that includes regulators, criminal and congressional investigators, and court-appointed trustees grinds on, the findings so far suggest that a “significant amount” of the money could have “vaporized” as a result of chaotic trading at MF Global during the week before the company’s Oct. 31 bankruptcy filing, said a person close to the investigation.
The truth is it was STOLEN.

Read more: http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/jeffcarter/2012/01/31/truth_is_mf_global_stole_12_billion

Today's Profit Margins Should Eventually Collapse...

Henry Blodget

Everyone who is bullish about the stock market needs to take a long hard look in the mirror and answer the following question:

Why is it different this time?

Specifically, why, this time, unlike any previous time in recorded history, will profit margins stay at today's near-record highs?

Ron Paul: The Ghost in the Political Machine By Irving Louis Horowitz

By Irving Louis Horowitz

The ghost in this lengthy Republican nomination process is Ron Paul.  Few of his opponents know quite what to make of him, while in turn he pays little attention to his opponents.  Indeed, he has less to say of President Barack Obama than his party rivals do.  Having listened to his remarks in at least fifteen of these media jamborees, I have heard hardly a word about specific, concrete differences with the Democratic Party leader.

So what, then, prompts this dedicated "also ran" to stay the course?  With the game of Ten Little Indians just about played out in the Republican primaries, the question remains: why is Ron Paul still standing?  Better yet, what makes the good doctor run?  The purpose of this brief overview is to provide some empirical answers to a metaphysical candidate.

Labor Dept. Targets the Family Farm

Bob Beauprez

I was seven when my Dad put me on the seat of an Oliver 77 tractor and sent me to the field to rake hay by myself.  My Dad said he was about the same age when his father first assigned him to a pair of horses and a mower to cut hay on his own.  My mom was just five when her dad took her to the barn to hand milk cows.  When Claudia and I had our own four children, they all helped out on our dairy farm at pretty young ages, too.

To those unfamiliar with life on a farm, this might seem inappropriate, dangerous, or even abusive.  It’s not.  It is a way of life that has existed for as long as there have been farms and families.  In many cases it was necessary to support the survival of the family.  That was the case for my parents who were farm kids during the Great Depression.  Family work on a farm or ranch is also a way of life that instills values and principles that seem to be increasingly more difficult to pass from one generation to the next in today’s America. 

Read more: http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/bobbeauprez/2012/01/31/labor_dept_targets_the_family_farm

Forget The Details, The End Of The European Crisis Is In Sight

Macro Man

Team Macro Man apologise for the lack of service recently. Last week saw their technical pullback first get Apple'd and then FED'd. And though there were glimmers of the technical turn, it looks as though it has morphed into a "technical pause". Despite the fizzling out of yesterday's Euro summit there has been little sell-off which leaves TMM thinking that there is a chance of the European "Policy by Sloth" may work.

TMM wrote back in December about what they believed the necessary conditions were to bring about an end to the crisis. The classic Anglo-Saxon view (TMM cannot resist the French line) is that the only way out of the crisis is fiscal union. But TMM believe it is far more nuanced than that - strictly, that measures that confirm the path to some sort of fiscal union in the medium term are in place. Specifically, as we wrote back in December, TMM reckon we need to see the following:

Our Elective Despotism

By Lawrence Sellin

There are many things obvious to ordinary Americans that cannot be mentioned publicly in the polite political company of the Republican and Democratic establishments or among their press agents in the mainstream media, who obligingly pirouette around the truth.

For example, both the Republican and Democratic establishments are composed of hopelessly corrupt, procrastinating control freaks, who seek fame and fortune through over-spending money they didn't earn and enthusiastically crushing any spontaneous outbreaks of democracy among U.S. citizens, for example, the Tea Party.

Hellish War of Envy

Charles Payne

This brings me back to that Pew Research Center report on the conflict between rich and poor. With 66% of respondents saying they believe there are "very strong" or "strong" conflicts between rich and the poor, we are at a place where efforts to redefine American capitalism will be pushed as hard as ever. This has been the plan from day one which is amazing since back a few years ago those that suggested as much were written off as loony tunes. That moment is certainly here and the central issue of 2012. The big guns include president Obama, the media, Hollywood and Warren Buffett.

Warren Buffett's challenge to republican lawmakers to donate money to lower the federal debt, that he would match them dollar for dollar (in case of Mitch McConnell the match would be three dollars), was the tackiest piece of political foolishness I've heard in a long time. The timing was perfect, however, if you are looking to build a head of steam toward changing America into a socialist economy. The usual culprits including Time magazine with Buffett on the cover, singling out individual villains like McConnell, have been planned for a long time. Buffett said in New York Times piece his tax rate was 17.4%, or less than his secretary's, but he did pay $6,938,744. He should have paid more… if he thinks that's the right thing to do. 

Read more: http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/charlespayne/2012/01/31/hellish_war_of_envy

Today We Saw This Chart Literally Make People's Jaws Drop

Joe Weisenthal

We were just in the studios of GBTV (Glenn Beck's online network) around a group of folks who were watching Glenn's show, when he put up this chart from ZeroHedge of youth unemployment in Europe.

Jaws literally dropped around the room. The extent of how bad it is is not well known.

President Obama's Civilian Soldiers

By Christopher Chantrill

Everybody is outraged and disgusted by our divisive politics, from Jewish bubbies in Florida to AT's own Rick Moran.  The rest of us just think that President Obama is incompetent.  "Obama doesn't have the experience, character, or personality to be president. To put it flatly: he's in over his head."  That's Barry Rubin.

And if he's not incompetent he is polarizing, writes Peter Wehner.  And that from the candidate whose "core claim"
wasn't simply that he would heal the planet; he would also heal the nation's political breach. He would elevate the national debate. Reason would prevail over emotion...  Obama would "turn the page" on the "old politics" of division and anger.

IRS Code: 72,000 Pages of Corruption and Sleaze

Daniel J. Mitchell

Leftists want higher tax rates and they want greater tax compliance. But they have a hard time understanding that those goals are inconsistent.

Simply stated, people respond to incentives. When tax rates are punitive, folks earn and report less taxable income, and vice-versa.
Read more: http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/danieljmitchell/2012/01/31/irs_code_72000_pages_of_corruption_and_sleaze

In a GOP bloodbath, libertarians win


Two narratives, both wrong, have emerged from the latest round in the cage match otherwise known as the race for the Republican nomination. Influential voices on both sides predict ruin for one team of combatants and triumph for the other.

In truth, both teams are the worse off, because neither can win — not without becoming more libertarian in one way or another. While their titans clash, relatively unrepresented and un-personified libertarianism waits in the wings.

Both teams have a hard time taking this prospect seriously. Consider each in turn, however, and the likelihood grows clear.

The Republican Identity Crisis

By Perry Fisher

In the hurley-burly of the GOP's ongoing primary scramble, it is easy to overlook what a wonderful thing it is to see a major American political party in the midst of rediscovering who it is.  The other major party has the last four years to identify with, and a face to go with it.  Voters know the Obama record.  What conservatives, Reagan Democrats, Libertarians, some traditional and academic Democrats, and independent voters want to know is what else is on the menu.

The candidate mash-up thus far has been informing, entertaining, and robust.  It is uniquely American that either major party after two centuries of political history could be still so connected to the voter that party regulars cannot dictate top-down, try though they might.  Grassroots movements, especially in a cyber-connected world, can claim a seat at the table, too.

War Through Weakness?

Cal Thomas

One of the memorable slogans from the Reagan administration was "peace through strength." Reagan believed a strong defense was a safeguard against enemy attacks and the best hope of victory should America go to war.

President Obama is taking the opposite approach. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently announced cuts in defense spending of $487 billion over the next 10 years. Supposedly, these cuts will reduce the federal deficit, but Congress always finds new ways to spend money, so I am not optimistic.

The cuts were announced before critical questions were asked: What is America's role in the world in the 21st century? Where does the military fit into that role? The administration thinks a sleeker, more mobile military -- like SEAL Team Six, which has had recent successes taking out Osama bin Laden and rescuing hostages from Somali pirates -- is the way to go, but even the highly-trained SEALs can't confront, say, a nuclear threat from Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or China's increasing military power. The administration says it will preserve its manpower and weapons systems in the Middle East and shift resources to Asia.

Read more: http://townhall.com/columnists/calthomas/2012/01/31/war_through_weakness

Grassley says Obama is behaving dictatorially, ‘usurping legislative powers’


Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley accused President Obama of dictatorial behavior in a floor statement Thursday, saying that his recess appointments were not the first acts he has taken to circumvent the constitutional system of checks and balances.

“President Obama’s decision to bypass the constitutional advice and consent of the Senate is not an isolated incident,” Grassley said, according to prepared remarks. “It is merely the latest escalation in a pattern of contempt for the elected representatives of the American people and the constitutional separation of powers.”

Obama appointed Richard Cordray as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau while the Senate was in recess, after the Senate indicated that they would not confirm his nomination.

Two Wars and the 38th Parallel

The Obama administration’s newly released strategic guidance for the Defense Department emphasizes the importance of defending U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific. It’s ironic that elements of the strategy suggest the United States will welcome more risk on the Korean peninsula.

With the administration’s focus on dealing with the growing challenge from China, the ongoing necessity of countering militants and preserving stability in the Middle East, and the requirement to cut defense spending, the new strategy offers up changes to U.S. forces that threaten to weaken deterrence on the peninsula and lessen our ability to handle a potential conflict there in an effective, decisive fashion.

Five Reasons So Many Grassroots Conservatives Don't Like Mitt Romney

John Hawkins

It's a mystery to some people why so many Tea Partiers and grassroots conservatives can’t stand Mitt Romney. What is it about him that turns them off so much that at one time or another, they've preferred Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich to him nationally despite the fact that he has every advantage in the race? Would Mitt Romney be better than Barack Obama? Sure, but there are some very good reasons that so many grassroots conservatives still find him to be a thoroughly unlikable candidate.

Read more: http://townhall.com/columnists/johnhawkins/2012/01/31/five_reasons_so_many_grassroots_conservatives_dont_like_mitt_romney 

German retail sales unexpectedly fall in December

By Sarah Marsh

BERLIN (Reuters) - German retail sales fell unexpectedly in December, suggesting Europe's debt crisis unsettled consumers during key Christmas trade, although economists said they expected the preliminary data to be revised upwards.

The notoriously volatile indicator fell 1.4 percent in real terms on the month, and 0.9 percent on an annual basis, data from the Federal Statistics Office showed. The indicator missed forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists for gains of 0.9 and 1.4 percent respectively.

"These numbers suggest Christmas business was disappointing for retailers," said Commerzbank's Ulrike Rondorf. "But the statistics office data are often revised."

Read more: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/german-retail-sales-unexpectedly-fall-072414824.html

Camp Mittens Duplicity on Allen West Worse than Conspiracy: It’s a Habit

John Ransom

All the crying going on from Camp Mittens denying that Romney set out to screw Congressman Allen West out of his seat in Palm Beach County is just the usual exaggerated outrage that we should be accustomed to from Mitt and Company when they’ve been caught in the act.

Remember these are the same guys who are saying that Mitt’s the most electable candidate, but if we question Mitt’s electability we’ll only have ourselves to blame if Mitt doesn’t get elected.

Or something like that.

Read more: http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/johnransom/2012/01/31/camp_mittens_duplicity_on_allen_west_worse_than_conspiracy_its_a_habit

Euro zone jobless hits highest level since birth of euro

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone unemployment has risen to its highest level since the euro single currency was introduced, data showed on Tuesday, a day after EU leaders promised to focus on creating millions of new jobs to try to kickstart Europe's stagnating economy.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment among the 17 countries sharing the euro rose to 10.4 percent in December, on a par with an upwardly revised November figure, the European Union's statistics office Eurostat said.

It was the highest rate since June 1998, before the introduction of the euro in 1999, Eurostat said.
The figures showed another 20,000 people were out of work in December from the month before, taking the number of jobless to 16.5 million people across the euro zone. The rate steadily crept up through 2011 as growth stalled and recession loomed.

Read more: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/euro-zone-jobless-hits-highest-102143760.html

The Florida Smear Campaign

Thomas Sowell

The Republican establishment is pulling out all the stops to try to keep Newt Gingrich from becoming the party's nominee for President of the United States -- and some are not letting the facts get in their way.

Among the claims going out through the mass media in Florida, on the eve of that state's primary election, is that Newt Gingrich "resigned in disgrace" as Speaker of the House of Representatives, as a result of unethical conduct involving the diversion of tax-exempt money. Mitt Romney is calling on Gingrich to release "all of the records" from the House of Representatives investigation.

Read more: http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2012/01/31/the_florida_smear_campaign

Monday, January 30, 2012

Will Ron Paul win more delegates this week than Gingrich, Santorum?

By Peter Grier

This week, Ron Paul is likely to win more delegates to the 2012 GOP convention than either Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum. In fact, he’s likely to win more delegates than Gingrich and Santorum combined.

“Hold it”, you’re saying, “How can that be? Rep. Paul’s polling in single digits in Florida. He’s going to finish behind Gingrich and Santorum, as well as Mitt Romney, in Tuesday’s Florida primary. How can that translate into beating any of his rivals at all?”

We’ll tell you how – because he’s not winning those delegates in Florida. He’s winning, or will probably win, at least a few delegates in Maine.

Read more: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/The-Vote/2012/0130/Will-Ron-Paul-win-more-delegates-this-week-than-Gingrich-Santorum

Volcanic eruptions emerge as lead cause for Little Ice Age

By Pete Spotts

The research attempts to answer two longstanding questions swirling around the roughly 400-year span of slightly cooler-than normal temperatures: Exactly when did it begin? And what was its initial trigger?
Previous estimates for the onset of the Little Ice Age range from as early as the late 1200s to as late as the 1500s, the research team notes. Globally, temperatures averaged a modest 0.6 degrees Celsius, or about 1 degree Fahrenheit cooler than usual.

But regionally, cooling could be profound. Glaciers in the Alps grew, bulldozing mountain villages. In Europe, the growing season became shorter, with spring and summers often cold and wet, triggering famines. In China, provinces that for centuries had produced bountiful citrus harvests no longer could provide them. With an additional climate-cooling blast from Mt. Tambora in Indonesia in 1815, North America and Europe experienced the year without summer in 1816.

Read more: http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0130/Volcanic-eruptions-emerge-as-lead-cause-for-Little-Ice-Age

Twitter Users Beware: Homeland Security Isn’t Laughing


Planning to make a joke on Twitter about bombing something? You might want to reconsider: According to a report from Britain, two tourists were detained and denied entry into the U.S. recently after they joked about destroying America and digging up Marilyn Monroe. That the Homeland Security Dept. and other authorities—including the FBI—are monitoring such social media as Twitter and Facebook isn’t surprising. That these authorities are willing to detain people based on what is clearly a harmless joke, however, raises questions about what the impact of all that monitoring will be.

Leigh Van Bryan, a 26-year-old bar manager from Coventry, told The Sun that he and friend Emily Bunting were stopped by border guards when they arrived at Los Angeles International Airport and were questioned for five hours about messages Van Bryan had tweeted saying he planned to “destroy America.” After the questioning, during which Homeland Security agents threatened the two, said Van Bryan, they were put into a van and taken—along with a few illegal immigrants—to a holding cell and held overnight. The next morning, they said, Van Bryan and Bunting were forced to take a plane back to England.

Read more: http://www.businessweek.com/technology/twitter-users-beware-homeland-security-isnt-laughing-01302012.html

Tax Reform Is Coming, with Many Deserving Targets


“There has been increasingly widespread dissatisfaction in the United States with the Federal tax system. Numerous special features of the current law, adopted over the years, have led to extreme complexity and have raised questions about the law’s basic fairness.” Sound familiar? Those are the opening sentences of a 1977 U.S. Treasury study, “Blueprints for Basic Tax Reform.” Sad to say, the income tax code’s complexity and basic unfairness have worsened since then.

The latest reminder is the dust-up over Mitt Romney’s 2010 tax return, which showed him to have an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent on his 2010 income of $21.6 million (and which was accompanied by an estimate of an effective rate of 15.4 percent on 2011 income of $20.9 million). Former Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain got a lot of attention with his proposed 9-9-9 tax overhaul. Tax reform is a key change in the various blue chip proposals for reducing the long-term federal debt and deficit, such as the Dec. 1, 2010, plan from Erskine Bowles, the former Clinton chief of staff, and Alan Simpson, former Republican senator from Wyoming. President Obama joined the fray in his State of the Union address on Jan. 24, when he called for anyone with an annual income of more than $1 million to pay a minimum effective tax rate of 30 percent.

Read more: http://www.businessweek.com/finance/tax-reform-is-coming-with-many-deserving-targets-01302012.html

Europe signs up to German-led fiscal pact

By Julien Toyer and Paul Taylor

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel cemented her political ascendancy in Europe on Monday when 25 out of 27 EU states agreed to a German-inspired pact for stricter budget discipline, even as they struggled to rekindle growth from the ashes of austerity.
Only Britain and the Czech Republic refused to sign a fiscal compact in March that will impose quasi-automatic sanctions on countries that breach European Union budget deficit limits and will enshrine balanced budget rules in national law.
The accord was eagerly greeted by the European Central Bank which has long pressed euro zone governments to put their houses in order.

Read more: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/eu-leaders-agree-permanent-bailout-053309551.html

Stanford sought to influence regulator

By Anna Driver
HOUSTON (Reuters) - Allen Stanford, charged with a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, sought to have a Antiguan regulator with oversight of his offshore bank dismissed after she rejected a number of the Texas financier's overtures to work together, she testified on Monday.
Prosecutors say Stanford bilked investors in more than 100 countries through the sale of fraudulent certificates of deposit from his offshore bank in Antigua.
"I'm not a yes person," said Althea Crick, who is chairman of the board of Antigua's Financial Services Regulatory Commission.
"I don't rubber stamp," she testified she told Stanford after a 1998 meeting where he asked that she report to him and a local business committee.

Read more: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/stanford-sought-influence-regulator-004719935.html

CBO: Federal workers better compensated than in private sector

By Erik Wasson 
The Congressional Budget Office found Monday that federal workers are compensated 16 percent more than comparable private-sector workers on average.

The finding is bound to inflame disputes between Republican and Democrats as to how much to reduce the deficit by cutting federal worker pay.

"While millions of Americans continue to struggle with stagnant wages and high unemployment, government bureaucrats in Washington continue to enjoy significant advantages over those whose tax dollars finance their compensation," House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) office said in reaction to the finding.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/budget/207439-federal-workers-get-16-percent-more-than-private-sector-cbo-finds

Weaponizing the Passenger Plane

Daniel Greenfield
On September 11 the passenger jet as a weapon came crashing into the consciousness of the citizens of the country which had made international air travel viable. Muslim terrorists had viewed planes in terms of the passengers and hijacked planes to take people hostage. But at the beginning of the millennium it was no longer the people that mattered, only the use of the plane as a makeshift missile aimed at the institutions and infrastructure of the free world.

This change of tactics was a game changer because it meant the potential casualties of airplane hijackings were no longer limited to the passengers in the air who were now flying around in ICBM’s with much less explosive payload, but enough to take down skyscrapers and kill thousands of people. Every passenger was no longer just a risk to other passengers, but a risk to everyone in the Empire State Building, the Sears Tower or any other clumping of people in target areas that could be hit.

Read more: http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/44279

The Masterpiece of our times

Judi McLeod

Investigative journalist/‘whistleblower’ par excellence Marinka Peschmann wrote The Whistleblower (One Rock Ink Publishing),  available at Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and in all e-book versions.  The Whistleblower tells the riveting,  fully documented story of “How the Clinton White House Stayed in Power to Reemerge in the Obama White House and on the World Stage”.

The Whistleblower tells in fast-moving chapters the tawdry tale of what happens when someone plumbs the corrupt world of U.S. politics; it’s the quintessential chronicle about how the play always remains the same, with only different players coming by turn before the stage footlights.

Read more: http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/44278

Green Energy Not Ready for Prime Time

Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh

G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936), a prolific English writer, said, “The whole world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected.”

As our President promised to “double down” on renewable energy, in spite of the bankrupted Solyndra, three more green energy companies, recipients of stimulus dollars, have collapsed.

Read more: http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/44277

Latest Hare-Brained Scheme: Use Cap-n-Trade Loot to Pay for High-Speed Rail

As California’s high-speed rail project runs out of steam, you’d expect a savvy politician to shunt the thing onto a siding and earn points with the voters for making a tough-but-necessary decision.

Not Gov. Jerry Brown.

Taking a page out of President Obama’s green-loan-guarantee playbook, Brown only fights harder to keep the California High-Speed Rail Authority doing whatever it is that the authority does. Most recently, Brown took to the airwaves to say that his own team’s estimate of the project’s projected cost is “way off.”

Read more: http://reason.com/blog#article_155414

Would Ron Paul go farther if he toned down this anti-war stuff?


So far in the 2012 Republican presidential campaign, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has more than doubled the number of votes he received in Iowa in 2008, more than tripled his vote count in New Hampshire, and nearly quintupled his vote count in South Carolina.

To achive this, the libertarian-leaning Paul has had to become more slick and political in his campaigning, while retaining credibility by sticking to his specific plan to chop federal spending by $1 trillion dollars. Despite the disappointment many felt about Paul’s third-place finish in Iowa, and Paul's current last-place polling in Florida, Paul has said he's not going anywhere.

Read more: http://reason.com/archives/2012/01/30/the-peacenik-republican

State Governments check Federal Power


Last week, Boston Bruin’s goalie Tim Thomas declined an offer to visit the White House and shared these thoughts regarding his motivation:
“I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People. This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government. Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL. “
Read more: http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2012/01/29/state-governments-check-federal-power/#more-11531

Did Obama really say that?

by Barbara Simpson

Whew! It’s the first time I’ve heard such powerful words from a man of the cloth. I love it! It’s about time!
The man is Bishop David A. Zubik, writing in the Pittsburgh Catholic on Friday.
“Kathleen Sebelius (HHS Secretary) and through her, the Obama administration, have said ‘To Hell with You’ to the Catholic faithful of the United States.”
He added that the administration has damned Catholics’ religious beliefs, religious liberty and freedom of conscience. “It’s like a slap in the face.”

Read more: http://www.wnd.com/2012/01/did-obama-really-say-that/

Obama laughs over spilled milk but fines companies for not producing fictional fuel

By Adam Peshek

During his State of the Union address last week, President Obama joked about the absurdity of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation that could have forced dairy farmers to pay $10,000 for spilled milk. Equally absurd is the same agency fining companies $6.8 million in 2011 for failing to use a fuel that does not exist. Even more absurd is raising the fine in 2012 — but that is exactly what the EPA is doing.

The spilled milk line refers to an EPA regulation that would have required dairy farmers to file emergency plans to show how they would deal with large amounts of spilled milk, including how they would train “first responders” and build “containment facilities” to store the milk. This was a terrible interpretation of a law that attempts to prevent oil spills. After being the brunt of Capitol Hill jokes, the EPA sensibly determined that milk should not be classified as oil.

Global warming activists seek to purge ‘deniers’ among local weathermen

By Caroline May

Concerned that too many “deniers” are in the meteorology business, global warming activists this month launched a campaign to recruit local weathermen to hop aboard the alarmism bandwagon and expose those who are not fully convinced that the world is facing man-made doom.

The Forecast the Facts campaign — led by 350.org, the League of Conservation Voters and the Citizen Engagement Lab — is pushing for more of a focus on global warming in weather forecasts, and is highlighting the many meteorologists who do not share their beliefs.

ACTA: “Usurps Congressional Authority”, “Threatens Numerous Public Interests”, “Backroom Special Interest Deal”, a “Masquerade"

by Washington's Blog

SOPA, PIPA, ACTA … What’s Next?

We just beat back SOPA and PIPA with the web blackout.
Now everyone is talking about ACTA. But – because ACTA is complicated, and is just starting to receive coverage – most are not sure exactly what ACTA really is, or why we should be concerned about it.
We’ll give you an executive summary of what you need to know.
Instead of giving you the specifics about what’s actually in the bill (we provide links at the end for those who want to know), we’ll explain why the procedure used is a recipe for disaster.
Why are we stressing procedure over substance?

Read more: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28958

The Paul Campaign’s Strategic Mistake


If Ron Paul’s libertarian handlers and support base could escape their ideology, Paul could be much better positioned to win the Republican nomination.
Here are some suggestions.

Paul should be making the point that Social Security and Medicare are threatened by multitrillion-dollar wars that are funded by debt, bailouts of a deregulated banking system and money creation to keep the banks afloat. Libertarians support deregulation, but their position has always been that deregulated industries must not be bailed out with public subsidies, much less subsidies that are so extensive that they threaten government solvency and the value of the currency.

Read more: http://www.personalliberty.com/conservative-politics/the-paul-campaigns-strategic-mistake/

Obama: The most polarizing president. Ever.

President Obama ran — and won — in 2008 on the idea of uniting the country. But each of his first three years in office has marked historic highs in political polarization, with Democrats largely approving of him and Republicans deeply disapproving.

For 2011, Obama’s third year in office, an average of 80 percent of Democrats approved of the job he was doing in Gallup tracking polls, as compared to 12 percent of Republicans who felt the same way. That’s a 68-point partisan gap, the highest for any president’s third year in office — ever. (The previous high was George W. Bush in 2007, when he had a 59 percent difference in job approval ratings.)

Will Romney-Gingrich battle lead to costly split in the GOP?

TAMPA — Newt Gingrich has vowed to take his fight for the nomination all the way to the Republican convention in August. That may be nothing more than an empty threat by a frustrated candidate with a history of exaggerated rhetoric. But could Gingrich’s battle against Mitt Romney leave the party badly divided heading into the fall campaign?

That question will intensify if Romney wins a big victory in Florida on Tuesday. Election-eve polls show the former Massachusetts governor with a healthy lead here, though the volatility of the Republican race so far this year makes forecasting more precarious than in the past. But already the lines are being drawn over whether Gingrich, if he loses badly, should begin to throttle back or keep the pressure on Romney.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mitt-romney-win-in-fla-could-fuel-bitter-protracted-fight/2012/01/30/gIQApGWecQ_story.html?wpisrc=nl_pmpolitics

US banks tighten lending to Europe banks

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Federal Reserve survey finds more than half of U.S. banks that lend to European banks have tightened their standards, a reflection of the persistent European debt crisis.
Of the 26 U.S. banks surveyed that make loans to European banks, five said they had tightened their standards considerably in the October-December quarter. Another 10 said that they had tightened them somewhat in the same period, the survey found.

Many economists predict that Europe's debt crisis will push the region into a recession this year. Many European banks are heavily exposed to government debt, making the banks more of a risk.

Is Freddie Mac Betting Against Homeowners?

Is Freddie Mac trying to help homeowners-or hurt them?

A recent investigation into trades made by the taxpayer-owned mortgage giant shows that while Freddie with one hand is helping consumers get mortgages, it is, with its other, making those mortgages harder to refinance. Result: Homeowners trying to refinance their way out of high-interest mortgages say they feel trapped in "financial jail."

The investigation-a joint effort between National Public Radio and ProPublica, an independent, non-profit investigative news service-looked at multibillion-dollar investments made late in 2010 by Freddie. These investments pay off only if homeowners remain locked in high-interest mortgages.

Sitting in on Santorum’s MN pitch

by Ed Morrissey


Last night, I had got a robocall invitation to take part in Rick Santorum’s Minnesota tele-townhall, which ran from roughly 8:30 to 9:30 local time.  Earlier, I had checked to see whether I could call in on the event myself, but was told that the calls would go out at random.  Rep. John Kline uses a similar system and we get frequent calls for his outreach events, so it didn’t surprise me to get the call, and my wife was happy to get a chance to take a more active part in the process.

Santorum has decided to contest in Minnesota, even though the upcoming caucuses are non-binding.  Caucuses are easier to win through ground game than primaries, which is the reason that Ron Paul has decided on the same strategy.  Paul is focusing on Maine, where his brand of libertarianism will get more traction than Minnesota, while Santorum hopes to win the blue-collar Midwestern Republicans that Tim Pawlenty rallied in two successful gubernatorial elections.  In order to do so, Santorum has to come across as serious on policy and low on intranecine drama, which doesn’t play well in this state.

Read more: http://hotair.com/archives/2012/01/30/sitting-in-on-santorums-mn-pitch/